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Hi everyone. So I have some basic questions that I was hoping could be answered.... I know there is a search function but I thought a few of these are too specific to easily find the answers to, and that these questions were basic enough someone could answer easily for me. However, I would like to say I would prefer semi-thorough explanations if possible since I don't know much about Objectivism or philosophy in general and may need some of that simpler stuff explained that all of you accept as "obvious" already. I am working on learning more about both topics from what is available online. Hopefully these questions don't sound stupid to you all. :worry:

#1. Are the foundations ...for Objectivism really based in logic, or rather axiomatic assumptions?

For instance, from an Objectivist's mode of thinking, i.e. their empirical understanding of the world, is there a rational basis for belief in a free will? If so, what is it?

#2. Can the superiority of logic to a specific worldview be logically proven? In other words, it seems like you start with the assumption that logic is the best criterion for a good worldview. Why? You have no logical basis for doing this, it is essentially an act of faith, isn't it?

#3. It is my opinion that every worldview must begin with some level of basic faith, an axiom, something to be believed that cannot be truly proven. The problem I see with Objectivism is that it denies anything that cannot be proven. It takes it's own axiomatic foundations as truth and denies that such things can exist. Sure, it is logical and consistent after having established such things, but there is no logical reason to believe those basic foundations, just faith. To repeat, every worldview I think must start with faith. My faith is in God (to be clear, I believe there is a god, I do not however, assume it is some specific god like Christians, Muslims, and the like do, just that something was the source of all around us, I guess I am considered a deist because I don't think "it" involves itself with us), and from there everything else proceeds logically, and my worldview is less contradictory than Objectivism does because it still acknowledges it rests ultimately on faith. Objectivism also proceeds logically from its foundational axioms but it seems to me that Objectivism contradicts itself in saying it requires no faith, whereas I contend that it requires all sorts of faith commitments before it can get off the ground.

Again, correct me if I'm wrong, and I again admit that while I think I have a handle on the very very basics Objectivism, I could still learn a whole lot more and I am interested in doing so.

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The axioms (Existence, Identity, and Consciousness) are not taken on faith. They can't be disproved because any attempt to disprove them is a contradiction. By this I mean that the only way to disprove them is by using them. It is the idea of the "stolen concept" that Rand sometimes referred too. Any attempt to disprove the axioms illustrates why they exist and why any attempt to prove or disprove them is futile. They are hardly issues of faith.

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#1. Are the foundations ...for Objectivism really based in logic, or rather axiomatic assumptions?

For instance, from an Objectivist's mode of thinking, i.e. their empirical understanding of the world, is there a rational basis for belief in a free will? If so, what is it?

#2. Can the superiority of logic to a specific worldview be logically proven? In other words, it seems like you start with the assumption that logic is the best criterion for a good worldview. Why? You have no logical basis for doing this, it is essentially an act of faith, isn't it?

#3. It is my opinion that every worldview must begin with some level of basic faith, an axiom, something to be believed that cannot be truly proven. The problem I see with Objectivism is that it denies anything that cannot be proven. It takes it's own axiomatic foundations as truth and denies that such things can exist. Sure, it is logical and consistent after having established such things, but there is no logical reason to believe those basic foundations, just faith. To repeat, every worldview I think must start with faith. My faith is in God (to be clear, I believe there is a god, I do not however, assume it is some specific god like Christians, Muslims, and the like do, just that something was the source of all around us, I guess I am considered a deist because I don't think "it" involves itself with us), and from there everything else proceeds logically, and my worldview is less contradictory than Objectivism does because it still acknowledges it rests ultimately on faith. Objectivism also proceeds logically from its foundational axioms but it seems to me that Objectivism contradicts itself in saying it requires no faith, whereas I contend that it requires all sorts of faith commitments before it can get off the ground.

Again, correct me if I'm wrong, and I again admit that while I think I have a handle on the very very basics Objectivism, I could still learn a whole lot more and I am interested in doing so.

I think that all of these questions could be answered at the same time by understanding what the basic axioms are -- Existence, Consciousness, Identity -- as Peikoff describes in OPAR (Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand) Chapter 1, Reality. I think that you are considering the foundation to be an act of faith only because you have not had the axioms identified. That is where I would start.

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The point of free will is readily addressed via the search function, there are a bazillion threads on it in the Questions, Metaphysics/Epistemology, and Ethics sections (and probably a few dotted around other places too). So I won't be getting into that.

You asked "Can the superiority of logic to a specific worldview be logically proven? In other words, it seems like you start with the assumption that logic is the best criterion for a good worldview. Why? You have no logical basis for doing this, it is essentially an act of faith, isn't it?"

You are asking for a logical argument for why one should listen to logical arguments. This means that you already believe that one should listen to/adhere to logic and reason. Therefore no such demonstration is necessary. The very act of asking for a "reason" means you accept Reason as the criterion for judgment. It is implicit in the very act. No arguments can be posed which do not implicitly assume the adherence of all those engaged to the dictum "Be rational." So asking "why be rational/logical?" is pointless, as one cannot form an argument against logic/reason, nor can any argument have any force for one who renounces logic/reason.

Objectivism's metaphysical axioms are "axiomatic" in this sense: No argument may be formulated which does not assume them implicitly, and so any argument purporting to disprove them will necessarily suffer from self-contradiction. And by asking "why do you believe what you believe?" one has already conceded that one needs reasons, i.e. needs to form arguments for one's beliefs, and so must reject any notion which is self-refuting/self-contradictory.

Basic breakdown:

A is A: Reject this claim- "A can be not A." Then this means that under certain conditions the statement "A is not A" is true. But this requires, to be true or conversely that the statement "A is A" is false under certain conditions. But this means that the statements "A is not A" and "A is A" cannot both be true at the same time, therefore A and not A can never be equivalent, so A is not not A and so A is A. Also, if you reject the law of non-contradiction/law of identity, then one can form no arguments as one can reach any conclusion one desires.

Existence exists: Reject this claim- "Existence does not exist." Reply-"At the very least, the statement "existence does not exist" then exists, and in order for anything to exist, existence must exist. QED". Or if you feel snarky, just reply "Who said that?"

Axiom of Consciousness: To be conscious is to be conscious of something. If I am not aware of anything except myself, I have nothing to compare to, so I cannot even be aware of myself. Therefore if I am not aware of an outside world, I am aware of nothing, and so am not conscious. Therefore I am conscious of an external world.

That's basically it. Hope that helps, and hope you get over that nasty religion thing that's been going around these last few millenia, it gives people tummy aches. :)

Also, welcome to OO.net!

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Hi everyone. So I have some basic questions that I was hoping could be answered....

No worries about asking something stupid, I've done a lot worse as far as stupid questions go. All three of your questions deal with the subject of the axioms of existence, consciousness, identity (and the laws of logic, which are derived from the axioms), so I'll just reply to all in one shot instead of going by the numbers. Basically, the idea is this: Aren't axioms ultimately just assumptions based on faith or arbitrary? If so, doesn't that make logic based on faith or arbitrary?

The answer Objectivism gives is no, axioms are self-evident (i.e. direct sensory awareness) in all perception, knowledge, and statements, which must necessarily accept them including in the attempt to deny them.

Now, it is true that axioms do not require proof. Rather, axioms are the means of proving anything, they make proof possible, that which the very notion of proof rests on. So, Objectivism does not say that there is nothing that cannot be proven. “Proof” presupposes the axioms. If we ask the axioms be “proved” we are misunderstanding the concept of “proof.” One proves a statement by reduction back to sensory awareness. Proof means you retrace some inference or deduction back to its base in direct perceptions of reality. Why? Because that is the only standard of testing the validity of anything. If all knowledge required proof, all propositions had to be derived from earlier propositions, all inferences inferred from other inferences, all statements derived from other statements, etc., then there would be an infinite regress. You can't go “outside” of existence and identity to show why existence and identity is logically necessary. There can be no such thing as “proof” prior to existence.

So in this sense, your question of “why [is] logic is the best criterion for a good worldview?” relies on the axioms and assumes them. Denying the law of identity or the validity of the axioms is always a stolen concept fallacy with regard to the concept of “proof.” You can't make an argument that tries to disprove the basis of proof. That's like saying “I'm proving to you that nothing can be proved!” If you deny the axioms, you can't then ask for proof of anything, rendering your denial a fallacy of self-exclusion.

If we call them arbitrary, it's also a stolen concept fallacy because “arbitrary” means “without proof” as opposed to with proof, and only logic can separate arbitrary from non-arbitrary. So you can't deny logic by using concepts that only the axioms and thus the laws of logic makes possible.

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#1. Are the foundations ...for Objectivism really based in logic, or rather axiomatic assumptions?

For instance, from an Objectivist's mode of thinking, i.e. their empirical understanding of the world, is there a rational basis for belief in a free will? If so, what is it?

#2. Can the superiority of logic to a specific worldview be logically proven? In other words, it seems like you start with the assumption that logic is the best criterion for a good worldview. Why? You have no logical basis for doing this, it is essentially an act of faith, isn't it?

#3. It is my opinion that every worldview must begin with some level of basic faith, an axiom, something to be believed that cannot be truly proven.

All three questions are different aspects of the question "what is the foundation of knowledge?" You are correct in being suspicious about using logic to prove logic. In fact, it is simply the fallacy of circular reasoning to even attempt to do so.

Ayn Rand used the word axiomatic to refer to that which is "... 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." This is not at all parallel to axioms in geometry where the givens can be selected somewhat arbitrarily just to see what can be deduced from them. The axiomatic concepts of Objectivism are existence, identity and consciousness and they are each known by perception and experience and can not be inferred by deduction. (Inferred from what?)

Objectivism affirms your power to perceive and know the world, and that all knowledge however abstract must be justified by its eventual tie to reality. There are abstractions which are not directly perceivable, but there will always be some logically prior component of a valid abstraction which is perceivable.

It is not the case that all knowledge is faith-based. Perception is a causal, natural this-worldly source of knowledge. Faith is an assertion of acausal, supernatural, other-worldly source of knowledge. Perception and faith are quite opposite as foundations of knowledge.

1) The rational basis for free will (volition hereafter) is your own experience in directing yourself through your day. You do not have control over everything that happens to you, but that is not necessary to experience volition which is first and primarily the mental phenomenon of you attention and conceptual faculty and later control of your behavior. Objectivism does not claim that emotions are under the direct control of your willpower.

2) Logic is good if you want to live and live well. If life is not your top priority then logic is not so important, but the practical consequences of attempting to live a contradiction can not be avoided. Because there are people who do not wish to live, and knowing is the means to living, it is not true that "all men desire to know" as Aristotle asserted.

3) It is not the case that knowledge must be faith based, as explained above.

The case for the reliability of the evidence of the senses is given in an academically rigorous form in David Kelley's book The Evidence of the Senses. Ayn Rand's theory of concept formation and of the hierarchical structure of knowledge based on the senses is given in her technical work Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, 2nd ed.

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Thank you guys! I think I understand this all now. I will pick up that OPAR book next time I find myself near the Barnes & Noble here.

You may have to order it online - we radically rational thinkers are rare enough that Peikoff's book doesn't merit much shelf space in the freely competitive market arena of the B&N aisles.

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Welcome to O`ism, and have Good Success (as opposed to good luck, being a mystical anti-concept of 'luckless' beings) in any way you choose via your freedom to think or not.

No, your questions ain't sound stupid at all.

#1. Are the foundations ...for Objectivism really based in logic, or rather axiomatic assumptions?

For instance, from an Objectivist's mode of thinking, i.e. their empirical understanding of the world, is there a rational basis for belief in a free will? If so, what is it?

Both at one and the same time.

Logic is the art of non-contradictory identification, but it cannot prove "either-or" principle or a couple of sides of identification (consciousness plus existence).

However, you can prove that those cannot be proved or disproved by means of common logic or formal logic (as did Godel); the former is done by means of asking: How can you prove existence without assuming ahead the world exists, or how can you prove consciousness without assuming ahead that you are aware, or how can you prove identity without assuming ahead that proof is a valid means of knowledge, etc.

You may try to "prove" these axioms to anyone who does not accept them.

You shall see that in any human case, they will respond: "Oh, fine, you proved it, but what does a proof have to do with reality \ you have just imagined that you had proven it \ there is no reality \ contradictions exist and your proof is not valid \ {Program.thisClass = new Program(); thisClass.InsertaGibberishStatement;}" (mark the most suitable declaration}, and in a case which is of no conceptual faculty (and conceptual faculties ARE

based upon axioms) a mere emptiness.

Axioms are neither provable nor disprovalbe; every honest, i.e., consistent arguer will acknowledge that none of his claims can exist without it; the assumption that you are aware of something is the basis of any human knowledge; that is, the "assumption" that knowledge is ever possible.

As said Rand with a passionate wording,

"The first and primary axiomatic concepts are “existence,” “identity” (which is a corollary of “existence”) and “consciousness.” One can study what exists and how consciousness functions; but one cannot analyze (or “prove”) existence as such, or consciousness as such. These are irreducible primaries. (An attempt to “prove” them is self-contradictory: it is an attempt to “prove” existence by means of non-existence, and consciousness by means of unconsciousness.)"

(ITOE, 55)

Can the superiority of logic to a specific worldview be logically proven? In other words, it seems like you start with the assumption that logic is the best criterion for a good worldview. Why? You have no logical basis for doing this, it is essentially an act of faith, isn't it?
Superiority---over what?

Over logic and reality itself---no, because a proof is the process of deriving a conclusion step by step from the evidence of the senses, each step being taken in accordance with the laws of logic and the axioms.

If you prove anything---it is either you have an infinite regress or a recursive statement---and in both cases, assuming you should prove anything, you should abandon each premise that had been rationalized or proven by using a fallacy of abstraction---and hence to abandon the entire logical system, of which axioms are not properly proven.

Over man's mind---Oh, it certainly can, since man's ethical nature is no axiom.

The proof is the fact that an organism is to attempt to survive according to its guidance, but man has no automatic guidance or course of action---he has to think in order to achieve knowledge. You may validate the following by means of an introspection process.

But according to the above, logic is the "superior" standard of identifying reality: reality is never contradictory.

Therefore, logic is the only human means of knowledge.

It is my opinion that every worldview must begin with some level of basic faith, an axiom, something to be believed that cannot be truly proven. The problem I see with Objectivism is that it denies anything that cannot be proven. It takes it's own axiomatic foundations as truth and denies that such things can exist. Sure, it is logical and consistent after having established such things, but there is no logical reason to believe those basic foundations, just faith. To repeat, every worldview I think must start with faith. My faith is in God (to be clear, I believe there is a god, I do not however, assume it is some specific god like Christians, Muslims, and the like do, just that something was the source of all around us, I guess I am considered a deist because I don't think "it" involves itself with us), and from there everything else proceeds logically, and my worldview is less contradictory than Objectivism does because it still acknowledges it rests ultimately on faith. Objectivism also proceeds logically from its foundational axioms but it seems to me that Objectivism contradicts itself in saying it requires no faith, whereas I contend that it requires all sorts of faith commitments before it can get off the ground.

NO, because "choosing" one's axioms is not a matter of faith or of mysticism, and it can be proved valid or false.

Mysticism is holding convinctions without an evidence to them being true \ with an evidence to them being false.

Does "A is A" not have any evidence in reality?

Can you imagine your world without it?

Again, correct me if I'm wrong, and I again admit that while I think I have a handle on the very very basics Objectivism, I could still learn a whole lot more and I am interested in doing so.
You ARE wrong, but it is a good characteristic you ask for a correction and do not accept your rejection of some ideas as if it were axiomatic and stop listening to anyone who proves otherwise. Edited by Tomer Ravid
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You may have to order it online - we radically rational thinkers are rare enough that Peikoff's book doesn't merit much shelf space in the freely competitive market arena of the B&N aisles.

I've managed to buy copies at both Barnes and Noble and Borders. You'll probably find it readily in the philosophy section, a shelf above R because it's Leonard Peikoff's work.

Slightly off that subject, I found it hard to locate "Capitalism the Unknown Ideal" once at Barnes and Noble. Fear not though: It turned out to be in the business and finance section!

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Are the foundations ...for Objectivism really based in logic

No, they are based in reality. Logic is also based in reality, which is why it is a part of Objectivism. But Logic is not something to be accepted on faith. It must also be validated.

Can the superiority of logic to a specific worldview be logically proven? In other words, it seems like you start with the assumption that logic is the best criterion for a good worldview. Why? You have no logical basis for doing this, it is essentially an act of faith, isn't it?

Of course not. The foundation for Logic, in very simple terms, is the claim "contradictions cannot exist". That claim is substantiated by the reality around us, not taken on faith.

#3. It is my opinion that every worldview must begin with some level of basic faith, an axiom, something to be believed that cannot be truly proven.

There is one alternative: accept nothing on faith, start with reality instead. Ayn Rand wasn't the first person to do that, but she did a better (or at least more consistent) job of it than most others, imho.

Now, you might say: But wouldn't that mean I am assuming that reality exists? Yes, of course, that is a fundamental assumption, but it isn't taken on faith. It is taken on the opposite of faith: evidence. Everything we observe proves that reality exists. "Reality doesn't exist" cannot even be stated without contradicting it right then and there.

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Everything we observe proves that reality exists. "Reality doesn't exist" cannot even be stated without contradicting it right then and there.

Be careful here. Proof presumes objective reality and the validity of our senses so there can be no "proof" that there is an objective reality or that our senses are valid. But it is the case that any attempt to "prove" that there is no objective reality or that our senses are not valid is stealing the concept of "proof" to deny the very concepts it depends on.

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Hi everyone. So I have some basic questions that I was hoping could be answered.... I know there is a search function but I thought a few of these are too specific to easily find the answers to, and that these questions were basic enough someone could answer easily for me. However, I would like to say I would prefer semi-thorough explanations if possible since I don't know much about Objectivism or philosophy in general and may need some of that simpler stuff explained that all of you accept as "obvious" already. I am working on learning more about both topics from what is available online. Hopefully these questions don't sound stupid to you all. :worry:

#1. Are the foundations ...for Objectivism really based in logic, or rather axiomatic assumptions?

For instance, from an Objectivist's mode of thinking, i.e. their empirical understanding of the world, is there a rational basis for belief in a free will? If so, what is it?

#2. Can the superiority of logic to a specific worldview be logically proven? In other words, it seems like you start with the assumption that logic is the best criterion for a good worldview. Why? You have no logical basis for doing this, it is essentially an act of faith, isn't it?

#3. It is my opinion that every worldview must begin with some level of basic faith, an axiom, something to be believed that cannot be truly proven. The problem I see with Objectivism is that it denies anything that cannot be proven. It takes it's own axiomatic foundations as truth and denies that such things can exist. Sure, it is logical and consistent after having established such things, but there is no logical reason to believe those basic foundations, just faith. To repeat, every worldview I think must start with faith. My faith is in God (to be clear, I believe there is a god, I do not however, assume it is some specific god like Christians, Muslims, and the like do, just that something was the source of all around us, I guess I am considered a deist because I don't think "it" involves itself with us), and from there everything else proceeds logically, and my worldview is less contradictory than Objectivism does because it still acknowledges it rests ultimately on faith. Objectivism also proceeds logically from its foundational axioms but it seems to me that Objectivism contradicts itself in saying it requires no faith, whereas I contend that it requires all sorts of faith commitments before it can get off the ground.

Again, correct me if I'm wrong, and I again admit that while I think I have a handle on the very very basics Objectivism, I could still learn a whole lot more and I am interested in doing so.

The basic error here is a confusion between "faith" and "undeniability." The laws of logic cannot be denied; the evidence of the senses cannot be denied. They have to be presupposed in any act of cognition. I don't know what exactly you mean by "faith" - it means all kinds of things to all kinds of people - but I don't think there's a useful application of the term "faith" that renders reliance upon logic and the senses a matter of faith.

The greatest of the philosophers, Aristotle, invoked a principle that we might call Affirmation Through Denial to establish the axiomatic status of logic. Anyone who purports to offer a challenge to the laws of logic or the evidence of the senses, must implicitly presuppose them. To deny logic as an irreducible presupposition of cognition is to deny that A rules out non-A (at the same time and same respect), which means to both affirm and to deny logic as an irreducible presupposition. It serves as a nice effective answer to sophists and skeptics, as well as to anyone confused about the axiomatic status of logic.

I have no idea how the same defense could be performed for acts of faith.

When it comes to free will, Rand did not claim to offer an argument for it, because she also thought it had, ultimately, an irreducibly axiomatic and undeniable status. Much like Aristotle's defense of the laws of logic, the "demonstration" here is a negative one, on the grounds that to deny free will is to affirm that one's denial was not a product of free choice, which means the denial is beyond rational consideration since everyone's affirmation or denial would be the product of forces ultimately beyond their control. That would make any affirmation or denial the product of something fundamentally distinct from the merits or reasons (or lack thereof) of belief in free will. On the irreducible presupposition that people are capable of changing their minds in the face of arguments and reasons, Objectivists affirm free will.

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