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Jacob86
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Actually I've stated them a few times (and am happy to do so upon request-- all you have to do is ask). :)

In my epistemology, the reason we know that the laws of logic hold universally is because the contrary (the idea that they don't hold... that there are contradictions in reality) is an impossible state of affairs. In other words, because it is impossible that contradictions exist, therefore it is logically necessary that "contradictions do not exist". This is the only justification I can imagine for a belief that the law of non-contradiction applies universally (and therefore I hold to it). It's sort of invincible.

It's sort of circular.

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If a contradiction DID exist, how would you identify it as such?

You would observe an entity, and it would be what it is. It would not be what it is not.

If an entity is observed existing, for example, as solid matter and liquid matter at the same time, then we are not observing a contradiction. We are observing something unidentified. We attempt to apply what we already know about matter (that it exists in certain states) to this thing, and find that what we know is not sufficient. Perhaps we have observed an undiscovered 5th state of matter. We don't know what it is, but we know that it is something. That it is, means it exists as a thing with a specific nature that we can identify. Maybe we don't know enough to identify it properly, as our anscestors failed to identify fire as plasma; or failed to identify that whales are mammals and not fish. But whatever this thing is, it does not contradict reality, because there it is, existing as a part of it, perhaps doing a thing (or being a thing) we thought was impossible....

We can rest assured that this new thing exists, if we have observed it. Whatever its "impossible" nature, it is specific and identifiable. Does this mean all of our knowledge must be discarded, that we discovered a new fact we thought was impossible? Or is this merely an oppurtunity to refine and perfect it? If an entity existed in this 5th state, solid and liquid, does that mean the nature of my solid desk or liquid coffee has changed?

A is A, always. A is not Non-A; A is A and Non-A is Non-A. A is not B; A is A and B is B. Etc..

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This is a great example of certain Objectivists' impotent debate tactics. You call him insane (not a valid argument against his point), you say he's wrong because he's "divorced his mind from reality" (not a valid argument against his point), then you just link to the lexicon (which doesn't really help, since you don't do anything to explain how these writings bears on his point), then, the ultimate insult, compare him to the nefarious Immanuel Kant, fit with lexicon link and waxing poetically against the "Kantian world" we live in. What Jacob is doing is arguing against a straw man of Objectivism from a Humean position on the foundations of knowledge, it's not "insane" or mentally ill, or anything else. Confused, yes, but this kind of argument from intimidation or hyperbole would not be tolerated in scholarly debate and would not do anything to fight against the anti-realist trend you complain about or to help advance Objectivism.

I don't agree with any of this, and I stand by my comments to Jacob. I may say more later, but I don't have time now.

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Actually I've stated them a few times (and am happy to do so upon request-- all you have to do is ask). :)

In my epistemology, the reason we know that the laws of logic hold universally is because the contrary (the idea that they don't hold... that there are contradictions in reality) is an impossible state of affairs. In other words, because it is impossible that contradictions exist, therefore it is logically necessary that "contradictions do not exist". This is the only justification I can imagine for a belief that the law of non-contradiction applies universally (and therefore I hold to it).

Yes, but your are not saying how you initially derived this knowledge. The only way to validate that what you have just said is true is by directly perceiving reality. Such knowledge is not and could never be given to you in any other way. The only other ways are by either appealing to the arbitrary, some form of rationalism, or of mysticism.

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This is a great example of certain Objectivists' impotent debate tactics. You call him insane (not a valid argument against his point), you say he's wrong because he's "divorced his mind from reality" (not a valid argument against his point), then you just link to the lexicon (which doesn't really help, since you don't do anything to explain how these writings bears on his point), then, the ultimate insult, compare him to the nefarious Immanuel Kant, fit with lexicon link and waxing poetically against the "Kantian world" we live in. What Jacob is doing is arguing against a straw man of Objectivism from a Humean position on the foundations of knowledge, it's not "insane" or mentally ill, or anything else. Confused, yes, but this kind of argument from intimidation or hyperbole would not be tolerated in scholarly debate and would not do anything to fight against the anti-realist trend you complain about or to help advance Objectivism.

Omfg. Objectivism is a great philosophy exactly because it avoids and corrects all the scholarly debate non-sense. All the silly debates that have nothing to do with actual reality is the exact reason most people hate and avoid learning about any type of philosophy to begin with.

Edited by EC
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Omfg. Objectivism is a great philosophy exactly because it avoids and corrects all the scholarly debate non-sense. All the silly debates that have nothing to do with actual reality is the exact reason most people hate and avoid learning about any type of philosophy to begin with.

Because Objectivism does not contain any principles that reject scholarly standards, this leads me to believe you are confusing standards of valid debate with something like "opinions held by cetain people." Objectivism cuts through "opinions held by certain people," but nothing in Objectivism seeks to avoid normative procedures of reasoned discussion, since these can be derived from the intellectual virtues and the laws of logic.
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Yes, but your are not saying how you initially derived this knowledge.

How this knowledge got into my head, personally, as a subject, has no bearing at all on how I know that it as an object is true.

Perhaps you mean to say "but you are not saying how you know this to be true" (which is a more important and DIFFERENT issue)... in which case my response would be: Yes I have. I know it is true because it can't not be true. I know it is true because it must be true. I wasn't born knowing this, but this has been true long before I was born and will continue to be true long after I die. I may have used perception in my journey toward discovering this, but I cannot use perception to validate it as universally true. The only way I can know that it is universally true is by reasoning and realizing that it simply must be true and therefore is at all times and in all respects. You could say that perception was used a lot in the inspiration of the idea, but it certainly is not used in determining whether that idea is universally true or not.

The only way to validate that what you have just said is true is by directly perceiving reality.

This begs the question-- and incidentally could very beautifully illustrate my point if you (or anyone else) is able to follow the reasoning close enough and to correctly identify the contradiction.

"The only way to validate [that an idea] is true is by directly perceiving reality"... which basically means that if an idea cannot be validated by directly perceiving reality, then it ought to be "thrown to the flames" (Hume).

Is this an idea? Yes.

Is it true? You are assuming it is.

Can it be validated to be true by directly perceiving reality? No.

Then it breaks its own rule and is self-contradictory.

You may say "yes", and I will ask you to point in the direction where I may directly perceive this idea in reality.

You can't.

Such knowledge is not and could never be given to you in any other way. The only other ways are by either appealing to the arbitrary, some form of rationalism, or of mysticism.

OR reason- apart from which (as I demonstrated above) you cannot have any knowledge about anything ever-- apart from mere percepts & sensations.

You can pretend that you are only using perception but any and all reasoning necessarily involves reason.

I don't know why you guys equate "reason" with "rationalism". Reason is just as strict (if not more so) and accurate as the Scientific Method. The difference is that the tests are run in the mind (rather than the lab), they are held in check by philosophical laws/axioms (rather than scientific laws) and the results reach well beyond the concrete-bound range of the moment.

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That doesn't really help us. It definitely is circular so far as you have described it, so if you have something different in mind, why not elaborate?

We know that the laws of logic (and axioms in general) are universally true because it is impossible for them not to be true. Any attempt to deny or even doubt them must necessarily assume them and thus prove that they are invincibly and universally true.

That is what it means for something to be axiomatic- that it must be affirmed in order to be denied.

AND, that (an axiom) is what is necessary as a foundation to epistemology since there cannot be an infinite regress in an epistemic chain.

You could say that perception, itself, is also "axiomatic" and therefore "foundational" in respect to all that we perceive... because you cannot go behind perception.

Likewise you cannot go behind the axioms and therefore they are foundational in respect to all of our thinking.

Perception is its own foundation (it is self evident) and the axioms (particularly the law of Identity) is its own foundation (it is self-evident... meaning evident in itself.. not "automatically known in a particular self/subject").

Perception cannot serve as the foundation to a universal law such as "A is A" and neither can an axiom serve as a foundation to perception.

However, in any conceptual knowledge, the axioms are foundational (to the knowledge being true) and the perception is foundational to the subject's grasping of it.

"The rose is red"

If the axioms were not true, nothing (including this statement or any part of it could be true). That's why they are foundational to the truthfulness of the knowledge.

But, I agree that perception is foundational to the subject grasping that the rose is red and not white or blue.

Both are good and necessary. However, they play separate (and complimentary) roles.

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Both are good and necessary. However, they play separate (and complimentary) roles.

You already agreed on how axiomatic concepts are formed, so I have no idea how you can say that perception cannot serve as the foundation to the law of identity. Of course you validate by means of reason, but you are only validating what you are perceiving. "Look at reality and think a little" makes more sense than what EC said; "just look at reality" is actually a type of intrinsicism in the sense that by merely looking, you "somehow" have acquired knowledge (I took that phrasing of "somehow" from the Peikoff lecture "Understanding Objectivism"). I believe that's called naive realism, which Objectivism is not.

Perception being foundational only means that perception is necessary in any validation of knowledge, and that any concept, if valid, can be reduced to the perceptual level. In other words, you used perception on your way to discovering that the axioms are true (those are your words, actually, but I removed "may have"). Fortunately, the axioms are so simple to validate once you form the concept its trivial to get to the perceptual level. There's literally one step. Validation is quite clearly a cognitive process and not automatic, though.

Edited by Eiuol
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We know that the laws of logic (and axioms in general) are universally true because it is impossible for them not to be true. Any attempt to deny or even doubt them must necessarily assume them and thus prove that they are invincibly and universally true.

Jacob's metaphysics: God exists because he is the logically necessary Prime Mover-Consciousness who created existence.

Jacob's epistemology: The laws of logic are universally true because it would be illogical were they not. A is A, A thing is itself, due to our (or God's) awareness of the laws of logic, not because Existence is Identity. Although we can perceive an A, and our perception of that A is self-evident, we cannot say that any (and all) A is A without a prior acceptance of the laws of logic. The laws of logic do not rest upon the axiomatic concepts of "Existence," "Identity" and "Consciousness," not on the basis of perception, on the evidence of perception (from which we form the concepts "Existence," "Identity," and "Consciousness"), as that would be an induction and could only be validated by omniscient awareness of all things that have ever been, that are, and that will ever be.

Thank God for existence and logic!

I'm certainly looking forward to Jacob's ethics. God knows that we need morality.

Edit: clarity

Edited by Trebor
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You already agreed on how axiomatic concepts are formed, so I have no idea how you can say that perception cannot serve as the foundation to the law of identity.

Its because we are talking about two different types of "foundation". In respect to discovery (the idea getting into my head), I would agree that perception is a type of foundation-- a chronological foundation.

In respect to validation (establishing that the idea is universally true rather than false / only true in some instances, etc...), it is not a sufficient foundation-- not a logical foundation.

I believe Rand makes a similar chronological vs logical distinction (about something different) in the beginning of ITOE but I don't have it on me now.

Of course you validate by means of reason, but you are only validating what you are perceiving.

No. What you perceive are percepts. Percepts, as such, require no validation. Ideas require validation and are validated by means of reason. We are not talking about percepts. We are talking about an idea (the idea that A is A)- and this idea is testified to in our percepts, but the idea, itself is not perceived. It can't be.

Perception being foundational only means that perception is necessary in any validation of knowledge,

If what you mean here is that "any validation of knowledge requires conceptual thinking and concepts are formed from percepts and therefore prior perception is implicitly used in all conceptual thinking and validation of knowledge", then I could agree.

However, if you mean that "Perception must be appealed to in the validation of any bit of knowledge", I would disagree since you would be claiming that THAT is knowledge and it, itself, cannot be validated by appealing to perception.

and that any concept, if valid, can be reduced to the perceptual level.

Reduced to the perceptual level and what? To be reducible means to be composite of on or more things. If something were reducible to one thing and nothing else, then it would be nothing but that one thing (percepts in this case).

If you were to say that "any concept, if valid, can be reduced to irreducible primaries- such as perception, and identity", then I could agree.

In other words, you used perception on your way to discovering that the axioms are true (those are your words, actually, but I removed "may have").

I used perception on my way to the discovery, but not perception alone.

Fortunately, the axioms are so simple to validate once you form the concept its trivial to get to the perceptual level. There's literally one step. Validation is quite clearly a cognitive process and not automatic, though.

But what I'm saying is that you can't appeal to the perceptual level to validate the axioms (particularly the universal application of the axioms). The only way to understand that the axioms are valid is to understand that it is impossible for them not to be valid-- that you must assume them in order to deny/doubt them. Any other means of validation (like perception) leaves open the possibility that they are not true universally.

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Actually, what I perceive is reality. Percepts is are simply the form I perceive it in.

Agreed. And that's not in conflict with what I meant. Nothing but percepts can be validated by perception alone. Everything else requires reason and the information given by percepts.

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Nothing but percepts can be validated by perception alone. Everything else requires reason and the information given by percepts.
But then, we've never said anything otherwise, nor is anything otherwise to be found in Rand. We've denied this "perception alone" thing over and over, actually ever since post #5 on page 1. Rand's entire theory is that conceptual knowledge is derived by reasoning from sense-data. This includes the axioms. The confusion (stated once again for like the fourth time) is that there is a difference between the referents of these axioms implicit in the beginning of perceptual awareness, and the explicit conceptual formulation of them later on in cognitive development (again see ITOE "The Explicit Formulation of Axiomatic Concepts," p. 262)
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No. What you perceive are percepts. Percepts, as such, require no validation. Ideas require validation and are validated by means of reason. We are not talking about percepts. We are talking about an idea (the idea that A is A)- and this idea is testified to in our percepts, but the idea, itself is not perceived. It can't be.

Imprecise on my part. You get content from your percepts. You develop a concept. You validate the concept. In order to demonstrate that the idea is based on something *real*, you need to point out what content you are integrating to form a concept. If there's no perceptual content, the idea is *meaningless*. There is at *some* level a connection between reality. I already said that percepts are not validated by perception alone, by the way. Perception itself does *not* provide knowledge, I agree on that.

By reducing to the perceptual level, it only means reducing a concept to the bare minimum where you can see *what* you are forming a concept about. I don't mean that the concept becomes a percept.

I am mainly just posting to give you clarification, so I didn't address all of what you said, though if someone went on more detail about a logical vs chronological foundation, that would be great.

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Nothing but percepts can be validated by perception alone. Everything else requires reason and the information given by percepts.

Percepts cannot be validated by perception alone. They simply are. Your only choice is how/do you apply reasoning to the concepts derived from percepts in order to validate them.

Edited by dream_weaver
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However, if you mean that "Perception must be appealed to in the validation of any bit of knowledge", I would disagree since you would be claiming that THAT is knowledge and it, itself, cannot be validated by appealing to perception.

Dr. Peikoff reduced the principle that all knowledge is reducible to the perceptual in his "Art of Thinking" course. It went like this:

Reduce hierarchy (Reduce reducibility) (in this example going from top down)

  1. Knowledge is hierarchical (start)
  2. Knowledge is conceptual
  3. Concepts are abstractions
  4. Some abstractions are of percepts (perceptual level)

I used perception on my way to the discovery, but not perception alone.
Yes, but the tie to the perceptual is what validates a concept or proposition. What does not relate back to the perceptual is called a floating abstraction. Logic alone can find contradictions between propositions but not contradictions between a proposition and the underlying reality to which it refers.

Furthermore, propositions cannot even be created and examined for contradiction without there first being cognitive content, input from the senses. The relation between perceiving and conceiving is not merely chronological but causal, and therefore logical in every particular case.

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But then, we've never said anything otherwise, nor is anything otherwise to be found in Rand. We've denied this "perception alone" thing over and over, actually ever since post #5 on page 1. Rand's entire theory is that conceptual knowledge is derived by reasoning from sense-data. This includes the axioms. The confusion (stated once again for like the fourth time) is that there is a difference between the referents of these axioms implicit in the beginning of perceptual awareness, and the explicit conceptual formulation of them later on in cognitive development (again see ITOE "The Explicit Formulation of Axiomatic Concepts," p. 262)

So then, would you agree with me that one need not (and cannot) appeal to perception in order to validate the idea that the axioms are universally true?

Would you also agree that most concepts are reducible to perception and the law of identity?

And would you also agree, therefore, that the law of identity is at least one concept which is not reducible to perception, but is also an irreducible primary?

*Remember- I am not talking about each of the individual words being reducible to perception (ex. "A", "is", "A"). I am talking about the concept to which this specific combination of words refers: "A is A"... The concept that this is a universally true state of affairs.

If you (Objectivism in general) disagrees on any of these points, than we have legitimate disagreements and it is these points of difference which I am attempting to focus on and hilight in discussing the role (or lack thereof) of perception in validating the law of identity. I don't want to argue about straw-men, so I am trying to be as specific as possible about the point of my dispute.

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Interesting example. I would suggest that while perception is essential in every living organism's means of survival, your example also illustrates that man's means of survival is reason. "She was reduced to an animalistic state, completely incapable of survival" - until she connected W A T E R to the wet liquid on her hands. At that point, reason simultaneously differentiated and integrated the two percepts together (from all the other sensations of writing on the palm combined with contact of other objects) into a single new mental concrete. The implicit A is A had its foundations laid in W A T E R is "the wet liquid on my hands". By going on from there, she could add C H I C K E N is "this meat", C O R N is "this starchy tasting vegetable" - and would be able to integrate at some point in her future that every thing is what it is. A is A is only an irreducible primary in a philosophic sense. It can, however, be conceptually reduced back to the precepts which gave rise to it.

So then, would you agree with me that one need not (and cannot) appeal to perception in order to validate the idea that the axioms are universally true?

Would you also agree that most concepts are reducible to perception and the law of identity?

And would you also agree, therefore, that the law of identity is at least one concept which is not reducible to perception, but is also an irreducible primary?

*Remember- I am not talking about each of the individual words being reducible to perception (ex. "A", "is", "A"). I am talking about the concept to which this specific combination of words refers: "A is A"... The concept that this is a universally true state of affairs.

If you (Objectivism in general) disagrees on any of these points, than we have legitimate disagreements and it is these points of difference which I am attempting to focus on and hilight in discussing the role (or lack thereof) of perception in validating the law of identity. I don't want to argue about straw-men, so I am trying to be as specific as possible about the point of my dispute.

One can, and must appeal to perception in order to validate the axioms. In short, they are universally true for the same principle that concepts like man, animal, justice, etc. refer to every instance that is, was or will be.

All valid concepts are reducible by identification of their referents (which may involve other abstractions which in turn are reducible by the same manner) until you reach "X" ("X" is what I perceive, "Y" is the form (material content) I perceive it. "Z" is the integration (abstraction) based on perceptually given similarity. "AA" is the word I assign to the concept "Z" which is an integration of "Y"'s derived from "X").

What I perceive is reality. Percepts are simply the form I perceive it in. Concepts are integrations of differences/similarities observed (again, perceptually given) among the percepts. Words are the visual/auditory symbols to condense and represent or symbolize the concept.

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Imprecise on my part. You get content from your percepts. You develop a concept. You validate the concept. In order to demonstrate that the idea is based on something *real*, you need to point out what content you are integrating to form a concept. If there's no perceptual content, the idea is *meaningless*. There is at *some* level a connection between reality. I already said that percepts are not validated by perception alone, by the way. Perception itself does *not* provide knowledge, I agree on that. By reducing to the perceptual level, it only means reducing a concept to the bare minimum where you can see *what* you are forming a concept about. I don't mean that the concept becomes a percept. I am mainly just posting to give you clarification, so I didn't address all of what you said, though if someone went on more detail about a logical vs chronological foundation, that would be great.

Gotchya. I'm just going to respond to the stuff I hilighted in red.

What I am suggesting is that there are a lot of real things in reality to which concepts can refer that are invisible (non-perceptual)-- like the fact that everything is itself, causal relationships, etc... These are things that we can observe evidence of in perception, but we cannot perceive the state of affairs being thought of/ referred to.

This means that no concept is entirely reducible to what is perceived because no concept is entirely about perception. At the very least it is about one particular object of perception as opposed to another (A, not ~A). And the isolating of an object of perception from other objects of perception, and identifying it as a distinct object, is not a function of perception-- and the knowledge that one can and should do this isolation & identification is not derived from perception. All of this is the role of reason.

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One can, and must appeal to perception in order to validate the axioms. In short, they are universally true for the same principle that concepts like man, animal, justice, etc. refer to every instance that is, was or will be.

All valid concepts are reducible by identification of their referents (which may involve other abstractions which in turn are reducible by the same manner) until you reach "X" ("X" is what I perceive, "Y" is the form (material content) I perceive it. "Z" is the integration (abstraction) based on perceptually given similarity. "AA" is the word I assign to the concept "Z" which is an integration of "Y"'s derived from "X").

What I perceive is reality. Percepts are simply the form I perceive it in. Concepts are integrations of differences/similarities observed (again, perceptually given) among the percepts. Words are the visual/auditory symbols to condense and represent or symbolize the concept.

And what just ground do you have to believe that you can/should commit such integrating & identification?

You see, I agree with you guys (once again) on how concepts are formed. I'm simply wanting to focus in on an aspect of the process which you seem to overlook- an aspect that implies that perception cannot be the only means of validation.

Have you perceived somewhere that you rightly can & should isolate, identify, and integrate percepts in such a way as you do (assuming that A is A the whole time)?

The entire process of forming concepts assumes the universal validity of the LI. How do you know that such an assumption is warranted? Because you have perceived that the assumption is warranted or because you have reasoned that it is (and must be) warranted?

If the former, please direct my perception to where I may perceive this.

If the latter, then we have succesfully validated an idea (that A is A is universally true) apart from appealing to perception.

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