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Does a philosophy stand or fall as one?

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*** Mod's note: Was split from another topic. - sN ***

I'm not sure if it is worth creating a new topic for this, so I'll reply here for now.

It's true, Objectivism is not to be accepted on faith, but it stands or falls as a whole.

And of course, the same applies to religions.

What does this mean exactly? To stand or to fall is a metaphor, but the implication seems to be that if one principle of Objectivism is shown to be false, then all its principles are rendered false. (i.e. false in the sense of "not validated via Objectivism"; someone else could come along and show that the principle was indeed true, based on some other approach). However, such an implication seems to deny that the principles have a hierarchy. How would you answer that? i.e. How would you answer the criticism that says that if one principle is rendered wrong, then only principles derived from that are thereby rendered wrong? Edited by softwareNerd
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I'm not sure if it is worth creating a new topic for this, so I'll reply here for now.

What does this mean exactly? To stand or to fall is a metaphor, but the implication seems to be that if one principle of Objectivism is shown to be false, then all its principles are rendered false. (i.e. false in the sense of "not validated via Objectivism"; someone else could come along and show that the principle was indeed true, based on some other approach). However, such an implication seems to deny that the principles have a hierarchy. How would you answer that? i.e. How would you answer the criticism that says that if one principle is rendered wrong, then only principles derived from that are thereby rendered wrong?

Good question.

I see it as two different issues: 1. Objectivism as a philosophical whole of interrelated principles, and 2. the (of Objectivism) principles considered separately (which, in a sense, is how we go about learning Objectivism and coming to accept, or reject, it).

Every statement anyone makes implies some epistemology, some theory of knowledge whether implicit or explicit. So, say that you believe that there's life after death, that you've accepted a principle of Christianity. But then you think about knowledge and come to conclude that reason is our only means of knowledge (you accept one principle of Objectivism, without yet accepting Objectivism in total). Well then, if you take that principle where it logically goes, you then have to reject the Christian metaphysics, the idea that there's a supernatural realm and a life after death, etc., which depended on the Christian epistemological view. You've then accepted another principle of Objectivism, that reality, this world, and reality only exists. Cash in on your metaphysics (including man's nature) and your epistemology, and you get the Objectivist ethics and politics, etc. as a system of interrelated principles, each relating to or implying the others.

"How would you answer the criticism that says that if one principle is rendered wrong, then only principles derived from that are thereby rendered wrong?"

By pointing out that not only principles derived from it are rendered wrong, but also all principles that relate to it are wrong [and that Objectivism, as a philosophical system, collapses].

If Objectivism is wrong in its epistemology, if concepts are not objective, all the rest is moot as relates to that issue. [Etc.]

Edited by Trebor
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If Objectivism is wrong in its epistemology, if concepts are not objective, all the rest is moot as relates to that issue. [Etc.]
But don't your examples work because you selected fundamental issues from Metaphysics and Epistemology? For instance, does the truth of the the notions that "Existence Exists" or "Concepts are Objective" stand or fall if we discover a chink in the proof of the virtue of Selfishness vs. Altruism?

In other words, we cannot argue for Objectivism's Ethics and Politics if we reject Objectivist Metaphysics and Epistemplogy. We would have to try a whole different approach. However, cannot we argue for Objectivism's Metaphysics and Epistemology without first proving its Ethics and Politics. If so, then don't those two more fundamental branches "stand on their own". Indeed, even between Politics and Ethics, doesn't the Ethics stand up to any assault against the Politics?

I don't see how any principle that "relates" to another falls it that other falls. Relates is simply too broad a term. A body of evidence can lead people to come up with a set of fairly related principles, and one of these could be mistaken even though they all seem [perfectly integrated at the time.

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But don't your examples work because you selected fundamental issues from Metaphysics and Epistemology? For instance, does the truth of the the notions that "Existence Exists" or "Concepts are Objective" stand or fall if we discover a chink in the proof of the virtue of Selfishness vs. Altruism?

In other words, we cannot argue for Objectivism's Ethics and Politics if we reject Objectivist Metaphysics and Epistemplogy. We would have to try a whole different approach. However, cannot we argue for Objectivism's Metaphysics and Epistemology without first proving its Ethics and Politics. If so, then don't those two more fundamental branches "stand on their own". Indeed, even between Politics and Ethics, doesn't the Ethics stand up to any assault against the Politics?

I don't see how any principle that "relates" to another falls it that other falls. Relates is simply too broad a term. A body of evidence can lead people to come up with a set of fairly related principles, and one of these could be mistaken even though they all seem [perfectly integrated at the time.

If I understand you, you're making that point that theirs a hierarchy of relationships among the principles of Objectivism, that some (metaphysics and epistemology) are fundamental and that others (ethics and politics and esthetics) are derivatives, that it's a one-way street of dependency, that of course if one accepts the Objectivist metaphysics and epistemology, one will be led by logic to accept its ethics and politics and, presumably, its esthetics. But then, how about the other way around? If the implications are proven false, doesn't that leave the fundamentals intact?

So...

What would it mean to discover a "chink in the proof of the virtue of Selfishness vs. Altruism"? If we discovered that selfishness was not a virtue, how could that impact issues from metaphysics and epistemology?

Well, what one would have to discover is that man's nature is not such that selfishness is a virtue. If selfishness is not a virtue, then there's something about man and reality (and the epistemology that supported the idea that selfishness was a virtue) that is not in accord with the Objectivist metaphysics and epistemology.

Is that too abstract?

If selfishness is not a virtue, then man should not be the beneficiary of his own actions, his life is not fundamentally dependent upon his own independent thinking and actions, but perhaps instead on subordinating himself to the group and the group's representatives who will do his thinking for him.

"In other words, we cannot argue for Objectivism's Ethics and Politics if we reject Objectivist Metaphysics and Epistemplogy. We would have to try a whole different approach."

I agree.

"However, cannot we argue for Objectivism's Metaphysics and Epistemology without first proving its Ethics and Politics."

Yes, we can argue for the Objectivist metaphysics and epistemology without first proving its ethics and politics. But ethics and politics is the motivation for the study of metaphysics and epistemology. We're concerned with living, how to live well and be happy. Therefore we need to know where we are, what kind of being we are, and how we know what we know or claim to know.

Point is: why is anyone at all interested in metaphysics and epistemology? If we could live just fine with only ethics and politics, with no need for metaphysics and epistemology, then I suppose that we would. But we would not be the beings we are. We wouldn't even need ethics and politics. But we are what we are, and there are vying ethical and political views, in conflict with one another. What's the solution? Fight it out? Or identify the metaphysics and epistemology, the proper metaphysics and epistemology so that we can decide on the proper ethics and politics.

'If so, then don't those two more fundamental branches "stand on their own".'

I guess I'm not sure what "stand on their own" means. Those two branches have definite implications for the rest of the philosophy (or any philosophy), and likewise, any ethics or politics that depends on metaphysics and epistemology (all ethical and political views do stand on some fundamental philosophy - metaphysics and epistemology) have definite implications for the fundamentals of philosophy. It's mutual in[ter]dependence. There's a hierarchy, the fundamentals give rise to the derivatives, but the derivatives imply the fundamentals.

'Indeed, even between Politics and Ethics, doesn't the Ethics stand up to any assault against the Politics?"'

I don't see how it can, but perhaps I don't understand you. Let's say that capitalism is proven to be ill-suited for man's survival. What does that mean? Well, it would mean that freedom is not a fundamental requirement for man's life, that rights really aren't rights after all. If freedom is not a fundamental requirement, then thinking is not either. After all, the need for freedom is due to our being individuals and the fact that thinking is an individual act and necessity. But if the necessity for independent thinking is out, then man's role should be that of an obedient follower. Of who? Whoever tells him to follow whoever. Who is the individual to question?

We praise the Founding Fathers of America even though they accepted the institution of slavery. Why? Because the fundamental ideas they did accept were the very ideas that ultimately got rid of slavery. Fundamental ideas are the last to go in acceptance. If there's a conflict between fundamental ideas and derivative ideas (like individual rights and the acceptance of slavery), something has to give. The fundamental are more important, in a sense. But say that in America slavery wasn't rejected. The implication and need would be to ultimately reject the fundamental idea, individual rights.

I believe that Miss Rand made the same point about Aristotle. If I remember correctly, Dr. Peikoff, at one point, early on in his association with Miss Rand, having read Aristotle, couldn't understand her high praise for the man. It was his fundamental ideas, not his errors in thinking about issue relating to his fundamental ideas, his inconsistencies or contradictions, that ultimately gave rise to the Enlightenment and America, etc., and that's why she admired him (as opposed to Plato with his original blueprint for a totalitarian state as required by his view of man's nature).

Fundamental ideas and their derivatives stand or fall together, interrelatedly. It may be that the fundamental ideas withstand more attacks (by way of derivative ideas under attack), in a sense, but when push comes to shove, when there's a conflict or contradiction between fundamental ideas and derivative ideas (which would rest on a conflicting fundamental idea), then one or the other, in order to resolve the conflict, the contradiction, has to go. If the derivatives are held firmly to, then the fundamental ideas have to go, although it is probably more common for the derivatives to go in order to retain the fundamentals.

Edited by Trebor
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Fundamental ideas and their derivatives stand or fall together, ...
I disagree. I think your argument only works under the basic assumption that the system under discussion is a true system: in this case Objectivism. It is true that reality is all related and we can thus integrate our knowledge about reality. It follows that if one thing is false, it shakes everything. However, take your example of Aristotle. As you point out, would you grant that at least some of Aristotle's ideas were true, even though he made some major errors? If so, in what sense does Aristotleanism stand or fall with the errors he made? I'd agree that it falls as a system: i.e. we cannot claim to Aristotlean while rejecting something significant from him. Yet, he would still be right about whatever he was right about.
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Regarding the discussion between softwareNerd and Trebor... for myself, the basic issue is this:

I believe in reason and reality, and I believe in them deeply. I believed in those things prior to reading Ayn Rand, though I did not recognize all of their consequences in branches of philosophy such as ethics or politics until reading Rand. I've come to believe that it was precisely this -- my committment to reason and reality -- which made Rand so compelling; when I established that she was arguing contra to some of my beliefs and that her arguments were correct, then I was undone in my opposition, and only too happy to concede on those points. This took place one argument at a time; I never reached a stage where I said, "Ayn Rand was right on X" and therefore took her word on Y. I challenged and fought on every topic, and was as happy to lose as anything else, so long as my "loss" was to the best argument.

When I say that "I am an Objectivist," what I mean is that I believe that the specifics with regards to Objectivist Metaphysics, Epistemology, Ethics, and etc., are consonant with reason and reality, in my experience, and according to the best application of my mind that I can muster. I believe that Objectivism is true. And in that way, I do hold Objectivism to be an indivisible whole -- not one that can "stand or fall," but only one that stands.

However. Should I ever become convinced that Objectivism was in any way wrong -- and as an Objectivist, I'm not very well disposed to speculate on how that might happen -- it would be through that mechanism and no other; I would have to be convinced. And that means: it would only be because it was demonstrated to my satisfaction that Objectivism was inconsistent with reason and reality. While rejecting Objectivism would mean that I would simultaneously reject Objectivist Metaphysics, Epistemology, Ethics, etc., as such, I would never reject reason and reality, nor would I reject any aspect of Objectivism which I believed continued to meet my experience of reality according to my best use of reason.

I would leave Objectivism in the exact same fashion in which I had come to it -- not as some undifferentiated mass to be swallowed whole or rejected -- but one argument at a time, with each given thought and weight and its proper accord.

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I disagree.

Okay.

I think your argument only works under the basic assumption that the system under discussion is a true system: in this case Objectivism.

This is where we disagree.

It is true that reality is all related and we can thus integrate our knowledge about reality. It follows that if one thing is false, it shakes everything.

I agree that all of reality is related (it is a non-contradictory whole), but I do not agree that this issue (that a philosophic system stands or falls as a whole) only applies to Objectivism because it is true. It applies to any philosophy. Again, that's where we disagree. However:

However, take your example of Aristotle. As you point out, would you grant that at least some of Aristotle's ideas were true, even though he made some major errors?

Yes, some of his ideas are true. For instance, he is correct about reason being our means of knowledge (opposed to mysticism) and that there is only reality (as opposed to some supernatural realm, such as Plato's "World of Forms").

If so, in what sense does Aristotleanism stand or fall with the errors he made? I'd agree that it falls as a system: i.e. we cannot claim to Aristotlean while rejecting something significant from him. Yet, he would still be right about whatever he was right about.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that you answered your own question.

Aristotelianism falls as a philosophic system even though we may not reject every one of his philosophical ideas, such as, again, reason and reality.

Are you then saying that, even though Aristotelianism falls as a philosophic system, that it "stands or falls as a whole," something you say only applies in the case of a true philosophy, then Aristotelianism is a true philosophy and that Objectivism also is a true philosophy?

Yes, Objectivism is an integrated whole, a philosophy, but so are other philosophies. The difference is that Objectivism is integrated to reality, not misintegrated, not merely internally consistent (Rationalism).

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sNerd, I've been thinking about this, and I think that a question [well an answer to a question] might help to resolve our disagreement.

Miss Rand, when asked to summarize her philosophy while standing on one foot put it as:

Metaphysics: Objective Reality

Epistemology: Reason

Ethics: Self-interest

Politics: Capitalism

Or:

"Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed."

"You can't eat your cake and have it, too."

"Man is an end in himself."

"Give me liberty or give me death."

You mentioned Aristotelianism as a philosophy. Can you summaries his philosophy, his integrated system of philosophy, in a similar manner to what Miss Rand did with Objectivism? (Basically, I contend that he did not have an integrated system of philosophy, but perhaps you don't agree.)

Edited by Trebor
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sNerd, I've been thinking about this, and I think that a question [well an answer to a question] might help to resolve our disagreement.
Actually, now I don't know if we really have a disagreement at all. Instead, I'll go back to my first question as ask what exactly one means by "standing or falling".

I'm not qualified to give you the core of Aristotleanism, but i simply used it as one example of a philosophy other than Objectivism. It could well be Christianity. Anyhow, to explore the notion of standing or falling.

My question is this: is it possible I find some key principles of Aristotleanism to be right while I also find other principles to be wrong?

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Actually, now I don't know if we really have a disagreement at all. Instead, I'll go back to my first question as ask what exactly one means by "standing or falling".

I'm not qualified to give you the core of Aristotleanism, but i simply used it as one example of a philosophy other than Objectivism. It could well be Christianity. Anyhow, to explore the notion of standing or falling

My question is this: is it possible I find some key principles of Aristotleanism to be right while I also find other principles to be wrong?

Yes, I say that it is possible.

I have spent some time writing a good deal more, but for now I've decided to keep my response simple, and to say, as I did, simply, yes, it's possible to find some key principles of Aristotelianism to be right while finding other principles of Aristotelianism to be wrong.

Instead of saying more on that than what I've already said, I thought I would post the following, which may be helpful (I wish that all of my old notes were in digital, typed form, but what a chore it would be). I'm certainly not an expert on Aristotle, but I'm going to post, selectively, for the sake of brevity, from my old notes on Dr. Peikoff's History of Philosophy course (any errors are my own, but I think my notes are consistent with what Dr. Peikoff had to say):

Aristotle (b. 384 BC) was as much and more of a genius as Plato, as original and as capable of abstraction and systematic organization. Aristotle's philosophy however differs profoundly with Plato's in that it is fundamentally true. As such, he set the base for all subsequent achievements of man. Western history has been a dualism between Platonic and Aristotelian influences.

At 18 Aristotle entered Plato's Academy and spent the next 20 years in study under Plato. During this time he was a thorough Platonist. Only gradually did he question Plato's views and then construct his own philosophy, diametrically opposed to Plato, a philosophy for life on Earth.

Metaphysics: There is one Reality - it's here, objective, absolute, independent of consciousness, anti-supernatural, non-Sophist and non-Platonist.

Universals are not as Plato thought, not things - only particular things exist. Universals are characteristics common and distinctive and essential to a kind of particular. By selective awareness (abstraction) we can separate elements in thought which cannot be separated in reality, in fact. Plato's error was reification, making things out of abstractions, confusing particulars with abstractions. (Universals are the base and the object of conceptual thought; however, only particulars exist. Individuality is an irreducible element of reality.)

Aristotle held that universals differed from particulars, yet existed within, intrinsic to, particulars. Every particular has uniqueness and characteristics similar to other things (universals). The fundamental constituents of existence are entities. Qualities and actions presuppose entities or things. Aristotle, by implication, is the author of the Primacy of Existence. Reality comes first; it is independent of consciousness, which has no power to alter it. Though Aristotle retained contradictory, Platonic elements, he did, however, discover reality.

Epistemology: At birth we are tabula rasa. Knowledge rests ultimately upon the evidence of the senses. There are no innate ideas. (Empiricism, as the term is correctly used, not as it is currently used.) Any contradiction between theory and fact requires one to recheck one premises. Facts are true, the evidence of the senses cannot be questioned.

From the senses we grasp common denominators, characteristics common or dissimilar in things. Concepts do not exist in advance (as Plato held), but rather are grasped by abstraction from particulars. Man uses his sensory capacity and his memory along with his abstract ability to identify universals.

There are universals and particulars, form and matter, structure and stuff, the common and the unique. All that exists are particulars (matter) with characteristics common to other things (universals). (Objectivism doesn't agree with Aristotle's intrinsic view of universals. Aristotle held that essences were innate, not contextual.)

Problem of Change

There's no contradiction in the existence of change. Matter remains but the form changes. A changing world is intelligible; it presupposes the Law of Identity.

Actuality determines Potentiality - what is determines what can be. Not just anything is possible.

Four factors or causes of change:

1. Material Cause - stuff or matter

2. Formal Cause - new form, identity

3. Efficient Cause - agent of transformation, source of action

4. Final Cause - purpose

The Laws of Proof (Logic) cannot be proved, just as blue cannot be proved. Grasping blue is self-evident. The evidence is there; it doesn't require proof.

Aristotle is a teleologist. He held that all change involved a final or purposeful cause. Why? He was primarily a biologist (Plato was a mathematician), and he derived metaphysical generalizations from his study of living things. He observed the growing acorn and noted that it appears to act toward a final goal (it's "actuality"), an inherent end, its full form. Everything has a purpose, a goal, to reach its form. (Formal Cause - the new reality - is the Final Cause - the purpose - viewed from a different perspective.)

Aristotle never freed himself from Plato; he never fully actualized his Reason and Earth orientation. And Christianity cashed in on this.

Ethics: Neither mystic or skeptic, neither commandments or mystically revealed from a supernatural realm. Naturalistic, this worldly and objective (not whim worshiping).

However, ethics was not an exact science. (He did not know how to implement his general approach.) In science, you begin with facts. What are the facts at the base of ethics? What people actually value. Which people? The noble. Observing the nobel, we generalize, omit any inconsistencies, and add a metaphysical framework to codify our results. No formal ethics. Instead, we have how wise and nobel men behave, and if you don't see it, you haven't been well brought up.

Values are hierarchal. There must be an end in itself, an ultimate goal which will serve as the standard, and it must be self-evident. It must recognize man's nature (the inherent is not a moral issue).

There is no original sin. Man by his nature has emotions, is fallible, has a body and is capable of desires, and such characteristics are neutral ethically. At birth, man is morally neither good nor bad (passions are neutral); your actions determine your moral virtue. The forms which one gives to one's life, passions, emotions, etc. determine moral stature.

The ultimate goal is happiness or Eudaimonia - successful living, inner and outer on all levels, rich, prosperous, unimpeded life.

Everything has a distinctive nature with distinctive potentialities. The good life is to act as reality and one's nature requires. Potentiality strives towards actuality. What is man's distinctive (unique) potentiality? A life of reason, which leads to happiness.

Virtue - excellence of function. The virtues of practical reason (versus theoretical reason or contemplation in pursuit of knowledge for it's own sake): to guide or regulate emotions, desires, goals, actions, etc.

Aristotle held that emotions are independent of reason and also believed that they could be controlled by reason.

Any desire can be too much, too little, or the Golden Mean. Virtuous behavior is always the Golden Mean.

Pride is the crowning virtue, a virtue of the Ideal Man.

Virtue is an issue of degrees, of not going to extremes.

Most men have to work and do not have time for contemplative reasoning. Their thought must remain practical (practical reasoning). Ethics, therefore, is for a relative few.

How does one know the mean? It will be known if one is well brought up and one takes all contributory factors into account. (Aristotle did not originate the mean standard; he systematized the early Greek idea of moderation.)

Virtues:

1. Theoretical Reason - seeks knowledge as an end in itself, not as a means. (Before the Industrial Age, it was impossible to grasp the relationship of such knowledge to life.) The highest virtue is to lead a contemplative life, thereby approaching as nearly as possible Aristotle's Prime Mover (Pure consciousness - an evident inheritance from Plato).

2. Egoism - each man is an end in himself; properly, he should be concerned with his own welfare and happiness. The true egoist is the man of reason, not the whim-worshipping brute, because reason leads to happiness.

Politics: The least interesting aspect of his philosophy. He was not a revolutionary, but more of a documenter. He viewed what existed and offered improvements. (Plato was a revolutionary innovator.) He advocated a government of laws, not men. He is the father of the idea of a constitution. However, he was not a major individualist; he was an implicit (Golden Mean) "middle of the roader." He was against Plato's communism, not as an ideal, but as impractical and too likely to end up as a tyranny. The important issue to Aristotle was: who should rule? What group? His answer: the Middle Class or "Polity." He was opposed to rule of the rich, the experts or the masses.

Plato objected to "mine" and "thine." Aristotle however held that these words are inherent in human nature, and a community attitude would best be served by allowing men to have property and freedom. (A social usefulness standard to which Objectivism objects.)

As to slavery, he held that slaves are a natural phenomenon, born capable of understanding directions, but not knowledge. (The Greeks never grasped that all men are metaphysically equal, the same kind of being. Rather, they held that some are superior, some are inferior.)

Aristotle's Achievements:

1. He laid down the basis of scientific epistemology in the face of the Sophists and Platonists.

2. In ethics, he was this worldly and he held that the ultimate goal is happiness, that Pride is the greatest virtue, and that reason is man's fundamental characteristic, with its use as his means of successful living.

Edited by Trebor
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I disagree with Peikoff on this. Objectivism, as I understand it, is larger than Ayn Rand's ideas. It is the philosophy based on the axiom of non-contradiction. It was developed not as a whole, but as a progression, from axioms to their logical consequences. The development required the discovery of contradictions, which necessitated the reevaluation of their (more basic) premises, until a faulty premise was discovered and corrected. The contradiction does not necessarily lead all the way down to a faulty principle, but if it did, it would not negate Objectivism, it would correct and strengthen it. Objectivism, in my view is best summarized as the belief that there are no contradictions. In a sense, it is faith-based, as we assume that a contradiction reveals a flaw (to be corrected) in the philosophy, not a true contradiction in objective reality. The only thing that could disprove Objectivism is a contradiction that stands without the possibility of reconciliation.

This view of Objectiivism and philosophy leads to a question: is Objectivism the only philosophy that is entirely consistent with non-contradiction, or could two different philosophies exist that are entire and right?

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I'm fine with the idea that the term "Objectivism" be used to denote the philosophy of Ayn Rand. If that is all that is meant when one says that Objectivism "must stand or fall as a whole", then I have no argument with that.

That is still compatible with the idea that someone can accept all sorts of tenets of Objectivism and reject others. One can accept some tenets of Aristotle and reject others, accept some tenets of Locke and reject others, and so on. Whether one calls oneself an "Aristotlean" or "Lockean" is a whole other topic.

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I have gone though the rest of my notes (from Dr. Peikoff's "History of Philosophy") on Aristotle, and given that I posted what I already have, I thought I would post the rest. What I posted previously was in order, but I skipped over certain parts. The same applies with these parts. I don't think it will be too confusing. (There are some good questions and answers on Aristotle following the lecture, but I've not included them. Maybe another time.)

Aristotle's teleology kept him from identifying the rule of Causality in the universe - nature sets a living entity in a manner in which it acts to sustain its life. He held that such-n-such happens always or most always (an acorn becoming and oak tree) and the exceptions are just brute force. (He accepted a form of the Analytic-Synthetic dichotomy.)

Immana - the view that all things are egoistic, each striving to realize itself, to develop and reach its actuality.

Objections to Aristotle's Universal Teleology

What keeps the universe going? Why are things moving toward their ends? An infinite regress is impossible, so what is the primary cause of motion, the primary mover? It would have to be immovable (it is primary, and if it moved what would cause its motion?), without potentiality; it must be pure actuality, pure form, not material (physical). It must be perfect, with no unrealized potentialities. It is the one exception to Aristotle's metaphysics (of the duality of things, part universal and part material.) It is Aristotle's Prime Mover, an absolute motionless awareness, Aristotle's "God."

For Aristotle, the universe is composed of concentric spheres on a common axis, and the motion of the outermost sphere is commuted via the common axis to the inner spheres, thus causing their motion. What causes the outer sphere to move?

Aristotle's spheres were each a divine, intelligible thing. The outer most sphere, as intelligence, seeks to emulate the Prime Mover, which it knows to be perfect - aware of only itself; thought thinking about itself. It is this desire to emulate the Prime Mover which causes the outer spheres to move. ("Love makes the world go round.")

In Aristotle's Prime Mover there is a strong element of Plato (Primacy of Consciousness). This pure consciousness by its awareness alone causes motion. However, Aristotle is Aristotle. He held that his Prime Mover was no Good. It had no function; it did not create the universe. For Aristotle, motion has always existed because time is the measure of motion, and to speak of a time when there was no motion is a contradiction. Any particular motion can be explained by an earlier motion. But what of motion itself? The Prime Mover, the immoveable mover of the universe.

The fact of motion (like existence) is an irreducible primary. Any particular motion can be explained (as can any parta of existence). But to require proof of motion as such, one would be reduced to a reductio ad infinitum or a non-moveable mover, such as Aristotle's Prime Mover. This is sometimes called the Cosmological Argument for God.

Aristotle's Answer to Zeno (the paradox of motion, for example, crossing a room)

1. Nothing can actually be infinite (a potentiality). A quantity without limit is limitless and therefore lacks identity. All that exists is finite. Infinity is forbidden as an actuality by the Law of Identity.

2. Potentially - a line is infinitely divisible, yet no matter how many times one divides a line (a distance), one will at any point have only a finite number of parts. There is no such thing as actual infinity.

Aristotle's Psychology, as affected by his metaphysics:

Psyche - for the average Greek, psyche was the life stuff. In Latin, animate means "with soul." It is the principle of life. Plato viewed man as a being of duality, of body and soul actually separable. Soul is the livingness of a living thing; it is the form of a living thing, and the body is the matter. (According to Objectivism, soul and body are two integrated aspects of one entity.)

What distinguishes a living entity from an inanimate one? Certain vital capacities, i.e., reproduction, growth, nutrition. Therefore, there is no soul without a body, no form without matter. As for reincarnation, Aristotle thought the idea bizarre. There is no such thing as personal immortality.

Aristotle's Three Types of Souls

1. Vegetative Soul - responsible for nutrition, growth and reproduction.

2. Animal Soul - the sensitive soul, it presupposes the Vegetative Soul (it's made possible by the Vegetative Soul); it also has the senses and some locomotion

3. Rational Soul - the highest form; presupposed by bot the Vegetative and the Sensitive souls.

Senses

Aristotle's answer to the Sophists.

He was the first to define five senses. He held that the senses involve a dual change from potential to actual, one in the sensory organs and one in the object perceived. The Sophists held that because the senses have a nature and contribute to sensation of things, we don't actually know reality via them. For Aristotle, the senses change to acquire a potential. As for the object, it doesn't actually have the qualities of sensation ("red" for example), which are functions of the senses, yet it has the potential of being perceived in a certain way (not in infinite or indefinite ways; it has a nature). In sensation this potential is actualized. We see the object as it actually is because when the senses and the object unite, the potentials become actualized.

Aristotle on Reason

He used sensations as the model to describe the mind. In nutrition, one consumes matter, and the form, being irrelevant, is not used. In thinking, one consumes the form and disregards the matter. One becomes in form "informed."

If the mind had a nature, how could we know whether we know reality or only our view of it? Aristotle held that mind therefore had no identity, no structure or nature of its own. Before it starts to think, it is nothing actually. It is Aristotle's place of the Forms. Not their metaphysical place. Plato's cosmology became Aristotle's psychology.

Mind is sheer potentiality, yet potentiality cannot actualize itself - it requires an efficient cause. Therefore, he held, there must be an aspect of mind capable of causing actualization.

Two aspects of mind:

1. Active Mind - Active reason. Actualization

2. Passive Mind - immortal, non-material element of the soul

For Aristotle, what we know is form, not matter. We cannot know the individuality of something. Matter is the source of "this" not "such." (For Objectivism, to be is to be particular, and this is an irreducible fact.)

Universe as seen by Aristotle

It is a series of rising hierarchies, from pure matter (without form) to pure form (without matter), i.e., Prime Matter gives rise to entities (living and inanimate) which give rise to the vegetative which give rise to animals which give rise to man with gives rise to intelligences which move the spheres which give rise to pure form, the Prime Mover. Each of these hierarchies is related as form and matter, actuality and potentiality. There are metaphysical degrees of perfection. Form is the good aspect, and matter is the deficient aspect. (This view is inherited from Plato.) Form is the good; matter is the evil, metaphysically.

Problem: If Prime Matter has no identity (no form), then ultimately all that can be known are universals. The principle of individualism is unknowable.

Objectivism holds that it is an error to seek an element of individuation, a principle of individuation. Individuation (particularity) is an irreducible primary inherent in the fact of existence. Universals are on issue of epistemology, not metaphysics. They are the human form of grasping reality (particulars). Everything we know is particular. We relate particulars to grasp universals.

[Again: Aristotle never freed himself from Plato. He never full actualized his reason and Earth orientation. Christianity cashed in on this.]

[One other thing that Dr. Peikoff said somewhere in the same course, I believe, which I've always found to be memorable: The Christians took Plato's Form of the Good, dropped an "o," added a personality and came up with God.]

Edited by Trebor
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I'm fine with the idea that the term "Objectivism" be used to denote the philosophy of Ayn Rand. If that is all that is meant when one says that Objectivism "must stand or fall as a whole", then I have no argument with that.

That is still compatible with the idea that someone can accept all sorts of tenets of Objectivism and reject others. One can accept some tenets of Aristotle and reject others, accept some tenets of Locke and reject others, and so on. Whether one calls oneself an "Aristotlean" or "Lockean" is a whole other topic.

Sure, anyone can accept anything. But the thing is that anything that one accepts as true has implications, ultimately implications about everything. (As you said, more or less, reality is a non-contradictory whole.)

I think you agree that any philosophy, assuming that it is an integrated whole, stands or falls as a whole. But I assume that you do not agree that if one principle of an integrated philosophical system falls, then all of it's principles fall. Correct?

Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems so obvious to me that it is the case that if one principle of an integrated system of philosophy falls, then all of it's principles fall. It doesn't matter whether the principle is fundamental or higher up in the hierarchy. Kick one over and the rest fall, and the whole thing collapses in a heap. If one falls, it implies that one has accepting a contrary principle. In that case, that principle has implications for all the other principles, backwards and forwards.

For example, if one accepts that reason is our only means of knowledge, then ultimately one will accept the political principle of individual rights. If one rejects the principle of individual rights, then, by implication and at least implicitly, one has accepted that reason is not our only means of knowledge. In principle, I think one could go though any two randomly selected principles of any integrated philosophy and see their inevitable, logical, relationship, and see that they either stand together or they fall together.

But again, perhaps I'm missing something, either something in what you think or mean, or elsewhere.

Edited by Trebor
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