Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Critique of Peikoff's interpretation of the 'arbitrary'

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

Read back a few posts. I started out by trying to have a conversation on Mr. Campbell's objections to Peikoff. Instead of answering my straight forward question, he accused me of using an argument from intimidation (falsely - he clearly doesn't understand the concept - it has nothing to do with my perfectly valid point).

You said questioning Peikoff on this is questioning Objectivism and science as a whole. This is an argument from intimidation to the extent you are saying disagreement with Peikoff is the reason Campbell is wrong here. Actually, you misunderstood what was being said. You *said* you didn't read Campbell's posts (I guess you skimmed what was said briefly), that's why you misunderstood. But you didn't even try for clarification on the first post. My point is, if you want to engage the ideas, explain what is wrong. Civility is good on a discussion board.

Edited by Eiuol
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 82
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

This equates that truth is a product of the consciousness deciding it, or a primacy of consciousness premise. When I believed that Jesus Christ was my personal savior, it was true to me because I was

You said questioning Peikoff on this is questioning Objectivism and science as a whole.

False. Blatantly false. My point involved the concept evidence, not questioning Peikoff on arbitrary assertions. Evidence is not Peikoff's concept. It's a scientific concept, and a very old philosophy concept that also happens to be at the base of Objectivism.

This is an argument from intimidation to the extent you are saying disagreement with Peikoff is the reason Campbell is wrong here.

You don't understand the concept of the argument from intimidation either. Saying that questioning Peikoff is offensive, or would make Campbell a bad person, would be an example of the argument from intimidation.

Pointing out the logical implications of a statement is not. I brought no emotions or mention of anyone's character into the discussion. I made a perfectly valid argument.

Saying what you're claiming I said (which I didn't say) wouldn't be logical, but it would also not be an argument from intimidation. It would be an inference that doesn't make sense, that's all.

Edited by Nicky
Link to post
Share on other sites

Leonid,

My article is about the doctrine of the arbitrary assertion.

Generally, what's asserted is a statement or a proposition, not a concept. Dr. Peikoff's examples, when he does get around to providing some, are all statements or propositions.

Robert Campbell

All Foo survives the death of the body.

X is Foo.

Therefore, X survives the death of the body.

Dr. Peikoff’s treatment of the arbitrary reminds me, a layman, to ask the person making the assertion, “What is Foo and how do you know it?” Without hearing sufficient reasons, I can and will dismiss the assertion as fubar.

Link to post
Share on other sites

All Foo survives the death of the body.

X is Foo.

Therefore, X survives the death of the body.

Dr. Peikoff’s treatment of the arbitrary reminds me, a layman, to ask the person making the assertion, “What is Foo and how do you know it?” Without hearing sufficient reasons, I can and will dismiss the assertion as fubar.

Dr. Campbell's treatment of Dr. Peikoff's treatment of the arbitrary assertion reminds me, a layman, to ask Peikoff, "What is the 'arbitrary' and how do you know it?" Without hearing sufficient reasons, I can and will dismiss the assertion as fubar.

J

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 weeks later...

Robert

Imagine that you have been admitted to the hospital because chest pain and initially diagnosed with heart attack. However further tests did not confirm this diagnosis and eventually you’ve been told that all you have is just a muscle spasm. Nevertheless, you asked for the second opinion from sangoma (African witch doctor) and he established that you in fact suffer from the torture by your ancestral spirits. You published 83 pages monograph in order to prove that doctor’s mistake and diagnosis of sangoma have an equal epistemological value.

You wrote: “Does an epistemology that respects the facts of human mental functioning requires a notion of the arbitrary? No… .Granted that arbitrary does not qualify as knowledge, might nevertheless still be true?

You also object to the Peikoff's notion that:

an arbitrary claim is automatically invalidated”, that it has no relation to man’s means of knowledge…no process of logic can assess” and it is “ detached from any rational method or content of human consciousness” .

Your central argument against Peikoff could be summarized in your question:

“How could one rationally judge an assertion to be arbitrary expect by engaging in correct cognition in relation to reality?” In other words how one recognizes the arbitrariness without thoroughly rational examination of such an assertion?"

The answer is in OPAR and in the Objectivist literature elsewhere.

“Arbitrary” means a claim put forth in the absence of evidence of any sort, perceptual or conceptual; its basis is neither direct observation nor any kind of theoretical argument. [An arbitrary idea is] a sheer assertion with no attempt to validate it or connect it to reality...Since an arbitrary statement has no connection to man’s means of knowledge or his grasp of reality, cognitively speaking such a statement must be treated as though nothing had been said." Leonard Peikoff, The Philosophy of Objectivism lecture series, Lecture 6

Any arbitrary assertion is an assault on axioms, that is-denial of existence, consciousness, identity and causality. Such an assault is immediately self-evident and doesn’t requires any further rational investigations. Indeed, rational investigation of irrational assertion would be a contradiction in terms. For example an assertion that soul can survive body would mean that reality could be transcended. The same applies to all other assertions in regards to God, goblins, specters, gremlins, ghosts etc…The assertion that position of planets and stars could influence man’s life is an assault on the Law of causality . Assertion that water could be converted to wine just by wish is a claim for primacy of consciousness and assault on Law of identity. And this is a main difference between wrong and arbitrary-wrong assertions pertain to the realm of objective reality, don't violate axioms and could be rationally evaluated and disproved. Arbitrary assertions deny the very foundations of human cognition and cannot be treated by such means.

Edited by Leonid
Link to post
Share on other sites

Furthermore, an arbitrary assertion is an assault on the perceptual and conceptual means of human knowledge. If somebody tells you that there is an elephant in your living room, but it is invisible and completely undetectable by any senses, there is no point to ask him " And how do you know that?" By making such an assertiont he already denied the primary tool of rational knowledge-perception. Arbitrary assertion is also an evasion of existed well established body of knowledge. If one says that king of Texas drives Cadillac or a flock of flying Rabbis sing hallelujah in the Mormon Temple , such an assertion would deny everything we know about Rabbis and American politics. There is no point to investigate such assertions. As Peikoff suggested we should simply ignore them. One cannot use epistemic tools to investigate assertions which in principle deny them.

Edited by Leonid
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 months later...

On the premise that Peikoff differentiates between explicit (brazen) arbitrary claims and those claimed non explicitly:

Peikoff says in lecture 6 of the 1976 lecture:

"Not all arbitrary claims, however, are explicitly identified as such by their authors.". 52:18

As regards The Pedigree: Ms. Rand answers the question :

"If a man makes an arbitrary claim and you discuss it , is it rationally valid to explain why you will not discuss it, that is, that arbitrary claims are without reference to reality"

"Well there's no rule about it, the answer is, "if you wish". If you think that the person you are talking to who is making an arbitrary statement DOESNT FULLY REALIZE THE ISSUE, or is open to reason you can explain why you will dismiss him. Uhh most cases its not worth explaining but its as you wish, as you judge the particular situation. Lecture 6 147:35

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.


×
×
  • Create New...