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What is the role of ontology in Oism?

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There is no Objectivist ontology. Metaphysics as a whole is a short subject in Objectivism, so it hardly seems worthwhile to single out this specialty with its own name. From Wikipedia: Ontology

It's not meant to be a logical argument, but merely a re-statement of Objectivist epistemology/metaphysics from a different angle. It's anchored around the premise that all thought, i.e. all proposit

Ontology in Objectivism and the distinction between primary and extended senses of the word entity are discussed in the thread Existents and Entities (only 4 pages)   There is also a kind of taxonom

"Quote anything from Oist literature that you think could be construed as claiming that physical boundaries are epistemological, the distinctness of particulars is conceptual etc"

 

You never did respond to HD's quote, which is the epistemological sense that we are discussing.  Specifically:

 

"The concept of "entity" is an issue of the context in which you define your terms. So that an entity has to be a material object, but what you regard as an entity in any given statement or inquiry depends on your definitions. You can regard part of an entity as a separate entity."

Edited by New Buddha
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What? I certainly did address it. The claim that entity, as such, in a primary, metaphysical sense, is epistemological, is refuted by the very quote and context you posted. Besides this, the claim that that an entity in the primary sense is a matter of definition is a complete rejection of objectivity. Ms Rand clearly says that you can call an aspect (like one inch) of an entity, an entity, if you want to define it in this derivative sense, but you can only do this while keeping the context that this epistemological sense would be a derivative sense.

The notion that an entity is whatever a person says it is, is pure primacy of consciousness. The type of context dropping here is a perfect example of how keeping the primacy of existence as a reminder always in ones thinking would prevent one from drawing invalid conclusions.

Edit: when I addressed buddah in #74 concerning the quote from ITOE, I should have addressed rowsdowser.

Edited by Plasmatic
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In post #71 I said:

"Quote anything from Oist literature that you think could be construed as claiming that physical boundaries are epistemological, the distinctness of particulars is conceptual etc."

Which rowdowser responded by quoiting ITOE, and then said:

"Metaphysically every grain of sand in the desert is distinct"

Which is a restatement of my point that the distictness of particulars is metaphysical, the opposite of the claim that they are epistemological, and it also contradicts the idea that the boundedness of particulars is epistemological and "ambiguous" .

Edited by Plasmatic
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Which rowdowser responded by quoiting ITOE, and then said:

"Metaphysically every grain of sand in the desert is distinct"

Which is a restatement of my point that the distictness of particulars is metaphysical, the opposite of the claim that they are epistemological, and it also contradicts the idea that the boundedness of particulars is epistemological and "ambiguous" .

 

One grain is a different thing than another grain. We might define a grain based on its physical connectedness, so to things that come apart are distinct. Metaphysically every atom in a grain is distinct - etc. Treating the grain as an entity is epistemological, but not arbitrary - it's a definition based on clear facts. Yet we also speak of the desert as an entity, and it isn't physically connected. Our definition of desert isn't arbitrary either - it shouldn't include jungles - but it's not exact; there are places that are only sort of sandy.

 

Say you've got an atom in a grain in a desert in a continent. All of these things are metaphysical, and are contexts that should not be dropped. But we could have called it an atom in a dune in a country, or made any number of entity distinctions based on what we're saying about it.

 

"Physical connectedness" is clearly a metaphysical phenomenon, but we may regard physically connected things as separate entities - such as a piece of paper taped to a wall. There are other ways of defining entities; for example, you might define a cloud based on humidity.

Edited by rowsdower
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Lets make this simple. What, in your conception, is the metaphysical basis of the differentiation of entity in the primary sense from entitiy in a derivative sense? What in reality gave rise to this distinction?

 

I'll jump in and try and answer this.  Although I don't entirely understand your "primary vs. deriviative sense", what I'll respond to is: "What in reality gave rise to this distinction?"

 

What gave rise to the distinction of any one entity from another is the selective focusing of the mind.  But this does not mean that the selective focusing is not objective.

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Buddha, if you do not understand the distinction between primary and derivative senses of entity, then you cannot possibly understand the quote from ITOE and any claim to objectivity on your part concerning the concept is dubious.

The same question can now be asked of your comment. What makes a selective focus objective?

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It's the same as inbuilt furniture in a room, like a desk which is built into the room, it doesn't become entity-less by being attached to the wall; it's still a separate entity, only it's attached to the wall.

[Prof. F: So is a built-in closet an entity?]

Yes, certainly. Because you distinguish it from the room, it's not the room.

But let me give you the arch-example of this type of consideration. What about a square inch of ground? Is that an entity or not? You can, from an epistemological viewpoint, regard any part of an entity as a separate entity in that context. And a square inch of ground would be just that. The entity would be the whole ground; you delimit it and examine one square inch of it. In the context of your examination, it's a specific entity, that particular inch, even though metaphysically, in reality, it's part of many, many other inches like it.

 

The concept of "entity" is an issue of the context in which you define your terms. So that an entity has to be a material object, but what you regard as an entity in any given statement or inquiry depends on your definitions. You can regard part of an entity as a separate entity.

Edited by New Buddha
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In the lexicon:

 

An entity, in the primary sense, is a solid thing with a definite boundary—as against a fluid, such as air.

 

 

Again in IOE:

An entity is perceptual in scale, in size. In other words it is a “this” which you can point to and grasp by human perception. In an extended sense you can call molecules—or the universe as a whole—“entities,” because they are self-sufficient things. But in the primary sense when we say that entities are what is given in sense perception, we mean solid things which we can directly perceive.

 

This seems to be what Plasmatic is thinking of. These "entities" might be better named "perceptual solids".

 

But in the wider sense I would like to say, "everything is an entity." You can't claim that if you require solid boundaries.

The wider definition is "a self-sufficient form of existence" such that "entities are the only primary existents." This isn't a derivative sense - it's a wider sense.

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Rowsdower said:

"The objective criteria for someone's selective focus might be heat, color, etc."

This is not an answer to my question.

What makes heat and color objective.

Are you asking me what makes these the right criteria to use, or whether they can be known by man?

 

A widening cannot be a loss of meaning. "Everything is an entity" makes entity meaningless.

Every widening is a loss of meaning - in order to include more, requirements must be stripped away.

In order to have a philosophic definition, you need to strip away physical requirements like size and solidity.

Simply put, I don't consider entities to be a (proper) subset of things. Entity = thing. A concept integrates entities, so if there are non-entity things I'm out of luck trying to think about them!

Edited by rowsdower
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Rowsdower said:

"Every widening is a loss of meaning - in order to include more, requirements must be stripped away."

RD you obviously are not very familiar with Oist epistemology and my return on my efforts is waning here. I suggest for your own growth you research the Oist conception of meaning. Im here to discuss Objectivism

"In order to have a philosophic definition, you need to strip away physical requirements like size and solidity.

Simply put, I don't consider entities to be a (proper) subset of things. Entity = thing. A concept integrates entities, so if there are non-entity things I'm out of luck trying to think about them! "

As I said, Im here to discuss objectivism and nothing in the above qualifies.

Edited by Plasmatic
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Say I've got myself a nice concept of fruit salads.

Then I widen it to refer to all salads, fruity or no.

I have dropped a requirement - fruityness.

 

I am here to discuss Objectivism - a philosophy which can be rationally defended. If you think that the only entities are perceptual human-sized solids, explain how you think about soup, skyscrapers, and photons.

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Ontology in Objectivism and the distinction between primary and extended senses of the word entity are discussed in the thread Existents and Entities (only 4 pages)

 

There is also a kind of taxonomy of what exists and discussion of what metaphysics is limited to.

 

edit: added here some of my contributions in that other thread:
 
This is all that is metaphysically important about the "categories of existents".
 
An entity is a solid thing with a definite boundary within the human perceptual scale.
 
a) primary existents
 
a1) living entities - those entities engaging in self-sustaining and self-generated action.
a11) human beings - the rational animals
a12) non-human beings - all other animals and plants
 
a2) non-living entities
 
b ) non-primary existents
 
b1) entities in an “extended sense”
b11) entities not self-evident or only self-evident to augmented perception
b12) collections and collective nouns with indefinite boundaries - fluids, flocks
b13) parts of entities or "extended sense" entities
 
b2) non-entity existents
b21) attributes
b22) actions
b23) relationships 
 
"Entity" needed to be defined. The genus is existents, differentia is the things with perceivable boundaries. This sets up the vocabulary necessary for further reasoning and the rest of philosophy, and it is accessible without any scientific background. The whole business with the 'extended sense' is how scientific knowledge of other kinds of entities is integrated into this scheme. The laws of identity and causality are explained in terms of entities. For the purpose of making it clear that identity and causality apply to things known only by inference they too are identified as entities, but in an extended sense that preserves the original distinction. 
Edited by Grames
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Thank you, grames. I would be more than happy to use "existent" to refer to any conceptual entity.

Plastic: rowsdower has been primarily quoting rand; you sure that isn't compatible with objectivism?

The metaphysical facts which distinguish perceptual entities (primary entities) are solidity and extension, as discovered by coincidental sensations (process of perceptual formation, in infancy).

Thought experiment:

A car is an entity; a solid object which occupies a certain space. And it has unique attributes, such as locomotion.

But if your car breaks down, it cannot be repaired without realizing the other existents which compose its organs.

In order to fix a car one must mentally isolate its parts as independent entities- just as the car itself must be understood as part of a larger entity, called "atmosphere", in order to refute theories of climate change.

EVERYTHING IS INTERCONNECTED. And if this line of reasoning is followed, we'd be wise to discuss it in terms of parts and wholes.

Again peikoffs comment is directly relevant.

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HD said:

"Plastic: rowsdower has been primarily quoting rand; you sure that isn't compatible with objectivism?"

I assume you meant me. I am certain that the full context of what surrounded that quote does not support Rowsdower's interpretation.

On existent:

All existents are entity dependent. That is what it means for entities to be causal primaries.

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HD said:

"In order to fix a car one must mentally isolate its parts as independent entities- just as the car itself must be understood as part of a larger entity, called "atmosphere", in order to refute theories of climate change."

A car is an entity in the primary sense, and the atmosphere is a collective noun. Therefore, if you want to call it an entity, it could only be in the extended sense. If the above is an attempt to validate the claim that entities in the primary sense are epistemological, then it is begging the question.

Edit:

"EVERYTHING IS INTERCONNECTED. And if this line of reasoning is followed, we'd be wise to discuss it in terms of parts and wholes."

Parts and wholes only have meaning when understood as presupposing INDIVIDUAL enitites.

Edited by Plasmatic
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Plasmatic: on causal primaries.

Is an electron, which has no extension (or its wave function which has no boundary) an entity?

If so then not all entities are perceptual or concrete.

If not then, since entities are causal primaries, what causes lightning?

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