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What is the role of ontology in Oism?

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Perhaps my biggest criticism of Oism (among many) is that it does not have an (explicit) ontology, just a brag-bag of assertions "man is tabula rasa", "man has free will", etc, without any type of attempt at a systematic demonstration of these views (like in Sartre's "Being and Nothingness" or Merleau-Ponty's "Phenomenology of Perception").

So what's the role of ontology in Oism?

What is Oist ontology? How does it fit in with the rest of the philosophy?

Edited by Mnrchst
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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

Sure. I'm not saying Oism doesn't have an ontology, just that it's doesn't have info under the heading of ontology.

Specifically, what's the Oist proof of the existence of free will and refutation of solipsism?

There should well be an essay written on O'ist ontology, if a scholar hasnt already.

Solipsism seems to me extreme primacy of consciousness, so hardly needs refuting.

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Perhaps my biggest criticism of Oism (among many) is that it does not have an (explicit) ontology, just a brag-bag of assertions "man is tabula rasa", "man has free will", etc, without any type of attempt at a systematic demonstration of these views (like in Sartre's "Being and Nothingness" or Merleau-Ponty's "Phenomenology of Perception").

So what's the role of ontology in Oism?

What is Oist ontology? How does it fit in with the rest of the philosophy?

I cant tell from your enumerated 'assertions' if you know what ontology is. Miss Rand didnt deal with onology explicitly and one has to recognize from context which of her claims are onological assertions. You will find when you do that Oism does suffer because of the lack of explicit cognizing of ontological issues. Some contradictions are left unrealized as a result.

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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 (from onto-, from the Greek ὤν, ὄντος "being; that which is", present participle of the verb εἰμί, eimi "be", and -λογίa, -logia: science, study, theory) is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence, or reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations. Traditionally listed as a part of the major branch of philosophy known as metaphysics, ontology deals with questions concerning what entities exist or can be said to exist, and how such entities can be grouped, related within a hierarchy, and subdivided according to similarities and differences.

Objectivism rejects as rationalistic the premise that philosophy can specify what kind of entities can exist. What exists must be discovered. The only guidance and limitation to our thoughts on what can exist is the law of non-contradiction: "one cannot say of something that it is and that it is not in the same respect and at the same time".(link) As guidance for what kinds of propositions to accept and which to reject, the law of non-contradiction is explicitly epistemological. Yet the counterpart statement of the law of identity that "a thing is itself" is about things in themselves and is metaphysical. One could also call it ontological but what that would add is a mystery to me.

The large aspect of classical ontology that there are basic categories of being, that they should be grouped together, related within a hierarchy, and subdivided according to similarities and differences is re-allocated to epistemology in Objectivism because Rand takes the essence of a thing to be contextual and epistemological rather than metaphysical. So there just isn't much left for ontology to do. There is mereology, the study of parts and wholes. As well as wholes and parts Rand will admit as tools for reasoning the terms entity and attribute, with the defining quality of attribute being that it cannot exist "even for a split second" independently apart from an entity. Existent is a catch-all term for everything, even relationships such as distance and force.

I think that covers it.

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Grames said:

"Objectivism rejects as rationalistic the premise that philosophy can specify what kind of entities can exist"

But not what it means to BE and entity! A whole lot of metaphysics is implicit in the premise that ENTITIES are causal primaries. That's why when Peikoff says of ontology we can only say that "they are existents" he is stealing the concept entity. If this ontological question was clear to Miss Rand she would not have equivocated so many times on the ontological status of concepts/abstractions.

Edit: I find this to be alot more helpful that the wiki:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/logic-ontology/#DifConOnt

Also I wanted to add that I capitalize the words because on my phone I can't use the italics setting for this site. :)

Edited by Plasmatic
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A whole lot of metaphysics is implicit in the premise that ENTITIES are causal primaries. That's why when Peikoff says of ontology we can only say that "they are existents" he is stealing the concept entity.

The statement of Peikoff's I think you have in mind is in the Q and A session of lecture 6 of Induction in Physics and Philosophy. Paraphrasing:

Q: Can philosophy say anything positive in physics? {Entity ontology?}

A: No. Entities are perceptually given but that does not imply that entities are the ultimate constituents of matter. There must be something, an existent, but that says very little.

I think it is important to note the context and the wording of the question was primarily about physics. Here Peikoff is following Rand's lead in being very cautious about claiming more than can be justified. It was Rand who came up the concept of "the little stuff" just to preclude the need to perform armchair physics in order to philosophize.

Form my notes on "Art of Thinking" lecture 5:

In Objectivism, understanding
is
integration. There is no other mystical light that comes on. Principles integrate concretes to one another, and they thereby become mutually illuminating. One table is an unintelligible unique concrete, but several tables and chairs and beds allow one to perceive the pattern that is table. [similarity requires multiplicity, multiplicity creates need for economy, economy is based on the similarity- my comment]

Basic facts of the universe are unique; there are no other facts to integrate them with. This limits understanding, prevents explanation. "The little stuff" has nothing prior to or fundamental to explain it.

"The little stuff" is posited ultimate constituents of matter, smaller than even subatomic particles - function was to free thought from content of physics.

Why is "A is A" true? Can't say because "A is B" and "B is A" therefore "A is A". There is no B.

All understanding and explanation is starting with observations and taking it back one step at a time reducing back to ultimate laws and metaphysical primaries, creating relationships between observations. Science explains everything there is to explain, but there are irreducible facts it cannot explain.
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Grames,my man, you didnt seem to address my point. Peikoff,even though he was discussing physics,used the concept entity. Notice when he discusses this idea elsewhere he uses a "a deliberately undefined term" (he had to because he used the invalid sense of the concept energy derived from this error), and Miss Rand is doing the same thing with "little stuff", that is, she did not cognize what was inherent in the concept entity or what entity based ontology implies about the term "little stuff". This ,being an ontological matter, has been skipped over and helped to hide equivocation.

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Grames:

An axiomatic concept is the identification of a primary fact of reality, which is implicit in all facts and in all knowledge. It is perceived or experienced directly, but grasped conceptually. The first and primary axiomatic concepts are "existence," "identity" and "consciousness." They identify explicitly the omission of psychological time measurements, which is implicit in all concepts

edit:

For the purposes of this series, the validity of the senses must be taken for granted—and one must remember the axiom: Existence exists. (This, incidentally, is a way of translating into the form of a proposition, and thus into the form of an axiom, the primary fact which is existence.

Not sure how this affects your statement now that I think more about it....

Edited by Plasmatic
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Instead of giving ontology a sub-category within metaphysics, Objectivism resolves the confusion observed on Standford site via concepts.

Ontology asks is there a god, are there numbers, do universals exist.

Objectivism adheres to the Parmenides postulate of "what is, is."

Ontology queries what is it to be, or what is the nature of being.

Objectivism realizes that the only alternative to being is not being. (Law of excluded middle?)

Ontology tries to find a method to answer these questions.

Objectivism analyzes the distinctly human method of answering these questions via the theory of concepts and how they relate to the "what is, is."

It occurs to me that the identification of facts is the identification of existents up to and including existence. Referring to facts as primary, secondary or tertiary would be an epistemological aspect of the process.

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In keeping with the above lets use Oist epistemology to answer the question " what do you mean by entity", and consistently follow the pattern of "x is one or more of the things which x is" ,where x is an entity. All premises are couched within assumptions about concept formation. This doesn't change that the question of what it means to be an entity is a metaphysical question answered within an assumed conceptual framework . Also, Oist metaphysics also includes causality, a specific kind of causality,an entity based causality. This actually says alot more that simply "things act in accordance with their natures", where "things" is a synonym of entity and implies a whole host of other metaphysical facts.

Edited by Plasmatic
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Another way of asking that question is what fact(s) of reality give rise to the concept of entity? Perceptually we can discriminate there are many entities in our visual field. We can pick up a rock, pull a weed out of the ground, watch a groundhog scurry away when approached. We can see the chair and the table, and neither is the other. These are separate, discrete objects.

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To get to an electron requires many more cognitive steps to arrive at. It is arguably not directly available to our unaided sensory apparatus. Along the way we are constantly discriminating this entity from that entity. In that process, the conceptual grasp of entity needs to accommodate any new discoveries while still reconciling or integrating our understanding of entity along the way.

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I love the questions/puzzles accompanying the task of conceptalizing fundamental constituents. One must reduce ALL concepts, special and general,through ones epistemic filters. Electron is no exception. This would take us off topic into special sciences but I'd need to know what the referents of your idea of electron are... Non physical entity is a contradiction. (Lest anyone forget this is something also claimed by Miss Rand. Not to say that is a claim to fact but simply that there are implicit implications of a alleged objective way to conceptualize a "non-physical entity" )

Edit: Grames,even an electrons attributes are inferred....

Weaver a properly conceptualized concept does not get contradicted by new observations/integrations.

Edited by Plasmatic
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Chemistry organized the periodic chart, with one of the characteristics of the atoms being the number of electrons possessed by each different atom. This is outside of my forte of descriptive geometry. The electron does play a role in co-valence, such as hydrogen and oxygen combining in the process of forming water. Does the question of an electron having a physical boundry identify an electron as being a non-physical entity, or illuminate trouble that arises by stating an entity has the distinctive characteristic of a physical boundry?

@ Plasmatic, yes, a properly conceptualized concept does not get contradicted by new observations/integrations.

Edited by dream_weaver
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Chemistry organized the periodic chart, with one of the characteristics of the atoms being the number of electrons possessed by each different atom. This is outside of my forte of descriptive geometry. The electron does play a role in co-valence, such as hydrogen and oxygen combining in the process of forming water. Does the question of an electron having a physical boundry identify the electron as being a non-physical entity, or illuminate trouble that arises by stating an entity has the distinctive characteristic of a physical boundry?

@ Weaver a properly conceptualized concept does not get contradicted by new observations/integrations.

Reduce the referents of entity or boundary to the perceptual context and tell me if any of them are not physical. When conceptualizing a non percievable one cannot apply " a concept from our present level of knowledge to a level on which you deny it suddenly". Incidently Miss Rand didnt apply this to her own claims about materialism. <--edit: (just a few statements before the previous quote in the appendix to ITOE)

Edit: "Metaphysically, a fundamental characteristic is that distinctive characteristic which makes the greatest number of others possible; epistemologically, it is the one that explains the greatest number of others." What makes a this seperate from a that?

Edited by Plasmatic
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I don't think I'm denying entity. I've had in my possession such things as 0.999% pure substances, be it iron, magnesium, aluminum, gold, silver, copper. Perceptually they all have extension. Even an atom has extension. To identify that an atom has (a) proton(s), neutron(s) and electron(s) does not deny that. In what way, specifically an electron is distinguished from the proton or neutron, I could probably learn. Does the fact they can be distinguished from one another differ from the fact you can distinguish a blue heron from an egret from a grain of sand? As to non-perceivable, the ability to use technology to aide the senses continues to be improved. Science Daily has provided "photographs" of molecules. Even at that level molecules appear to have a physical boundary. Either protons or neutrons have been broken down to quarks and such stuff that I have to grant some credence to the testimony of the experts.

Grames asked, "Does an electron have a physical boundary? Anyone, including myself, that has experienced an electrical shock can attest that there exists a perceptual experience. Failure to be able to explain or put it into full, comprehensive, conceptual terms does not negate the perceptual evidence. I know this is at the other end of the spectrum, but Objectivism holds that the universe or existence has no physical boundary, nor does it apply the concept of method infinite to it. Granted, existence is not considered an entity, as existence is a collective term. Your question is reveals an enigma, the answers to which remain yet to be discovered (or at least by me). The method of discovery still needs to adhere to method of non-contradictory identification.

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