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have you met many people who did not already believe in subjectivism who then looked at these two meanings in the dictionary (or sans dictionary examined them) and concluded there was more than one right answer for the existence of gravity among other things? ....I think that's the primary issue for me here - I don't have evidence to suggest the problem exists which you want to break up the word "philosophy" in order to fight.

Bluecherry, first, I wish to apologize for my delayed response as I take your comment seriously and wanted to address it as soon as possible. Now, who I have or have not met here is irrelevant. It is context dropping, and for the following reason: there is only one issue when are defining a concept: to identify the distinguishing characteristic of what we are referring to and ultimately wording. So the question then is this: what is the distinguishing characteristic of philosophy? That it is the study of the fundamental facts of existence. And the key word in the context of my response to you is "facts". If we were to say that philosophy is the study of "facts and false ideologies" we are implying, that unlike every other field of science (and by science, I mean the study of the aspects of the univere. And study does not mean "theorize" or "assert belief" it means "to fully retain and understand facts on a given subject"), the facts don't deserve to be studied in a field or dilineation of their own which is irrational on two counts. 1) The field of facts is distinct where as "facts and false beliefs" are not distinct as is evident by the fact that facts and false beliefs are two very, very distinct things, each meriting their own field. 2) In terms of evaluating facts and evaluating "false beliefs": facts are much more valuable---so valuable that they deserve special attention. And "false beliefs" are of negative value (i.e., they are destructive) and "fundamental lies of existence" and how to refute them (by means of having philosophical knowledge) require a seperate, distinct field of study.

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You seem to be equivocating... In terms of abstraction, there is a notable difference between natural sciences like biology, and the field of philosophy. With biology, scientific study is about narrowing understanding of particulars, which may include figuring out cell division, and narrowing down more so with study. Philosophy on the other hand really focuses on abstractions, going broader. Some ideas can be fine tuned, but they're still abstracting for philosophy.

I disagree with you when you say that I am equivocating as I am in fact especially explicit and definite in what I say to you. Now you are correct when you say that philosophy "focuses on abstractions" but that is not the distinguishing characteristic of philosophy. That is merely an aspect of it. As you stated earlier; it studies existence. Yes, it studies existence via abstractions, but existence is concrete and there are issues regarding existence which are furthermore concrete. Every branch of philosophy refers precisely to a concrete.

There is a second issue here that needs to be addressed as well and that is the nature of abstracting and abstract thinking. To do this we have to understand the relationship between the mind, and that which the mind percieves. Only after you have percieved a concrete, and identified it as a concept via a explicitly defined word have you abstracted something. When we percieve something it is "impressed"or recoreded in the mind. That impression/record, once it is intelligable, and conceptualized, is it an abstraction, i.e, it literally abstracted from perception and is one's means of thinking, i.e., connecting concepts and/or anti-concepts. So in terms of abstractions there is not a fundamental difference between philosophy and "natural sciences" such as biology as the same exact psychological-neurological process is involved. As I stated in the essay, Leonard Peikoff writes an excellent essay himself, implying this. I demonstrate it's relevance. It is called "The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy".

Next: when you say that economics relates to ethics but not to philosophy that is a contradiction in terms since ethics is a branch of philosophy. Philosophy is the antecedent concept of ethics. This is just one example of why economics relates to philosophy. Were you meaning to imply something different than what I addressed here? If you were I should like to know.

As for examples of the Postmodern- Communists I will again insist that you give the passages I provided a read as I make it very explicit. In fact, it is crucial that more people become aware of how these frauds are destroying weak minds and programming them into nihilistic, post modern, communist slaves. I will add a footenote to this however: and that is the implications of postmodernism. The implication and consequence is necessarily nihilistic, altruistic and communist and this can be understood metaphysically. If what's true for you is true for you and what's true for me is true for me than nobody's convictions are worth more/more valuable than anyone else's, which means nobody's products can be more or less value than any one else's and only a destructive tyrant would ever attempt to implant such a violent ideology into the minds of college students. ...and thank you for your link.

Edited by Sean O'Connor
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You are trying to lump two different usages of the word "philosophy" into one. Each of them has a related, but unique purpose it serves. I'm asking why bother insisting on only one usage of the word philosophy. You mentioned as one possible reason that the two usages were causing confusion, getting mushed together in people's minds and leading people down the path of subjectivism. Multiple usages of the word "philosophy" were making it so people were unable to comprehend the possibility of some ideas being incorrect. Splitting the usages would fight that you've been getting at. I have no evidence that such a problem exists to be fought in the first place. You've also suggested that you consider language to ideally only ever involve one usage per word and that this proposed change to the word "philosophy" should be adopted in accordance with that. We've both recognized though that doing this with every word in the English language could never be achieved in our life times. That means you'd have to pick and choose words to do this with in your life time. "Philosophy" doesn't cause trouble as it is as far as I'm aware of so time and effort could be better spent on adjusting words that clearly are problematic as they are. One could also spend their time and effort on something else entirely which may provide more benefit to one's life in that time and with that effort then one would have gotten from using it on separating different meanings for one word ( or at least from separating "philosophy" up.) I've further proposed that I know a smaller task than separating all words up which could achieve at least comparable efficacy and may actually be do-able entirely within one's life time.

Speaking of the word "science" as long as I'm at it, the trouble here is again mixing of two different usages of one word. One common usage of the word "science" is when it is being treated as opposed to "art." "Science" in this case refers to pretty much anything which is very precise, orderly, involves following some sort of formula, has one right way to do things. "Art" is used to refer to things which have more room for variation. In this case, the subject of philosophy would fall under "science" as philosophy does not involve wiggle room for right answers. However, usually the word "science" is used to refer to studying certain things such as how various life forms function, what the universe is made of and what happens when you combine various chemicals. Philosophy is not among the things covered under this meaning of the word. It's late, my rough definitions here are not the greatest due to writing them while I'm getting tired, but I think it should be decent enough that one can tell what I was trying to say still. If I wake up in the morning and think of another, better way to put things then I'll add that in a new post.

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bluecherry,

Don't worry about your rough definitions and writing as you are tired. You were nontheless, exceptionally thorough which is quite praise worthy and indicative of how rich you are spiritually. With that being said, I shall get right to our disagreement.

I actually want to begin with the definition of science because I can't prove philosophy is a science if I don't define science. Science is the study of the aspects of the universe. I believe I explained in a prior responce, the distinction between the universe and existence. As we know, "existence exists". Existence is the state of being. That is obviously the "fundamental state" of the universe. (I here use the expression "fundamental state" because obviously there can be no other "fundamental" state since a thing can only exist. The issue of secondary states is a different issue) So what is it that a "scientist" does? A scientist discovers facts, or tries to. The actual science is the set of facts. If you were to teach Meteorology, for example, you would teach me facts about the atmosphere and weather, et cetera. The key point is that it is about facts. A particular field of science is a particular, distinct set of facts on a very specific subject.

Now, I have said that existence as such is a state of being. It is the fundamental state of all things. It is an aspect of the universe. It is its own subject. It gets its own "field" of science. That is philosophy. In epistemological terms, philosophy, refers specifically to facts about existence qua state which are discovered, and taught and applied. When somebody then, say Nietzsche, starts tossing these ideas about meaninglessness into the culture and labels it part of "philosophy" or identifies it as "his philosophy" that is simply a lie. Nihilism and the will to power- that is is his ideology, his system of beliefs. The distinction has to be made otherwise a lie is being furthered.

A fair question arises: what is the problem of teaching philosophy as a mix of facts, mistakes and lies, and thus referring to our belief systems as our philosophy? Let us use the exact same principle- the principle and implicitly postmodern premise- for another question. "what is the problem with teaching false theories and futile principles in math, which is the field of science which studies measurement and saying 'My Math, Seanism teaches that 1+1=3'"? (That definition of mathematics is based on the one Ayn Rand gives in "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology".) It is, in the most literal sence, illogical since Math isn't an ideology. It is a field of science. (And 1+1=2) To say "my philosophy, Seanism" or "oconnorism" is to say "my belief system is philosophy as such, i.e., speaking universally.".

I shall make this even clearer by bringing up the law of identity. A is A. A is only A. I is not A, and B, and C. The nature of A can only be the nature of A. A and B may have certain things in common, such as the fact that they are both letters used in the English language but each has its own identity and it's own nature. So the nature of philosophy cannot be the field of science which studies existence and also a synonym for my ideology. To assert that is illogical, i.e, one contradicts the other.

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". . . I can't prove philosophy is a science if . . ."

I already agreed there is a sense in which philosophy qualifies for the word "science" though. :P I've just stated that there is also another, even more common usage that it does not fit. That it doesn't qualify for this other usage of the word is the issue. It seems like you want to lump philosophy in with these other subjects that are what is meant by the more common meaning. This has been objected to at least partly because this current set of subjects having one term without including philosophy is useful.

"Science is the study of the aspects of the universe."I object to this definition as both overly broad and contrary to . . . anybody else's usage but your own that I know of these days. This is from the start of the wiki page on science:

"Science (from Latin scientia, meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.[1] In an older and closely related meaning (found, for example, in Aristotle), "science" refers to the body of reliable knowledge itself, of the type that can be logically and rationally explained (see History and philosophy below).[2] Since classical antiquity science as a type of knowledge was closely linked to philosophy. In the early modern era the words "science" and "philosophy" were sometimes used interchangeably in the English language.[citation needed] By the 17th century, natural philosophy (which is today called "natural science") was considered a separate branch of philosophy.[3] However, "science" continued to be used in a broad sense denoting reliable knowledge about a topic, in the same way it is still used in modern terms such as library science or political science.In modern use, "science" more often refers to a way of pursuing knowledge, not only the knowledge itself. It is "often treated as synonymous with 'natural and physical science', and thus restricted to those branches of study that relate to the phenomena of the material universe and their laws, sometimes with implied exclusion of pure mathematics. This is now the dominant sense in ordinary use."[4]

Now, again, just because it is in a dictionary (and even more so just because it is on wikipedia) does not necessarily mean it is correct. However, it does at least indicate commonality. Commonality is a big deal when it comes to being able to communicate with others. Even when deviating from common usage is entirely justified, like with the word "selfish" (though it may be only a connotation we dropped, not any real definition alteration), it is still something which comes with big potentials for misunderstandings and so I don't advise doing it just willy nilly. I can use "selfish" around here without worrying because I know we all are using the same meaning, but whenever I talk to other people I have to either try to use alternative wording or explain my usage of the term "selfish" to whoever I'm talking to. Even then, if I do the latter I have to hope we don't get side tracked and dispute over that one word prevents us from ever resolving our original topic.

That top, first line in the wiki quote also is fairly broad, but I think one issue in addition to commonality here is that not everything in philosophy can be tested. There is notably no feasible way to make a test for axioms. Tests depend on axioms. I also like though that in this small section from wiki it does mention how there is a historical case for the words science and philosophy to be used interchangeably. Science was considered a subtype of philosophy however, not vice versa and it explains that this is no longer the norm and how the change happened.

"Now, I have said that existence as such is a state of being. It is the fundamental state of all things. It is an aspect of the universe. It is its own subject. It gets its own 'field' of science. That is philosophy."

How would that apply to, say, ethics? Ethics is definitely part of philosophy. Ethics needs to deal in more specifics of particular things rather than existence in general and it deals in what could and should be in addition to what already is. The one branch of philosophy known as metaphysics sounds closest to what you are claiming covers all areas of philosophy.

". . . my belief system is philosophy . . ."

No, no it isn't. It is *A* philosophy potentially though. Philosophy =/= a philosophy. They are closely related, but distinct. As for math, I'm sure there are some systems of mathematics which have been around and maybe still are where they proclaim different things. These certainly wouldn't be "math" like they were the field of math itself, but perhaps they could be called "a math" so to speak. However, as I've mentioned before, none of that makes any statement either express or implied that multiple of them may be correct in places where they disagree. I don't see "a math" being used often in speech or writing though probably because it doesn't have as much it is useful for. I think a lot of people find it easier to see when something is or is not working in math than when it comes to philosophy though, so those other wrong ideas about math get left abandoned in the dust as irrelevant a lot more quickly and thouroughly.

Also, just something to consider here . . . a firefighter (A) could also be a gymnast ( B ). A firefighter (A) could not be not a firefighter (Not A) though assuming we're not getting metaphoric or euphamistic or something. The law of identity rules out being and not being and neither being nor not being at the same time and in the same sense. Another example is the word "pig." At the same time a person may not be a pig, as in literally a farm animal, and be a pig, as in a glutton. The law of identity doesn't break due to a language having more than one meaning for a set of letters.

Edited by bluecherry
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I disagree with you when you say that I am equivocating as I am in fact especially explicit and definite in what I say to you. Now you are correct when you say that philosophy "focuses on abstractions" but that is not the distinguishing characteristic of philosophy. That is merely an aspect of it. As you stated earlier; it studies existence. Yes, it studies existence via abstractions, but existence is concrete and there are issues regarding existence which are furthermore concrete. Every branch of philosophy refers precisely to a concrete.

To be specific, the axiom of existence is an abstract concept, and even existence is abstract to the degree it is impossible to perceive all of existence at once. One would have to be outside of existence or be everywhere in existence to be able to see it as a concrete. So, that's where philosophy comes in. Abstraction is what philosophy deals with, taking basic concepts wider and wider. Even with ethics, or philosophy of science, the effort is towards abstracting to apply certain ideas to as many contexts as possible. Metaphysics is as wide as it goes. I acknowledge that philosophy has concrete referents, but that's different than what philosophy sets out to do. Even in this discussion, we are extremely abstract, because our effort is to define some words on a very fundamental level. Another way to consider my thought is that philosophy is the "what" of existence.

Science I am only suggesting is a type of concretization of abstract principles, particular with questions about how the world works. Art and Mathematics are both distinct fields of thought as well. Still, when focusing on how things work, that does not involve abstracting in the same way as philosophy. If I want to study biology, I need to dive deeper and specify what cells do, which genes they have, mechanisms that allow for reproduction. Naming the processes and identifying them would be abstraction, although it heavily involves detailing the "how". In other words, I'd be looking for specifics on the mechanisms of biology. Philosophy of biology would consider "what" questions, like what does evolution imply for how the world is classified if entities are changing all the time? I think my distinction is clearer now.

What I meant by "related to" is that when thinking about economics, the concern is largely with human behavior in trade. Human behavior of any sort isn't far from ethics, but isn't strictly looking to find what one's pursuit in life should be. Economics is quite informative to how to make the most economical decisions which maximize an individual's behaviors. Economic principles are normative to the degree that there are judgments of "best" involved, but doesn't study the same aspects as ethics, although there is plenty of crossover with rationality. All knowledge is at least connected indirectly, so my argument here isn't an attempt to disprove any connection. If anything, I imagine you'll use the previous point to expand on your "philosophy is science" idea, so I look forward to seeing what you say.

I agree that Postmodernism is destructive, I just think Postmodern-Communist is an impossibility on ideological grounds. Postmodernism certainly is the logical conclusion of all the Hegelians, and is more dangerous than communism ever was. Not only is there a destructive element to it of denying any truth whatsoever, there are no leaders to it. I question actually that it has taken hold. That aforementioned postmodern professor I had, most students thought he wasn't really anything to take seriously. You're welcome for the link!

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bluecherry,

I shall preface this response by submitting a principle for wording a concept: no more than one concept per word. This may seem unnecessary but it would prevent word usage from inevitably succumbing to ambiguity. More specifically, it is logical in the most literal sense, it is strict "non-contradiction", i.e., "this word will never contradict the concept it refers to". Some may argue that giving a word two concepts is not a contradiction but in fact it is because once that word, in use, refers to something other than its first concept, that is by nature, a contradictory instance. We are used to looking up definitions to words, and seeing 2,3,4, sometimes 7,8, 9 or more definitions! That's extremely sloppy language and it does not have to stay this way. Can a language be sharpened over night? Obviously not. And of course I know that you know I am not proposing that! Should a language, however, be reduced? Absolutely! Especially if, say, the word freedom is said to be defined as "self determination" by capitalists, but is said, by Socialists, socialists such as president Barack Obama, to be defined as "absence of need for general sustenance (ranging from perhaps a small monthly check -or job for all guaranteed by law, food stamps, government facilitated housing, health care, etc) Or here is another example: when an atheist socialist goes about referring to himself as rational on the one hand, an objectivist then, on the other hand, is saying "no, I'm rational!". Obviously both are using different definitions and are making communication much more confusing than it could and ought to be.

You said that the definition I submit for science, which is the study of the aspects of the universe is overly broad? By what standards do you deem something as too broad? Or which term in that definition do you think makes it overly broad? Is the definition overly broad, or is the reach of science simply extremely wide- as wide as the universe is massive? I love one question in particular Ayn Rand asks when discussing concept formation and definition. "To what in reality does the concept refer?". Do you know exactly what I am referring to when I say "the study of the aspects of the universe"? Let us do a little experiment. Tell me, when you read that definition, what precisely do you picture in your mind. I picture a person examining something, and identifying and discovering facts about it- whatever those facts may be. I think the only possible confusion/ambiguity/equivocation one could accuse me of there is "what exactly does 'study' mean? I think I said in a prior response that when I say "study" I mean "discover and/or learn a fact or facts about a particular subject". Now, the dictionary on my computer- The New Oxford American Dictionary- offers nine different definitions for the word study. One such definition is "devote time and attention to acquiring knowledge on (an academic subject), esp. by means of books : she studied biology and botany." (Again, why the hell would I want to sort through nine Goddamn definitions if I can ultimately enjoy the luxury of one very clear, exact definition? I'm a busy man! :-P) If you dispute my definition of study, I would be open to that argument. But returning to science, and what the word "science" refers to- it refers specifically to" discovering and organizing facts about the aspects of the universe." A perfect example of how this definition works: what is it that a "science" teacher teaches? Facts, about some particular aspects of the universe. What is it Einstein set out to discover, fundamentally? Facts. Facts about particular aspects of the universe. As for the fact that I am on the only one submitting particular definitions that is because I am a pioneer! Pioneers always discover something, or invent something nobody else has. And if it opens up a vast amount of new work to be done, such as say, clarifying the English language and reducing words to a single concept: it is a vast undertaking, but not an irrational one. Ayn Rand did the right thing by clarifying "selfishness" and as you've said, many-actually most- people still will not accept the proper definition. But most people also won't accept the fact that nobody has the right to violate private property; that nobody has the right to violate an individual's self determination. They are a little bit slow but that doesn't mean we, the scientists and inventors should slow down! Quite the opposite. Let's produce knowledge and inventions their state university's don't know as incentive for people to start going to private universities of more advanced knowledge and technology.

Everything in philosophy can be tested and proven via logic. "Despite what [a theorist named Dr. Julian] Friedland implies, he contradicts himself and fabricates a definition of philosophy towards the end of his article. He writes that philosophy 'employs the tools of logical analysis and conceptual clarification in lieu of empirical measurement. And this approach, when carefully carried out, can yield knowledge at times more reliable and enduring than science' What is logical analysis? What is logic? He does not define either. Why not? Because then he can use it as a blank word to mean whatever he attaches it to. [A point I referred to earlier](This is comparable to fiat money which claims to have a specific value, but is based on nothing other than the public’s submission to it.) Logic, again, is the art of non-contradictory identification. This means “logical analysis” is the identification and removal of contradictions. Furthermore, what does one 'logically analyze'? A particular aspect of the universe. Logical analysis is an element of science. When Friedland says 'in lieu of empirical measurement' he evades a fact which philosopher Leonard Peikoff articulates perfectly: 'There is no distinction between the ‘logically’ and the ‘empirically’ possible (or impossible). All truths…are the product of a logical identification of the facts of experience. This applies as much to the identification of possibilities as of actualities'. (“The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy”)"(From my essay "A Brief On The Definition Of Philosophy For The Purpose Of Advancing Freedom And Thriving")

How does existence, the fundamental state of the universe, apply to ethics? The answer is: ethics tells you how to regard/treat existence as such, human existence, and specifically your existence, i.e., the existence of the individual person. Another example of philosophy's reach: economics-it helps us understand that existence and its aspects are resources, what we should produce and consume and why. Like politics, economics obviously depends on ethics, as ethics depends on epistemology which depends on metaphysics.

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There are no proper/improper definition nor are the true/false definitions. Definitions arise from consensus and common use of words.

To show this is true consider how there are many words whose meaning has changed over the the years.

If a definition were a -fact- there would be no such change. 1 + 1 has always equaled 2 (we are assuming the + means aggregating objects into a set).

See the following for a discourse on how definitions of some words have changed over time.

http://ezinearticles.com/?-Etymology--How-Words-Change-Over-Time&id=12709

ruveyn1

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I tried to read the OP (well, I scanned it, like I usually do with long posts), and my impression is that most of it is about what falls under the definition of philosophy and what under the definition of ideology. I really don't care about that.

But you also imply that Ayn Rand is wrong, whenever she departs from whatever you define as philosophy, and that she does this often. I would be curious what specifically you think is wrong about Objectivism (without relying on this game of definitions, because a definition is not a valid argument; whether something falls under your definition of philosophy or not doesn't affect its truth value).

I'm not asking you to prove her wrong, just list a quick few things you think she's wrong about. It's just to help me (and probably others, too) figure out if I'm interested in paying a little more attention or not.

Edited by Nicky
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Eiuol, Regarding the question of the abstractness and/or concreteness of existence there are two separate issues. One is existence as such, and furthermore the axiom "existence exists" and the other is the vast expanse of existence. Existence as such as about as concrete as anything since consciousness itself exists. To try and describe the most basic psychological experience one can have, it more or less would express itself-implicitly of course- as "something exists". I see this computer screen. The fact that it exists is as concrete as anything can be. But then there is a second issue, and that is the expanse of existence which is abstract. What is the expanse of existence? The unexplored, unknown space of the universe, that which we do not yet know about existence, unrealized possibility, et cetera.

You said "philosophy is the 'what' of existence. I would like to add that philosophy is furthermore the regard for and treatment of existence, and obviously, especially human existence. I think this is important because it emphasizes what is most enlightening about philosophy: how, in the most basic, fundamental, principled way, we are to think and live our lives. And the key implications here: those principles can be proven true by logic, so those principles exist qua facts on a given, concrete subject (a subject concerning lifestyle ultimately), which is philosophy, which is then a science, and not to be confused with false principles on how one should live one's life (an ideology/ religion).

"Philosophy of biology" would be an anti-concept. Philosophy concerns living in general. But let me address, specifically, what you suggest would be a question that the "philosophy of biology" deals with: "Philosophy of biology would consider 'what' questions, like what does evolution imply for how the world is classified if entities are changing all the time?" That, would be a taxonomic question. The New Oxford American Dictionary corroborates this.

"taxonomy |takˈsänəmē|

noun chiefly Biology

the branch of science concerned with classification, esp. of organisms; systematics.

• the classification of something, esp. organisms : the taxonomy of these fossils.

• a scheme of classification : a taxonomy of smells."

My only criticism of their definition is they could be more succinct! But it is true that when one studies biology, (or anything) that philosophical issues will arise. The most fundamental question would be "what does this new fact I have just learned or discovered mean to me?" or "what do I want to know about x that I do not yet know? And why?" And- in fact- this transitions me right to your next point about the inevitable cross over when discussing branches of philosophy. Here I should like to say that philosophical statements consist of an integrated knowledge of philosophical principles. John Galt's speech obviously demonstrates this perfectly. Galt doesn't only discuss politics. He doesn't only discuss ethics. And furthermore, each advanced branch of philosophy obviously depends on its antecedent branches. Once you say reality is an objective absolute, you prove how you know so, once you understand your means of knowledge you say, so now that I know how I know things, how the hell am I to live my life? How am I to act? What am I to do with myself? How do I treat others? Once you say, well I know how we ought to live- both how we treat ourselves and we ought to treat others, the next question is- how do we morally keep "law and order" (so to speak) and thus we enter politics. Once we know how a society-and to what severe limit(!)- society ought to be organized, one may ask- what should I produce and what should I consume. (I understand that this could seem more like a moral question than an "economic" one - but it would "seem" so in the same way politics would- since politics is still an implementation of rational self interest. But I think rational self interest in the basic moral sense is more geared towards behavior as such and not specifically an in depth analysis of production and consumption. Maybe a clearer way to explain economics would emphasize treatment of resources. Then once we know what we ought to produce the question is: "how do I optimize my mind; how do I navigate it as succinctly as possible?" One may argue that this is epistemological, and say, "obviously the answer is 'think rationally' but that overlooks the prospect of concentrating on enhancing visualization, working with one's subconscious, efficient introspection, et cetera- which the field of psychology deals with. I wanted to show the full hierarchy of philosophical advancement here to demonstrate- as I think you were getting at- that each advanced branch is consistent with the antecedent principles and that discussing any philosophical issue, thus, is going to have crossovers.

You pointed out something quite profound that I confess I had never realized- and so I must thank you for it. That is your statement that "Postmodernism certainly is the logical conclusion of all the Hegelians, and is more dangerous than communism ever was. Not only is there a destructive element to it of denying any truth whatsoever, there are no leaders to it." Indeed, postmodernism necessarily implies an anarchic political system since it really is just a chaotic riot of one person's power versus another person's power (as we see in practice via special interest groups and the freaks of occupy wall street, and the terrorists, etc). That being said, communists nonetheless use the postmodern and nihilistic metaphysics to say "nothing is of any value- not on an ideological level, and not on an economic level. Your believe is worth nothing. My belief is worth nothing. That computer you build is worth the same amount of money as an illegal immigrant's 4 hour dish washing shift. You'll both be paid the same." In other words, I am saying that communists "steal" from postmodernism (by teaching it in public colleges) as means to indoctrinate their evil socialist-communist agenda.

Edited by Sean O'Connor
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Ruveyn1,

In my last response to you, I asked if you read Leonard Peikoff's essay "The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy" and you did not answer, which disappoints me. What progress can be made in a discussion when you talk at people (as opposed to "to them"), evade their points, and then make new ones? It is also a bit disrespectful and is not a discussion. Why should I continue to take anything you say seriously and show you respect if I can predict that you are going to evade my responses and change the subject? That would be illogical!

Nonetheless, I love defending my assertions and I am so happy that people have been reading this thread so I shall respond to your latest set of comments.

1) You claim that there are no proper or improper definitions and that they arise from consensus and common use of words. There are several contradictions that statement. I shall list them for you. If there are no proper or improper definitions then there can be no cogent, even semi-rational means of communication since your statement, based on its own premise, is devoid of any definition! According to you, your words neither refer to anything or don't refer to anything- which is really just a psychological confession which translates implicitly, in English, to "I am confused". I am not going to call you contemptible for being confused but that is what your statement in fact reveals. You say that there are no proper or improper definitions, and yet you then say they arise from consensus and common use of words. What does? You said first that there are no proper or improper definitions, which means that even the word "definition" refers to nothing. I am however going to take a guess that you tried to imply is that "a definition is determined by the masses". One, among the many problems with that assertion: if "definition" is based on arbitrary whims of the masses use of it, then, fundamentally, the word "definition" is merely a series of letters that will refer to some other series of letters- letters which the masses arbitrarily group into sounds which refer to this or that aspect of reality, temporarily. You don't find that irrational? Or do you not hold reason as your epistemological principle. And on that note, have you read "Introduction To Objectivist Epistemology"? Whether or not you have, you claim to reject the chapter on definitions, yet you haven't made a single reference to it. Why not? Do you typically reject ideas without trying to actually refute the actual idea? If you really wanted somebody to take your rejection seriously, I would think that you would offer a very thorough refutation so that we would have the proof that your ideas are clear.

2) For the sake of context, I shall define "definition"- which you claim cannot be defined, which means you claim there is no "actual" definition to "definition" beyond the wreckage of the consensus. In the "Introduction To Objectivist Epistemology" Ayn Rand writes "A definition is a statement that identifies the nature of units subsumed under a concept" (p.40) If you reject this definition, you are saying you do not believe units subsumed under a concept can be identified, which means you believe that there is no such thing as "concept", or "the law of identity", which means you think all of perception is one big indeterminate blur, which you nonetheless, have the magical ability to explain in words- words which have no actual definition and refer to nothing other than the consensus which also refers to nothing. That is quite literally irrational and evasive. Based on your claim there is no intellectual basis for language whatsoever (but yet you nonetheless intellectualize it! Why?) and furthermore, clarity of thought is not your goal when you communicate.

3) To base anything- whether it is definition (or in your case the arbitrary thing a word temporarily refers to) or legislation- on consensus is altruism. It means you surrender your reason to the whim of some other, which means to surrender your mind. If you want a full understanding of how catastrophic your surrender to consensus is, I refer you to "The New Fascism: Rule by Consensus" and "The Wreckage of the Consensus" both written by Ayn Rand in her book "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal"

4) Regarding the nature of changed definitions, I shall quote Ayn Rand, from "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology". "All definitions are contextual, and a primitive definition does not contradict a more advanced one: the latter merely expands the former. As an example, let us trace the development of the concept 'man'." She explains that a very young child with almost no knowledge will define a man as "a thing that moves and makes noises". She writes "within the context of his awareness, this is a valid definition". Then she explains how his definition changes he learns of animals and other various objects. The definition becomes "a living being that speaks and does things no other living being can do". Then she explains, as the child gains more and more knowledge, and grows up, he or she learns that a man is defined as a "rational animal". (p. 43-44)

Edited by Sean O'Connor
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Nicky,

Thank you for your response and your honesty. I have to say, however, that I was disappointed when I read that you don't care about the definition of philosophy and that you also didn't care to explain why you don't care. So I shall ask you now: why not? If you don't care about the definition of philosophy then you implicitly don't care about clear communication. You furthermore imply that my assertion is "beneath you" , and again, you don't explain why- which Nicky, is by all means an insult. I have no problem with discussing disagreements but I take major issue to insults because insults evade the actual assertions and issues. I want to give you the benefit of the doubt however, and thus I am guessing, based on the fact that you commented, and asked me to list my disagreements with Ayn Rand, that you had no conscious intention to insult me. Am I correct?

Now, if you believe I am playing a "word game"and that "definition is not a valid argument" why do you refuse to prove your assertion? You have a tendency to say things but then not explain yourself. You claim that my claim is illogical but you didn't identify a single contradiction!

Before I share with you my list of disagreements I must address my disagreement with you. Definitions absolutely matter! They don't merely affect the truth: a definition is a fact, i.e, a true, actual identification! If you say that definition doesn't matter then you say that identification and logic and rationality don't matter. And on this issue, Ayn Rand and I are in profound agreement. Observe the fact that in many of Ayn Rand's essays she says "I shall define my terms". She ascribes more importance to definitions than just that. She wrote an entire essay on it in "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology". I referred to this essay in an earlier response on this thread which you ought to give a read. But, specifically, regarding the rich value of definition, Ayn Rand wrote "What is necessary is a knowledge of the rules by which the definitions can be formulated; and what is urgently necessary is a clear grasp of that dividing line beyond which ostensive definitions are no longer sufficient. (That dividing line begins at the point where a man uses words with the feeling 'I kinda know what I mean') Most people have no grasp of that line and no inkling of the necessity to grasp it- and the disastrous, paralyzing, stultifying consequences are the greatest single cause of mankind's intellectual erosion. (As an illustration, observe what Bertrand Russell was able to perpetrate because people thought they 'kinda knew' the meaning of the concept 'number'- and what the collectivists were able to perpetuate because people did not even pretend to know the meaning of the concept "man". (p. 50-51)

As for my disagreements with Ayn Rand, I shall list them for you. Before I proceed, note that Ayn Rand and I do not completely disagree about the actual definition of philosophy. She provides two general definitions. One definition is correct and the other is wrong. Philosophy as the field of science which studies existence is correct. Philosophy as an ideology is incorrect.

1) Ayn Rand misdefines value. She says a value is that which one acts to gain and/or keep. Here she confuses "value" (which is a place within a hierarchy) with possessions, priorities, and objects of pursuit.

2) The definition of thought. She says thought is "an act of consciousness that draws conclusions". A thought is a distinct connection between concepts and anti-concepts. (For more on this I refer you to an excerpt from "An Epistle to Dr. Nathaniel Branden" which I have posted on this forum under the title "The Definition of Thought"

3)I agree with Nathanial Branden's disagreements with Ayn Rand as well: A)that she is guilty of finding all acts of immorality as contemptible, (all acts of immorality are to be condemned but condemnation and contempt are quite different and not all immoral acts are contemptible), B) that she is guilty of encouraging repression C) that she is guilty of encouraging dogmatism D) that she was wrong to refer to hypnosis as irrational nonsense (for a fuller explanation on these please read "An Epistle To Dr. Branden")

4) She says abstractions as such do not exist but they do. What is an abstraction. I covered this in an earlier comment on this thread. An abstraction is a mental impression of a concrete. Mental impressions exist. If they didn't your mind would have no means of knowledge, no means of referring to anything in reality, no means of identifying anything.

5) She does not acknowledge that economics and psychology are branches of philosophy but they are. (And regarding economics- she says Aesthetics as a branch of philosophy, but really, aesthetics is an economic issue since economics deals with production and consumption, and art is produced and consumed). Note that politics says that man has the right to be free. Economics asks, "what do I do with my freedom", i.e, since I am free, and I exist in a universe of resources, what do I do with them? Psychology asks, how do I get the most fulfillment out of it, which implies a)optimal navigation of one's mind and b)understanding personal meaning and value (do not confuse the issue of means of fulfillment which is psychological, with morality, which discusses how you are to act and treat your life more generally, i.e., morality explains why you exist for your own sake. Psychology explains how to get all the happiness you can!)

I certainly hope that you, and others come to agree with me and Dr. Nathaniel Branden that "Ayn Rand might turn over in her grave to hear me say it, but she really did have the right to be wrong sometimes. No need for us to become hysterical about it or to behave like petulant eight-year-olds. Growing up means being able to see our parents realistically. Growing up relative to Ayn Rand means being able to see her realistically — to see the greatness and to see the shortcomings. If we see only the greatness and deny the shortcomings or if we see only the shortcomings and deny the greatness, we remain blind.

“She has so much that is truly marvelous to offer us. So much wisdom, insight, and inspiration. So much clarification. Let us say ‘thank you’ for that, acknowledge the errors and mistakes when we see them, and proceed on our own path — realizing that, ultimately, each of us has to make the journey alone, anyway.” ("The Benefits and Hazards of Ayn Rand")

I furthermore hope you are interested in my ideas, assertions, discoveries, and comments because they are true. And you should take tremendous interest in truth.

Edited by Sean O'Connor
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". . . no more than one concept per word."

This is your end point, your conclusion. It's propriety depends on how you got there of course. So, assuming life qua whoever one is to be the chosen goal, how does this rule contribute to that?

Your first answer to this question is: ". . . it would prevent word usage from inevitably succumbing to ambiguity."

My counter point to this is that there are other, more feasible ways to go about doing this. I've mentioned this before. If you don't think this is so and/or cannot fathom any such alternative then please do say so and I'll give some examples.

Your next justification you give for the rule is this: ". . . it is logical in the most literal sense, it is strict 'non-contradiction', i.e., 'this word will never contradict the concept it refers to.'"

You already know what I'm going to say next based on this statement: "Some may argue that giving a word two concepts is not a contradiction . . ."

Your counter to this is: ". . . it is because once that word, in use, refers to something other than its first concept, that is by nature, a contradictory instance."

This is an unsupported assertion. It may even be begging the question. It might be circular reasoning too. Circular reasoning is why the statement seems to lack support and just be begging the question actually. Adjusting the grammar of that sentence without altering the meaning, removing some short cuts to spell them out in full basically, "it (<-- 'a word once in use referring to something other than its first concept') is [a contradiction] because that word, in use, [referring] to something other than its first concept is . . . contradictory . . ." Basically, action A is contradictory because action A is contradictory. A is A is axiomatically true, but A because A is not the same as A is A. If you have any objection to how I reconstructed part of what you were saying, if you think something about it is inaccurate or if you do want to contend that A is A is the same as A because A, go ahead and I'll continue this part further.

I think a large part of the problem here is context. Objects and actions out there in reality are exactly one thing at a time with only one possible response to anything it interacts with. The human mind is the one thing we know for darned sure is capable of multiple different responses to any given situation. We have free will, meaning the ability to try to recognize our environment clearly for what it is or to attempt to do the opposite. Our mind's capacity for a variety of responses allows for it to do things which would be impossible to anything else. "Mental entities", as I believe I've seen them called elsewhere before, like concepts and the words we use to label them are created by and exist in our minds. This means they are subject to the unique nature of our minds. Our mind working in accordance with its own nature is not a contradiction, it is completely in line with the law of identity. A unique entity will do unique things.

There's another question that is left now. Our minds may be capable of reusing symbols to label multiple concepts and acting according to our capacities which stem from our nature is not a contradiction, BUT is doing so optimal by the standard of things which support our life qua ourselves? This leads back to issues of practicality again. You've contended that it would not be good because it will inevitably lead to ambiguity and my response to that concern is above already, that I think we can prevent communication break down and thinking problems by other, more attainable means than throwing out multiple word meanings altogether.

Your next objection: "That's extremely sloppy language . . ." and "Should a language, however, be reduced? Absolutely!"

Sloppy is not necessarily a bad thing. We're not commanded to seek out attainment of Plato's forms. Sloppiness may not always impede something being useful for what purpose we have for it. My food may be heaped sloppily onto my plate when I'm on a tight schedule and have to go some place soon. So what of the sloppiness in that case? It doesn't make it less tasty or nutritious. Taking extra time to arrange my food more neatly on my plate before eating it may make me late for something though. The sloppy dish better serves my needs in this case. Sloppy is only impractical in certain cases and may be a minor aesthetic nuisance that may require more time and effort to fix than it is worth. Is the sloppiness in this case a practical problem? To some extent, but I've already said there are other preferable ways to address those problems where they exist.

". . . the word freedom is said to be defined as 'self determination' by capitalists, but is said, by Socialists, socialists such as president Barack Obama, to be defined as 'absence of need for general sustenance' (ranging from perhaps a small monthly check -or job for all guaranteed by law, food stamps, government facilitated housing, health care, etc.) Or here is another example: when an atheist socialist goes about referring to himself as rational on the one hand, an objectivist then, on the other hand, is saying 'no, I'm rational!'. Obviously both are using different definitions and are making communication much more confusing than it could and ought to be."

Those examples have other problems. The latter definition of freedom is the result of a floating abstraction and thus improperly formed and invalid. The problem there is not that a word can have multiple usages. Even if "freedom" had only one meaning under its entry in the dictionary I'm positive you would still see people in disagreement over what that one definition is/should be/what it applies to/etc. As for the "rational" comment, I don't think there is even a different definition being used by the two there necessarily. The socialist is just mistaken, he has come to an incorrect conclusion. It's a lot like two people can mean the same thing by the word "frog" - a little hopping animal that lives by water, eats bugs, and croaks - but one says he or she just saw a frog go by and the other says that that person did not. The first person in this example saw another animal go by quickly and merely mistook it for what both of them meant by the word "frog." Nice as it would be, one can't simply define errors out of existence entirely.

Oh, also, there's more that could be said about if somebody can be rational and still come to wrong conclusions sometimes, if one can be said to be rational in one area though there are other areas where they are not, et cetera. I want to leave that aside right now though because we already have a big enough task at hand.

[/definitionofphilosophysection]

[definitionofsciencesection]

"Science is the study of the aspects of the universe." <-- your definition I referred to earlier

". . . discovering and organizing facts about the aspects of the universe." <-- one from your last post replying to me

". . . which term in that definition do you think makes it overly broad?"

Well, all the key terms here are questionable - "study," "aspects," and "universe." "Aspects" is the most problematic though I think. Your definition is vague to the point of useless because it can be applied to almost anything and removes a way to refer to a preexisting, useful concept (at least if you propose this as the ONLY definition for science anyway. I think even if it existed in addition to the other ones though that one would prove troublesome because it would be harder than usual to distinguish in a practical manner when you meant that definition or when you were referring to physics, chemistry, and such) Under your proposed definition, would reading the news paper be part of science? What about seeing how many times you can insult a particular person before they block your account online? Would just looking around in general count?

"Everything in philosophy can be tested and proven via logic." <-- you just said

I said before, "That top, first line in the wiki quote . . . I think one issue . . . is that not everything in philosophy can be tested. There is notably no feasible way to make a test for axioms. Tests depend on axioms."

"logic is the art of non-contradictory identification" <-- this definition for logic comes from Galt's speech. It is immediately preceded by this, ". . . logic rests on the axiom that existence exists." http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/logic.html

Logic, just like tests, depends on axioms. One has to accept these axioms before trying to apply logic. Otherwise, one can't even get past the starting line. The truth of axioms is established in a different manner.

"'There is no distinction between the ‘logically’ and the ‘empirically’ possible (or impossible). All truths…are the product of a logical identification of the facts of experience. This applies as much to the identification of possibilities as of actualities'." (You already cited it above.)

I am not contesting that quoted section at all. I don't see how the equal validity of "empirically" and "logically" discovered information, including when it comes to possibilities, supports your position though. Are you focusing on the second sentence? If so, I would be interested to see the rest of the sentence, but in general if we're talking about axioms, we do identify these from experience and note that incoherency results from denial of the law of identity and that they are true, but that's neither testing them nor is it a "proof" really either. The quote doesn't mention proving anyway. Besides, the definition from the wiki on science that I pasted mentioned testing though, not testing or proving by logic sans test. Though, I also have not claimed that wiki definition is perfect as it is. The "testing" part of the definition though I do find interesting as an attempt to point out some methodology connecting the subjects which are covered by science.

"How does existence, the fundamental state of the universe, apply to ethics?"

In the sentence I quoted and responded to before you referred to existence as specifically "a state of being" and it was this generalized study of "being" as such that I intended to ask about in relation to ethics. Metaphysics will deal with that sort of thing a lot, but ethics has a different focus. Metaphysics must be established before ethics and ethics builds off metaphysics down the line, but ethics is definitely not just about the state of being as such since it deals in what could be, but is not yet. What could be is not independent of what already is, but what is isn't all that is involved when it comes to the man-made. What already is is not the sole determiner for what actions people will take. I think this application to ethics thing may be getting a bit off track from the main topic now though . . .

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1) Ayn Rand misdefines value. She says a value is that which one acts to gain and/or keep. Here she confuses "value" (which is a place within a hierarchy) with possessions, priorities, and objects of pursuit.

Do you mean Rand did not correctly recognize and describe an aspect of reality(the concept of living)? Or is this along your lines of setting Johnson straight? Did Rand use the wrong word? If so, what is the correct term for that thing(s) that living entities act to gain and or keep?

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tadmjones,

Why do you assert something but refuse to prove it? I am curious- when you make an unsubstantiated statement, what do you expect somebody's response to be? Did you expect me to take your unexplained assertion on faith? Why would you expect that? It is quite disrespectful. Why? Because you talk at people, as if they are supposed to take what you say on faith; you treat them as unworthy of your rationality. This implies that you are the one who needs to check your premises. You also ought to define your terms.

What is "existence"? Existence is the state of being. How do you know something exists? Because you perceive things, i.e., you are conscious of something. That something, which is, i.e., which exists, is concrete.

What is "concrete"? That which exists independent of the mind. I.e., that which you can perceive. Can you perceive existence? If you cannot perceive existence that would mean you are devoid of perception, and awareness, in which case you, qua human, would not exist.

To make the definition of concrete clearer for you, I shall provide for you, the definition of "abstract". "Abstract" is that which is based on a mental record of a concrete. For example, a cat is a concrete concept. You can point to it; you can see it. Existence, also is a concrete. You can point to it, you can see it, hear it, smell it, taste it, and touch it. Ayn Rand and I agree on this. She wrote "To define 'existence' one would have to sweep one's arm around and say 'I mean this'". ("Introduction To Objectivist Epistemology"; p.41) What then is an example of something "abstract"? "Capitalism". What makes capitalism abstract? Because one cannot perceive capitalism as such. You might argue that one could perceive capitalism in action, but it would be just that...an abstract ideal and principle, in action, not as such, qua thing.

Edited by Sean O'Connor
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Concepts refer to concretes in reality, the referent of a concept is an aspect of reality.

An actual cat is a concrete. The concept cat can in a proper context be spoken of as a concrete, in that the referent in that instance is the concept of cat as a concept. Is this what you mean?

The broadest abstraction there is , is existence. Although in the proper context the concept of existence can be treated as a concrete, but context is the issue.

Edited by tadmjones
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I have to read this whole thread but there's a host of mistakes in every thing I've read by the OP. I'll just mentioned this until I read it all. Existence is not a concrete. You cannot point to existence you can only point to existents/ particulars. Existence is a concept the referents of which are all the individuals that exist.

Edited by Plasmatic
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Concrete as in perceivable entity as opposed to abstractions of those perceivable entities. Galaxies, cats, rocks, atoms, bananas, books, mountains - these are all examples of what I mean by concrete. We can discuss ways to classify these entities in terms of needing tools in order to perceive them, but the point I'm making is that these don't require abstraction to be able to observe. Existence by its very nature can't be grasped in this way, because it is an abstraction of everything. All measurements except mere existence is omitted, establishing the concept "existence". So what I'm saying about philosophy is that it deals with reaching wider abstractions and detailing the general "framework" of those abstractions. Science, on the other hand, is about getting into the specifics of reality, not trying to abstract per se - even if science involves a lot of abstraction. For example, science answers how consciousness works (the cognitive science fields), while philosophy abstracts in order to present a framework of just what consciousness is (philosophy of mind). Of course, both science and philosophy involve induction, but they are not identical.

That, would be a taxonomic question. The New Oxford American Dictionary corroborates this.

That could be a taxonomic question: if I see a new set of characteristics in a generation of lab-grown bacteria, then I'll figure out if it needs a specific classification. But what does evolution suggest about the idea of change? Are there just definite lines between everything that exists? This new species could actually be classified as that previous species in an important aspect, but what is an important aspect anyway? How can I take into account the newly evolved animal without obliterating how I understand the world? Answering that I'd say is philosophy, just used in a biology context! So, it is not strictly taxonomy. Actually, it even says a lot about how to approach Objectivist epistemology (borderline cases, essential characteristics, concepts aren't intrinsic or subjective, concepts as tools of understanding). These questions are quite different than asking what the specific causes of change are.

I shall preface this response by submitting a principle for wording a concept: no more than one concept per word. This may seem unnecessary but it would prevent word usage from inevitably succumbing to ambiguity.

I know this wasn't addressed at me, but this is important to expand on. Some ambiguity is fine, considering the conceptual limitations of all people. One-to-one concept-word correspondence is a lot of information to keep track of and remember. For the sake of conceptual economy, there needs to be some ambiguity, but fortunately, the human mind is really good at disambiguating word meanings. Not that accuracy is intrinsic, but a conceptual mind is good at this. If I say "I'm going to the bank to cash a check", do you think I'm going to a river bank, or a bank *building* filled with money? If I talk about a right to bear arms, do you think I'm talking about a right to the arms of a grizzly bear? These are all great examples of ambiguity, but they are not problematic most of the time.

Those examples suggest your principle is unnecessary and probably makes language more difficult if you get rid of all words with more than one definition in favor of one concept and only one concept. What works better is no more than one word per concept. The concept of a large mammal that hibernates in winter (amongst other characteristics) is given the word "bear". But what about other languages? The concept of a bear is given the word "oso" in Spanish. Even my own principle is problematic. Rather than limiting how words can be used, maintaining an effective conceptual economy is important. Like unit economy for a basis to form concepts, I'm suggesting a conceptual economy as a basis for multiple concepts per word and even multiple words per concept in some cases. Regardless of what happens with words, though, concepts don't change. That's why "oso" makes just as much sense to me as "bear".

That being said, communists nonetheless use the postmodern and nihilistic metaphysics to say "nothing is of any value- not on an ideological level, and not on an economic level.

I'm saying that the so-called communist postmodernists are just plain ol' postmodernists. They are categorically different from communists, even if some of the consequences are the same. Communists can be combated at least with evidence, and at least a communist would say you are wrong. A postmodernist would just say my truth is different than their truth. Nothing can be said to that. I point this out because it's important to understand one's enemy. (As an aside, I think the only way to combat postmodernism is to mock it with humor and the absurdities that it implies).

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