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Two basic questions about Objectivism

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Plato
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OK, so I have some various (basic) questions after reading some of Rand.

1) Objectivism's epistemology is rationalism("reason"). But Objectivism believes in an objective reality. Wouldn't it be necessary to use empiricism to discuss an objective reality?

2) I don't fully understand the necessity to not be contradictory. I mean, don't get me wrong, hypocrisy is bad, but does it really matter if there is contradiction or not? I just don't fully understand this principle, if someone could recommend something or gloss over it, that would be great.

Thanks for the help!

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OK, so I have some various (basic) questions after reading some of Rand.

1) Objectivism's epistemology is rationalism("reason"). But Objectivism believes in an objective reality. Wouldn't it be necessary to use empiricism to discuss an objective reality?

2) I don't fully understand the necessity to not be contradictory. I mean, don't get me wrong, hypocrisy is bad, but does it really matter if there is contradiction or not? I just don't fully understand this principle, if someone could recommend something or gloss over it, that would be great.

Thanks for the help!

1. Objectivism's epistemology is not rationalism, nor empiricism. Objectivism's epistemology states that man is able to learn about the world through the senses, with reason as the means for integration of percepts into concepts, and logic as the guardian against the contradictions in conceptual structure.

2. If contradictions were allowed, then the task of epistemology (stated above) would be impossible to accomplish - man's mind wouldn't be competent enough to learn about reality. Also, contradictions violate the metaphysical law of identity by saying, in essence, that A is and isn't A. To give you a concrete example, a little exaggerated but portraying the need to stay consistent, imagine that you are driving a car on the road through the forest, and you see a curve. If you don't turn, you'll crash into a tree and die. Now you can think that it isn't really that bad; maybe you are just imagining that this is a curve infront of you. So you decide that there really is no curve and that crashing into a tree was just a figment of your imagination. And you crash into a tree and you die.

Usually the consequences of not paying attention to contradiction do not come as fast as in the above example. The contradiction above is this: your senses tell you a metaphysically given fact - that there is a curve infront of you and a big tree; you, however, choose to deny that and place your consciousness above reality (giving primacy to consciousness rather than existence) and your thoughts (ideas) come into contradiction with what you perceive. The reason why consequences of not paying attention to contradictions usually come later, is that usually it is concepts that are allowed to contradict with concepts (not ideas with percepts as in the above example). Sooner or later, however, these contradictions will demand remedy and the only remedy is testing the ideas whether they comply with the axioms.

The example I gave could be abstracted a little, into the realm of ideas, and I could say that the contradiction is in a man accepting the idea of primacy of consciousness (as opposed to the primacy of existence). You can believe that and come to no mortal peril immediately. But when faced with a curve on the road and a tree you can crash into and die, you will have to dismiss that idea (at least subconsciously) and act on that which your senses tell you is real, if you want to live.

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1) Concepts can be objective too, it all depends on how you form them.

2) A contradiction is a sign that you've made a mistake somewhere in your reasoning. Avoiding contradictions saves you time thinking down paths that are obviously false.

Cheers

Ian

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2) I don't fully understand the necessity to not be contradictory.

Reality isn't contradictory (e.g. you don't both exist and not exist). Epistemology is about understanding and making statements that correspond to reality, so since reality isn't contradictory, epistemology should reject contradictions.

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