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Concerning the free will discussion, because you are all accepting the fundamental premise of determinist metaphysics none of you can logically escape determinist conclusions.

 

Free will was discussed the the thread Weak vs. Strong Emergence but I will link you to post 39 in the middle of that thread: http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=22062&p=284237

 

The link to PHYSICALISM, EMERGENCE, AND DOWNWARD CAUSATION still works, highly recommended.

 

In short, determinism rests on the premise that some kind of most basic particle exists, and nothing but those particles really exists as everything is made up of them in some configuration.   This premise is false.

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The above presupposes that 1). The ontology of fields is a settled issue, and most importantly that a philosophical question like volition need any input whatsoever from the special sciences period.

The attack on free will originates entirely in bad science.  Showing that that science is bad is defending philosophy.    

 

Do please try to keep straight who are your allies and who are your enemies.

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Grames said:

"The attack on free will originates entirely in bad science. Showing that that science is bad is defending philosophy. "

Even if the premise that determinism began as a false conclusion on a special science issue is correct, (which I''m not sure it is and given that the paper rejects the notion of entities being primaries I certainly wouldn't grant its special science premises of what "good science is ) A valid response need only point out the top down approach to a philosophical question is methodologically false.

Grames said:

"Do please try to keep straight who are your allies and who are your enemies."

Well I do consider you to be an advocate of reason, and a very effective one at that, but on issues like the above, we aren't on the same page. That said, I don't think of you as an enemy! :)

Edited by Plasmatic

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Concerning the free will discussion, because you are all accepting the fundamental premise of determinist metaphysics none of you can logically escape determinist conclusions.

 

Free will was discussed the the thread Weak vs. Strong Emergence but I will link you to post 39 in the middle of that thread: http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=22062&p=284237

 

The link to PHYSICALISM, EMERGENCE, AND DOWNWARD CAUSATION still works, highly recommended.

 

In short, determinism rests on the premise that some kind of most basic particle exists, and nothing but those particles really exists as everything is made up of them in some configuration.   This premise is false.

 

I disagree with your 1st sentence. 

 

What are the reasons by which you arrive at your conclusions in the last sentence?

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I disagree with your 1st sentence. 

 

What are the reasons by which you arrive at your conclusions in the last sentence?

They are in the other thread.  Simply put, an ontology of some kind of most basic particles and only those particles is wrong.

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SL, the basic idea is the rediculous notion that :

"What our best contemporary physics reveals is that there are no elementary ‘particles’, fundamental events, or some such particulars. There are only processes of various scales and complexity."

In other words actions without entities!

This is the type of nonsense a top down approach leads to. Basic epistemology is abandoned and logical hierarchy ignored.

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I recommend anyone who thinks that the question of ontology, in regards to any of the main concepts in physics, is a clear cut settled issue, actually research the historical debates that erupted when those concepts were birthed. Those questions have now been basically ignored by todays professors. Almost all the texts on the philosophy of physics, in particular of dynamics, I have read, start by the author explaining the rampant dissmissal of the very questions the text sought to ellucidate.

Do your homework on the inductive context.

Edited by Plasmatic

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Many aspects of quantum mechanics are well confirmed, but quantum mechanics and relativity theory – both special and general – cannot both be correct. Not only is quantum mechanics incompatible with general relativity unless it is transformed in a way that can account for gravity, special relativity plus conservation of energy forces a field physics, and, therefore, a field metaphysics. This is because any transmission of energy from one ‘particle’ to another has to be across some space and will, according to special relativity, take some time. For example, if an electron oscillates in one place and thereby elicits a force on an electron in another place, that force can be felt only after a delay that honours the limitations of the speed of light. But given the law of conservation of energy, it makes no sense to suppose that that energy simply disappears as it leaves the first electron, only to re-appear sometime later, when it arrives at the second. So, there must be a field encompassing both places, through which the energy travels. Furthermore, quantum field theory involves its own well supported empirical consequences, such as the Casimir effect. It is not just a mathematical but physically irrelevant fix.

 

In fact, the incompatibility between quantum mechanics and special relativity is overcome by quantum field theory, and superstring theory now aims to overcome the incompatibility between quantum mechanics and general relativity. But despite these achievements, a satisfactorily unified physics is still wanting. A field version of superstring theory has still to be developed, yet quantum fields are still needed to preserve special relativity together with conservation of energy, and to provide for the possibility of explaining non-local phenomena.

 

Although there is much for physics yet to resolve, the general direction is becoming clear enough for some conclusions of metaphysical significance to be drawn. According to our best science, there are no elementary ‘particles’, or basic particulars, at all; everything is composed of quantum fields. Quantum field theory shifts the basic ontology of the universe from micro-particles to quantum fields. What have seemed to be ‘particles’ are now conceptualized as particle-like processes and interactions resulting from the quantization of field processes and interactions. Those are no more particles than are the integer number of oscillatory waves in a guitar string. Each of the apparent particulars assumed by a physicalist ontology is a quantized field process.

 

The quantum fields exist, the quantum fields act.  

Dr. Peikoff, an actual philosopher well versed in Objectivism, has not seen any justification to specify an a priori entity ontology all the way down.  

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A good read on ontological questions of QM is:

The Wavefunction: Essays on The Metaphysics of Quantum Mechanics by A. Ney and D. Albert

"If we are going to take the mathematical form of a representation as a guide to the metaphysical structure of the entity represented, then we need to consider carefully how that representation came to be in use, what alternatives there might be, and what conventions are in play in using algebraic objects as representations of physical entities."

Grames said:

"Dr. Peikoff, an actual philosopher well versed in Objectivism, has not seen any justification to specify an a priori entity ontology all the way down. "

Thats because he hasn't applied the same reduction to "fields" or "entity" that he applied to the concept "energy" in the 1976 lectures.

Oism explicitly states that entities are causal primaries.

Edit: it also contains the ingredients for prescribing how to validly concieve of hypothetical entities.

Edited by Plasmatic

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If you examine your quote from The Wavefunction Essays, it is saying, essentially, that a proper epistemology need be adhered to in order to ensure we are using the mathematics correctly. In this regard, the special science of philosophy can serve as a guide to ensure complience with the proper method of identification within the other special sciences.

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--------

Oism explicitly states that entities are causal primaries.

----------

Where does it say that?  Objectivism holds that awareness of entities is the base of epistemology, the starting point of conceptual thought.  It makes no such scientific assertion.  

 

From: The Ayn Rand Lexicon

 

The first concepts man forms are concepts of entities—since entities are the only primary existents.

 

 

An entity is a solid thing open to human perception and capable of independent action.

 

 

This term [entity] may be used in several senses. If you speak in the primary sense, “entity” has to be defined ostensively—that is to say, by pointing. I can, however, give you three descriptive characteristics essential to the primary, philosophic use of the term, according to Objectivism. This is not a definition, because I’d have to rely ultimately on pointing to make these points clear, but it will give you certain criteria for the application of the term in the primary sense . . . .

  1. An entity means a self-sufficient form of existence—as against a quality, an action, a relationship, etc., which are simply aspects of an entity that we separate out by specialized focus. An entity is athing.

  2. An entity, in the primary sense, is a solid thing with a definite boundary—as against a fluid, such as air. In the literal sense, air is not an entity. There are contexts, such as when the wind moves as one mass, when you can call it that, by analogy, but in the primary sense, fluids are not entities.

  3. 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.

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Everything you just quoted supports the entitiy based causality. What do you think "primary existent" means? What does it mean for Oism to reject floating actions? One cannot reject entity based causation without talking nonsense.

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Everything you just quoted supports the entitiy based causality. What do you think "primary existent" means? What does it mean for Oism to reject floating actions? One cannot reject entity based causation without talking nonsense.

Your statement was "Oism explicitly states that entities are causal primaries."  Where's your citation?  Clearly, the example of wind/water, which are not regarded as entities in Objectivism, would violate your statement right off the bat.  That entities must be perceivable, clearly atomic matter is not perceivable (hence, not entities) but no one would argue against them being causal agents.  Clouds cause rain, but clouds are not entities, not having clearly defined boundaries.  Images on a TV screen are not entities, but they clearly produce perceptions in humans.

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I consider the statement "entities are the only primary existents" to be as explicit as one can get.

1). Dr. Peikoff is inconsistent on "entity" as I already pointed out. Your quotes on water and wind are from him. I do not consider OPAR to be definitive Oism.

2). Wind is the motion of a collection of entities and water is a collection of entities (molecules) as well. Like Ms. Rands treatment of the pile of sand in iTOE.

3). Ms Rand relates her sense of primary existents to Aristotles sense of primary substance in ITOE.

4). One only needs to understand how to reduce any concept to verify that one cannot conserve meaning by violating this premise.

Edit: clouds are a collection of entities

Edited by Plasmatic

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Plasmatic: I think you're right about entities because yes, if one attempts to discuss causality on any other basis (attributive, relational, etc) then it necessarily becomes a floating abstraction; you're omitting the grounds for such concepts and cutting yourself off at the knees.

So in the strictest sense, "entity" SHOULD only refer to perceptual entities which may be ostensibly defined.

Since science (it seems to me) has a conceptual hierarchy that mirrors philosophy, the existents it deals with should have clear and objectively defined tiers.

For instance: we infer the existence of electrons from electromagnetic force, which is an attribute of certain perceptual entities, making "electron" a concept thrice removed from direct perception.

---

So I think you're right that, but since we're discussing subatomic particles, none of them could actually be entities.

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On free will, I've made this argument before here: http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=24331#entry309433

 

The main mistake made in the argument that man doesn't have free will is the tacit presupposition that a man is something different than his attributes. Let's say you had complete knowledge of me -- including my DNA structure, my past and how it's influenced me, and how that information taken together can be used to determine how I would react (and what choices I would make) given any new situation I find myself in. In other words, I couldn't do anything different than what I would do.

 

Yes, you can look at my brain and "predict" what choice I am going to make. But my brain is me, or part of what is me. So all the person who denies free will is doing is looking at what I am choosing to do and then saying it's not really me choosing it, just my brain, and therefore I don't really have free will -- as though my brain isn't me.

 

If anything, the science referenced merely shows that when you break down what makes up a person, and then what makes up a brain, and what makes up the chemistry that makes up a brain, then you can say that we essentially do that which is in the chemical makeup of our brain chemistry to do. And one of the underlying implications that is often made is an idea that we don't actually have any culpability for our actions. After all, the argument goes, we couldn't actually make a real decision -- we only did what was in our brain chemistry, which we have no control over.

 

But again this makes the mistake of thinking that we are something other than ourselves, something other than the parts of us that make up whom we are, something other than our brain chemistry, and because we can open the black box and see how the parts work together, that somehow culpability (and in fact personhood) disappears.

 

But it also makes the mistake to assume that moral value is subjective, because after "all we didn't have free will, therefore  no culpability." And that's simply not true. At the end of the day, reality is our judge and arbiter of moral value, and if you want to live you have to use your rational mind to do the correct actions that give you continued life. You can't look at impending death of starvation (when you could have hunted or gathered) and say, "But you shouldn't judge me, Reality! I couldn't help it, I only did what was in my brain chemistry, and my brain chemistry was to be lazy!" Because Reality will answer back, "Tough, that's life."

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Anyway. While all entities are local, I don't see a reason why hypothetical existents must be.

And since the intermediate "force" attributes (gravitational, etc) are only semilocal, it would make perfect sense for their derivative concepts (such as field) to be similarly extended.

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SL: Grames is referencing emergent properties, as in a colony of ants or flock of birds.

Secondhander: accurate as always.

It occurs to me that whoever shifts responsibility to their chemistry cannot protest imprisonment or death; their chemistry will remain.

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Secondhander: accurate as always.

 

I wish!Thanks though :) When I went back into my history to find that bit I posted, I also found a lot of earlier posts when my understanding of Rand and objectivism was much younger, and I was flat wrong on some things. But I've found that's part of the beauty of it, especially early on when it takes some time before some of the basic concepts click.

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I consider the statement "entities are the only primary existents" to be as explicit as one can get.

OK. Then I take it that your statement "Oism explicitly states that entities are causal primaries" is withdrawn.

 

1). Dr. Peikoff is inconsistent on "entity" as I already pointed out. Your quotes on water and wind are from him. I do not consider OPAR to be definitive Oism.

2). Wind is the motion of a collection of entities and water is a collection of entities (molecules) as well. Like Ms. Rands treatment of the pile of sand in iTOE.

Once again, it would be nice if you'd provide a citation to back up your interpretation. (Observe that the individual grains of sand are perceivable.)

 

3). Ms Rand relates her sense of primary existents to Aristotles sense of primary substance in ITOE.

And this has relevance, how?  Rand readily acknowledges that most philosophers confused science with philosophy, Descartes being the arch example.  She strongly stated that one cannot deduce reality from philosophy.  

 

 

4). One only needs to understand how to reduce any concept to verify that one cannot conserve meaning by violating this premise.

Which premise?

 

Edit: clouds are a collection of entities

Let's make sure we understand something. I am NOT saying that atoms, wind, etc. are not entities, I am saying that use of the term 'entity' for these things is a scientific extension of the epistemological term defined by Objectivism. The two uses are not equivalent. And using the two meaning results in the confusion you have of the scientific statement about causality and the metaphysical/epistemological uses defined by Objectivism. Objectivism is not a science as physics is, nor does it posit what the ultimate constituents of matter are, nor what are causal primaries.

Edited by A is A

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Concerning the free will discussion, because you are all accepting the fundamental premise of determinist metaphysics none of you can logically escape determinist conclusions.

 

Free will was discussed the the thread Weak vs. Strong Emergence but I will link you to post 39 in the middle of that thread: http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=22062&p=284237

 

The link to PHYSICALISM, EMERGENCE, AND DOWNWARD CAUSATION still works, highly recommended.

 

In short, determinism rests on the premise that some kind of most basic particle exists, and nothing but those particles really exists as everything is made up of them in some configuration.   This premise is false.

Thanks for some very interesting source material.  I'm still combing through it, but is the premise false because of the apparent acausal nature of epiphenomenons?

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A is A said:
 

"OK. Then I take it that your statement "Oism explicitly states that entities are causal primaries" is withdrawn."



Are you kidding me? Explicit is not a synonym of verbatim... I don't understand how a long time student of Oism would dispute this:



Ayn Rand said:

The law of causality is the law of identity applied to action. All actions are caused by entities. The nature of an action is caused and determined by the nature of the entities that act; a thing cannot act in contradiction to its nature. An action not caused by an entity would be caused by a zero, which would mean a zero controlling a thing, a non-entity controlling an entity, the non-existent ruling the existent

Atlas Shrugged
 
A is A, your post above is a sublime example of the exact problem I am pointing at. Very simply, you do not know what the role of philosophy is.

A is A said:

Rand readily acknowledges that most philosophers confused science with philosophy, Descartes being the arch example. She strongly stated that one cannot deduce reality from philosophy.



Actually Ms. Rand said:

 

Check your premises and those of the speakers who told you so. There is a science whose task is to discover and define fundamental principles. It is the forgotten, neglected, subverted and currently disgraced base of all the other sciences: philosophy.

Credibility and Polarization
 
Which leads us to:

A is A said:

Let's make sure we understand something. I am NOT saying that atoms, wind, etc. are not entities, I am saying that use of the term 'entity' for these things is a scientific extension of the epistemological term defined by Objectivism.

 
The above statement is nonsense. There is no such dichotomy.
 
Ayn Rand said:
 

Epistemology is a science devoted to the discovery of the proper methods of acquiring and validating knowledge.

ITOE
 
Concept formation is concept formation . NO widening of any concept can result in a violation of the law of identity. An entity is an entity.
 
A is A said:
 

The two uses are not equivalent. And using the two meaning results in the confusion you have of the scientific statement about causality and the metaphysical/epistemological uses defined by Objectivism

 
There is no such dichotomy as "scientific statement about causality" vs, a " metaphysical/epistemological" one.
 
Causality is the province of the "the science of fundamentals: metaphysics". 

 
A is A said:
 

Objectivism is not a science as physics is, nor does it posit what the ultimate constituents of matter are, nor what are causal primaries.

 
Objectivism does indeed tell us that the science of philosophy tells us that, "entities are the only primary existents", and that, "The law of causality is the law of identity applied to action. All actions are caused by entities", which is an EXPLICIT contradiction of your claim to the contrary!
 
The science of philosophy tells us what exists are entities edit :and what it means to be an entity. The special science of physics tells us what those entities are like in particular. The science of epistemology tells us that one cannot take the concept entity "from our present level of knowledge to a level on which you deny it suddenly" (ITOE). This is not a "deduction" but an application of the law of Identity as it applies to conceptualization. edit: The science of epistemology also tells us that the claim that making " processes" the primary existents is rank inversion of hierarchy.
 
 
Ill explain the problems with Dr. Peikoff's usage of entity in a bit.

Edited by Plasmatic

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... Objectivism does indeed tell us that the science of philosophy tells us that, "entities are the only primary existents", and that, "The law of causality is the law of identity applied to action. All actions are caused by entities", which is an EXPLICIT contradiction of your claim to the contrary!

 

The science of philosophy tells us what exists are entities edit :and what it means to be an entity. The special science of physics tells us what those entities are like in particular. The science of epistemology tells us that one cannot take the concept entity "from our present level of knowledge to a level on which you deny it suddenly" (ITOE). This is not a "deduction" but an application of the law of Identity as it applies to conceptualization. edit: The science of epistemology also tells us that the claim that making " processes" the primary existents is rank inversion of hierarchy.

...

Observation of the Universe implies everything is in motion, i.e., nothing is at rest.  To say, the law of causality is the law of identity applied to action, presumes every identity is already in motion, does it not?  If so, it seems the relevant question is, what is the effacy of willed action applied to altering course?

Edited by Devil's Advocate

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