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Announcing Study-group on Inductive Method of Thinking, Its Foundation

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About the Platform: "Study Group For Objectivists"(SGO)[1] is for serious students of Objectivism from various age groups and professions. The study is specialized and involves particular texts(not necessarily Objectivists), mainly in the fields of philosophy and history. The student, after studying the text can give summary, outline, or detailed analysis and synthesis of select sections(referred to as chewing by Ayn Rand). Rigrous etiquettes, timebound schedules for various sections and advance notice enables better discipline, and therefore productive study. Based on personal experience, I can vouch for the same.

Purpose of Platform: These study groups intend to achieve for Objectivism, what various intellectuals and philosophers did post Acquinas in the West. Explore various writings to understand rational philosophy across length, breadth and depth of intellectual spectrum, and unleash the new era of Renaissance and Enlightenment. Spiritual awakening that begins with the minds of participants, fulfilling their lives with knowledge, understanding, wisdom and therefore joy. Unleashing "The New Intellectuals" into current ruins of philosophy, to redeem its lost foundations and for cultivating the seeds for future movements.
To put it succintly, this is the stock exchange for trading rational ideas, one text at a time.

Current Study Group: Coming to the current study group, it is on the subject of philosophy, epistemology to be more specific.

As Ayn Rand puts it,
"A political battle is merely a skirmish[small battle] fought with muskets; a philosophical battle is a nuclear war."

As is clearly communicated in many Objectivist forums, Epistemology is the foundation of more visible philosophical aspects like Politics, Ethics and Aesthetics. And ultimately foundation of every subject ranging from physical sciences to economics to history to psychology to even technology(like logic in computers).

Ayn Rand's Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology(ITOE), her other works to lesser extent, and portions of Dr. Peikoff's Objectivism : Philosophy of Ayn Rand(OPAR) focus on Epistemology. You can also add Dr. Peikoff's lectures on "Art of Thinking", "Objectivism through Induction", and recent How we Know by Dr. Harry Binswanger. Yet this important branch has largely been understudied in this potentially world changing movement.

This studygroup intends to take step in that direction. Attempting to redirect focus to its roots, Epistemology that is. We will study foundation of aspect that has been least touched in Objectivist epistemology, inductive method of thinking.

Very briefly, inductive method involves integrating universal generalizations like principles and laws from a set of particulars or lower level generalizations. The text will introduce and explore important terms of inductive method, and what these refer to. Primary referents of the terms being methods of discoveries of Galileo, Newton, and Benjamin Franklin's electricity.

We will study "The Logical Leap - Induction in Physics" by David Harriman. Chapter studied will be the first chapter "The Foundation". 
Namely the following sections 
1    09/08/2014 - 09/14/2014         The Nature of Concepts
2    09/15/2014 - 09/21/2014         Generalizations as Hierarchial
3    09/22/2014 - 09/28/2014         Perceiving First-Level Causal Connections
4    09/29/2014 - 09/05/2014         Conceptualizing First-Level Causal Connections
5    10/06/2014 - 10/12/2014         The structure of inductive reasoning
6    10/13/2014 - 10/19/2014         Review and summary

Apart from this central material, preperatory material can be
1. Chapter 1. "Cognition and Measurement" from "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology".
2. Chapter 2. "Concept-Formation" from "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology".
3. Section on "Causality as Corollary of Identity" from chapter 1 "Reality" of OPAR.
4. Introduction and Preface of "The Logical Leap - Induction in Physics".

Conclusion: So primarily for fulfilling your appetite of rational method, and changing course of civilization in the process, I urge you to consider participation here.
"Study Group for Objectivists" - http://www.studygroupsforobjectivists.com"

Note: After you register, activation can take few days. Please go through the etiquettes and archives once registered.

[1] Study group for Objectivists(SGO) - http://www.studygroupsforobjectivists.com
[2] Further details on the importance of SGO - http://aristotleadventure.blogspot.in/2008/08/study-groups-for-objectivists-sgo_29.html

Edited by RohinGupta
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  • 2 weeks later...

Is there a benchmark regarding how much time per week is typically allocated (a range in hours would be appreciated) to these sessions?

Study done can range from summary, outline, to chewing of some sections to chewing of all sections. Since I am leading the study group, I have already completed study of main content and prep chapters. My objective was extreme, complete chewing of main and prep content. So it took me almost 7 months, giving 1-2 hours 5 days a week, even though I had studied ITOE, OPAR and "Logical Leap" twice.


But normally, I think even if you start now, it should be possible to participate by giving 0.5-1 hour each day for 5 days a week. Or if its only about summary, outline, Q&A then directly participating without any prior study should also be sufficient, giving 0.5-1 hour each day.


I hope information is sufficient to make informed decision. Also, you can check following link in this website to get detailed information from the pioneer of this study group, Burgess Laughlin.


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As mentioned before, actual study-group starts on September 8, but the preparatory discussions will begin before. While in normal study group the preparatory discussions are not elaborate, I think much more elaborate preparation is needed for this topic. Given the newness of induction in Objectivism(serious study started almost 10-15 years after Ayn Rand's death), and the difficulty of Objectivist epistemology in general, I would encourage participants to contribute to prep sessions.

My posts on preperatory materials will start coming from July 14.


Here is the exact schedule


1 07/14/2014 - 08/27/2014 Chapter 1. "Cognition and Measurement" from ITOE.
2 07/28/2014 - 08/10/2014 Chapter 2. "Concept-Formation" from ITOE.
3 08/11/2014 - 08/17/2014 Section on "Causality as Corollary of Identity" from chapter 1. "Reality" of OPAR.
4 08/18/2014 - 09/31/2014 Introduction and Preface of "The Logical Leap - Induction in Physics".

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I hope information is sufficient to make informed decision. Also, you can check following link in this website to get detailed information from the pioneer of this study group, Burgess Laughlin.


Thank-you. The information was both helpful and sufficient. 

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To get the flavor of SGO, please check following threads. I think these will help in making the current "Study Group" more organized.



















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Today systematic study of preparatory material has begun.




Q1. Why is studying this chapter and next necessary for understanding the main subject being studied?


Q2. What are the essentials of Consciousness?


Q3. What are the 3 essential stages in development of man's consciousness? And why is chronological order of these stages different from logical order?


Q4. What is existent? What does its implicit grasp mean?


I will post my answers by Thursday or Friday. of this week.

Edited by RohinGupta
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The initial response to the Study Group is quite encouraging. 8 participants have registered so far, and 5 of them(excluding me) have posted in response to questions I mentioned before.


Today I posted my answers to these questions. Sharing sample answer to one of the questions for wider audience.


Q4. What is existent? What does its implicit grasp mean?


Existent is something that exists, be it a thing, an attribute, or an action. Since it is a concept, man cannot grasp it explicitly until he has reached the conceptual stage.

But it is implicit in every percept(to perceive thing is to perceive that it exists). And man grasps it implicitly on the perceptual level - that is he grasps the constituents of concept "existent".
It is this implicit knowledge that permits his consciousness to develop further.




Here are terms I would be using in my analysis(later as well)


1. T1,T2 are different tables. C1,C2 are different chairs. B1 is bowl.
Further A1,A2 etc. are spatial collections of these existents. A1 can contain (T1,C1,C2,B1). A2 can contain (T2,C2) etc.(A1 and A2 are also existents).

Percepts of existents:


2. PT10, PT11 are two percepts corresponding to T1 at different times. Similarly PT20, PT21, PT22 are perceptions corresponding to T2. Further there are PC10, PB11 etc.
In general, middle two characters signifying the existents being perceived.


3. L,L1,L2,L3 etc. are different locations in mind(memory part) that are storing percepts. Later these locations can also store concepts.


Analysis using the terms :
In general, any analysis of percept will contain two parts. The existent that is perceived, and how that existent is represented in consciousness.
While the existent like table T1 that is being perceived can remain same, representations in consciousness like PT10, PT11, PT12 can change.

The details of how existent is perceived, and how percepts stored in mind, can involve subjects ranging from biology, neurology, to psychology.
To explain briefly, variations between PT10, PT11 etc can involve type of sense organ(sight,touch,hearing), different angles for observing(or sensing in general) table, color of light etc.
And further, if other animals(or visually handicapped humans) viewing T1 are considered, it can also involve nature of senses(colored, black and white, or blurred vision, size of animal's sense organs - insect or giraffe etc).


Explaining the nature of implicit grasp of existent
So implicit grasp of concept existent involves perceiving existent like T1, that is integrating the corresponding inputs of senses to form PT10, and storing it in some location L in memory.


More details on Study-Group here


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Q5. What are various stages "awareness of any existent" goes through in man's mind[after it is perceived]? And what is it that changes as the awareness moves in these stages?


Q6. For abstraction or selective focus to form unit of a concept, Ayn Rand says, "This method permits any number of classifications and cross-classifications....But the criterion of classification is not invented, it is perceived in reality. Thus the "unit" is a bridge beween metaphysics and epistemology."
How can the same entity be subsumed by multiple concepts?
[i personally think that though the content of question is available in chapter 1, complete answer involves comprehensive study of chapter 2. So I will be answering this question after we study chapter 2, rather than later this week. But if you think you can answer now, please go ahead.]


Q7. What are the entities involved in few of the scientific examples discuseed in "Chapter 1 - Foundation" of TLL? How are concepts of these entities formed?

There are four examples discussed in this chapter
a. Pendulum as an example of entity that is conceptualized.
b. Galileo's discovery that horizontal motion is unaccelerated.
c. Discovery that light travels in straight line.
d. Benjamin Franklin's kite experiment to determine that lightening is essentially electricity.


Q8. Is the unit described in concept formation same as traditional use of word unit(as in unit of measurement of length)? How is meter or foot, an abstract usage, similar(or different) to the concrete usage table being unit of concept table?


Q9. Can you give examples from science where concept enables us to grasp non-perceivable entity or event? And also the corresponding perceivable entity or event?


I will post my answers by Thursday or Friday, and one sample answer in this forum.

Edited by RohinGupta
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Today I posted my answers to 2nd set of questions from ITOE. Sharing sample answer to one of the questions for wider audience.


Q5. What are various stages "awareness of any existent" goes through in man's mind[after it is perceived]? And what is it that changes as the awareness moves in these stages?


Ans: The three stages are :
1. Entity stage [ or attribute stage, action stage etc., if the existent being conceptualized is an attribute,action etc. - Existent stage in general (apart from Entity stage, remaining terminology is my own and I will use it later)]
2. Identity stage
3. Unit stage


Explanation of three stages:


1. Entity Stage:


From ITOE - The entity stage is described as "the first stage in a child's awareness of existents, of things - which represents the (implicit) concept entity".


My further analysis:


When T1 is perceived in A1, PT10 is created in conscious mind. But as soon as the focus shifts to other entity like C1, awareness of T1, PT10 that is, moves to subconscious mind.
The analogy can be data moving from computer memory to hard disk.

Later when T1 is recalled, PT10 moves back to conscious mind, and it can be further processed after this recollection. But as soon as the entity is perceived first time, entity stage is completed.
It will be stored in some location L1 in subconscious mind to enable later recall.

So representation of percepts in entity stage can be
Existents = {(PT10,L1),(PC10,L2),(PT20,L3),(PT11,L4),(PC20,L5),(PB10,L6)}
That is percept PT10 is in location L1 of mind/memory, PT11 is in location L2, PT20 in location L3 etc.

Further, while here I mention solid entity like table as the existent perceived. In most cases the first perception of existent involves perceiving array of existents like table, chair, flower vase, bowl in a single percept. Person's sense organ(particularly sight) focus on one entity after observing array. Implications of percept involving single entity or array will be considered later.


2. Identity stage


From ITOE - "
The second and closely allied stage is the awareness of specific, particular things which he can recognize and distinguish from the rest of perceptual field - which represents the (implicit) concept "identity" .


My further analysis of identity stage


At the end of entity stage, the percepts of entities or arrays are distributed in various locations inside subconscious mind. However, since at the end of identity stage child has learned to distinguish entities, so their corresponding percepts should be stored differently.

Here if L is the location in mind where percept is stored, L+1 is the adjacent location where another percept is stored. L+2 being adjacent to L+1. (See footnote at the end of this section for further details).
The advantage with this arrangement is that if percept stored in location L is recalled, then percepts stored in L+1 and L+2 can get loaded into conscious mind without explicitly recalling these percepts.
That is, once the focus shifts from PT10, next percept will automatically come into focus. Philosophically, adjacent locations storing percepts or concepts can be referred to as "context" or prior knowledge.

So representation of percepts at the end of identity stage is as follows :
(C2,B1 might still not be stored in locations adjacent to other percepts, and so their locations are represented differently ).

For brevity, I can represent above set simply as
{PT10, PT11, PC10, PT20, (PT30,L7),(PB10,L8)}
If no location is specified, we can assume that the percepts are stored together.

These sets illustrate that not "all percepts ultimately subsumed by concept" might be grouped together in mind at the end of identity stage(PT30 is still in different location), but only number large enough to enable distinction between percepts.

In general, grouping together of "existents that can be later distinguished" is the distinctive characteristic of identity stage.


Footnote to identity stage :


A. One might wonder how can different percepts stored in different locations get grouped together in adjacent locations in identity stage.
I think there are few possibilities for it :-
a.) The percepts like table and chair are seen together in A1, A2 etc. That is table and chair are together in the room, and therefore perceived as an array or one after the other. And hence get stored one after the other. Here the identity stage follows entity stage almost immediately.
b.) The grouping might happen when the child perceives some of the existents together indirectly, through mediums like books, television, charts, computer etc. Here the pictures taken at different times are placed together, and child can group the percepts of existents located in other locations and shot at different times.
c.) For more complicated concepts however, child and adult are able to co-relate existents that are not in same location or perceived one after the other. These I think are grouped while forming prior concepts. The identity stage of concept helicopter for example can have grouping of different helicopters perceived at different time and places, percepts of aeroplanes, percepts of birds etc. Here these may be grouped together under the concept flying objects(which would have to reach unit stage - see 3.), before these are further classified as helicopters, airplanes and birds.
d.) As adults we can actively seek grouping for forming concepts or other universals like generalizations ( described in later chapters ). For e.g. by designing experiments for study, writing outline for the book, making models of equipments or houses etc. This can help us to group existents that otherwise might rarely be together. For e.g while forming concept "acceleration as a vector quantity", Newton grouped circular motion of object tied to the rope, and circular motion of ball rolling in the bowl, because they had force pulling or pushing them inside.
[in the text, Ayn Rand refers to entity-identity-unit stages only at initial level. But for reasons given in b-c-d, I think these are applicable for all types of concepts and percepts].


B. Further, one might ask why am I supposiong that it is necessary for percepts (or even concepts) to be located together in order to be distinguished. My understanding is based on the study of data collection systems like hard disks, RAMs etc. And that if data is located in different locations, loading it is time consuming. So often, context switch is done when such situation happens. So in brain too, I think much more effort will be required for differentiating, if the data is not located together. Thats why I think when we start doing something for the first time, it is hard, as during that time corresponding existents(guidelines in this case) are not located together in mind.


3. Unit stage:


From ITOE - "The third stage consists of grasping relationships among these entities by grasping similarities and differences of their identities.
This requires the transformation of the (implicit) concept "identity".
When a child observes that two objects (which he will later learn to designate as "tables") resemble each other, but are different from four other objects("chairs"), his mind is focusing on a particular attribute of the objects(their shape), then isolating them according to their differences, and integrating them as units into separate groups according to their similarities.

Note that the concept "unit" involves an act of consciousness(a selective focus, a certain way of regarding things), but that it is not an aribitrary creation of consciousness: it is a method of identification or classification according to the attributes which a consciousness observes in reality.




Some more terms(apart from the ones introduced previously) that will be used in explanation.

TC refers to the set of concretes that are subsumed under concept table.
TS refers to the specification of concept table. Specifically, it includes the similar characteristics that child has identified in different concretes(or units) that he now subsumes under the concept table,once he has reached unit stage for concept table.
T refers to the concept table at the end of unit stage. As child does not have vocabulary at this point, it would be stored as pictorial symbol like lined drawing of table. Further, it will point to the locations of TS and TC.


So at the end of unit stage, percepts of entities are organized as follows


All existents = {PC10,T,PB10,PC11,PC20}
TS={visual symbol of shape table} OR {Just PT10}

(Why the similarity may be stored as just one of the percept(PT10) will be explained later.)


While TC refers to collection, and TS to similar characteristics, I was trying to figure out how the fact that "T1,T2,T3" are similar to each other and different from "C1,B1" will be stored.
How can a mind of child that has no vocabulary or even symbols to represent "similar" and "not different" store these specifications.
So while at later stage TC={PT10, PT20,....} can be stored more optimally, in case of child(or primitive man) I think it would be something like
All Existents ={PC10,{TS,PT10, PT20, PT11, PT30}, PB10,...}.


So basically child reorders the percepts from order that was in identity stage. And further he creates a new virtual percept TS, which he will later identify as concept.
The virtual percept TS psychologically behaves similar to percepts like PT10, PT20 etc. That is it can be moved from one location to another, attributes and actions abstracted from it etc.
But unlike actual percepts it does not "directly" refer to any real world existents like T1, C1 etc. Instead it refers to a set of percepts PT10, PT20 etc.

And while the grouping of entities that can be distinguished happens in identity stage. Actually distinguishing the entities, and marking as similar entities that are less different is done in the unit stage. So tables or their percepts will be grouped together as units of concept table, because their differences when compared to differences with chair are negligible.


In general, grouping based on similarites is the distinctive characteristic of unit stage.




After forming the unit for concept table, child observes that another table(T4) has a characteristic shape that is similar to specification of table. So now he adds PT40 also to TC for concept table

So after expansion of concept, the concretes subsumed by concept table will add PT40 as


TC = {PT10, PT11, PT30, PT20, PT40}


Further, he might also observe other similarities between the existents that are subsumed under concept table.


TS = {Shape of the table which is also abstracted as the visual symbol of concept, Use of table stored in the form of imagery like toys or food items on it}


Thus we see that concept formation involves forming concept from similar concretes by ordering percepts of these concretes together in mind, and also selecting similar characteristics ( in next chapter some of these similar characteristics are termed as "conceptual common denominator" or CCD ). Then adding new concretes based on those similar characteristics, or adding new similarities observed in the existing concretes.

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Here is an important quote on this text by Burgess Laughlin from prior study group.

"Ch. 2 is perhaps one of the most important sections of all of Ayn Rand's writings. Here she introduces the reader to her solution to the problem of universals.


The main point here is that concepts are objective, that is, they are drawn logically from sense-perceptible facts of reality. This is the core concept in Objectivism, and it is the concept that gives the philosophy its name. With this discovery, one could-- given genius and time -- recreate Objectivism even if all of Ayn Rand's other writings were lost."


The questions are as follows :-


Q1. "A concept is a mental integration of two or more units which are isolated according to specific characteristic(s) and united by a specific definition."
Based on the study of chapter1, explain the definition given above.


Q2. Assuming that the child has developed basic ability to read and write, with reference to example table, how does language provide identity to concept table?


Q3. Explain with examples - "Attribute like length must exist in some quantity, but may exist in any quantity. I shall identify length as that attribute of any existent, posessing it which can be quantitatively related to a unit of length without specifying quantity".


Q4. How Ayn Rand illustrates that a person need not know precise measurement methods while differentiating visually?


Q5. Example where higher mathematics has succeeded in the task of bringing the universe within the range of knowledge by identifying relationships in perceptual data?


Q6. "Conceptual common denominator" is identified as a commensurable characteristic(such as shape in the case of tables, or hue in the case of colors). It is an essential element in the process of concept-formation. It is designated as "the characteristic(s) reducible to a unit of measurement, by means of which man differentiates two or more existents from other existents posessing it".

With respect to units for concepts like table and length discussed so far, systemetically identify CCD.

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Today I posted my answers to 3rd set of questions from ITOE. Sharing sample answer to one of the questions for wider audience.


Q3. Explain with examples - "Attribute like length must exist in some quantity, but may exist in any quantity. I shall identify length as that attribute of any existent, posessing it which can be quantitatively related to a unit of length without specifying quantity".


Ans: Child observes and conceptualizes the entity like ribbon. When the concept reaches unit stage and its specifications are later expanded, one specification of the concept ribbon can be stored as range of distance between the two edges of various concrete ribbons subsumed by the concept. Distance ranging from distance between his fingers to distance long enough to equal his height. Similarly, he stores one specification of the concept pencil as certain range of distance between his two hands.


So in the unit stage some specifications of ribbon can be

{Used for tying gifts and hair, Made of cloth material like silk, range of distance between hands as I hold it from edges - ranging from distance between my fingers to as long as my height}


Specification for pencil
{Used for writing, Shape of pencil, the corresponding distance between my hands when I hold the two edges}


The specifications of units ribbon, pencil, or also pillow, shirt are stored in different location of his mind. Among these specifications are few specifications that will be subsumed as concretes under the concept length. These specifications are range of distance between edges of different entities. Intially both these specifications will be stored visually instead of verbally for child.
So in effect, the concretes that will be subsumed by concept length are distributed in various locations when the corresponding entities have reached unit stage. That is, at this point concept length is in existent(attribute) stage, similar to what entity was when it is just perceived.


When he completes unit stage of length, he will have following concretes that are subsumed by concept by being grouped together.
{Range of distance between hands, same for ribbon, pillow, cloth etc.}
The specification will be as follows
{Unidirectional spread of hands for various entities, perceived from sense of touch and sight}


Later when length of room and street gets added to concretes subsumed by length, the concretes subsumed by concept length will become
{Distance between hands and visual perception in bigger direction for pencil, ribbon etc.; Distance between two edges in room or street etc.(both stored perceptually in mind)}


The specification will be as follows
{Spread of hands in one direction OR unidirectional spread of series of entities like rods. A single entity being expressed in terms of spread of hands or number of rods in one direction}

Since when the concept length is formed, it will have some concretes subsumed under it. So we can say that "attribute like length must exist in some quantity". Later, we can use the specification of length to subsume new concretes like length of room and street. Concretes that might not be initially perceived to be under the concept, because of their larger quantity. So we can say that attribute like length "may exist in any quantity".


Since both length of ribbon, and length of room can be specified in terms of spread of hands. Former as the fraction of the spread, and latter as the multiples of spread. And also while specifying initially in terms of spread, we need not specify the spread precisely, but just approximately as fraction or multiple. So we can say that "I shall identify length as that attribute of any existent, posessing it which can be quantitatively related to a unit of length[spread of my hands] without specifying quantity".

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The questions are as follows :-

Q7. Can you identify units and CCD in Newtonian concept like gravity ?

Q8. For concepts that are wider or narrower than particular concept (for table narrower concept is dining table and wider concept is furniture), how does units subsumed and CCDs differ from corresponding first level concept(like table)?
[i realized this question is necessary later. You may have to read chapter 3, "Abstractions from abstractions" to answer this]

Q9. For unit stage Ayn Rand mentions - "This is the key, the entrance to the conceptual level of man's consciousness. The ability to regard entities as units is man's distinctive method of cognition, which other living species are unable to follow."
Later she introduces the term "measurement omission", purpose of which is described as - "Tables, for instance, are first differentiated from chairs, beds and other objects by means of the characteristic of shape, which is an attribute posessed by all the objects involved. Then their particular kind of shape is set as the distinguishing characteristic of tables - i.e a certain category of mathematical measurements of shape is specified. Then, within that category, the particular measurements of individual table-shapes are omitted"

Explain role of measurement omission in concept formation based on the role it plays when the concept evolves from identity to unit stage?

Q10. Take an example of some object and identify concepts like entity, attribute like shape, action and adverbs using it? [ The chapter also involves concepts of relationships like prepositions, pronouns, conjunction. But these I think are not necessary for main study subject. Conjunction may be needed indirectly ].

Q11. Apart from use of unit for specifying similarities between concretes subsumed, what are other similarities between mathematics and concept-formation?

Edited by RohinGupta
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  • 2 weeks later...
The learnings from study-group are turning out to be much better than expected. Just yesterday I clarified my understanding of CCD. Posting the "Acknowledgement of error" little bit later in this post. Apart from that there have been debates on whether entities rather than attributes can be standard of measurement, and whether symbols in the form of sets should be used for concept formation. Primary focus still remains text though, and we are studying mainly through Q&A.


Number of participants has now increased to 10, and knowledge level of one of the new participant is really good. Here is the acknowledgement I posted after the new participant identified error in my understanding of CCD


Acknowledging error in my understanding of CCD


After reading post "A Couple of Observations", I have realized that my understanding of CCD was mistaken. I was indeed using it interchangeably with essence of particular concept like "table".

Having said that, there are few things that require explanation

1. If in my previous posts, we replace CCD with essence, I think that will more or less cleanse them. Little bit of restructring might still be needed though. Same error has penetrated some of my already finalized coming posts, I will try to rectify these as much as possible.

2. Now two questions that come to mind are
a. What is CCD ?
b. Why is it needed in concept formation ?

Here is what I have arrived at after trying to correct error in my understanding

a. As has been pointed in another posts, CCD is the "Genus" of essential characteristics of the concept. Further, that Genus has same characteristic in foil, "chair shape" in case of example table, as another unit of CCD "shape".
The concept of that "Genus", shape in this case, may be formed much later than the concept like "table" for which it is CCD. And therefore it is not part of concept explicitly, or even implicitly, as by implicit undertstanding we mean grasping existent which is the unit of concept.

As I mentioned before, concept will include its units, later it will add some more units, and also derive some characteristics from those units. These characteristics will further be classified as essential and epistemologically accidental(like color for table). So every concept, at any point of time can be described by its units, characteristics, and essence.
My stand on this aspect of concept formation remains unchanged.

b. Now coming to why is CCD needed. CCD I think has same role in understanding of "method of formation of concept", as concept has in understanding of reality(here I am referring to physical world of tables and chairs as reality). Concept economizes large number of tables we have seen, and the knowledge we have about those tables in the form of characteristics of those tables. Further it has symbol and definition, using which we can bring units and characteristics to consciousness through reduction.
Similarly, CCD of particular concept economizes large amount of knowledge we have gained about the "formation of that concept". So after recognizing CCD of table as shape, we can reduce to "shape of table" and "shape of chair" as the two units of shape. This will imply that these two attributes, even though not understood at the time of formation of "concept table", were used in isolating tables from chairs in identity stage.

Further, while in case of table and early concept of entities, concept of corresponding CCD shape was formed much later. In case of gravity, concept of corresponding CCD "cause" was formed before concept gravity. So in that sense, CCD is like a concept, enabling subsuming of new and more complex units, after it is formed. Therefore I used the sentence "The concept of that "Genus", shape in this case, may be formed much later than the concept like "table" for which it is CCD.

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Sharing questions I posted recently



Today is Monday Aug 11,2014.


Q1. Why is studying this chapter necessary for the main study?

Q2. What are three inescapable primaries that act as foundation of human cognition, and make conceptual knowledge possible? How are they grasped?

Q3. Explain the role of entity in concept formation?

Q4. What is causality, that is the law of cause and effect? How is it useful?

Q5. What is the significance of the fact that all conceptual knowledge presupposes entities?

Q6. What does it mean to say - "only alternatives would be for an entity to act apart from its nature or against it; both of these are impossible".

Q7. Explain what this means - "The law of causality is the law of identity applied to action".

Q8. What relationship does "Law of Causality" establish between cause and entity?

Q9. What is the underlying metaphysics of causality, causality as it is used by Objectivists?

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Sharing answers of couple of questions from the list I shared before.


Q8. For concepts that are wider or narrower than particular concept (for table narrower concept is dining table and wider concept is furniture), how does units subsumed and their essential characteristics differ from corresponding first level concept(like table)?

[i realized this question is necessary later. You may have to read chapter 3, "Abstractions from abstractions" to answer this]


Ans: The units subsumed by concept table at the end of unit stage are - {T1, T2, T3....T10}
[before I was referring to concretes indirectly by specifying percepts. But specifying concretes directly is easier. However, the fact remains that concretes are connected to concepts via percepts. Plus if one has perceived same object multiple times, one tends to consider any one percept of the existent, unless one is closely involved with the study of the existent.].

A. Dining Table: Whenever child first perceives existent that he will later classify as dining table, we can say that existent stage of dining table is reached.

Lets say T3, T5, and T7 refer to dining tables, and rest refer to some other types of tables. Thus the grouping of concretes subsumed by table in unit stage is equivalent to identity stage for concept "dining table".
[The identity stage of concept table was something like {T1, C1, B1, T2, C2, T3, B2...}]

Once unit stage for dining table is reached, the units subsumed by dining table can be grouped together in adjacent locations as follows
Further, the units subsumed at unit stage for concept table can be optimized as follows
{T1,T2,dining tables, T4,T6,T8,T10}
The specification and CCD of dining table in the context that distinguishes its referrants from other types of tables will be
{Its height is more than drawing room and living room tables - essential characteristic, Mostly people eat here, It has mostly food items and cutlery pieces kept here - PROPERTIES OTHER THAN ESSENTIAL CHARACTERISTIC}. 
This essential characteristic and properties would again be mostly in the form of images for child.

B. Furniture: For wider concept like furniture, lets assume that concepts Table, Chair, and Bed have reached unit stage. At that point the list of objects in some location of mind can be as follows
{E1, E2, Toys, Bowls, Chairs, Table, Windows, Table, Bed, Doors, E3, E4 ...}
[E1, E2 etc. being the entities other than those already conceptualized as units. 
I think once concept like table is formed by keeping chair as foil, soon concept of chair will also be formed with table as foil. And after that concepts of bowl, bed etc. That is items that are spatially near units of concepts already formed. Which is why I am not mixing particulars like E1, E2 with universals like "Table", "Chair" etc.].

Concretes subsumed by concept chair
{C1, C2, C3}
Specification of concept chair {image of shape chair - essential characteristic, Image of person sitting - Characteristic other than essential characteristic, since person may not be sitting on it always}

Concretes subsumed by concept Bed
Specification of concept Bed = { shape of Bed - essential characteristic, Imagery of person sleeping or relaxing - Characteristic other than essential characteristic}

Concretes subsumed by concept table
{T1, T2, T3}
Specification of concept table = {imagery of shape of table - Essential characteristic; Imagery of cups, food, mobile etc on it - Characteristics Other than essential characteristic}

Coming to what can be considered as the existent stage of concept furniture. For concept table, existent stage was reached as soon as its first unit was perceived. Since units of "furniture" are first level concepts, so as soon as any one of the concept of "Table", "Chair", or "Bed" etc. reaches unit stage, existent stage of "Furniture" is partially completed. Further, I think, generalization like "Table is movable, equivalent to human size, and serves human function" should also be reached for existent stage of furniture. This generalization should be in the form of new elements added to the specification of table. {Similar to Human size, serves human function} added to {Table shape image} being the form of specification.

To move to identity stage, two or more concepts of its units need to be formed. Further, if one goes by same method as formation of first level concepts, they should be in locations of memory that also have foils like toys, windows and bowls[which should also be conceptualized]. And so the identity stage of furniture should be something like(this is what I thought intutively)
In one location of mind child should have following objects
{Bowls, Chairs, Toys, Table, Bed, Doors, windows}
But on second thoughts, I don't think this qualifies as identity stage of concept furniture....

Unlike percepts, first level concepts are heavier. That is unlike percept which epistemologically is self-contained, first level concepts refer to percepts, attributes(which also further refer to percepts), and few actions[attributes and actions are formed as charateristics for concept of entity]. So being in same locations should be more than just having symbols of "first level concepts" together. Infact, relevant specifications of these concepts, represented as generalizations should be together.

So for identity stage of furniture, to enable concept of furniture to reach unit stage, identity stage will be following set of generalizations

{Table can support humans, and is equivalent to their size; Chair can support humans, and is equivalent to their size; Bed can support humans, and is equivalent to their size}
These generalizations I think need not be in the form of sentences, atleast not for child. It can be in the form of "symbol of human" sitting on "symbol of chair", or "has hands on" "symbol of table" etc.



| | Person Sitting on chair
| |_
__ |
| ||

At the unit stage, the concretes subsumed by concept furniture will be
{Table, Chairs, Bed}
And the essential characteristic of furniture will be {Can support Humans , Size equivalent to the size of humans(which eliminates bowls and toys), Movable items(unlike doors and windows) - might be added to the specifications during expansion of concept }


Q6. What does it mean to say - "only alternatives would be for an entity to act apart from its nature or against it; both of these are impossible".


Ans: From OPAR - "A thing cannot act apart from its nature or against it; both of these are impossible, because existence is identity; apart from its nature, a thing is nothing. A thing cannot act against its nature, i.e, in contradiction to its identity, because A is A and contradictions are impossible. In any given set of circumstances, therefore, there is only one action possible to an entity, the action expressive of its identity. This is the action it will take, the action that is caused and necessitated by its nature.


In this section two validations of "Law of Causality" are given. One explicit validation quoted in previous para(from OPAR), and one implicit validation which included rattle, pillow, rolling of ball etc(also there in answer to Q3). I will try to connect these two here.

The first question that comes to mind is what exactly is the nature of entity. There are two aspects to it, first is what entity actually is. Second is what we know about entity, which if valid is the subset of what entity actually is. While collecting information to acquire knowledge of entity, various actions of the entity can be included in its list of characteristics, though not necessarily as essentials of entity. Like rolling can be the property of ball, though rounded shape will be a more fundamental characteristic.

So nature of entity can be summed up as the collection of all attributes of the entity and actions the entity performs. When we say that an entity cannot act in contradiction to its nature, it implies that particular action being studied may also be part of the nature of entity. But what we are interested in is the fact whether this action is consistent with other attributes and actions of the entity. That is, other attributes and actions are consistent with the different units of the action observed. So rolling is the part of nature of ball, but when we establish that rolling is in the nature of rounded shape when pushed, then we establish the causal relationship between one characteristic(shape) and another characteristic (rolling, a concept of action). At later point we might see that spherical magnet does not roll on magnetic surface. What this establishes(after few more experiments on different materials) is that attraction and therefore impeding of other direction motion is in the nature of attracting magnets. And beyond certain quantity it can override the nature of spherical and solid shape to roll when pushed.

So to sum up, implicit knowledge of causality requires collecting data(attributes and actions) about characteristics of various entities, and connecting that data. The explicit grasp of causality is itself a concept. The concretes subsumed by that concept are various events we observed in the implicit grasp. And in simpler terms, essence of "concept cause" is the fact that in none of these events the attributes and characteristics are inconsistent.

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Today I posted following questions from Introduction by Dr. Peikoff of "The Logical Leap - Induction in Physics"


Q1. Why physics is the most universal of sciences?


Q2. "If" and "How can" physics be used to communicate rational philosphy?


Q3. How has science and physics been used to communicate irrational philosophy?


Q4. What relationship is established here between concept formation and induction?


Q5. Based on the Introduction, what is the purpose and style of TLL?

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Today I posted "Answers to Questions from Introduction by Dr. Peokioff to THE LOGICAL LEAP - INDUCTION IN PHYSICS"


Sharing sample answer for wider audience.


Q4. What relationship is established here between concept formation and induction?
From TLL
A theory of generalizations presupposes a theory of concepts. One must grasp how the constituent concepts of a generalization are related to reality before one can grasp how the generalization itself is related to reality.

...[For inductive generalization] although she[Ayn Rand] did not provide the solution, she did provide the key to it. Mr. Harriman shows that valid concepts, in her definition of concepts, not only make possible but also guide our search for true generalizations.... Every major aspect of the Objectivist view of concepts - including the role of similarities and differences, of integration, of hierarchy, of context - has a counterpart in the theory of generalizations. Indeed, generalization, Mr. Harriman explains, "is nothing more(or less) than an essential form of the method of concept formation."

[italics in above TLL text are mine]

In seeking inductive generalizations, we seek causal connections in abstract form. I can see essentially two types of causal connections. One that we seek between entity and action, more specifically between relevant characteristics of entity that make the action possible. This type I think covers a broad range of generalizations that involve gravity, chemical reaction or Political revolution. The second is seeking connection between essential characteristic of the entity identified, and other attribute(property to be exact) identified in the entity. Like for example checking "All swans are white". Here white is not an action, but we seek connection between an entity and attribute. Likewise, there might be middle case, where particular characteristic is treated like an attribute, but it is action. Like in "Man speaks language", while for all practical(mostly syllogistic) purposes we can consider speaking language as an attribute. Strictly speaking it is action that is caused by the rational nature of man.

So in generalization, as in concept formation, we have to first observe various concretes subsumed by the generalization. Like for generalization "Ball rolls on pushing", observing instance or instances of various balls rolling on being pushed. While in concept formation we abstract essential characteristic(s) after grouping units that are subsumed, in forming an inductive generalization there is psychologically similar step where we need to identify concepts that subsume entities involved in the actions we observe(that is, as in abstraction, here we selectively focus on the percept of generalization. We selectively focus to infer entities and attributes involved in action).

So any inductive generalization I think can be specified as follows.

Symbol - Sentence like "Pushing rolls ball" or Picture of man sitting on chair for early form of generalization "Chair can support man".
Concepts - {Ball, rolling, pushing}
(Not just the symbols of these concepts, but indirectly also the units these concepts subsume and their characteristics ).
units of generalization - {Percepts involving ball rolling on being pushed in bowling, in tennis court, in cricket match etc.}
For generalization also there can be CCD. Like for "pushing rolls the ball", CCD can be "man causing motion" which includes foils like "ball not rolling when not pushed" and "ball rolling further when pushed harder".

Further, it might be possible to subsume same existent perceived for generalization into different concepts. For e.g. percept of particular soccer-ball can be subsumed by soccer-ball, spherical ball or solid movable object. As in concept formation, what concept subsumes percept in mind is determined by the purpose or CCD of inducing generalization. If the purpose like Galileo is to reduce friction in experiment, then the ball can be subsumed under the concept spherical ball. And if the purpose is for soccer player to perfect passing technique, percept of same ball can be subsumed under the concept soccer ball.
(Though Galileo uses metal balls to reduce friction, he would have to first observe regular play balls to conceive the idea of reducing friction using metal balls).

Further, while forming inductive generalization also there can be existent, identity and unit stages.
For generalization "Ball rolls on pushing" existent stage might be same as existent stage for concept of action rolling. That is pushing rolling the ball.(the existent stage will be different if first time rolling observed is "rolling of rocks in valley due to natural forces"). However, while identity stage for rolling will include percepts of rolling, sliding, walking etc. The identity stage of generalization can have more elaborate each element and a more delimited set. It will be percepts of "ball not rolling on not being pushed", "ball rolling on being pushed", "ball rolling more distance on being pushed harder". And unit stage of generalization, as described before, will involve Symbol, Concepts and "units subsumed".
Why conceptual framework is necessary for formulating generalizations, and exact steps leading to this and higher generalizations will be described later. But briefly, if there were no concepts, identity stage of inductive generalization would have to include many more perceptual instances. Like sliding, walking, rolling of cubicle blocks, kicking, pushing, rolling due to invisible actor, rotation only, etc. But most of these percepts are omitted while formulating concepts of rolling, ball, or pushing. Thus a smaller set during identity stage of induction(due to conceptual framework) enables better focus on induction.

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Today I posted following questions from the Preface of THE LOGICAL LEAP - INDUCTION IN PHYSICS


Q1. What were questions that created the need for this book?


Q2. What are cultural challenges that make this book difficult and necessary?


Q3. What are the scientific and philosophic elements in the book?

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Today I posted Answers to Questions on Preface of THE LOGICAL LEAP - INDUCTION IN PHYSICS


Sharing sample answer for wider audience


Q1. What were questions that created the need for this book?


Ans: From TLL

Dr. Peikoff became interested in problem of induction, i.e., the epistemological question of how we can know the truth of inductive generalizations. Realizing that he needed to know more about the scientific discovery process in order to tackle this question, he hired me as his private tutor. Over the next year, we covered the history of physical science from Ancient Greece through nineteenth century.

After Dr. Peikoff had digested this material and integrated it with his knowledge of philosophy, what emerged was a new theory of induction that he discussed in a lecture course titled "Induction in physics and epistemology". I was excited by his breakthrough discoveries in a field that had been left for dead by contemporary philosophers, which is a full presentation of his theory as it applies to physical science.



Knowing truth of inductive generalizations I think covers four parts :

1. Forming the inductive generalization that is unknown. Newton's discovery of gravity will fall in this category.


2. Validating the inductive generalization one has himself formulated, but through new concretes. Newton using gravity to explain high and low tides will come in this category.


3. Validating inductive generalization somebody else has formulated, but with different concretes. Hailey exactly predicting time and path of comet using law of gravitation falls under this category.


4. Validating inductive generalization by retracing the steps. Newton or Galileo revising their theories, or we studying their theories will fall under this category.



Inductive method in structured form mainly started with Galileo, Kepler and Newton. And even today, with the degradation in post enlightenment science, it is their discoveries that can re-enable us to develop inductive reasoning. In another field, while methods of founding fathers were also inductive, understanding induction using a social science would be more difficult, because of larger number of variables involved(though a good follow up as in DIM). And unlike literature of Hugo and Dostovesky, given greater and longer consistency of scientists, induction is best understood using science.


Like Deductive reasoning required some development in Geometry to be explicitly formulated, so some subject must be developed implicitly using induction before rules of inductive reasoning are formulated. So science in general, and physics in particular acts like an ante-room to the theory of induction.

Edited by RohinGupta
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I am very sorry to say that Burgess Laughlin, the owner of study-group web site, has passed away. Please find his obituary message on his main website:


If you would like to make a comment, please do so at his blog:



Burgess was my best friend, a guide, a mentor, even though we had never met. Separated by thousands of miles, I took to his blogs, personal correspondance and then the books of Burgess, when my professional life was in crisis.

As a mark of respect, I will be mourning Burgess for 1 week. All my studies remain suspended during this period. As a consequence, the schedule of this study-group will go ahead by 1 week.


We have updated the schedule in order to have a one week delay now, in memory of Burgess.

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Resuming study-group


Today I complete one week mourning in the memory of Burgess. I spent this time re-reading few parts from both the books by Burgess.


Burgess always looked for clarity in all issues, and dedicated latter part of his life in highlighting heroic elements within influential intellectuals. Not only did he discover this heroism in the lives of rational intellectuals like Aristotle, Ayn Rand, and Locke. But also within Kant, Augustine, and Porphyry. Sometime next year, probably aligned to his birthday 4th of July, I plan to start a study-group from one of his book. I am thinking of the chapter on Ayn Rand.


For now, I think best tribute that we can pay to Burgess is giving our best in this study-group. Looking for heroic elements within us, that Burgess saw all around and presented magnificiently. So let our own Aristotle like Adventure resume[1], even as we seek power of intellect[2] to achieve glory in its pursuit[3].


References :


[1] Its the story of transmission and dissemination of rational ideas.


[2]How Burgess defined power?
Ability to make changes in one's world despite opposing views held by others.


[3]How Burgess defined Glory?
Glory is the state of mind that arises from aligning, in action, one's highest personal values with philosophical values, that is, ideas all individuals should value. Like happiness, glory is not an emotion, which is fleeting, but a state of mind, which is slow to change.

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