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ITOE: Ch 2, Categories

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dondigitalia
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On pp. 16-17, Rand hints at a system of categorizing concepts, similar to that used by Aristotle. I've always been intrigued by Aristotles categories, but disagreed with the necessity and/or validity of several.

While Rand doesn't explicitly state that she is laying out "categories," I can sort of see a system in the making. The "categories" she presents are: materials, motion(actions), adverbs, prepositions, and adjectives. (I used quotations because I don't think Rand intended these specific ideas to be taken as categories in the Aristotelian sense. They did, however, lead to my own thoughts about what such categories would be.)

The categories, as I see them (many of which are Rand's), are:

Entities (or existents) - This category is comprised of concretes.

Materials (or substance) - Here we find the actual "stuff" that existents are made of. In the case of physical entities, it is as Ayn Rand described. In the case of non-physical existents, such as thoughts and emotions, it is the sensation that we associate with the existents.

Characteristics (or attributes) - This is the category of concepts which describe the nature of an existent. Characteristics are represented in language by adjectives.

Actions - those concepts which are performed by existents (i.e. verbs)

Adverbs - those concepts which are used to describe the characteristics of actions

Relationships - Concepts which indicate how existents are related to one another. These are the least understood, but some of the most important integrative concepts we use. Here we have all concepts represented by prepositions, and also other concepts such as "ownership," "cause and effect," "similarity," etc.

Measurements - This is the category of numbers. Aristotle called this category quantity; I use "measurements," because we do have measurements that are not quantitative in nature (e.g. the non-numerical estimates of an emotion's intensity). I will say more on the nature of measurements in another thread.

***

The category of "existents" holds primacy over all others; none of them are possible without it. On the next level, we have "characteristics," "relationships" and "actions." These categories are abstracted directly from the existents possessing or performing them. On the last level we have "adverbs" and "measurements." It may be argued that adverbs hold primacy over measurements, because measurements can be made in regard to adverbs (e.g. "He is walking very quickly.") I still need to work this out, and would appreciate any help.

The questions that arise from such a theory of categories are as follows: Are such distinctions valid and necessary? Are they metaphysical or epistemelogical in nature? Or are some metaphysical and others epistemological? Are the above evaulations of "primacy" valid, and are such primacies metaphysical or epistemological?

Ok, kiddos, go to town!

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The categories, as I see them (many of which are Rand's), are:

Entities (or existents) - This category is comprised of concretes.

It may help to understand that entities and existents are not the same. Note
The units of the concepts "existence" and "identity" are every entity, attribute, action, event or phenomenon (including consciousness) that exists, has ever existed or will ever exist.
from which you can see that attributes, actions, events and phenomena exist, but they are not entities.
Materials (or substance)
Roughly entity: is mass a fundamental property of your "materials"? Photons are entities, but they don't have "substance" in the usual use of that term.
In the case of non-physical existents, such as thoughts and emotions, it is the sensation that we associate with the existents.
I think that would be better described as the "sensation of having an emotion". There is also some physical event which is massless (though it is caused by things that have mass).
Characteristics (or attributes) - This is the category of concepts which describe the nature of an existent.
Sure.
Characteristics are represented in language by adjectives.
Not really: "adjective" is a strictly grammatical term. Attributes are expressed by verbs (a kind of verb know as "stative" verbs -- "boil" is an example in English) in many languages. Intuitively, the "attribute=adjective" view is close enough for getting an initial grip on the concept, but it's not ultimately correct.
Actions - those concepts which are performed by existents (i.e. verbs)
The grammatical analysis part is wrong (my general suggestion is to not try to look upon philosophical ideas as expressing parts of speech), but that's not the central issue. More to the point, "action" is a causal relationship between entities.
Adverbs - those concepts which are used to describe the characteristics of actions
Adverb is strictly grammatical: adverbs 'describe the characteristics of actions or characteristics', i.e. adjectives or verbs. Or, adverbs are relationshipe between relationships.
Relationships - Concepts which indicate how existents are related to one another. These are the least understood, but some of the most important integrative concepts we use.
Yes: I'd say that entity, relationship and attribute are the most important ideas to sort out (and btw you do see how relationship and attribute are specific kinds of the same general thing, right?)
Measurements - This is the category of numbers. Aristotle called this category quantity; I use "measurements," because we do have measurements that are not quantitative in nature (e.g. the non-numerical estimates of an emotion's intensity). I will say more on the nature of measurements in another thread.
If there are (as you correctly note) non-quantitative measurements, then measurements are not numbers. Rather, numbers are measurements.

Anyhow, all categories are epistemological in nature, meaning "what they are". They are also caused by something real (and reall things are metapysical). are

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It may help to understand that entities and existents are not the same.

Yes, I understand that. The parentheticals were areas where I wasn't sure exactly which term would be more accurate. Perhaps I should have said as much.

NoteRoughly entity: is mass a fundamental property of your "materials"? Photons are entities, but they don't have "substance" in the usual use of that term...I think that would be better described as the "sensation of having an emotion". There is also some physical event which is massless (though it is caused by things that have mass).Sure.
I don't see why mass is a necessary requirement for "materials." Not all existents are material. In this category, I mean to include that which constitutes an existent metaphysically, whatever form it may take. Some "materials" are actually material in form, others are not. I borrowed Ayn Rand's term from her paragraph on concepts of materials, and Aristotle termed his category "substance." This does not mean a category that regards concepts of some Kantian metaphysical world, but rather existents when viewed a certain way.

Not really: "adjective" is a strictly grammatical term.

I didn't mean adjective in the sense of a grammatical term. I meant those concepts we denote when usuing adjective, such as: blue, hard, soft, cold, rational. All of the areas where I borrowed parts of speech, I was borrowing Miss Rand's terms. She did regard adjectives as a specific kind of concept. (Indeed, all parts of speech, as words, are representative of concepts—a specific kind of concepts).

From page 16: "Adverbs are concepts of the characteristics of motion (or of action)...Prepositions are concepts of relationships...Adjectives are concepts of attributes or characteristics...Pronouns belong to the category of concepts of entities...Conjunctions are concepts of relationships among thoughts..."

In all cases, the genus is "concept." Now, this genus is valid only when the concepts are viewed in a certain way. What would be included in this category would be concepts themselves, not necessarily the word representing it nor its grammatical usage. **

Of course, I agree that there are "attributes" not represented that simply. For instance "owning two cars" could be considered an attribute, when you view that particular characteristic as a single concept. In many areas I kept Rand's part-of-speech terms, but in others I used a different name. I used her terms when I could thought that all of the subsumed concepts were represented in by that part of speech. I joined "Conjunctions" and "Prepositions" because I could think of nothing essential separating the two. Since our basic building block here is "existent," and thoughts are themselves existents, there was no reason to separate their relationships from other relationship. See ITOE for reference.

More to the point, "action" is a causal relationship between entities.

And it is those concepts of actions which I intend to include in that category.

Adverb is strictly grammatical: adverbs 'describe the characteristics of actions or characteristics', i.e. adjectives or verbs. Or, adverbs are relationshipe between relationships.
I do see now that (the concepts denoted by) adverbs can describe characteristics as well as actions. Thank you for clarifying that; I hadn't realized it before.

Yes: I'd say that entity, relationship and attribute are the most important ideas to sort out (and btw you do see how relationship and attribute are specific kinds of the same general thing, right?)

Attributes are "relationships" in the sense that they exist only as belonging to existents (i.e. they are have a relationship to some existent), but they are not relationships in the same sense as "and," "above," "before," etc. I'm sure you see the distinction.

If there are (as you correctly note) non-quantitative measurements, then measurements are not numbers. Rather, numbers are measurements.
Yes, I am fully aware of this. By "category of numbers," I mean that this is the category to which numbers belong, not necessarily that they were the only ones. I agree 100% here.

Anyhow, all categories are epistemological in nature, meaning "what they are". They are also caused by something real (and reall things are metapysical).

It's a shame your post got cut off, as I found the rest of it. very helpful.

** See above. Edited to add: I would also include the metaphysical referents of such concepts.

I have also decided that "existents" is the proper term for the first cateogry, rather than "entities," although entities are subsumed under it.

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If you have the expanded second edition of ITOE, there is a helpful discussion about this in the appendix beginning on page 274.

Miss Rand notes that she considers the "categories" only to be entities, attributes, actions, and relationships.

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