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The Argument for Metaphysical Universals

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https://activeobjectivism.com/2020/11/24/the-argument-for-metaphysical-universals/

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“It is Aristotle who identified the fact that only concretes exist. But Aristotle held that definitions refer to metaphysical essences, which exist in concretes as a special element or formative power… Aristotle regarded “essence” as metaphysical; Objectivism regards it as epistemological.”

“Thus the essence of a concept is determined contextually and may be altered with the growth of man’s knowledge. The metaphysical referent of man’s concepts is not a special, separate metaphysical essence, but the total of the facts of reality he has observed

“I was discussing the issue of concepts with a Jesuit, who philosophically was a Thomist. He was holding to the Aristotelian position that concepts refer to an essence in concretes. And he specifically referred to ‘manness’ in man and ‘roseness’ in roses. I was arguing with him that there is no such thing, and that these names refer merely to an organization of concretes, that this is our way of organizing concretes.”

Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology (bold emphasis mine)

 

“Epistemic universals”

Rand denies metaphysical universals quite explicitly, as quoted above. She believes everything in reality is concrete and particular, that there is in reality no “manness” in man which applies universally for all men at all times, but rather the concept “man” is merely man’s way of organizing the concretes seen around him into a mental grouping.

“The metaphysical referent of man’s concepts is … the facts of reality he has observed.”

If one holds that concepts are only “universal” over the total set of of one’s prior, concrete observations, then this is not the universal set! This isn’t guaranteed by any metaphysical principle to hold at all times and for all instances in reality. Concepts in this view aren’t describing something that holds abstractly in reality, they are just describing something that holds abstractly over the particular, delimited set of observations which one has accumulated thus far.

If “universals” are merely referring to sets of observed particulars, then one cannot interpret anything observed, predict the future, or classify anything new, when nothing in general about reality can be referred to. The “man” classified today might have nothing to do with the next “man” observed. The ball observed in one moment tells one nothing about what might be observed in the next moment. Any particular, any moment yet to be observed, nothing can be said about it, because the classifications are all retrospective, they only refer to the particulars already observed.

The “epistemic universal” of “length” one invents today can say nothing about the “length” observed tomorrow, because no necessary connection is being induced, nothing general about reality itself, it is just the cataloging of regularities in experience. They are just retrospective statistical observations – the moment one starts talking about length – every property of length in all places and all times – then one is talking about a universal property out in reality, a metaphysical universal, which is exactly what has been rejected.

No inference can be extended to particulars outside of the cherry-picked set of concretes previously observed. If a concept “stands for” an unlimited range of things abstractly, but concretely it only refers to some particular set of items already identified, then there is no way to know if the abstraction actually does apply to the full range of things that it stands for.

One can define a category of “winged things” which is open-ended, and therefore includes all winged things yet to be observed. Obviously any new instance added to the set will have wings, but nothing else can be said of it besides that. Without such a thing as a natural class, then what is formed is merely a nominal category, in other words the category is merely analytical, and the only thing that can be inferred from classifying something as a “winged thing” is that it has wings. Which is of course useless.

If there is no natural kind backing the concept, then there’s no justification for inferring anything beyond what has already been defined. If on the other hand concepts are identifying a natural kind, then there’s a necessary connection between all particulars in the set, from which one can justifiably infer things like “any new particulars added to the set will behave as the rest of the set”.

If one holds that “any new particulars added to the set will behave as the rest of the set”, then one is apparently identifying a universal in reality. It functions as a universal, and abstractly identifies something in reality that is timeless and essential, something where instances at all times and in all cases will behave in that same way. If an abstraction is be extended across all instances at all times, and out into reality (in the sense that it will predict the future behavior of things in reality), then the abstraction is something that is metaphysical and universal. A nominalist is someone who rejects that any such thing is metaphysically possible or epistemologically justifiable.

Universals which “hold true” but do not “exist”

Rand believes everything in reality is concrete, that, in reality, there is “no such thing” as the universal “manness” which ties together all concrete men, at all times and in all places. This “manness” is rather our organization of concrete men.

She claims that, by properly organizing concrete men, one can thus arrive at a universal “manness” which will hold true for all concrete men, at all times and in all places.

So does the universal does exist mentally but not in reality? Does it “hold true” in reality, and just doesn’t “exist” in reality? There is this odd reluctance to grant the existence of something “in reality”.

Dual aspect metaphysics grants this idea of an “abstract reality”. Some abstraction which holds true in reality, therefore is real. It gives a kind of reifying existence and power to the abstraction, the abstraction is what is metaphysically making it hold true, as opposed to something else making it hold true and the abstraction merely epistemologically “recognizing” that the truth is holding, presumably for some other reason.

It’s kind of an odd question- what is the real thing which is making this universal hold true? There must be something with the force of reality which is making this truth hold- what is that force? Where does that force come from?

Rand asserts that there are no abstractions with this power: only concretes are “really real”. But even some given concrete has to have some abstract nature. Is the material of the concrete supposed to be powering the nature of the concrete? It doesn’t really make any sense when thought about clearly. Only the dual aspect perspective, a la Aristotle’s hylomorphic compounds, actually makes any sense.

Apparently Rand’s perspective is that one cannot say why, but things just “happen” to work universally. That’s just the way the concretes behave- but they don’t behave that way because of some abstract principle of their nature. That form or principle is just a “way man describes” what matter is doing, it only exists in the mind, not in reality itself.

It is bizarre to say that and also hold that induction is possible, as in McCaskey’s article, where he insists that it is possible to have 100% certainty about regularities despite there being no principle of uniformity. How can one have 100% certainty that a regularity will hold, if one denies the reality of some principle to it? There is no way to make a valid inference from any number of observations of a behavior to a universal rule of the behavior. What is to say it won’t change, if it is not a real aspect of the thing’s nature?

McCaskey for example claims:

“If you have good guidelines and follow them, you can be certain that someone absolutely cannot contract cholera unless exposed to the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, certain that all men are mortal, certain that the angles of all planar triangles sum to 180°, and certain that 2+3=5.”

Well no, under this system, none of these is certain. No conclusion science has ever achieved can be described as true, or knowledge, or certain. They simply happen to be true under the concretes previously observed, and one predicts it will continue to be so.

Yes, even with math. Is it certain that 2+3=5? At all times and in all places, universally? How? That may have held up under previous observations, and one may predict that it will continue under similar circumstances, but all of one’s predictions are unjustified and unreliable; one hasn’t observed every single instance that has ever occurred.

From the article: “It’s not that you must presume uniformity in order to classify. It’s that you classify to find uniformities.”

The whole problem with this is that one hasn’t “found” any more uniformity than one had to begin with! One is left in exactly the same position as he agreed with earlier in the article: “The Scholastics lamented (rightly) that unless you had surveyed all magnets or all animals, the inference was not certain”

“Certainty” without proof

A fall back here is to argue that concepts are not universal, but that one can still have a kind of “certainty” which could be mistaken, that it is still “knowledge” which one can hold beyond a reasonable doubt.

If something hasn’t been proven to be true then there is a reasonable doubt that it could be different at some other time or place. After all, it has been asserted that one cannot make justifiable claims for something at all times and all places.

If one is making a universal claim about something at all times and all places, and holds that such claims are invalid, cannot be justified, then how in the world can one feel certainty about them? It has been asserted that one can’t hold such general claims as true, certain, knowledge.

Universal claims are either justified or unjustified. One must choose. If they are unjustified then one cannot claim “certainty” and “the impossibility of doubt”. If universal claims are justifiable, and a given one is proven, then one can claim certainty and the impossibility of doubt.

Either the claim “2+3=5” is unjustified and therefore fallible, or else it is justified and therefore infallible.

It makes absolutely no sense to declare that some claim is unjustifiable, but also true beyond a reasonable doubt.

Conclusion

If one denies the existence of universals metaphysically, then there’s no reason to believe that an abstraction will extend beyond the range of the small set of previously observed concretes to which it currently refers (and certainly not to believe that one has knowledge or certainty about it). In that case these “universal” epistemological abstractions do not provide knowledge, one cannot have certainty about them – and indeed the opinion of a nominalist is that the use of or belief in such “epistemological universals” is foolish and counter-productive, after all, what’s the point in having or believing in some “timeless essential” if it’s not referring to something that is actually timeless and essential in reality? These universal abstractions are actually false and misleading, they distort the view of reality since there are no such things. There are only retrospective categories of reference.

Calling such epistemic categories “concepts” or “universals” is mistaken. None of the positive results that Ayn Rand tries to claim follow, like the ability to have conceptual knowledge, or certainty about reality, or the validity of induction. None of this is really consistent with this view; one is a skeptic about any general statement about reality, a nominalist who believes in categories of convenience, and the epistemic standard (and thus, necessarily, the moral and political standard) is subjective and pragmatic. There are plenty of people who own up to holding exactly this view, nominalists of all kinds own up to this and wear it proudly, declaring that all that is possible to man are pragmatically guided categories and statistical correlations, and that belief in concepts, in universals that actually hold in reality, is akin to a religious fantasy from which one must break away.

If on the other hand one is not truly a skeptic about reality, if deep down there is a belief that it is possible to justifiably know things that are necessary and certain and universal, then there must be a conversation about the metaphysics of universals. Either way there’s an inconsistency in Ayn Rand’s thinking, and one should be clear and honest with themselves on exactly where one stands.

One must choose a side. Either there are universals which actually hold in reality, or else there is no such thing. If there is nothing in reality which holds universally, then one cannot have knowledge of things which hold universally. It is not possible. One either needs to own up to one’s metaphysical stance epistemologically, or own up to one’s epistemological stance metaphysically. It cannot be held both ways. The concept of metaphysical universality cannot be stolen in epistemology while denying it in metaphysics – not if one is being honest with one’s self. Either one has a merely pragmatic stance (i.e. holding this concept as if it were a universal, even if there are no such things, since that seems to work well) in which case one ought to own up to that epistemologically as a nominalist, or else one does believe that universal knowledge is possible but is operating on a stolen metaphysical premise, in which case one ought to own up to that metaphysically as an intrinsicist.

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You seem to be trying to reduce things to two different viewpoints:

1. A universal refers to something actually existing in reality that is what you are calling a "metaphysical universal" (whatever that is, you don't say)

2. A universal has no basis in reality

That's quite the false alternative. And your post is terribly written. You throw around Randian jargon without explaining it and make pronouncements left and right, conflating a number of different issues.

For example, very briefly:  What's the difference between something's being universal (adjective) and something's being a universal (noun)? What's the difference between a universal being "metaphysical" verses non? Why does it mean to say something "exists metaphysically" versus "existing non-metaphysically?" What does Rand mean by that? What do you? How do we know what your understanding of her position is? How is anyone to judge if it is adequate? How do we know what your understanding of this is? What's the difference between something's being concrete without a metaphysical universal and with? What does it mean to say something is "epistemological?" What does Rand mean by that? Why couldn't something have a basis in reality for being regarded as universal but existing as a universal only in or related to thought? Why couldn't it be particulars and their attributes and powers lying in some continuum when mentally considered relative to each other instead of some universal component called a metaphysical universal? If understanding such continua gave us an understanding of the relationships of causally significant similarities, then couldn't understanding such a basis give us understanding of causal connections among particulars? Why couldn't such causal connections give us demonstrative knowledge, and thus certainty and all those other nice things, then? What about different kinds of universals? What about universals and forms, ideas, kinds? Are all universals the same type? Do the have the same function? Are universals in terms used the same as universal propositions? Is universality always a universality of time and place? Of identity, numericality, quality? Or is universality relative? Paradigmatic? Are you conflating and running these things together? Are you even aware of all these options? Is it obvious you clearly understand these things? No, you aren't clear about any of these things. 

There is much terminological confusion in the actual academic literature. Different thinkers use the term "universal," "metaphysical," and the like differently. This makes possible verbal agreements and disagreements that do not reflect the actual positions held. Many people take what their position claims as obvious and many controversial points are unargued-for. That's why it's very important to be precise. So if you're investigating Rand's position, you have to demonstrate you understand what she means. You have to relate it to what other people may mean. You have to show you understand the literature. You have to show what problem your analysis is attempting to solve. You have to abide by the principle of clarity, showing what your understanding comes from by citing the passages and explaining your arguments for them. You do none of this. That's why this is an example of bad philosophy writing. Don't do this.

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If one holds that concepts are only “universal” over the total set of of one’s prior, concrete observations, then this is not the universal set! 
This isn’t guaranteed by any metaphysical principle to hold at all times and for all instances in reality. 
Concepts in this view aren’t describing something that holds abstractly in reality, they are just describing something that holds abstractly over the particular, 
delimited set of observations which one has accumulated thus far.

We can start with these two statements:

1. "this is not the universal set!"
2. "Concepts in this view aren’t describing something that holds abstractly in reality"

Please observe (your statements (1 and 2)) are in fact universal statements, you yourself are guaranteeing that we cannot know the universal set. That the universal set is unknowable.

The first question that comes to mind is "Why go any further, we can't know it, so why try to discuss it?".

"If one holds that concepts are only “universal” over the total set of of one’s prior, concrete observations, then this is not the universal set!" 

No, to be precise

If one holds that concepts are only “universal” over the total set of of one’s prior, concrete observations, then this is not "necessarily" the universal set! 

Why is this important? Because it could be the universal set and it has not been derived at by chance (not arbitrarily).
Your assertion is false because it claims that with induction, what you came up with IS NOT the universal set. (you say this with certainty)

Would you agree that coming up with a universal truth, one has a better chance through induction rather than random/arbitrary statement?

We can agree that "I can't know everything, none of us can". But you are jumping to the conclusion that "since we can't know everything, then we can't possibly know something that is true". That epistemologically truth, reality, consists of knowing everything, anything less means NOT knowing.

The contradiction lies in the fact that you yourself are claiming this unerring, universal knowledge that universals exist metaphysically and we can't know that they exist metaphysically.

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On 11/24/2020 at 10:43 AM, MisterSwig said:

where did it exist if there were no hammers in which it could exist?

I never understood the desire to predicate location of abstractions. If you wanted to be poetical about it you could say they are "ideas in the mind of God".

But to put it another way, they are inherent in the nature of reality itself, all the way down at the lowest level.

For example a materialist might say, at the lowest possible level, what the nature of reality defines is the simple, universal, mathematical laws of the fundamental particles in physics, and everything else we see around us is composed of these particles carrying out their basic behaviors (a la Conway's game of life). To avoid this reductionist materialism (and the logically incoherent absurdities it implies), and without introducing a magical element of "emergence" which accounts for the metaphysical existence and causal efficacy of the objects we see around us, then we must posit these natures as inherent in reality at the lowest possible level, that what is there a priori are not mathematically simple, universal laws of fundamental particles, but the nature of every universal that has metaphysical existence and causal efficacy.

If you take gravity for instance, "where" is it located? Well it's just inherent in the nature of reality, it's all throughout. If you want to identify where gravity is active/instantiated, the answer is "in bodies of mass". Likewise with hammer, it's nature is inherent in the nature of reality itself, it is throughout, and where it is active/instantiated is in actual hammers.

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1 hour ago, intrinsicist said:

I never understood the desire to predicate location of abstractions.

But this is at the heart of the disagreement, misunderstanding, or whatever this is.

Metaphysical entities go by certain rules, one of which is the non existence of contradictions. But I go back to the key area that is clear. The concept "nothing".

Is this inherent in the nature of reality? Or is reality that which exists? In your world, existence and non existence  ... exist in the same world meaning they exist at the same time/place in the same way. Existence and non-existence exist. As in A is NOT A. I would argue that you acknowledge that you believe in a supernatural explanation.

Furthermore, you say you don't understand, but when you say table as you are looking at a table, can you squeeze out tableness? If you could, someone who has never seen a table should be able to identify it since it is intrinsic.

The fact is that "the mind of God (poetically)" allows anything and everything. With God ANYTHING is possible. If there is no connection to metaphysical laws, then one should be able to sense a table on mars because there is no need to predicate it on location of abstractions. 

In this world, If we melt the table, we don't extract the tableness. If it was inherent in the concrete, tableness should break when you break the table. Somehow you don't see the connection, YET you say they are connected (in the same metaphysical reality).

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23 hours ago, Doug Morris said:

Why do you say emergence is magical?

The reductionistic materialist model says metaphysical reality and causal efficacy exists only at the level of fundamental particles, it cannot "emerge" through composition. This would be a contradiction, only be an illusion produced by the composition of particles (again, see Conway's game of life).

To make the claim that higher level objects have identity and causal efficacy of their own, "emergence" from composition is not enough. Either some additional foreign element would have to be added, which cannot itself be again merely more compositions of particles but must be some fundamental particle or element which can account fully for the distinctive identity and causal efficacy, or we have to deny that the fundamental particles we are composing have simple identities with simple, universal mathematical rules which govern them.

In my opinion it makes more sense to go with the latter, we have no evidence of any additional physical particles beyond those catelogued by science, and we do have evidence that these particles have different behavior under different conditions (as in the double split experiment).

If anyone is knowledgable about quantum physics I would be very interested in pursuing this theory further with them. Unfortunately I have not had the chance to study the subject deeply as of yet.

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1 hour ago, intrinsicist said:

The reductionistic materialist model says metaphysical reality and causal efficacy exists only at the level of fundamental particles, it cannot "emerge" through composition. This would be a contradiction, only be an illusion produced by the composition of particles (again, see Conway's game of life).

To make the claim that higher level objects have identity and causal efficacy of their own, "emergence" from composition is not enough. Either some additional foreign element would have to be added, which cannot itself be again merely more compositions of particles but must be some fundamental particle or element which can account fully for the distinctive identity and causal efficacy, or we have to deny that the fundamental particles we are composing have simple identities with simple, universal mathematical rules which govern them.

In my opinion it makes more sense to go with the latter, we have no evidence of any additional physical particles beyond those catelogued by science, and we do have evidence that these particles have different behavior under different conditions (as in the double split experiment).

Perhaps the reductionist materialist model assumes too much.  Helen Steward believes so as she explains in A Metaphysics for Freedom. I have some blogposts about this book. See especially #6 and #7.

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On 11/24/2020 at 2:38 PM, Eiuol said:

How come you just moved a few posts you made recently into one big post? If anything, I would hope that you edit for clarity and precision, rather than gluing everything together after the fact. 

@Eiuolis there any argument to which I have not responded ? Do you have an answer to any of my arguments? Is there something in particular for which you need more clarity or precision?

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On 12/3/2020 at 6:21 PM, intrinsicist said:

Do you have an answer to any of my arguments?

Or to make it clear so doesn't sound like I'm just being pedantic:

I don't have a specific answer because there are a number of things that sound like misunderstandings or vague statements. I don't mind that when you're offering ideas and trying to figure things out, but it's different when you take a series of posts from that process of thinking and stick it together as if it's even a fair characterization of your position. If you want to write an essay, I know you can do better. 

I think 2046 is guiding you on the questions you should ask and answer, without just saying you're wrong.

Take a statement like the following:

On 11/23/2020 at 11:36 PM, intrinsicist said:

So does the universal does exist mentally but not in reality? Does it “hold true” in reality, and just doesn’t “exist” in reality? There is this odd reluctance to grant the existence of something “in reality”.

I do agree with you to say that Rand would say all that exists are concretes, but I always try to specify that I mean in the sense that nothing abstract or mental could exist without an object to embody them. Abstractions and mental entities exist in reality, but they can't exist on their own independently. 

Then this other statement:

On 11/23/2020 at 11:36 PM, intrinsicist said:

That form or principle is just a “way man describes” what matter is doing, it only exists in the mind, not in reality itself.

The universal is what characteristic you select about a number of concretes that unifies them into a unit. The characteristic makes it that way; the characteristic is not a creation of the mind. But it might not make sense to call this a universal because the objects themselves are not unified on their own without your volitional action. Units don't exist without your volitional action. 

It's hard for me to tell what is a genuine disagreement, or imprecision with how we are saying things. It only becomes more difficult if you haven't edited and refined the things you wrote most recently.

 

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On 11/27/2020 at 7:39 AM, intrinsicist said:

I never understood the desire to predicate location of abstractions.

I asked primarily about the when of a "metaphysical universal" in relation to the when of its related concretes. The where was a secondary matter. However, based on your response to the where issue, I can infer that you believe the abstraction for "hammer" predates the creation of hammers by man. Which I believe is the basic weakness in your position. You call your answer "poetic," but really your appeal to "ideas in the mind of God" reduces to some sort of revelation-based philosophy. How do you know what is in the mind of God?

Logically, I think you're using "abstraction" as a floating abstraction or possibly a stolen concept. An abstraction is abstracted from concretes, yet you seem to deny the necessity of having concretes in order to form abstractions of them. Unless perhaps you believe every concrete also exists in the mind of God. In which case I would return to the question of how you know the mind of God.

Also, if God is in charge of creating "metaphysical universals," why can't he cause them to not hold true in all instances? Is he not omnipotent? I don't see how positing a God solves the problem of universals that are limited to a human context of knowledge.

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On 12/5/2020 at 5:27 PM, Eiuol said:

Rand would say all that exists are concretes, but I always try to specify that I mean in the sense that nothing abstract or mental could exist without an object to embody them. Abstractions and mental entities exist in reality, but they can't exist on their own independently. 

This sounds like you're trying to argue for Aristotelianism vs. Platonism. But Rand is neither. Her position is that abstractions (e.g. the "manness" in man), do not exist, full stop. There is no such thing metaphysically, abstractions are purely epistemological.

 

On 12/5/2020 at 5:27 PM, Eiuol said:

The universal is what characteristic you select about a number of concretes that unifies them into a unit. The characteristic makes it that way; the characteristic is not a creation of the mind. But it might not make sense to call this a universal because the objects themselves are not unified on their own without your volitional action. Units don't exist without your volitional action. 

This is just the standard Objectivist position. I'm not sure why you are explaining that here.

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9 minutes ago, intrinsicist said:

This sounds like you're trying to argue for Aristotelianism vs. Platonism. But Rand is neither. Her position is that abstractions (e.g. the "manness" in man), do not exist, full stop. There is no such thing metaphysically, abstractions are purely epistemological.

Oof

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10 minutes ago, intrinsicist said:

Her [Rand's] position is that abstractions (e.g. the "manness" in man), do not exist, full stop. There is no such thing metaphysically, abstractions are purely epistemological.

So the "what" that is being discussed (i.e., an abstraction) does not exist? An abstraction has no identity? 

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32 minutes ago, intrinsicist said:

But Rand is neither. Her position is that abstractions (e.g. the "manness" in man), do not exist, full stop. There is no such thing metaphysically, abstractions are purely epistemological.

I do not believe that this is a charitable interpretation of Rand. She certainly didn't claim that abstractions don't exist in any sense. She calls them existents. Those things exist. I'm not sure you are actually arguing against Rand's position if you really think that Rand said that abstractions don't exist in any sense. Even more, if "manness" is itself characteristic or thing in reality (rather than referring to a characteristic), then it is not an abstraction. *That* kind of "manness" doesn't exist. 

Notice I'm not using the word universal. I am avoiding that word because I think it causes confusion in communication at least between us.

32 minutes ago, intrinsicist said:

This is just the standard Objectivist position. I'm not sure why you are explaining that here.

Okay, then where specifically is your disagreement? Do you disagree that objects are united by the mind? Do you disagree that a characteristic is selected? Do you disagree that volitional action is necessary for the selection of a characteristic? 

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29 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

I do not believe that this is a charitable interpretation of Rand.

Check the quotes at the top of the thread. I'm just stating Rand's position. I'm not stating anything controversial here. I don't know why this is confusing.

 

33 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

Even more, if "manness" is itself characteristic or thing in reality (rather than referring to a characteristic), then it is not an abstraction

If you are saying that, "if something exists in reality, then it cannot be an abstraction", well that is the standard Objectivist position, and that is what I am arguing against. Not sure if that helps clarify.

 

31 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

Okay, then where specifically is your disagreement? Do you disagree that objects are united by the mind? Do you disagree that a characteristic is selected? Do you disagree that volitional action is necessary for the selection of a characteristic? 

This thread is an argument about metaphysics. I have raised no issue with the epistemology.

 

 

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1 hour ago, intrinsicist said:

Check the quotes at the top of the thread. I'm just stating Rand's position. I'm not stating anything controversial here. I don't know why this is confusing.

But taking what she expanded on later in the book, concretes are the only things that exist in the sense that they are the only thing that can exist independently. You can certainly argue that Rand was not clear enough in an introductory essay, but taking everything else we know about Rand, it is not charitable to say that according to her, they don't exist in any way whatsoever. 

1 hour ago, intrinsicist said:

If you are saying that, "if something exists in reality, then it cannot be an abstraction", well that is the standard Objectivist position, and that is what I am arguing against. Not sure if that helps clarify.

I'm saying it sounds like you aren't even talking about abstractions. I'm claiming that not only are you incorrect about what Rand thinks about abstractions, it has nothing to do with your argument even if you were right.

1 hour ago, intrinsicist said:

This thread is an argument about metaphysics. I have raised no issue with the epistemology.

If you have no issue with the epistemology, then you have no issue with what Rand says about universals. But you do have issues. You have to disagree somewhere, or you are seeing a contradiction that Rand has made within her own epistemology (in which case you are still disagreeing about something in her epistemology). 

 

 

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"Metaphysically speaking obviously all concretes intrinsically are units of a kind. Concept formation is just the inductive process of recognizing them as such and identifying the kind that they belong to."

Okay, I figured out how I want to respond to this part. You can skip the part before where I ask you specifically what you disagree with, because what I'm saying here has to do with what you disagree with. 

I think that Rand emphatically disagrees (as do I)  that concretes intrinsically are units of a kind. 

Phrased differently: for a set of concretes to be united (i.e. to be made into a unit), mental work must be done. Before the mental work is done, the unit does not exist in any sense. 3 particular apples are not naturally united so that they operate as a whole thing. To be sure, there is some kind of relationship, but I don't it makes sense to say that they are united in any manner before that mental work. 

3 particular apples are not united in the way that 3 oxygen atoms are united as a molecule of ozone. 

Edited by Eiuol
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