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2 hours ago, Boydstun said:

Rand: "No. What made you think that? I have referred to actual and potential in any number of ways in any number of articles.

Just as an aside point, wtf is she talking about here? "Any number" of articles? The only times she ever specifically references the potential-actual distinction is when talking about abortion (people are confusing the potential person with the actual) and patents (people are confusing the potential first discovery with the actual.)

The only other times she uses potential is in the non-philosophical use "potential earnings," "potentially unlimited output," "potential path" of a flood, and so forth, uses that don't necessarily commit one to the Aristotelian usage. Maybe someone with a pdf copy of the periodicals wants to do a search, or or index search if they have more motivation than me.

The point is, it isn't clear that she endorses the concepts of potential and actual or potency and act, at least not in the Aristotelian tradition, aside from those two articles. And in those articles they serve as a polemical device ("my opponents are failing to make this distinction"), but it's far from clear or obvious how this is supposed to feature in or integrate with the rest of her metaphysics. And if it were an important distinction why didn't she specifically give it a positive treatment and in her writings on metaphysics?

In Aristotelian/Scholastic metaphysics, I don't have to tell Stephan this, but the concepts of potential-actual are just wider concepts of matter-form, which are vital to the concept of substance. Potentiality being related to matter and the particular, and actuality being related to form or the universal. So if she's looking askance at the matter-form distinction (She says "dichotomy." What? It's not a dichotomy, it's a unity, one can't exist without the other. At least in Aristotle's version.), then how she is entitled to use and employ act-potency (or "entity") is at least a valid question. What's more, the claim that "she" employed a "form-object" distinction in her non-existent writings on the epistemology of perception.

I would say the stances she stakes out (in regards to "entity" as primary existence) commit her to having to have some kind of concept of act-potency and form-matter as vital to her metaphysical project, but, fun fact, (in private conversation with a certain "Objectivist philosopher") I've been told she denied form-matter was valid and thought act-potency only applied narrowly to philosophy of biology (he didn't know the patent usage.) 

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3 hours ago, Boydstun said:

This fact is part of the all of existence that is past existent. A past potential of a past actual. Not now a potential, supposing t2 was yesterday.

But potentials and actuals, or act and potency, are not existents. They are modalities of existents, or ways of dividing being vis a vis change, permanence, multiplicity, and unity. Or we may say they are principles, employed to speak of the ways existents exist, but the primary existence is the substances or entities themselves. 

It is also possible to speak on the one hand of potentiality and actuality, and of the presentist view of time on the other hand. Presentism is the view that only present things exist. Eternalism is the view that every moment in time is real. Different varieties of eternalism state that they are real in different ways, or equally real, or are real things, (ie., we can speak of "past existent.")

The two are related, and related to views of space as well. My only point here is that one can speak of potential-actual without adopting eternalism. One can speak of the past potentials as having existed without speaking of them as past existents. And note that the persistence of the substantial form accounts for its continued existence through time, on the Aristotelian view, which is related to its actuality, not its potentialities. Matter becomes, speaking metaphorically, located in space-time when it receives form.

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2 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

. . .

Would you say that any fact of anything that happened or existed in the past, now lives on in the form of causal traces or repercussions of that past?  If so then would it be correct to characterize a past potential which never actualized as traceable in the current configuration of existence as having once been a potential?  In a sense there is memory of that having once been a potential.

Is it proper to distinguish between this memory of the potential and the potential itself?

page 186

There's plenty of facts of the past which with enough time have no trace remaining. Facts, even though no one to now know them. That was one of God's jobs fallen down---to know always us however long ago we died, to know always that there had been human beings. Our lives shall be a fact a billion years from now, though no mind were still able to know of us any more. (Take heart. Our bounded lives were an end in itself. Likewise for the life of the species.)

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20 minutes ago, Boydstun said:

page 186

There's plenty of facts of the past which with enough time have no trace remaining. Facts, even though no one to now know them. That was one of God's jobs fallen down---to know always us however long ago we died, to know always that there had been human beings. Our lives shall be a fact a billion years from now, though no mind were still able to know of us any more. (Take heart. Our bounded lives were an end in itself. Likewise for the life of the species.)

If not in traces of the natural material universe, nor in any memory of the unthinking whirling cosmos, nor in any mortal mind, where do such “facts” exist, a billion years from now?

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12 hours ago, Boydstun said:

In the physical universe of past times. Facts are not synonymous with truths, in my usage or in Rand's. Truths are recognitions of facts. The facts are, whether any fact-seekers had ever arisen to grasp them or not.

 

Facts now exist in the past times of the physical universe.

 

This is not a trivial thing to rigorously conceive of. 

Especially for me. 

 

To see how you see the universe, I am not certain if I need to chew on what "Fact" is, or what "now" means.  I am reluctant to address "exist" (for now) as I surely would end up engaging in circular argumentation.

 

EDIT:  After floundering as below, I think I simply do not know what your conception of "Fact" is and where facts are manifest if not in the current physical universe.  Do they exists in something like a platonic realm of possibilities?  Could you steer my thinking below?

 

My starting point

Facts about things (as they presently are) I usually take to be in the state of those things as they presently are.  I also do not take facts as having to be present in any mind which grasps them, nor in some world of ideas or forms spanning all abstract possible states of mind or possible "graspings" represented by the possible configurations of those minds.  I tend to view facts about things as being in and of those things and no where else.  This is precisely because I do not conceive of anywhere else other than the physical universe as it is.

As for the past (in relation to now), although the state of things as they were does not exist now (the past has passed), because there is a causal link and a link in identity of much about those things (permitting some about those things may be lost), I see (metaphorically?) the past as being in the present.  Time does not represent a blinking creation and cessation of existence like a the frames of a movie... all does not die and is reborn every nth of a second, so not all is lost, and yet the problem seems to be that not all  which is necessary to characterize a fact about the past exists in the present universe.  

 

Chewing

I like the idea that the present grows from the past and that the present (pregnant) gives birth to the future.  

The present is a result of the past and the totality of facts of the past cause the totality of the facts of the present.  Due to free will and also QM we assume that the totality of facts of the present is not unique, other "presents" could result from the same past (we could have chosen otherwise and that measurement could have gone the other way).  Currently, physicists tell us 1) that the totality of facts of the present could have arisen from multiple possible totality of facts of the past, and moreover, 2) that the totality of facts of the present has forgotten which of those "pasts" it has grown from. (I wonder if both modern QM and thermodynamics still claim and agree with this?  I could be wrong)

For now I will not doubt 1) and 2) arrived at by the special sciences, however, I note that philosophically I am not compelled to accept them.

So it appears that a class of possible pasts could lead to the present, and there literally is nothing in the universe to distinguish them.  This seems symmetrical with there being a class of possible futures which the present could lead to, and there being literally nothing in the universe now to distinguish between them.

So nothing presently manifests the fact of a particular one universe of the past having existed versus any others of the class in the same way that presently nothing in the universe manifests the fact of the particular one future universe which will obtain versus the other possible ones in its class.

The fact that the universe was in a past a particular one, and will be in a future particular one also,  seems to be manifest in what we observe about the universe continually, there is just no objective "necessity" determining which ones.

 

Perhaps I am looking for negatives, i.e. facts which negate all the possibilities in each category.  Maybe this is wrong.  If such negating facts do not exist now, they never have or will.

The fact that the universe could have come from a particular past is still manifest in a "past potential" fact of all the present.  Perhaps in the same sense as the potential futures are facts in the present, so too are the potential pasts facts in the present.

 

But again I am led to the single strand of existence growing directly and in accordance with causality and identity from the past: the universe emerged from one particular past of time Tpast, whether the universe has forgotten that particular past or not.

What now of that one past if the universe has literally forgotten it?  If that particular past has been wiped from existence, what of the "fact" attached to it?  How and where can the "fact" attached to that particular past survive?  How and where can facts exist detached from the universe?

 

My aim is not persuasion, agreement or disagreement, only understanding.

 

 

As you can see I'm spinning my wheels, and I would understand if you felt your time would be better spent elsewhere, but I hope otherwise.

 

 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, Boydstun said:

 

Your ball park seems to be Presentism, a position noted by 2046.*

Mine seems some version of Growing Block.

We can get some grip on those two outlooks from those two online sources.

So existence includes the present and the past, hence facts about the past forgotten in the present still exist in the existence which is the past.  The past which still exists as past existence is to be distinguished from the present which exists as present existence.

I think I understand the general idea.  I assume you have fixed upon it because you found the alternatives to be more problematic.  I wonder what phenomena or observations help one lean one way or another.

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4 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

I wonder what phenomena or observations help one lean one way or another.

I'm my experience it's not observations that make the difference at this point. You're dealing with something so abstract, it usually comes down to what interpretation of mathematics one wants to endorse, combined with what independent metaphysical claims one tends to be wedded to.

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An interesting intersection. Presentism, Growing Block, Mathematics. 

Augment this with @2046's "what interpretation of mathematics one wants to endorse".  As stated, this would suggest subjectivism. Adding to it both Corvini's and Knapp's verbal and written contributions could support Corvini's concern that certain aspects of math are not only wrong, they are influentially wrong. 

Stepping to @2046's "what independent metaphysical claims one tends to be wedded to" as 'a combined factor' ... could there be another coin factor here? 

"Faith and Force" or "Reason and Freedom" as examples of the two sides of two different, but related coins here?

Mathematics, as the science of measurement (or not), combined with metaphysical claim 'a' (contrasted with metaphysical claim 'b'.)

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"Temporal ontology"? And there I was, thinking that A is A ~implies~ A was A, A will be A...

(In the energy<->matter symbiosis of the universe, how can there ever not exist existence? Whether or not there will be a mind to acknowledge it. Does that make me an "eternalist'?

It seems to me that presentism must give rise to/emanate from a distinct Humean-skepticism.

Is the growing block theory ("no future") not just a variation on that?

Explanatory excerpt:

"Presentism is the doctrine that only the present is real. … A presentist thinks that everything is present; more generally, that, necessarily, it is always true that everything is (then) present.

Presentism is the temporal analogue of the modal doctrine of actualism, according to which everything is actual. The opposite view in the philosophy of modality is possibilism, according to which nonactual things exist; its temporal analogue is eternalism, according to which there are such things as merely past and merely future entities. (1999: 325–6)

Presentists and eternalists make competing claims about temporal ontology. According to presentism, only present things exist. According to eternalism, past and future things, such as dinosaurs and human outposts on Mars, exist as well. These are theories about what there is, just like actualism, possibilism, Platonism, nominalism, Meinongianism, idealism, materialism, theism, atheism… (2006: 75)

Presentists and the rest thus disagree about what exists. When confronted with W.V. Quine’s (1948) three Anglo-Saxon monosyllables—“What is there?”—presentists have a simple and distinctive reply: “Only what’s present”. Non-presentists demur. Eternalists say that there are past and future things too. Growing block theorists (“no-futurists”) say that there are past and present things, but no future things. On the orthodox picture, what’s distinctive about presentism is determined primarily by the distinct set of claims made about temporal ontology".

 

 

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I sometimes say to my philosophical friends “I’m univocal about being.” That would be talk in a traditional School way. Objectivist-types often speak of being and existence as interchangeable, and they speak of substance and entity as interchangeable, where by being/substance they mean those conceptions down through Aristotelian-school traditions. My philosophy friends might continue: “So, univocal about being, there’s rightly only one sense to the concept being, you’re with Scotus, Ockham, and pals on that?” Going on talking of being (and of metaphysical substance) is only a first approximation to what we who think in a contemporary Rand-sorted metaphysics mean, which is existence, in which we’ve dropped some features of old-time being (no such thing as unqualified being, no such thing as perfections of being).

So more exactly, I’m univocal about existence. Rand and I conceive of attributes, actions, and relationships as requiring entities of which to be. I think Rand could go along with me in saying further that entities require things that are of-entities, such as attributes, actions, and relationships. (In mathematics we might similarly say that mappings require elements, but elements require susceptibility to mappings.) I’d make a limited analogy between existence and a pendant necklace. The pendant(s) depend from the neck-loop and, as components of a pendant necklace, depend also on there being the neck-loop. Still, the neck-loop depends on there being the pendant in order to be part of a pendant necklace.

Unlike Rand I don’t count things attached to entities—such as attributes, actions, and relationships—as in any sense more existing than those attached things. (But perhaps she took the firstness or primacy of entities to mean only firstness in knowing of existents, not a firstness in ontology; we could look that up.) Similarly, potentials of an actual thing in an actual situation at a time are not less existing at that time than those actuals. Univocality of existence.

Actualities and their potentials must be indexed to a present. A present signals a concrescence in which potentials resolve into a single actual. The total effect of past potential has settled, and one potential come to be the present actual. The present potentials of a present actual contain some presently settled future facts (e.g. existence is identity, angular momentum is conserved, we die), but also some indeterminacy of future facts.

In the contemporary debates, distinction is sometimes made between (i) indeterminacy in some future facts and (ii) non-existence of some future facts. I’ll be studying this some more. The one is said to land one in the Moving Spotlight philosophy of time; the second in the Growing Block.

Among books on my philosophy-of-time shelf, these two seem the most urgent: Objective Becoming by Bradford Skow (2015) and The Moving Spotlight by Ross Cameron (2015). Contemporary defense of univocal existence is mounted in contemporary philosophical setting within Azzouni ’s Ontology without Borders (2017).

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5 hours ago, Boydstun said:

Similarly, potentials of an actual thing in an actual situation at a time are not less existing at that time than those actuals. Univocality of existence.

I'm not sure where exactly to place Rand on this, but I will argue to lean towards analogy. First, I would preface this by saying that I don't think she was aware of these debates which were pre-modern inter-Scholastic debates. Maybe in some discussions she had, but she only wrote things which can incidentally wander into these issues at some times, like the whole act-potency issue. She does not really have a developed doctrine. We moreso comment on what she doesn't appear to think on some issue because she never mentioned it specifically, like say, the issue of perfections of nature. But, I think we are just as justified in asking whether other positions she does take commit her to that position, like whether her adoption of life-based teleology, causality as identity in action, and the non-existence of evil commit her to, or at least gel with, perfections of nature.

In the quoted part above, I think there's something about the act-potency distinction that commit us to rejecting univocality of being or existence. Consider the following argument:

1. Act is real ie., it exists.

2. Potency is real ie., it exists.

3. If potency existed in the same univocal sense in which act does, then it wouldn't really be distinct from act.

4. Potency is distinct from act.

5. So potency cannot exist in the same univocal sense as act.

Potency-in-being is not being-in-act, they are really different things, after all. But potency isn't nothing either, it really exists, ie., is a kind of being. And since it is really distinct from act, we can't say it exists univocally or equivocally, so it must exist analogously (a Thomist would argue. Of course we'd have to develop that further to establish to positive treatment of the analogy of being.) The relationships between the existence of an actuality and the existence of a potentiality are not identical, otherwise the potentiality wouldn't exist as a potentiality, it would be actual, and everything that exists would be actual. There would be no act-potency distinction. Nevertheless there is a similarity between the relationships, they both exist, just in different non-identical ways, hence analogous and not equivocal.

Of course much more could be said about primary potency and secondary potency to round out the case. And much more smarter people than I have been debating this issue in much more detail, with many more distinctions and examples, than I will ever probably understand. However I just want to make the point that I think Rand is committed to the analogy of being. The reason for this (beyond just that she appears to hold an act-potency distinction) is as follows:

Univocal terms, of course, are perfectly valid among many things, and can be applied to very different things sometimes. But there is a crucial difference in the case of existence or being (I'm using them interchangeably for now.) A term like "animal" is applied to dogs, giraffes, fish, mammals, etc., because they are all species (logical usage of "species," not the biology term) of animal. In that way, "animal" is univocal. It names a genus under which various species fall. What's different about each is captured by the differentia and the differentia is external to the genus under which the thing it specifies falls. But, being or existence does not name a genus, such that substance, accident, essences, powers (or in the Randian) entity, attribute, actions, relationships, etc. are not understood as the various "species of existence." You yourself say:

5 hours ago, Boydstun said:

Rand and I conceive of attributes, actions, and relationships as requiring entities of which to be. 

Correct. And Rand says (ITOE 59)

"Since axiomatic concepts are not formed by differentiating one group of existents from others, but represent an integration of all existents, they have no Conceptual Common Denominator with anything else. They have no contraries, no alternatives. The contrary of the concept “table”—a non-table-is every other kind of existent. The contrary of the concept “man”—a non-man—is every other kind of existent. “Existence,” “identity” and “consciousness” have no contraries—only a void. It may be said that existence can be differentiated from non-existence; but non-existence is not a fact, it is the absence of a fact, it is a derivative concept pertaining to a relationship, i.e., a concept which can be formed or grasped only in relation to some existent that has ceased to exist."

So we can't grasp entity or attribute (substance or accident) and so forth without grasping them as having being. But we can grasp, say, being cold blooded apart from "animal." There is nothing that can serve as a differentia to existence or being in that case to mark out existence because the only thing external to existence is non-existence, which is nothing, and it can't serve as a differentia precisely because it's nothing.

So while all the concrete entities, attributes, actions, relationships and so forth that do exist are units of the concept of existence, they are not in fact species of existence, that is not how they are related. Thus, existence cannot be predicated of things in a univocal (or equivocal for that matter) way. It is predicated on a proportion or relationship of similarity, but not identity. Existence in relation to entities is identity, but entities do not exist identically and aren't predicated that way either. Thus, it seems if Rand wants to maintain this notion of the concept of existence, she should be committed to the analogy of being.

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Thank you, 2046.

One book to which I keep returning to learn more is Kris McDaniel's The Fragmentation of Being (2017).

On potentiality, I keep learning more from Handbook of Potentiality (2018) and Barbara Vetter's Potentiality - From Disposition to Modality (2015).

I have concluded that the grade I'll be having to give myself at the end of my life is assuredly: Incomplete.

Your ideas on how Rand's system might profit from use of Aristotelian analogy of being is good for me to keep in mind. It could bear also on univocality and unity of existence in general in my own system as well.

It is hard for me to see how Rand could apply levels of perfection across existence spanning more than living existence. Within the living domain, it might be natural to count Howard's Roark's greater thingness or entification of person in comparison to Peter Keating's as a factor in Roark's more perfect aliveness. And Roark's greater integration and selfness as factors in his more perfect aliveness. But I can't see how Rand, given her setting of value and function and intelligence wholly within living sorts of existence, could go on (in her mature system) and have degrees of thingness or of unities, for examples, be factors for being able to say there are any levels of perfection across all of existence.

Edited by Boydstun
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On 12/3/2020 at 10:11 AM, Boydstun said:

 

I sometimes say to my philosophical friends “I’m univocal about being.” That would be talk in a traditional School way. Objectivist-types often speak of being and existence as interchangeable, and they speak of substance and entity as interchangeable, where by being/substance they mean those conceptions down through Aristotelian-school traditions. My philosophy friends might continue: “So, univocal about being, there’s rightly only one sense to the concept being, you’re with Scotus, Ockham, and pals on that?” Going on talking of being (and of metaphysical substance) is only a first approximation to what we who think in a contemporary Rand-sorted metaphysics mean, which is existence, in which we’ve dropped some features of old-time being (no such thing as unqualified being, no such thing as perfections of being).

So more exactly, I’m univocal about existence. Rand and I conceive of attributes, actions, and relationships as requiring entities of which to be. I think Rand could go along with me in saying further that entities require things that are of-entities, such as attributes, actions, and relationships. (In mathematics we might similarly say that mappings require elements, but elements require susceptibility to mappings.) I’d make a limited analogy between existence and a pendant necklace. The pendant(s) depend from the neck-loop and, as components of a pendant necklace, depend also on there being the neck-loop. Still, the neck-loop depends on there being the pendant in order to be part of a pendant necklace.

Unlike Rand I don’t count things attached to entities—such as attributes, actions, and relationships—as in any sense more existing than those attached things. (But perhaps she took the firstness or primacy of entities to mean only firstness in knowing of existents, not a firstness in ontology; we could look that up.) Similarly, potentials of an actual thing in an actual situation at a time are not less existing at that time than those actuals. Univocality of existence.

Actualities and their potentials must be indexed to a present. A present signals a concrescence in which potentials resolve into a single actual. The total effect of past potential has settled, and one potential come to be the present actual. The present potentials of a present actual contain some presently settled future facts (e.g. existence is identity, angular momentum is conserved, we die), but also some indeterminacy of future facts.

In the contemporary debates, distinction is sometimes made between (i) indeterminacy in some future facts and (ii) non-existence of some future facts. I’ll be studying this some more. The one is said to land one in the Moving Spotlight philosophy of time; the second in the Growing Block.

Among books on my philosophy-of-time shelf, these two seem the most urgent: Objective Becoming by Bradford Skow (2015) and The Moving Spotlight by Ross Cameron (2015). Contemporary defense of univocal existence is mounted in contemporary philosophical setting within Azzouni ’s Ontology without Borders (2017).

I feel that somehow it is possible that philosophers (professional or not) may believe the same thing about reality while perhaps using different language and attaching different importance to the namings, associations, meanings, and intuitions asssociated therewith.

 

It may be that, insofar as it corresponds with metaphysical reality, 

my saying: if some aspect of the past is truly forgotten and not present in the now, it simply no longer exists in any of the things in existence although it once may have...

is not so different from 

your saying: if some aspect of the past truly was, then no matter whether the now has truly and utterly forgotten it,  the fact of it having been still IS and hence is eternal...

only different accents on that aspect of the past, different ways of recognizing the same fact that

“it was”.

 

Thank you Boydstun for choosing to share.

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