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A Right to be Wrong.


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"We are the cause of all the values that you covet, we who perform the process of thinking, which is the process of defining identity and discovering causal connections."
 
"We  are the cause of all the values that you covet. Note, 'cause' is italicized. "We who perform the process of thinking" combines this 'cause' with the actor and sets up the identification of what thought consists of in this context. Thus, thinking "is the process of defining identity and discovering causal connections." 
 
In a matter of disagreement, a search to discover a causal connection should lead to a lack of precision with some ill-defined identity. Is this an accurate assessment?
Edited by dream_weaver
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Greg,

This doesn’t go to the interpretation of Rand aspect, but at first glance it seems right that discovering causal connections, whether by the developing young child or by the scientific researcher, makes more specific the causal character (agent and patient) of a thing and thereby makes definition of a thing—answering to “what is it?”—fuller in capturing the identity of a thing. An example might be precising the notion of “strength of column materials” by defining the various kinds of stresses to which a material thing such as a column can be subjected and therewith defining those various kinds of resistance capabilities of different materials. Observational discovery of failure modes (just what they look like) of columns may have contributed historically in getting to formulating those various kinds of stresses and resistance strengths correlative to those stresses.

Early naturalists identified sponges as plants, but then . . . 

Perhaps good examples would be in: Duane Emerson Roller’s The Development of the Concept of Electric Charge (1954) / Max Jammer’s Concepts of Mass in Classical and Modern Physics (1961) / Theodore Arabatzis’ Representing Electrons (2006) / Hasok Chang’s Inventing Temperature - Measurement and Scientific Progress (2007)

But I’m a little surprised how poorly I’m doing at coming up with easy examples that fit the mold you suggested of precising definition (better capturing identity of something) through discovering causal relations that are part of a thing’s identity. And although examples for the more highly educated might be helpful to testing out this way of getting more precise (less ill-defined) concepts and communicating the pattern to our more educated friends (or using it on them or on oneself to better the defined identities), easier examples would be helpful all round.

Looking to the notions Don Watkins took up, it would be interesting to see any worked-out cases or dialogues by pointing to causal connections. This reminds me of Rand's reduction of the concept justice in ITOE.

I notice, by the way, cases contrasting with the scientific and engineering ones above, in which causal discoveries do not seem to contribute to improving definition. I mean people could identify and teach and learn what a rainbow is before Descartes discovered how sunlight and water droplets end up forming a rainbow. Then again we can have the Moon Illusion pointed out to us and even have pointed out to us that if we take a photo of that marvelously big moon near the horizon its size in the photo shrinks to nothing to write home about, i.e., the same size it has in our viewing of it at zenith. Discovery of what in our brain results in us having the Moon Illusion will increase our store of what it is that is the Moon Illusion, but it still seems that we know what the Moon Illusion is, and very stably, even without having yet found the underlying neurological reason for it. (Leonard Peikoff has an example like these also, probably in OPAR.)

However frequent the relation you mentioned between defined identity and causal discovery, I should say the latter is not the only route by which defined identities are improved. The methods of discovery by which mathematicians added to the defined identity of complex numbers beyond their definition when they were originally introduced would not be discovery of causal relations. 

Edited by Boydstun
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2 hours ago, Boydstun said:

This doesn’t go to the interpretation of Rand aspect, but at first glance it seems right that discovering causal connections, whether by the developing young child or by the scientific researcher, makes more specific the causal character (agent and patient) of a thing and thereby makes definition of a thing—answering to “what is it?”—fuller in capturing the identity of a thing.

I like this. It articulates the "burrowing down" aspect in conjunction with the recursive relationship that identity and causality share.

 

2 hours ago, Boydstun said:

An example might be precising the notion of “strength of column materials” by defining the various kinds of stresses to which a material thing such as a column can be subjected and therewith defining those various kinds of resistance capabilities of different materials. Observational discovery of failure modes (just what they look like) of columns may have contributed historically in getting to formulating those various kinds of stresses and resistance strengths correlative to those stresses.

This might be related to a machinist handbook where various formulas are offered to evaluate different aspects of consideration regarding material selection in conjunction with various shapes in addition to various failure modes.

A rectangular beam, a cylindrical beam - constant cross section, tapered cross section - steel, wood - torsional load, compression load.

2 hours ago, Boydstun said:

Early naturalists identified sponges as plants, but then . . . 

An nice example of subsequent data augmenting and ultimately superseding a previous conclusion.

 

2 hours ago, Boydstun said:

Perhaps good examples would be in: Duane Emerson Roller’s The Development of the Concept of Electric Charge (1954) / Max Jammer’s Concepts of Mass in Classical and Modern Physics (1961) / Theodore Arabatzis’ Representing Electrons (2006) / Hasok Chang’s Inventing Temperature - Measurement and Scientific Progress (2007)

Given my age, pay grade, and familiarity - I'm going to have to pass on this one at this time.

 

2 hours ago, Boydstun said:

But I’m a little surprised how poorly I’m doing at coming up with easy examples that fit the mold you suggested of precising definition (better capturing identity of something) through discovering causal relations that are part of a thing’s identity. And although examples for the more highly educated might be helpful to testing out this way of getting more precise (less ill-defined) concepts and communicating the pattern to our more educated friends (or using it on them or on oneself to better the defined identities), easier examples would be helpful all round.

This is a sub-forum to test an aspect of the forum software. Instead of being dialog intensive, an O.P. can set forth a question to which subsequent answers can be ranked.

The question I asked was based on a snippet from Atlas Shrugged that had recently elevated in my mind.  A search for "discovering causal connections" did not expose the earlier posting I had done on OO that might have tied into this post.

2 hours ago, Boydstun said:

Looking to the notions Don Watkins took up, it would be interesting to see any worked-out cases or dialogues by pointing to causal connections. This reminds me of Rand's reduction of the concept justice in ITOE.

This example would be exemplary of an answer that should rise to the top where it submitted to the most objective of evaluators.

 

2 hours ago, Boydstun said:

I notice, by the way, cases contrasting with the scientific and engineering ones above, in which causal discoveries do not seem to contribute to improving definition. I mean people could identify and teach and learn what a rainbow is before Descartes discovered how sunlight and water droplets end up forming a rainbow. Then again we can have the Moon Illusion pointed out to us and even have pointed out to us that if we take a photo of that marvelously big moon near the horizon its size in the photo shrinks to nothing to write home about, i.e., the same size it has in our viewing of it at zenith. Discovery of what in our brain results in us having the Moon Illusion will increase our store of what it is that is the Moon Illusion, but it still seems that we know what the Moon Illusion is, and very stably, even without having yet found the underlying neurological reason for it. (Leonard Peikoff has an example like these also, probably in OPAR.)

I had discounted Rene Descartes, and was not aware of this contribution of his to rainbows, attributing it to Issac Newton instead. I consider Newton's contribution to the field quite strong, and am unaware if he had used Descartes' consideration(s) as a basis for his considerations, though it would not be entirely surprising at this point.

2 hours ago, Boydstun said:

However frequent the relation you mentioned between defined identity and causal discovery, I should say the latter is not the only route by which defined identities are improved. The methods of discovery by which mathematicians added to the defined identity of complex numbers beyond their definition when they were originally introduced would not be discovery of causal relations. 

Mathematics is but another man-made contribution of knowledge to me. Between ARI contributors of Corvini and Knapp, it is clear that the metaphysical roots of the subject are not without some controversy. My own investigations into Fermat's, and to a lessor degree, Collatz's conjectures have tainted what I thought to be one of the nobler of the sciences.

Thank-you, Stephen.

Edited by dream_weaver
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