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mike o
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Mike, I'm with Objectivist philosophy on this. I wrote within the fundamental paper of my own metaphysics published last summer:

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By fact I mean that which is, that which is the case in Existence. (I’ll capitalize existence when meaning not only existence per se, but existence as a whole.) Truth is grasp of fact.5 Fact precedes truth, necessity precedes certainty. That is so genetically and logically (cf. Rand 1973, 27; Peikoff 1967, 108–9).

5 “Falsity and truth are not in things . . . but in thought” (Metaphysics 1027b25–26, in Aristotle [ca. 349–322 B .C.E.] 1984, 1623). See also Categories 14b19–23, in Aristotle [ca. 349–322 B.C.E.] 1984, 22.

Rand, Ayn. 1973. The metaphysical versus the man-made. In Rand 1982, 23–34.

——. 1982. Philosophy: Who Needs It. New York: Signet.

Peikoff, Leonard. 1967. The analytic-synthetic dichotomy. In ITOE edition 1990, 88–121.

 

There is further discussion of "fact' between Rand, Peikoff, Gotthelf, and Walsh on pages 241–45 of ITOE 1990 (seminar transcription).

I should say that because "existence" is not definable in terms of anything more fundamental, and "fact" is only the "that which" of existence, and the "that which" of existence obtains independently of the existence of any beings trying to get the facts right, i.e. any beings using facts, "fact" has meaning, it can be situated in our understanding, but not defined.

Edited by Boydstun
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Thank you Stephen,

So a fact is out there in existence. Truth is our grasp of the fact. Located in different arenas but otherwise essentially equal - referring to the same thing. Therefore based on the law of identity, a true statement and the opposite of a true statement cannot both be true at the same time. Does that make sense? Bullet proof?

Also, separately and distinctive, i believe i saw a John Dewey quote in a post of yours that stated "a fact is an idea that is non-contradictory". Any comment on that statement relative to the concept fact? Im thinking you might be good with it if fact was changed to truth?

Edited by mike o
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Thanks, Mike. I think your first paragraph is a correct representation of the Objectivist view, and it is my own. That is, I think it is all true, at least under our way of using fact and truth. This usage is not idiosyncratic, although some philosophers use those terms otherwise, and I have to try to reach for their usage to be sure I understand what they are meaning, not just plug in my own usage and then miss their vista.

A couple of things more concerning that picture in your first paragraph, natural to mention here, though widely recognized:

1. To a very wide extent, facts about a thing outrun the facts we’ve gotten hold of in our truths about that thing. So it was truth when science would say decades ago (as well as today) that graphite and diamond are stable molecular forms of pure carbon, even though we did not know back then that there were additional stable molecular forms of pure carbon. Likewise, we could know truths about the number seventeen—say that it is a prime number—without yet knowing the facts that seventeen is the limit-value of this or that convergent infinite sequence.

2. Quality of an idea held for true is raised by cross-checking with other ideas held as true. In Rand’s view, that comes to: “Truth is the product of the recognition (i.e., identification) of the facts of reality. Man identifies and integrates the facts of reality by means of concepts. He retains concepts in his mind by means of definitions. He organizes concepts into propositions—and the truth or falsehood of his propositions rests, not only on their relation to the facts he asserts, but also on the truth or falsehood of the definitions of the concepts he uses to assert them, which rests on the truth or falsehood of his designations of essential characteristics." (ITOE 48)

Integration is essential for truth in Rand’s theory. Fact is interconnected and multilayered in Rand's picture. Fact caught in mind will be truth, and truths will not be isolated in their facts nor in their relations to other truths.

In Rand’s metaphysics, every existent stands in relationships to the rest of the universe. Every existent affects and is affected (ITOE 39).

In your second paragraph, Mike, the passage is from my “Dewey on Perception and Conception” which I’m continuing to extend. That Dewey idea you are recalling is from the following paragraph, and I hope to address your questions on it very shortly.

On 7/10/2021 at 12:16 PM, Boydstun said:

John Dewey on Perception and Conception

. . .

Logical processes enter into the structure of perceptions. The discipline of logic should not be confined to norms for comparisons of perceptions only with perceptions and conceptions only with conceptions. "There is but one world of knowledge, whether in the form of perceptions or of ideas, and . . . this world is logical all the way through" (1890, 83). But if perceptions and conceptions are of the same fabric of knowledge, how can we verify conceptions or ideas by perceptions or facts? Dewey replies: There are contradictions among our ideas; not all can be projected as facts. Some ideas for the while will be held onto only as possible facts. "It is this tentative holding of an idea which constitutes the logical distinction of idea and fact. The fact is the idea which nothing contradicts. . . . The idea is at first the fact about which difficulties are felt" (ibid., 86; also, 1917, 837–39; 1929b, 178–79; 1933, 851–55). Ideas are the more tentative facts, over against the less tentative facts. The former are tested against the latter, moreover "if the theory gets its verification through the facts, the facts get a transformed and enlarged meaning through the theory" (1890, 87). Verification is a mutual adjustment, an organic interaction, of idea and fact (ibid. & 1917, 937–41).

. . .

 

Edited by Boydstun
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  • 2 weeks later...

Sorry, Mike, to be so long in getting back to responding to your question about Dewey. It turned out that Dewey’s conception(s) of truth, idea, and fact was complicated, unusual, and difficult. It was not a case of him using the term truth where you or I use fact, and it was not a case of him being inconstant in his usage of those terms, at least within a single stage of his intellectual journey.

In that paragraph from my old 1999 paper on his notions of perception and conception, my quotations from him are from an 1890 published paper “The Logic of Verification”. In my next post in this thread, I want to convey his conception of ideas (and truth) and facts put forth in that paper. I want to address the arguments he makes against our view of the relation of truth to fact in that paper.

I said that paper of his was published; that was in a journal. However, it was never reprinted until 1969 when it was included in Early Works, volume 3. In the 1999 paper of mine, I left citations to later works in which he reformulates his complex conception in this area. These later ones are the ones likely to have been known by Peikoff and Rand in any engagement with Dewey’s position(s) in this area up through the 1960’s, when the fundamentals of Objectivism were set out (viz. Rand’s 1957 plus her ITOE and other writings in The Objectivist Newsletter and The Objectivist). I’ll take up those formulations from Dewey as he developed the mature philosophy for which he is mainly known over in the thread I have on OPAR, where I zoomed in on relations of the conceptions truth, logic, and proof in Dewey’s philosophy and in Objectivism as set forth in Peikoff’s book. (And I’ll repeat there my next post here.) Your second question and my study these days concerning it has gotten me in good position to wrap up that thread.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you for your reply. In your prior post you stated "Integration is essential for truth in Rand’s theory. Fact is interconnected and multilayered in Rand's picture."

From my personal experience, the essence of that "interconnected", there is always a subject item and a comparative item(s). The comparative items are normally subconscious but affect the fact or perception. As Binswanger has said "consciousness is a difference detector".

A ) change the subject item and you change the truth or perception

B ) change the comparative item and you change the truth or perception.

Yet people usually only take the end result as the fact ignoring the elements in the equation i.e. the context. 

Example: Stephen invites a friend over and around the kitchen table a discussion regarding the front faucet outside the picture window comes up. Stephen makes the statement "righty tighty lefty loosy" regarding turning off or on the faucet, that's a fact he says! His wife says oh no! It's lefty tighty, righty loosy! At this point, the friend says " Well one of you is wrong! (After all a fact can't be contradictory).

They head out to see who is right, both Stephen and his wife convinced the other is wrong. While the friend knows one of them is wrong. As Stephen gets outside and turns the knob open his wife watches from her normal viewpoint inside the picture window with the friend. Sure enough the friend agrees the wife was correct. Steven agitated with their conclusion pulls them outside to show them his perspective (comparative item). The friend now sees they were both correct in their statements based on using different comparative items.

By now they have made so much noise outside, the neighbor has come by and they explain to the neighbor what they have discovered/been discussing, and describing the lefty loosy righty tighty concept. Then the neighbor tells all three of them, oh no it is lefty tighty righty loosy and Stephen, his wife and their friend all think - are you kidding me - this guy is an idiot! A discussion argument goes on for an extended period, frustrations mounting on both sides because everyone is focused on the end result and not the elements of the equation. Both sides are correct. Just using different subject items. Stephen, his wife and friend are referring to the top of the knob while the neighbor is focusing on the bottom of the knob. 

Facts, truths (concepts), perceptions - always a subject item and a comparative item(s). IMPORTANT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by mike o
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Interesting aspects, Mike.

In this Stephen's case, it would be my husband rather than my wife, as indicated in the photo below. But that affects not your example and implications.

There are some various kinds of context I always keep sorted out in my own mind. As you know, the word context comes originally from talk about text and the more extensive body of text in which it occurs. So what someone wrote or said can be altered in meaning by taking some text out of its context. So if I say so-and-so said "drink Stoli!" when really the full statement was "Boycott Russia! Much of Stoli is from Russia, so do not drink Stoli!" I'm misrepresenting what was said. The proscription of pulling things out of context to slant meaning into something not really said is widely recognized beyond Objectivist counsel on good thinking and truth preservation.

In communicating with Objectivists, I keep sorted out: a context of conversation, a context of human knowledge at a time, a context of an individual's knowledge at a time, and a physical context (including the physical and physiological situations of a perception). The context sense of your rotational tightening is of that physical sort. It is to the credit of Objectivism over early modern philosophy that it takes there to be mind-independent relationships in the world. 

 

 

S-W ny 96 copy 2.jpg

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From my 2021 paper "Existence, We" and consonant with Rand's views:

Scan.jpeg

That is an elemental organic factor in truth and its relation to fact. It turns out that in my Dewey 1890 paragraph a far more consuming organicism is framing theory of truth and fact. There were afoot in America and Britain at that time various blends of late Hegelianism with Darwin in epistemology and metaphysics. These were in opposition to the earlier use of Darwin in epistemology by Spencer. They stem from heavy organicism in Hegel. In dissecting this sort of frame of Dewey in 1890 in this thread, I'll set out also the organicism of Hegel, the organicism in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, and Dewey's early-on grad school paper (1884) on Kant, which views Kant through a distorting Hegelian lens (aberrations later corrected [by 1894] in Dewey's understanding as he largely shed his Hegelian skin). 

Again, below, for easy reference, my paragraph on Dewey 1890 concerning fact and truth: 

Edited by Boydstun
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On 7/10/2021 at 12:16 PM, Boydstun said:

. . .

Logical processes enter into the structure of perceptions. The discipline of logic should not be confined to norms for comparisons of perceptions only with perceptions and conceptions only with conceptions. "There is but one world of knowledge, whether in the form of perceptions or of ideas, and . . . this world is logical all the way through" (1890, 83). But if perceptions and conceptions are of the same fabric of knowledge, how can we verify conceptions or ideas by perceptions or facts? Dewey replies: There are contradictions among our ideas; not all can be projected as facts. Some ideas for the while will be held onto only as possible facts. "It is this tentative holding of an idea which constitutes the logical distinction of idea and fact. The fact is the idea which nothing contradicts. . . . The idea is at first the fact about which difficulties are felt" (ibid., 86; also, 1917, 837–39; 1929b, 178–79; 1933, 851–55). Ideas are the more tentative facts, over against the less tentative facts. The former are tested against the latter, moreover "if the theory gets its verification through the facts, the facts get a transformed and enlarged meaning through the theory" (1890, 87). Verification is a mutual adjustment, an organic interaction, of idea and fact (ibid. & 1917, 937–41).

. . .

 

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I would say that scientists (e.g, physicists, biologists, chemists) have one definition of fact, being whatever can be established within a certain degree of certainty by application of the scientific method (which involves statistical analysis and other mathematical analysis). 

The U.S. legal system has a different definition of fact that can be looked up in legal dictionaries.

The various systems of philosophy have their own definitions of fact. For example, I imagine that experts in Aristotelian philosophy can describe how Aristotle defined facts and how he arrived at facts. 

 

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I would say that what a "fact" is depends on what use the "fact" will be put to.

For example, when there is a criminal trial, if the defendant is found guilty by the jury, the whole world treats it as a fact that the defendant is guilty of the crime, and on that basis he/she is sent to prison, and after he/she gets out of prison, we all treat him/her as a felon and ex-convict. But, in reality, we all know that some people found guilty in trials are actually 100% innocent. But we can't worry about that, as a practical matter. So, we all act as if the legal system determines "facts." 

When Einstein first announced his formula E=MC2, some other scientists were doubtful of it. But eventually scientific experiments were conducted that validated it. However, future scientists and future experiments could modify Einstein's formula, or even demonstrate that it contains serious errors or limitations. 

Aristotle used his philosophical method of logic and observation to arrive at the "fact" that the human fetus went through an early stage of being a vegetable, like a radish. Aristotle used his philosophical method of logic and observation to arrive at the "fact" that the sun and the stars orbit the earth, and that the earth is the center of the universe, and that the universe is eternal and could never be created or destroyed. Aristotle used his philosophical method of logic and observation to arrive at the "facts" of his system of virtue ethics. Within the internal logic of Aristotle's philosophical system, there were all established "facts" and were accepted and taught as such for many centuries.  Galileo was nearly murdered by the State for disagreeing with some of Aristotle's facts. And within the logic of Aristotle's philosophical system, I would say that these facts were "facts." They were philosophical facts. 

In the Soviet Union, the various aspects of the philosophy of Dialectical Materialism were taught in the universities as "facts." And within the logic of that political system, I would say that they were "facts." They were political facts. 

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LB, I usually do as you indicate in your second paragraph, although not quite. What I really say is "best to our knowledge and to a high degree of confidence, Ruby shot Oswald, so Ruby should pay the penalty." In speaking of "our knowledge" of course I mean people in the proceedings of the court. Although, some people who watched the O.J. Simpson case on TV (I did not) make a judgment of their own in the case, and it is contrary the verdict in the court.

My first life-partner, who died in 1990, became an attorney. I'll attach a snippet from his old Black's Law Dictionary on fact-terminology in the law. One thing I learned from him was the skill and importance of one's statement of the facts in the brief. You can learn to lay out the facts with the best favorability to your client when you then come to the arguments, while not bending the facts and getting in trouble with the court. 

Scan 11.jpeg~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As we've broadened our range in this thread, I'll mention that the character of facts has been a live issue in contemporary analytic philosophy: a review of one book in the area.

Edited by Boydstun
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