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How are concepts of the mind "entities"?

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It is my understanding that all existents must be perceivable by one or more human senses before it is considered part of reality. The following statement taken from the answer given to the question titled Non-Existents seems to contradict my understanding:

Quote: "Existent" as Objectivists use the term has no implication of "physical" or "material." Mental contents are existents. Fictional inventions are existents in this sense, although they don't exist outside the mind. Unquote

How can a concept be perceived by any human sense?

I understand that scientific principles like *gravity* are verifiable through perception of results under test conditions. But, I fail to see how an *idea* can be perceived as real.

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Concepts, emotions, and memories are all existents which are observable through introspection. It's pretty clear that we can do this, since if we can't, how do we form concepts like "happiness", "yesterday" and "logic", which refer to mental referents?

There is an important sense in which a concept can be considered "real," which is that it can, through the hierarchy of knowledge, be reduced to material existents observable through sense perception. For the example of gravity, gravity is a certain kind of force, and forces are relationships between changes of velocities of material existents.

As for concepts which refer to imaginary referents, one cannot imagine anything other than a combination of that which you already know. For example, even though there are no unicorns, the concept of "unicorn" is real since it refers to an imaginary creature which is some combination of parts of animals for which you do have sense perception.

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Concepts, emotions, and memories are all existents which are observable through introspection.  It's pretty clear that we can do this, since if we can't, how do we form concepts like "happiness", "yesterday" and "logic", which refer to mental referents?
OK, introspection makes sense, and would apply to the unhealthy concepts also. This would make irrational beliefs in god, heaven, and sin "real" in one sense while the subjects of those beliefs are non-existent in fact.

As for concepts which refer to imaginary referents, one cannot imagine anything other than a combination of that which you already know.
Take the concept of a supreme being with the referent being "god". Belief in that concept requires imagining that which is unknowable. Doesn't that contradict your conclusion?

(Fixed quotation blocks -sNerd)

Edited by softwareNerd
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OK, introspection makes sense, and would apply to the unhealthy concepts also. This would make irrational beliefs in god,  heaven, and sin "real" in one sense while the subjects of those beliefs are non-existent in fact.

Right. Even invalid concepts and anticoncepts exist, even though they at best tell us nothing about reality and at worst attempt to integrate contradictions and destroy valid concepts.

In fact, I'd say that the fundamental example here is the concept of "contradiction." Contradictions do not exist in reality in the sense that the Law of Identity holds in all contexts: sonething cannot be something and something else at the same time and in the same respect. However, one can make an error and contradict onesself in the process of thinking, and it is that mental state which we call a "contradiction."

Take the concept of a supreme being with the referent being "god". Belief in that concept requires imagining that which is unknowable. Doesn't that contradict your conclusion?

The concept of "god," which I take to be along the lines of the traditional Judeo-Christian god, is an invalid concept, since it has no referents (you can find a proof of this in Objectivist literature if you haven't seen it already). The best that one can come to trying to define "god" here is "An omnipotent, omniscient being." At first glance, this might seem to be an attempt to describe this existent in terms of things you already know about, like limits of knowledge and limits of power. Of course, this isn't satisfactory, since it attempts to postulate the existence of an existent without identity. Nonetheless, even this faulty definition bears the hallmark of trying to describe something in terms of the negation of what one knows (in this case, limits of power and knowledge)

However, one can "believe in the concept" as you put it, or talk intelligently about the concept "god" if one defines it as follows: "An imaginary being which is omnipotent and omniscient." This way, one can refer to people's beliefs in gods without simultaneously admitting that such a being exists by using the concept. In other words, one need not try to imagine something unimaginable in order to name the object of other people's attempts to do the same.

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Take the concept of a supreme being with the referent being "god".

The term (word) "God" does name an (invalid) idea, but the idea is not a concept. A concept is a certain type of idea, the type that is a mental integration of two or more units of a thing. (See Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, p. 13.) So, "God" can't be a concept, because it refers, religionists believe, to only one thing. (See IOE, p. 148.) Thus, "God" is a proper name, as is "Jesus."

Strictly speaking "supreme being" -- as a phrase -- doesn't name a concept either. In Objectivist epistemology, a concept is labeled by a single word such as "red" or "justice." (See IOE, p. 10.) A "supreme being" would be a "qualified instance" of the concept "being." (See IOE, pp. 175-177.)

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OK, introspection makes sense, and would apply to the unhealthy concepts also. This would make irrational beliefs in god,  heaven, and sin "real" in one sense while the subjects of those beliefs are non-existent in fact.

(emphasis added)]

What do you mean by "unhealthy concepts"? Do you mean "God", "sin", "heaven"? Or something else?
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What do you mean by "unhealthy concepts"? Do you mean "God", "sin", "heaven"? Or something else?

Those were the concepts (invalid as they are) that I had in mind. But, I'm sure any concept which does not respect reality is harmful.

I recently encountered a group of atheists who claim to have a "synthesized objective view" of reality. When I asked for an explanation of the "view" and how that it would be applied to gravity, I got the following answers:

"All experiences are subjective. The best we can do is construct a synthesized objectivity. But as hard as we try it is not perfect by any means. However it is the only game in town. Revalation just plain sucks, it is no better than random chance."

"As long as everyone observes what is currently understood as gravity then it is a synthesized objective view of gravity. And if someone sees something different and has an explanation for what is observed about gravity such as the orbit of mercury around the sun then there will be a new synthesized objective view because there are new observations to add to the synthesis. The new synthesized objective view of gravity, general relativity, will hold until new observations are made that cause a change in the synthesis."

When I wrote back noting that they had failed to identify the fundamental nature of gravity I got this answer:

"You see, a synthesized objective view of reality will not ever produce a fundamental nature of gravity because as I have stated many, many times now, it is synthesized. It is synthetic. It is not the real thing. It is like the thing, perhaps very much like the thing but alas it is still synthetic.

We synthesized an objective view by comparing subjective views over people, time, position and explanations. Since it is synthesized it is not an actual objective view. So we do not "see" gravity, we see the subjective effects of gravity and compare our notes with the subjective experiences of gravity with others and try to recreate the experiences of others and from all this we create a synthesized objective view of gravity."

I responded by asking how they could observe or draw conclusions about something they hadn't first identified. At that point they became very defensive and abusive, so I dropped out of the discussion.

Did I ask the wrong question?

I think their subjective view of reality could be harmful or at least misleading by limiting their scope of knowledge.

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