Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Whose logic? Whose rationale? Whose objectivism?

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

When explaining that truth comes objectively from logic and reason, one always invites the retort in the title. "Whose logic? By whose rationale? By whose objective reality? Everyone has a different idea of what is logical and what is rational."

I know it's a very basic question, but do any of you have some good, short response to this? I know Ayn Rand addressed it, but I can't remember which book it was in. Any help?

(I apologize if this is remedial. It just never hurts to touch up your arguments. That and I'm slow sometimes...)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When explaining that truth comes objectively from logic and reason, one always invites the retort in the title. "Whose logic? By whose rationale? By whose objective reality? Everyone has a different idea of what is logical and what is rational."
First off, "rationale" isn't the same as reason, so don't accept an argument that equates the two. The faculty of reason is the ability to obtain knowledge by integrating facts, using logic. There is no such thing as "individual logic" -- "not" means "not", and not "if". There is also no differentiation as to "my reality", "your reality" etc. There is, simply, "reality". That's really all there is to say about it at an abstract theoretical level. OTOH, much more could be said about a particular attempt to gain knowledge, if you had a specific thing you wanted to know.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

do any of you have some good, short response to this?

"If everyone has a different idea of what is logical and what is rational, then your idea is no better than mine. Thus it does me no good to listen to you, as I can't possibly improve my thinking by doing so, so you won't mind if I ignore you completely."

That should get a colorful response. :P

Link to comment
Share on other sites

By whose objective reality?

As others have pointed out, this is a glaring contradiction in terms.

Objective reality means there is ONE reality. It doesn't change according to the subject observing it.

One of the axioms upon which Objectivism is based is: Existence exists. That reality is real. Existence (or reality) existed before you were born and will continue to exist after you die.

If reality was different for each observer, then no knowledge would be possible.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had a similar discussion at work and a collegue pointed to a door that had painted iin an off-yellow colour.

He claimed that reality is all about the opinions of the observer. He asked what colour the door was and I replied, "Yellow". He said, "Well, I say it's more orange. Which of us is right?"

I pointed out to him that it makes no difference what we want to use as a descriptive term - the colour of the door wouldn't change and that it had a verifiable wavelength measurable with the proper equipment.

Opinions don't make reality - Some opinions are correct because they correspond with reality and some are blatantly incorrect because they ignore reality. Logic is the art of non-contradictory identification and isn't subject to whims or opinions. If one opinion (or 'logic') contradicts another then one, or both, is/are wrong.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I pointed out to him that it makes no difference what we want to use as a descriptive term - the colour of the door wouldn't change and that it had a verifiable wavelength measurable with the proper equipment.
Well, maybe. Look a bit to your left. Now suppose somebody says "That's a cat" and I say "No, it's a dog". The physical property of the thing (meaning, the actual dog not the picture) are physically measurable. So does it make no difference what label we use and I could say that this is red and this is blue? What exactly is a "color"?

{edited for color correction -- I think}

Edited by DavidOdden
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It makes no difference what label you use. A color is the visual perception we have of a certain wavelength range of light. Obviously if each person had different lables for the same color, communication would be difficult. Just as we use specific words for specific concepts we use specific words for colors (which are direct percepts).

The label does not change reality, if everyone starts calling dogs "cat" and vice versa the animals don't change. If everyone starts calling this "blue" the color doesn't change.

mrocktor

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A color is the visual perception we have of a certain wavelength range of light.
The question is whether color is the direct physical response in our sensory apparatus without any conceptual discrimination, or whether it has conceptual content -- is "blue" a concept? The question is not whether label switching has an effect on the object, the question is whether it is accurate to say that the color does or does not change depending on what word you use. If "color" refers to certain metaphysically given conditions (molecular properties of the object, lighting conditions, the structure of my eye) and does not include the man-made (the culturally determined and learned distinction between red and orange), I would have to conclude that "red" is not a color, it is broader categories refering to vast numbers of colors. I think it's absurd to say that red isn't a color.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This "Labling" issue, which really seems to be a precursor to the 'whose reality' problem, is one symptom of not understanding the difference between an ostensive definition and a conceptual definition. Some thing that requires an ostensive definition is something at which you have to point and say, "that." This is particularly true in obtaining a sense of color.

I find the issue of color particularly facinating however becuase of the rate at which, when first learning 'color', one progresses past the ostensive level to a conceptual level. For example, when you see red for the first time it must be distingushed from other perceptions of colors and given a name (which in the scope of things is irrelevant). However, after that point and becuase of the fact that our color senses are very fine in resolution one must draw a more conceptualized line between shades of red and shades of another color.

This is a fine line in many cases between perceptual understanding and conceptual understanding of things and it may seem inconsequential, but I think that it is in fact when the nature of this line is misunderstood that people misintegrate further and ultimatley find themselves asking, "Whose reality?" or, in this case after travling down the road further, asking more ominous questions like "Whose logic?"

Edited by Proverb
Link to comment
Share on other sites

But they are the same color.

Maybe if you are color blind. They are objectively not the same color, but I think I get your point.

A given color name, "red" for instance, subsumes a range of different but similar colors. Are you arguing that the extent of that range is convention? If that is it, I may agree with you.

mrocktor

Edited by mrocktor
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Maybe if you are color blind.
Yeah, actually. But let's set that aside.
Are you arguing that the extent of that range is convention?
Yes, but also the number of ranges. For instance distinguishing yellow and orange at all is optional, same with blue and green and so on, and let's not even start on those modern colors like teal, olive taupe and vermillion mist.

Let me go back to what you said earlier, that "A color is the visual perception we have of a certain wavelength range of light". Not all colors are monochromatic, so let's start with monochromatic colors. Green in conventionally taken to be light in the 577 - 492nm range. But we don't have the same visual perception of 540nm and 510nm light, so color can't be equated with visual perception. It can be a concept, subsuming the different percepts of light at 540nm, 541nm, 542nm etc (I'm not actually sure what the JNDs are so what I mean is "whatever those perceptually distinguishable values are"). I just don't see any way to make color be a percept, and still say that green is, in fact a color regardless of the specific perceptually distinguishable wavelength in the range. If green is a concept, then it's 'culturally variable' (in a sense -- more correctly, it's a concept that has a close analog in another culture, that other culture's concept of "green" is not exactly identical. It's more blatant in cases where our "red" and "brown" are simply the same concept).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not quite following this one, are ya'll just trying to say that the fact that an object reflects color of a certain wavelength that we percieve is an attribute of on object, a metaphysical fact but deciding that it should be called green is a man-made concept? That it has a color is a fact, what we call the color is a concept?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think his point is that there is really no reason to choose 540nm as the border between, say, green and yellow, instead of 545. The change in color is so small if you move in steps like that, that it's very difficult to say that one is yellow and the next one over isn't.

One possible solution would be to make the (main) colors overlap to some extent, where the borderline ones can be classified as both a yellow and a green. I mean, if you start making new concepts for those colors, then there will also be colors in between new_color and green and you have the exact same problem..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not quite following this one, are ya'll just trying to say that the fact that an object reflects color of a certain wavelength that we percieve is an attribute of on object, a metaphysical fact but deciding that it should be called green is a man-made concept? That it has a color is a fact, what we call the color is a concept?
The main issue is when is it legitimate to say "according to you". For something like "my logic vs. your logic" or "my reality vs. your reality", these are illegitimate distinctions. This also relates to a different current thread, about the definition of morality, and the fact that there is no serious question about the definition of morality, though for some people there is a real question of the source of morality or the content of an ethical code. And especially, wishes don't determine reality.

The question here is what kind of claims we can correctly make about color. I disagree with the idea that it makes no difference what words you use to describe reality, and the example at hand is color, i.e. rred and blue does not change the physical facts. The question is whether is changes the colors, so we need to know what "colors" are. I don't accept the idea that a color is a perception arising from a particular light wavelength: it is a concept that covers certain perceptions (generally arising because of light at certain wavelengths). If green were simply one percept, you could not perceive the difference between 540nm light and 543nm light. So, the color concept green covers monochromatic light in the 577 - 492nm range as well as some polychromatic light with a dominant wavelength in that range. The concept may be further differentiated into species, for example "teal", "live", "olive", "emerald", "jade", "chartreuse" and so on. We (or, they) can still perceive differences between specific sub-types of "emerald", though there is no conceptual distinction (since nobody has created such a conceptual distinction yet). There is a point at which physically different light can't be perceptually distinguished which defines the lower-limit of hair-splitting with colors. I think this1 versus this2 are perceptually indistinguishable, and I'm not sure if this2 versus this3 are (I don't have the gadgetry to verify that they are physically distinct on your monitor).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

David,

I understand and agree.

One thing I though about: suppose you point at a leaf (green) and another leaf (also green, but a different hue). You ask someone "are these the same color". The answers:

1- Yes, they are both green. - correct, using your definition

2- No, they are different colors. - correct, by my initial definition

In practice this would probably be seen as a trick question, due exactly to the conceputal abiguity of "color". Interesting.

mrock

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In practice this would probably be seen as a trick question, due exactly to the conceputal abiguity of "color".
Beyond probable, I can say. I have an advantage as an experimenter because of my Daltonistic proclivities. I do get different answers when I ask that question of color professionals (such as artists) versus ordinary people. My wife understands that all questions that I ask are trick questions; others can imagine it being a real question only if they know I am color blind. There is the ordinary understanding of "color" which is what I'm most interested in understanding, and usually, it doesn't make any sense to ask "are these the same color", unless you make it clear that there is a good reason for asking the presumably self-evident. I actually think that a cross-cultural study of colors is one of the richest and easiest areas for experimental investigation of the cognitive nature of concepts. Though I need a light-analyzing gadget to do this.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think his point is that there is really no reason to choose 540nm as the border between, say, green and yellow, instead of 545. The change in color is so small if you move in steps like that, that it's very difficult to say that one is yellow and the next one over isn't.

One possible solution would be to make the (main) colors overlap to some extent, where the borderline ones can be classified as both a yellow and a green. I mean, if you start making new concepts for those colors, then there will also be colors in between new_color and green and you have the exact same problem..

This reminds me of that question..."at what point do stones you are stacking become a pile?" I think it has to do with the crow epistomology. Once their are too many stones to individually identify, you integrate them into a 'pile'. The relation to the dividing line between colors would be this: You differentiate them to the extent it is necessary. In a box that has 10 crayons, it is enough to call each one 'blue', 'green' etc. because the particular type it is, does not affect your understanding of the names reference. In a box with 10 slightly different green crayons, it becomes necessary to differentiate them further into 'moss green', 'pea green', etc. When it becomes necessary to differentiate between 540nm and 545nm, say with mixing paint, then the use of words at all becomes too difficult to manage mentally. The numbers give you the necessary relationship as well as the differentiation and degree of differentiation.

Edited by aequalsa
Link to comment
Share on other sites

You differentiate them to the extent it is necessary.

This applies to all SORTS of concepts, too . . . like the difference between "glad", "happy", "pleased", "joyful", "cheery" . . . I could go on. Not many people bother with distinctions as fine as "third cousin twice removed", either, unless they're doing their family history. While you can differentiate, it is not always necessary to do so.

It also applies to GUC (Grand Unifying Concepts). You may not have a concept for all rectangular objects, although, if pressed, you might offer something like "box-shaped", subsuming the GUC under one of its members, with the addendum that you're using it in a more general fashion.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...