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The Nature Of Mistaken Ideas?

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I'm a bit puzzled. I'm not sure if it's something about the way Objectivist express themselves, or if it's something related to the English language.

Let's take Marx/communism.

I'd say he applied reason (induction&deduction) consistently on the WRONG premises. (using emotions or traditions as valid epistemological tools)

Many ideologies are appealing to reasoning people/youth exactly because they embrace "reason as tool", but apply it to wrong ideas.

Even before meeting Objectivism, I was a passionate defender of reason. Unfortunatelly, I was applying it to wrong principles (e.g. there is class strugle, therefore I must hate capitalism... the existence of "class strugle" being the error)

Now, on the other hand, Objectivists mean by "reason" not only the "tools" (induction and deduction), but also their use on PROPER premises, such as the Axioms of Existence.

The question is even more complex, since premises are (in)validated by the existence of contraditions. So, since communism involves contraditions, is the failure of communists to reform their premisses irational? I would argue that it is. (but this is more like meta-reason, meta-principles)

On the other hand, we have people who are against "reason as tools" too. Mainly mystics.

So, I think that there are 3 level of i/rationality:

1) irationality: mysticism, whim-worshipping, etc - people actively against induction/deduction

2) reason with wrong premisses: communists, existentialists (some?) and other academia (there is SOME reason in academia, but horrible premises/principles)

3) reason with proper principles: Objectivism

Now, (2) is possible only if premisses are outside the scope of reason itself. (the axioms of existence are axioms after all)

Seeing my own questions on the matter, I usually tend to call communists and existentialists simply "wrong", instead of going for "irrational". I can name their errors, and usually, these errors are wrong principles, not wrong methods/tools.

As dr. Peikoff notes in his introductory course (the realplayer streams on ARI), failure doesn't make people re-evaluate their principles, but rather makes them want to try harder, so I'm not sure that communists mean to escape reality as such. There is a big degree of evasion, but is that irrationality?

What are your oppinions on the links between reason's tools, premises, principles and reality (the ultimate judge)?

DISCLAIMER: I don't mean in any way to simpathise with, or condone, communism, or Sartre-wannabes (although I once was one). I am 100% sure that they are wrong. I only want o explore HOW and WHY they are wrong, and is reason includes correct premises.

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"Embracing reason as a tool" entails checking one's premises as well as everything that is derived from them. Also, it is a contradiction to say that someone used reason properly off of incorrect principles. Knowledge is hierarchial. Any error in one's knowledge thereby affects everything subsequent to it. Therefore, if someone's premises are incorrect, their knowledge from there, as well as their reasoning process, can be said to be incorrect. It is ridiculous to say that a communist applied "reason as a tool" to improper premises. Using reason correctly entails conceptually identifying one's premises and validating them accordingly, rather then holding some unknown, mystic premises and applying arbitrary logic to them.

However, there is a big difference between being incorrect and being irrational. Being irrational does not simply mean being incorrect, but rather it means the choosing to evade reality. One can choose to evade reality to many different degrees, but all are subsumed under the abstract concept of irrationality (irrationality may exist in any quantity but must exist in some quantity). On the other hand, if one chooses to attempt to correctly identify reality, one would be called rational. While being rational however, one can be incorrect. Rationality entails always choosing to identify reality based on the relevant evidence, and changing one's conclusions based on new evidence, NOT being omniscient.

Again, someone is irrational if they willfully evade reality. Someone is rational if they are dedicated to the proper identification of reality. Having the correct identification of reality vs. having the incorrect identification of reality does not alone classify a person as rational or irrational.

In determining moral judgment of say, a communist, one must determine to what extent they are willfully evading reality and to what extent they are attempting to properly identify reality (which I might add is no easy task). One does not pronounce moral judgment on another person based on being wrong or right alone. In the case of a communist, I would say that it would take a whole hell of a lot of evasion to think that communism is a good theory (such as the evasion of the millions of deaths caused by communism).

The question is even more complex, since premises are (in)validated by the existence of contraditions. So, since communism involves contraditions, is the failure of communists to reform their premisses irational? I would argue that it is. (but this is more like meta-reason, meta-principles)

The failure of communists to reform their premises is irrational if it is based on a willful evasion of reality. If however, it is based on an error of knowledge, it is not irrational.

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As I've imagined, it's a language barrier:

When I say "reason", in a Romanian context, I mean "logic". So, for Romanian thinkers, "reason=logic". (you can see how corrupted a people can get, at a linguistic level). When you say reason you mean something totally different, as described above.

In this context, I can see how communists use logic on floating abominable principles, and then espect to be called rational.

I'm a bit confused though, because I'm not very clear on how principles are formed. And especially how they are validated, since the most basic principles are axiomatic.

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You have no choice about the necessity to integrate your observations, your experiences, your knowledge into abstract ideas, i.e., into principles.  Your only choice is whether these principles are true or false, whether they represent your conscious, rational convictions--or a grabbag of notions snatched at random, whose sources, validity, context and consequences you do not know, notions whihc, more often than not, you would drop like a hot potato if you knew...

Principles are formed by subsuming a number of particularls (concretes) into an integrated sum. Principles can either be false (irrational or not based on the proper line of reasoning) or they can be true (rational). One can either choose to conceptually identify all of one's principles, or one can choose to act like a sponge, taking everything in and having one's principles (or lack thereof) be a collection of contradictions.

Have you read Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand by Leonard Peikoff? I may have asked you this before, I can't remember. I believe that reading this book, along with Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology by Ayn Rand would help to answer a lot of your questions.

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No. Unfortunatelly, OPAR is our of reach for me. I can only nuy books thru a friend in the US, whose pacience and good will I can't abuse.

OPAR will surely be the next thing I'll purchase, as soon as I feel comfortable asking again.


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Well until then, check out http://www.peikoff.com/opar/home.htm if you haven't already. That site gives at least a sampling of OPAR.

Also, I recommend checking out this site: http://importanceofphilosophy.com/

I can't say for sure if it gets everything about Objectivism right, but it is a pretty good site nonetheless.

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I have OPAR and I've been taking notes on it but its starting to get complex. I've also been taking notes on A Five-Hour Seminar in RealAudio. I'm also going to start following this guide.

The five our seminar has helped me a lot in understanding rational selfishness, and morality and I hope the guide will make the learning more efficient.

I'm basically going through all of the introductions until I get the basic idea. Then I plan to get all the details from OPAR and others.

Also http://rationalegoist.rationalmind.net/ has helped me understand current news better.

Thanks RationalEgoistSG

This is the best plan I can think of.

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Sure no problem John. My name is Steve, you can refer to me as that. How much of Objectivism have you read so far? OPAR might be a little advanced if it is early in your Objectivist readings, or in general readings of philosophy as well. I had to read the first few chapters several times before I even began to understand them well, hehe. And thanks for the plug, I'm glad that you like my blog.

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Well so far I've read parts of Capitalism: The Unknow Ideal and OPAR. I've read most of the articles at the Ayn Rand Institute. I've taken notes on Peikoff's online Intro to Objectivism (except the Q&A/Part 2). I'm taking notes on the Five Hour Seminar. I'm reading Atlas Shrugged for the third time (I love that book). The Fountain Head, We The Living, Anthem. Thats about it. I first learned about Objectivism after reading Anthem in high school and I want to learn more. I looked up the price for the books I need in that guide at the Ayn Rand Bookstore and I'm thinking about buying the first of them.

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