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Examine these search results at Stanford for conventional usages of the term 'Objectivism' http://plato.stanford.edu/search/searcher....m%20objectivist

I took a look at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and I am rather disgusted by it. There is no serious study being done on the most important philosopher to the history of philosophy since Thomas Aquinas, and perhaps even since Aristotle. And there is absolutely no mention whatsoever of Dr. Leonard Peikoff, who should at least get an honorable mention for The Ominous Parallels and Objectivism: The philosophy of Ayn Rand. Why anybody who claims to take philosophy seriously would ever turn to a supposed encyclopedia of philosophy that only mentions Ayn Rand in a few articles on feminism is beyond me.

So, the question is not: Was the term "objectivism" being used before Ayn Rand? The question is: Why is academia ignoring her?

And the answer doesn't have anything whatsoever to do with prior usages of "objectivism;" as if that would be any reason to ignore Ayn Rand. If they are honestly confused about what Objectivism is, all they have to do is read what she wrote and what Dr. Peikoff wrote and has lectured on. The sources are readily available to anyone who has a few dollars to spend on few books.

They are ignorant by choice.

And I had a professor when I was getting my undergraduate degree in philosophy, who tried to say that Karl Marx was an objectivist, because he knew I was promoting Objectivism every chance I could while I was in college. He was deliberately trying to confuse the issue with equivocation. Under the definition of objectivism meaning having a focus on existence in terms of consciousness not being important, Karl Marx is an objectivist. But someone trying to say there is no real difference between Karl Marx and Ayn Rand is lying through his teeth -- and he knows it.

In other words, this equivocation is a ploy to try to hide evasion on a massive scale.

Stanford, which runs the Encyclopedia of Philosophy via supposed experts in the field of philosophy, can then say, with this equivocation, that, "Sure, we have a lot of entries on objectivism and objectivists -- just go look at our free online entries, which is all you will ever need to know about philosophy."

No, I don't think there can be an honest rebellion against reason and Objectivism.

You want to know why the world is in such bad shape? It is because of such sleazy equivocations and smear campaigns that have been leveled at Ayn Rand and Objectivism. And academia is aiding and abetting in the downfall of Western Civilization, simply by doing what Stanford is doing.

Edited by Thomas M. Miovas Jr.
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Under the definition of objectivism meaning having a focus on existence in terms of consciousness not being important, Karl Marx is an objectivist.

I think I ought to explain this further so as not to confuse anyone.

In the history of philosophy, there has been the object / subject distinction, usually meaning that the object is what it is while our awareness of it is put in terms of appearances (or subject). This goes back since before the 1800's, I think; though I don't know when that distinction was made explicit in those specific terms. And during a brief period, the term "objectivism" meant having a primary focus on what something actually is as opposed to what it appears to be.

In some translations of Karl Marx, he uses a term that is translated as "objectivism" that I think should more properly be translated as "materialism" because he denies the objective nature of human consciousness. That is, he is one of those philosophers who thinks that free will and thoughts are mere appearances of brain functioning (construed as a purely deterministic material process).

It is possible, though to my knowledge she never came out and said it, that Ayn Rand wanted to rescue the term "objectivism" the way she wanted to rescue the term "selfish." That is, having a primary focus on what something actually is becomes fundamental -- the objective nature of reality -- but she realized that we get the objective nature of reality via perception and she realized that human consciousness could be objective if it had a primary focus on actual existence -- i.e. so long as the content of consciousness was governed by objective reality.

So, in a sense, Ayn Rand expanded the earlier usage of the term "objectivism" (object versus subject) to include consciousness (that consciousness, including thoughts and free will) could be objectified in the sense of being studied for what it actually is, a grasp of existence -- as opposed to what some philosophers claimed that it appeared to be, a distortion of existence.

So, while Karl Marx and others like him outright denied the existence of consciousness; Ayn Rand came out and explained how consciousness is an undeniable axiom, something that is ever present in our mental grasp of anything.

I don't know if Karl Marx coined the term "objectivism" or not, though I don't think he did; but he did coin the term "capitalism" (having a primary focus on exchange of capital in economic systems). And we use that term proudly to describe the objective economic system (guns versus money when it comes to making exchanges of goods and services).

And that is one reason why we need to be careful to capitalize Objectivism when referring to Ayn Rand's philosophy, to distinguish it from the earlier versions of the usage of that term; and to designate it as a complete philosophy.

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I think the problem here is one of equivocation.

Jeff's claim is that Objectivists use the term in a non-conventional sense. This is what is false. If it was true, it would indeed be strange that David is baffled at people who fail to grasp it.

In conventional usage of any word, the word refers to something specifically - and nothing more. A thermometer refers to something and we can't just randomly add new things to its meaning. Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand, not the philosophy of Kant, and thus not the philosophy of Peikoff. Since you say you understand this, there is no need to explain it further. But if you do understand this, then what is so unconventional about it?

The problem is that you (Jeff) are equivocating on the non-conventional charge. Sometimes you are using it to refer to the usage of the word "Objectivism" itself, charging that we have not used it the way it is conventionally or generally understood, and thus we need to patiently explain it to someone who comes to the philosophy with the expectation that it might be referring to another (OED) usage. But you are also saying that the way we have defined it is unconventional (i.e. "closing" it), different from the (open) way other philosophies have been defined (which is the only reason you would have talked about "Humean", etc etc). This equivocation is what is causing the confusion. What I would say is that any philosophy that is NOT closed is the one that is unconventional, because conventionally, every noun in English (or any other language) is "closed" (eg thermometer).

Any person who comes to this site knows we are not talking about some 16th century usage of the word unless he is insane. Thus, David would rightly be baffled even in that case. So, I would expect any person who is interested enough to ask questions (or debate against) Objectivism would know we are talking about Ayn Rand's philosophy. BUT they also already know that conventionally, words refer to something in particular. David should thus be baffled if, after they are told (or know) that Objectivism refers to (the content of) the philosophy of Ayn Rand, and that Ayn Rand is dead, they still struggle to understand that nothing can be added to "the content of the philosophy of Ayn Rand". It is even more baffling that it is not just the "newbies" who ask about this and struggle to understand it; it is mostly people who have read quite widely on the issue and have probably even seen other forums (there are many) or articles on this very issue. Some of them have even been close friends of Ayn Rand (or at least close friends of her close friends)!

In short, what baffles me, Jeff, is why you are baffled that David is baffled at this. Isn't it quite baffling? :lol:

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In short, what baffles me, Jeff, is why you are baffled that David is baffled at this. Isn't it quite baffling? :lol:

Now I'm more baffled than a stock Harley muffler. (j/k)

I contend, in extension to what I said before, that it's immaterial whether or not the usage of the term (or some other terms for that matter) confuses people. As Jeff recognized, people are confused over a variety of terms across a variety of topics, some far more common that those used in philosophical bantering. There's nothing unique about people being confused over words such that Objectivists or Objectivism need be any more worried during conversation or take any disproportionate blame for that problem than they would while discussing any number of other topics.

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I think modern philosophers -- especially modern academic philosophers -- are confused and stay confused because they never connect their mind to reality; that is, they are not objective. Like the thread on "Why logic works" they tend to use philosophic terms in a completely syntactical manner, never reaching certainty on anything because the only way to do this is to go to the facts and objectively identify them, and then define one's terms in terms of existence. However, they have cut off their mind from existence because they deny that perception has anything whatsoever to do with existence; that, to them, the perceptual is purely subjective (of the subject and not of objective reality). Thus, they can never claim to have even awareness of existence as it actually is.

They are lost in a labyrinth of the mind, which is self created (by intent on the part of Kant, but willingly followed by his followers).

Objectivism, Ayn Rand's philosophy, is the way out of the "subjective labyrinth" but it does require rethinking everything once one has a grasp of what she was talking about, and following an objective method when it comes to thinking. Academic philosophers refuse to do this. Thus they don't think that Ayn Rand was important. I mean, it would blow the whole game in their minds -- i.e. the purely syntactical gibberish would no longer be important, and they would be out of a job...well they would be out of that job, but the more honest ones could make a fresh start and stop confusing themselves and their students. However, I have come to the conclusion that they believe that being confused is profound and a sign of being a true philosopher.

My Random House College Dictionary (1973) defines "objectivism" as: 1) a tendency to lay stress on the objective or external elements of cognition. 2) the tendency, as of a writer, to deal with things external to the mind rather than with thoughts or feelings. 3) a doctrine characterized by this tendency.

So, by this conventional usage of the term "objectivism," especially the first definition, I don't see how anyone could be confused between objectivism and Objectivism (the philosophy of Ayn Rand); unless they were die-hard Kantians who have come to accept that there are no "external elements of cognition" because we don't perceive existence, but rather perceive a creation of the mind.

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'Thomas,

Good post, I agree. Today’s intellectuals, media commentaries (or just standard-issued people with intellectual inclinations) are predominately products of the modern education system which has bombed them with the tenets of skepticism, environmentalism, multiculturalism, altruism, pragmatism—the whole she-boom: knowledge is impossible, no one can know anything for certain, there is no independent reality, all ethics are arbitrary, the individual is evil or impotent to deal with the challenges of life, the collective is all, self sacrifice is the moral ideal, sacrifice progress to the ‘environment,’ submit to the dictates of the tribe, etc, etc, etc. The current intellectual climate is hostile to all the central ideas that make up “Western civilization.” This hostility is created and maintained by today’s intellectuals. None of these ideologies purports to be systems of objectivity. Very much the opposite---they are openly hostile or subtle in their attacks upon the concept. The hatred of Objectivism is the hatred of objectivity.

-Victor

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Thomas and Victor, I agree as well. I am always baffled by the fact that most "intellectuals" refuse to buy Objectivism, simply because they see it as too simple. Too often, people who are interested in philosophy want to know the answers to unanswerable questions, and refuse to use common sense. They see Ayn Rand's philosophy as insignificant in the big scheme of things, and therefore won't take it seriously, when most of us, who use reason, are laughing at them.

It is remarkable to see what an honest portrayal of these people Ayn Rand created in Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. What is even more remarkable is that these same people still think the same way.

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*** Mod's note: The quoted post was deleted because it contained another quote from somewhere, not sure where, that was pretty insulting. - sN ***

I believe that Ayn Rand was one of the 20th century's most important philosopher and novelist. However, her essays often fail to meet academic standards. Altough her essay on for an example the Berkley rebellion was great. She often seems to put up endless strawmen, it would have been better if she had qouted her opponents more often and given the reader an objective measure of her work, rather then an auto-dictat.

1. Can you list some of the "academic standards" that you are talking about?

2. Can you give some examples of Ayn Rand putting up "endless strawmen" in her writings?

3. Have you read Philosophy: Who Needs it by Ayn Rand?

Thanks

Edited by softwareNerd
Added note explaining absence of quoted post.
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There are three kinds of critics I have identified which seem impervious to reason:

...

Thanks mrocktor. That was a great post; very helpful.

I want to add that I think that in most cases, people don't finish reading Atlas Shrugged with an understanding of the precise meaning of what Rand's philosophy is, but rather, some representation of it which is build from a combination of her writing and their outlook on the world and emotional world. So in fact when they say that they agree or disagree with what she wrote, they agree or disagree with their own representation of it, without bothering to verify it. For example, you might hear someone say "Rand is wrong about people's nature. People's nature is such that they want to get unearned things, as long as they can justify it, while she thinks that human nature is such that people's self-interest is to be fair".

This is an example of someone who made a false summary of her philosophy, and is judging it instead of the actual philosophy.

Why do they do that? I think it's because it is more comfortable: it feels better, for some people, to live without uncertainties. It is easier to form a quick opinion about something one didn't completely bother to grasp, than to spend years or hours integrating it, and evaluating it honestly. This attitude, I believe, is a result of not realizing the significance of philosophy in one's life, and being unmotivated in this area as a result.

<I will continue it later today>

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*** Mod's note: The quoted post was deleted because it contained another quote from somewhere, not sure where, that was pretty insulting. - sN ***

Thank you sN for keeping standards on this forum!

The claim that Ayn Rand didn't do enough or that she didn't have sufficient self-esteem after having written The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged and Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology and her other writings and lectures can only be said by someone who doesn't have a clue as to what Ayn Rand accomplished. To take on the irrational philosophies of the past two thousand years -- all by herself -- requires such self-esteem and self-confidence that some people will not understand that even two thousand years from now.

If all one can do is spit invectives at Ayn Rand, then one ought to realize that Objectivists will understand that for what it is: complete and utter intellectual impotency and a hatred for reason and reality.

Of course, they can't understand that for the same reason they claim that Ayn Rand didn't do enough or didn't have enough self-esteem.

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To take on the irrational philosophies of the past two thousand years -- all by herself -- requires such self-esteem and self-confidence...

Precisely.

When I read AR's works I realize that she had a firm grasp of what the ideas in the history of philosophy meant in theory and in practice. So I can't understand how anyone can state that AR put up "endless strawmen" in her writings.

Edited by The Fountainhead
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*** Mod's note: The quoted post was deleted because it contained another quote from somewhere, not sure where, that was pretty insulting. - sN ***

1. Can you list some of the "academic standards" that you are talking about?

2. Can you give some examples of Ayn Rand putting up "endless strawmen" in her writings?

3. Have you read Philosophy: Who Needs it by Ayn Rand?

Thanks

It's not surprising that we haven't received an answer to your questions.

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*** Mod's note: The quoted post was deleted because it contained another quote from somewhere, not sure where, that was pretty insulting. - sN ***

1. Can you list some of the "academic standards" that you are talking about?

2. Can you give some examples of Ayn Rand putting up "endless strawmen" in her writings?

3. Have you read Philosophy: Who Needs it by Ayn Rand?

Thanks

1.

Let me quote

A less polemical look at the issues might have constituted such an analysis. However, the method Johnson brings to reading Rand is fundamentally shaped by the prevailing academic tendency to read philosophy narrowly and to equate critique with analysis. Because Rand never wrote philosophy in terms of detailed treatises, scholars reading her essays need to relate her phrases or arguments to her system as a whole -and imagine how that system might have been further articulated. Johnson goes further in this direction than most critics and even recognizes that "a merely negative critique is ... bound to remain unsatisfying if no concrete alternative is in the offing." However, his effort at pointing out an alternative consists principally in averring that "Hegel's Philosophy of Right is a promising model" (161) in view of its comprehensive character. This comment is itself unsatisfying. Hegel would surely stand up poorly to Johnson's style of criticism, to say nothing of Johnson's demand for an ethics that is objective as well as comprehensive.

Let me explain, she might have done better by writing some of her works in a manner more acessable to academics.

Objectivists have long hoped to see Rand's work and philosophy discussed in the mainstream, more or less on their own terms. One of the difficulties in achieving this goal has been that scholars approach Rand without being familiar with her method or thought. This has led, at times, to critiques of Rand that substantially distort her. On the other hand, scholars have been wary or contemptuous of Rand because of her hostility, her lack of an academic demeanor, and her systematic approach to philosophy. The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies promises to extend a bridge over this gulf. The style of the Journal should be acceptable to academia, and if it garners attention it may provide a window on Objectivism for the academy, despite its lack of reputation or disciplinary focus. The contributors to this first issue all seem knowledgeable about Objectivism. No central point of the philosophy is radically misrepresented, although certainly some of their interpretations are open to question. Objectivists will find analyses in these essays that to varying degrees shed new light on the philosophy, while non-Objectivists will encounter fair representations of what Ayn Rand stood for.

2.

Misleading question, she often seems to do it. Especially when referring to other philosophers, like Kant.

I'm not familiar with any of his work, to most readers; Quotations of his work would allow them to make an Objective valueation of her writings. Instead, I was left in the dark. The question remains; was that becouse of my ignorance or becouse of Rand's writing?

3.

No.

I'm not that smart so I propably could do with a litle correcting. I was trying to understand why Rand isn't more appriciated, perhaps my input would have served it's purpose better in a question for rather then in half fledged and ill-thaught out possibility statements.

Edited by BinniLee
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BinniLee,

I shall reply to your post soon.

Can you please tell me where those two quotes that you quoted came from. I don't know who is Johnson and what method he brings to reading Rand. It would be extemely helpful if I can read those quote in the context of the works they were quoted from.

For my second question I asked for examples not a rephrasing of your original statement.

Thanks.

Edited by The Fountainhead
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My knowledge of the subject at hand is limited. Simply don't understand it. I would appriciate if you were to share your insight into the matter.

http://www.objectivistcenter.org/cth--79-A...s_Ayn_Rand.aspx

Please ignore my assertations, those were simply innocent ponderings. I would coldly welcome your arguments.

Edited by BinniLee
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Please ignore my assertations, those were simply innocent ponderings. I would coldly welcome your arguments.

You seem fairly new to Objectivism, so might I suggest that you read any Ayn Rand and come to understand what she means from her own writing before going on to promote those who don't seem to grasp what Objectivism is?

Ayn Rand has not been accepted by academia not because of any supposed lack of academic style, but because she was rational and they don't care to be rational. Besides, how in the world is someone supposed to get involved with arguments in favor of Objectivism with a bunch of academics who don't think man's mind has any connection to reality via perception? Just how is Ayn Rand supposed to prove anything to them without being able to point to anything in reality? It's a fool's errand to seek to have any philosophic debates with them, or to re-cast Objectivism in their terms.

There is no Kantian translation of Objectivism.

Objectivism is a new philosophy and requires a new way of thinking, which simply means that one cannot start with an irrational premise based on philosophic post-modern gibberish and arrive at an understanding of Objectivism. We discussed the concept of garbage in / garbage out earlier in this thread, and attempting to translate Objectivism into post modern gobbledegook is GIGO plain and simple.

Take a first-hand look at reality and reason and Objectivism.

Do you really need commentators to tell you that it is wonderful because it is rational on all levels? Do you need to have it be accepted by academia before you will accept it as being true? Do you need to have it "translated" into modern academic non-thought before you will accept it?

Why?

Use your own mind and come to understand what Ayn Rand wrote.

By the way, I am not responsible for the book advertisements that showed up recently in my posts. Seems if I mention Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics by Immanual Kant that an Amazon.com add will pop up. Evidently, that is a new feature of this website. So, I do not recommend the book ads that show up via my writings. That is, I don't care to promote Marx or Kant by simply writing a title of their book. Read Atlas Shrugged or The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution.

Edited by Thomas M. Miovas Jr.
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Yes, yes you may.

I've read Atlas Shrugged.

Yes, I new to Objectivism, I can agree with with the whole general outline, but this philosophical stuff is all new to me.

(West Virginian accent) Philosophy, who needs it? :P

Edited by BinniLee
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So here we go:

1. For my first question I asked you to list some of the "academic standards" that Ayn Rand's essays fail to meet. You replied by quoting two quotes from an institution whose garbage I do not care to read. For the reasons why see the essay Fact and Value by Leonard Peikoff. So, I will be replying only to the quotes that you posted.

I have also noticed that most of the stuff in your quotes have nothing to do with "academic standards." It is about Johnson taking some approach and another group taking another approach.

Your first quote states that "Rand never wrote philosophy in terms of detailed treatises, scholars reading her essays need to relate her phrases or arguments to her system as a whole -and imagine how that system might have been further articulated."

My response:

In the "Virtue of Selfishness" the first essay is about the "Objectivist Ethics" Ayn Rand starts from the beginning, from the questions: What are Values?" and "Why does man need them?" and then goes on to build Objectivist Ethics. Now if one will grasp the ideas presented in the first essay, one will notice that the ideas presented in the rest of the book can be linked to the first chapter. In answering to the question "How does One Lead a Rational Life in an irrational Society" Ayn Rand elaborates on the virtue of Justice (which she mentions in her first essay), when discussing the Ethics of Emergencies she renfoces the idea she discusses in her first essay, that a man's own life is the source of his capacity to value, in response to the question that "Doesn't Life Require Compromise?" Ayn Rand elaborates on the virtue of Integrity (which she mentions in her first essay).

The reason why one is able to connect ideas in Virtue of Selfishness is because Ayn Rand's essays contain fundamental principles, not some random, disconnected phrases or arguments. Now a word about the word "fundamental" - "Fundamental refers to a principle or truth which is present in vast number of concretes. To say something is fundamental means that many other truths depend on it. To say philosophy studies the fundamentals of reality means it studies those facts present in, and those principles applicable to, everything that exists." (emphasis mine) (From The Art of Nonfiction by Ayn Rand, page #27).

The first quote also mentions that:"Rand never wrote philosophy in terms of detailed treatises."

What does it have to do with the "academic standards" which you claim Ayn Rand's essays fail to meet.

BTW, Any Scholar searching for a full presentation of the entire theoretical structure of Objectivism will find it in Leonard Peikoff's 1976 lectures on Objectivism or in his book, Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, which is based on the 1976 lectures.

In your second quote the only thing that is worth replying to the quote that "scholars approach Rand without being familiar with her method or thought. "

Let me tell you something interesting: When I approached most of the philosophers in the history of philosophy I was totally unfamiliar with their methods or thoughts. But after I went over what these philosophers had to say I got familiar with their methods and thoughts.

2. For Question number 2, I asked you to give me some examples of some of the "endless strawmen" that Ayn Rand seems to put up in her writings. You replied by paraphrasing your original statement and then told me to ignore your "innocent ponderings." --- OK.

3. For question 3 I asked: Have you read Philosophy: Who needs it ? You said no. I think you should read it. There you will see Ayn Rand quoting "lotsa and lotsa" quotes from her opponents.

When it comes to quoting all I can say is look at the context of Ayn Rand's writings, understand what she is trying to convey. This way you will be able to get an objective measure of her writings.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

When it comes to quoting, here is what I do: I quote only if I can't state something better than the author did.

And when it comes to reading or listening to what others have to say, I exercise the virtue of Independence (See Ayn Rand's novels for a good demonstation of this virtue).

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I think modern philosophers -- especially modern academic philosophers -- are confused and stay confused because they never connect their mind to reality; that is, they are not objective. Like the thread on "Why logic works" they tend to use philosophic terms in a completely syntactical manner, never reaching certainty on anything because the only way to do this is to go to the facts and objectively identify them, and then define one's terms in terms of existence. However, they have cut off their mind from existence because they deny that perception has anything whatsoever to do with existence; that, to them, the perceptual is purely subjective (of the subject and not of objective reality). Thus, they can never claim to have even awareness of existence as it actually is.

Don't overgeneralize. There are a large number of direct realists and representationalists working in the philosophy of perception whose work can't be characterized in anything resembling that fashion.

Edited by cmdownes
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Don't overgeneralize. There are a large number of direct realists and representationalists working in the philosophy of perception whose work can't be characterized in anything resembling that fashion.

Can you provide us with some quotes or links to these modern academic philosophers you want to defend?

I mean there isn't much to say about "the philosophy of perception" except to say that we perceive reality; so I'm curious about what else they have to say.

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Can you provide us with some quotes or links to these modern academic philosophers you want to defend?

I mean there isn't much to say about "the philosophy of perception" except to say that we perceive reality; so I'm curious about what else they have to say.

Pierre Le Morvan, an associate professor at the College of New Jersey, is a direct realist. He offers an articulation and defense of his view at http://www.tcnj.edu/~lemorvan/APR_Proof.pdf

William Alston, from Syracuse University, defends a slightly different version of direct realism, the theory of appearing. It's in Philosophical Perspectives 15, but in case you don't have access to a scholarly database I've quoted a bit below:

"The most intuitively attractive way of characterizing my state of consciousness as I observe all of this is to say that it consists of the presentation of physical objects to consciousness... There is apparently nothing at all 'between' my mind and the objects I am perceiving. They are simply displayed to my awareness."

For TA folks, "Phenomenal features are relations between material objects and minds" (Harold Langsam, from UVA, in Philosophical Studies 87). More "direct" or "naive" direct realists like Le Morvan would say something like, our perceptions just reduce to physical features of the external world.

I'm being kicked out of the library right now, but I'll post some examples of contemporary representationalists in the morning.

Edited by cmdownes
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Anyways, representationalists or indirect realists think that we are aware of the physical world, but inferentially. They argue that what we immediately perceive is something like sense data, the cause of which is the physical world. Bertrand Russell held this view, and a fairly lengthy account of his model of the mind is at http://etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/RusAnal.html where his 1921 book is posted. In essence, "When we "see a table," as common sense would say, the table as a physical object is not the "object" (in the psychological sense) of our perception. Our perception is made up of sensations, images and beliefs, but the supposed "object" is something inferential, externally related, not logically bound up with what is occurring in us." In a more contemporary vein, Steven Lehar accepts a version of indirect realism which he supports by appeal to recent work in neuroscience at http://cns-alumni.bu.edu/~slehar/webstuff/bubw3/bubw3.html

I doubt you'll be sympathetic to indirect realism, but it's certainly difficult to say that indirect realists think perception has nothing at all to do with reality. The claim that we don't have any direct perception of the physical world doesn't prevent us from gaining knowledge of it, it merely makes all such knowledge inferential instead of self-justifying.

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There's no reason to be at all sympathetic to representationalists; the question is whether some direct realists have accurately identified the relevant epistemological issues. Generally, sure, but the question is whether all direct realists have correctly identified all of the relevant facts. The only modern epistemological trend deserving our attention is direct realism, but I question whether any of them have gotten past the very prelimary questions. I have never met an actual representationalist who I didn't think was just kidding me. I can understand centuries-old guys who really didn't understand the nature of perception, but yikes, how can anyone seriously think that a mind can perceive "sense data" (like tiny movie images projected to the brain).

Representationalists of course are only a shade better than skeptics, becasue they would reduce the impossibility of knowledge to errors in inference about sense data. That is, those basic "facts" that you think you know, well, they are just conjectures, conclusions that you've inferred but on the basis of what? To infer something from sense data, you have to have something firm, something given, something axiomatic. They don't claim that inference from sense data is automatic and infallible, so there is no firm foundational for representationalists. I really don't see how representationalists are any different from weak skeptics.

If an Objectivist is going to pay some attention to non-Objectivist academic philosophers, attention should at most be paid to direct realists. Now then, book review time. Kelley's book was turgid -- I recommend it to insomniacs. Huemer's was actually useful.

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