Friday, September 15, 2006

Did Ayn Rand Understand Objectivism?

Sometimes we wonder...

Objectivists often contend that Ayn Rand's critics do not or cannot grasp her philosophy's fundamental principles like, for example, the 'law of identity'. Thus they are simply unable to comprehend the epochal innovations in the fields of epistemology, ethics, politics, aesthetics and so forth that follow inexorably as a result of Rand's application of these principles. Rand, it is also alleged, wrote clearly and precisely, so if you can't understand them you must be either a)stupid or b)evading or c)both. And perhaps this is the case.

But how good is Rand with these fundamentals herself, even at the level she considers her greatest innovation, in epistemology? Let's take a look. First, we'll invoke her fundamental axiom "Existence exists". We'll call this her Parmenidian axiom, as she derives from it a second postulate which is "Non-existence does not exist", or "there is no such thing as nothing". This seems to leave us with the ancient idea from Parmenides that the existence is "full", with no gaps of "nothing" in its structure. Then we'll take another fundamental axiom: that is, the Law of Identity which can be put as follows: "for a thing to exist, it must have an identity". This we'll call her Aristotelian axiom, as this is to whom it is generally attributed.

We'll then apply these axioms to what Rand considered her most vitally important intellectual work, her theory of Concept Formation in the "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology".

In Chapter 1, 'Cognition and Measurement', she lays out her theory, starting with the "building block of man's knowledge", the concept "existent". This is what she calls an implicit concept - as opposed to later explicit concepts and which, we presume, are so named because Rand says they require language to be properly formed.

The "implicit" concept "existent" resides even at the level of sensations: for Rand tells us that "A sensation is a sensation of something, as distinguished from the nothing of the preceding and succeeding moments." Of course alert readers will have spotted right away that Rand seems to have blithely violated her Parmenidian axiom, as of course there is no such thing as "nothing" to be 'distinguished' from 'something' in the first place! So her theory is off to a highly questionable start.

Things get substantially worse however as she moves to describe how this 'building block' develops. She describes 3 distinct stages. Stage 1 is the child's awareness of objects, of things, which "represents the (implicit) concept 'entity'" (ITOE, 6). Stage 2 is the "second, and closely allied stage" which is "awareness of specific, particular things which (the child) can recognise and distinguish from the rest of his perceptual field". This stage, Rand tells us, is the implicit concept "identity". Now, alert readers will no doubt have noticed that once again, Rand has forgotten her own fundamental axiom, this time the Law of Identity. For if this law is correct, and an entity without identity cannot exist, there can be no Stage 1. (1)

Stage 2 is clearly just the Law of Identity all over again, so Rand can hardly take credit for this. Stage 3, the final stage, gives us the concept "unit" and consists apparently of "grasping similarities and differences" between identities. But we seem to have already done this in Stage 2, for we are already recognising and distinguishing "specific" things in our perceptual field - and in order to do this, we will surely have to realise that these things are similar to and different from each other. So we can assume there is no Stage 3 either.

Thus, embarrassingly, the very "building block" of Rand's proudest intellectual achievement kicks off with obvious violations of two of her own cherished fundamental axioms, and a redundant restatement of one of them. All that remains of her theory so far is just the Law of Identity (ie:Stage 2), an already well-known logical rule. And of course if you state that a rule is the basis of your system, and violate it at the same time, it tends to indicate you don't understand it in the first place.


1. I do not think attempts to argue that Rand might perhaps be speaking 'epistemologically' instead of 'metaphysically' (as Objectivists call it) succeed, as of course human knowledge is subject to the LOI just like anything else.

37 comments:

Michael Prescott said...

Although I think Rand's epistemology is bogus, I'm not sure that this part of it is as incoherent as you make it out to be. As I read it, here is what she is saying:

Initially the infant draws no distinction between subjective and objective; everything is just an undifferentiated smear. Then, in Stage 1, the infant grasps (at some level) that there is an external reality - that something exists "out there." He can't identify what it is, though. "Stuff exists" would be his thought, if he could think in words.

In Stage 2, he begins to notice certain shapes or textures or colors. The "stuff" gets divided, in his mind, into different bits and pieces of stuff. "Things exist," he would think (if he could verbalize).

In Stage 3, he starts to realize that these things have relationships to one another - that two different things have the same general shape (tables), while a third thing has an entirely different shape (a ball). So he can begin to sort and classify things. "Things exist and fall into categories," he would think (again, if he could verbalize).

The problem I have with this is mainly that it's all Rand's say-so. She does not cite any actual evidence to support her contentions. What evidence we have for infant psychology seems to suggest that thinking in certain categories or mental structures is an innate quality and does not have to be learned. At least this is what I understand of Noam Chomsky's work on grammar. Rand cannot allow this because she wants the human mind to be a blank slate at birth.

My other problem with her presentation is that it is not as carefully worded as it should be. But this is a chronic problem with Rand.

As for nothingness, I dimly recall Peikoff going on about the philosophical error of "reification of the zero" in one of his taped courses. So it's definitely Objectivist doctrine that nothingness cannot exist; there is no nothing, there is only something. I think Rand's inconsistency here is only semantic; we can believe that there is no absolute nothingness, and also believe that pain (say) could be perceived as an interval of discomfort between two periods of relative "nothingness" (i.e., an absence of any particular sensation of pain or pleasure).

Whether this is the only way to perceive something is less certain. If we were in pain all the time, wouldn't we know it? I guess Rand would say no, because we would have no perception of non-pain to serve as contrast. I think she would be wrong, but then I think her whole epistemological theory is wrong.

Daniel Barnes said...

Michael P:
>Although I think Rand's epistemology is bogus, I'm not sure that this part of it is as incoherent as you make it out to be...

Hi Michael

First of all, seeing as we are discussing Objectivism, we should always pay strict attention to context...;-)The context of this criticism - and everything else on this site, incidentally - is the claim that Ayn Rand is one of The Greatest Minds of All Time, and that here in her epistemology we are at the very centre of the most profound intellectual achievements of human history, comparable to Newton, Galileo, Darwin or Einstein. In fact, probably superior to all the above, as philosophy as the master discipline from which all else flows, is prior to all of them. Thus even the insights of those great men must, alas, be flawed in some respects as they are all prior to Rand. So with that established, lets proceed...;-)

Your point it all being Rand's 'say-so' is quite right. As Nyquist reminds us constantly, she rarely supplies empirical evidence for anything, despite her constant talk about 'grounding in reality'. Of course, the 'blank slate' is such an important point for her because to deny it is to accept that there can be some form of knowledge without experience, which would obviously be a major concession to Kant. And we can't possibly have that...;-)

I completely agree that all the empirical evidence to date suggests a huge amount of innate knowledge. A very good example is (from memory) the experiment where newborns are shown different geometric patterns. These geometric patterns all have identical proportions distributed randomly, but one has been so constructed as to resemble a human face. This, of course, is the one the newborns respond to.

Being an epochal genius of Rand's stature clearly means never having to bother with mere empirical evidence. So Rand attempts to construct her epistemology from her custom set of logical propositions. But does it even make sense on her own terms? In my criticism above I am showing that using her own interpretations of those terms it does not. (Remember we are always told that Rand wrote clearly and precisely and always meant exactly what she said!) The outline you interpret from her writing is perfectly reasonable, and I think is probably pretty much what Rand was aiming at. But my point is this: this outline does not at all follow from her premises. In Stage 1 she quite plainly proposes an 'entity' without an identity, thus must reject the LOI. I don't see any way round this, it has to be a howler right at the base of her system.

As far as her overlooking of the implications of her Parmenidian axiom goes, what I'm really driving at is that this is another example of how she imports contradictory assumptions without the merest explanation, or without even batting an eyelid. These are so fundamental- "identity", for example - and at such a critical point in her system that it cannot surely be semantic. This supports the obvious impression that far from being an impeccably conceived work of epochal genius, stuff like the ITOE is just freestyle BS, put forward with almost no real thought and even less care. It's little better than the average late nite dorm room bull session. If you read it with any degree of attention, it becomes quite incredible that the thing ever made it to print.

Michael Hardesty said...

I can't sense of either of you two.
If our knowledge is innate where does it come from ? You mean that we born with specific knowledge not derived from experience ?
Chomsky never made any sense here.
I know he was refuting B. F. Skinner and the extreme behaviorists and that was not too
hard but inherited knowledge ?
ITOE is head and shoulders above
what I've seen here. I think Piaget and others have done studies but even if they didn't it
would not prove Rand wrong. You can go with what seems to be the
most reasonable explanation of
something.

Daniel Barnes said...

Michael H asks:
>If our knowledge is innate where does it come from ?

Michael, you need to slow down a little. First of all, how many kinds of knowledge do you think there are? I'll give you some examples of different kinds:

1) A baby that knows how to suck a nipple within moments of being born.
2) Knowing the words and tune of "Auld Lang Syne"
3) Knowing how to get to your kitchen from your bedroom

These kinds of knowledge all have different sources.
1) Is innate, as far as anyone can tell
2) Is culturally transmitted
3) You worked out for yourself

We can then say:

1) Is not derived from experience, unless you mean the experience of natural selection on the human population

2) Is not derived from your personal experience, but is an invention of others before you were even born - like language itself

3) Is derived from your personal experience, tho of course this is what is called "theory laden".

So when you say:
>You mean that we born with specific knowledge not derived from experience ?

..it is clear the situation is more complicated than you are putting it.

>ITOE is head and shoulders above what I've seen here.

Well, this piece was just a simple demonstration of how weak Rand's basic thinking is once she moves away from romantic rhetoric, and has to lay her theories out in some coherent form. In this case, right off the bat she forgets her own fundamentals such as the Law of Identity in her epistemology! Of course, I contend that the ITOE is hopeless in many more respects of course, which I am happy to discuss at length.

Now, perhaps you would like to be more specific about what exactly she got right in the ITOE, and we could debate it further?

Kris Martinsen said...

Obviously the baby worked it out for himself, how could he have had
that knowledge prior to birth ?
Just like a cat avoids a dog though
again would anyone maintain that knowledge existed prior to birth ?
You avoided the nub of Hardesty's question ? ITOE has it right.
You haven't shown otherwise.

Daniel Barnes said...

Kris:
>Obviously the baby worked it out for himself, how could he have had that knowledge prior to birth?

He *instinctively* knew what to do. Are you going to argue he deduced it axiomatically?

>You avoided the nub of Hardesty's question.

I don't think so, but if you want to tell me what you think the nub of it is, I'm happy to answer.

>ITOE has it right. You haven't shown otherwise.

I'm obviously not going to refute all of the ITOE with a single post! However, as with Michael H, could you tell me the specific points you think the ITOE has got right? I'd be happy to address them in turn.

Kris Martinsen said...

I agree with practically all of ITOE. So far I've disagreed with
you.
Now I thought that you people didn't believe in instincts ?
Thought it was unscientific ?
Normally that would the first term
to come to my mind in regard to the baby's action. I can't fathom
innate knowledge of something never
experienced. It's one of those ideas, I hate to glorify it as a
concept, that is like "unknowable."
It makes no sense on the very face of it.

Daniel Barnes said...

Kris:
>I agree with practically all of ITOE.

Well that narrows it down...;-) As we obviously can't discuss the whole book in one post, what arguments in the book do you think are particularly strong? (Personally I think there are not even very many *arguments* in the book, let alone strong ones. It is mostly just a series of vague assertions that are empirically fact-free.)

I'll pick an example if you like. A standard one I use is Rand's alleged solution to the problem of achieving "absolute precision". It is as follows"

"AR:...But more than that, isn't there a very simple solution to the problem of accuracy? Which is this: let us say that you cannot go into infinity, but in the finite you can always be absolutely precise simply by saying, for instance: "Its length is no less than one millimeter and no more than two millimeters."

Prof. E: And that's perfectly exact.

AR: It's exact...."

(ITOE "Measurement, Unit, and Mathematics, p184

Now Kris, do you think she has a valid solution here, or is she just playing with words? Shall we discuss?

>Now I thought that you people didn't believe in instincts ? Thought it was unscientific ?

Not in the least. What gave you that idea? What 'people' are you referring to?

>I can't fathom innate knowledge of something never experienced...

Well, instinctive knowledge is an example of this. However, in philosophy, "knowledge without experience" or (a priori) usually refers to abstract knowledge, such as logical propositions or mathematical tautologies. This is not because you can't experience them to know that they are true - you can - but that you don't need to experience them to know it. The fact "2+2=4" remains true for me even if I can't even count! (to argue otherwise would mean having what is called a subjectivist theory of mathematics).

The 'problem of induction' is the key to understanding some of the big epistemological questions. Are you familiar with it?

Kris Martinsen said...

Daniel, even heavy duty mainstream profs like Matson at UCB Philosophy
Dept have complimented her on ITOE.
She was giving the formula to determine precision.
Again, you haven't answered how innate knowledge is possible ?
Are you talking about something that lives in the history of the
race ? As Chomsky seems to be about language ?
I was thinking last night that it could be something that we don't
know the answer to at present.
Your postulating innate knowledge is like Ryan postulating god.
That's probably true of a lot of things. Of course it doesn't mean
they are unknowable in principle, how would we KNOW that ?
In school you DO count the objects
at a very early age to see how they
add up to a certain figure.
Of course, I'm familiar with the whole issue of universals. I understand deductive and inductive reasoning.
One thing that bothers me about your whole tone is the sheer nastiness and thuggishness of it.
I notice that all you defrocked Randies ALWAYS carry away the worst
traits of the NBI clones. Some of
this was due to Rand but much more to the Brandens who fostered the cultish aspects as I well remember
going back to 1960. I also am familiar with the revised ITOE
and Peikoff's excellent analytic-synthetic dichotomy or are we getting too close to home here ?

Daniel Barnes said...

Kris:
>Daniel, even heavy duty mainstream profs like Matson at UCB Philosophy Dept have complimented her on ITOE.

I recall, perhaps wrongly, that he was pretty critical of ITOE? What is your source for this?

>She was giving the formula to determine precision.

Again, do you think it is a valid solution to the problem of 'absolute precision'? Or is she just playing with words, instead of solving the problem? To me it is clearly just a word-game. Do you see how it works? It's ok if you don't immediately. Just re-read the passage I cited and think about it a little.

>Again, you haven't answered how innate knowledge is possible ? Are you talking about something that lives in the history of the
race ?

Yes, obviously.

>One thing that bothers me about your whole tone is the sheer nastiness and thuggishness of it.
I notice that all you defrocked Randies ALWAYS carry away the worst traits of the NBI clones.

I'm not a 'defrocked Randie'...;-) What are you talking about?

>I also am familiar with the revised ITOE
and Peikoff's excellent analytic-synthetic dichotomy or are we getting too close to home here ?

As far as I am concerned, Peikoff's treatment of the analytic synthetic dichotomy is a botch. Shall we discuss the specifics of what's wrong with it? I also don't understand your last remark about 'getting to close to home"? I'm more than happy to talk about it.

Kris Martinsen said...

I know him. Spoke to him in person often. Even Bill Dwyer remembers from the early 70s that Matsom was impressed with ITOE.
To you everything is a word game so you can dismiss everything Rand
says a priori.
Racial memory is absurd, no proof of it, like god.
I thought all of you here were defrocked Randies............
Peikoff's A/S essay a botch !!!!???
You remind me of the person who came out here, saw the Pacific Ocean and said I thought it would be bigger.

Daniel Barnes said...

Kris:
>Even Bill Dwyer remembers from the early 70s that Matson was impressed with ITOE.

Ah, I knew it! That Bill Dwyer story is purely anecdotal. He's been telling that one for years. As I recall Matson is on record dissing the ITOE (I recall Bill Dwyer being confronted with this on the old SoloHQ site - I will have a look). So perhaps Matson either changed his mind or Bill remembers it wrongly.

>To you everything is a word game so you can dismiss everything Rand says a priori.

No, I don't consider 'everything is a word game' at all! I'm not a Logical Positivist, I'm a Popperian. There are genuine philosophical problems, and there are word-games. The trick is to tell the difference. With that in mind, can we just stick to the issue: have you thought carefully about Rand's argument here? If so, would you like to know why I think it is a mere word-game?

>Peikoff's A/S essay a botch !!!!???

Yes. Do you want to debate the issue?

Neil Parille said...

In The Philosophic Thought of Ayn Rand there is an essay called "Rand on Concepts" by Matson. He says that when first reading ITOE he thought the ideas were important but disliked the style. He says that as the years have gone by he has had more problems with the ideas.

Daniel Barnes said...

Neil:
>(Matson) says that when first reading ITOE he thought the ideas were important but disliked the style. He says that as the years have gone by he has had more problems with the ideas.

Yes that was it, thanks Neil.

Kris Martinsen said...

Daniel, so far you have lost every debate. Why continue to get your ass whipped ? Your points are always trivial to the point of irrelevancy. Nobody cares what you think. I have done you an undeserved favor by coming on the board. Yes, Dwyer told me this 1973
and there were many witnesses.
Yes, he remembered it correctly.
Yes, Wallace did come back a dozen years later with reservations which
many of us promptly demolished.
Veatch demolished Popper. It's on the Von Mises Institute website.
Sir Karl was a third rate mediocrity. Your role model ?

chief running bear said...

kris, the problem with arguing with an idiot is that people will not be able to tell the difference. barnsey is a shyster offshoot of modern foolosophy, his whole purpose is to destroy, to deconstruct because he is incapable of construction. we had someone like that on our reservation, he came back after a modern kantian-popperian reducation at a major center of brainwashing. we finally took him to a cave wherein he was securely tied down and he was eaten alive by rats. two days later no remains, not even bones.sometimes in the fight for the future perfect, absolute, moral, totally rational society we have to be prepared to eject some of the less valued passengers. hell, sometimes it's even fun !

Michael hardesty said...

Thank you, Chief, for a final solution to the "barnes" problem.
I suspect either Percy Beeson, Chris Driver or Arthur Cockersuckett (pronounced Co Ko SOO
KAY) to be Barnes. All were graduates of Bill Dwyer's seminars
at The Noble Frankfurter in SF.

Daniel Barnes said...

CRB:
>kris, the problem with arguing with an idiot is that people will not be able to tell the difference.

Chief, your tribe seems to have a weird idea about arguments. Actually, arguments tend to help people sort the idiots from the non-idiots - quite the opposite of what you suggest.

I've invited Mike H and Kris M to put forward the specific arguments from the ITOE that they think are particularly strong so we can debate them, see how they hold up. To date they haven't responded, other than to say that I'm not a very nice person, which of course is neither here nor there. I've even given an example of one, yet they strangely don't seem to want to discuss that either. Do you think you can do better than those chaps? Wouldn't be hard, surely?

Daniel Barnes said...

Kris:
>Daniel, so far you have lost every debate.

Err...How so? I don't think you've made any sort of counter argument to anything I've said, other than a couple of vague assertions. Please point out the post where you have?

Dragonfly said...

Well, if this is the best Rand's "defenders" can come up with...

Daniel Barnes said...

Dragonfly:
>Well, if this is the best Rand's "defenders" can come up with...

Yes, one doesn't need to say much more really....;-) As for Kris Martinsen's claim that...

>Veatch demolished Popper. It's on the Von Mises Institute website.

...one thing is most certainly true: that it is on the Von Mises Institute website! However, the only major demolition that gets done is of Veatch's own scholarly credibility!

There are too many distortions and misreadings in that peculiar essay to list here - particularly Veatch's weird interpretation of 'The Open Society''s Chapter 5:Nature and Convention - but a single egregious example should suffice. Veatch writes:

"...Yes, some commentators have even been perhaps a hit unkind in hinting that Popper's World 3 represents no more than a somewhat belated and unacknowledged concession on Popper's part to Plato's World of ideas!" (1)

The idea that Popper's 'World 3' is a 'belated and unacknowledged' concession to Plato is blatantly and factually wrong. In fact, from the start and thoughout his writings on W3 Popper repeatedly credits Plato with being the first to glimpse this 'third world' of abstract human invention. Further, while he carefully outlines the differences between Plato's theory and his - for example, Plato's world is primary to the physical world, whereas Popper's is tertiary - he even says he regards Plato as 'the greatest philosopher of all time' due to this original insight! This is all readily available in even the most cursory reading of Popper's 3 Worlds theory - for example, in Popper's 'Objective Knowledge' (from memory). To call it 'unacknowledged' is simply - and very obviously - false. So Veatch is either incompetent or malicious - or both.

Kris continues:
>Sir Karl was a third rate mediocrity. Your role model?

It would be hard to be more third rate than the scholarship of Veatch outlined above. I would hope it is not Kris' role model!

For those interested, I will also ask my friend Rafe Champion, a Popper scholar and also a Mises fan, to comment on Veatch's essay if he has time.


(1)p 168, PLATO, POPPER AND THE OPEN
SOCIETY: REFLECTIONS ON WHO
MIGHT HAVE THE LAST LAUGH
by Henry B. Veatch
THE JOURNAL OF LIBERTARIAN STUDIES

https://www.mises.org/journals/jls/3_2/3_2_4.pdf

Daniel Barnes said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daniel Barnes said...

I wrote:
"To call it 'unacknowledged' is simply - and very obviously - false"

I suppose I should add that just because Veatch puts the accusation in the mouths of unnamed 'commentators' does not make it any better, as it is certainly his responsibility to explain the facts of the matter, and not to blithely quote misleading comments and then let their implications hang.

It's also worth noting the personal animosity between Mises and Popper that echoes even today. And of course "The Open Society and Its Enemies" short and devastating logical critique of Aristotelian definitions in Chapter 11 almost prevented its publication in the US, as the publishers feared the reaction of the American academy.

Kris Martinsen said...

To date, you haven't constructed one VALID criticism of ITOE, either
the original or the greatly expanded version. Several people have responded to such theories as
you have tossed out. Why continue the pointless exercise ?
Veatch demolished Popper, who by the way, never demolished Plato or Hegel or Marx, much less Aristotle.
Read Veatch's Rational Man, a work
far superior to the rantings of Barnes et al on this board.
Again, the ad hominems are your basic tool, Daniel or whatever your
real name is. "Rafe Champion" that's good ! Every time you have brought something about ITOE you
have been responded to, that you dislike the response is not the point. Whether you & your comrades
are worth further response is problematic. If as you state the
debate separates the idiots from the nonidiots then you folks are solidly in the former category.

Jack Lord said...

There is a rather good critique of Popper by the British-Canadian Objectivist-Anarchist, Nicholas Dykes, titled A Critique of Karl Popper's Critical Rationalism, it is available in two formats on the Libertarian Alliance UK website.
There is a 16 page download and the longer 39 page download.
Popper is one these people like Thomas Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend,
whose stature shrinks some with each passing year. There's less there than meets the eye. I haven't read the Veatch piece but I have appreciated his other work so I'll check it out.
Who is Barnes ? I found Hardesty and Prescott on the web but not Barnes. I am assuming no relation to the great historian, Harry Elmer Barnes. Is this site run by Nyquist ? I found his work quite unconvincing when I read it in 2002. It would seem that the debates here are at an impasse.
I'm familiar with Bob Wallace and regard his critiques of Rand to be
akin to what hoodlums write on restroom stall walls. He was booted off lewrockwell and considering how anti-Rand that site is, it must be a real achievment to be expelled from there ! I have to agree with others here about Scotty Ryan. I thought I was going to drown in god-talk reading his bizarre epistemological critique of Rand
and realism generally. Tearing down someone else's house does not build your own. If you go through
the published corpus of Aristotle
you could find much to criticize but that would in no way obviate his greatness. Without comparing Rand to him, the same principle applies here. At the very least she has synthesized the disparate
components of realist and libertarian philosophy into a coherent whole. Something badly lacking before. I can't tell you how many times I've given Atlas Shrugged to leftists and others and
they can barely put it down ! Many of us have read it dozens of times. The Fountainhead can't touch Atlas and We is not in the running outside of it is the most depressing novel to read. And not
just of Rand's !
Well, good luck, folks, I doubt the
good folk at ARI are losing any sleep over your work here, such as it is.
The Objective Standard has just published an excellent essay titled The Decline and Fall of Amercian Conservatism by C. Bradley Thompson, which is downloadable at 25 pages. Peikoff
has recommended voting the straight Democratic ticket this fall, which I was planning to do
until my wife was robbed at gunpoint the other night by two jigs here in Honolulu. They each
put a gun to each side of her head. After that I voted straight GOP despite hating Bush on all matters foreign and domestic. The
GOP is tougher on crime and most
Repugs can't stand niggers, which is the main reason they have won elections since 1966. Frank O'Connor would move away if one sat down next to him on a bus, a
sensible fellow and a real Ayn Rand hero.

Daniel Barnes said...

Kris:
>To date, you haven't constructed one VALID criticism of ITOE...

Well, I have only made one criticism in total of the ITOE, which is the above article. That is, in constructing her theory of concept formation, she forgot the law of identity at the very first step. Doh!

This criticism neither you nor anyone else has refuted. Care to do so? As I wrote in comments, this example "was just a simple demonstration of how weak Rand's basic thinking is once she moves away from romantic rhetoric, and has to lay her theories out in some coherent form."

I have also offered to criticise another argument from the ITOE to demonstrate that it is little more than a mere word game, but offered you the chance to tell us why you think it is a good argument first. Seeing you don't want to take up my offer, shall I proceed with my criticism?

>Several people have responded to such theories as
you have tossed out.

Who exactly? Mike Hardesty claims I have not had any criticisms worth responding to, so it can't be him. You obviously haven't, otherwise you'd back yourself a bit more. Who does that leave? The Chief...;-)? Not a very impressive showing.

>Every time you have brought something about ITOE you have been responded to, that you dislike the response is not the point

No, it's just that vague assertions are not very convincing responses!

>Veatch demolished Popper, who by the way, never demolished Plato or Hegel or Marx, much less Aristotle.

More vague assertions. Let's toughen this up then. Care to debate Popper's critique of the serious logical problems with Aristotle's theory of definitions? (Chapter 11, OSE). I'll start a new thread and we can have at it.

>Again, the ad hominems are your basic tool, Daniel or whatever your real name is.

So you assert. Care to test it in debate as suggested above?

>"Rafe Champion" that's good !

I use my real name. Rafe is a real person too.

http://www.the-rathouse.com/aboutRafe.html

>Whether you & your comrades are worth further response is problematic.

Your call, sunshine.

Daniel Barnes said...

Jack Lord:
>There is a rather good critique of Popper by the British-Canadian Objectivist-Anarchist, Nicholas Dykes...

Sorry to disappoint you, Five-O, but the Dykes critique should come with a laugh track. I particularly like the bit where he solves the problem of induction. Gee, why isn't Dykes more famous as a result...;-)

>The GOP is tougher on crime and most Repugs can't stand niggers, which is the main reason they have won elections since 1966. Frank O'Connor would move away if one sat down next to him on a bus, a sensible fellow and a real Ayn Rand hero.

Charming.

Kris Martinsen said...

Daniel or whomever you are, Rand never forgot the law of identity
for a second, you can take anything out of context and try to isolate it from the larger picture but why play your game ?
As far as the Dykes essay goes that laugh track would better be
packaged with your posts here.
Ah, The Silence Of The Laughs again ! Hardesty and others have responded to your comments to the
extent they were even worth responding to............. Not
every idiot comment but the whole general premise. Many of us met O'Connor and he was indeed a very
charming person, unlike yourself.
Your assertions have not been impressive. People would be better off reading The Russian Radical or
Peikoff's The Philosophy of Objectivism. I will look up the
Dykes essays referred to and read those. I've read other things by him in the past and he's been on spot. I've already tested you in these exchanges as well as having read others who engaged you and I
see you as lowlife waste of time.
As Buckley once described a papal encyclical, a venture in triviality.
Dykes is probably better known than you. I've read him and I never
even heard of you before I came to this site. Anybody can find fault with Aristotle but are you seriously arguing that Popper was
a greater philosopher than him ?
IF you are, you a certified lunatic. The question is, should anyone give a nonentity like you any attention at all ? How many people even read this blog ?

chief running bear said...

hey, guys, don't get in pissing matches with skunks, the people who
put out this site are certified assholes and merely crave attention. triviality and casuistry are all that anyone will get from the barnes boobie. popper is another overblown neocon fraud who lustre dims more every year.if you spend time here what's to show for it ? this cockducker will never concede anything on principle and if you were to win him or it over, what would you have won ? a big ball of shit, nothing, zero, nada zip. let them talk to themselves, it's a cross-sterilization of ideas in their case. how many copies has nyquist sold ? it's put out by himself or some vanity house anyway. if you order a copy, they then print one up ! let them die on the vine, rand's philosophy will continue to sweep the world and sell in the tens of millions every year while these buffoons play with their putzes.

Michael Hardesty said...

Thanks, guys. I agree with you here. Let the dunce shit in his excrement.

Bill Dwyer said...

I would have responded, Barnes, but I fell asleep reading your posts. Since you have no specifics
of any merit my valuable time is best spent elsewhere.

Daniel Barnes said...

Bill:
>I would have responded, Barnes, but I fell asleep reading your posts.

I assume this is the real Bill Dwyer (there are a few faker namers floating around out there). I'm sorry if my posts were rather dull. I didn't expect you to respond - there are no specifics because comment was not directed at you, but to Kris M - but you are welcome to of course. Although we did not agree, I recall we had a couple of reasonably friendly off-line exchanges at any rate, and that attitude has not changed on my part.

Daniel Barnes said...

KM:
>Daniel or whomever you are, Rand never forgot the law of identity for a second, you can take anything out of context and try to isolate it from the larger picture but why play your game ?

Read it in context, it makes no difference. Sorry to break it to you.

>Dykes is probably better known than you.

This is undoubted. He is a well-known academic, I have never even been to university! However, his essay on Popper I do not consider very good, and whether he is famous or not is irrelevant (My crack about Dykes being famous was a joke, as he attempts to show that Hume's problem is a non-problem in that essay. If he had succeeded we can presume he would be incredibly famous for doing so...;-)). Likewise, I also strongly criticise Fred Seddon in an earlier post, despite him being a professor of philosophy and me having a purely amateur-league interest. Intelligent, well qualified people can still often be wrong, you see.

>I've already tested you in these exchanges as well as having read others who engaged you and I
see you as lowlife waste of time.

So you don't want to debate whether Popper's right about Aristotle's definitions? Pity - we could have seen how good you really are. Never mind.

Michael Hardesty said...

Daniel, I did respond at length to you just now on the Chambers thread. I still disagree with your conclusion about Rand's statement in ITOE. I mentioned more why in the post I just did.
I'll let the others answer if they so choose here.

Daniel Barnes said...

MH:
>Daniel, I did respond at length to you just now on the Chambers thread.

I've just done likewise. See you there!

Michael Hardesty said...

I responded to you earlier at length on the Chambers thread
and just posted on the To Think
Or Not To Think Thread on other
related issues.

Anonymous said...

Not to bug anyone with details and facts, but has anyone considered that there is quite compelling evidence that the human mind arises out of neurons and glial cells? Y'know, there is a biology behind human perception and thought. The brain, that highly organized and fascinating cluster of cells and extracellular matrix and fat, is fairly well developed when the baby pops out the mom. Certainly this may be the "innate" knowledge that psychologists are seeing in their experiments on early child development. You could say that the newborn "learns" certain things in the womb, that is, the baby has experiences inside the mom that affect neural development, and maybe this has an affect on how the baby perceives the outside world. Anyhow, I just always find it amazing how many philosophers and even psychologist shy away from cellular biology, when it is in fact the bedrock of human intellect. It would be nice to see some more science.