Friday, November 24, 2006

ARCHN Quote of the Week

"An organism's life depends on two factors: the material or fuel which it needs from the outside, from its physical background, and the action of its own body, the action of using that food properly. What standard determines what is proper in this context? The standard is the organism's life, or; that which is required for the organism's survival." - (Ayn Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness, p 16)
This passage demonstrates to perfection Rand's method of demonstration. She begins with an appalling banality: life depends on "the material or fuel which it needs" and on "the action of its own body." This vacuous assertion is used to introduce the next appalling banality. Rand asks:"What standard determines what is proper in this context?" (ie., in the context of the requirements of man's life)? Rand answers: "The standard is the organism's life." In other words, the standard proper for determining the requirements of man's life is man's life! Imagine the profundity of the woman who could come up with such an insight.
- Greg Nyquist, ARCHN, p211

148 comments:

Anonymous said...

"or; that which is required for the organism's survival."

Why did you not interact with this last sentence from the statement in your reply? Did it get in the way of the characterization you wanted to make?

Daniel Barnes said...

And your point is? It's just as redundant either way.

Anonymous said...

That one paragraph fits into the larger picture she is painting that there are objective values in nature. Reality and mans nature in reality necessitates that some actions support life and others destroy life. If one chooses to live then his life should be the standard of his judgements. They don't have to be, of coarse. He can chose whatever he wants to. But reality will be there to bite him in the ass even if he thinks that judgement is good and it really isn't. I've summed this up in a the following deduction....

1.) Life is a process of self sustaining generating action.

2.) To take action (volitional or conscious) is to make a choice.

3.) A choice implies a value.

4.) Values are necessary for life.

5.) If one chooses to live values ought to support his life.

6.) Therefore - Life should be standard of his choices.


BTW, what is the reasoning for first having to approve all comments? Just wondering.

Daniel Barnes said...

Yes, but that is just as banal as Nyquist says, surely. The interesting question is why people often choose to do things that have nothing to do with their 'life' as such. For example, someone may dedicate their life to solving Goldbach's conjecture, where they might with equal mathematical skill have made a fortune on the financial markets. Are we to proclaim their efforts as 'anti-life' because they make such a choice?

Of course not. But this flies in the face of what Rand is claiming above. In order to get round this difficulty, she introduces a vague equivocation about "life" proper to "man qua man", and moving away from the life-as-survival scenario she outlined. This effectively returns us to square one, with the question of 'objective values in nature' remaining unexplained, for if this was the case Objectivism should be able to tell us clearly which was the objectively better choice in my example.

I do not believe it can.

Anyway, Nyquist goes into considerably more detail Rand equivocation here. Such word-games are typical characteristic of her arguments, as it happens.

>BTW, what is the reasoning for first having to approve all comments? Just wondering.

See an earlier post. We had an open policy for a while, but were having problems with troll/s posting voluminously under sock-puppet names. We've switched on moderation for a while and that seems to have curbed their enthusiasm. It's not a permanent policy.

Daniel Barnes said...

Should read:
>Anyway, Nyquist goes into considerably more detail about Rand's equivocation here in his book.

Have you read ARCHN? If not I recommend it.

Anonymous said...

[quote] The interesting question is why people often choose to do things that have nothing to do with their 'life' as such. For example, someone may dedicate their life to solving Goldbach's conjecture, where they might with equal mathematical skill have made a fortune on the financial markets. Are we to proclaim their efforts as 'anti-life' because they make such a choice?............

This effectively returns us to square one, with the question of 'objective values in nature' remaining unexplained, for if this was the case Objectivism should be able to tell us clearly which was the objectively better choice in my example.[/quote]


Where do you get the idea that Rand said that EVERY choice is either for or against life? All that she said was that there ARE choices such as these. Could you please support your claim with a quote from Rand and a reference please?

However with the example you gave above you are leaving out some crucial aspects that one should ponder when dealing with such questions in Objectivist ethics. This is another piece of evidence to me that you do not understand this subject.

Did the man make his decision with his own happiness in mind or did he make that decision out of some duty to others sacrificing things he values for the sake of something else? Did he violate anyone else's rights through force fraud or deception while doing so?

Here's a more common example of the situation you posited. I may decide to not take a job across the country making six figures a year and instead opt to stay in my home town and work with my Dad at the tractor shop. If I did this out of some duty to my dad instead of me simply valuing being close to family then that of coarse will lead to my suffering. There are to many examples such as this that we can point to. We all know people like that and situations such as this. The point of Objectivist ethics is not simply survival (though for discussion sake that is where Rand started in that early portion of the book.) but for surviving and the individual avoiding (or causing) needless suffering. Though this is no guarantee that he won't suffer because of things that happen that are out of his control. This is just the nature of existence.

Further elaboration of the choosing between values bit. If I value my children and they turn ill and I have to give up playing bass in the band on Friday nights then I have a decision to make. What a slap in the face to me kid if I said that I was making a sacrifice to stay home and help nurse him! That would imply that my greater value is playing bass in the band at some hole in the wall club on Friday nite. If I value my child over the band then to chose him is not a sacrifice but a gain.


Also I offered up a deduction supporting objective values in reality but you did not interact with it.


BTW, I have skimmed through various portions of the online book. Right now I'm reading Dawkins God Delusion and then next is Neil Peart's new book so I seriously doubt I will take the time to read the entire thing. Mainly because the parts I have skimmed I found to be nothing but sophistical rhetoric. However I'd be happy to look over specific sections that you may suggest and offer my comments.

Daniel Barnes said...

Anon:
>Where do you get the idea that Rand said that EVERY choice is either for or against life?

I said nothing about 'every' trivial choice. My example is far from trivial - it was about someone choosing to dedicate their lives to one or another value. Clearly 'survival' has little to do with the decision, otherwise he would choose to be the well-paid financier. (Clearly your other points about 'needless" suffering for him and others being avoided do not touch this example either).

Rand does indeed start out with "life" merely equated with survival as the standard of value. However this is obviously clashes, as my simple example above demonstrates. To get out of it she then equivocates between this meaning of "life" and a second, entirely vague definition of "life" ie. survival proper to 'man qua man', as a 'rational' being, as an end in himself etc. Which makes it deuces wild all over again, as this definition allows a whole range of options above and beyond mere survival, including endangering one's survival for the pursuit of values such as a particular goal, or the sake of a loved one. She has not solved the problem of deriving values from facts, she merely equivocates between two definitions of "life", the latter of which begs the question. This creates considerable confusion which her followers, having been indoctrinated in the unfortunately false idea that Rand uses words very precisely and clearly, take some time to realise.

>Also I offered up a deduction supporting objective values in reality but you did not interact with it.

I think your deduction will be helpful to illustrate my point. Start by defining what you mean by "life" and hopefully you will begin to see what I mean.

>Mainly because the parts (of ARCHN) I have skimmed I found to be nothing but sophistical rhetoric.

I assume you know something about Objectivist Epistemology. I then suggest you read the ARCHN chapter on her Theory of Knowledge. Once you have done so I will be happy to debate the topic of Rand's epistemology, and Nyquist's criticisms of it.

Neil Parille said...

Anon,

I would also recommend Michael Huemer's Critique of Objectivist Ethics:

http://home.sprynet.com/~owl1/rand5.htm#Detailed%20comments

In addition, I'd note that most Objectivists believe that suicide is at times appropriate, which certainly complicates Rand's argument.

Anonymous said...

*** I said nothing about 'every' trivial choice. My example is far from trivial - it was about someone choosing to dedicate their lives to one or another value. Clearly 'survival' has little to do with the decision, otherwise he would choose to be the well-paid financier. (Clearly your other points about 'needless" suffering for him and others being avoided do not touch this example either).***


They avoid your example because you have still failed to answer relevant questions that I brought up about it in my last reply. Remember the ones that I said were crucial and illustrated your lack of understanding on Rands theory of ethics? Did the man make his decisions because of his own value judgments or did he make his decision out of some duty or sacrifice? You imply that he would be better of with the job that pays a lot of money but how do you arrive at such a conclusion? We all know that our emotional well being plays a large part in a physical well being. Someone who is sad depressed, lonely, aggravated or stressed out all the time is more likely to be ill. If the man made his decision based not on his own values but upon someone else's values then he is going to experience some of the emotions that I listed above on a frequent basis. This will have a deleterious effect on his physical well being. Granted this decision is not as cut and dry or as quickly harmful to life as say choosing between drinking a glass of water or a glass of plutonium. However the fundamentals and the logic are exactly the same.


***To get out of it she then equivocates between this meaning of "life" and a second, entirely vague definition of "life" ie. survival proper to 'man qua man', as a 'rational' being, as an end in himself etc. Which makes it deuces wild all over again, as this definition allows a whole range of options above and beyond mere survival, including endangering one's survival for the pursuit of values such as a particular goal, or the sake of a loved one.***

In my deduction I deal with a wide definition of life because the ONLY purpose of my deduction is to show that there are objective values in existence that support or destroy life. Now you and I can quibell about what the proper definition of "mans life" or man qua man and rather it is "deuces are wild all over again" as you say if you'd like. But before we can delve into this much harrier subject we must first acknowledge some fundamentals. You are so anxious to jump past this part and right to mans life, his happiness, and value judgements. If you cannot acknowledge what is staring you in the face, and that is that there are some choices that are harmful to life and others that are not, then there is no point in going any further with you on this subject because of such a fundamental disagreement.

As far as dealing with the issue of giving your life for a value, Rand has delt with this topic. In Atlas Shrugged John Galt decides to commit suicide if necessary to keep Dagny from being tortured. Also Rand knew first hand of the people in Russia who gave their life trying to leave.

Where do you get the idea that life must be lived even if there is nothing left to value? You may not be saying this explicitly but it is what is assumed by these objections you are making. You seem to be confused about life being the standard of value and things that one holds as values. Is it that you don't agree with her definition of man and not that you don't think that some choices are harmful to life and others not?


***I think your deduction will be helpful to illustrate my point. Start by defining what you mean by "life" and hopefully you will begin to see what I mean.***

See premise number one for the definition of life. Like I said above. My deduction serves only one purpose. That is to show that there are fundamental objective values in reality. The logic is sound and the premises are obvious to any third grader. Like I said above, if you cannot acknowledge this blatant fact of reality then talking about anything else that assumes this as true is a waste of both of our time.

BTW, I took a quick glance of the first few pages of the chapter you recommend. I may finish reading it later and I can't promise how soon that will be though. The first obvious thing that struck me when I read those first few pages on epistemology is that the author assumes as true my philosophy in order to arrive at a conclusion that disagrees with it. His issue is with that of certainties. On page 103 he refers to man being certain as a "dubious conviction". So the author champions the premise that certainties are not possible. Now is this a certain statement? The author assumes a certainty in order to refute that there are no certainties. He is committing the fallacy of the stolen concept. He is accepting as true a premise in order to refute that very premise.

Now, I stopped reading soon after that but let me make a prediction here.

I predict that the author will assume omniscience as the standard of his argument. He will say that man is not omniscient therefore he can't know anything. He will of coarse not use those words and will dress it up to appear to be a rational argument. But this will more than likely be what he is saying.

When I abandoned theism and my old ways of thinking awhile back I told myself that I would go where ever reason and logic take me. I am ready to abandon ANY premise that I hold if I find that it does not stand the test of reason. This includes anything from the Objectivist philosophy. However I will not do so by arguments that utilize logical fallacies such as the one the author makes on page 103.

Anonymous said...

Neil, I don't have the time or the energy to sit and critique every link people throw at me. But just from a cursory glance of that link we see the following statement..

***Premise 2 seems to be false. If I knew that I was inevitably going to get a million dollars tomorrow--there's no way I can avoid it--would that mean that the money will have no value? Again, Rand offers no defense of this assertion.***

How does one "inevitably" get a million dollars? Is someone going to force it on him or is he free to take it or leave it? If the latter, then I rest may case. If the former then he is absolutely correct because where there is force there are no value judgments and thus no ethics. This option however negates his critique because we are now outside of the field of ethics.

Again, this is delt with in AVoS yet the author seems to be oblivious to it when he forms that argument.

gregnyquist said...

"That one paragraph fits into the larger picture she is painting that there are objective values in nature."

That depends on what is meant by "fit." If by fit you mean it fits logically, so that the larger picture derives from that one paragraph, this is wrong. It does not fit logically; on the contrary, it's little more than a banal rationalization of Rand's real beliefs.

"When I abandoned theism and my old ways of thinking awhile back I told myself that I would go where ever reason and logic take me."

The phrase "reason and logic" is bit on the vague side and therefore troublesome. When looked at closely, it often means some form of rationalizing. Human beings are innately poor logicians, for reasons best explained by neo-Darwinians like Dawkins and Pinker (i.e., logic doesn't help people pass on their DNA, therefore it is not an attribute that has been selected through the farce of natural selection). What people do instead of using logic is rationalize. They accept without much critical thinking the pseudo-logic of their rationalizations. That, in a nutshell, is what is wrong with Rand's ethics. It's not so much what she's for, it's the arguments she gives for it. At its core, when you cut through the all the facile rationalization through which she embroiders her theories, Rand's morality is merely a superficial version of eudaemonism. Now eudaemonism is an estimable moral theory. Santayana described it as the only "moral morality." So the problem with Rand is not necessarily the broad theory she supports (although there may be serious problems with Rand's particular version of it), but the arguments she gives for it. Essentially, Objectivism tries to prove that the values of their version of eudaemonism are "objective." It fails in this attempt.

Where apologists of Rand go wrong is assuming that any attack on the formalized reasons that Rand gives for her morality is ipso facto an attack on Rand's actual morality (i.e., her eudaemonism). So an argument about Rand's attempt to prove that her morality is objective is assumed to be an attack on the eudaemonistic part of Rand's ethics. Now one can understand why Rand's apologists would frame the debate in this way. Eudaenomism is a very respectable theory, difficult to attack. Rand's formalized theory of morality is another matter altogether. It is very poor and hence very easy to attack. So the Randian apologist conflates the latter with the former. Rand's formalized rationalizations become part of the "larger picture she is painting." But the only part they play is as a facile rationalization. Otherwise, Rand's formalized ethics is in no way a part of her real ethics. Her formalized ethics even denies eudaemonism!

In conclusion: it's very important when examining any form of ideology -- and Objectivism is most emphatically an ideology -- to separate the formalized reasons given for the ideology from its real meaning. Ideologies are always little more than rationalizations. This does not necessarily make them wrong: they may be rationalizing things that are true. But they are rationalizing nonetheless: they are giving bad reasons for what they believe for other, largely non-rational reasons.

Anonymous said...

gregnyquist, I understand what you are saying about the formal reasons and the actual morality. This is why I am first trying to start out with the simplest examples and observations ( ie. Life is a process of self sustaining generating action. etc..)

If you object and say these these things are rationalizations (and it's not clear in your post if you think it is or not. I assume you think it is) then we must move this discussion into epistemology before we them move to ethics because the disagreement lays fundamentally prior to ethics. That is, dealing with the questions of what is reason, and what is logic.

Neil Parille said...

PM/Anon,

I agree that life is a value and that we, generally speaking, should avoid pain and pursue pleasure. But Rand then switches to "life proper to man qua man," a different concept.

Let me give you an example. I don't imagine that Objectivists would believe that working for the IRS is an honorable profession, but if that enables you to live a long life with minimal pain, I don't see how an Objectivist could oppose it.

Yes, Rand condoned suicide, but given that she did, isn't it clear that life is not the standard of value?

Anonymous said...

I would like to elaborate on the point about the million dollars..I dunno if the admin can add this to my post or if this has to be separate. either way...

If someone put the million dollars in the mans bank account and he spends it or keeps it then the money does have value to him because by doing so he is freely choosing to keep it.

If he doesn't want the million dollars because maybe someone wants to sleep with his wife ( like in that movie) then we are back into the previously discussed situation of choosing between things of value and choosing the greater value. In this situation it is not that the money has no value, it is that he his choosing a higher value. In this case his marital fidelity.

Daniel Barnes said...

PM:
>In my deduction I deal with a wide definition of life because the ONLY purpose of my deduction is to show that there are objective values in existence that support or destroy life...But before we can delve into this much harrier subject we must first acknowledge some fundamentals. You are so anxious to jump past this part and right to mans life, his happiness, and value judgements.

I would like to add to Neil P's reply to this, but from a different angle.

You and I agree on the aim of your deduction: that man has things called "values". That is a fact.

But this is not the problem Rand is claiming to solve. The problem is: based on the fact that people have values, what values ought you choose?

It is not that I am 'anxious to jump past this". We in fact agree. What you do not realise, I suspect, is that from that fact that humans have values, no subsequent decisions can be validly derived. The acceptance of this fact cannot lead you to any practical proposal. I think you may realise this at some level, as you say it gets "much hairier" once you get past this initial fact. Well...you're right! It is so "hairy" that it cannot in fact be done. I probably don't need to debate this with you - you can just try to derive such decisions without clashes yourself. Or you can ask yourself why there are still such debates (for example, whether Objectivists ought to work for the government in any way) going on within Objectivism!

This is a well known distinction that Rand is often alleged to have solved, but that she did in fact not. You may well disagree, but I invite you to debate it, and think it through for yourself, rather than accept merely what other Objectivists have said. Their arguments in this regard are demonstrably incorrect, as a short debate will show.

PM:
>Did the man make his decision with his own happiness in mind or did he
make that decision out of some duty to others sacrificing things he values for the sake of something
else?

The problem here is that your answer above is begging the question.

If values are the source of happiness, the problem is "what values should I then choose?" Your reply is clearly that one should "make his decision (about what he values) with his own happiness in mind.

Do you see what the problem is? The error, however, is Rand's, not just yours.

>I read those first few pages on epistemology is that Nyquist assumes as true my philosophy in order to arrive at a conclusion that disagrees with it. His issue is with that of certainties....The author assumes a certainty in order to refute that there are no certainties. He is committing the fallacy of the stolen concept...I predict that the author will assume omniscience as the standard of his argument. He will say that man is not omniscient therefore he can't know anything.

PM, can I just say that while these are generic Objectivist arguments, you may not realise they too can be easily refuted.

However I am sensitive to the fact that quite a few responses to your posts as it is - and that my post alone has several potential debates within it. I don't want you to feel like we are 'ganging up' on you.So I am happy for you to just restrict your replies to whatever you particularly feel like discussing. If it is epistemology, as you suggest to Greg, so much the better!

Anonymous said...

***Let me give you an example. I don't imagine that Objectivists would believe that working for the IRS is an honorable profession, but if that enables you to live a long life with minimal pain, I don't see how an Objectivist could oppose it.***

That question is answered here...

http://www.objectivistcenter.org/cth--1757-GovtJobsQ.aspx

But let me throw my two cents in. The author of the link above does not deal with the issue of the IRS so let me. I say that the IRS is an agency that initiates force. The initiation of force is immoral and therefore someone working in that organisation is initiating force. It is no different than a guy low down on the totem pole in the mafia. He is still guilty of aiding the immoral actions of the high chieftains. Yes...I compared the IRS to the mafia! : )

The workers and such at the IRS probably accept some ethical system that involves a higher good so they are oblivious to the comparison. They have been brainwashed and indoctrinated by a society that has accepted suffering as the standard of ethics.


***Yes, Rand condoned suicide, but given that she did, isn't it clear that life is not the standard of value?***

Rand did not condone suicide as such, but more specifically she recognised that when one chooses life as the standard of value and when this person realizes that there are no longer any values that are obtainable that meet this standard that there is a contradiction ( an unfortunate one). That contradiction is that without anything to value you will soon die . There is no life ( life que man) with out values. This goes back to the fact that I mentioned before that our emotional health plays a big part in our physical health. Someone without values will have negative emotions that will eventually lead to their death. ( For an example , and there are many, go read about Rush drummer Neil Peart who's wife fell ill soon after her daughter died in a terrible accident.)

If there is hope that later on they can find something else to value then suicide would be an irrational action. This is why it is so important for a person to understand the issue of values if they ever find themselves in such a situation.

***I would like to add to Neil P's reply to this, but from a different angle.

You and I agree on the aim of your deduction: that man has things called "values". That is a fact.***

No that is not the aim of my deduction. I have stated very clearly that the deduction shows that there ARE objective values, not that mans has values (though I agree man has values).

Now I dunno what presupposition you have in your mind that is causing you to not understand this simple premise? Maybe you need to step back with introspection and find out what that is because I cannot answer that for you.


***But this is not the problem Rand is claiming to solve. The problem is: based on the fact that people have values, what values ought you choose?***


yes..what ought you chose IF you want to live life qua man.

***It is not that I am 'anxious to jump past this". We in fact agree.***

No we don't. Like I said above you mischaracterized the conclusion of my deduction.

***What you do not realise, I suspect, is that from that fact that humans have values, no subsequent decisions can be validly derived.***

They do if you have a standard in which to make the value judgement.

***If values are the source of happiness, the problem is "what values should I then choose?" Your reply is clearly that one should "make his decision (about what he values) with his own happiness in mind.

Do you see what the problem is? The error, however, is Rand's, not just yours.***

As I stated before (which you did not interact with) emotional well being plays a big part in the physical health of a person. Having a family supports emotional well being as well as many other things. When a person says that they will make a value judgment based upon what will support their life qua man, they have already accepted that there are objective values that promote or not promote their life qua man.

This is why my statement above assumes that the man is rational and understands that no matter what he thinks about a value, reality sets the terms of the value and not his wishing. As I stated before, reality will bite him in the ass if he chooses the wrong value even if he thinks it is a good value. A rational man will say, "I value my emotional well being and my family etc". "Now here I have a choice to make concerning the type of employment I will take. Which one of these values judgements will promote or at least not contradict my values that support my life qua man.?" He is making the decision based upon the things he values and consequently, his happiness.


***PM, can I just say that while these are generic Objectivist arguments, you may not realise they too can be easily refuted.

However I am sensitive to the fact that quite a few responses to your posts as it is - and that my post alone has several potential debates within it. I don't want you to feel like we are 'ganging up' on you.So I am happy for you to just restrict your replies to whatever you particularly feel like discussing. If it is epistemology, as you suggest to Greg, so much the better! ***

The fallacy of the stolen concept is a violation of the law of non contradiction. I am eager to read what you have to say about me charging the authors stance on page 103 with this violation.

Daniel Barnes said...

PM:
>I have stated very clearly that the deduction shows that there ARE objective values, not that mans has values

But your deduction mentions nothing about "objective" values. However, again let us accept that your deduction proves the fact that objective values exist. I say again: how then do you validly derive what specific value choices to make from this fact? I say that you will not be able to. The problem remains the same.

This is because there is a dualism between facts and decisions. The latter does not necessarily follow from the former. Now you may claim that Rand has found a way to overcome this dualism. But you have yet to actually demonstrate this.

>When a person says that they will make a value judgment based upon what will support their life qua man, they have already accepted that there are objective values that promote or not promote their life qua man.

I repeat: we may accept the fact that values exist. But this fact does not tell us which specific course of action to adopt. This is why Rand ended up with vagaries such as 'man qua man', and ultimately ends up begging the question.

>The fallacy of the stolen concept is a violation of the law of non contradiction. I am eager to read what you have to say about me charging the authors stance on page 103 with this violation.

This is very straightforward to do, and can be actually done a couple of ways. One way is to simply say the claim "There is no such thing as certain knowledge" is hypothesis. Thus, there may indeed be ways of achieving certain knowledge, but we have not yet discovered them. (Rand's theory of 'contextual' certainty is, it turns out, a word-game of the same form as the proposition "definitely maybe." So I argue she has not discovered a method of certain knowledge at all! But we will argue that in more depth later).

Alternatively, we can propose "certain knowledge" as a hypothetical standard that we can try to get closer too, but have not achieved. (Actually her arguments about the 'standard of omniscience' turn out to be incorrect too, as I will explain in my next post)

Neither form violates the logical rule of non-contradiction. In fact, for this reason skepticism - the proposition that all claims to knowledge are hypothetical, including this one - is actually logically consistent. Thus, this claim, tho regularly made by Objectivists, is false.

Geddit?

Dragonfly said...

There is no objective proof that for example a parasite is choosing values that do not support his life. On the contrary, there is ample evidence that many parasites can survive and even survive well. If we take Rand's standard: "The standard is the organism's life, or; that which is required for the organism's survival", a parasite can very well live according to that standard. Now Rand has still a trick up her sleeve: at a certain moment she switches from "mere survival" to "survival of man qua man", which in essence we may translate as "survival of man as an Objectivist". But that is of course a perfect example of begging the question, she now presupposes that a creative, productive life, life as an Objectivist is the only standard. She is trying to pull a fast one by glossing over the transition from "mere survival" to "survival qua man", but that is of course the essential switch which completely invalidates her "proof".

Daniel Barnes said...

dragonfly:
>She is trying to pull a fast one by glossing over the transition from "mere survival" to "survival qua man", but that is of course the essential switch which completely invalidates her "proof".

Yes, dragonfly, this is exactly the equivocation I am talking about, and that Greg shows in his book.

Anonymous said...

***But your deduction mentions nothing about "objective" values.***

By Objective values I mean values that exist that support or destroy mans life which is what my deduction shows . If I had used the term objective in my premises you would then accuse me (rightly so) of being circular because that is exactly the conclusion that I am arriving at!

***However, again let us accept that your deduction proves the fact that objective values exist. I say again: how then do you validly derive what specific value choices to make from this fact? I say that you will not be able to. The problem remains the same.***

You do that by observation (induction). (eg) "Wow drinking water helps me live and makes me feel good where as drinking sewage makes me sick". The objective value that was arrived at by induction is that water is good and sewage is bad in the context of things to put into your body. Man didn't make it that way, it is because of nature.

You may agree with this but them raise an objection about a man who chooses some type of situation over a job that pays well. In which case I addressed this issue and you have abandoned that portion of your argument. But I don't blame you for that because it can't be defended.


***This is because there is a dualism between facts and decisions. The latter does not necessarily follow from the former. Now you may claim that Rand has found a way to overcome this dualism. But you have yet to actually demonstrate this.***

I have demonstrated it. You have yet to understand it with your objections that illustrate you lack of understanding on this subject.

For example...The man who authored the book that you champion posted a link saying it was a refutation of Rands ethics. I have shown conclusively in that one simple example that the man who authored that web page is wrong (on that part at least). Now if the guy who authored the book that this website here promotes thought that that mans web page was a valid refutation of Rands ethics, then it is logical for me to make the conclusion that he himself does not understand Rands ethics and that more than likely this misunderstanding carried over into the book that you say I should read.

But anywho, you are referring to Humes famous is/ought dichotomy. If you go back and read Humes work on this you will see that he stated clearly that there is no logical is to ought by itself. He did not say that you can't go from is to ought. He simply said that there is no such direct path and that IF you do go from is to ought it must be explained.

***I repeat: we may accept the fact that values exist. But this fact does not tell us which specific course of action to adopt. This is why Rand ended up with vagaries such as 'man qua man', and ultimately ends up begging the question. ***

And by you stating that it begs the question, begs the question of this entire thread because that's what's being argued.

***This is very straightforward to do, and can be actually done a couple of ways. One way is to simply say the claim "There is no such thing as certain knowledge" is hypothesis. Thus, there may indeed be ways of achieving certain knowledge, but we have not yet discovered them. (Rand's theory of 'contextual' certainty is, it turns out, a word-game of the same form as the proposition "definitely maybe." So I argue she has not discovered a method of certain knowledge at all! But we will argue that in more depth later).***

Saying that the premise, "There is no such thing as certain knowledge" is contextual, is still asserting a certainty my friend! Saying that it's contextual is a red herring away from the fact that it is a certainty.
In fact it is asserting a contextual certainty for which you say is nothing but a word game! Or wait, you say Rands contextual knowledge is a word game. Ok so how is it a word game and not what you posit here? You did not explain that difference in your post but merely made the assertion.

***Alternatively, we can propose "certain knowledge" as a hypothetical standard that we can try to get closer too, but have not achieved. (Actually her arguments about the 'standard of omniscience' turn out to be incorrect too, as I will explain in my next post)***

Omniscience is a standard that does not exist. There is no such thing as omniscience. That is why to base an argument working from a premise that assumes omniscience is the same as basing an argument from any other fairy tale or myth.


***Neither form violates the logical rule of non-contradiction. In fact, for this reason skepticism - the proposition that all claims to knowledge are hypothetical, including this one - is actually logically consistent. Thus, this claim, tho regularly made by Objectivists, is false.

Geddit? ***

I get how you don't get it, yes. You do not understand what the fallacy of the stolen concept is. Google it.

The premise, "all claims to knowledge are hypothetical, including this one ", is STILL A STATEMENT OF CERTIANTY!

But more importantly it still violates the fallacy of the stolen concept. This person used the concept of "claim" in that statement. How did that person arrive at the concept of claim? They used their senses and rational faculties to eventually arrive at the concept "claim" at some point in their life. Now here they are on November the 26th 2006 accepting as true how that concept was arrived at by using it in their statement in order to attack how concepts are arrived at!

You see how that damn ole reality keeps getting in the way of b/s? You have still not escaped the fallacy of the stolen concept.

But anyways as a side note, because something is logically consistent (not that I agree your claim is) it does not follow that it is true or correct. For example I can dream up of a wild and crazy story about fifty foot tall grasshoppers and it be logically consistent with itself.

Anonymous said...

***There is no objective proof that for example a parasite is choosing values that do not support his life. On the contrary, there is ample evidence that many parasites can survive and even survive well. If we take Rand's standard: "The standard is the organism's life, or; that which is required for the organism's survival", a parasite can very well live according to that standard.**

Yes, but man is not a parasite. Man survives by different means.


***Now Rand has still a trick up her sleeve:***

There's nothing tricky about it. I understand it completely.

***at a certain moment she switches from "mere survival" to "survival of man qua man", which in essence we may translate as "survival of man as an Objectivist".***

Rand first observed the nature of reality and man in reality and arrived at premises that she saw that support man flourishing with all of his wisdom and creativity. She also used induction to see that which obstructs this wonderful nature of man. What Rand was pointing out about animals survive by certain means, she was mealy pointing out that man is an animal and he survives by certain means as well but the difference being that mans rational faculties necessitates ethics where as the lower animals do not.


***But that is of course a perfect example of begging the question, she now presupposes that a creative, productive life, life as an Objectivist is the only standard.***

Well of coarse Rand thinks that her convictions (her philosophy) are the rights ones! So does every other philosopher!

As I have been explaining to Daniel. You are confusing life as the standard of values with values themselves and the order at which they are depend on one another.

Daniel Barnes said...

PM:
>If I had used the term objective in my premises you would then accuse me (rightly so) of being circular because that is exactly the conclusion that I am arriving at!

No that's entirely incorrect. If I use the term 'mortal' in the argument "All men are mortal/Socrates is a man/Socrates is mortal" that is not circular!

You didn't use 'objective' in *any* of your arguments premises. You introduced it in your conclusion for some reason. I let it slide at the time, but reading your comments above I now suspect you simply don't know what you are talking about.

>The premise, "all claims to knowledge are hypothetical, including this one ", is STILL A STATEMENT OF CERTIANTY!

This is genuinely funny...;-) You are kidding, right?

>Or wait, you say Rands contextual knowledge is a word game. Ok so how is it a word game and not what you posit here? You did not explain that difference in your post but merely made the assertion.

I did explain it briefly. "contextual certainty" is no different from saying "definitely maybe"! That is, "my knowledge is certain, but only in the context of what I already know". Thus it is actually uncertain! The theory of contextual knowledge leads to a high degree of comedy. For example, when the Morning Star and the Evening Star were thought to be different stars, an Objectivist could claim that he was "absolutely certain" they were different. When it was discovered they were in fact the same star, an Objectivist could equally and unblushingly say that it was now "absolutely certain" that they were the same!

>If you go back and read Humes work on this you will see that he stated clearly that there is no logical is to ought by itself.

But this is exactly what I said: "I say again: how then do you validly derive what specific value choices to make from this fact? I say you will not be able to."

For some reason you don't seem to have noticed this.

>But more importantly it still violates the fallacy of the stolen concept. This person used the concept of "claim" in that statement. How did that person arrive at the concept of claim? They used their senses and rational faculties to eventually arrive at the concept "claim" at some point in their life. Now here they are on November the 26th 2006 accepting as true how that concept was arrived at by using it in their statement in order to attack how concepts are arrived at!

What on earth are you talking about, man? This has nothing to do with what we are discussing.

Daniel Barnes said...

I wrote to PM
>You didn't use 'objective' in *any* of your arguments premises. You introduced it in your conclusion for some reason.

I should clarify: 'objective' is actually not at all in the premises or conclusion of PM's initial argument. He adds it here:

PM
>In my deduction I deal with a wide definition of life because the ONLY purpose of my deduction is to show that there are objective values in existence that support or destroy life.

Anonymous said...

***No that's entirely incorrect. If I use the term 'mortal' in the argument "All men are mortal/Socrates is a man/Socrates is mortal" that is not circular!***


OK granted, your objection there anyways is nothing but semantics to begin with.
Would you like for me to reword my deduction? It will still arrive at the same conclusion and you will still not have anything to offer to refute it but a semantics game.

***This is genuinely funny...;-) You are kidding, right?***

It's clear that you are out of gas. There are a wake of unanswered arguments that I presented that you have not dealt with thus far. You have a lot of work to do.

***I did explain it briefly. "contextual certainty" is no different from saying "definitely maybe"! That is, "my knowledge is certain, but only in the context of what I already know". Thus it is actually uncertain! The theory of contextual knowledge leads to a high degree of comedy. For example, when the Morning Star and the Evening Star were thought to be different stars, an Objectivist could claim that he was "absolutely certain" they were different. When it was discovered they were in fact the same star, an Objectivist could equally and unblushingly say that it was now "absolutely certain" that they were the same!***


An Objectvist would not make the conclusion that they were the same stars just because that's what the popular view at the time was. An Objectivist would say that they do not have enough information to form a conclusion on that issue.

Here's a better example. Suppose all my life I see trucks carrying people but not cargo. I Form the conclusion that trucks carry people. Then one day I see a truck carrying cargo. I then integrate this new knowledge into my worldview and say that trucks carry people or cargo. This new piece of information does not contradict my previous held view that trucks carry people, it simply adds to it. That's why it is important to know how concepts are formed in order to integrate new knowledge and not be taken in by a skeptic who would have told me , "see you thought trucks carried people so we can't know anything "!!



***But this is exactly what I said: "I say again: how then do you validly derive what specific value choices to make from this fact? I say you will not be able to."

For some reason you don't seem to have noticed this. ***

Wow Daniel!! Look at how you so flagrantly quoted me out of context! I obviously said in the next sentence that Hume stated that it's ok to do that so long as it is explained!


***What on earth are you talking about, man? This has nothing to do with what we are discussing. ***


You are positing an argument attacking Rands theory of knowledge and by using words (which are nothing but mental signifiers for concepts), in this case as one example the concept "claim". You have accepted how that concept was arrived at in an argument rejecting how that concept was arrived at.

maybe this will help you...

http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Sparta/1019/Fallacies.htm#stolen

http://www.goodart.org/stolen.htm

http://wiki.cotch.net/index.php/Stolen_Concept

Daniel Barnes said...

PM:
>An Objectvist would not make the conclusion that they were the same stars just because that's what the popular view at the time was. An Objectivist would say that they do not have enough information to form a conclusion on that issue.

But why? There was plenty of evidence at the time that suggested it was two different stars - the 'self-evident' testimony of the senses, for example! That's the full context of your knowledge at that time. Ergo, an Objectivist could quite properly say that she was 'absolutely certain' about this false theory. You simply cannot deny this. Look, I know this example makes 'contextual certainty' seem like an embarrassingly bad epistemological theory, and you'd prefer to use to a more convenient case. But that's because it is an embarrassingly bad theory! That's Rand's fault, not yours incidentally, and not mine for pointing it out. You may claim I don't understand it properly. On the contrary, I claim that you haven't really thought her theory through and realised that it leads to just such absurd conclusions as above. I invite you to do so, even tho I am sure your current beliefs are passionately held. I think your statement here:"I told myself that I would go where ever reason and logic take me." is highly commendable, and I think you should follow it.

Daniel Barnes said...

PM:
>Wow Daniel!! Look at how you so flagrantly quoted me out of context!

Actually it seemed that's what you were doing to me. Anyway, enough quibbling.

>You are positing an argument attacking Rands theory of knowledge and by using words (which are nothing but mental signifiers for concepts), in this case as one example the concept "claim". You have accepted how that concept was arrived at in an argument rejecting how that concept was arrived at.

It seems your argument is becoming very convoluted. I'm guessing, but I think your confusion is a common one. That is, between 1) the truth and 2) our knowledge of it. In other words, while it is admittedly hard to come by, we can possess the unvarnished truth. However, we cannot know for sure we have it. This fundamental uncertainty is the logical consequence of Hume's discovery of the problem of induction - a problem which Ayn Rand herself admits she has not refuted.

Anonymous said...

Daniel,

No you are missing the point. The ancients did not have any evidence to point to to support their conclusion that it was two different stars (or planets actually).

This was NOT a conclusion that was arrived at via induction.

As I said, an Objectivist would not conclude that it was two different stars because they happen at different times because that would be a non-sequitur. That conclusion does not follow from that premise.

Is this what you are left with?

Anonymous said...

***It seems your argument is becoming very convoluted. I'm guessing, but I think your confusion is a common one. That is, between 1) the truth and 2) our knowledge of it. In other words, while it is admittedly hard to come by, we can possess the unvarnished truth. However, we cannot know for sure we have it. This fundamental uncertainty is the logical consequence of Hume's discovery of the problem of induction - a problem which Ayn Rand herself admits she has not refuted.***

No when Rand was asked if induction can provide certain knowledge she said it can't. It is merely one half of the process of thought.

But anyways you again are assuming omniscience as the standard with this argument. Why must you step outside of reality in order to form an argument?

Why have you not elaborated on your claim that omniscience as a standard is not irrational?

Daniel Barnes said...

PM
>The ancients did not have any evidence to point to to support their conclusion that it was two different stars (or planets actually).

You don't know what you are talking about. Venus actually has a complex series of movements, appearances and disappearances that gave the illusion to the Greeks at least it was two different stars. Thus there was plenty of evidence to suggest this false conclusion.

>Is this what you are left with?

Sorry if you don't like to accept the logical conclusions of your own chosen theories! But in the end that's your problem, not mine.

Anonymous said...

***You don't know what you are talking about. Venus actually has a complex series of movements, appearances and disappearances that gave the illusion to the Greeks at least it was two different stars. Thus there was plenty of evidence to suggest this false conclusion.***


Gezus H! They concluded that because it was at different times that it was two different stars and it was because of Pythagoras's observations that showed otherwise!

you end up making my point.

Daniel Barnes said...

PM:
>No when Rand was asked if induction can provide certain knowledge she said it can't. It is merely one half of the process of thought.

You don't seem to understand the problem of induction. Merely adding deduction as the other 'half' doesn't produce certain knowledge! This is just a silly assertion. Please demonstrate how it does!

(Incidentally, the problem of induction is that it is not logically valid. Do you realise this?)

>Why have you not elaborated on your claim that omniscience as a standard is not irrational?

I will explain a little later. It is no great mystery.

Anonymous said...

***You don't seem to understand the problem of induction. Merely adding deduction as the other 'half' doesn't produce certain knowledge! This is just a silly assertion. Please demonstrate how it does!***

Wow Daniel let that vast understanding you have of Rands philosophy shine on though!

You know you really undermine your objections by illustrating your lack of understanding of the issue you claim you are refuting.

Here's a helpful hint. If you are going to argue against a particular idea, it's a good idea to understand what it is you are arguing against.

Deduction is not the other half. It is the non-contradictory integration of knowledge into ones knowledge base along with induction.

Anonymous said...

I dunno why my reply about the morning star has not gone through yet? I posted it before I did my last reply on induction.

Anyways, it was Pythagoras who used induction to arrive at the conclusion that it's the same entity. The previous conclusion was arrived at because they simply assumed that Venus acted the same as other anomalies that follow with the earths 24 hour rotation.

This makes my case not yours!

Daniel Barnes said...

PM:
>Deduction is not the other half. It is the non-contradictory integration of knowledge into ones knowledge base along with induction.

Yeeesss....and how does one arrive at this amazing "non-contradictory integration"? Do you not use logic (ie:deduction)?

If you do use typical deductive logic for this other "half" of the process, why not just say so instead if all this other pseudophilosophic blather?

If you don't use logic, or mere logic alone is not enough for the non-inductive "half", what mysterious 3rd neither-logical-nor-empirical 'integration' do Objectivists practice?

Daniel Barnes said...

>Anyways, it was Pythagoras who used induction to arrive at the conclusion that it's the same entity. The previous conclusion was arrived at because they simply assumed that Venus acted the same as other anomalies that follow with the earths 24 hour rotation....This makes my case not yours!

No it doesn't at all. Your case is as jiggered as it was at the start, my friend. For all we have is a pre-Pythagorean Objectivist who could legitimately claim "absolute certainty" in the full context of his knowledge at the time that they were two different bodies , and a post-Pythagorean O'ist who could equally claim "absolute certainty" in the full context of his knowledge at the time that they were one and the same!

As I say: if you don't want to face the logical conclusions of your own theory because they don't suit you, this is hardly my problem! You can invent any number of exculpatory excuses, of course. But it does seem to fly in the face wanting to follow reason "wherever it leads" and putting your theories thru truly tough tests, rather than only convenient examples! But as I say: You don't have to listen to what we're saying. It's ultimately up to you personally to seriously challenge your beliefs. After all, you have to live with them!

Anonymous said...

***Yeeesss....and how does one arrive at this amazing "non-contradictory integration"? Do you not use logic (ie:deduction)?

If you do use typical deductive logic for this other "half" of the process, why not just say so instead if all this other pseudophilosophic blather?

If you don't use logic, or mere logic alone is not enough for the non-inductive "half", what mysterious 3rd neither-logical-nor-empirical 'integration' do Objectivists practice? ***

Deduction is only extrapolating information from given premises. Rand was not a big fan of deduction but did not discount that it has its uses.

I like deduction for the specific reason of organising premises so that way I can understand the totality of what is being discussed. This is just my personal opinion though. We all learn in different ways.

Anyways, when you are dealing with induction which is the backbone of all knowledge, you cannot omit the fact of other entities and phenomena when forming your induction as if the entity or phenomena you are inducing exist in a vacuum not attached to anything else. Because existence exist (axiom of existence) and that things posses a nature (law of identity) consequently there can be no contradictions in reality. Using induction by itself while omitting context you will almost certainly arrive at contradictions.

Also one must know how to form concepts in their mind so as not to contradict themselves when new knowledge is integrated.


You should read Introduction To Objectivist Epistemology.

Anonymous said...

***No it doesn't at all. Your case is as jiggered as it was at the start, my friend. For all we have is a pre-Pythagorean Objectivist who could legitimately claim "absolute certainty" in the full context of his knowledge at the time that they were two different bodies , and a post-Pythagorean O'ist who could equally claim "absolute certainty" in the full context of his knowledge at the time that they were one and the same!***

Wow Daniel you understand this as well as you understand the fallacy of the stolen concept!


When they concluded that venus was two different entities it was because they simply assumed (not observed) the same for this as the moon and sun etc that they appear one time per 24 hour cycle. No inductions were made until Pythagoras came along and made the observations!

This supports my posistion!

Daniel Barnes said...

I repeat my questions.

Is typical deductive logic sufficient for this other "half" of the process? Yes or no?

If no, or mere logic alone is not enough for the non-inductive "half", what mysterious 3rd neither-logical-nor-inductive 'integration' do Objectivists practice? Please explain this extra process.

>You should read Introduction To Objectivist Epistemology.

I know the book very well and have debated it extensively. It is easily the worst thing she ever wrote. There is a howler on just about every page. Would you like to discuss it in detail?

Anonymous said...

***I repeat my questions.

Is typical deductive logic sufficient for this other "half" of the process? Yes or no?***



AI have answered your question already. The law of non contradiction combined with a proper understanding of how concepts are formed.

But you should know this since you are so dang familiar with ITOE right?

Daniel Barnes said...

PM:
>When they concluded that venus was two different entities it was because they simply assumed (not observed) the same for this as the moon and sun etc that they appear one time per 24 hour cycle. No inductions were made until Pythagoras came along and made the observations! This supports my posistion!

This counterargument is just laughable. You now are claiming that the pre-Pythagoreans made no observations! The problem for you now is how then they even knew there were such stars in the sky! I suppose you will now have to argue that they "assumed" there were! Hilarious.

Anonymous said...

***This counterargument is just laughable. You now are claiming that the pre-Pythagoreans made no observations! The problem for you now is how then they even knew there were such stars in the sky! I suppose you will now have to argue that they "assumed" there were! Hilarious.***

Wow..what's laughable is that you do not understand what I am saying. But in your credit , I'm sure you do, your are just trying to save face right now that's all.

I did not say that the pre-Pythagoreans did not make observations. I said that they assumed the same for the morning star entity the same they observed of the moon and the sun. That the earth spins around once every twenty four hours and that they view each entity once every cycle.
Now it may be safe to assume this for other entities in space like this but that would be a conclusion they had reached by deduction. As far as that specific body it was not studied (induction) itself until Pythagoreans came along.

Anyways I've had enough of this for one day. I value my sleep.

Daniel Barnes said...

I asked again:
>Is typical deductive logic sufficient for this other "half" of the process? Yes or no?***

PM replied:
AI have answered your question already. The law of non contradiction combined with a proper understanding of how concepts are formed.

PM, let's just get a straight answer on that. Is that a yes or a no? As in:

Yes, typical deductive logic is sufficient for this other "half" of the process.

Or:

No, typical deductive logic is not sufficient for this other "half" of the process. In addition to, or instead of, typical deductive logic, us Objectivists use...(fill in blank)

This is what you call an either/or. What's it to be?

Cos hey PM, if you're not using logic, or logic plus (Process X), better let us all know what it is! Do tell...

>But you should know this since you are so dang familiar with ITOE right?

If it is in the ITOE, it is almost certain to be mistaken! She was much better at writing fiction than laying out coherent arguments.

Daniel Barnes said...

Now, as to this alleged "standard of omniscience."

Rand tries to argue that by saying certain knowledge is 'a dubious conviction', one is 1) invoking this standard and 2) this standard is invalid, as the proper standard of man's knowledge is 'man'.

This argument fails at both levels.

1) We do not necessarily have to invoke this standard to make this claim. For we have all experienced things we felt absolutely certain were true that we have later found to be false. Thus if we want, we can justify such a claim on the basis of our own experience.

2) Of course, there is nothing wrong with invoking any external standard, such as 'omniscience', as a hypothetical standard. You cannot measure 1.5 cm absolutely precisely, you can only approximate it. Does that make it an invalid standard? Further, what happens if we adopt Rand's suggestion that the measure of man's knowledge shoud be 'man'? It means whatever I happen to know now is 'absolutely certain' - and same with you! And if our knowledge clashes, we're still both 'absolutely certain.' In other words, Rand's suggestion - which she never examines, just uses as a rhetorical device - actually leads to epistemological relativism.

So it's a hopeless case.

Dragonfly said...

Primover:"Yes, but man is not a parasite. Man survives by different means."

That is an arbitrary statement for which you have no proof. The question is not whether everyone is a parasite - that is obviously not the case -, but whether a parasite can live according to Rand's standard "the organism's life, or; that which is required for the organism's survival".

P: "***Now Rand has still a trick up her sleeve:***

There's nothing tricky about it. I understand it completely."

The trick is that she tries to smuggle this transition from "mere survival" to "survival of man qua man" into her "proof" that people should live a productive and creative life. The point is not that this is bad advice - in principle I can agree with it - but that she pretends to derive it in an objective way. She does no such thing, as she assumes that what she claims to prove.

P: "Well of coarse Rand thinks that her convictions (her philosophy) are the rights ones! So does every other philosopher!"

That is not the point. The criticism is in this case not so much about her conclusion but about her pretentious claim that she can prove it objectively.

Anonymous said...

Daniel,

The main problem with your argument is that you do not understand the concept of "certain" and have equivocated it with omniscience.
In what way is your use of the word "certain" different from that of the meaning of omniscience? Why even have two words when according to your view they are indistinguishable? Why even use the word certain to begin with? Why not just say, "I'm not omniscient so I can't say for sure", about EVERY instance including to the question , "Are you the same person now as you were when you woke up this morning"? You would have to say, "Well I'm not omniscient so I can't say for sure, but it's a good bet that I am".

Also the way you use the word certain you are implying that a mistake or error realized in hindsight cannot be made for it to be considered certain and that if a mistake was made, well then it wasn't certain all along! Yet when we look at the standard definition of the word ,certain, neither omniscience or free from mistakes is implied in any of the definitions. In other words, the definitions do not preclude that a mistake is possible. So let's look at the definition of certain according to dictionary.com with my comments after each definition.


1.) free from doubt or reservation; confident; sure: I am certain he will come.


When a rational person looks at all of the evidence and ponders rather there is a possibility of unknown variables he can decide if he is certain or not. Nothing in definition number one assumes omniscience nor does it preclude any mistakes by the person claiming certainty.

A person can be free from doubt and still be wrong. According to your view if a person is free from doubt and is wrong well then he wasn't certain all along! Where does it say that in any of these definitions? And more importantly, where are you getting your definition from and why does it bear a striking resemblance to omniscience?


2.) destined; sure to happen (usually fol. by an infinitive): He is certain to be there.


Again, this definition supports my view and not yours. If someone is sure that the sun will come up tomorrow then that means according to what we know and assuming no unknown variables come up the sun will come up tomorrow. Again, there is nothing in this definition that precludes mistakes or assumes that one must be omniscient as you imply with your objection.
Your standard says that unless we know the unknown variables then we can't be sure. But if its known, its not unknown! Thus we are out of the realm of reality and in epidimological la la land.



3.) inevitable; bound to come: They realized then that war was certain.



The same here with three as the others above..



4.) established as true or sure; unquestionable; indisputable: It is certain that he tried.



But this ones is my favorite because of these words here..." unquestionable; indisputable"... can you dispute that the sun will come up tomorrow? NO well then I'm certain that it will! Again, the definition of the word supports my case and not yours.



5,6,7 and 8 are dealing with this word in a context not relevant to our discussion.

5.) fixed; agreed upon; settled: on a certain day; for a certain amount.
6.) definite or particular, but not named or specified: A certain person phoned , He had a certain charm.
7.) that may be depended on; trustworthy; unfailing; reliable: His aim was certain.
8.) some though not much: a certain reluctance.


So be prepared to offer up how you arrived at your defintion of "certain" and how a rational person would validate such a thing. But be carefull young grasshopper, for that pesky ole fallacy of the stolen concept lurks near!




***2) Of course, there is nothing wrong with invoking any external standard, such as 'omniscience', as a hypothetical standard. You cannot measure 1.5 cm absolutely precisely, you can only approximate it. Does that make it an invalid standard?***


Likewise there is not a group of skeptic carpenters out their saying , "Gee, we can never know how long our two by fours are therefore no one knows how to build anything "! That is no different than saying that we can never be sure if there are unknown variables therefore we can't know anything. We would laugh at such carpenters and they would starve themselves out of business. Yet when you are a philosopher and you say stupid crap like that it's venerated by the credulous and taught at the universities.



***Further, what happens if we adopt Rand's suggestion that the measure of man's knowledge should be 'man'? It means whatever I happen to know now is 'absolutely certain' - and same with you! And if our knowledge clashes, we're still both 'absolutely certain.' In other words, Rand's suggestion - which she never examines, just uses as a rhetorical device - actually leads to epistemological relativism.***



Could you site me where Rand says that the standard of knowledge is man ? I have a sneaky suspicion that you are running something she said through your ringer and erecting a strawman.

Further more, just because someone claims they have knowledge of something that does not mean that they really have knowledge of it. People have "knowledge " of god or "knowledge" of aliens that stick things up their asses. These people are oblivious of the proper methods of concept formation, the basic laws of existence, identity, and non contradiction. They never bother to introspect and search themselves or their convictions for consistence with other held convictions and simultaneously with reality. Also they think emotions are a means of cognition.

When two rational men who understand how to form concepts and all of the other things I listed above, observe a set of particular entities from two different perspectives and extrapolate information about their observation , they can then compare notes and none of their information will contradict the others. In fact, they will each understand the entities from each others respective vantage points and have a deeper knowledge of the entities when they compare notes.



***PM, let's just get a straight answer on that. Is that a yes or a no? As in:

Yes, typical deductive logic is sufficient for this other "half" of the process.

Or:

No, typical deductive logic is not sufficient for this other "half" of the process. In addition to, or instead of, typical deductive logic, us Objectivists use...(fill in blank)

This is what you call an either/or. What's it to be?

Cos hey PM, if you're not using logic, or logic plus (Process X), better let us all know what it is! Do tell...***




I dunno how I could possible be any clearer than I was the first two times? The law of non contradiction combined with a proper understanding of how concepts are formed along with induction. Deductive reasoning is not used in forming concepts. Not that deduction does not have it uses.


Dragonfly,

***That is an arbitrary statement for which you have no proof. The question is not whether everyone is a parasite - that is obviously not the case -, but whether a parasite can live according to Rand's standard "the organism's life, or; that which is required for the organism's survival". ***



I agree that it's the case that some humans are parasites. However when we refer to a human as a parasite we mean that they live off of the hospitality and productive efforts of others while offering nothing in return. If humans were primarily parasites by nature, who's productive effort would we be living off of? The fact that we are here today alive proves that humans for the most part are producers verses the contrary.



***The trick is that she tries to smuggle this transition from "mere survival" to "survival of man qua man" into her "proof" that people should live a productive and creative life. The point is not that this is bad advice - in principle I can agree with it - but that she pretends to derive it in an objective way. She does no such thing, as she assumes that what she claims to prove.***


She looked at man and reality and induced what is good for man and what is not. It's down right scary that this is even a controversial topic! She then said, that which promotes mans life is the moral and that which negates it is the immoral. The proof of this is not some deduction which a claim of circularity can be made. Rand did not use deduction in her arguments. She said simply LOOK AROUND! Reality has the final say in what is good for man and what is not.

The proof is all around you. Look at how people generally live longer and happier in free market nations verses the contrary. Look at how sober people live longer and happier than drunkards. Look at how the honest man typically has more sinsere friends than a dishonest man and consequently will have a greater number of friends (or at least true friends) to turn to in hard times. Look at all the examples of the initiation of force and how that has hurt people. Look at how religion has stagnated free thought and gave Europe a thousand years of dark ages and those that threaten to do the same in this country. Look at how the middle east is still in a dark age for the same reason. Look at how there being no support of property rights causes productive stagnation which in turn causes poverty and unhealthier living.


If looking at these stark contrast around you and seeing how it affects people and you still come to the conclusion that its all relative, then there's not a freakin think anyone can do to prove it to you.


[quote]That is not the point. The criticism is in this case not so much about her conclusion but about her pretentious claim that she can prove it objectively.[/quote]


Can you quote me her "pretentious claim" so I can see exactly what it is you are talking about?

Daniel Barnes said...

PM:
>In what way is your use of the word "certain" different from that of the meaning of omniscience?

Hi PM,

Thanks for your lengthy response. Unfortunately this question above indicates you need to refer to my 1) of the previous post.

Further, if, as you say, you think the definition of 'certain' should include miscellaneous uncertainties, such as 'mistakes' or the general possibility of errors that we may not know about, I am more than happy to accept this definition, although it is little more than a word-game as far as I can see ie: merely switching the usual meaning of 'certain' for its opposite! This means that you and I agree that absolute, total, complete, omniscient, free-from-error certainty is indeed unjustified as a description of human knowledge. Excellent. Nice to have you aboard.

As Greg and others have pointed out, such word-games are actually commonplace in Rand's corpus. In fact they are a fundamental part of the way her arguments function. For example, in a passage I often cite in the ITOE she defines as "absolutely precision" what would be normally called an approximation! You do likewise in your interpretation of the word "certain" when you write the following:

PM:"Yet when we look at the standard definition of the word 'certain'...the definitions do not preclude that a mistake is possible."

All you are doing here is adding a dangling modifier to the word 'certain' that undoes its meaning - the same as saying "Definitely maybe". (This is all Rand is does too with her 'absolute precision' example). You are welcome to consider this banal word-play intellectually profound, young Grasshopper! I am sorry, but I do not....;-)

>I dunno how I could possible be any clearer than I was the first two times? The law of non contradiction combined with a proper understanding of how concepts are formed along with induction. Deductive reasoning is not used in forming concepts. Not that deduction does not have it uses.

So according to you, we may summarise the parts of of the epistemological process as follows:

1) Induction
2) a) The Law of Non-Contradiction
b) A proper understanding of concept formation

The newsflash to me is that this process *specifically excludes* logic! That explains a lot...;-)

Anonymous said...

***So according to you, we may summarise the parts of of the epistemological process as follows:

1) Induction
2) a) The Law of Non-Contradiction
b) A proper understanding of concept formation

The newsflash to me is that this process *specifically excludes* logic! That explains a lot...;-) ***


Logic..what is logic but a process of non contradictory identification? The LoNC is the backbone of logic.

So what's your argument? You clearly have no understanding of Objectivist epistemology and therefore no basis in which to form a coherent argument on the subject. All you are doing is looking to play rehtorical games.


***All you are doing here is adding a dangling modifier to the word 'certain' that undoes its meaning ***

LOL! A dangling modifier that undoes it's meaning!

I SHOWED YOU THE FREAKING MEANING FROM THE DICTIONARY!

You go on to claim that my "dangling modifier" contradicts the definition.


***Further, if, as you say, you think the definition of 'certain' should include miscellaneous uncertainties, such as 'mistakes' or the general possibility of errors that we may not know about, I am more than happy to accept this definition, although it is little more than a word-game as far as I can see ie: merely switching the usual meaning of 'certain' for its opposite! ***


What in the definitions I posted from dictionary.com are the opposite of 'error free' or omniscient? Could you point that out to me?

But in the mean time lets review a definition and what I had to say because it is so destructive to your case...


I posted definition 4 here..

4.) established as true or sure; unquestionable; indisputable: It is certain that he tried.

And then I said...

"But this ones is my favorite because of these words here..." unquestionable; indisputable"... can you dispute that the sun will come up tomorrow? NO well then I'm certain that it will! Again, the definition of the word supports my case and not yours."

I am certain that the sun will come up tomorrow because (as definition 4 says) you can't dispute it!

I guess the dictionary people are a bunch of rabit Objectivist?


***This means that you and I agree that absolute, total, complete, omniscient, free-from-error certainty is indeed unjustified as a description of human knowledge. Excellent. Nice to have you aboard.***

I'm not on your ship of irrationality setting sale in the sea of poop. There is no such thing as omniscience I agree with that part of your statement. However stop tying to redefine words.

You guys like to talk about Rand making up meanings to words and look what you are doing here. Where do you get your meaning of the word "certain" from? I asked you that in my last post but still no answer. I guess we can add that unanswered question to the myriad of others you left unanswered.


***As Greg and others have pointed out, such word-games are actually commonplace in Rand's corpus.***

Pot meet kettle, kettle , pot.

Daniel Barnes said...

PM:
>I SHOWED YOU THE FREAKING MEANING FROM THE DICTIONARY!

Yes. For example:

>4.) established as true or sure; unquestionable; indisputable: It is certain that he tried.

To which you added the admittedly odd interpretation that this somehow does "....not preclude that a mistake is possible."

In other words you are trying to say that that which is "true, sure, unquestionable, indisputable" is also that in which "mistakes are possible"!

I think this exposes your rhetorical position quite clearly.

Anonymous said...

***>4.) established as true or sure; unquestionable; indisputable: It is certain that he tried.

To which you added the admittedly odd interpretation that this somehow does "....not preclude that a mistake is possible."

In other words you are trying to say that that which is "true, sure, unquestionable, indisputable" is also that in which "mistakes are possible"!***


Well we have already established that the sun coming up tomorrow is indisputable (if you say otherwise I'd love to her your dispute!) so now you are agreeing that that conclusion is without mistake and that it fits you definition of certain that you pulled out of thin air and that certainty exist? Well welcome aboard!

Oh I'm just being rhetorical right? No it is you that cannot remain consistent with yourself because your position is not consistent with reality and above is afine demonstration of just that.

Daniel Barnes said...

PM:
>Oh I'm just being rhetorical right?

Yes. I showed you exactly how. I will repeat it.

From the dictionary, you defined 'certain' as 'true or sure;unquestionable; indisputable'. Then you added that, as far as you were concerned, this "....not preclude that a mistake is possible."

Adding this dangling modifier is admittedly weird, as the dictionary definitions do indeed seem to preclude 'mistakes'; but I don't argue over terms, so I accepted your modified definition, as of course it is the same as saying nothing is certain.

>Well we have already established that the sun coming up tomorrow is indisputable (if you say otherwise I'd love to her your dispute!)

Actually, you haven't. All you established is that you think the sun will rise tomorrow. I think the same, actually. It is an extremely well tested theory! But of course, extremely well tested theories can err unexpectedly. Being extemely well tested does not, as you put it, 'preclude that a mistake is possible."

I don't know why you are continuing to debate the point! I agree with you: 'absolute certainty' in the traditional sense is impossible. A qualified 'certainty' such as you propose - that is, a 'certainty' that does not 'preclude that a mistake is possible' - is the only option we humans have.

The only possible confusion is that your specially qualified 'certainty' means about the same as what is usually meant by 'uncertainty'! But now it is at least clear what you mean by it.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous: “1.) Life is a process of self sustaining generating action…
6.) Therefore - Life should be standard of his choices.”

It might be helpful at this point to take a leaf pout of Rand’s book and re-visit your original argument in order to check its premises. In this instance, that means clarifying what you mean by the term ‘life’ in premise (1), since ‘life’ is the foundation of Rand’s argument. I can think of three meanings that are relevant to this discussion.

1. Life in general, as exhibited by plants and animals, including humans. Using life in this sense will not support your conclusion (6), because I doubt you are claiming that plant and animal life can be used to derive a standard for human action.

2. Human life in general. This will support your conclusion, but as has been pointed out, tells us nothing about what sort of values we should pursue, since human beings pursue all sorts of things, good, bad and indifferent.

3. The life that is ‘proper to man’. This will also support your conclusion, and will also generate the sort of values that an Objectivist would want to pursue. Unfortunately, as has also been pointed out by other posters, this begs the question because it is also the conclusion of your argument, which is therefore logically flawed.

What you need to do is show how ‘life’ is logically connected to ‘the life proper to man’ while remaining consistent in your use of the term ‘life’.

Good luck.

Brendan

Michael Prescott said...

I've followed this lengthy exchange with interest. Unfortunately, Primemover, I'm afraid your position just doesn't hold up.

When Rand said that certainty is possible, she did not mean merely that it is possible to feel certain. Anybody can feel anything, but "emotions are not tools of cognition," as she insisted. What she meant is that it's possible to be entitled to feel certain - i.e., to actually know the truth with certainty, and not be mistaken about it.

At the same time, she admitted that we may turn out to be wrong!

So we are logically entitled to certainty even though we may be mistaken. What is this if not a blatant inconsistency?

Her argument, such as it is, is incoherent. It's not your fault that the "contextual certainty" idea fails. It's Rand's.

Daniel Barnes said...

Hi PM

After a lengthy exchange it is always good to summarise the key points. Fortunately Brendan and Michael Prescott have done both nicely.

I suggest you read Brendan's 3) until it sinks in. Rand's argument is logically invalid for just the reason he suggests. Then note for yourself how she moves, unannounced, from her initial "life=survival" formulation to this invalid one. ( I think she did not notice her shift herself)


On the issue of 'certainty' Michael P expressed your situation pithily above:
"So we are logically entitled to certainty even though we may be mistaken. What is this if not a blatant inconsistency? "

This has nothing to do with any 'standard of omniscience' or any of that hi-falutin' double talk. It's simple.

Look, don't just take our word for it: think it through for yourself: if something is "established as true or sure; unquestionable; indisputable", how can it also be possibly mistaken!

Someone is playing a word-game with you here. And it's not us. I invite you to consider, at least, the possibility that Rand was mistaken on this.

Anonymous said...

Look , Daniel, you are just repeating the same clap track I have delt with already . I'm not going to go in circles with you. The way YOU are using the word "certain" is not how everybody else in the world is using it. My proof of that is the definition I offered. Like I said, either the people at dictionary.com are a bunch of rabid Objectivist or you simply are the one wrong on it's meaning.

***When Rand said that certainty is possible, she did not mean merely that it is possible to feel certain. Anybody can feel anything, but "emotions are not tools of cognition," as she insisted. What she meant is that it's possible to be entitled to feel certain - i.e., to actually know the truth with certainty, and not be mistaken about it.***

Yes emotions are not tools of cognition and I never implied that this was my position or Objectivisms position. The way Rand looks at this was like that of an equation. You know what the answer is IF you know what the variables are. However unlike a math problem, in life there may be instances when you find out about a variable latter. What Rand is saying has nothing to do with emotions. She says that given the variables that you know you can be certain that those variables lead to "x" conclusion. (a is a)

Like I have been telling Daniel, it's not Rands fault that you think certain means something else than what it does. I have clearly demonstrated this portion of my argument beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Daniel keeps saying that we agree and that we are just using different words. And I say no we don't agree. Daniel may say that omniscience is not real, but he is not consistent when he uses the unreal to base his position.

***At the same time, she admitted that we may turn out to be wrong!

So we are logically entitled to certainty even though we may be mistaken. What is this if not a blatant inconsistency?

Her argument, such as it is, is incoherent. It's not your fault that the "contextual certainty" idea fails. It's Rand's. ***

You've been following this thread but I've been addressing this very issue to the point of my opponent abandoning his arguments left and right. What good does it do for you to come and simply repeat his position? You are entitled to do that but it's as if you think you are bringing a new perspective to this discussion.

But anyways we may be wrong (assuming one forms his concepts correctly) ONLY in the sense of unknown variables. In other words, we are not omniscient.

***2. Human life in general. This will support your conclusion, but as has been pointed out, tells us nothing about what sort of values we should pursue, since human beings pursue all sorts of things, good, bad and indifferent.***

My deduction was not intended to show "what" values we should pursue. I mentioned that previously in this thread as well. How closely have you been following? I will repeat for your convenience though. The purpose of my deduction (ONLY ) is to show that objective values exist in nature. I'm happy to see you agree with my conclusion BTW.

But yes what sorts of values should we pursue is a very good question. Values are necessary for survival. Rand started by asking the question not what values do we need, but first, why do we even need values to start with?

Here's an induction for you. Humans (adult rationally capable ones) have to make decisions in order to survive. Reality dictates what values are good and bad for our survival. Not all values judgements are as suddenly helpful or harmful to life as in choosing between being an alcoholic wife beater or being a sober family man.
It's not hard to induce how some values hurt man and others don't. For example,compare the life of someone who initiates force verses someone who doesn't. Who,just based on that information would you rather do business with? If you are a rational person you will pick to do business with the person who values not initiating force. And I think most people (though irrational in many respects) are rational enough to the degree to make the same choice of doing business with the person who is known for not being one who initiates force. Clearly the person who initiates force all the time is at a disadvantage. He may never realize that people have ruled him out in their minds from dealing with him, but the fact is is that they have and he is worse off for it. Now is this going to directly kill the man? It doesn't have to for it to be a value that destroy life. Cancer doesn't kill you right away either but it will if you let it. That man who initiates force, metaphorically speaking, has cancer, and unless he changes his ways (by getting cancer treatmentment, metaphorically speaking) it WILL shorten his life EVEN if there is no law enforcement mechanism in society. (not that I'm saying there shouldn't be one).

So can you agree with me that the value of the non-iniation of force is one that helps man qua man?

And lastly, I do not have much time this evening to get as verbose as I did last night. But I see you guys with the circular accusation again.

Do this for me. Instead of just saying her conclusion does not follow from her premise. You, as accurately as you can, with references if possible, lay out for me what it is you perceive to be Rands premises and her supposed conclusion. Because (obviously) we here all know what circular reasoning is. It is when the conclusion you are reaching is assumed in the premise or premises.

premise

premise

premise

conclusion..

see there, its circular.

like that.

Daniel Barnes said...

PM:
>I'm not going to go in circles with you. The way YOU are using the word "certain" is not how everybody else in the world is using it. My proof of that is the definition I offered.

PM, dude....I don't know how to break this to you...but there was NOTHING in the dictionary.com definitions of 'certainty' (1-4) you offered that included anything like "possibly mistaken"!!!! Heavens, man. It is just weird of you to claim such a thing.

After all,you tacked on that bit (ie: "....does not preclude that a mistake is possible") yourself. Certainty does too preclude mistakes! Obviously! It's just your own jerry-rigged version that it doesn't. Don't drag those poor blighters at dictionary.com into it...;-)

You put your mistake in a nutshell in your reply to Mike P:
>But anyways we may be wrong (assuming one forms his concepts correctly) ONLY in the sense of unknown variables.

Err...'unknown variables" are precisely what create uncertainty in the first place! Saying "I am certain x is true, except for any unknown variables" is no different from saying "Definitely...maybe.."

Surely you must realise this.

Anyhoo, anyone else reading this will see this is the case, even if you don't , so I agree it's not worth debating further. The upshot, as I say, is the same. We both accept there is no 'certain' belief that does not have the possibility of error.

End of story.

Anonymous said...

Daniel when I say that the definition of certainty didn't preclude those things it was BECAUSE your version of the word INCLUDED them as a major part of the meaning! Now if your version of the word did and the dictionaries version of the word doesn't then we have a CHANGE in the meaning of the word that is different than the dictionaries. As I said before, you cannot distinguish your definition of "certain" from the definition of omniscience. Now that right there should be a tale tale indicator to anyone reading this who is indeed the one using rhetoric.


***Err...'unknown variables" are precisely what create uncertainty in the first place! Saying "I am certain x is true, except for any unknown variables" is no different from saying "Definitely...maybe.."

Surely you must realise this.***

Here you are equivocating unknown variables as to mean , "here's a variable and we don't know what it is", verses being oblivious to there being a variable at play in any given equation to begin with.

This is an important distinction and it's too bad you don't grasp it.

Daniel Barnes said...

PM:
>Here you are equivocating unknown variables as to mean , "here's a variable and we don't know what it is", verses being oblivious to there being a variable at play in any given equation to begin with. This is an important distinction and it's too bad you don't grasp it.

No, I'm perfectly aware of the distinction. Donald Rumsfeld famously summed it up as "known unknowns" and "unknown unknowns". So what? They're all still unknowns. You and I both accept both types of uncertainties exist. I truly don't see what you think you're arguing with me about now.

Michael Prescott said...

>You've been following this thread but I've been addressing this very issue to the point of my opponent abandoning his arguments left and right. What good does it do for you to come and simply repeat his position? You are entitled to do that but it's as if you think you are bringing a new perspective to this discussion.

Okay, sorry for butting in.

I don't think, however, that Daniel has abandoned any of his positions. You just don't understand the (relatively simple) points he's made. I know you are certain that you do understand them, but you're wrong. Certain but wrong - hey, how about that?

Btw, just to clarify: When I quoted Rand's dictum that emotions aren't tools of cognition, I didn't mean to imply agreement with it. Personally I think emotions are tools of cognition, in as much as decision-making and evaluation would be impossible without emotions. (Brain-damaged people who lose the ability to register emotions also lose the ability to state preferences or make choices.)

This is off topic, of course, and I don't mean to pursue it. Just wanted to differentiate my view from Rand's. Essentially everything she wrote about psychology and human nature is wrong. And yet she was certain she was right ...

Daniel Barnes said...

PM,
I just want to add that I don't really expect you to accept the arguments we've made here without a fight. I am under no illusion that you'll be persuaded in the course of a mere internet debate, especially with people who you may have been convinced are peddling some kind of deeply noxious irrationality by disagreeing with your chosen philosophy. However, all I suggest is that you take time to consider our arguments, even if you end up deciding to reject them. I suggest you also remain open to the possibility that even so clever a woman, and inspiring a writer, as Ayn Rand, might actually have blundered in ways that seem almost absurdly simple once seen from the outside. A bit like the Emperor's new clothes, really. She was right about a great many things, but as Greg says, mostly for the wrong reasons. But there is one thing I most strongly agree with her on:you have to think for yourself.

If you do so, and still think we are completely wrong, well...you may ultimately be right! We will see.

Anonymous said...

Prime Mover: “My deduction was not intended to show "what" values we should pursue.”

So I take it that the meaning you give to the term ‘life’ is ‘human life in general’ rather than ‘man qua man’? But then you switch meanings when you claim in your ‘induction’: “Humans (adult rationally capable ones)…the value of the non-iniation of force is one that helps man qua man?”

And that’s not an induction, old chap, since your premise is the same as your conclusion. So you have again committed the two fallacies we’ve been pointing out to you: equivocating over the meaning of the term ‘life’, and begging the question.

“Instead of just saying her conclusion does not follow from her premise…lay out for me what it is you perceive to be Rands premises and her supposed conclusion.”

I didn’t say anything about Rand’s premises. I was criticising your premises and your argument. Let’s stay with that and see if we can get some clarity. Since you want to convince us of the validity of your original deduction, you easily do so by telling us what you mean by the term ‘life’. I’ve given you three options. Take your time.

Brendan

Anonymous said...

Ok wait, put that brakes and let's a do a quick play by play.

Brendan , When you said the following..

***2. Human life in general. This will support your conclusion, but as has been pointed out, tells us nothing about what sort of values we should pursue, since human beings pursue all sorts of things, good, bad and indifferent.***

That was the closest you got to what I mean by my deduction. But as I said, the purpose was not to say which choices we should make, only that there are good and bad choices. Maybe one day I will come up with a deduction that satisfies that, but right now I will argue "which values we should have" by other methods.


Now when trying to argue which values we should have I may have confused things up some because when I say things I am making assumptions that you know where I'm coming from. That that's typically the problem with any type of discussion like this. So let's try again. You said...

***So I take it that the meaning you give to the term ‘life’ is ‘human life in general’ rather than ‘man qua man’? But then you switch meanings when you claim in your ‘induction’: “Humans (adult rationally capable ones)…the value of the non-iniation of force is one that helps man qua man?”***

No , the reason I mentioned "rational capable" ones was because there are humans who do not have the mental capabilities to make decisions for themselves and they literally depend upon a care taker (ie) someone who is rationally capable of making decisions for them. It's not true that ALL humans ARE rational capable, however all humans life depends upon such rational capabilities. If you were the lone person on the planet and you were rational you could hunt animals fish etc to survive. If there was one person on the planet who could not reason they would not last very long. If you, the rational one, was with the none rational capable one on earth by yourselves, the life of that person would depend upon your rational capabilities. So you were right the first time to say human life in general. As I said before, the deductions purpose is to illustrate that there are choices (for humans) that are good and choices that are bad. IF there are choices that are good for humans and bad for humans then can we not say that there are objective choices in reality that exist ASSUMING (of coarse) that individual wants to live? Like I said before, what those choices are is not addressed by the deduction just that there are good and bad choices that affect the lives of each individual.

***I didn’t say anything about Rand’s premises. I was criticising your premises and your argument. Let’s stay with that and see if we can get some clarity. Since you want to convince us of the validity of your original deduction, you easily do so by telling us what you mean by the term ‘life’. I’ve given you three options. Take your time.***

And that's why instead of me trying to elaborate further, let's discuss this before we move on to the question of "which values" one should have. k?

Michael,
you said
***Okay, sorry for butting in.

I don't think, however, that Daniel has abandoned any of his positions. You just don't understand the (relatively simple) points he's made. I know you are certain that you do understand them, but you're wrong. Certain but wrong - hey, how about that? ***


Ok maybe abandon was the wrong word. Not abandoned as in he no longer holds that position, but abandoned as in cannot/will not support his claims. Example, his definition of the word "certain" in which to him meant omniscience and error free, yet the dictionaries definition says no such thing. I asked him that since he was not going to use the dictionaries definition of the word to support his definition. Guess what? still waiting on that. Also he flagrantly quote mined one of my statements to say something other than it meant in context when I was talking about David Hume's is/ought dichotomy.


***Personally I think emotions are tools of cognition, in as much as decision-making and evaluation would be impossible without emotions. (Brain-damaged people who lose the ability to register emotions also lose the ability to state preferences or make choices.) ***

Yes emotions are valuable for evaluation but I think a clarification on the definition of "cognition" would be needed. Not that I'm trying to branch this conversation that way because we have enough on our plate as it is. Just my initial thoughts that's all.



***If you do so, and still think we are completely wrong, well...you may ultimately be right! We will see. ***

Yes Daniel. I have abandoned religion and theism in my life so the way I see it if I was honest enough to throw away something that was as entrenched as that was I can throw anything that I think is wrong. However I'm not so shallow as to go along with every guy who comes along who disagrees with me.

***No, I'm perfectly aware of the distinction. Donald Rumsfeld famously summed it up as "known unknowns" and "unknown unknowns". So what? They're all still unknowns. You and I both accept both types of uncertainties exist. I truly don't see what you think you're arguing with me about now. ***

LOL well ok then! If that's the case then consequently you don't disagree with Rand on that part but just her choice of words?

Daniel Barnes said...

PM:
>Yes Daniel. I have abandoned religion and theism in my life so the way I see it if I was honest enough to throw away something that was as entrenched as that was I can throw anything that I think is wrong. However I'm not so shallow as to go along with every guy who comes along who disagrees with me.

Good for you.

>LOL well ok then! If that's the case then consequently you don't disagree with Rand on that part but just her choice of words?

Yes, yes, you've almost got it PM. It's just slightly more complicated. In fact, when you work it thru, Rand's theory of 'contextual knowledge' results in the same situation as traditional skepticism (ie:that all human knowledge can err due to "unknown unknowns" etc). Rand did not realise this; she thought she had legitimately discovered that philosophical MacGuffin of the ages, "absolute certainty" aka "justified true belief". Hence she overconfidently dubbed it 'certainty' and proceeded to diss traditional skepticism. It turns out she was wrong for exactly the reasons you state, and that what she means by 'certainty' is in practice what is typically mean by 'uncertainty' . It was merely a word-game that fooled even her. Ironically, underneath her vehement rhetoric to the contrary, in practice her epistemological theory results in the same actual situation as her opponents.

Anonymous said...

*** It turns out she was wrong for exactly the reasons you state, and that what she means by 'certainty' is in practice what is typically mean by 'uncertainty' .***

Holy crap... I mean this is just insane. You never once justified YOUR definition of "certainty", YOU defined it as error free and omniscience (dangling modifiers) and I demonstrated that the definition says no such thing.

I even when through EACH definition of relevance and showed how what you say certainty means is not what the dictionary says it means. Yet here you are using it in that way once again.

I mean ..what's the deal here? What are you missing? If you don't understand that's one thing. But to stubbornly hold to a position while the evidence is clearly demonstrated to be otherwise is pure lunacy.

Your entire argument depends upon this ad hoc definition you have of certainty. That's why you won't let it go.

Daniel Barnes said...

>Holy crap... I mean this is just insane.

I am beginning to feel the same way! Because you say....

>You never once justified YOUR definition of "certainty"...

I NEVER OFFERED a definition of 'certainty', PM. I accept the standard dictionary meanings of 'certainty' you offered!

You then modified these standard meanings by adding your own stuff about "not precluding the possibility of mistakes." As I said at the time: there is nothing in the standard definitions about the possibility of being mistaken!! Ferrchrissake! Your addition effectively changes the meaning of 'certainty" into its opposite!!

I bent over backwards and said, ok, if that's what you mean by 'certainty', ok. If it's Opposites Day over where you live, fine, just so long as we know now!!!

Now after all your convolutions, you're saying that I've got some weird 'ad hoc' version of the word that I'm relying on???

Mate: I'm perfectly happy with the typical meanings of both 'certainty' and 'uncertainty'. You're the one that's doing the ad hoc modifications, as others on the forum have pointed out to you. Sorry.

At any rate, this sort of debate is exactly why it is an intellectual error to argue over the meanings of words.

Anonymous said...

***You then modified these standard meanings by adding your own stuff about "not precluding the possibility of mistakes." As I said at the time: there is nothing in the standard definitions about the possibility of being mistaken!!***

IT IS ASSUMED IN THE DEFINITION FERRCHRISSAKE!

Let's look at definition 4 ...aaaaagain.


established as true or sure; unquestionable; indisputable: It is certain that he tried.


According to this definition. Unless one can dispute that (for example) that the sun will come up tomorrow, it is certain!!

WTH is so freaking hard to understand here?

If some scientist gets a glimpse of some anomaly in the universe headed our way that could halt the earths rotation then I would definitely agree that it's not certain the sun will come up tomorrow.

However, if here is no evidence of such anomalies then there is no basis for questioning it so according to the definition it is certain!

It is clear that the defintion supports my posistion and NOT yours!

SIGH !!!!!!!!!!

Daniel Barnes said...

>IT IS ASSUMED IN THE DEFINITION FERRCHRISSAKE!

No it isn't. This conversation is increasingly odd. You seem to be in a can't-see-the-forest-for the trees situation. That's ok, this sometimes happens. I suggest you read your own writing. I will highlight the obvious clash between the dictionary definition, and what you write, in italics for you, so you can see it clearly.

You write:
>Let's look at definition 4 ...aaaaagain.
"established as true or sure; unquestionable; indisputable: It is certain that he tried."

>According to this definition. Unless one can dispute that (for example) that the sun will come up tomorrow, it is certain!!

Now do you get it? You say on one hand you agree with the dictionary meaning, ie: indisputable. Then you say on the other hand that this definition somehow includes disputable propositions, such as whether the sun will come up tomorrow. Because of course one can dispute that, because of, exactly as you said, unknown unknowns. David Hume proved this - it is known as the problem of induction - and Ayn Rand admitted that she could not refute it! (p304/5 ITOE)

WTH is so hard to understand about this, is exactly what I am wondering!

Anonymous said...

***Because of course one can dispute that, because of, exactly as you said, unknown unknowns.***


OK, then give me an example of something that cannot be disputed according to your worldview.

Daniel Barnes said...

PM:
>OK, then give me an example of something that cannot be disputed according to your worldview.

I reply with the standard position, which is that nothing is indisputable,including this statement (ie: I may turn out to be wrong when I say nothing is indisputable). This is Skepticism 101. Note how it completely avoids the as-usual-incorrect Objectivist criticism that skepticism is self contradictory (ie: is a certain belief itself). It is actually logically consistent, as I have said before. There is nothing particularly unique in my position here.

Anonymous said...

Daniel, can existence be disputed?

Daniel Barnes said...

PM
>Daniel, can existence be disputed?

Yes obviously, as idealists and subjectivists dispute it.

Anonymous said...

***Yes obviously, as idealists and subjectivists dispute it. ***

oh sure any wacko who can open his mouth can dispute anything. However he would be contradicting himself in this case.

To say nothing exist is a contradiction. Existence presupposes every though action, argument or concept.

Go read up on the fallacy of the stolen concept again.

checkmate.

Daniel Barnes said...

PM:
>To say nothing exist is a contradiction.

Yes, but in order to invoke the law of non-contradiction that you are relying upon here, then you have to accept logic is itself sound. I do, of course (but this not the same as saying I've proved that it is). I'm what they call a Critical Rationalist. But the radical idealist or irrationalist, if he wants to, does not have to accept the reliability of logic in general, or that law in particular. He could claim, just as you suggest elsewhere, that there might be "unknown unknowns" that possibly render such a law invalid. So he would have absolutely no problem disputing the above. These are all well-worn issues, I don't know why you think yours (or Rand's) criticisms are so devastating.

So:checkmate yourself...;-)

Anonymous said...

***Yes, but in order to invoke the law of non-contradiction that you are relying upon here, then you have to accept logic is itself sound. ***

Logic is based on the LoNC. It is prior to logic.

The LoNC is a consequence of the axioms of existence and identity which are assumed as true in every instance including those instances where the person is arguing against it. A skeptic must first assume as true the very thing he is arguing against. This explains why you are so confused on the issue of concepts.

Daniel Barnes said...

PM:
>Logic is based on the LoNC. It is prior to logic.

Now you are talking through your hat. The LoNC is a logical rule It is not 'prior to' logic! You don't know what you are saying.

>The LoNC is a consequence of the axioms of existence and identity which are assumed as true in every instance including those instances where the person is arguing against it.

First of all, please note your own "assumed". I suppose that, in the spirit of your preceding posts, you think that means the same thing as "proven"!

Secondly let's just run thru your reasoning here.

You seem to think the validity of logic flows from the LONC. You then claim the validity of the LONC flows from the validity of the axioms. But why are the axioms valid, we ask? Are you going to say because of logic? Because of the LONC?

>A skeptic must first assume as true the very thing he is arguing against.

No he doesn't, as I have explained repeatedly. Merely repeating fallacious arguments does not make them any truer, you know.

>This explains why you are so confused on the issue of concepts.

You, on the other hand, appear to be just confused, full stop.

Daniel Barnes said...

Confused, but, I should add, at least very keen...;-)

Anonymous said...

Prime Mover: “So you were right the first time to say human life in general. As I said before, the deductions purpose is to illustrate that there are choices (for humans) that are good and choices that are bad.”

As it stands, your original argument claims a lot more than that, namely that ‘life’ should be the standard for one’s choices. And since you have already claimed in (3) that “A choice implies a value” you are only a step or two away from making a claim that life is the standard of value.

Why is this a problem? Because the premise ‘human life in general’ won’t support ‘life as the standard of one’s choices’, or at least not in the way you want. ‘Human life in general is the standard for one’s choices’ leaves one’s choices wide open – venture capitalist or axe murderer, it’s all the same, since human life encompasses the best and the worst behaviour and everything in between.

Brendan

Anonymous said...

***Now you are talking through your hat. The LoNC is a logical rule It is not 'prior to' logic! You don't know what you are saying.***

The law of identity states that (a is a). A consequences of this is that (a cannot be a or ~a) or other words the LoNC.

Logic is NOT "derived" FROM the axioms as you claim I say. Logic (in fact all of reality) is contained WITHIN the axioms.

Obviously you fail to understand what an axiom IS. But then again, you don't understand , certainty, concepts, or the fallacy of the stolen concept, so just add axioms to the list!


***But why are the axioms valid, we ask? Are you going to say because of logic? Because of the LONC?***


No, the axioms are valid because they are the fundamental starting point. You cannot prove an axiom. All you can say is "look around". Proof pressuposes the axioms. Once again , Daniel, more eveidence that you don't not know wtf you are talking about because you fail to cmprehend what an axiom IS.

But keep talking Daniel, this is information from like page one of Objectivism and the fact that you don't understand the fundamental Objectivist position certainly adds to your credibility!

***No he doesn't, as I have explained repeatedly. Merely repeating fallacious arguments does not make them any truer, you know.***

You should take your own advise. But anyways on what grounds do you claim it is fallacious? Here again, you are assuming a position of certainty in order to make your point. Here again, you are accepting as valid the axioms in order to state your posistion.

The fact that you are using words and concepts in your "arguments" shows that you accept the validity of mans senses and his rational faculties in order to spout your anti reason b/s. Remember the fallacy..of the stolen.....oh...wait....... I forgot......you never understood that one.

Daniel Barnes said...

PM:
>No, the axioms are valid because they are the fundamental starting point. You cannot prove an axiom.

Well, here we are, on Page One of Objectivism, coming to rest upon an unproven assumption at the start of it all.

Readers will note that PM's argument is now exactly the same form as typical religious or mystical arguments. For example:

"You cannot prove the existence of God...He just IS. He is the fundamental starting point of all things, the LoNC, logic, and indeed all of existence. The fact that you don't accept Him, that you keep asking me to prove His existence when of course no proof is possible only shows how desperate you are to deny Him. By accepting the validity of your logic you must, unfortunately for you, therefore accept the validity of Him - He who requires no proof. And if that is not enough for you, why just look around. Can't you see His Handiwork, with the very eyes that He gives you?"

At this point I will briefly pause to paint a wider picture about the Western tradition of dogmatic belief. The philosopher Bill Bartley, a student of Popper's took Popper's basic insights to a wider level with his discussion of "metacontexts". Bartley argued that the ancient problems of finding fundamental proofs - a very typical example we have run thru above - have led to two broad effects. In the West, it has led to people reaching a certain point and deciding to dogmatically cling to a belief, even tho they admit they cannot finally prove it. This emotional need for absolute certainty is a leftover from our tribal past, from the days when knowledge stemmed from leaders or religious authoriities. Thus we have the various fundamentalisms, all claiming to have found the source of ultimate truth, and all as well 'proven' as PM admits his is ie: not at all. That is the 'metacontext' or 'big picture' in the West, speaking very broadly.

In the East, the same basic problems have lead to a different solution: instead of dogmatically clinging, the Eastern philosophy lets go entirely and practices detachment rather than dogmatism. Ultimately, however, this is not a satisfactory solution either, as it is impossible for us to be completely detached from the world. We do, after all, live in it. Bartley proposes that these two traditional responses to the same problem, while they both have some merits, can be improved upon. Instead of clinging dogmatically to beliefs, or detaching oneself entirely from them, one can hold all beliefs lightly and critically.

Anyway I digress. The bottom line is that PM is claiming that the fundamentals of his system are ultimately true, even tho he cannot prove them we have to accept them, like it or not!

I am sorry, but I find this argument no more persuasive than the religious one I outlined above. If, however, you are looking to explain why debate within Objectivism gets so violently dogmatic, with its quasi-religious schisms, I suggest one reason is simply the above.

Michael Prescott said...

>I reply with the standard position, which is that nothing is indisputable,including this statement

Personally, I think some statements are indisputable, but they fall into the category of analytic propositions. For instance, I don't think anyone can dispute the statement "All bachelors are unmarried" or the statement "1 + 1 = 2," because the conclusion is implicit in the premises.

Almost all of our knowledge, however, consists of synthetic propositions, which can always be disputed since they are inferred from empirical observations.

>"You cannot prove the existence of God...He just IS. He is the fundamental starting point of all things, the LoNC, logic, and indeed all of existence...."

The religious argument can be more sophisticated than this. It can maintain that there must be a starting point for everything, but that the starting point cannot be a contingent fact (since contingencies always depend on something else). It must instead be a necessary fact. Since all the data of the spacetime universe are contingent, we have to look outside the spacetime universe for an ultimate starting point. Something that exists outside spacetime, and exists of necessity (not contingent on anything), would be God by definition. (It would not have to be any particular God, e.g., the Judeo-Christian God.)

Although the argument is not airtight, it's not that weak, either. One would have to argue either that a contingency can be the starting point of everything else (doubtful) or that there need not be a starting point, only an infinite regression (also doubtful).

Of course, Objectivists dispute both the analytic-synthetic dichotomy and the necessary-contingent dichotomy, so these arguments would not be persuasive to them.

Daniel Barnes said...

I wrote:
>The bottom line is that PM is claiming that the fundamentals of his system are ultimately true, even tho he cannot prove them we have to accept them, like it or not!

This is worth re-emphasising.

PM insists that his 'axioms' are beyond any form of proof, transcending both logic (as PM says) and experience (in this, Rand has already conceded to Hume in the ITOE). Yet he insists that despite this, they are some kind of 'ultimate truth' embracing all of reality that we must accept, even tho he admits he cannot prove this 'ultimate truth' in the least!

Lacking any proof, he is reduced to arguing that the axioms are ultimate truths because he (or Ayn Rand) says so!

Thus the search for 'ultimate truth' turns into, as it has throughout history in its various religious and philosophical forms, a mere argument from authority.

Daniel Barnes said...

Michael P:
>Personally, I think some statements are indisputable, but they fall into the category of analytic propositions. For instance, I don't think anyone can dispute the statement "All bachelors are unmarried" or the statement "1 + 1 = 2," because the conclusion is implicit in the premises.

Well, you know, I tend to agree. I think analytic propositions are as close to certain as we get. But I also accept that they can possibly be disputed.

For example, Popper proposed a possible challenge to '1+1=2' using an couple of obvious, reality-based situations. One, you can put 1 water drop into a test tube, followed by another one, and still have one drop! 1+1=1! Alternatively, you could put 1 rabbit plus 1 rabbit in a sack, and you may have many more rabbits shortly! Now Popper did not claim these were definitive counter-examples, but used them to show that even these 'self evident' propositions are open to challenge.
Sometimes the limits are actually just our own imaginitiveness in argument. Interesting, huh?

>The religious argument can be more sophisticated than this.

Yes, definitely, but PM's version is not...;-)

>Of course, Objectivists dispute both the analytic-synthetic dichotomy and the necessary-contingent dichotomy, so these arguments would not be persuasive to them.

Yes, sadly this will not help PM out of his dilemmas either.

Anonymous said...

"You cannot prove the existence of God...He just IS. He is the fundamental starting point of all things, the LoNC, logic, and indeed all of existence. The fact that you don't accept Him, that you keep asking me to prove His existence when of course no proof is possible only shows how desperate you are to deny Him. By accepting the validity of your logic you must, unfortunately for you, therefore accept the validity of Him - He who requires no proof. And if that is not enough for you, why just look around. Can't you see His Handiwork, with the very eyes that He gives you?"


But unfortunately for the theist he can only assert this. With the axiom of existence it can be DEMONSTRATED how one is accepting it in every action ,thought, emotion or argument. Even an argument against the axiom reaffirms the axioms.




***PM insists that his 'axioms' are beyond any form of proof, transcending both logic (as PM says) and experience (in this, Rand has already conceded to Hume in the ITOE). Yet he insists that despite this, they are some kind of 'ultimate truth' embracing all of reality that we must accept, even tho he admits he cannot prove this 'ultimate truth' in the least!***


I don't have to prove it! You already reaffirmed it by typing your miserable little words of rhetoric!

Plus I didn't say the axioms transcend logic. I said that logic presupposes the axioms. Do you need to go take a reading comprehension class?

But anyways was a knee slapper though when you said that maybe there exist an unknown variable that will contradict the LoNC!! That was better than "dangling modifier"!

Just take a step back and look at the absurd logical conclusions you get when you start from your irrational premises. Contradict the LoNC..wow!

***The religious argument can be more sophisticated than this. It can maintain that there must be a starting point for everything, but that the starting point cannot be a contingent fact (since contingencies always depend on something else). It must instead be a necessary fact. Since all the data of the spacetime universe are contingent, we have to look outside the spacetime universe for an ultimate starting point. Something that exists outside spacetime, and exists of necessity (not contingent on anything), would be God by definition. (It would not have to be any particular God, e.g., the Judeo-Christian God.)***

But why even accept that the staring point has to be conscious to begin with? The theist has not demonstrated this. They have only conveniently defined their god as such but it lacks demonstration. It must be accepted on faith and since the theist is trying to enter into the realm of making rational arguments for their god they concede the argument when they bring faith into the picture.

But anyways I'd love for Daniel (or anyone else for that matter) to answer this question for me.

Can you make a coherent statement that doesn't presuppose the axioms?

It's a simple straight forward question, yes or no. Be prepared to give an example if you say yes...

Best of luck!!! ;)

Daniel Barnes said...

PM:
>They have only conveniently defined their god as such but it lacks demonstration. It must be accepted on faith...

But this is exactly what you are doing when you say:

>PM:You cannot prove an axiom.

Thus you expect us to "assume" the truth of axioms...to accept them on faith.

It's quite simple.

>Can you make a coherent statement that doesn't presuppose the axioms?

Sure. In fact, even you can do it!:

"You cannot prove an axiom."

Anonymous said...

"You cannot prove an axiom."


1.)The axiom of consciousness reaffirmed by the above statement.

One must be conscious in which to utter said statement. Even if the statement was recorded or duplicated or even made by a machine consciousness presupposes that it was made.

2.) The axiom of existence reaffirmed in the above statement.

You, use the concept "you" in the above statement. You accept that I am an existent.

3. ) The axiom of identity reaffirmed in the above statement.

You accept that I am a particular existent.

Daniel Barnes said...

Don't try to fudge the issue.

I repeat: you claimed that unless we assume the axioms are undisputably true, no coherent statement can be made.

I then simply quoted you!:
>PM:You cannot prove an axiom.

Thus, by your own measure, you yourself are making incoherent statements!

Dragonfly said...

Daniel: "For example, Popper proposed a possible challenge to '1+1=2' using an couple of obvious, reality-based situations."

This is not a challenge to '1+1=2', as this is a mathematical statement, which does not depend on any example in the physical world. It can be derived from Peano's axioms (in mathematics you can at least derive something from axioms!). The truth of the statement follows logically from the axioms, so this is a real certainty. Now someone might insist that even that is not quite certain, as we might make a mistake in the logic of the argument (just while it is complex, or the person is dyslexic or ill, etc.).

But that kind of "meta-uncertainty" is hardly interesting. The argument may be tested by countless persons, and certainty may in such cases not be certain, but certainly possible... So there is absolute certainty that 1+1=2 and that all bachelors are unmarried. There might be a small possibility that the derivation of an analytic statement is incorrect if that derivation is extremely complex and/or very difficult, like that of the four-color theorem or Fermat's last theorem, so we'll have to wait until those derivations have been checked often enough to be sure.

The point is that we can be certain that an analytical statement is correct if the derivation is logically sound, while this is impossible for a synthetic statement. In the latter case our logic may be impeccable, but our knowledge is never complete, so it is always possible that we'll learn something later that will falsify our statement.

This is also the reason that we don't have to worry about logic chopping about self-refuting statements, as these statements refer to our certainty about the physical world and not about the certainty of logical inference itself.

Daniel Barnes said...

Dragonfly:
>But that kind of "meta-uncertainty" is hardly interesting.

I agree. It's tedious. Just accept it and move on. The only advantage of emphasising it now and again is that it undermines authoritarian theories of knowledge ie. demonstrates that there can be no ultimate authority, or source of "justified true belief'

The Chicken Littles, however, seem to think the sky will fall as a result of accepting this banal fact.

Anonymous said...

***Don't try to fudge the issue.

I repeat: you claimed that unless we assume the axioms are undisputably true, no coherent statement can be made.


I then simply quoted you!:
>PM:You cannot prove an axiom.

Thus, by your own measure, you yourself are making incoherent statements! ***


Nooooooooooooooo.......

I didn't say, "unless you assume the axioms true". That statement implies that one has a choice in affirming the axioms. You have no choice in affirming the axioms. You do it by existing , by arguing, by talking, by thinking, and everything else that one does.

But I'd love to see you make another attempt at an example that does not assume the axioms. It's quite entertaining!

Daniel Barnes said...

PM:
>Nooooooooooooooo.......

You sound like Luke Skywalker finding out Darth Vader is his father!

;-)

Daniel Barnes said...

PM, look, your argument needs clarifying so you can see my point.

When you say:

>You have no choice in affirming the axioms.

...we have to ask: "affirming the axioms"....as what? What exactly are we "affirming? What are we saying "yes" to?

I'll tell you what. You are demanding that we "affirm the axioms...as being true" That's the bit you're conveniently forgetting to add to your statement.

Now its clear what you're driving at, we now return to our scheduled argument. That is, you expect non Objectivists to "affirm the axioms (as being true)" whilst simultaneously admitting Objectivists cannot prove them!

There is no difference between this and the mystical/authoritarian argument I outlined earlier.

Anonymous said...

***I'll tell you what. You are demanding that we "affirm the axioms...as being true" ***

I'm not demanding anything. I'm simply telling you what's happening. Me or Rand or anyone else didn't make it that way. It just is.

You want "proof" of the axioms but this question you keep asking me tells me that you don't understand what an axiom IS. The axioms are greater than a "proof" because without them "proof" is not possible.

Don't be mad because you cannot make a statement with out assuming the validity of the axioms. No one can! But it is fun watching people try.

Anonymous said...

***That is, you expect non Objectivists to "affirm the axioms (as being true)" whilst simultaneously admitting Objectivists cannot prove them!***

Why do you keep misrepresenting me like that? I NEVER said I EXPECT you to affirm the axioms because the word expect carries with it the assumption that you have a choice in the matter.

Daniel Barnes said...

PM:
>The axioms are greater than a "proof" because without them "proof" is not possible.

"God is greater than "proof" because without Him "proof" is not possible"

And so forth.

If that's the kind of argument you're into, well, hey, go right ahead!

Daniel Barnes said...

PM:
>Why do you keep misrepresenting me like that?

Very well then. What, exactly, do I have to "affirm" about the axioms?

Anonymous said...

***"God is greater than "proof" because without Him "proof" is not possible"

And so forth.

If that's the kind of argument you're into, well, hey, go right ahead! ***

In the god argument it cannot be demonstrated that god assumes anything. It is just asserted. This is merely a floating assertion not connected to anything.


Contrast this to the axioms. I have demonstrated that you affirm the axioms in your statements already.
Remember when I challenged you to make a statement that does not affirm them?

You cannot escape reality. No matter what you do the axioms are implicit.


***Very well then. What, exactly, do I have to "affirm" about the axioms?***

You don't "have" (as if it's a choice) to affirm anything! I'm telling you that YOU DO AFFIRM THEM rather you like it or not and rather you say you are or not.

OhHhhhhh wait I get it!!! Wow it just dawned on me!

You have a bet going with one of your buddies about seeing how many times you can go in circles with me. LOL...You joker you! It has to be that because I find it very strange that you don't understand an axiom by now. So it can't be that you don't get it..ok Daniel enough with the games!

Daniel Barnes said...

PM:
>In the god argument it cannot be demonstrated that god assumes anything. It is just asserted. This is merely a floating assertion not connected to anything...Contrast this to the axioms...

There's no "contrast". It ends up the same argument as I have shown repeatedly. But you don't want to accept my argument, and clearly nothing I say is going to convince you. So we should just agree to disagree on this one, as it is starting to get a little old.

Anonymous said...

***There's no "contrast". It ends up the same argument as I have shown repeatedly.***

The concept "there" in the above statement presupposes the axiom of existence.

Contrast is contrast between two or more entities which also exist and assumes an entity that can observe the differences and likeness.


Shown is a concept presupposing that an entity is aware and can perceive, and that the entity showing it is aware.
And of course you have to be conscious to even utter/type the words of that statement.

You said the concept , "I". which presupposes a specific entity. (a is a)

Michael Prescott said...

>So we should just agree to disagree on this one, as it is starting to get a little old.

I agree it's getting old, but in the interest of pushing this thread to 100 comments, I would say that I think the axioms are valid, in the sense that they can't be refuted or meaningfully disputed. The problem is, we can't derive much from them, so they aren't very useful. Where Objectivism goes wrong, IMO, is in trying to derive way too much from these self-evident propositions.

For instance, "Existence exists" is true, but it tells us nothing at all about what exists. It does not establish that the external world exists. It does not establish that nature exists or that nothing beyond nature exists. It simply says that "something is." That's all. Objectivists slide from this truism to grand statements about the reality of the physical world and the impossibility of the supernatural, but they are not logically entitled to do so. It is not inconsistent to say "Existence exists, and God is part of existence" (theism) or "Existence exists, and I am the only thing in existence" (solipsism).

Simlarly, "Consciousness is conscious" is certainly true, but does not establish the existence of any consciousness except one's own. It would be self-contradictory to assert "I am not conscious," but it is not self-contradictory to assert "Only I am conscious" (solipsism again). One can also assert that God is conscious or that God is the source of all consciousness (theism).

The point is that any number of variant philosophical positions can be extrapolated from these axioms, so they are not nearly as useful as Objectivists think.

Daniel Barnes said...

Michael P:
>I agree it's getting old, but in the interest of pushing this thread to 100 comments, I would say that I think the axioms are valid, in the sense that they can't be refuted or meaningfully disputed.

Well there's a good point: get our first triple digit thread on ARCHN. Come on PM, I know you can chip in here....;-)

On the subject of the laws of logic: I'm all for their validity, as I said earlier. They're the closest thing to certainty we've got IMHO, and are indispensable for checking the internal consistency of our arguments. (Of course I completely reject PM's wildly overstated claims as to the supernatural powers of certain logical axioms). But logic itself - jolly handy.

>The problem is, we can't derive much from them, so they aren't very useful.

Yes. Things like the law of identity are a way of checking the internal consistency of theories, in the same way that empiricism allows us to check their external consistency. But they don't tell us much. They are just examples of valid inference. You can't infer anything from them.

>It is not inconsistent to say "Existence exists, and God is part of existence" (theism) or "Existence exists, and I am the only thing in existence" (solipsism).

This is quite true. I recall Bertrand Russell put 'existence exists' to a famous Idealist - Bradley from memory - 100 years ago and he had no problem with it. After all, if the world is just an illusion, it still exists qua illusion! Of course, I regard Idealism as foolish, but clearly "A=A" does not refute it.

>Simlarly, "Consciousness is conscious" is certainly true..

It is a valid inference, but as an axiom of course it would be just as acceptable to a behaviourist like Skinner for the same reason "A=A" was acceptable to the idealist. He would simply define 'consciousness' as the mechanical workings of the brain interacting with its environment, like a computer following its program to produce a certain series of results. Once again, Rand's hopes for her axioms fall flat.

Dragonfly said...

The axiom "existence exists" isn't even coherently formulated. What does she mean by "existence"? 1. The fact that there is something/things exist? Or (a different meaning I found in the dictionary)2. "everything that exists"?

In case 1 the phrase is nonsense, as "the fact that things exist" then would be itself a thing that exists, unless you interpret it in the sense that the concept "existence" exists, but so does the concept "nothing" and in that sense "nothing exists" would be equally valid, which is obviously not the intention of her statement.

Remains interpretation 2: "everything that exists exists". Well, duh. Everything that flies flies. Everything that stinks stinks. Really deep insights!

What she probably meant was something like "something exists", the world exists", "things exist". But this is a banality from which you cannot derive anything meaningful.

The statement "consciousness is conscious" is equally incoherent. "Consciousness" is the state of being conscious. How can the state of being conscious be conscious? Such bad formulations show what a sloppy thinker she in fact was.

Michael: "The point is that any number of variant philosophical positions can be extrapolated from these axioms, so they are not nearly as useful as Objectivists think."

You're much too mild. Not nearly as useful? They are completely useless!

Anonymous said...

Even though this quote is only from dragonfly Micheal expresses the same thesis in his most recent reply reply.


***What she probably meant was something like "something exists", the world exists", "things exist". But this is a banality from which you cannot derive anything meaningful.***


Objectivism does not deduce or derive anything from the axioms nor does it claim to.

Rand said that Objectivism is contained "within" the axioms.


Here's a hint. If you are going to rebut objectivism and want people to take you seriously, it would help if you actually know what the philosophy states.

Anonymous said...

***The statement "consciousness is conscious" is equally incoherent.***

Where did anyone say consciousness is consciousness?

"The axiom of consciousness" (as it is called, not consciousness is consciousness) says that to be conscious means to be aware of "some, thing".


[quote]Simlarly, "Consciousness is conscious" is certainly true, but does not establish the existence of any consciousness except one's own. It would be self-contradictory to assert "I am not conscious," but it is not self-contradictory to assert "Only I am conscious" (solipsism again). One can also assert that God is conscious or that God is the source of all consciousness (theism). [/quote]


Also a consciousness with nothing to be conscious of is a contradiction. To be conscious means to be aware, to be aware presupposes awareness of something.

The axiom of existence is primary to consciousness. Existence can exist with no consciousness, but not the other way around. One would have to wonder what god was conscious off before he supposedly created "everything". This is why the strong atheist position is the only rational position. The god idea that rest on a false metaphysical assumption cannot exist anymore than a married bachelor can.

Here's some good reading and elaboration on that.

http://bahnsenburner.blogspot.com/2006/10/gods-and-square-circles.html

gregnyquist said...

Micheal said: "Personally, I think some statements are indisputable, but they fall into the category of analytic propositions. For instance, I don't think anyone can dispute the statement 'All bachelors are unmarried' or the statement '1 + 1 = 2,' because the conclusion is implicit in the premises."

In terms of good sense and worldly wisdom, this is right; however, this does not mean that these analytical propositions can't be challenged on purely technical grounds. They can be. The fact is, all analytical truths rest on assumptions about matters of fact that aren't demonstrable and can be questioned. They assume, among other things, the factual existence of time, memory, intelligence, and logical acumen. These facts are "synthetic" and therefore not demonstrable in the way that analytical truths supposedly are.

Of course, these are obscure technical objections that, fortunately, carry no weight with the mind when it attempts to grapple with the real, practical problems of everyday life. But these objections do (or should) remind us of the vanity of abstruse philosophical speculation (under which head I include Rand's metaphysics): nothing important or practical can be determined through such reasonings. To use a popular Victorian phrase: "They do not signify." We can argue about the Objectivist axioms and Rand's meta-ethics until we're all blue in the face: we will never reach a conclusion that everyone will be happy with. Contrast this with factual or scientific methods of determining truth: there we can reach conclusions that all sensible persons can agree on. Hence, I argue for avoiding such abstruse speculations and instead focus on the actual problems facing people in everyday life.

The problem with Rand's ethics is that she tries to use abstruse speculative reasonings ( reasonings that carry no conviction with anyone who doesn't already agree with her) to solve problems that can only be solved, if they can be solved at all, through a long and arduous tutelage in experience. It is only through such tutelage that the mind can develop the intuitive infrastructure necessary to grapple effectively with the subtleties, nuances, and complexities that one faces when making moral decisions in everyday life. Morality is not a code of principles or a technique of thinking. It is an art, a species of worldly wisdom formed through trial and error and intuited through emotional states.

Rand's ethics is not a reliable guide to the problems of everyday life because her ethical principles are too vague and ambiguous. How, for instance, does the principle of "man's life qua man" help us solve any of the real difficult problems we're likely to face in everyday life? It doesn't. Its ambiguity, its vagueness only serves as a cover for casuistry. That is why Rand had no problem justifying every dubious moral act she ever engaged in. Beware of those who claim to follow a "rational" morality. Most "rational" moralities are merely rationalizing moralities.

Daniel Barnes said...

PM:
>Rand said that Objectivism is contained "within" the axioms.

Yes, but how, exactly? This is another mysterious hint without a coherent explanation.

>Here's a hint. If you are going to rebut objectivism and want people to take you seriously, it would help if you actually know what the philosophy states.

We do know what it states, clearly. It's just what is meant by its statements that seems seriously confused.

Dragonfly said...

Primover: "***The statement "consciousness is conscious" is equally incoherent.***

Where did anyone say consciousness is consciousness?"

You should read better, the statement is not "consciousness is consciousness", but "consciousness is conscious", and this was said by Rand in Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology , p. 79, and it is an incoherent statement. Really, I know the Scripture.

Anonymous said...

***Contrast this with factual or scientific methods of determining truth: there we can reach conclusions that all sensible persons can agree on.***

I'm gald you mentioned this Greg.

The backbone of the scientific method is (in part) induction. So by your own reasoning anyone who rejects induction as a valid means of ,as you say, "methods of determining truth", is not a "sensible" person.

Objectivism accepts the validity of induction JUST as the scientific method does.

On this board we have people arguing against induction and consequently science and reason.

I said...

Rand said that Objectivism is contained "within" the axioms.

Daniel said...

***Yes, but how, exactly? This is another mysterious hint without a coherent explanation.***


Daniel, here you are, once again, showing us that you do not understand the axiom of existence.

What you are asking is , "How is everything contained within existence"?


***Rand's ethics is not a reliable guide to the problems of everyday life because her ethical principles are too vague and ambiguous. How, for instance, does the principle of "man's life qua man" help us solve any of the real difficult problems we're likely to face in everyday life? ***

Well throw out some examples and let's discuss them.


***The problem with Rand's ethics is that she tries to use abstruse speculative reasonings ( reasonings that carry no conviction with anyone who doesn't already agree with her) ***

Is production a necessary means of survial for man one of these "abstruse speculative reasonings"?

Is the iniation of force as anti reason one of these "abstruse speculative reasonings"?

Michael Prescott said...

PM: >Where did anyone say consciousness is consciousness?

Rand said it. See "The Axiom of Consciousness" in this Wiki entry. For other citations, follow this link.

The idea is that consciousness is an axiomatic concept, nd "consciousness is conscious" is a way of translating it into propositional form.

>Also a consciousness with nothing to be conscious of is a contradiction. To be conscious means to be aware, to be aware presupposes awareness of something.

Why can't it be aware only of itself? I know Rand asserted that a consciousness conscious only of itself is a contradiction, but she was question-begging. She was assuming that the contents of consciousness must come from some external source. But this is the whole point at issue. A solipsist would say that the contents of consciousness are generated by consciousness itself. This may be counterintuitive, but it can't be disproven.

Dragonfly: >The statement "consciousness is conscious" is equally incoherent. "Consciousness" is the state of being conscious. How can the state of being conscious be conscious?

You may be right, but I think she used "consciousness" to mean "the faculty of awareness."

I'm glad to see that we've topped 100 posts! :-)

Anonymous said...

Dragonfly: “They are completely useless!”

Philosophically, yes. But I wouldn’t underestimate their polemical value. In the Galt speak, Rand has him introducing A is A with these comments: “All the disasters that have wrecked your world come from your leaders’ attempt to evade the fact that A is A.”

So Rand uses the identity axiom to beat up her enemies over a whole host of real-world issues, despite the fact that A is A is empty of content, and cannot therefore support her assertions about the nature of man, ethics, capitalism art and so on.

This is one reason why Objectivists are so keen to define issues at the get-go, because having gained the semantic high ground, they can then us the identity axiom to defend their position and attack others.

Brendan

Anonymous said...

Prime Mover: “The axiom of existence is primary to consciousness.”

In AS Rand has Galt say “"Existence exists—and the act of grasping that statement implies…that something exists which one perceives…” This is an attempt to elucidate her axioms, and by “something” she clearly means an object in the external world. But understanding the statement “existence exists” implies nothing about an external object. All it implies is a consciousness.

So she’s done nothing more than Descartes tried to achieve, but with less acumen. In fact, if we look at her above formulation again, what we have is a statement (“existence exists”), a consciousness (“something exists”) and a perceiver (“one perceives”). Rand has done nothing more than treat us to trip around her own head. Solipsism indeed.

Brendan

Anonymous said...

Michael, she said consciousness is conscious. Not consciousness is consciousness.



***Why can't it be aware only of itself? I know Rand asserted that a consciousness conscious only of itself is a contradiction, but she was question-begging. She was assuming that the contents of consciousness must come from some external source. But this is the whole point at issue. A solipsist would say that the contents of consciousness are generated by consciousness itself. This may be counterintuitive, but it can't be disproven.***

Well the flying spaghetti monster can't be disproved either. It's an invalid concept and should not factor into a rational discussion.

I think it's pretty self evident that the concept of awareness presupposes an awareness of some thing.

In answer you your question why can't it be aware of itself...

Can you explain to me how an awareness can be aware it is ,aware, with nothing to be aware of?

Can't you see the trouble you get into when you try to speak of a consciousness with nothing for it to be conscious of?

Most of the words we use (barring goblins ghost etc which are invalid concepts) are mental signifies for entities in reality that we have observed. If there is nothing to observe there is nothing to form concepts around and thus language. How would a consciousness floating in nothingness even be able to think ? What you it think of? What would it be aware of?

To say , "well it's aware of itself", is to try and pull the rug from under your feet.

But of coarse the real litmus test is that nothing can be said or argued without awareness being assumed.

***So Rand uses the identity axiom to beat up her enemies over a whole host of real-world issues, despite the fact that A is A is empty of content, and cannot therefore support her assertions about the nature of man, ethics, capitalism art and so on.***

So you are saying that even though things have identity (this thing here has that attribute and that thing there has this attribute) one cannot form conclusions about these entities?


***This is one reason why Objectivists are so keen to define issues at the get-go, because having gained the semantic high ground, they can then us the identity axiom to defend their position and attack others. ***

Yes of coarse..You NEVER assume that (a is a) in anything thing you say or do. Not even in your words above right? ...riiiiight!

If you'd like, you and I can play the same axiom game Daniel attempted above.

Form a coherent statement that doesn't assume the validity of the law of identity. In fact you get extra points if you can, not, assume the validity of any of the three axioms.

ready? ...set...go!!

Daniel Barnes said...

PM:
>If you'd like, you and I can play the same axiom game Daniel attempted above.

You mean this one?
"Can I make a coherent statement that doesn't suppose the axioms ?"

For a start, this isn't a very coherent statement - what are we supposed to "suppose" about them"?

This is just a silly word game, as I've explained, because the axioms do not refute Ayn Rand's philsophic opponents, such as Idealists and Behaviourists! In fact, they'd agree with them!

To recap: the idealist, who believes the whole world is an illusion, would agree with "existence exists", because illusions exist qua illusions.

The behaviourist also agrees with "consciousness being conscious of something", as he can merely define 'consciousness' as a set of reactions in the brain to environmental stimulus.

So Rand's axioms entirely fail to refute her supposed philosophic opponents, who would in fact be as happy with them as she is.

See the problem?

Michael Prescott said...

PM: >Michael, she said consciousness is conscious. Not consciousness is consciousness.

Right ... but I was replying to your comment, in which you first quoted these words:

>***The statement "consciousness is conscious" is equally incoherent.***

And then you asked:

>Where did anyone say consciousness is consciousness?

I assumed that you meant to type "consciousness is conscious," since otherwise your question makes no sense.

Regarding solipsism, I'm not endorsing this doctrine, merely pointing out that Rand's axioms cannot refute it. Rand assumes that the "something" of which we are aware must be external to consciousness, but the solipsist would simply demur, saying no, consciousness originates its own contents. Out of what? The solipsist would say, "I don't know," and then ask you where the physical world originated from. You don't know (nobody knows), so you and the solipsist are at a stalemate.

Only if we define consciousness as perceiving something outside itself does solipsism become invalidated, but to define it this way (in this context) is question-begging.

Btw, "ghost" is not an invalid concept. Even if there are no ghosts, one can still speak meaningfully about them, just as one can speak of unicorns, honest politicians, and Howard Roark (none of which appear to exist in reality).

Personally I do think there are ghosts, but then I also believe in God, ESP, an afterlife, and many other foolish trifles of that kind.

Daniel Barnes said...

PM:
>Where did anyone say consciousness is consciousness?

Dragonfly:
>You should read better, the statement is not "consciousness is consciousness", but "consciousness is conscious", and this was said by Rand in Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology , p. 79, and it is an incoherent statement.


PM:
>Could you site me where Rand says that the standard of knowledge is man ? I have a sneaky suspicion that you are running something she said through your ringer and erecting a strawman.


Here it is PM:

"It is here that Protagoras' old dictum may be given a new meaning, the opposite of the one he intended: "Man is the measure of all things." Man is the measure, epistemologically-not metaphysically. In regard to human knowledge, man has to be the measure, since he has to bring all things into the realm of the humanly knowable." (IOTE, Chapter 1)

She then claims that her method avoids subjectivism. But this is one of the things I dispute, as "contextually certain" truths are the equivalent of subjective truths in practice.

BTW, I hope this shows that you shouldn't assume people like us haven't read Objectivist philosophy with considerable care - we have, and better than many Objectivists, you'll find. Just because we don't agree with it doesn't mean we don't have a good grasp of it. Of course, we will certainly make mistakes in arguing, from time to time. But that doesn't mean we don't get it. We get it. We just don't think it's right.

Anonymous said...

***I assumed that you meant to type "consciousness is conscious," since otherwise your question makes no sense. ***

Granted, I'm guilty of word skimming.


***Regarding solipsism, I'm not endorsing this doctrine, merely pointing out that Rand's axioms cannot refute it.***

The axioms do not support a solipsistic world view and it can be demonstrated over and over again how even a solipsist must accept their truth in order to refute them.


***Rand assumes that the "something" of which we are aware must be external to consciousness, but the solipsist would simply demur, saying no, consciousness originates its own contents. Out of what? The solipsist would say, "I don't know," and then ask you where the physical world originated from. You don't know (nobody knows), so you and the solipsist are at a stalemate.***

Using this very method (of thinking of ad hoc rationalities) can "stalemate" any position.

First, to ask where existence came from is a irrational question.
If existence came from someplace then that someplace already existed thus conceding the premise that existence has always existed!

Second, this adds an extra unnecessary step to the issue. This gets cut away by oscams razor. Occam's razor is used in the scientific world because it is a tool helpful in arriving at the truth. We know that things exist and we also know that things existed for a long time before any conscious life came around so the evidence points to existence as primary. Any hypothesis that rely on, "well it can't be disproved", rhetoric, are not considered by any reputable scientist nor any Objectivist for the SAME REASONS.


***Only if we define consciousness as perceiving something outside itself does solipsism become invalidated, but to define it this way (in this context) is question-begging.***

Again, the alternative is ad hoc and does not factor into the mind of a rational person. See scientific method.


***Btw, "ghost" is not an invalid concept. Even if there are no ghosts, one can still speak meaningfully about them, just as one can speak of unicorns, honest politicians, and Howard Roark (none of which appear to exist in reality). ***


Ghost cannot be spoken about meaningfully because they cannot be defined meaningfully. They are defined as what they are not. Non material, non physical etc. If you ask me what type of vehicle I drive and I tell you that it's "not" a hover craft does that tell you what it is? Of coarse not.

Also ,Roark would be described as a fictional man just as the unicorn would be described as mythical animal.

***Personally I do think there are ghosts, but then I also believe in God, ESP, an afterlife, and many other foolish trifles of that kind.***

Eye Yi YI!


***This is just a silly word game, as I've explained, because the axioms do not refute Ayn Rand's philsophic opponents, such as Idealists and Behaviourists! In fact, they'd agree with them!

To recap: the idealist, who believes the whole world is an illusion, would agree with "existence exists", because illusions exist qua illusions.***


Yes that's correct on the "existence" part but the law of identity is violated because how did the illusionist arrive at the concept illusion , if EVERYTHING is an illusion? He violates the fallacy of the stolen concept. An illusion is defined in part as "not real" and that assumes that something IS real because how else would he have arrived at the concept "illusion" in which to differintiate the comparrison?

You trumpet over and over again that you understand Objectivism but here is a major issue with concpet formation that you neglected to factor in.

***The behaviourist also agrees with "consciousness being conscious of something", as he can merely define 'consciousness' as a set of reactions in the brain to environmental stimulus.***

Well I don't see how that definition contradicts anything Objectivist position. The world can and does affect our minds. Perhaps where you think the contention is is that Objectvisim champions free will while the behaviorist might be a determinist?

But let me ask you something. Where do you get the idea that the axioms MUST refute ALL other philosophic hypothesis? (not that they don't in some instances such as solipism or skepticism) And why is this supposedly a problem for objectivism? The philosophy get's more detailed than the axioms. Plus it seems you are still thinking that Objectvism works deductively from the axioms even though I addressed this already.

Someone could say that aliens that fly around and abduct people in the night to stick things up their asses doesn't violate any of the axioms. Does it then follow that we must abandon the axioms because of this? Of coarse not.

***So Rand's axioms entirely fail to refute her supposed philosophic opponents, who would in fact be as happy with them as she is.

See the problem? ***

I see the problem is that you are still showing a dearth of knowledge on Objectivism and the axioms.


***"It is here that Protagoras' old dictum may be given a new meaning, the opposite of the one he intended: "Man is the measure of all things." Man is the measure, epistemologically-not metaphysically. In regard to human knowledge, man has to be the measure, since he has to bring all things into the realm of the humanly knowable." (IOTE, Chapter 1)***

Ok , first you used the words "man is the standard of knowledge" which carries different connotations than saying man must measure knowledge since man is the one who arrived at the concept of knowledge to begin with.

When talking philosophy (just like law) one must be careful which words they use. That's why I'm such a strict ass when it comes to quoting someone. I want to know they words THEY used. Not some regurgitated reinterpreted words through your mind which holds presuppositions that change it's original meaning in some way.

Daniel Barnes said...

PM:
>Yes that's correct on the "existence" part but the law of identity is violated because how did the illusionist arrive at the concept illusion , if EVERYTHING is an illusion?

The Idealist typically argues that physical existence is an illusion, and that the only things that truly exist are non-physical things outside space and time (eg: the Platonic Forms). That is why they are perfectly happy with "existence exists". They do not need to "steal" any concepts. In fact, they could argue you have stolen the timeless concept of "existence" from them to apply to your ephemeral, ever-changing physical world!

Likewise, the radical solipsist/subjectivist thinks "physical existence" is is an illusion, and the only thing that truly exists is his own consciousness. So again: they could quite easily argue that you've stolen the true meaning of "existence" and applied it to an illusion.

PM, even tho I disagree with them, Idealists and Subjectivists aren't completely stupid!Rand's portrayal of their position is a transparent strawman. As you can hopefully now see, they can turn all her arguments back against her effortlessly.

>Well I don't see how (typical behaviourist) definition contradicts anything Objectivist position.

Exactly my point.

>But let me ask you something. Where do you get the idea that the axioms MUST refute ALL other philosophic hypothesis?

I didn't say "all." I offered two or three typical examples (Platonism, Subjectivism, Behaviourism/Determinism that Rand really did think her axioms refuted. But obviously as shown above they do not.

Anonymous said...

***The Idealist typically argues that physical existence is an illusion, and that the only things that truly exist are non-physical things outside space and time (eg: the Platonic Forms).***

The idealist uses the concept illusion while negating the epistemological root of the word "illusion".

Again this is an example of trying to stand on a rug and pull it from under your feet. The idealist, necessarily accepts the validity of the law of identity in order to come to his b/s conclusion.

If idealism is correct, ( or any of these other philosophies you posisted) then lets see them argue thier point with out contradicting themselves.



***That is why they are perfectly happy with "existence exists". They do not need to "steal" any concepts.***

Oh but they do as I have just shown.


***In fact, they could argue you have stolen the timeless concept of "existence" from them to apply to your ephemeral, ever-changing physical world! ***

Yes and people in insane asylums might do the same.


***PM, even tho I disagree with them, Idealists and Subjectivists aren't completely stupid!***

I never implied they were. I also don't think the 9-11 terrorist or Osama Bin laden are stupid either.

***I didn't say "all." I offered two or three typical examples (Platonism, Subjectivism, Behaviourism/Determinism that Rand really did think her axioms refuted. But obviously as shown above they do not. ***

Well then if you didn't mean all, you were begging the question of this entire discussion!

Lastly you can assert that you have made your case, but unfortunately for you it's not looking that way.


You keep asserting that you understand Objectivism , but the only evidence you offer up to the contrary is a misquotation of Rand.

Daniel Barnes said...

PM:
>Lastly you can assert that you have made your case, but unfortunately for you it's not looking that way.

Ok, likewise, I suppose we'll have to agree to disagree then....;-)

Anonymous said...

***PM:
>Lastly you can assert that you have made your case, but unfortunately for you it's not looking that way.

Ok, likewise, I suppose we'll have to agree to disagree then....;-)***

Indeed. I gave up merry go rounds when I was three.

Dragonfly said...

Primemover: 'The idealist uses the concept illusion while negating the epistemological root of the word "illusion".'

But that doesn't in itself refute the idealist's viewpoint. The concept "illusion" may originally have been a way to distinguish imagined from real experiences, but that does not preclude the possibility that all experiences are imaginary. Calling such an evolved concept "a stolen concept" is a favorite Randian trick, suggesting that this buzzword disqualifies the concept as used by the opponent, but of course it does no such thing. Many concepts evolve in the course of time. For example, more than a century ago "time" itself was seen as something absolute that was the same for everyone. Since Einstein we know that this view is incorrect. Now we can shout against Einstein "your 'time' is a stolen concept!", but that doesn't invalidate Einstein's concept of time at all. So the notion "stolen concept" may be nice rhetoric, but it is not a valid argument.

PM: "The axioms do not support a solipsistic world view and it can be demonstrated over and over again how even a solipsist must accept their truth in order to refute them."

"Existence exists" is fully compatible with the solipsists' view. For him existence is that what he experiences. Solipsism is a logically unassailable position. The problem with solipsism is that it is unfalsifiable. To be able to live the solipsist just like everyone else has to deal with everything that he experiences, and that means that he has to behave as if there is an external reality, the world he experiences has exactly the same laws and regularities as what we call the "real world". So the world of the solipsist is isomorphic to the real world of the non-solipsist. Therefore we can just skip the illusion part, as there is no way to distinguish the illusory world of the solipsist from the real world. So solipsism is empty of cognitive content, but it is not an incoherent position and in no way contradicts Rand's axioms.

Anonymous said...

***But that doesn't in itself refute the idealist's viewpoint. The concept "illusion" may originally have been a way to distinguish imagined from real experiences, but that does not preclude the possibility that all experiences are imaginary.***

Flag down on the field. Fallacy of equivocation. Five yard penalty.

You are equivocating on the word "illusion" to mean one thing in one situation and another thing in another situation.

When the idealist says that everything is an illusion, by what does he mean illusion?

If as you say that illusion really means that which is imagined. Then the idealist is really saying that everything is imagined.

Now here we are again with the same problem. How did the idealist arrive at the concept of imagine if EVERYTHING is that way? In order to arrive at the concept imagine you must be able to differentiate between the imagined and the unimagined.


***Calling such an evolved concept "a stolen concept" is a favorite Randian trick,***

And apparently you base your philosophy on someone who's trick is equivocation.


***Many concepts evolve in the course of time. For example, more than a century ago "time" itself was seen as something absolute that was the same for everyone. ***

I might not know that tables are made of atoms, yet when I find out tables are made of atoms how does that disqualify my concept?

The concept time is formed in much the same way the concept of length is. It's a duration of a set of particular entities or events differentiated between other sets of entities or events and their durations.

Einstein's discovery does not invalidate the concept of time any more than the concept of tables is invalidated by finding out they are made of atoms.


***"Existence exists" is fully compatible with the solipsists' view. For him existence is that what he experiences. ...........................but it is not an incoherent position and in no way contradicts Rand's axioms.***


It may be true that one could rationalize the axioms into such a worldview. However as you stated it is an arbitrary position and thus as far as science (and Objectivism) is concerned it is not a matter to be factored in rational thought just the same way as Bertrand Russell's tea cup orbiting the sun analogy.

Daniel Barnes said...

PM:
>When the idealist says that everything is an illusion, by what does he mean illusion?

Just chipping back in here for a moment: this is not what the idealist says. Re-read my description.

The idealist says only the eternal, timeless Forms are real. The ephemeral physical world of change is an illusion.

You are attacking a strawman.

In terms of the Subjectivist, it can be argued as follows:

"All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream."
- Edgar Allan Poe

Dragonfly said...

Primemover: "Now here we are again with the same problem. How did the idealist arrive at the concept of imagine if EVERYTHING is that way? In order to arrive at the concept imagine you must be able to differentiate between the imagined and the unimagined."

It's not that difficult. The argument is as follows: some people say that there exist two worlds: a real physical world that exists independent of what we think, and an imaginary world that is everything that is created by our mind. As you say, these people differentiate between the imagined and the unimagined. Now there are other people who dispute this, and who say: no, there is no real physical world, everything is created by our mind. Then there is from a logical viewpoint nothing wrong when they say: everything is imaginary.

Another example: mortality. To use your reasoning: In order to arrive at the concept "mortal" you must be able to differentiate between "mortal" and "immortal". Would that imply that you can't arrive at the conclusion that everyone is mortal?

Anonymous said...

***Posted by Dragonfly*** It's not that difficult. The argument is as follows: some people say that there exist two worlds: a real physical world that exists independent of what we think, and an imaginary world that is everything that is created by our mind. As you say, these people differentiate between the imagined and the unimagined. Now there are other people who dispute this, and who say: no, there is no real physical world, everything is created by our mind. Then there is from a logical viewpoint nothing wrong when they say: everything is imaginary.***

That's where their contradiction comes in! When the people who say everything is imagined say that, they are assuming TRUE the idea that a physical world exist in order to make their argument! IOW's they ARE differentiating between the imagined and the unimagined, but they are negating the fact that they are doing that in order to reach their conclusion. That's why when I asked, "how did they arrive at the concept of imaginary?", I was asking how are they arriving at that concept while being consistent with their own position? It's not that hard!

Google : "fallacy of the stolen concept", and understand where the problem is because this is getting very old.

***Posted by Dragonfly*** Another example: mortality. To use your reasoning: In order to arrive at the concept "mortal" you must be able to differentiate between "mortal" and "immortal". Would that imply that you can't arrive at the conclusion that everyone is mortal? ***

Mortality is an attribute of living entities. In order to arrive at the concept of mortality all one has to do is differentiate between that of the living and the non living.
Let me draw a parallel to drive the point home.

Suppose in legend there was an attribute given to some that was called inrespirationist. They could live with out taking in oxygen into their bodies. Now the rest of us would have been called respirationist. If inrespirationist was a made up attribute by the ancients just as immortality is, would you then make the same argument for inrespirationist that you are for immortals? Oxygen is necessary for human life so there is no need to differentiate between that and some made up word that's vacuous of reality.

***Daniel said*** Just chipping back in here for a moment: this is not what the idealist says. Re-read my description.

The idealist says only the eternal, timeless Forms are real. The ephemeral physical world of change is an illusion.

You are attacking a strawman.

In terms of the Subjectivist, it can be argued as follows:

"All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream."
- Edgar Allan Poe ***

This part here, "The idealist says only the eternal, timeless Forms are real." , serves as nothing but a red herring. My argument interacts with this portion, " The ephemeral physical world of change is an illusion." IOW's, the idea that forms exist for real independently of the world in an abstract realm is untenable and ad hoc. It's no different than a creationist asserting that a god and a heavenly place necessarily preceded existence. Integration assumes induction. Material realms outside of observation cannot be induced from, ergo one cannot differentiate between it and what we observe in front of us.

Daniel Barnes said...

PM:
> IOW's, the idea that forms exist for real independently of the world in an abstract realm is untenable and ad hoc.

Not at all. A perfect circle (or any geometric figure) is describable using abstract mathematics. It cannot, however, be drawn perfectly in the physical world. In fact, no two physical circles you draw will be the same, no matter how hard you try, whereas the abstract mathematical circle is unchanging.

This discrepancy between the physical and the abstract evident in geometry is one of the things Plato observed that stimulated his theory of the world of original Forms, of which of course our physical circles are but poor copies.

So your point below is in fact demonstrably false

> Material realms outside of observation cannot be induced from, ergo one cannot differentiate between it and what we observe in front of us.

We can clearly differentiate, as I have shown.

(this does not, however, mean Plato's idea of abstractions being the origin of all things is true)

Anonymous said...

***Not at all. A perfect circle (or any geometric figure) is describable using abstract mathematics. ***

Thank you! You said it right there. abstract mathematics!


Mathematics is tautological. It only has non tautological meaning when in relation to physical things.
IOW's to real things. If a perfect circle can't be drawn, so what? Perfect is itself a vacuous term that only has meaning in context.

Plato was not differentiating because he did not compare anything to a perfect circle.

To say that there must be a perfect circle because circles exist is a non sequitur. This is like the theist argument for the existence of god. They say in order for us to have the concept "perfect" to begin with, there must be some perfect entity in the universe..god!

Daniel Barnes said...

PM:
>To say that there must be a perfect circle because circles exist is a non sequitur.

Hi PM

I consider your argument deeply confused.

Do you think a 'perfect circle' (or square, or whatever) does not exist?

If so, what on earth do you suppose an equation describing a circle (or any geometric figure) is referring to?

I think what you mean to say is that it exists, but just not physically. But this is obvious, as I am calling it "abstract."

Abstractions exist, just not physically (duh!, that's the meaning of the word)

Do you disagree? I don't see how you can.

>Mathematics is tautological. It only has non tautological meaning when in relation to physical things.

Nonsense. 2+2=4 is tautological regardless of whether you're counting apples or abstractions.

>If a perfect circle can't be drawn, so what?

This peculiarity, like (for another example) the infinity of numbers, tells us that abstract objects have different characteristics from physical objects.

Anonymous said...

***I consider your argument deeply confused.

Do you think a 'perfect circle' (or square, or whatever) does not exist?

If so, what on earth do you suppose an equation describing a circle (or any geometric figure) is referring to?

I think what you mean to say is that it exists, but just not physically. But this is obvious, as I am calling it "abstract."***

Perfect in context of a situation yes. Perfect as cannot be improved upon, no. Just as you can always add a number and never reach the highest, you can always go a decimal point over and make the circle a hair tighter.

If you drew a circle around the milky way galaxy and brought it together to the tenth decimal point it would be a thousand miles off. Also as with the nature of decimals, if you brought it out ten more places it would be closer but not as significant as the first ten places. Each move over brings it closer yet at a less and less significance.

Imagine a river. If a man on raft went to the halfway point and then half of that and half of that and half of that etc, he would never get to the other side. He may get close enough to jump off onto the bank, but to bring that objection misses the point of the analogy.

Michael Prescott said...

>If you drew a circle around the milky way galaxy and brought it together to the tenth decimal point it would be a thousand miles off. Also as with the nature of decimals, if you brought it out ten more places it would be closer but not as significant as the first ten places. Each move over brings it closer yet at a less and less significance.

I think this is just what some of us were saying about certainty. You can get closer and closer to certainty (or, to put it another way, achieve a higher and higher degree of probability), but you never reach absolute or "perfect" certainty. It's an asymptotic curve.

Anonymous said...

***Abstractions exist, just not physically (duh!, that's the meaning of the word)

Do you disagree? I don't see how you can.***

An abstraction that can be reduced back down to the perceptual yes. Take "justice" for an example. This is an abstraction that assumes perhaps even other abstractions but eventually you get down to laws that pertain to actual observable physical entities and actions.

Just because one can abstract about anything doesn't automatically make it rational or even something worthy of consideration.

All knowledge reduces back down in some way to the observable.

But anyways, slightly off topic from this, my friend Dawson has this blog and it's geared towards arguing against Christian presuppositionalism but his latest article explains the nature of the axioms quite well. Much better than I could anyways.


http://bahnsenburner.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

***I think this is just what some of us were saying about certainty. You can get closer and closer to certainty (or, to put it another way, achieve a higher and higher degree of probability), but you never reach absolute or "perfect" certainty. It's an asymptotic curve. ***

I understand completely what you guys are saying in that regard ..ehh


Dead horse, watch out Michael has a bat!

Dragonfly said...

Primemover: "That's where their contradiction comes in! When the people who say everything is imagined say that, they are assuming TRUE the idea that a physical world exist in order to make their argument!"

Not at all. The position of the solipsist is not inconsistent, he just claims that there is no physical world. We may disagree, but we cannot prove that he is wrong.

PM: "Mortality is an attribute of living entities. In order to arrive at the concept of mortality all one has to do is differentiate between that of the living and the non living."

Historically the concept "mortal" has been closely linked to the concept "immortal", in differentiating between the fates of the body and of the soul or between men and gods. Otherwise the introduction of the concept "mortal" would be as superfluous as the introduction of your concept "respirationist". What is sauce for the goose... The argument of the solipsist is exactly the same: "once" he will say, "people differentiated between the real world and the imagination, now we know that there is only imagination." From a purely logical viewpoint this is equally logical and consistent as the statement that we now reject the notion of immortality. The etymology of the concept is not essential.

PM: "If inrespirationist was a made up attribute by the ancients just as immortality is, would you then make the same argument for inrespirationist that you are for immortals? Oxygen is necessary for human life so there is no need to differentiate between that and some made up word that's vacuous of reality."

Nobody uses such a word, while there is no disagreement about our need for oxygen. But if there were people (the X's) who claimed that there exist "inrespirationists", then there would be nothing wrong in answering: "no, we are all respirationists", even if we "stole" the concept from the X's.

This whole notion of "stolen concept" is silly, it is pure rhetoric and not a valid argument. The meaning of concepts will often change in the course of time, Rand herself changed the meaning of several concepts. Only if she didn't like the change, she came up with the argument "stolen concept!".

Anonymous said...

***This whole notion of "stolen concept" is silly, it is pure rhetoric and not a valid argument.***

Rand didn't change the meaning of anything. You are confused and are thinking definition and concepts are the same thing. Dictionaries give common usage meanings. Rand showed how the definition for selfish changed over time by referencing Websters publications starting in the early 1900's.

The stolen concept is just a variation of the law of non contradiction. It's very telling that you reject it.


***Not at all. The position of the solipsist is not inconsistent, he just claims that there is no physical world. We may disagree, but we cannot prove that he is wrong. ***

His position is inconsistent when he uses concepts that he can only account for by accepting the position he's arguing against.


***Nobody uses such a word, while there is no disagreement about our need for oxygen. But if there were people (the X's) who claimed that there exist "inrespirationists", then there would be nothing wrong in answering: "no, we are all respirationists", even if we "stole" the concept from the X's.***

We wouldn't have stole the concept from anyone because breathing would be necessary regardless. get it?


***Historically the concept "mortal" has been closely linked to the concept "immortal", in differentiating between the fates of the body and of the soul or between men and gods.Otherwise the introduction of the concept "mortal" would be as superfluous as the introduction of your concept "respirationist".***

It IS superfluous! That's my point. We don't need to have a word expressing the fact that we breath as compared to non breathers nor do we need a word to express how we die as compared to non diers. As I said above, dictionaries give common usage meanings of words no matter what words they are. "Ghost" is in the dictionary that doesn't mean it has any connection to what's real nor does it mean it's a concept. We can all get by just fine without ever having to deal with such a word.

Anonymous said...

Test part 2

Dragonfly said...

Primemover: "Rand didn't change the meaning of anything. You are confused and are thinking definition and concepts are the same thing. Dictionaries give common usage meanings. Rand showed how the definition for selfish changed over time by referencing Websters publications starting in the early 1900's."

Where did she do that? She admitted herself that what she meant by "selfishness" was not what is meant conventionally, in other words, she changed the concept.

PM: "The stolen concept is just a variation of the law of non contradiction. It's very telling that you reject it."

This is just nonsense. The validity of a concept is not determined by its etymology.

PM: "His position is inconsistent when he uses concepts that he can only account for by accepting the position he's arguing against."

No, he can easily account for all his concepts. His position is logically unassailable. That makes it vacuous, but not illogical nor inconsistent.

PM:"It IS superfluous! That's my point. We don't need to have a word expressing the fact that we breath as compared to non breathers nor do we need a word to express how we die as compared to non diers."

In exactly the same way the solipsist can say that the concept "reality" is superfluous. You may disagree, but you cannot refute him on logical grounds alone. Your concept "stolen concept" is merely a matter of opinion, not a valid argument.

PM: ""Ghost" is in the dictionary that doesn't mean it has any connection to what's real nor does it mean it's a concept."

The idea that a concept must refer to something that exists in physical reality is a misunderstanding on your part. Now Rand may have suggested something like that (another concept she tried to change!), but even she had to wriggle out of that position by admitting the existence what she called "concepts of method". But of course "ghost", "God", "unicorn", "tooth fairy" are all concepts, even if they don't exist in reality, just like pi or i or a circle.

Primemover said...

***In exactly the same way the solipsist can say that the concept "reality" is superfluous. You may disagree, but you cannot refute him on logical grounds alone. Your concept "stolen concept" is merely a matter of opinion, not a valid argument.***

And are you going to tell us why it is not a valid argument or you are just going to assert it and expect someone to believe you? Look I understand why you don't like the stolen concept fallacy because it is so destructive to your argument. What you need to do if you are an honest person is introspect and examine the things you hold against th elight of reason and make the appropriate changes. Now, I'm not going to waste much more energy on someone who outright rejects the validity of the law of non contradiction but I do have the following to say in brief reply to what you just said.

No one said that concepts must refer to something in physical reality. I said that all valid concepts refer to something in reality. For example, justice is a non tangible concept that is real. However just because you cannot hold "justice" in your hands and you can't hold a ghost in your hands doesn't mean that ghost is valid as well. The concept justice assumes other concepts and then eventually down the line to tangible concepts like man. Ghost however is completely vacuous and cannot be positively defined. It can only be defined as what it is not such as, non material, non visible, etc.

***Where did she do that? She admitted herself that what she meant by "selfishness" was not what is meant conventionally, in other words, she changed the concept.***


The opening to AVOS is where she did it. She said what is NOW commonly accepted as the meaning of the word but showed earlier definitions dating back to the early 1900's that said something along the lines of simply "concern for yourself" which is devoid of any negative implications that is in today's definition.


***PM: "The stolen concept is just a variation of the law of non contradiction. It's very telling that you reject it."

This is just nonsense. The validity of a concept is not determined by its etymology.***

I don't know what you are talking about here or what this has to do with the fallacy of the stolen concept but it's pretty clear that when someone assumes the truth of a concept in order to reach a conclusion that contradicts that concept they have infact violated the LoNC. The Fallacy of the stolen concept is nothing but the law of non contradiction in a particular situation. In fact most logical fallacies are a variation of the law of non contradiction.

Primemover said...

***In exactly the same way the solipsist can say that the concept "reality" is superfluous. You may disagree, but you cannot refute him on logical grounds alone. Your concept "stolen concept" is merely a matter of opinion, not a valid argument.***

And are you going to tell us why it is not a valid argument or you are just going to assert it and expect someone to believe you? Look I understand why you don't like the stolen concept fallacy because it is so destructive to your argument. What you need to do if you are an honest person is introspect and examine the things you hold against th light of reason and make the appropriate changes. Now, I'm not going to waste much more energy on someone who outright rejects the validity of the law of non contradiction but I do have the following to say in brief reply to what you just said.

No one said that concepts must refer to something in physical reality. I said that all valid concepts refer to something in reality. For example, justice is a non tangible concept that is real. However just because you cannot hold "justice" in your hands and you can't hold a ghost in your hands doesn't mean that ghost is valid as well. The concept justice assumes other concepts and then eventually down the line to tangible concepts like man. Ghost however is completely vacuous and cannot be positively defined. It can only be defined as what it is not such as, non material, non visible, etc.

***Where did she do that? She admitted herself that what she meant by "selfishness" was not what is meant conventionally, in other words, she changed the concept.***


The opening to AVOS is where she did it. She said what is NOW commonly accepted as the meaning of the word but showed earlier definitions dating back to the early 1900's that said something along the lines of simply "concern for yourself" which is devoid of any negative implications that is in today's definition.


***PM: "The stolen concept is just a variation of the law of non contradiction. It's very telling that you reject it."

This is just nonsense. The validity of a concept is not determined by its etymology.***

I don't know what you are talking about here or what this has to do with the fallacy of the stolen concept but it's pretty clear that when someone assumes the truth of a concept in order to reach a conclusion that contradicts that concept they have in fact violated the LoNC. The Fallacy of the stolen concept is nothing but the law of non contradiction in a particular situation. In fact most logical fallacies are a variation of the law of non contradiction.

Neil Parille said...

"The opening to AVOS is where she did it. She said what is NOW commonly accepted as the meaning of the word but showed earlier definitions dating back to the early 1900's that said something along the lines of simply 'concern for yourself' which is devoid of any negative implications that is in today's definition."

Where did she give any examples from dictionaries? Not in my version of VOS.

Daniel Barnes said...

PM:
>Now, I'm not going to waste much more energy on someone who outright rejects the validity of the law of non contradiction but I do have the following to say in brief reply to what you just said.

Who rejects non-contradiction as a valid logical rule?

Daniel Barnes said...

PM:
>The concept justice assumes other concepts and then eventually down the line to tangible concepts like man. Ghost however is completely vacuous and cannot be positively defined.

But surely "ghost" assumes other concepts and then eventually down the line to tangible concepts like "man" too.

This is not to argue that "ghosts" are like "justice" - just to suggest to you that your system actually doesn't usefully differentiate them.

If you disagree perhaps you'd like to demonstrate the conceptual chains of each to prove your point.

Anonymous said...

Neil I glanced over my copy of AVoS also I I must have been mistaken that it read it there. Perhaps it was in Peikoff's book but I'm not sure because mine is old and missing pages. I'll dig deeper later if necessary but let me draw this parallel.

The word "atheist" is defined by Websters as ,"one who believes that there is no deity." Now what's interesting is that that definition makes it seem like "atheism" is a positive assertion by it use of the words, "one who believes". However when we look at the word , "atheist" what we see is the prefix "a" which means, without, and the root word, "theist" which means belief in a deity. Therefore when you put the two together it means simply without god belief which is clearly a negative not a positive position. Even though 'atheism" by itself is a negative position, common usage is that it is a belief rather than a lack of belief.


Now let's look at the word "selfish". We have the root word , "self" connected to "ish" which means likeness or relating to. So relating to ones self is what selfishness means. There are no negative connotations there except by the common usage which we find in the dictionary.


***Who rejects non-contradiction as a valid logical rule?***

Dragonfly does.


***But surely "ghost" assumes other concepts and then eventually down the line to tangible concepts like "man" too.

This is not to argue that "ghosts" are like "justice" - just to suggest to you that your system actually doesn't usefully differentiate them.

If you disagree perhaps you'd like to demonstrate the conceptual chains of each to prove your point. ***


Well clearly you don't understand my objection because my argument is that there is no conceptual chain for "ghost" so it is of obligation of the person claiming there is to make the case.

Dragonfly said...

PM(I suppose):"***Who rejects non-contradiction as a valid logical rule?***

Dragonfly does."

No, he doesn't.

Primemover said...

Dragonfly, obviously you believe that when it comes to concepts anything goes including violating the LoNC.

BTW, you say you accept the LoNC but how is it that you rationally justify it in your mind? Is it that it just sounds good so you accept it in a vacuum?

Dragonfly said...

PM: "Dragonfly, obviously you believe that when it comes to concepts anything goes including violating the LoNC."

I believe no such thing. You can't point out any contradiction in my argument. Merely saying that something is a contradiction is not sufficient.

Primemover said...

I have demonstrated the fallacy in the position you are arguing specifically. It is when one reaches a conclusion that contradicts one or more of the concepts (or fundamentals that these concepts presuppose) utilized in reaching the conclusion.

The person that says that everything is imagined is contradicting themselves because the concept imagine presuppose the non imagined. Since it presuppose the non imagined this is a direct contradiction to the conclusion they are reaching.

Now instead of sitting back and saying that this is a matter of opinion like you do above or that there's no such thing as a stolen concept fallacy (low of non contradiction) tell us what it is you say is wrong with the SCF?

Is it that you say the concept "imagine" does not presuppose the non imagined? If so, are you prepared to explain to us how this concept is arrived at with out being circular?

Dragonfly said...

PM: "The person that says that everything is imagined is contradicting themselves because the concept imagine presuppose the non imagined. Since it presuppose the non imagined this is a direct contradiction to the conclusion they are reaching."

This is not a contradiction. The reasoning is as follows (for the record: I don't agree with the reasoning, but not for the reason that it would be logically inconsistent): in the past people came to the conclusion that phenomena that we experience can be divided into two classes "imagined" and "real", where the "real" phenomena have an existence outside our consciousness. This is an error, however, those things that seem to be "real" don't have an existence outside our consciousness either, so everything is imagined."

From a purely logical viewpoint there is nothing wrong with this reasoning. That the etymology of the word "imaginary" may have been coupled to that of "real" is not relevant. The solipsist says in fact that the dichotomy imagined-real is false, i.e. that there is no independent reality, and there is no reason why he therefore shouldn't use the word "imaginary" for all phenomena.

In fact Peikoff uses a similar argument in his Analytic-Synthetic dichotomy (an argument with which I also disagree!): he denies the existence of the dichotomy and argues that all truths are analytical truths. The point is that he doesn't accept the dichotomy, and that is exactly what the solipsist in his case does too.

PM: "Now instead of sitting back and saying that this is a matter of opinion like you do above or that there's no such thing as a stolen concept fallacy (low of non contradiction) tell us what it is you say is wrong with the SCF?"

First, in Rand's definition a SCF is not a contradiction. A contradiction is something else: it is a statement that is true and not true at the same time. Peikoff defines the SCF as follows: "The 'stolen concept' fallacy [] is the fallacy of using a concept while denying the validity of its genetic roots, i.e. of an earlier concept(s) on which it logically depends". Using this definition, your example isn't even a SCF, as the concept "imaginary" doesn't depend logically on the concept "real", even if it has been formed in the past as a contrast to "real". We could say that there exist n imaginary phenomena and m real phenomena. Most people would agree that n and m are huge numbers, but the solipsist merely says that m = 0. Whether he is right is a different question, but he doesn't commit a "SCF" and there is certainly no logical contradiction in the statement itself.

What is wrong with the idea of the SCF: even if someone uses a concept in a way that denies its genetic roots, this doesn't necessarily invalidate his use of the concept. It merely means that the concept is no longer the same as the original concept. This may be perfectly valid, for example nowadays the concept "time" is no longer the same as the concept "time" before 1905. On the other hand is it of course possible that the new concept is not valid, but the point is that you can't prove that by merely pointing out that it denies the validity of its genetic roots. The SCF in itself doesn't prove anything, it's therefore only a rhetorical device without any real meaning.

Primemover said...

First off I dunno who claimed that there's a dichotomy between that of imagined things and real things? Imagination is the real action of a real mind. And I dunno what it is with you and this etemology stuff? My argument is a philosophical fundamental one. What the words are or how they came to be is nothing but a red herring. How the ancients used the words is nothing but a red herring.

I am talking about concepts. I had mentioned in a previous post something about you confusing concepts and definitions and here you are doing it again. Imagining, or imagination etc (whatever you want to call it, it doesn't matter. I am talking about the action of a mind. If we agree to call it imagining , fine.) presupposes a mind and a sensory faculty. Something must FIRST be sensed before there can EVER be any imagining. Something sensed is something that exist. There may be a misunderstanding on WHAT it is, but to bring that objection is also to miss the point. To say that everything is imagined is the same as saying nothing has been sensed. For one to utter the words nothing has ever been sensed is to contradict themselves (More specifically the contradiction in this case is called the fallacy of the stolen concept) because by what process (other than sensory perception) did they learn the meanings of the concepts they presuppose by making that very statement? They are also assuming that someone is there with senses to sense what they are saying. To object and say that the person saying this also is imaginary and that the person he is saying to is imagining it or this is how the solipsist use the word imagine (or any objection along these line that you are making) is to confuse concepts with definitions. You confusion with concepts and definitions permeates every objection you are rasing here. Here's another example when you mentioned Peikoff's definition of stolen concept fallacy.


Peikoff says in part.... "using a concept while denying the validity of its genetic roots". Your error is confusing how the word came about verse how the concept is validated or arrived at. See? Forget about words and where they came from. This is not what Peikoff is saying when he says "genetic roots".

You illustrate this misunderstanding of concepts and definitions again when you say..


***"even if someone uses a concept in a way that denies its genetic roots, this doesn't necessarily invalidate his use of the concept. It merely means that the concept is no longer the same as the original concept."***

This is why you think that one cannot contradict himself when he uses concepts to reach a conclusion that contradicts how that concept is formed because you think that concept formation and definitions are the same thing.

I dunno in what other way I can try to explain this to you but I'm not replying to any more of you objections that you make that presuppose this misunderstanding.

Dragonfly said...

PM: "First off I dunno who claimed that there's a dichotomy between that of imagined things and real things? Imagination is the real action of a real mind."
That is your position, but not that of the solipsist. He refuses to acknowledge any "outside reality" including his own physical existence. Weird, but not logically inconsistent. Any proof you can come up with that thoughts and imagination are not possible without physical existence, he can easily dismiss as another figment of the imagination. So his concept of imagination will differ from yours in that regard, but that doesn't constitute a contradiction. The problems arise only when you try to fit his world view within yours.

The same applies to all your other objections, like "Something must FIRST be sensed before there can EVER be any imagining." The solipsist will simply reply that the idea of physical senses and sensing are also just figments of the imagination (as I said, his concept of imagination is not the same as yours), and so on. You'll never be able to pin him down on a contradiction, as he simply refuses your physical interpretation. And as I said before, that doesn't mean that his view is sound, but it is not contradictory.

PM: "This is why you think that one cannot contradict himself when he uses concepts to reach a conclusion that contradicts how that concept is formed because you think that concept formation and definitions are the same thing."

No, he uses the same name for a different concept, while he rejects the original concept formation. That is not different from using the old name "gravitation" (defined as a force) for a new concept with the same name (curvature in space-time).

Primemover said...

Oh I get it. You are testing me to see if I am going to adhere to my statement I made when I said..


"I dunno in what other way I can try to explain this to you but I'm not replying to any more of you objections that you make that presuppose this misunderstanding."


Good one! You almost got me!