Sunday, July 27, 2008

Objectivism & History, Part 1

”Philosophy” of history. Leonard Peikoff begins his lecture “Philosophy and Psychology in History” as follows:
My subject today is the philosophy of history. The philosophy of history asks: why did men act as they did in the past? What is the cause and the meaning of the key developments of previous cultures and centuries, up to an including our own? What is the fundamental factor, the prime mover, shaping the course of human history?

Note the phrase philosophy of history. Peikoff eschews more modest phrases such as study of history or historical sociology or sociocultural evolution. The study of the factors shaping human history, Peikoff implies, can only be discovered through philosophy. Detailed knowledge of sociology, psychology, politics, economics is, presumably, not necessary. Philosophical knowledge holds the key to understanding history.

Here we touch upon the main epistemological error of the Objectivist philosophy of history, an error stemming from the tendency in Randian thought to place to much emphasis on the cognitive value of wide abstractions. People lacking detailed knowledge like to assume that one can get by merely by manipulating broad essentials. But no great insight into human nature or the human condition can be discovered through this method. History, which is a product of the actions (though not necessarily the intentions) of many human beings, often acting contrary to one another, cannot be discovered through the logical or rhetorical manipulation of broad essentials. Detailed knowledge is necessary before we can even begin making educated guesses. The reasoning-by-broad-essentials method advocated by Peikoff (see the final chapter of OPAR) can only lead to rationalization. Since many different conclusions can be inferred from broad essentials, each individual inference is entirely arbitrary. In such a case, the only governing mechanism for determining a specific inference is ideology and wishful thinking. The Objectivist philosophy of history is mere rationalization. It has no cognitive worth other than providing insight into the psychology and motives of Rand and her orthodox followers.

What, precisely, are Objectivists rationalizing in their philosophy of history? The purpose of their theory is twofold: (1) To harmonize the facts of history with Rand's view of human nature; and (2) To explain why Objectivism will triumph in the end. Let’s examine these two goals of rationalization more closely:

1. Human nature and history. Unlike most theories of human nature, which focus on proclivities of behavior observable in the human species, Rand isolated one factor, which she greatly exaggerated—namely, free will. Because human beings have free will, Rand argued, this means that man can shape “his soul in the image of his moral ideal, in the image of … the rational being he is born able to create.” But what about those inherent tendencies that make up traditional theories of human nature, such as those encapsulated in the myth of original sin? Rand denied that any such tendencies exist: “Do not hide behind the cowardly evasion that man is born with free will, but with a ‘tendency’ to evil. A free will saddled with a tendency is like a game with loaded dice. It forces man to struggle through the effort of playing, to bear responsibility and pay for the game, but the decision is weighted in favor of a tendency that he had no power to escape. If the tendency is of his choice, he cannot possess it at birth; if it is not of his choice, his will is not free.” [FNI, 168-169]

The essential point in this passage is Rand’s insistence about the innateness of tendencies. Rand does not deny that tendencies exist; she simply insists that if man has free will, his tendencies must be of his choice. That, in short, is what Rand means by free will: that we choose our tendencies. If men display a tendency to evil (and, historically, some men have displayed such a tendency), that tendency arises from their own free choice.

Although Rand denied that any innate tendencies toward evil existed in human nature, she made statements implying the existence of innate tendencies toward goodness. Consider what she says in her Playboy Interview: 

In any historical period when men were free, it has always been the most rational philosophy that won. It is from this perspective that I would say, yes, Objectivism will win. But there is no guarantee, no predetermined necessity about it.

What this statement implies is that when people are free, they will make the morally proper choice—i.e., they will choose “the most rational philosophy,” which, according to Objectivism, would also be the most moral philosophy. And this view is entirely consistent with Rand’s insistence that men have no evil tendencies: because in the absence of such tendencies, why would anyone, let alone the majority, choose the more evil option?

Yet this immediately raises the problem. Since historically, many men have chosen (perhaps most) philosophies that Rand would have regarded as irrational (and hence evil), how are we to explain this? If men can freely choose their tendencies, why have so many men throughout history chosen evil tendencies? This is the first question that Objectivist philosophy of history sets out to answer.

2. Objectivist eschatology. The other main goal of the Objectivist philosophy of history is to explain why Rand’s philosophy will win in the end. Thus speaketh Leonard Peikoff:
On the basis of the theory of history I have put forth today, therefore, it is proper to have hope for the future. I do think that Objectivism will triumph ultimately and shape the world’s course… ‘Ultimately,’ however, can be a long time [perhaps forever?]…. But if we spread the right ideas now, we each will have a share in bringing about that shining future…” [“Philosophy and Psychology in History”]


Is not this wonderful? Objectivism will triumph in the end! Of course, there is no guarantee, no predetermined necessity about it. But “ultimately” it will happen!

Note as well how it will happen: by spreading the “right” ideas—which means, practically speaking, by spreading the ideas approved of by ARI. Every one of us can help bring about a “shining future.” It’s really all very simple. It doesn’t require getting involved in politics or making a breakthrough in science or engineering or anything that requires a high degree of intellect and energy and loads of work: no, it is not difficult at all: you merely have to spread the ideas of orthodox Objectivism. The Objectivist who runs about debating and denouncing those who disagree with orthodox Objectivism is therefore helping to bring about a shining future! How blessed are they that walketh in the paths of Rand and Peikoff!

72 comments:

Damien said...

greg,

Another thing that contradicts Rand's theory of history, is something rather ironic. Contrary to her thinking, if man had no innate tendencies, any economic system should work just as well as any other. Why couldn't you make communism work as well as capitalism? If all of our behavior and thoughts, are the product of our ideas, than people who believe in communism should behave the why their ideology tells them to behave.

Rand blamed the pain and suffering in communist societies on Altruism. But is that really the case? The real reason the communist economic system leads to shortage and famine, isn't altruism at all. Its the fact that it is such a violation of human nature. In fact instead of Altruism, you could just as convincingly argue that human selfishness causes the famine, because communism eliminates the largest "selfish" motive of all, the profit motive. Its primarily the lack of the profit motive that creates the mass shortages in countries that have implemented communist economics.

If all of our behavior was motivated by our belief systems, why couldn't you just replace the profit motive with something else and have it work just as well? Why couldn't something else like the community or the good of mankind be just as much of a motivating force, as profit? Rand might argue that this would be contrary to human survival, but how would it be, if you could make communism or socialism work in the real world? If you believed you ought to produce excess grain for the good of society, why couldn't that be your motive instead, and why wouldn't it motivate you to the same degree of the profit motive? Economics, as well as any science involving human behavior, only makes sense if you assume people have innate physiological tendencies.

Richard said...

"The reasoning-by-broad-essentials method advocated by Peikoff (see the final chapter of OPAR) can only lead to rationalization."

This (and many other ARCHN posts) conveniently omits 1) the process of concept reduction by which the validity of such broad ideas are checked and re-checked for their concordance with observable reality and 2) the context of Peikoff's statements which includes such reduction —particularly when concluding OPAR which, like many other Objectivist articles and Rand's fiction depend on understandings articulated elsewhere.

To understand such statements correctly the abstractions made must be held with care, and integrated with all other knowledge on which they stand. They are, after all, abstractions. They cannot be cherry-picked in the ARCHN (and Atlas Society) style. The approach not only blinds one to the cherry tree, but also to the entire orchard.

gregnyquist said...

Richard: "This (and many other ARCHN posts) conveniently omits 1) the process of concept reduction by which the validity of such broad ideas are checked and re-checked for their concordance with observable reality and 2) the context of Peikoff's statements which includes such reduction."

ARCHN posts don't conveniently the so-called process of concept reduction by which broad ideas are checked and re-checked. We simply deny that, even if such a process occurs, it would make a jot's worth of difference. The difficulty with reasoning from broad ideas is not whether the ideas themselves correspond to anything in reality. Such ideas correspond to a great many things in reality: that's, in fact, the problem with them. It's why nothing specific can be deduced from them.

Does ARCHN cherry pick Objectivist abstractions? This is an odd objection. All criticism, including Objectivist criticism, involves such cherry picking. It is inevitable result of what Rand called unit-economy. We can't criticize everything at once. I will have further posts that will examine the rationale behind the Objectivist philosophy of history in greater detail. There we will discover the extent to which the Objectivist view of history is merely an extension of Rand's view of human nature.

Anonymous said...

"can only be discovered through philosophy"

You've misrepresented his, and Objectivism's, position. He does not say "only," and does not even imply this. That's rationalism, not Objectivism. Anyone who has actually read The Ominous Parallels would know that this is not Peikoff's position.

Richard said...

"We simply deny that,"

Probably the most honest statement on your website. But it is achingly stupid, and revealing. It it's your basic MO, and you will continue using it, just as you will ignore "Anonymous" of 7/28/2008 04:45:00 PM.

No wonder R Bramwell considered your site "the work of a despicable mind'. You really make no sense at all, because you've not really understood Rand. Or you have an emotional vendetta against her. Your criticisms merely highlight your own failure to understand. She was one heck of a lot smarter than you guys.

gregnyquist said...

Anon: "You've misrepresented his, and Objectivism's, position. He does not say 'only,' and does not even imply this."

Oh really? And so what non-philosophical arguments are used to rationalize the Objectivist philosophy of history? What I had in mind, in particular, when I wrote that sentence, is the tools of social science. Peikoff makes no use of such tools in the rationalization he puts forth to defend his philosophy of history. And so it really is nothing more than philosophical rationalizations applied to rather broad and over-generalized grasp of history. You'll never come to any kind of understanding of the "factors" of history if you use this approach.

Richard said...

"And so it really is nothing more than philosophical rationalizations applied to a rather broad and over-generalized grasp of history. You'll never come to any kind of understanding of the "factors" of history if you use this approach."

But, is that not essential to the character of this site? Are we not supposed to drop context when you say so, and refuse to see the integrations that make a rational society?

But, then, if we do not drop context Peikoff has shown us that thinking and reason lead to PEACE. Whereas, the confusion you leave behind can only lead to more violence. Why not try to promote something better, rather than waste your time attacking something you never understood?

Your standards lead to nothing but murder and destruction. Thanks (NOT!) for your empty- headed writing.

Daniel Barnes said...

Richard:
>Why not try to promote something better, rather than waste your time attacking something you never understood?

On the contrary, we understand Objectivism very well; better than you, I would wager. Happy to go one-on-one with you over most issues re: this philosophy you'd care to name, especially epistemology. We criticize Objectivism because underneath its confident sounding rhetoric, many of its central doctrines are demonstrably false, and even self-contradictory. This can be shown both logically and empirically. Why you don't think we should spend our time criticizing false ideas, especially those dressed up in bestselling wrapping, and should only "promote something better" I have no idea. But if you'd like, here is something that's definitely better.

Michael Sutcliffe said...

Daniel Barnes: Happy to go one-on-one with you over most issues re: this philosophy you'd care to name, especially epistemology.

I can't see how we are that far apart if you believe Popper was alright (I haven't read 'Open Society' cover to cover yet).

Set the scene then - you disagree reason is the primary way of obtaining knowledge? Whether that be the reason for making sense of information gathered by your senses, or some higher level reason such as making sense of facts that our own senses can't perceive? Just give me an idea where you are coming from.

Richard said...

You have recommended Karl Popper's thought. Yet Popper all virtually derailed scientific method. Scientists turn themselves inside out struggling to create a priori hypotheses that are free of inductive information. Thanks to Popper, they believe they should somehow propose the way Nature works and searching only their imagination for an hypothesis to study, by looking away from Nature.

The result is the sorry state of post-modern science: e.g. physics is a mess of theories built on theories, physics and mathematics treat mental tools such as 'infinity' as if they were real, objective attributes of Nature. The world of Biology treats computer models as superior to observable data. Scientists live in fear of a posteriori hypotheses lest they incorporate some bias. What bias? The bias of observing Reality.

Popper's approach is blunt, Kantian, irrationalism. Its only value is as another example of wrong ideas to emerge in the history of thought. That you suggest Popper as an antidote to Ayn Rand would be funny if you were not serious.

Objectivism's "confident rhetoric" is precisely what Kantian academics dislike. They expect humbleness before (some) God or uncertainty before Ideas. Then, in full blown hypocrisy, they insist that openness to a Greater Power, and skepticism in the realm of ideas, are the ONLY true way to reason. That position is a self-excluding fallacy that serves as an entire philosophical view. Its tortured arguments (rationalizations), shifting concepts (equivocations), arbitrary starting points, and dropped contexts batter intellectual innocents —who actually seek answers— into confused submission.

There is a power over others, akin to that of a Witch Doctor, in using such methods on those innocents. It is a power Rand has exposed as a fraud. Its preservation is the secret motivation driving the convoluted efforts of her detractors.

Damien said...

Richard,

"Objectivism's "confident rhetoric" is precisely what Kantian academics dislike. They expect humbleness before (some) God or uncertainty before Ideas. Then, in full blown hypocrisy, they insist that openness to a Greater Power, and skepticism in the realm of ideas, are the ONLY true way to reason. That position is a self-excluding fallacy that serves as an entire philosophical view. Its tortured arguments (rationalizations), shifting concepts (equivocations), arbitrary starting points, and dropped contexts batter intellectual innocents —who actually seek answers— into confused submission."

And what if your objectivist confidence is misplaced? A lot of good science came after Kant and after Popper. Are we to discount a scientific discovery, if the scientist in question who developed and tested his hypothesis, was an admirer of Kant or Popper?

Modern science is not a mess. Doubt is a necessary component of science. Ask anyone who writes for Skeptic or Skeptical Inquirer. You could also ask a well known skeptic like James_Randi. They will tell you the danger of too much certainty, and they should know, being doubtful is part of their Job. Like all people, good scientists make mistakes, but that would be the case regardless of their philosophy or their society's dominate philosophy.

Beyond that, the objectivist demonetization of Kant is utterly unjustified. Do you really think that his vague ideas, could have, all by themselves destroyed the glorious potential of the enlightenment and led to things like Communism and Nazism? If look beyond even that, there were things that Rand and Kant actually would have agreed on, both oppose animal rights for example.

Daniel Barnes said...

Richard:
>...Popper all virtually derailed scientific method... Thanks to Popper, [scientists] believe they should somehow propose the way Nature works and searching only their imagination for an hypothesis to study, by looking away from Nature.

False. There's no "looking away from Nature." Popper's programme regards the empirical testing of theories (as well as logical testing) as central to the scientific method. Did you not know that? Are you not aware of his emphasis on the testability of theories?

>Its tortured arguments (rationalizations), shifting concepts (equivocations), arbitrary starting points, and dropped contexts batter intellectual innocents —who actually seek answers— into confused submission.

This could certainly be a description of Objectivism, which is indeed full of rationalizations, equivocations and the battering of intellectual innocents into confused (and uncritical) submission. Would you like some examples?

Your post appears to be merely a series of ad hominems about Popper. It would be more effective if you cited some actual verbatim examples of his thought, and showed how they were mistaken from a logical and/or empirical point of view. This, for example, is the method we use to critique Objectivism on this site, and is the standard method of intellectual criticism.

Daniel Barnes said...

MS:
>I can't see how we are that far apart if you believe Popper was alright (I haven't read 'Open Society' cover to cover yet).

Ditto...;-)

>Set the scene then - you disagree reason is the primary way of obtaining knowledge?

No. Why should I? Despite her claims to the contrary, Ayn Rand does not have a monopoly on rationality....;-)

Richard said...

Damien,

Good science was produced in spite of Kant and Popper, not because of them. Individual scientists were seeking truth, and did what they had to, to get there. They went with common sense and reported it in the politically correct fashion.... something I have personally seen done many times (I was a research biologist for decades).

Of course one does not discount what is, on proper analysis, discovered to be true by a faulty method, any more than one should discount accidental discoveries because they were accidents.

I disagree with your view of modern science, from personal experience. Modern science is a dreadful and worsening mess, so much so that I chose to leave it, because it was so fraught with dishonesty and disregard for established fundamentals. I saw the corruption, before discovering Rand, but it was Rand that showed me I had no self-respecting future there. One need only consider the Anthropogenic Global Warming computer models, Worm Holes in Physics, and the Universe "from Nothing" (Big Bang) theories to grasp that large numbers of scientists, and billions of dollars spent, focus on nonsense, some known to be nonsense by the Greeks of 2000 years ago.

As for your comment on "skepticism"; we are not here talking about ordinary doubt, careful observation and proof (referred to as "healthy skepticism"). This is unhealthy Skepticism, with a capital 'S'. This is the Skepticism, (def. 3) which says Mankind cannot achieve 'real' truth; it is Kantian BS.

Is 2 + 2 = 4 uncertain? Is the boiling point of water, as influenced by atmospheric pressure a matter of doubt? Do you believe that the sun's appearance tomorrow morning is an arbitrary matter ruled by Natural Laws that should always be doubted? Should all the laws of Nature abruptly change at 0300h tomorrow morning, and turn us to fish? That is the absurdity of the Skeptics. They, too, live by the fallacy of self-exclusion.

As for demonetizing Kant... I suggest you read Rand and Peikoff more closely. Their "demonetization" of his views are insuperable. As for his influence, YES, he was considered brilliant by such influencers as Hegel. Hegel's ideas were cherry picked for their ties to a non-Objective Universe, to God, to the smallness of Man (compared with God, or the Universe of unknowns). He fit with the cringing Sense of Life that most of humanity held (via their religious upbringing).

Kant FIT the times. As such, his influence on Western Culture is only matched by Plato, Aristotle, Jesus (via St.Paul) and ...Rand (in about three decades).

Are you kidding about "animal rights"? No doubt Kant and Rand would have agreed that 6x8=48
but that hardly means they could agree on the issues each were most serious about.

Your comments completely demonstrate the absurdity of ARCHN. Their egregious refusal to properly understand the hierarchy of abstractions (concepts) such that, in their view, a willy nilly cherry-pick of one Objectivist notion can be disputed on the basis of some other willy-nilly notion. Each time they post, that latter notion is expanded upon with examples, while the Objectivist principle is presumed to emerge, whole cloth, from Rand's 'conflicted' mind, without foundation. Of course she appears to be wrong, by the method used, no other conclusion is possible. Dishonesty wins by narrowness of thought!
Well, sorry, it does not work that way. The dishonesty of such an intellectual endeavor as ARCHN (Barnes, Nyquist, & Pareille) is breathtaking, ...don't be fooled by the tools they use; see through the arguments and consider the motivating force behind them. Study Rand, and they will disintegrate as the intellectually dry mummies they are.

gregnyquist said...

Richard: "That you suggest Popper as an antidote to Ayn Rand would be funny if you were not serious."

If you don't like Popper, there are plenty of others that would prove much superior to Rand, like C.S. Pierce, George Santayana, Arthur Lovejoy,Roy Wood Sellars, Wilifrid Sellars, or Michael Polanyi. The simple fact of the matter is, that compared to any of these philosophers, Rand comes out looking way out of her depth. Her knowledge of philosophy was limited and generalized. As George Walsh, a one-time Rand disciple has shown, she badly misread Kant. Her take on Hume was, if anything, even more scatterbrained. It's hard to believe she ever read these authors, so ignorant are her views on any each of them. Her philosophical technique amounts to little more than finding novel ways of asserting that she was right and everyone who disagreed with her are wrong. Much of philosophy is based on nothing other than her own assertions. Not only does she sedulously avoid presenting detailed evidence on behalf of controverisal stances, but she often even forgets to provide arguments, unless one regards her frequent suggestions that only a very rotten person would disagree with her as an argument. (Come to think of it, many of your own "arguments" presented in this thread follow the same pattern.)

Whatever claim to greatness Rand may have stems entirely from her literary talent at projecting a vision of things. On the technical side, Rand had serious deficiencies.

gregnyquist said...

Michael Sutcliffe: "Set the scene then - you disagree reason is the primary way of obtaining knowledge?"

Well, that all depends on what is meant by reason. If by "reason" you mean Aristotlean or scholastic reason, I would say no. I regard science as the most reliable form of knowledge—though not the only form! After that I would the practical knowledge of everyday life as discovered in cognitive science, which uses intuition, trial and error, inferences (including illogical inferences) based on extensive experience, and tradition-based wisdom to guide conduct. Aristotlean reason, or logic, is a valuable tool in the specialized sciences, but its value in everyday tasks is, as cognitive science has discovered, is greatly exaggerated.

Damien said...

Richard,

you said,
"I disagree with your view of modern science, from personal experience. Modern science is a dreadful and worsening mess, so much so that I chose to leave it, because it was so fraught with dishonesty and disregard for established fundamentals. I saw the corruption, before discovering Rand, but it was Rand that showed me I had no self-respecting future there. One need only consider the Anthropogenic Global Warming computer models, Worm Holes in Physics, and the Universe "from Nothing" (Big Bang) theories to grasp that large numbers of scientists, and billions of dollars spent, focus on nonsense, some known to be nonsense by the Greeks of 2000 years ago."

Really modern science is worsening, based on what? Your experiences, tell me about you experiences.

There is also a lot of good scientific data to back up man made global warming, something you should care about. Even Penn and Teller couldn't completely discount man made global warming on a recent episode of their show Bull $#&*.

Kant and Rand agreeing on Animal rights was just one small example I came up with off the top of my head. There are others.

For one thing Kant supported a Free Market.

------------------------------------------
One of the topics on which Kant lectured was economics. (Kuehn, 2001, 324). In The Metaphysics of Morals, he specifically refers to Adam Smith (1996b, 69-71), and he remarks elsewhere that without the division of labor and in situations where "each is a jack-of-all trades, there the trades still remain in the greatest barbarism" (Kant, 2002, 4). He clearly understood and came very close to specifically enunciating the relation between money supply and prices (Kant, 1996b, 68-68; see also 27). In one place he writes about an 'affective price,' which arises 'in accord with certain tastes" (Kant, 2002, 52-53), describing thereby a price that was the result of individual preferences than objective value. This comes very close to what Mises (1996, 20-21, 27, 94-96) called the subjective theory of value.

Source,
The_Kantian_Ethic_of_Capitalism
--------------------------------------------------

"Kant has a bad reputation among free-market libertarians primarily because he was maligned by Ayn Rand (1967, 246), who accused him of having "divorced reason from reality." Her dislike for him may have come from the fact that she knew of him only by way of "his intellectual descendants," who have indeed misrepresented him. This is especially true of his epistemology, but it applies also to his ethics. Most of those who have written about Kant, says Professor Roger Sullivan (1996, vii), have contented themselves with reporting on only a part of his work, rejecting everything that does not fit with the way in which they have made up their minds to interpret him."

Source,
The_Kantian_Ethic_of_Capitalism
---------------------------------------------------

Maybe you are the one who is ignorant.

You also said,
"The dishonesty of such an intellectual endeavor as ARCHN (Barnes, Nyquist, & Pareille) is breathtaking, ...don't be fooled by the tools they use; see through the arguments and consider the motivating force behind them. Study Rand, and they will disintegrate as the intellectually dry mummies they are."

So Greg Nyquist and Pareille are dishonest people? If they are so dishonest why do they link to objectivist sites that would happily jump on any opportunity to expose their dishonesty?

Even beyond that, their motives are irrelevant as to weather or not what they are saying is true. I have read some the things Rand and Piekoff have written and sometimes they are clearly wrong. Do think I always agree with Nyquist? I don't always, think the way he does, I am my own man, after all.

Damien said...

Richard,

By the way I'm well aware of the fact that Kant preached a sort of total selflessness and maybe that is incompatible with his capitalist views, but so what? How many people do you think really even try to live by his ethic? How appealing would his selfless Ideal really be to an inherently selfish species like humanity? Remember what I said about communism?
--------------------------------------

"Rand blamed the pain and suffering in communist societies on Altruism. But is that really the case? The real reason the communist economic system leads to shortage and famine, isn't altruism at all. Its the fact that it is such a violation of human nature. In fact instead of Altruism, you could just as convincingly argue that human selfishness causes the famine, because communism eliminates the largest "selfish" motive of all, the profit motive. Its primarily the lack of the profit motive that creates the mass shortages in countries that have implemented communist economics."
--------------------------------------

So was Kant Really the cause of all the evil of the twentieth century?

Richard said...

"If you don't like Popper..."

It is not that I do not like Popper, it is that he is wrong, very wrong.

That you do not see how he is wrong is a big problem... extending to how you cannot see why Rand is right.

"George Walsh, a one-time Rand disciple has shown, she badly misread Kant."

I have listened to Walsh directly (can you say the same?); he clearly fails to understand Rand..

"Not only does she sedulously avoid presenting detailed evidence on behalf of controversial stances..."

She does not need to. If you read Kant you can see it for yourself. She is not interested in 'fisking', instead she expects her readers to think for themselves. That means, upon reading Kant, that one see the failures and dishonesties of his position on one's own. She gives the reader a direction. If you need your hand held, then you of ARCHN are not up to snuff; ...and you are not.

Damien wrote:
"Really modern science is worsening, based on what? Your experiences, tell me about you experiences."
I just did, and it was not so abstract that you could not understand it. Your request is naive or dishonest.

"There is also a lot of good scientific data to back up man made global warming, something you should care about.

No, the scientific DATA is not good. You are duped by the interpretations put on that data. Only 1,000 years ago the planet was much warmer than now... yet we still have polar bears :-). In that period, the Sottish grew vineyards and made wine, as they do now in S. France. The entire AGW theory is nonsense, and so is ARCHN... terribly so. The problem lies in believing one's own rationalizations from arguments by others. A rationalization is an apparently reasonable argument that projects from a prior argument, but that does not necessarily concord with natural fact. All of ARCHN is guilty of that 'error', except ARCHN pursues it militantly for motivations I have already mentioned (above).

Richard said...

"If you don't like Popper..."

It is not that I do not like Popper, it is that he is wrong, very wrong.

That you do not see how he is wrong is a big problem... extending to how you cannot see why Rand is right.

"George Walsh, a one-time Rand disciple has shown, she badly misread Kant."

I have listened to Walsh directly (can you say the same?); he clearly fails to understand Rand..

"Not only does she sedulously avoid presenting detailed evidence on behalf of controversial stances..."

She does not need to. If you read Kant you can see it for yourself. She is not interested in 'fisking', instead she expects her readers to think for themselves. That means, upon reading Kant, that one see the failures and dishonesties of his position on one's own. She gives the reader a direction. If you need your hand held, then you of ARCHN are not up to snuff; ...and you are not.

Damien wrote:
"Really modern science is worsening, based on what? Your experiences, tell me about you experiences."
I just did, and it was not so abstract that you could not understand it. Your request is naive or dishonest.

"There is also a lot of good scientific data to back up man made global warming, something you should care about.

No, the scientific DATA is not good. You are duped by the interpretations put on that data. Only 1,000 years ago the planet was much warmer than now... yet we still have polar bears :-). In that period, the Sottish grew vineyards and made wine, as they do now in S. France. The entire AGW theory is nonsense, and so is ARCHN... terribly so.ds

The problem lies in believing one's own rationalizations,ds from arguments by others. A rationalization is an apparently reasonable argument that projects from a prior argument, but that does not necessarily concord with natural fact. All of ARCHN is guilty of that 'error', except ARCHN pursues it militantly for motivations I have already mentioned (above).

Dragonfly said...

Mathematics treats infinity as real? That is complete nonsense. Mathematics doesn't treat anything as real, it is about purely abstract entities.

That modern science is a "dreadful mess" is also complete bullshit. Never in history has science been so successful as in the last hundred years. Our modern technology with all the electronics, computers, GPS, nuclear energy and weapons, genetic engineering, is based on modern science and would be impossible with 19th century science.

Damien said...

Richard,

Karl Marx Promised his followers Utopia, he didn't promise them pain suffering and death, if he had promised them what they would actually get under communism, do you think there would be any communist states?

Damien said...

Richard,

You said,
"No, the scientific DATA is not good. You are duped by the interpretations put on that data. Only 1,000 years ago the planet was much warmer than now... yet we still have polar bears :-). In that period, the Sottish grew vineyards and made wine, as they do now in S. France. The entire AGW theory is nonsense, and so is ARCHN... terribly so.ds"

catastrophic man made global warming may not be reality in that all of our cities will be under water in the next fifty years, but even Penn and Teller couldn't completely deny it.

Anonymous said...

"She was one heck of a lot smarter than you guys." Richard 7/28/2008 05:55:00 PM

I doubt very much that she was even smarter than you.

gregnyquist said...

Richard: "She does not need to [presenting detailed evidence on behalf of controversial stances]."

If you believe this, you have no idea what science and scholarship mean. The argument you present in your comment amounts to: If you knew how to think, you would know that Rand is right. No scientist or uncorrupted scholar would ever get away with such argument. They would be laughed at if the presented some controversial thesis and said: "I don't need to give evidence for it, because if you all knew how to think, you would know that I am right." Scientists and scholars are expected to provided evidence for their beliefs—evidence that can be subjected to peer review. This is especially the case when a theory is presented that challenges the consensus of the experts. In that case, very strong evidence is needed if you wanted to be taken seriously. Otherwise is is just mere assertion with no cognitive value at all.

Daniel Barnes said...

Greg to Richard:
>The argument you present in your comment amounts to: If you knew how to think, you would know that Rand is right.

Classic!...;-)

Richard said...

"Really, modern science is worsening, based on what?

You ask that question immediately after quoting my examples that answer it. That's ridiculous. Is that how well you read Damien?

Dragonfly, there are very serious mathematicians who literally believe that there is a "number 7" somewhere in Space, upon which all sevens are based. It is Pythagorean Platonism. As for science, yes science is still producing a lot of good stuff, but there are many areas of utter confusion as to scientific method, inductive reasoning, proper use of statistical analyses, misuse of correlation as being causation, factoid production (unsynthesized facts), substitution of the individual with data based on the population and so forth.

See the next comment on global warming.

Damien said...

Richard,

You said,
"You ask that question immediately after quoting my examples that answer it. That's ridiculous. Is that how well you read Damien?"

I read your example, they aren't very good. "Worm Holes in Physics, and the Universe "from Nothing" (Big Bang) theories to grasp that large numbers of scientists, and billions of dollars spent, focus on nonsense, some known to be nonsense by the Greeks of 2000 years ago."
Really all the great physicist today except the big bang, because of scientific evidence, not because of Kant. The Big Bang is not the Universe out of nothing, because if nothing was there, there would have been nothing to expand. Scientists have observed an expanding universe through the red shift in their telescopes. If the Universe is expanding that implies it was smaller at one time, and that it could have once been as small as the tip of a needle. Are we too believe that black holes also nonsense? There are other things to support the big bang hypothesis. When you say that the big bang is excepted today because of the evil of Kant, you sound as unreasonable and unscientific as some whack job creationist.

By the way the link you titled Rand and Piekoff is not working. I am sorry I was forgot to tell you until now, when I tried to click on it, it wouldn't let me.

Damien said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Richard said...

I said the scientific DATA is not good, which would normally be a poor way to put it. Data is data. However, in the case of Global Warming there is a lot of very spurious data. The entire notion of GW arose because someone noticed that temperatures at airport weather stations showed a warming trend.

It was not until the public alarm bells went off and Global Warming was blamed on Mankind, that other scientists were able to demonstrate that the warming was a function of urban development around the airports. The new urban concrete and tarmac would become hotter in the daytime sun than the original woods and fields. They also held daytime heat longer overnight.

Once the urban effects were statistically removed there was no global warming. However, by that time vested interest in global warming was so widespread that the 'science' was already a process of proving the established conclusion. Large numbers of 'scientists ignored alternative explanations, and engaged in scaremongering for the sake of publicity, for obtaining research grants, and to be seen as engaged in laudably important work. They accepted each others work at face value, failing to challenge it, even in some of the most obvious ways. Scientific Journals (e.g. Science) even suppressed articles and letters that did not hew to the AGW thesis. The scientific community, in general, continues to do this... to such a degree that "I invented the Internet" Gore gets a Nobel Prize for merely promulgating the established propaganda.

If there is Global Warming it is 1) preposterously arrogant to think that the puny activities of Man are causing it and 2) monstrously childish to think the oceans will rise, while the remaining land becomes a sweltering desert. The facts that destroy the conventional propaganda are easily found on the Internet, and have been known for some 20 years... they just don't make news, and don't get grants. Welfare Scientists can obtain more grants by dishonest claims to a crisis.

Penn and Teller?? I'll presume that was a tongue in cheek remark.

As a science teacher and research biologist I have been following the environmental movement for 35 years, and the more I learn the more I see how astonishingly phony it is.

Yes Dragonfly, the science is an abominable mess. Some areas are good, but many areas are poor because the 'scientists' are more activist than intellect.

Richard said...

Greg said:
"The argument you present in your comment amounts to: If you knew how to think, you would know that Rand is right."

Rand quoted small but essential bits of Kant's arguments. Any in doubt, need only go to those bits and read what Kant said in full. In doing so, those serious about checking Rand's claims would find them to be true. I have done this many times on a variety of issues she presents that I have doubted. Every single time, without exception, she knew exactly what she was talking about. So if you want to interpret that as "knowing how to think, ..." go ahead... I would be more severe about it: "If you were honest..."

Damien said...

Richard,

"Penn and Teller?? I'll presume that was a tongue in cheek remark."

No it was not, it was in an episode of their show BS season six. (the current season) It was near the end of an episode on the green movement, and Penn said that as much as he wanted to, he couldn't disprove global warming, or that man was causing it. He only said that the means people were using to try and solve the problem wouldn't work.

Damien said...

Richard,

I am sorry I made a mistake on my second to last comment. What I meant to say was, "By the way the link you titled Rand and Piekoff is not working. I am sorry I was forgot to tell you until now, when I tried to click on it, it wouldn't let me click on it."

Richard said...

The Universe is more than just physical matter. In fact Space is not Nothing. Whatever it is, it transmits all sorts of radiation and it influences particles. E.g. electrons only produce a magnetic field when moving through it. Why?

Certainly the matter of the Universe did not emerge out of Nothing, yet some scientists of the Big Bang Theory argue that a 'singularity' produced all the matter in the Universe. However, just as the religious can never quite define God, so physicists can never quite define that particular 'singularity', let alone suggest what occurred before it. It is far more likely that there is some other reason for the Red Shift, than the notion that all matter is moving apart. How does such a notion apply to molecular bonds? Are the bond forces adjusting in proportion to universal expansion?

The fact is that the Universe is Eternal, and so are the fundamental components of matter, whatever they may be. Perhaps there is a cycling of matter through Black Holes, which compress matter so fully that all conventional structure we know is eliminated. When the BH emits massive clouds of gas those fundamental components restructure as per conventional gravitation.

There is a likelihood that the cycling process of matter may explain calculations that suggest an Age of matter, which is mistakenly construed as an Age of the Universe.

Damien, my point was that Kantianism undermined rigorous scientific and philosophical thought. Kant is the most influential philosopher in the last 1,000 years. The consequences of his thought appear in science labs, art galleries, foreign policy and grade school conversations: "What's true for you may not be true for someone else". It is not that Kant's thought directly caused scientists to create the Big Bang theory, but his ideas influence science such that certain confusions go unrecognized and unrefuted.

Richard said...

To return to the topic that these comments fall beneath, Nyquist sets up an absurdity in his very first paragraph.

"The study of the factors shaping human history, Peikoff implies, can only be discovered through philosophy. Detailed knowledge of sociology, psychology, politics, economics is, presumably, not necessary."

Are not all those things subsumed under philosophy? To treat them as independent is a severe, intellectual screw up, a real Homer Simpsonism... Doh!

From there the discussion goes downhill. As I have said, broad abstractions tied to reality have real meaning. Deny them, as Nyquist has done, and he denies the very purpose of his mind. Why read further?

Richard said...

I wrote:
"Penn and Teller?? I'll presume that was a tongue in cheek remark."

...because they are only an incidental source of information. Citing them is more likely to be in humor rather than in any serious capacity.

Damien said...

Richard,

"Certainly the matter of the Universe did not emerge out of Nothing, yet some scientists of the Big Bang Theory argue that a 'singularity' produced all the matter in the Universe. However, just as the religious can never quite define God, so physicists can never quite define that particular 'singularity', let alone suggest what occurred before it. It is far more likely that there is some other reason for the Red Shift, than the notion that all matter is moving apart. How does such a notion apply to molecular bonds? Are the bond forces adjusting in proportion to universal expansion?"

Finding one problem with a scientific theory does not necessarily disprove that theory. We are not sure how life began, how the very first cells came into bing, but that does not lead us to reject Darwinian Evolution. Yes there are gaps in the big bang theory, or evolution, but it is the Job of science to fill in those gaps. I'm not a scientist, so I won't be good at explaining everything, however there are plenty of science sights out there, the could explain the big bang to you.

Like this one
THE_BIG_BANG

Finally even if the Big Bang was disproved, that wouldn't prove the scientist who came up with it, weren't doing their job. It best fits the evidence we have now.

So how has Kant corrupted science?

Damien said...

Richard,

"Damien, my point was that Kantianism undermined rigorous scientific and philosophical thought. Kant is the most influential philosopher in the last 1,000 years. The consequences of his thought appear in science labs, art galleries, foreign policy and grade school conversations: "What's true for you may not be true for someone else". It is not that Kant's thought directly caused scientists to create the Big Bang theory, but his ideas influence science such that certain confusions go unrecognized and unrefuted."

Really, not because no scientist has been able to come up with a better theory, that fits the data, or find data that contradicts the Big Bang?

Again, how has Kant corrupted science? I see no convincing evidence that he has corrupted science in any way.

Damien said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Damien said...

Richard,

Do you know what Occam's_razor Is? Because it seems to me that your explanation, for our current crop of scientific theories is not the simplest, therefore from an empirical stand point, it probably is false.

Richard said...

"Finding one problem with a scientific theory does not necessarily disprove that theory. "

It does if it is fundamental. Consider, ex nihilo nihil fit If a theory violates that law, then it is necessarily invalid.

As for Kant, when he divided reality into the noumenal and the phenomenal, he placed real knowledge outside the reach of human understanding. In his metaphysics and epistemology the sensory information of this world —of mere phenomena— cannot be definitive. No matter what we think we know, we can never be sure whether things in the noumenal world —which we cannot perceive— negate that phenomenal knowledge.

This is fundamental, to every aspect of human thinking and existence. Kant's popularity has brought this cancerous skepticism into the halls of academia. Its acceptance and use are wordlessly considered to be a sign of lofty intellect, of academic detachment, and of 'higher' understanding.

So, yes, it most certainly does effect the sciences, the arts, and theology (the realm Kant sought to save from Reason). Popper was influenced by Kant, and accepts the same kind of skepticism. The extent of that influence is just one avenue by which Kant influences science.

Kantian skepticism leads people to consider pharmacological discoveries as automatically carrying hidden caveats sufficient to deny the known benefits of the drug. The skepticism usually expressed with a fear-mongering "what if you're wrong", even in the face of overwhelming fact. It turns up in the courts; the O.J. trial stands out as a glaring example, but skepticism appears in the endless examination of trivia, even when all the facts needed are in . Now UNreasonable doubt is a legal argument. Popular belief is more important than fact, so the oxymoron 'scientific consensus' is accepted by ...scientists, as evidence of conclusive knowledge. So we have AGW, DDT banning, recycling of materials too abundant to be worth recycling, fear of 2,4-D regardless of countless studies showing its safety, an so on. If enough people start to believe in witches, then we can start drowning them again!

These are not isolated instances, but a trend oozing from academia, philosophy departments, faculties of education and our schools and textbooks. Broad ideas influence culture.

Kant was Hegel's progenitor, who was Marx's progenitor, who's ideas led to millions of deaths and continue to enslave millions. Broad ideas DO drive history. Failure to understand them is what dooms men to repeat it. ARCHN attacks the first person to show a consistently accurate way of understanding the culture of ideas. It's writers use the Kantian approach to do so.

Richard said...

Occam's razor provides a very good reason to question the Universe as a singularity, because that singularity requires far more complex understanding than anything I suggested.

Just because someone says "all matter in the universe is compressed to a speck" does not mean that description is a simple matter! It carries all the simple interpretive value of saying "God did it".

Dragonfly said...

Richard: "Consider, ex nihilo nihil fit If a theory violates that law, then it is necessarily invalid."

We don't know that. It's after all just an empirical law, which may be falsified. Now it seems to be valid in everything we observe around us, but a big bang isn't an everyday event. Moreover, conservation of energy might still be satisfied if the total energy of the universe is zero.

Michael H said...

This is an interesting thread.

Reading Greg’s main post, it seems to touch on the areas that I agree with Rand, and also where we differ.

I have to disagree with Greg’s initial assertion that Rand’s “emphasis on the cognitive value of wide abstractions” is in error. It seems quite clear to me that if one looks into cultural, political, economic and social factors of any particular historical period, one can infer certain shared psychological elements within any society, and those elements can then be combined to provide a reasonably solid understanding of the underlying philosophy of the period. Doing so is critical in identifying the values that led to the behaviors that were considered acceptable at the time.

The assumption that Rand’s focus on broad abstractions implies that detailed knowledge is necessarily ignored is unfair, though I would agree that Rand, like all human beings, interpreted historical events through her lens of fundamental beliefs, which in her case was Objectivism. Greg then states that Rand’s goal was to “1) To harmonize the facts of history with Rand's view of human nature; and (2) To explain why Objectivism will triumph in the end.”

I’d suggest that this is what every philosopher in history has done with their particular philosophy, haven’t they? Didn’t Karl Marx harmonize (some would say manipulate) the facts of history through his philosophical lens and fully expect socialism to triumph in the end? I’ve recently been on an Emerson kick, and it’s quite clear that he had a clear vision for the future of humanity, and that he viewed the past through his understanding of reality as well. Is it possible to be immune?

I also have to agree with Rand on the free will question, but I do disagree with her on the innate tendency issue, though not in the way Greg does. Rand’s rejection of original sin is absolutely admirable, and is among her contributions to philosophical thought that will endure, assuming mankind does. The concept of original sin, as presented by theologians throughout history and continuing today, is among the most horrible distortions of the ancient wisdom traditions extant. Rand was courageous to look within herself and recognize that there was no such thing.

I’ve written before that she didn’t look deeply enough within; if she had she wouldn’t have concluded that man was simply a blank slate, or was born with tendencies one way or another that he could overcome via conscious choice. It occurs to me that this issue may have been Rand’s turning point, and represents where she and I part ways. Despite Greg’s implication that she had sensed this, if she had recognized as a fact the innate innocence of man, as well as his natural tendency towards the good, her entire system would have developed in a much healthier fashion. Her ideal man would have been conceived as a complete man, rather than the cold automation that was presented in the ideals of Roark and Galt. But she never saw that, and her emphasis on rational thought as the prime mover in all aspects of life led her to the conclusions that she arrived at.

Rand is probably right that if men are free they will choose the most rational philosophy. Where she’s wrong is in thinking that a philosophy that denies the validity of the most powerful aspects of life will ever be accepted as a rational philosophy. Her denial of the warm, graceful, intuitive side of human nature is especially remarkable for someone who wrote novels that have moments of genuine passion and inspiration. It’s as if she became so enamored with her own concepts about the primacy of the ego and ‘reason’ that she rationalized away the very source of the inspiration that provided her very best ideas.

By the way, Richard, I wholeheartedly agree about the Big Bang delusion. I wrote a 2500-word piece at my blog at the Daily Grail, Adventures in Cosmology that addresses the wild metaphysics that have infected that field. The catalyst was an article published by the astronomer Michael Disney in American Scientist last fall, Modern Cosmology: Science or Folktale?. I was also shocked to discover during my research that Georges Lemaitre, who developed the “Hypothesis of the Primeval Atom” that became the BBT, “was, at the time, both a member of the Catholic hierarchy and an accomplished scientist. He said in private that this theory was a way to reconcile science with St. Thomas Aquinas' theological dictum of creatio ex nihilo or creation out of nothing.”

I also have serious doubts about AGW. Discovering the truth on this subject is extremely difficult given the alarmist climate Gore and the IPCC have created.

Finally, the implication that Richard’s argument amounts to: If you knew how to think, you would know that Rand is right is interesting. Any argument that I will ever put forth ultimately comes down to my position that nearly the entire planet doesn’t know how to think. Rand was right in recognizing that nearly everyone is blinded by their own thinking. What she didn’t get was that she was too.

That said, Richard’s comment does point to Kant’s mistake, but probably not in the sense Richard intends: As for Kant, when he divided reality into the noumenal and the phenomenal, he placed real knowledge outside the reach of human understanding.

By failing to see that the direct understanding of the noumenal world was entirely within the reach of any given human being through the process of accessing a higher level of consciousness, Kant left the door open for theologians to continue to dictate the nature of the noumenal world in any matter they choose. That has created the horrible circumstance of rabid dualists advocating their particular interpretation of ‘truth’ as absolute from a position beyond reproach, while having access to weaponry created by our advancing understanding of the material aspect of reality.

As a result of Kant insisting that the noumenal world is forever unknowable, we have dueling dualists in control of large segments of the population, while the materialists unwittingly advance nihilism despite Rand’s best efforts to prevent it. It’s a bloody mess, and the only way out that I can see is for a critical mass of humanity to begin to access higher levels of consciousness. Soon. The hope I have lies in my conviction that this has already begun to happen.

Damien said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Damien said...

Richard,

You said,
-------------------------------------
"Finding one problem with a scientific theory does not necessarily disprove that theory. "

It does if it is fundamental. Consider, ex nihilo nihil fit If a theory violates that law, then it is necessarily invalid.

As for Kant, when he divided reality into the noumenal and the phenomenal, he placed real knowledge outside the reach of human understanding. In his metaphysics and epistemology the sensory information of this world —of mere phenomena— cannot be definitive. No matter what we think we know, we can never be sure whether things in the noumenal world —which we cannot perceive— negate that phenomenal knowledge.
----------------------------------------------
This is a philosophical, not a scientific claim, you are talking about here. They maybe utter nonsense, but Kant's concepts of the noumenal and the phenomenal world are not something people think about on daily basis.

You said,
-------------------------------------
This is fundamental, to every aspect of human thinking and existence. Kant's popularity has brought this cancerous skepticism into the halls of academia. Its acceptance and use are wordlessly considered to be a sign of lofty intellect, of academic detachment, and of 'higher' understanding.
--------------------------------------
And you are certain this cancerous skepticism wouldn't be there without him? How do you know that people still wouldn't consider it noble to care about some 'higher' understanding, or for that matter something 'higher' than themselves?

You said,
-------------------------------------------
So, yes, it most certainly does effect the sciences, the arts, and theology (the realm Kant sought to save from Reason). Popper was influenced by Kant, and accepts the same kind of skepticism. The extent of that influence is just one avenue by which Kant influences science.
--------------------------------------------
Again, so what?

You said,
--------------------------------------------
Kantian skepticism leads people to consider pharmacological discoveries as automatically carrying hidden caveats sufficient to deny the known benefits of the drug. The skepticism usually expressed with a fear-mongering "what if you're wrong", even in the face of overwhelming fact. It turns up in the courts; the O.J. trial stands out as a glaring example, but skepticism appears in the endless examination of trivia, even when all the facts needed are in . Now UNreasonable doubt is a legal argument. Popular belief is more important than fact, so the oxymoron 'scientific consensus' is accepted by ...scientists, as evidence of conclusive knowledge. So we have AGW, DDT banning, recycling of materials too abundant to be worth recycling, fear of 2,4-D regardless of countless studies showing its safety, an so on. If enough people start to believe in witches, then we can start drowning them again!
--------------------------------------------
You honestly believe that things like this wouldn't be happening if it weren't for Kant? People have believed in utter nonsense throughout all of human history. People have feared things for no good reason throughout human history. AS far as I can tell Kant is not responsible for the existence of any of this. It existed before his time, when he was alive and after his death. Even if it was decreasing before he came along and than all of a sudden was on the rise during his life time, that would not prove that he caused things like superstition, and irrational fear to increase. Correlation does not mean causation.

You said,
-----------------------------------------
These are not isolated instances, but a trend oozing from academia, philosophy departments, faculties of education and our schools and textbooks. Broad ideas influence culture.
-----------------------------------------
True to some degree, but what about those people who hold such views who don't like Kant? Rand was not the first anti Kantian philosopher and she won't be the last. Things today are largely the way the are, not because of one philosophy, but because of multiple things, chance events, people with contradictory goals and ideas. So to blame all of this on one man is absurd.

You said,
------------------------------------
Kant was Hegel's progenitor, who was Marx's progenitor, who's ideas led to millions of deaths and continue to enslave millions. Broad ideas DO drive history. Failure to understand them is what dooms men to repeat it. ARCHN attacks the first person to show a consistently accurate way of understanding the culture of ideas. It's writers use the Kantian approach to do so.
--------------------------------------------
Rand had a consistently accurate understanding of the culture of ideas? What does that mean? Culture is the sum of all learned behavior, so culture is ideas. But Rand didn't not have a consistently logical view of people or ideas.

I will now start quoting Greg Nyquist. On page 3 of Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature, he points out that when that when Alvin Toffler asked her "Do your regard philosophy as the primary purpose of your writing?" Rand told him "No. My primary purpose is the projection of an ideal man, of man 'as he might be and ought to be.' Philosophy is a necessary means to that end."

Now as Greg points out, this shows that she was just admitted that she was just trying to rationalize her own personal convictions.

On page 18 of ARCHN Greg points out that Rand and Peikoff abandoned reason once it could no longer serve objectivism. He quoted Peikoff as saying in regards to our first choice in life, "The choice to 'throw the switch' is thus the root choice, on which all others depend....By its nature, it is a first cause within consciousness, not an effect produced by antecedent factors. It is not a product of parents or teachers, anatomy or conditioning, heredity or environment....In short it is invalid to to ask: why did man choose to focus? There is no such 'why.'" Now Richard can you spot the logical fallacy in Peikoff and Rands thinking? It is something very similar to Kant's noumenal and the phenomenal idea.

I will repeat what you wrote.
----------------------------------------
As for Kant, when he divided reality into the noumenal and the phenomenal, he placed real knowledge outside the reach of human understanding. In his metaphysics and epistemology the sensory information of this world —of mere phenomena— cannot be definitive. No matter what we think we know, we can never be sure whether things in the noumenal world —which we cannot perceive— negate that phenomenal knowledge.
-------------------------------------------

Rand and Peikoff place the origin of our individual natures outside what is possible for us to know? Rand of course blamed Kant for things like this, but she and her followers are guilty of the same thing here. Rand hated Kant, but by here definition she was acting like a Kantian. So are we to believe that Kant is not responsible for all the internationalism in the modern world, or are we to believe that Rand was some how subconsciously influenced by his evil.

Again, take a look at Occam's razor and ask yourself what is more likely.

1 Rand was a hypocrite and embraced mysticism when it served her purposes, in spite of Kant.

2 Rand was subconsciously influence by Kant's noumenal and the phenomenal idea.

3 A robot from an alternate Kantian, Commie, Nazi, Islamist, universe, kidnapped the real Rand in order to see to it that we would be defense less when their leader the Dark one decided to conquer our world and turn our world into a collectivist slave Earth.

(Note: The third one of course is a Joke, and I don't expect you to choose it.)

Richard said...

So, Dragonfly, you would argue that Nothing might have some means by which it can produce Something.

What does the term "Nothing" mean to you? What attributes does "Nothing" have by which it might produce something? Nothing is nothing, it has no qualities, no attributes, no relationships and no location or time, it is Nothing.

To ascribe qualities to Nothing, is to debase the meaning of the term. It is an utter violation of conceptual meaning. It is, "what I wish" supercedes "whatever makes sense".

Richard said...

Michael H, I must commend you for presenting the most cogent comment on this blog. Thank-you.

On Rand's notion of the Blank Slate. How could it be otherwise? I speak as a biologist, who understands how DNA guides growth of cells and tissues. The mind, formed, cannot have ideas. It may be subject to neurological predispositions, but it is NOT subject to IDEAS. Its neurological predispositions most certainly influence its conclusions, but those conclusions are NOT predetermined by genetics. They allow or reject that determination.

Michael H. wrote:
"if she had recognized as a fact the innate innocence of man, as well as his natural tendency towards the good, her entire system would have developed in a much healthier fashion."

But she did. That view was not presented as essential in her novels, but it was clearly there, especially if one reads the Ayn Rand Letters. She, over ten years, wrestled with what was important to present in Atlas Shrugged. That view, that you wish to see, is indeed there, but it is presented in proportion to the greater ideas she is communicating. Consider Dagny, who barely knew Cheryl Taggart, rushing to Cheryl's aid, knowing that suicide would be Cheryl's only recourse in the face of such evil.

It is a constant disappointment to me how reasonably intelligent people fail to grasp Rand. Of course, this blog is the worst of all.

You, michael h. wrote: "Her ideal man would have been conceived as a complete man, rather than the cold automation that was presented in the ideals of Roark and Galt. But she never saw that, and her emphasis on rational thought as the prime mover in all aspects of life led her to the conclusions that she arrived at."

But that is not at ALL what she was doing. She was presenting essentials. Galt was a full being, he peed like the rest of us, but for the novel "Atlas Shrugged" his need to pee was irrelevant. What was relevant was his focus on individual intellectual freedom and his means of bringing that freedom back to the American culture. As a novel's character, that is all that Rand needed to present. Your job, as a reader, is to understand what Galt stood for, not to wish for the details of his character that one would expect from everyday Harlequin authors.

Michael H, wrote:
"Her denial of the warm, graceful, intuitive side of human nature is especially remarkable for someone who wrote novels that have moments of genuine passion and inspiration."

Michael, did you miss how Hank Reardan carried the "non-Absolute" boy from the slag heap? Did you not see how the members of Galt's Gulch gave Dagny hours of their time that she might grasp what they were working towards? I seriously believe you have missed Rand's character, and her ideals, by misreading her. Of particular value is the manner in which, in "The Fountainhead", Rand's Roark character treats Stephen Mallory and Gail Wynand. Even the way Roark treats Keating demonstrates enormous benevolence. Yet, still, Roark stood, above all, for himself.

Michael H. I cannot thank you with enough enthusiasm for having stated:
"By the way, Richard, I wholeheartedly agree about the Big Bang delusion. I wrote a 2500-word piece at my blog at the Daily Grail, Adventures in Cosmology that addresses the wild metaphysics that have infected that field. The catalyst was an article published by the astronomer Michael Disney in American Scientist last fall, Modern Cosmology: Science or Folktale?. I was also shocked to discover during my research that Georges Lemaitre, who developed the “Hypothesis of the Primeval Atom” that became the BBT, “was, at the time, both a member of the Catholic hierarchy and an accomplished scientist. He said in private that this theory was a way to reconcile science with St. Thomas Aquinas' theological dictum of creatio ex nihilo or "creation out of nothing.

That is a terrific support, though 800 years old, of the irrationality of Man's view of the Universe. Thank-you, I did not know of it.

I think my next responses need to be in a separate comment.

Richard said...

I wrote,"That is a terrific support, though 800 years old, of the irrationality of Man's view of the Universe.

I 'Published' too soon, my apologies. Obviously the view was not 800 yrs old.

Damien said...

Michael H,

"I also have to agree with Rand on the free will question, but I do disagree with her on the innate tendency issue, though not in the way Greg does. Rand’s rejection of original sin is absolutely admirable, and is among her contributions to philosophical thought that will endure, assuming mankind does. The concept of original sin, as presented by theologians throughout history and continuing today, is among the most horrible distortions of the ancient wisdom traditions extant. Rand was courageous to look within herself and recognize that there was no such thing."

Actually I think there some truth in the idea or original sin. I think that both good and evil are a part of human nature, and always will be regardless of the dominate philosophy in the world.

Besides Rand was not the first philosopher to out and out reject the idea of original sin.

Damien said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Damien said...

Richard,

you said,
------------------------------------------
On Rand's notion of the Blank Slate. How could it be otherwise? I speak as a biologist, who understands how DNA guides growth of cells and tissues. The mind, formed, cannot have ideas. It may be subject to neurological predispositions, but it is NOT subject to IDEAS. Its neurological predispositions most certainly influence its conclusions, but those conclusions are NOT predetermined by genetics. They allow or reject that determination.
-----------------------------------------------

Richard, you might want to read The_Blank_Slate, by Steven Pinker. He shows how the very concept of man as a blank slate from birth is ridiculous.

You probably don't realize it, but you just contradicted yourself, if man has any predispositions at all he is not a Blank Slate.

Richard said...

Michael H. that really is quite amazing:

"I was also shocked to discover during my research that Georges Lemaitre, who developed the “Hypothesis of the Primeval Atom” that became the BBT, “was, at the time, both a member of the Catholic hierarchy and an accomplished scientist. He said in private that this theory was a way to reconcile science with St. Thomas Aquinas' theological dictum of creatio ex nihilo or creation out of nothing.

That is quite telling. The singularity is an appeal to God!

On "Rand was right in recognizing that nearly everyone is blinded by their own thinking. What she didn’t get was that she was too. "

I suggest that she saw that her 'bias' was legitimate... i.e. NOT biased. She was quite able to grasp how an individual's idea might lead him to be Gay, through a rational process of experience. Such people might be mistaken, but they still grasp what is reasonable. That is terrific! If one sticks to reasonable argument, the Right will win.

Michael H. wrote:
"The hope I have lies in my conviction that this [citizens are starting to grasp broader abstractions] has already begun to happen."

With some thirty Objectivists placed in University Faculties, and several million high school students reading "Atlas Shrugged", there is a lot of hope that reason may, again, come to be revered by Western Culture.


Michael, your conviction is becoming true!

Dragonfly said...

Richard: "What does the term "Nothing" mean to you? What attributes does "Nothing" have by which it might produce something? Nothing is nothing, it has no qualities, no attributes, no relationships and no location or time, it is Nothing."

The definition of "Nothing" isn't that simple. Is a perfect vacuum "Nothing"? We know that a vacuum does have properties, virtual particles are created and annihilated, which can experimentally be demonstrated by means of the Casimir effect.

Dragonfly said...

Michael H.: " I was also shocked to discover during my research that Georges Lemaitre, who developed the “Hypothesis of the Primeval Atom” that became the BBT, “was, at the time, both a member of the Catholic hierarchy and an accomplished scientist. He said in private that this theory was a way to reconcile science with St. Thomas Aquinas' theological dictum of creatio ex nihilo or creation out of nothing.”

That is of course a stupid ad hominem argument against Lemaitre. We can use the same argument against that great scientific hero of Objectivism, Isaac Newton (listen for example to Peikoff's and Harriman's eulogies). Well, this Newton was a very religious man who wrote more about theology than about science and mathematics and who believed in astrology and alchemy. So we can laughingly dismiss his physics theories, right?

Damien said...

Richard,

you said,
----------------------------------------
"I was also shocked to discover during my research that Georges Lemaitre, who developed the “Hypothesis of the Primeval Atom” that became the BBT, “was, at the time, both a member of the Catholic hierarchy and an accomplished scientist. He said in private that this theory was a way to reconcile science with St. Thomas Aquinas' theological dictum of creatio ex nihilo or creation out of nothing.”

That is quite telling. The singularity is an appeal to God!
--------------------------------------------

Really? Where did you hear he said that? If Georges Lemaitre said it in private, how did you hear about it in the first place? How do you know it is not just a myth or a rumor, like Charles Darwin denouncing evolution on his death bed, which is something a few creationists have claimed over the years?

Plus even if the the idea of the singularity was an attempt to allow the idea of God to stay alive, today some scientists are starting think that the big bang was caused by our universe colliding with another in interdenominational space. Some atheists will say that gets rid of the need for a God. So if Georges Lemaitre was trying to encourage the belief in God, at the expense of science, how well did he do? Off course there is still the problem of how the multiverse came into being. But, Beyond that I see no better explanation for the formation of the universe, than the big bang. As a scientific theory the big bang seems to be sound. so far it has stood the test of time. As far as I know, no scientist has ever come up with a theory that better fits the evidence. Steady state seems less plausible to me for multiple reasons. For one thing the Universe is not unchanging.

Also I remember hearing that Georges Lemaitre started complaining when the Pope went around saying that his theory was proof of God. I think it was on a History Channel Program called "Beyond the Big Bang," he said something a long the lines of "no, no, its a scientific not a religious theory," when the church hierarchy started trying to use his theory as proof of God. So if the singularity was his appeal to God, as you stated, why would he do that?

Damien said...

Dragonfly,

I couldn't agree with your response to Richard's ideas about Georges Lemaitre and his singularity theory any more than I already do agree with them. You are dead on target.

Michael H said...

that is of course a stupid ad hominem argument against Lemaitre.

Perhaps. If he hadn't died in 1995, I'd ask you to take it up with 1970 Nobel Prize winner in Physics, Hans Alfven. It's his quote, and he knew LeMaitre.

Anyone who defends the BBT needs to read the Michael Disney column I linked earlier, and then consider the reception given to observations that appear to support a Fractal Universe, as reported in New Scientist on June 25 of this year. This excerpt from the linked article is especially revealing:

"Many cosmologists find fault with their analysis, largely because a fractal matter distribution out to such huge scales undermines the standard model of cosmology.

So . . . is science about testing a hypothesis to arrive at the truth, or selecting and molding observations to match the hypothesis?

Michael H said...

Thanks for the comments, Richard, but in the end I will have to contend that although Rand came perilously close to truth, she missed the most important aspect of all: the primary role of consciousness in reality itself. Her support of materialism will be her undoing, but I do think many of her conclusions will be adopted in one form or another as 'obviously correct' eventually.

I'm not about to engage in a debate with a biologist about biology, but you might be interested in reading what Robert Lanza had to say about the role biology might play in understanding consciousness, as well as space and time, in an article published last year in The American Scholar,. He's vice president of research and scientific development at Advanced Cell Technology and a professor at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. If nothing else, it'll make any reasonable person think.

Michael H said...

By the way, Richard, there may be some serious implications regarding the relationship between consciousness and genetics as outlined here:

From the link:

How could a single, nonpharmacological intervention help patients deal with disorders ranging from high blood pressure, to pain syndromes, to infertility, to rheumatoid arthritis? That question may have been answered by a study finding that eliciting the relaxation response – a physiologic state of deep rest – influences the activation patterns of genes associated with the body's response to stress.

"For hundreds of years Western medicine has looked at mind and body as totally separate entities, to the point where saying something 'is all in your head' implied that it was imaginary," says Herbert Benson, MD, director emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute and co-senior author of the PloS One report. "Now we've found how changing the activity of the mind can alter the way basic genetic instructions are implemented."

Towia Libermann, PhD, director of the BIDMC Genomics Center and the report's co-senior author, adds, "This is the first comprehensive study of how the mind can affect gene expression, linking what has been looked on as a 'soft' science with the 'hard' science of genomics. It is also important because of its focus on gene expression in healthy individuals, rather than in disease states."

Benson explains, "People have been using these culturally determined mind/body techniques for millenia. We found that no matter which particular technique is used – different forms of meditation and yoga, breath focus, or repetitive prayer – the mechanism involved is the same. Now we need to see if similar changes occur in patients who use the relaxation response to help treat stress-related disorders, and those studies are underway now."

Libermann notes that the sensitive genomic analyses conducted in this study are at the cutting edge of efforts to unravel the genetic aspects of complex disorders.


The full research paper is available at the open-access journal PLoS.

Red Grant said...

___________________________________

I think that both good and evil are a part of human nature, and always will be regardless of dominate philosophy in the world. - damien
___________________________________





Who decides what is good and evil?

gregnyquist said...

Michael H: "I have to disagree with Greg’s initial assertion that Rand’s 'emphasis on the cognitive value of wide abstractions' is in error."

Here's the problem with wide abstractions. A lot of people out there think that a generalized view of the subject makes them competent to draw conclusions about it, and unless the subject is real simple, that is just not true. I am constantly running across people who have dogmatic opinions on politics, economics, foreign policy, etc. yet who are ignorant of important details and lacking the sophisticated analytical tools to come to any kind of real insight about the subject matter at hand. The old saying A little knowledge is a dangerous thing applies here. The problem with people with a little knowledge is they are ignorant of the extent of their ignorance. So when I see the Objectivist defense of broad essentials, I see merely a rationalization of over-generalized knowledge. These people don't want to put in the hard work necessary to master a complex subject.

Michael H said...

The problem with people with a little knowledge is they are ignorant of the extent of their ignorance.

I'm certainly not going to argue that point, Greg. I posted an entire excerpt a few threads back from the conclusion of Manly P. Hall's The Secret Teachings of All Ages that expounded on the dangers of complex ignorance.

I think that sort of encapsulates my differences with Rand. She was so convinced of objective reality as absolute in itself, that she failed to fully understand the depth and complexity of subjective realities. Many of the ideas that occurred to her were essentially correct, as I see it, but her failure to balance an understanding of the objective world with an equivalent understanding of man's inner world led her to some strange conclusions.

I still hold that if she had looked a little deeper within, she would have modified her views significantly. She would have actually understood Emerson's comment about 'foolish consistency', rather than deriding it as the product of a complex delusion.

In the end, Rand is just strange. Her novels celebrate man's spirit, while denying the source of that spirit. Or perhaps more accurately, relegating the source of spirit to the ego, which is actually just a construct of the aspect of herself she never uncovered, even though that aspect was the source of whatever genius she possessed.

It's complex ignorance carried to an extreme.brz

Richard said...

Damien: I cannot spend the time responding to so many comments - you are fisking about a lot of subjects.

Michael H: People's "subjective realities" are a combination of psycho-epistemology and psychology. I beliee Rand coined the former term because she DID know about subjective realities. I can only suggest you read Rand more thoroughly, it is tha very lack of thoroughness that ARCHN relies on to dispute with Rand. Call this an Appeal to Authority if you like, but there are now thrity university positions occupied by Objectivist professors with Ph.D.'s in Philosophy. There is an Ayn Rand Branch of the American Philosophy Association.

The epistemological techniques used by ARCHN are transparent to, and are ignored by, Objectivists because there are better (and I believe more honest) minds where it is more worthwhile spending their time.

Nyquist is right when he says, and as you quoted: "The problem with people with a little knowledge is they are ignorant of the extent of their ignorance." He is a classic example of a very leaky black pot, calling a shiny new kettle black.

Perhaps you are one of the better minds, if you make the effort to really study all of Rand's works, OPAR, and articles by other Objectivist writers. Even then some things take considerable effort to properly grasp ——such as how one's own psycho-epistemology may misguide one's immediate interpretation of those works.

I DID read 4/5ths of the Robert Lanza article. I had to give up, because he does not grasp the nature of Time or Space at all. Really he just remodels the same faulty arguments that have been kicking around for 100+ years.

Briefly (Please do not ask me to expand) Time is a measure of Motion, just as length is a measure of distance. Just as there is no thing that is Length itself, there is no such thing as time that is Time itself. Time is not another dimension (except when used in mathematical constructs).

Just as length is measured using man-made units (meter, foot, cubit) that are convenient for Man's conceptual range, so Time uses man made units (years, hours, seconds) that concord well with his conceptual experience with motion. Time and distance (length if you like) are based on the Nature of the Universe, and have no meaning 'outside' of it. As such asking when the Universe began is absurd. The Universe qua Universe (One Everything) is eternal and without limit. The latter term is different from "infinite", which is a conceptual tool in math. Nothing in the Universe is, nor can be, infinite. The Universe itself cannot be infinite either, as it is only its self... One.

The Universe is what it is. As for Consciousness, it is clearly something that exists (as does motion or the three dimensions of space, or a magnetic or gravitational field). It exists IN the universe, but how it arises from neurological structures is not understood. It is not influenced by normal gravitational or magnetic fields, so it may constitute a new kind of field or force, but that is something for Physics, Chemistry and Biology to discover. There is no doubt that consciousness is synonymous with awareness, and has specific ways of functioning. Consciousness HAS Real World Identity.

The human form of Consciousness enables a form of volition that is radically different from animal choice-making. That volition, in turn, influences concept formation and how Man develops his understanding of Reality. Is it done Objectively or by treating the Subjective as if it were objective?

It is also clear that Consciousness does not do these things (reasoning, in particular) with automatic correctness, so its proper use (by Man) requires training. Rand's greatest philosophical achievement lies in her inroads into understanding many of the proper procedures for Reasoning of which the Mind (and its conscious components) is capable. Most notably, she has shown how abstract concepts can be formed reliably and objectively. When someone confuses some of her abstractions, particularly her philosophical abstractions, and claims she has made errors, it is quite possible to see why they were in error and she was not. Some (one of whom has set up an alternate Randian Institute) go to enormous, tortured lengths to dispute her ideas, for psycho-epistemological reasons only they can truly identify. If they had put the same effort into understanding her, they would be grossly embarrassed by their arguments.

With that, I have spent too much time on this blog, primarily because you have shown honest interest. I hope you examine Rand for yourself, check what she reports about other philosophers for yourself, and carefully consider every concept without discarding its proper place in the conceptual hierarchy to which it properly belongs.

Daniel Barnes said...

Richard:
>I believe Rand coined the former term because she DID know about subjective realities.

Actually, the term is due to Barbara Branden. Know your Objectivism, Richard...;-)

The rest of your post is simply the vague word-gamery beloved of philosophers since time immemorial, and which Rand is an egregious example. For example, you claim the universe is "without limit" yet simultaneously you claim it is not "infinite." Please. This is just another example of Objectivist double-talk like "contextual absolute" and "contextual certainty"

Similarly, when you say:
>Most notably, she has shown how abstract concepts can be formed reliably and objectively.

This claim likewise rests on Randian double-talk around words like "reliable" and "objective." For Randian concepts are only contextually reliable ie they are called absolutely true within the context of available knowledge of the time. Thus, according to Randian theory, when men thought that to the best of their knowledge the sun went around the truth, that could be called an absolutely objectively true theory. Then, when the context of man's knowledge changed and it was discovered the earth went around the sun, then this was an absolutely objectively true theory - despite the fact that both theories contradicted each other! That, stripped of word-gamery, is the nett effect of Rand's contribution to epistemology! What is really incredible is how little her followers have looked beyond the grandiose claims to her contribution, and have even stopped to think it through for themselves.

Michael H said...

As for Consciousness, it is clearly something that exists (as does motion or the three dimensions of space, or a magnetic or gravitational field). It exists IN the universe, but how it arises from neurological structures is not understood.

This is, in essence, what I suggest Ayn Rand failed to grasp, Richard.

The premise she failed to check was that materialism is absolute. What will eventually be understood, regardless of how 'mystical' it may sound at the moment, is that it is neurological structures (as well as the entire cosmos for that matter) that arise from consciousness, not the reverse.

In any case, I think my previous posts indicate that I don't consider Rand to be entirely wrong in her conclusions, or that she and the Objectivists are inherently evil. I think she meant well, tried hard, and that her willingness to question accepted wisdom is worth emulating.

That said, it will eventually be understood that her core metaphysical assumption is exactly backwards, and that understanding will have huge implications regarding the proper use of reason as it pertains to mankind's relationship with the physical world and one another.

It's actually been years since I've read Rand, and I don't have access to my library at the moment. I do intend to revisit her writings eventually, if for nothing else than to determine more clearly where we agree and where we don't.

I think she came very close. She clearly saw man as potentially heroic. What she failed to see is how heroic man could actually be if and when he learns to transcend the ego.

Richard said...

1. Barnes has not bothered to grasp the difference between fact and truth, sneers notwithstanding. The former is metaphysical, the latter is epistemological & can be revised without contradiction.

2.Michael H. So, if Consciousness precedes Existence, 1) of what, exactly, is that Consciousness conscious if noting exists, and 2) what exists that is being conscious? Can a magnetic field exist without a magnet, can running occur without some entity that is running?

Daniel Barnes said...

Richard:
>1. Barnes has not bothered to grasp the difference between fact and truth, sneers notwithstanding. The former is metaphysical, the latter is epistemological & can be revised without contradiction.

Yes, according to Objectivism "absolute truth" is nonetheless still revisable - thus an "absolute" that isn't a absolute at all - with the result that a latter "absolute truth" can contradict the former, and the former can still be called an "absolute truth"! Was there ever an emptier, more transparent word-game of a doctrine? Isn't it a wonder - and a tribute to the power of Rand's emotional persuasiveness - that intelligent men can be gulled by such trivial verbalism?

Richard said...

I repeat, "The former [fact] is metaphysical, the latter [truth] is epistemological [which means, "based on the facts available] & can be revised without contradiction. Check your premises, don't leave it to Barnes.

Michael H said...

So, if Consciousness precedes Existence, 1) of what, exactly, is that Consciousness conscious if nothing exists, and 2) what exists that is being conscious?

Where did I write that consciousness precedes existence, or imply that nothing exists, Richard?

I stated that consciousness is primary; that the cosmos arises from consciousness. My position is that consciousness or ‘mind’ is the foundation of existence, and that the material universe is a manifestation thereof. Consciousness is not ‘something else’ that’s ‘somewhere else’: it is the ground of being. Everything we can ever encounter is ultimately a manifestation of the core consciousness: we exist within it, we are an integral part of it, and we are each connected to it through our individual capacity of consciousness.

For what it’s worth, a strong argument can be made that as it pertains to matters of consciousness itself, materialism has already been falsified. Perhaps the best articulation of that argument to date is the massive compilation of empirical evidence, Irreducible Mind, by Kelly, Kelly et. al. The book is massive (800 pages) and expensive, but an excellent synopsis has been written by the physicist Ulrich Mohrhoff.

Massive as it is, Irreducible Mind is just a single compilation of reams of data, continuing to grow, that materialists disregard as a priori false. This situation is becoming untenable, and Objectivists will eventually be faced with the prospect of advocating a philosophy that is constructed on a fundamental premise that has been falsified.

When that happens, you might want to remember what I wrote earlier: “I think she came very close. She clearly saw man as potentially heroic. What she failed to see is how heroic man could actually be if and when he learns to transcend the ego.”

Richard said...

M.H
I mis-typed "if, in place of "of".

You asked:
"Where did I write that consciousness precedes existence, or imply that nothing exists, Richard?"

Well, you wrote:
"it is neurological structures (as well as the entire cosmos for that matter) that arise from consciousness, not the reverse."

and:
"...her core metaphysical assumption [sic] is exactly backwards.."

Her core metaphysical 'assumption' is The Primacy of Existence, that is Existence precedes Consciousness. Existence requires something with attributes has to BE, for Consciousness to exist. That is no assumption, but an inescapable conceptual axiom. You act on that principle every time you think, act, speak or write, even as you seek to deny it. So does everyone here at ARCHN.

Then, arguing that was not what you said, you wrote:
I stated that consciousness is primary; that the cosmos arises from consciousness. My position is that consciousness or ‘mind’ is the foundation of existence, and that the material universe is a manifestation thereof."

Someday you should discover that words have exact meanings. You want to have your cake-universe and eat it too. Intellectually, you belong here; I prefer Reality.

Michael H said...

Existence requires something with attributes has to BE, for Consciousness to exist. That is no assumption, but an inescapable conceptual axiom.

So Rand assumed. It's certainly inescapable from the perspective of the ego.

Someday you should discover that words have exact meanings. You want to have your cake-universe and eat it too. Intellectually, you belong here; I prefer Reality.

Then enjoy your 'Reality’, and I’ll attempt to use language that meets with your approval as I respond further.

Everyone's experiencing reality, Richard. Every problem on earth results from each person having an interpretation of reality that varies from one degree to another. When the variance is extreme, men slaughter each other.

I think Rand recognized this, but she assumed that her interpretation of reality was absolute, and spent her life articulating how others could emulate her interpretation. She was certain that what was needed was a new “system of thought”, that the world needed to know how and what to think, which, not surprisingly, was how and what she thought. Because she failed to discover the core consciousness within, as nearly everyone since Aristotle has, she concluded that the solutions could only be addressed on the level of the content of thought. In short, Rand assumed that all of mankind’s problems could be solved on the level of the ego. When she discovered that nearly everyone objected to some of her conclusions on an intuitive level, she grew increasingly frustrated, angry and bitter. Peikoff is her perfect philosophical heir, exemplified by his enthusiasm in sharing these troubling emotions, emotions which are all too common to Objectivists as a whole.

Where Rand went wrong is in failing to see that men will never solve their problems by adopting any philosophical system of thought. It can only be solved by a better understanding of human psychology. The solution does involve changing how and what people think, but in order to bring that about people need only to fully recognize that they are thinking; to truly begin to understand the nature of thought itself.

The more one understands the nature of thought themselves, the more they see the common ground they share with one another. At that point, they will discover a level of deep humility and compassion, and the content of their thoughts will change by itself. It involves transcending the ego, and discovering the limitless, genuine self-esteem that has been dormant in most men for centuries. If this understanding reaches a critical mass of the population, men will reach nearly identical conclusions on a whole range of issues without tremendous effort – it will appear obvious to everyone. This isn’t magic; it’s simply what results from men sharing the same core consciousness that they are currently aren’t even aware they share. Nor is it mystical. Nearly everyone experiences the higher consciousness regularly already – whenever an idea arrives from out-of-the-blue, or someone sees a solution to a problem that they’d missed before, it has its source in the higher level. Professional musicians and athletes are each responding to the higher consciousness in order to do what they do for a living – it’s impossible to do so otherwise. It’s such a natural state of mind, that no one even recognizes it to be a state of mind.

So it goes. Rand spent a lot of her time in that state of mind, but never recognized it for what it is. She was a genius who denied the source of her genius and arrogated it to herself. It really doesn’t matter, because as I stated above, the metaphysics of materialism is in the process of collapsing. The Objectivists, the secular humanists, the dualists and everyone else will all eventually find their various positions to be what they are – a hodgepodge assortment of good and bad ideas. In the meantime, everyone should just enjoy their particular version of reality. It’s not like there’s any other choice.