Rethinking Axioms

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on Thu, 2007-09-27 01:51

In this post I want to talk about the axioms in Objectivist metaphysics. It is my contention that, implicit in the statement made, "There is something of which I am aware," there are five, not three, axiomatic concepts.

I agree that existence, consciousness, and identity are axioms, and that they are in the correct order, but there are two axioms that are not being made explicit. One of them is identified as an axiom by Peikoff in "Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand," but he says it is not a BASIC axiom. The other one is not even an considered an axiom in Objectivist thought.

You all know about Descartes, the philosopher who doubted everything except the fact that he was conscious and so made this the starting point of his philosophy. But Rand knew to be conscious is to be conscious of something. Implicit in the fact of consciousness is the fact of existence. If you can be absolutely certain beyond the shadow of a doubt that you are conscious, then you can be sure that you are conscious of something and that it exists.

But, implicit in the fact of consciousness are two other axioms. Not only do you know for sure that existence exists, but you must know that entities exist. Why? Because if you are aware of existence, then YOU are aware of it. In order for consciousness to make sense, entities must exist, because if we only know of existence and concsiousness, then we already know that there are atleast two separate things in existence - the thing that is being perceived and the thing that is doing the perceiving.

And further, it would not be possible to be conscious of only one aspect of existence. Existence has to have atleast two attributes or aspects to it in order for us to be aware of it. If existence were just blackness or whiteness, and that was its only attribute, how could one be "conscious" of that in any meaningful sense of the word?

This brings me to the next axiom that is also implicit in the fact of concsiousness. As I said above, this concept is not recognized as an axiom in Objectivism. In "Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand" Peikoff talks of concsiousness, identity, causality - all of these without making explicit that crucial, fundamental aspect of existence presupposed by these concepts.

Implicit in the statement, "There is something of which I am aware," this axiom is the "am aware" part. It comes after existence and entity, but before consciousness - it is the concept of action. Entities act, existence changes, things move. The universe is animated by action and motion. To be aware of something is to DO something.

Consciousness is the function of an entity - you, or your mind. If we can be sure that we are conscious, then we can be sure that there are entities and that they act.

Action cannot be defined or reduced to any other concepts. Like existence, it can only be defined ostensively. Peikoff in OTPOAR says something like you'd have to make a sweeping motion with your arm and say, "I mean this," to define existence. This is true of action, except that the sweeping motion would be the definition.
That entities act is also implicit in all knowledge of reality. That entites act cannot be denied or questioned without contradicting oneself. Obviously, if someone asked you to prove that entites act, the asking and the proving are actions. Denial, asking, proving, knowing, doing - all verbs, all actions. The concept of action meets the criteria for an axiomatic concept.

So, this is the gist of my contention with Objectivist Metaphysics and the axioms. Not only can we "get" existence from the fact of consciousness, we can also "get" entity and action. So, what do you think? Anyone digging this, or do you think I'm full of shit? Please respond!


( categories: )

And what if you are no match for me?

NickOtani's picture

Then you will be happy in your delusions.

bis bald,

Nick

Leonid To stand and fight?

Leonid's picture

Leonid
To stand and fight? And what if you are no match for me?

What do you do with your freedom?

NickOtani's picture

(Leonid)8.By this post I'm closing my arguments on this thread.

(Nick)Yes, that is what some people do when they don’t want to learn. It’s what the bigot at the bar would do."

(Leonid)No,that just proves I have Free will and may close my arguments whenever I choose to do so.

(Nick)First, you have not many arguments to close down, just a lot of unsupported and repeated assertions. Second, if you do have free-will, your decisions demonsxtrate what kind of person you are. A coward decides to cut and run rather than stand and fight.

bis bald,

Nick

I have Free will

Leonid's picture

Leonid
"Leonid)8.By this post I'm closing my arguments on this thread.

(Nick)Yes, that is what some people do when they don’t want to learn. It’s what the bigot at the bar would do."

No,that just proves I have Free will and may close my arguments whenever I choose to do so.

Volition

NickOtani's picture

(Nick)1."Yes, according to Skinner and other behaviorists and cognitivists, anyone who thinks actions have reasons, man can be conditioned to do all these complex things. It's a combination of his genetic code and his environment, his stimulus complex."

(Leonid)Skinner and company clearly exlude themselves from conditioned herd which they probably want to condition.What they refuse to realize is the simple fact that man cannot be conditioned to do things which don't yet exist,and man has to create them first.That reffers also to their own philosophy no matter how evil it is.

(Nick)No, they don’t exclude themselves. And, yes, man can be conditioned to do things which do not yet exist. Everything he does is a future event which does not exist before he does it. (I do understand, though, that animals don’t make discoveries which lead to industrial revolutions. That could be evidence for freedom in humans.)

(Nick)2."squirrels gather nuts for the winter"

(Leonid)-yes,they do,but they never make factories for caned food.They cannot create new tools. That requires volition. Thousands of experiments,as any respectfull etologist would explain to you,proved that animals act not on volition but on build-in mechanisms of behavior-exactly what Skinner ascribes to humans.

(Nick)I agree that animals do not act on volition. The question is, “Do humans act on volition?” I think they do, and I think I can back this with evidence and reasoning. I am only saying here that you, Leonid, have not done so. You haven’t really proven that animals are different in kind from humans.

(Nick)3."."Clearly Peikoff is treating “focus” here as a matter of choice."

(Leonid)-you could have noticed that Peikoff changed his position .And in any case Objectivist position is that focus is purpose-driven.
(Nick)So, he was either wrong then or wrong now. He contradicted himself, right?"-
(Leonid)why don't you ask him? This is his e-mail address leonard@peikoff.com

(Nick)But I’m talking to you now. Why don’t you answer?

(Nick)4."I don’t think you have demonstrated this difference."-

(Leonid)Suppose there is no difference.In such a case all this discussion wouldn't be possible.Sunflowers never argue. I mean you don't need proof for self-evident.Religious person's basis is blind faith. My basis is ubiquitous evidences easy obtainable by simple observation.-

(Nick)Religious people also think the existence of God is self-evident. Try to tell them different. They will act like you."

(Leonid)What you ask is to prove volition-meaning that one has to step out of his mind,to negate his volition to examine the matter and to prove these premises by means of unconsciousness.That obviously cannot be done.

(Nick)No, I’m not asking that at all. Stay in your consciousness or mind and explain volition.

(Leonid)I already described to you the difference between rational and mystical aproach.I can add that philosophy is not mind-game like chess or sidoku but science and like any science it based first of all on observations.

(Nick)Rand and company do not describe philosophy as science. They describe it as the foundation of science.

(Leonid)Volition is observable self-evident property of human mind.If one negates or doubts volition he undermines his own mind and therefore nothing could be proven to him.If it is no volition then it is no point to discuss anything.One doesn't argue with his parrot or computer.

(Nick)Do you mean that man does not have the volition or freedom to negate or doubt his own mind? Is he not free to doubt his freedom? This seems like a contradictory position. Are you going to evade and recommend that I email someone else?

(Nick)5."What guides that initial choice to be rational?"

(Leonid)Very shortly-man's desire to live.If,however, he has death-wish he doesn't have to make any choices,he doesn't have to do anything.Nature will take its course.

(Nick)Live can be a goal, just as a finished house can be the ultimate goal for a pile of wood. However, something has to put the wood together to make the house. What puts together the initial choice to be rational?

(Nick)6."Parrots can make sentences, but they don't use them in the appropriate way to demonstrate they understand them."

(Leonid)What do you mean? You don't understand "ecumenism"? This word has been specially designed to describe complex concept which obviously existed before this term has been created.

(Nick)“Ecumenism” has to do with furthering the Cjhristian religion.

(Nick)7."I think crativity can be explained with Chomsky's creativity principle, and this is a key to the explanation of freedom in humans, but Leonid is nowhere close to this. He is just maintaing that man is free and derisively dismissing the possibility that he is not.)"

(Leonid)I'm happy to learn from you that I'm nowhere close to Chomsky.I intensivly dislike this character for his political views and activities.In any case creativity is derivate of volition,no other way around.Many people live as parasites,not creators,but they still possess volition.

(Nick)People who discount what a person says about a scientific matter because they disagree with the person’s political views are not very objective. It would be like discounting what Rand says because she had an extra-marital affair.

(Leonid)8.By this post I'm closing my arguments on this thread.

(Nick)Yes, that is what some people do when they don’t want to learn. It’s what the bigot at the bar would do.

bis bald,
Nick

More about volition

Leonid's picture

Leonid

1."Yes, according to Skinner and other behaviorists and cognitivists, anyone who thinks actions have reasons, man can be conditioned to do all these complex things. It's a combination of his genetic code and his environment, his stimulus complex."

Skinner and company clearly exlude themselves from conditioned herd which they probably want to condition.What they refuse to realize is the simple fact that man cannot be conditioned to do things which don't yet exist,and man has to create them first.That reffers also to their own philosophy no matter how evil it is.

2."squirrels gather nuts for the winter"-yes,they do,but they never make factories for caned food.They cannot create new tools. That requires volition. Thousands of experiments,as any respectfull etologist would explain to you,proved that animals act not on volition but on build-in mechanisms of behavior-exactly what Skinner ascribes to humans.

3."."Clearly Peikoff is treating “focus” here as a matter of choice."-you could have noticed that Peikoff changed his position .And in any case Objectivist position is that focus is purpose-driven.

So, he was either wrong then or wrong now. He contradicted himself, right?"-why don't you ask him? This is his e-mail address "leonard@peikoff.com "

4."I don’t think you have demonstrated this difference."-
Suppose there is no difference.In such a case all this discussion wouldn't be possible.Sunflowers never argue. I mean you don't need proof for self-evident.Religious person's basis is blind faith. My basis is ubiquitous evidences easy obtainable by simple observation.-
Religious people also think the existence of God is self-evident. Try to tell them different. They will act like you."

What you ask is to prove volition-meaning that one has to step out of his mind,to negate his volition to examine the matter and to prove these premises by means of unconsciousness.That obviously cannot be done.I already described to you the difference between rational and mystical aproach.I can add that philosophy is not mind-game like chess or sidoku but science and like any science it based first of all on observations.Volition is observable self-evident property of human mind.If one negates or doubts volition he undermines his own mind and therefore nothing could be proven to him.If it is no volition then it is no point to discuss anything.One doesn't argue with his parrot or computer.

5."What guides that initial choice to be rational?"

Very shortly-man's desire to live.If,however, he has death-wish he doesn't have to make any choices,he doesn't have to do anything.Nature will take its course.

6."Parrots can make sentences, but they don't use them in the appropriate way to demonstrate they understand them."

What do you mean? You don't understand "ecumenism"? This word has been specially designed to describe complex concept which obviously existed before this term has been created.

7."I think crativity can be explained with Chomsky's creativity principle, and this is a key to the explanation of freedom in humans, but Leonid is nowhere close to this. He is just maintaing that man is free and derisively dismissing the possibility that he is not.)"

I'm happy to learn from you that I'm nowhere close to Chomsky.I intensivly dislike this character for his political views and activities.In any case creativity is derivate of volition,no other way around.Many people live as parasites,not creators,but they still possess volition.

8.By this post I'm closing my arguments on this thread.

1."How do you know man is

NickOtani's picture

1."How do you know man is not conditioned to set goals and only thinks he is acting volitionally?"
Can man be conditioned to build rocket,cyclotron,to invent philosophy or ballpen? If he can then by whom or by what? Does it mean that all the things man may want in the future are programmed in his genetic code? If it so how it's possible? You can see yourself that this idea is absolute nonsense.

Yes, according to Skinner and other behaviorists and cognitivists, anyone who thinks actions have reasons, man can be conditioned to do all these complex things. It's a combination of his genetic code and his environment, his stimulus complex.

To want something means to set goals by choice,to project them into the future. This process is by definition volitional.One cannot set goals by conditioning since process of conditioning is providing ready set goals and exluding choice. But people make choices all the time.This is easy observable self-evident fact.Therefore man is not conditioned.Besides this idea is self refuting and circular. Does one conclude that" Our idea of freedom or volition could be just our ignorance of what causes our behavior. It could be an illusion or wishful thinking"-by conditioning or by wishful thinking?

No, squirrels gather nuts for the winter. This is setting goals for the future. Just because man thinks he is free, it doesn't make it so. To say something is self-evident is to cop-out on a proof or reason to believe. And, yes, we could even be conditioned to think we are conditioned. It makes more sense than spontaniously coming up with something out of the blue. (For the record, I think crativity can be explained with Chomsky's creativity principle, and this is a key to the explanation of freedom in humans, but Leonid is nowhere close to this. He is just maintaing that man is free and derisively dismissing the possibility that he is not.)

2."Clearly Peikoff is treating “focus” here as a matter of choice."-you could have noticed that Peikoff changed his position .And in any case Objectivist position is that focus is purpose-driven.

So, he was either wrong then or wrong now. He contradicted himself, right?

3."What guides that initial choice to be rational?"
First I don't think that it is such a thing as initial choice.One may talk about main or most important choice-to think or not to think.From experience,by try and error man learns that rationality is for his own benefit.

This is pragmatism, not Objectivism.

4."All life wants life." No. "Wants" means volitional setting of goals by choice. Sunflower doesn't choose to turn to Sun. It's programmed to do so. We are responding to stimuli but in different way-on conceptual level,volitionally.

Wants and just values, that which one acts to gain and or keep, and flowers and all living things value. It could be that man is just more complex, thus with a more complex program than flowers. There are scientists who explain human behavior this mechanistic way. It could be that you are just to proud to think you are nothing more than a complex machine determined by cause and effect.

"I don’t think you have demonstrated this difference."
Suppose there is no difference.In such a case all this discussion wouldn't be possible.Sunflowers never argue. I mean you don't need proof for self-evident.Religious person's basis is blind faith. My basis is ubiquitous evidences easy obtainable by simple observation.

Religious people also think the existence of God is self-evident. Try to tell them different. They will act like you.

5."It is not concept-formation until it is manipulated in a structure." I disagree. It is often happens that one formulates concept and then finds the word for it. The words like "electricity","radio" "television" "telescope" , and thousand others have been especially invented to describe new concepts.

So? Animals can associate certain sounds to certain objects or entities, but they can't make meaningful thoughts, as in sentences, with them. Parrots can make sentences, but they don't use them in the appropriate way to demonstrate they understand them. They don't substitute symbols into substitution frames and come up with meaningful thoughts never before uttered. Humans do, and this is evidence of freedom in human thought.

bis bald,

Nick

evidence all around you

Leonid's picture

Leonid
1."How do you know man is not conditioned to set goals and only thinks he is acting volitionally?"
Can man be conditioned to build rocket,cyclotron,to invent philosophy or ballpen? If he can then by whom or by what? Does it mean that all the things man may want in the future are programmed in his genetic code? If it so how it's possible? You can see yourself that this idea is absolute nonsense.
To want something means to set goals by choice,to project them into the future. This process is by definition volitional.One cannot set goals by conditioning since process of conditioning is providing ready set goals and exluding choice. But people make choices all the time.This is easy observable self-evident fact.Therefore man is not conditioned.Besides this idea is self refuting and circular. Does one conclude that" Our idea of freedom or volition could be just our ignorance of what causes our behavior. It could be an illusion or wishful thinking"-by conditioning or by wishful thinking?

2."Clearly Peikoff is treating “focus” here as a matter of choice."-you could have noticed that Peikoff changed his position .And in any case Objectivist position is that focus is purpose-driven.

3."What guides that initial choice to be rational?"

First I don't think that it is such a thing as initial choice.One may talk about main or most important choice-to think or not to think.From experience,by try and error man learns that rationality is for his own benefit.

4."All life wants life." No. "Wants" means volitional setting of goals by choice. Sunflower doesn't choose to turn to Sun. It's programmed to do so. We are responding to stimuli but in different way-on conceptual level,volitionally."I don’t think you have demonstrated this difference."
Suppose there is no difference.In such a case all this discussion wouldn't be possible.Sunflowers never argue. I mean you don't need proof for self-evident.Religious person's basis is blind faith. My basis is ubiquitous evidences easy obtainable by simple observation.

5."It is not concept-formation until it is manipulated in a structure."
I disagree. It is often happens that one formulates concept and then finds the word for it. The words like "electricity","radio" "television" "telescope" , and thousand others have been especially invented to describe new concepts

More supposition, not more reason and evidence

NickOtani's picture

Suppose, one travels from New York City to Los Angelos.He doesn't do it by migrant instinct like Norway salmon (human don't have instincts), neither has he done it by conditional reflex like Pavlov's dog and if he's not epileptic he doesn't do it as result of epileptic fit. One does things on purpose even if purpose is the journey itself. One wants to achieve certain goal, in other words he performs volitional action-contrary to salmon or migrant birds who don't set goals volitionaly, their goals are preprogrammed. The moment one set certain goal-to travel-he is focused on this goal. The setting itself is volitional-one may just want to travel-but what to do about it, how to travel-this decision is already matter of choice. One may consult maps, use GPS or decide about mode of travel like car, airplane, and train and so on. Waste majority of the people will be rational about that, no matter what their explicit philosophy or religion. Very few, if any, would drive at random hoping that God will provide guidance or waiting for revelation or just follow their heart, intuition, gut-feeling-inspite they are able to do just that. As a matter of fact most of the people choose to be rational in their practical daily life. They know implicitly from experience that this is the way to achieve their goals. What makes humans humans is rationality; this is essence of human nature, their only tool of survival. No man can survive by irrational means. However it is no "must" to be rational. Man may decide to be irrational and perish-as many people actually do.

How do you know all this, Leonid? You say it is so, but you offer no reason or evidence to support it. How do you know man is not conditioned to set goals and only thinks he is acting volitionally? Perhaps we are just like Pavlov’s dogs but more sophisticated. Our idea of freedom or volition could be just our ignorance of what causes our behavior. It could be an illusion or wishful thinking. How can you demonstrate that it is not?

Focus is not a matter of choice. Man always possesses some degree of focus- as Peikoff himself explained in his Q/A session.

Peikoff said, in OPAR, page 59, “The choice to focus, I have said, is man’s primary choice.” He goes on to explain “The choice to ‘throw the switch’ is thus the root choice, on which all others depend.” Clearly Peikoff is treating “focus” here as a matter of choice.

And finally to answer your question “from where does this inherent rationality come if man is initially a blank slate, according to Rand?"-rationality is not inherent, only ability to be rational, mental "software" is inherent. To be rational is a matter of choice to deploy and to use this software.

So, this leads back to my question. What guides that initial choice to be rational? It can’t be rationality if man hasn’t chosen it yet.

P.S.I'm not sure that animals want things, they simply response to stimuli on perceptual level according to their preprogrammed mode. To want means to set goals consciously and volitionally.

How do we know we are not similarly responding to stimuli we just can’t easily identify? All life wants life. Trees want sunlight and nutrients in the soil. It is what they value. Of course we don’t say they value it volitionally, and I think there is a difference in kind between other living things and man, not just a slope from lower to higher degree of sophistication. I don’t think you have demonstrated this difference. You merely insist it is there, like a religious person insists there is a god.

P.P.S How you concluded that my idea of concept-formation is labeling? What I said is exactly opposite-man may hold concept without to have the word for it. Word is concrete, perceptual expression of concept.

Having a word for something is labeling. It is not concept-formation until it is manipulated in a structure. Even non-human animals can associate symbols with objects and entities. That they can use these symbols in a structured form for communication and thinking is still inconclusive. Holding that children have concepts before they can manipulate symbols is holding something that can’t be proven.

Bis bald,
Nick

Volition and focus is not rationality.

Leonid's picture

Leonid

Suppose, one travels from New York City to Los Angelos.He doesn't do it by migrant instinct like Norway salmon (human don't have instincts), neither has he done it by conditional reflex like Pavlov's dog and if he's not epileptic he doesn't do it as result of epileptic fit. One does things on purpose even if purpose is the journey itself. One wants to achieve certain goal, in other words he performs volitional action-contrary to salmon or migrant birds who don't set goals volitionaly, their goals are preprogrammed. The moment one set certain goal-to travel-he is focused on this goal. The setting itself is volitional-one may just want to travel-but what to do about it, how to travel-this decision is already matter of choice. One may consult maps, use GPS or decide about mode of travel like car, airplane, and train and so on. Waste majority of the people will be rational about that, no matter what their explicit philosophy or religion. Very few, if any, would drive at random hoping that God will provide guidance or waiting for revelation or just follow their heart, intuition, gut-feeling-inspite they are able to do just that. As a matter of fact most of the people choose to be rational in their practical daily life. They know implicitly from experience that this is the way to achieve their goals. What makes humans humans is rationality; this is essence of human nature, their only tool of survival. No man can survive by irrational means. However it is no "must" to be rational. Man may decide to be irrational and perish-as many people actually do.
Focus is not a matter of choice. Man always possesses some degree of focus- as Peikoff himself explained in his Q/A session.
And finally to answer your question “from where does this inherent rationality come if man is initially a blank slate, according to Rand?"-rationality is not inherent, only ability to be rational, mental "software" is inherent. To be rational is a matter of choice to deploy and to use this software.

P.S.I'm not sure that animals want things, they simply response to stimuli on perceptual level according to their preprogrammed mode. To want means to set goals consciously and volitionally.

P.P.S How you concluded that my idea of concept-formation is labeling? What I said is exactly opposite-man may hold concept without to have the word for it. Word is concrete, perceptual expression of concept.

Objectivism, linguistics, and volition

NickOtani's picture

(Leonid)If child wants ice-cream,toy,or even dummy-it's not volitional?

(Nick)Not necessarily. Non-human animals also want certain things, but Rand doesn’t ascribe volition to them.

(Leonid)He doesn't do it by reflex or instict.He wants the thing and act to get it- that means he acts volitionaly. Animals however are driven by instinct.

(Nick)First, to prove this, or even to build a case for it, you have to do more than simply say it is so. Second, Objectivists don’t like the word “instinct.” Nathaniel Branden, in the Objectivist Newsletter of 1962, denied that humans possess instincts, and attacked the concept of "instinct" as being scientifically unuseful and non-explanatory, even when applied to non-human animals.

(Leonid)Volitionaly doesn't mean rationaly. Many adults make volitional irrational choices, let alone toddlers.

(Nick)I never said otherwise. There wouldn’t be a choice to be rational if it weren’t possible to choose not to be rational.

(Leonid)However child can form concepts even before he learns to name them by words. It is very well known neurological disorder when person knows the concept but cannot name it. He cannot say "dog" but will describe dog's features.Children often say "I want that"-pointing to the object,unable to name it.

(Nick)There is much more to concept formation than attaching names to objects and entities. There is the manipulation of symbols, the substituting of symbols into substitution frames of subject and predicate. A child will not even be able to describe a dog’s features until he or she can do that. I agree with linguists such as Benjamin Lee Whorf and Susanne Langer, that language facilitates and limits our awareness and shapes our consciousness.

(Leonid)Regarding to your question " what guides that initial choice to be rational."-it very similar to the question about primary choice which I've addressed at lenght.

(Nick)This doesn’t mean that you dealt with it adequately.

(Leonid)The answer is that it is no such a thing as initial choice.

(Nick)Yes there is. It is the choice to focus or not. Peikoff talks about this in OPAR, but I’ve already quoted several passages from Rand and Branden talking about how man must choose to be rational.

(Leonid)It is main choice.Rationality is inherent in human nature.

(Nick)First, if human nature is determined by observation and generalization, as the nature of objects and non-human animals is, then it is also inherent in human nature to be irrational, since that is also what many humans are. Second, if man is rational by nature, he still must choose to be so, according to Rand. Third, from where does this inherent rationality come if man is initially a blank slate, according to Rand?

(Leonid) Child starts to learn about the world by rational means-he forms concepts-"table","dog","cat", "man", and so on by integrating his perceptional input. Then he learns to form abstractions from abstractions "animal",furniture","people".

(Nick)As I said, there is more to concept-formation than attaching names to things.

(Leonid)Irrationality usually introduced to the child in much latter stage of development in form of religion or mystical tales or in the high school as explicit philosophy.

(Nick)Explicit philosophy is generally not introduced in high school. In the rare cases that it is, it is a special elective. According to Freud, children are born irrational, with an id which must be controlled by ego and super ego.

(Leonid)As result most of the people have mixed premises.Implicitly in their daily life they are rational.Very few people would stay in the burning house and pray to avoid disaster.

(Nick)That’s not the best example of volitional rationality. Even dogs try to get out of burning houses. People like Gandhi, however, will stand and pray in protest while being stoned or on a hunger strike.

(Leonid)Their choice to be rational is implicit. But when it comes to explicit thinking they may become quite irrational. I think when Rand said that the main choice is to think or not she was talking about explicit decisions.

(Nick)No, it is not a choice to act on impulse, to leave a burning house. The choice to go back in to save a loved one or to subject one’s self to torture on principle, for a greater good, as Gandhi did, as Roark and Galt did, is an indication of volition.

Bis bald,

Nick

Irationality is explicit choice

Leonid's picture

Leonid
"Leonid, no respectable child development psychologist would agree with your view that toddlers set their goals and priorities volitionally, unlike non-human animals do"

If child wants ice-cream,toy,or even dummy-it's not volitional? He doesn't do it by reflex or instict.He wants the thing and act to get it- that means he acts volitionaly. Animals however are driven by instinct.
Volitionaly doesn't mean rationaly. Many adults make volitional irrational choices, let alone toddlers.However child can form concepts even before he learns to name them by words. It is very well known neurological disorder when person knows the concept but cannot name it. He cannot say "dog" but will describe dog's features.Children often say "I want that"-pointing to the object,unable to name it.Regarding to your question " what guides that initial choice to be rational."-it very similar to the question about primary choice which I've addressed at lenght.The answer is that it is no such a thing as initial choice.It is main choice.Rationality is inherent in human nature. Child starts to learn about the world by rational means-he forms concepts-"table","dog","cat", "man", and so on by integrating his perceptional input. Then he learns to form abstractions from abstractions "animal",furniture","people".
Irrationality usually introduced to the child in much latter stage of development in form of religion or mystical tales or in the high school as explicit philosophy.As result most of the people have mixed premises.Implicitly in their daily life they are rational.Very few people would stay in the burning house and pray to avoid disaster.Their choice to be rational is implicit. But when it comes to explicit thinking they may become quite irrational. I think when Rand said that the main choice is to think or not she was talking about explicit decisions.

Toddlers and choice

NickOtani's picture

Have you ever observed dog throwing tantrums because it cannot get what it wants? Well,todlers are very good in it.They are humans and they are able to set their goals and priorities volitionaly even before they learn to master their language in full and they are very focused on their goals.
That why I define free will as ability to set and reset goals according to one's priority.The difference between todler and grown-up is that adults can do it (and sometimes,not always)do it rationally. According to Rand the main choice is to use rationality,to think or not to think.

Leonid, no respectable child development psychologist would agree with your view that toddlers set their goals and priorities volitionally, unlike non-human animals do, even before they learn to master their language. Children are motivated to act by emotion. They learn, by experience, what is pleasurable and painful to them and then act to increase pleasure and avoid pain, just as other animals do. They do not volitionally focus on their goals, set priorities, and then act rationally. They don't know what is rational and what is not until they experience it, pragmatically.

Plato may think that man already knows everything, from some prior existence, and merely remembers more clearly as he or she becomes more rational. Rand denounces Plato. However, when Rand says knowledge of axiomatic concepts is implicit in a human's first awareness, she sounds more like Plato than she wants.

You,, Leonid, still haven't told me what guides that initial choice to be rational. It can't be rationality if rationality is not yet chosen.

bis bald,

Nick

On dogs and men

Leonid's picture

Leonid

Have you ever observed dog throwing tantrums because it cannot get what it wants? Well,todlers are very good in it.They are humans and they are able to set their goals and priorities volitionaly even before they learn to master their language in full and they are very focused on their goals.
That why I define free will as ability to set and reset goals according to one's priority.The difference between todler and grown-up is that adults can do it (and sometimes,not always)do it rationally. According to Rand the main choice is to use rationality,to think or not to think.

No more volitional than an animal's choice

NickOtani's picture

The degree of the focus is goal-depended.Goal or purpose,however is a matter of choice.Even toddler may decide that he wants ice-cream and doesn't want porridge.

A toddler who has not yet learned enough language to think conceptually is at about the same stage as a non-human animal, a dog or cat. According to Rand, these creatures do not have volitional consciousness. This is something she says only humans have. Well, where is it? Even a dog can decide that he or she wants meat and doesn't want water. Why is it considered reflex or stimulus response when an animal does it but choice when a human does it?

"Man is the only living species who has to perceive reality--which means: to be conscious by choice." (Rand, For the New Intellectual, p. 15) "That which you call your soul or spirit is your consciousness, and that which you call 'free will' is your mind's freedom to think or not...your only freedom, the choice that...determines your life and character." (Rand, Atlas Shrugged, in For the New Intellectual, p. 127) "The issue," states Nathaniel Branden, "is a moral one, because man is a being who has to be conscious by choice." (Nathaniel Branden, "An Analysis of the Novels of Ayn Rand," in Who is Ayn Rand? pp. 61-62)"Man's particular distinction from all other living spieces is the fact that his consciousness is volitional." (Rand, "The Objectivist Ethics," in The Virtue of Selfishness, p. 20)

bis bald,

Nick

goal is volitional

Leonid's picture

Leonid
The degree of the focus is goal-depended.Goal or purpose,however is a matter of choice.Even toddler may decide that he wants ice-cream and doesn't want porridge.

Peikoff'''s answer

NickOtani's picture

If focus is just raising the degree of one's focus, something which is done automatically, like walking or jumping or keeping one's eyes open; then it really isn't any more free than the choice of a non-human animal to do the same. Rand said this choice made man unique, that no other animal chooses or has free-will. If it is just a slide along a continuum, then man may be more sophisticated but not different in kind from other creatures. Is this right, Leonid? In other places, he and other Objectivists treat this choice to focus as a first cause. This would be a definite break with what other animals do.

Toddlers, according to Piaget and other child development authorities, are motivated by emotion and learn in stages by trial and error. Rand doesn't seem to like emotion as a motivator, but reason is learned by experience. It is not implicit in all awareness and self-evident upon one's first awareness. The toddler does not weigh all consequences of his or her actions and make rational decisions. It just moves and learns pragmatically what works best to satisfy its self-interest.

bis bald,

Nick

bis bald,

Peikoff's answer

Leonid's picture

Leonid

That what Leonard Peikoff said about this issue in his Q/A sessions.Peikoff is doubtless represents Rand's position,doesn't he?

Q: How can the choice to focus be man’s primary choice, preceding his ability to think or evaluate? Wouldn’t he have to think and evaluate to decide to choose to be in focus?

A: This question has been answered at length in my best (and least appreciated) course on Objectivism, “Advanced Seminars on OPAR”, to which I refer you. In essence, the choice to focus is not a choice to go from total zero to purposeful awareness. Focus exists in degrees, along a continuum, and the choice to focus is the choice to raise the degree of one’s focus. In short, one must already be awake in order to choose to focus.

Moreover, neither thought nor evaluation is necessary (or possible) in order to choose to be in focus. It is in the nature of living entities to use their faculties, as part of their need to act (and thereby to survive). A toddler does not need to think about its desirability in order to walk or jump when he finds he can, nor does he need to induce, deduce, or evaluate alternatives in order to keep his eyes open. The same is true of opening one’s mind.

focus is always with you

NickOtani's picture

This is not Rand's position. If focus is always with someone, it is rather a meaningless term. It would be impossible to be unfocused. There is something called reflective thinking, which is really concentrating on a specific topic, and there is reflexive thinking, which is sort of being in a zone, allowing one's automatic functions to take over, one's subconscious. Basketball players don't concentrate reflectively on every movement they make. They don't have time. They let their training take over. They have the right reflexes. However, there is also the possibility of being distracted. One can be concentrating on something other than the task at hand. Some tasks are not done well when this happens. Michael Jordan couldn't play basketball well when some crank told him his mother was sick.

Rand was talking about the initial choice to focus. It is her contention that man has to choose to be rational. It doesn't happen automatically. This initial choice, however, must be baseless. It is not yet a rational choice because he has not yet choosen to be rational.

It is also a first cause. It doesn't have a reason. It is not consistent with cause and effect.

However, Rand uses this to condemn people. Since anyone who disagrees with her is, according to her, irrational, and man must be rational by choice, she is concluding that men who disagree with her are choosing to be irrational, or not chjoosing to be rational. They are denying the truth, which they know because it is self-evident, and are, thus, immoral.

People who point this out on this board get called kooks and such.

bis bald,

Nick

Leonid ... focus is always

reed's picture

Leonid

... focus is always with you-even when you sleep...
I have observed this myself but can not say confidently that I always have focus when sleeping although it is possible that it is just not committed to memory.

The "Focus on choice" essay is interesting. I have some ideas to discuss about this when time permits.

Cheers

Reed

Focusing on focus and free-will

NickOtani's picture

“Free will” is necessary for morality. One can’t be held morally responsible for something over which he or she had no choice. And, Objectivists claim to believe in free will, as do Christians. Christians offer us this story about how Adam disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden and ate a fruit from the tree of knowledge. After that, he had knowledge of good and evil and the freedom to choose between the two. This gave him the capacity to sin, to make wrong choices. Well, how did Adam know eating the fruit was wrong if he didn’t have knowledge of right and wrong before he ate the fruit? Sure, God told him not to eat the fruit, but he wouldn’t have known that disobeying God would be a sin before he had the knowledge of what sin was. (Besides, if this was God’s plan, to give people freedom so that they would come to Him of their own free will, then Adam really didn’t go against God’s will. God wanted him to sin. And, as Ayn Rand said, holding all mankind responsible for the sin of Adam, something that happened long before we were born, is a sin against justice and fairness etc.)

Anyhow, back to the subject, Objectivism has a problem with “free will” similar to the problem of Adam not knowing about sin until after he ate the apple. Objectivists maintain that man’s “free will” is his mind’s freedom to think or not. Man is a being of volitional consciousness, and reason does not work automatically. Man must choose to use reason, the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses. To think or not is the choice to focus or not. However, if man’s initial choice is to focus, to think, to use reason, what guides that initial choice? He isn’t focused or using reason until after he chooses to be focused or using reason. Is that first choice guided by something other than reason?

Well Rand does talk about the sense of life and some pre-conceptual ways of choosing, and she and Nathaniel Branden talked about concept formation in children as they are becoming conceptual. She also alludes to man’s nature as man, that it is his nature to choose reason. However, I think the problem still remains. If man is bound by his nature and the causation of natural laws, then how is that initial choice free. Branden does talk about how it is a prime mover, a first cause. Does he prove it? When theists used first cause arguments to prove the existence of God, Schopenhauer said they were using sufficient reason as a taxi to get to their location and then getting out. It is not fair to say that everything has a cause except God, that he is an exception to the rule somehow. Is man an exception to the rule? (I think he is, and I have a long explanation, using Existentialism, linguistics, and Chomsky’s creativity principle. However, I’d like to see how Objectivists on this forum deal with this.)

What does it mean, anyway, to use reason and that reasonable people don’t disagree. If my fried gets into an airplane which crashes over the ocean and I don’t hear from him for a long time, it is reasonable for me to assume that he is dead. However, as he is bouncing around in the ocean, it is reasonable for him to believe he is still alive. We are both being reasonable, but we reach different conclusions. One believes A, and the other believes not A.

Another problem with using reason is that it doesn’t reach everywhere. If there are two or more alternatives which, when measured and weighed on the egoistic utilitarian scale, have exactly equal advantages and disadvantages, then what guides the choice? Reason won’t help. It also won’t help if we do not have enough information on which to apply reason. The older we get and the more involved with life we get, the more we find ourselves in this situation. A systematic philosophy which tells us to use reason won’t help us much.

Okay, this has been fun. I‘m presenting this board with several problems: 1. What guides one’s choice to use reason before one has made the choice to use reason? 2. Was Rand wrong when she said, through her characters, that there can be no disagreement among reasonable men, considering the example above? 3. What do we use when the choice is really free, when reason is inadequate or can’t be applied? I look forward to some lively but reasoned discussion on these questions.

Bis bald,

Nick

You right ,reed

Leonid's picture

Leonid
"The choice for me, in this regard, is what to focus on."

And that exactly what I've said in my article "Choice and focus" on my SOLO blog.
"Awareness just happens - no effort is required and no effort, except going to sleep (maybe), can prevent it."-that because focus is always with you-even when you sleep.Observe how focus could be selective by one's priority. For example tired new mother may be in deep sleep inspite noise and light but weak cry of her baby would wake her up immidiatly.
No effort is required to focus your eyes and this is acquired skill.
P.S Please note:this essay is not written by me and I don't approve on every thing in this essay. If you want to know my position please read my essay "Focus and choice" on my SOLO blog.
Leonid

Reed

Karyn's picture

Reed, sorry, but from your last post, I have absolutely no idea what you're trying to say.  But that's OK.  Don't spend any time trying to explain more, because I really don't think that continuing this conversation will be of any use. So I'm going to drop it.

good luck to you.

K

K ... something more precise

reed's picture

K

... something more precise than just thinking itself, but rather, the focusing of that thinking.
I am always conscious (or aware) of what I am thinking (axiomatic IMO) - if I "focus" on that then aren't I simply thinking about what I just thought? It all looks the same to me.

From Leonids essay... "Focus is a precondition on awareness". I have to disagree with this statement too as it contradicts my experience, awareness just happens - no effort is required and no effort, except going to sleep (maybe), can prevent it.

... imagine a perpetual state of wandering
I don't have to imagine that. Eye

I'm not sure how "trance like states" or "evading reality" relate to Leonids essay or my response.

Cheers

Reed

The essay on free-will

NickOtani's picture

I like the fact that this essay does present several views on free-will, but it doesn’t deal with them all fairly. Yes, there is the classical hard determinist view that all things are caused and free-will is an illusion, a myth. It doesn’t really exist. Smith’s defense for killing his aunt Millie is that it was predetermined, and he had not choice but to act according to his fate. There is the soft determinist position which holds that some acts are random, not strictly determined. However, this also precludes free-will since random acts are not determined by will. There are some who will say this exhausts all possibilities. Acts are either determined or random, and neither is conducive to free-will. So, free-will does not exist.

There are, as this essay points out, libertarian positions which try to redefine freedom to mean not externally constrained. If we are not tied to a chair, then we are free. We are also free to bend our fingers forward but limited in our ability to bend them backwards. All this ignores the mechanistic theory which says we are responding to cause and effect. It assumes that we deliberate and choose our decisions and ignores the possibility that we may be conditioned to make the decisions we do, even if we think we deliberated and came to our own conclusions. It’s hard to argue against this. Psychological egoism is one form of this. It is tautological, circular. How do we know we did something because we were conditioned to do so?- because we did it. How do we know we did it for self-interest?-because we did it.

There is also the radical libertarian position that all acts are free. We can never be victims of circumstance. We have to blame ourselves for everything. With total freedom comes total responsibility. Life is what we make of it. As B.F. Skinner might be a hard determinist, Carl Rogers might be a radical libertarian. It is also an existentialist view.

There is something to say for this last position, but I’m not ready to take total responsibility for everything that happens to me. I can be victimized. However, I’m not a total victim. I do have, as a human, a pre-existing nature which requires certain conditions for my flourishing survival. Among those are my natural rights. Within those parameters, however, I have freedom to participate in creating my nature. It is not fixed and finished as the objects I observe external to me.

“. . Freedom of the will, when carefully analyzed, means an existence without an essence, which means that something is and at the same time is nothing, which in turn means is not, and consequently is a self-contradiction.(3)”
I find this statement to be irresponsible. Something can have an open ended essence or nature, as I described above, and still have freedom of the will. It’s not necessarily all or none.

Rand’s position tries to have a strong determinist position but also a Roger’s type libertarian position. One has a fixed nature but also free-will. This is contradictory. It is like maintaining that circles can be squared.

Bis bald,

Nick

Reed

Karyn's picture

"My experience must be quite different to yours, I can not choose to not think, nor can I choose to be unaware of my thoughts. "

Reed, I think that your experience is the same for all of us. But as I understand it, I believe that what is meant to be assumed is something more precise than just thinking itself, but rather, the focusing of that thinking. While you are always conscious to some degree, you can choose to un-focus your thought process from the things you need or value most, and from what the proper course of actions should be to achive them best. In other words: evading reality.  

Something akin to when we let our minds wander, but imagine a perpetual state of wandering. Or for some, it might be purposefully keeping their mental focus on its most simplistic or primitive level (like the trance state the mystics get in from repetitive chanting). I think that is what Rand meant when she says a person can choose to think, or not to think; not that they're literally brain dead - but that their evading reality by not using their minds properly, and to its potential.

K

No need to respond Leonid

reed's picture

Leonid

... Each of us can observe that he can focus his consciousness, or relax it. We can pay attention, or not...

My experience must be quite different to yours, I can not choose to not think, nor can I choose to be unaware of my thoughts. The choice for me, in this regard, is what to focus on.

Note: I agree that I have free will but from my perspective conscious thought is hard wired and compulsory while I am awake.

Cheers

Reed

Leonid says to the kook,

Karyn's picture

Leonid says to the kook, "Every discussion has to end, and I rest my case."

Thank God. Smiling

K

farewell

Leonid's picture

Leonid

I understand your position and I don't agree with most of your premises since I don't agree with existentialist metaphysics. Every discussion has to end and I rest my case.As farewell I bring to you summary of objectivist position on free will.[This was written for the Ayn Rand Institute's essay contest for graduate students, 1995. --mh]

The Objectivist Theory of Free Will
Imagine we are at a murder trial. Randy Smith is accused of killing his Aunt Millie. The defense admits that on the night of the murder, Smith had an argument with his Aunt, that he took a pistol out of his jacket and shot her. She died of the gunshot wound. Smith knew that the gun was loaded, that Millie was directly in front of it, and that he was pulling the trigger. He was not insane at the time, there were no abnormal chemicals in his brain, and he was not acting in self-defense. He killed her knowingly, intentionally, and unjustifiably.

Nevertheless, Smith maintains, he cannot be held responsible for his action, because, in the strongest sense, he could not help it. It was, he says, physically impossible for him to avoid shooting his Aunt. He argues:

Physics teaches us that all physical changes transpire in accordance with the laws of nature. Now my firing of the gun, along with my aunt's ensuing death, were physical events. So, if the dictates of science are to be accepted, these events were ultimately the outcome of events occurring in (say) 2 million B.C., together with the laws of nature. But it is not up to me what went on 2 million years ago. And it is not up to me what the laws of nature are either. Therefore, the consequences of these things, including my present actions, are not up to me either.(1)

Is this argument valid? If it is, parallel reasoning also applies to every human action, whether for good or ill. If so, then literally no one can control anything.

In the past two centuries of philosophy, three responses to this issue have predominated. First, there are the 'hard determinists', who agree that since determinism is true, free will is an illusion. These include, notably, Baruch Spinoza, who argues that there is no such thing as free will because "all things have been predetermined by God, not from his free will or absolute pleasure, but from the absolute nature of God"(2); and Arthur Schopenhauer, who argues more secularly directly from the law of identity:

[E]very thing-in-being must be something, must have a definite nature. It cannot exist and yet be nothing, it cannot be something like the ens metaphysicum, that is, a thing which simply is and no more than is, without any definitions and properties, and consequently, without a definite way of acting which flows from them. . . . But all this is just as true of man and his will as of all other beings in nature. . . . Freedom of the will, when carefully analyzed, means an existence without an essence, which means that something is and at the same time is nothing, which in turn means is not, and consequently is a self-contradiction.(3)
Those who have rejected free will have generally done so because they assumed, as Schopenhauer demonstrates, that free will requires indeterminism -- i.e., that man act without cause -- and have considered this idea irrational.

Their position is hard to believe, however. Throughout his life, every normal person deliberates, imputes responsibility, and recommends or proscribes courses of action. In each of these activities, he presupposes that alternatives are available to himself and others -- for it would make no sense to deliberate over what one had no choice about, or to recommend to a person what he either could not do or could not help doing, etc. So a second school of philosophers have held that, since man certainly does have freedom -- that is, he often has multiple alternatives available to him -- indeterminism must be true. Mankind, according to this view, constitute the sole exception to the law of causality.(4)

This view has its own problems. If my actions are not caused, then it seems they must be mere random, inexplicable happenings. A third line of philosophers, urging that this cannot be the meaning of freedom, have claimed that free will is, after all, compatible with determinism -- perhaps even entails determinism. They have sought to explain how this is possible by means of definitions of "freedom" that remove the apparent conflict. Usually they say that a person is 'free' if there are no external obstacles hindering him; if he is able to do what he wills; or if, had he tried to act differently, he would have succeeded -- none of these definitions imply the man's action is uncaused. Locke, for example, urges "that freedom consists in the dependence of the existence, or not existence of any action, upon our volition of it"(5), while Hobbes writes, "LIBERTY, or FREEDOM, signifieth, properly, the absence of opposition; by opposition, I mean external impediments to motion," later concluding, "Liberty, and necessity are consistent."(6) Thus, the answer to the argument I put forth at the outset would be that Smith was free not to shoot his Aunt, because, if he had tried not to shoot her, then he wouldn't have shot her. This latter fact remains the case even if determinism is true.

But this last position grants us freedom only in a Pickwickian sense. It allows that Smith could have done otherwise than he did if he had tried to, while granting that, actually, he could not have tried to, and that, just as Smith maintains, given his circumstances only one course of action was possible.

Now the Objectivist theory of free will maintains the freedom of the will together with the law of causality, without resorting to the sort of redefinition of "freedom" that Locke, Hobbes, and others have found necessary. Objectivism affirms our freedom in the strong sense, in which "A course of thought or action is 'free,' if it is selected from two or more courses possible under the circumstances."(7) Unlike the previous views, however, the Objectivist theory does not assume this means our free actions are uncaused. Rather, when one performs a free action, the action is caused (generally, by one's values and factual beliefs), but other actions are still possible, because it is up to one which possible causes are operative in oneself.

Consider again the case of Smith, the murderer. The three traditional theories of freedom concur that, in order for Smith to have multiple courses of action possible to him given his circumstances, his action would have to be uncaused -- they agree, that is, that causality implies determinism. But according to Objectivism, Smith's action was caused (say) by his anger at his aunt; however, it remained possible for Smith not to shoot his aunt, because he could have not been so controlled by his anger. Many other people who get angry do not kill anybody; they have cultivated rational character traits, which they act on. Smith, too, could have chosen to act from more reasonable motives, and then he would not have killed Millie. For example, he could have thought about the consequences of shooting Millie, realized that these would be harmful, and acted accordingly. Thus, he could have chosen different causes for his actions.(Cool

But why did Smith act on the motives he did, instead of more rational ones? Was there also some cause of this choice? At this point, it becomes evident that there must be either an infinite regress of choices, or else some primary choice, which gives rise to the others -- a choice about which one cannot ask further, why the person made that choice. Here Objectivism's second unique feature appears, that of identifying the primary choice as the choice to focus one's consciousness. Whereas previous writers have generally focused on man's physical actions as the locus of freedom, Rand recognizes that such external actions presuppose some previous mental activity. In order to act, one must first identify possible courses of action, how to carry them out, and what one wants to achieve. Hence, physical action presupposes awareness. Rand calls the state in which one's mind is alert and prepared to acquire information, "focus". Focus is a precondition on awareness. Furthermore, she recognizes that this state is achieved only through specific mental effort. Hence, the primary choice, without which other choices are impossible, must be the choice to focus one's consciousness. Without such a choice, one would be unaware of the possibilities of action.(9) This makes the Objectivist theory of free will uniquely epistemological, in the sense that it identifies the volitional nature of awareness as the source of man's free will.

Finally, Objectivism makes two observations about the validation of the theory of free will. Rand does not attempt to give a positive proof that our wills are free. Rather, in the first place, she observes that the fact of free will is available to introspection. Each of us can observe that he can focus his consciousness, or relax it. We can pay attention, or not. It would be out of place to ask for a proof of this fact, in the same way that it would be out of place to ask for a proof that trees exist, if you are standing in front of one, looking at it -- not because the fact is unknowable, but because it is known directly, rather than needing to be derived from something else.

Second, Rand argues that it is not possible consistently to deny that one has free will. Every human choice and every evaluation presupposes it. One cannot deliberate about something, unless one thinks it is within one's power to do it or not do it; one also can not say that something 'should' or 'shouldn't' be done, unless it is possible for it to be done or not be done. Consequently, if one is deliberating about whether to believe in free will or not, then one is already committed to its existence. Nor can the determinist tell us that we should accept determinism. Nor can he claim that he is advocating determinism because it is true -- since on his view, he is advocating determinism only because some blind factors beyond his control force him to advocate it. Thus, the determinist's position appears to devolve into incoherence, as soon as he tries to assert it.(10) This is not, strictly, a proof of the freedom of the will, however.(11) What it shows is that, in order to argue about free will (even to deny it), one has to already implicitly know that one has it; therefore, one must have learned it by some means other than argument -- in particular, Rand holds, one learns it by direct observation.

Notes
1. Cf. Peter van Inwagen's argument in An Essay on Free Will p. 222.

2. Ethics, appendix. See also his proposition 32.

3. From his "Essay on the Freedom of the Will".

4. See, for example, Duns Scotus, Thomas Reid, and Immanuel Kant for this view.

5. Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Book II, chapter xxi, section 27; italics Locke's.

6. Leviathan, chapter XXI.

7. Peikoff, Leonard. Objectivism, the Philosophy of Ayn Rand (hereafter: OPAR) (New York: Penguin, 1991), p. 55.

8. OPAR, pp. 65-7.

9. OPAR, pp. 55-60.

10. OPAR, pp. 69-72.

11. Aristotle calls this kind of argument "negative demonstration", as opposed to demonstration proper. See Metaphysics IV.4, where he argues that a person cannot deny the law of non-contradiction without implying its truth.

P.S I don't agree with the argument for primary choice.I'd say that the cause why Smith shouldn't kill his aunt is that Smith's final cause-existence and identity as rational beign demands that,but Smith has to act volitionaly to execute this demand.

Intellectual sloppiness?

NickOtani's picture

(Nick)1."First, I did explain that the law of identity is a procedural rule for communication and thinking and does not necessarily represent reality."
(Leonid)Yes, you did,but you never explained how reality could exist without identity.If it couldn't then the law of identity is not procedural rule but axiom of existence.
(Nick)Reality exists as unidentified phenomena. We give parts of it names like “gravity” and “Uranium.” We observe and classify. We deem certain entities “man.” I did talk about all this in my essay on perception, logic, and language. It is not like we discover something, read the label, and know its identity. We create identities for phenomena we discover. That’s what subjects do to objects.
(Nick)2."Second, I did explain about natures and how they are determined by observation and generalization, not by the grammatical structure of the statement, like A is A. I said that sometimes natures are not fixed or even recognizable."
(Leonid)And you are wrong.Natures aren't determined by observation or generalization.They simply exist and possess their identities regardless of observer. Your statement amount to recognition of the primacy of consciousness.
(Nick)Phenomena exists independent of observers and does what it does, but it is the observers who impose natures, artificial classifications, onto this phenomena. It’s existence prior to essence, a catch phrase of Existentialism. If no sensing being is there when a tree falls, it wouldn’t make a sound, so they say. The world exists in our light. If we didn’t exist, neither would it, as we know it. We are existentially prior to that of which we are aware. This is primacy of us, not of consciousness. And, we also get things a little wrong. We have to go back and adjust our categories and artificial natures. To us, the world was once flat. Who knows what adjustments will be made in the next hundred years?
(Nick)3."I said that sometimes natures are not fixed or even recognizable. It is not always the case that if A, then B. It could be that if A, then C or D or something else. Sometimes nature is just whatever an entity does, and it is not predictable"
(Leonid)What you imply here is that entities may undergo change,condition of interaction also could be different. But in any case "if A then B" will always be valid in the given time and given circumstances. Scientists call it reproducability of results. Without this criteria no experiment is valid.
(Nick)That given time and given circumstance is a snapshot in a state of affairs which is in constant flux. Experiments are empirical and inductive. Results are probable but not absolute. (I’ve spoken before about how science is pragmatic.) And, there is the assumption of a uniformity in nature, but it is only an assumption. I gave examples in part one of the Alice series of when this assumption breaks down.
(Leonid)Predictability is not metaphysical but epistomological problem.Man is not omniscient."A is A" is not arbitrary grammatical structure but expression of fundamental Law of existence.
(Nick)No, as Aristotle meant it, the law of identity is a procedural rule for communication and thinking. BTW, laws of existence are the subject matter of metaphysics. How we know is the subject matter of epistemology.
(Nick). It cannot be A is A applied to action. You’ve done nothing to refute this. You only ignore my explanations and repeat your Randian catechism."
(Leonid)You also ignore my question: if things don't act and interact according to their identity then according to what they do it ? Your approach eliminate casuality altogether.You refute yourself.
(Nick)You eliminate complete causality when you talk about first causes and free-will. You refute yourself. Things do what they do. Putting identities and natures on them is what we do, to a large extent. (In NickOtani’s Neo-Objectivism, I do hold that there is a human nature which is generalizable, as true for humans in Asia as it is for humans in Spokane, but there is much freedom to become, to participate in creating one’s own nature, within those parameters.)
(Nick)3. "You ignored everything I said about how it is impossible to turn one’s eyes back in on themselves to observe completely that which observes."
(Leonid)And tell me why it is impossible? Don't you have memories,contemplations,don't you ever try to understand your emotions.How you can refute introspection when it is part of everyday human life?
(Nick)I’m not saying we can’t observe ourselves to some extent, but we can’t do it to the extent that we observe objects, the in-themselves. We do not have fixed natures. We can never get to the end of ourselves because we cannot turn our eyes back in on themselves to observe that which observes. It would be like a yard stick measuring itself. Man is the measure of all things, but not himself.
(Nick)4."Nick)If something doesn’t have an antecedent cause, it is a first cause. Many scientists believe there is not such a thing, that it is mysticism. You insist it is not, but you don’t prove it. You just maintain it, like someone with blind faith."
(Leonid)What is antecedent cause for the organism to heal itself?
what is antecedent cause for sunflower to turn to Sun,for lioness to hunt and for you to send your posts.If you can name it then you are right.
(Nick)All these things have to do with the interaction of internal biology with external stimuli as the organism strives for flourishing survival, the intrinsic goal. The most plausible theory is that it is mechanistic, even if we do not have enough knowledge about what causes what to reproduce a living entity from synthetic parts. If things do not happen by magic, they happen as a result of cause and effect, and that means all things have antecedent causes.
(Nick)" Some scientists maintain that all behavior can be so explained, that all actions have reasons. If that is true, then free-will is a myth. It is inconsistent to maintain causality and also free-will and first causes."
(Leonid)All actions have causes but not all causes are antecedent.
(Nick)That’s a contradiction. I know you are thinking that flourishing survival is a final cause, not antecedent, and it is enough to explain all behavior of living things, but it is only a goal toward which internal and external interactions strive. Some antecedent causes cause living things to pursue life.
(Leonid)If free will has final ,not antecedent cause then it is consistent with casuality which is human identity applied to action.
(Nick)A free choice is baseless, with nothing impacting it at all. It is forging a path where none exists or choosing among paths which all have equal consequences. It is like the Objectivists’ initial choice to focus.
(leonid)5.I retract "dishonesty". Intellectual slopiness would be enough.Your conditional statement was unwarranted since my position on this matter was very well known to you.
(Nick)I have several positions about which I have written extensively on this forum and should be well known to you, but you constantly over look or ignore them. Intellectual sloppiness is evident when someone calls someone dishonest and retracts it only after several posts in which the accused has to drive home the point that he is not guilty. It is also evident by the number of mistakes in spelling and grammar someone makes. I do have the occasional error, but you, Leonid, seem much less careful than I. In this post alone, you misspelled epistemological, causality, and sloppiness. That would seem a bit sloppy to most people.

bis bald,
Nick

Leonid1."First, I did

Leonid's picture

Leonid

1."First, I did explain that the law of identity is a procedural rule for communication and thinking and does not necessarily represent reality."

Yes, you did,but you never explained how reality could exist without identity.If it couldn't then the law of identity is not procedural rule but axiom of existence.

2."Second, I did explain about natures and how they are determined by observation and generalization, not by the grammatical structure of the statement, like A is A. I said that sometimes natures are not fixed or even recognizable."

And you are wrong.Natures aren't determined by observation or generalization.They simply exist and possess their identities regardless of observer. Your statement amount to recognition of the primacy of consciousness.

3."I said that sometimes natures are not fixed or even recognizable. It is not always the case that if A, then B. It could be that if A, then C or D or something else. Sometimes nature is just whatever an entity does, and it is not predictable"

What you imply here is that entities may undergo change,condition of interaction also could be different. But in any case "if A then B" will always be valid in the given time and given circumstances. Scientists call it reproducability of results. Without this criteria no experiment is valid.Predictability is not metaphysical but epistomological problem.Man is not omniscient."A is A" is not arbitrary grammatical structure but expression of fundamental Law of existence.
". It cannot be A is A applied to action. You’ve done nothing to refute this. You only ignore my explanations and repeat your Randian catechism."
You also ignore my question: if things don't act and interact according to their identity then according to what they do it ? Your approach eliminate casuality altogether.You refute yourself.

3. "You ignored everything I said about how it is impossible to turn one’s eyes back in on themselves to observe completely that which observes."

And tell me why it is impossible? Don't you have memories,contemplations,don't you ever try to understand your emotions.How you can refute introspection when it is part of everyday human life?

4."Nick)If something doesn’t have an antecedent cause, it is a first cause. Many scientists believe there is not such a thing, that it is mysticism. You insist it is not, but you don’t prove it. You just maintain it, like someone with blind faith."

What is antecedent cause for the organism to heal itself?
what is antecedent cause for sunflower to turn to Sun,for lioness to hunt and for you to send your posts.If you can name it then you are right." Some scientists maintain that all behavior can be so explained, that all actions have reasons. If that is true, then free-will is a myth. It is inconsistent to maintain causality and also free-will and first causes."

All actions have causes but not all causes are antecedent.
If free will has final ,not antecedent cause then it is consistent with casuality which is human identity applied to action.

5.I retract "dishonesty". Intellectual slopiness would be enough.Your conditional statement was unwarranted since my position on this matter was very well known to you.

Do all living hings have first cause?

NickOtani's picture

(Nick)"I’m still waiting for you to show me how to get from A is A to if A, then B."

(Leonid)This is simply means that things have identity and act or interact according to it.Without A=A and B=B cannot be if A then B.It would be no A,no B,no identity,no casuality,no existence.

(Nick)One reason why things here keep going in a circle is because you, Leonid, ignore my explanations and attempts to move beyond this dogma to which you keep returning. First, I did explain that the law of identity is a procedural rule for communication and thinking and does not necessarily represent reality. It allows variables to maintain their identity throughout the argument. It doesn’t mean that the things the variables symbolize maintain their identities. You’ve done nothing to refute this. You ignore it. Second, I did explain about natures and how they are determined by observation and generalization, not by the grammatical structure of the statement, like A is A. I said that sometimes natures are not fixed or even recognizable. It is not always the case that if A, then B. It could be that if A, then C or D or something else. Sometimes nature is just whatever an entity does, and it is not predictable. In such cases, nature is either not known or non-existent. In any case, this is not the same as A is A. It cannot be A is A applied to action. You’ve done nothing to refute this. You only ignore my explanations and repeat your Randian catechism.

(Nick)" She sloughs over the distinction between extrospective and introspective awareness. "

(Leonid)Extrospection-awareness of what is exist.Introspection-awareness of content of one own consciousness-perception,tought,memory and so on by means of integration,not break down.Rand never spoke about analizing consciousness as axiom.What she said that one may observe it by means of introspection and formulate concepts about different aspects of consciousness by means of integration.There is no contradiction to observe existence which is also axiom, and to make concepts about its attributes.The same thing applies to consciousness.

(Nick)You ignored everything I said about how it is impossible to turn one’s eyes back in on themselves to observe completely that which observes. Rand slides over the problems with introspection, and you do not even deal with them or my argument. And, Rand did say one cannot analyze consciousness, but she does so anyway. It is a contradiction. Attributes or component parts are not the same as elements. There are elements of existence, like every object that exists. There are elements of consciousness, the elements of existence of which we are aware. These are not the same as the attributes or component parts of content and action, the categories into which these elements are categorized. I have spoken of this before, and you have done nothing to refute it. You just keep returning to old rationales.

(Nick)"Free-will is inconsistent with unbroken cause and effect."

(Leonid)Not if you understand the difference between determinism and casuality.

(Nick)If things are caused, they are determined.

(Leonid)Free will is an example of one of these cases in which entity acts without antecedent cause.

(Nick)If something doesn’t have an antecedent cause, it is a first cause. Many scientists believe there is not such a thing, that it is mysticism. You insist it is not, but you don’t prove it. You just maintain it, like someone with blind faith.

(Leonid)Uranium decay doesn't have antecedent cause,its action is inherent to its nature,so is the action of magnet.Stars are burning for billions of years without anything which is outside of them causes their actions.

(Nick)Not true. Scientists theorize there are reasons within the atomic and subatomic particles which cause Uranium decay, as well as the decay of other materials and the actions of magnets and stars. They may not know the exact cause of everything, but their mechanistic model is not refuted. It is still more plausible than things happening without reason, as in mysticism and magic.

(Leonid)Living things's action is driven by their final cause-survival.Free will is inconsistent with determinism that is antecedent cause,but perfectly consistent with Man's final cause-to exist as rational beign.Free will doesn't require validation,all validations based on it.However any attempt to place the source of free will outside of the realm of human consciousness-be it world of Tao,Becoming or quantum mechanics means that free will has antecedent cause which is contradiction in terms.

(Nick)The final cause or intrinsic goal of all living things is flourishing survival, but that goal is not enough to explain all behavior. There is interaction with genetic unfolding and external stimuli as it moves toward flourishing survival. Some scientists maintain that all behavior can be so explained, that all actions have reasons. If that is true, then free-will is a myth. It is inconsistent to maintain causality and also free-will and first causes.

(Nick)"She(Rand) departs from the strictly mechanistic views as soon as they conflict with her views. However, this means she is inconsistent. One has to be inconsistent to believe in complete causality and also first causes and free-will."

(Leonid)Rand couldn't depart from mechanistic views since she never had any such views and one doesn't have to be inconsistent if one understands the nature of casuality as identity applied to action.Identity of Man is of such a nature that he can act only via free will.The cause of free will is Man's final cause-to be rational being,the only way he can survive.

(Nick)Anyone who talks about the importance of causality is doing so in the context of a mechanistic view, where cause and effect take effect. However, when they talk about first causes and free-will, they leave the mechanistic view and become inconsistent. Rand seems part mechanistic and rational and part idealistic and mystical. Basically, she is just all messed up.

(Nick)"All you had to do was clarify that you were not saying that all living entities had free-will but that they did have first cause."

(Leonid)But I've said it times and again and you knew that before you've made your assumption,thus it was deliberate misinterpretation.So you shouldn't complain.And you shouldn't flatter yourself by thinking that you are exposing flaws in Objectivism.You simply don't understand and misinterpret it.

(Nick)I didn’t even make an assumption. I said, “If you are saying all living things have free-will, then you are not talking about Objectivism.” This is not an assumption, not an ascription, not a misinterpretation, not a misquote. It is a conditional statement. If you don’t meet the condition, all you have to do is say so, not make false accusations and call me dishonest. I am exposing flaws in Objectivism and flaws in your comprehension skills and honor.

bis bald,

Nick

casuality is not alwayss means determinism

Leonid's picture

Leonid
1."I’m still waiting for you to show me how to get from A is A to if A, then B."
This is simply means that things have identity and act or interact according to it.Without A=A and B=B cannot be if A then B.It would be no A,no B,no identity,no casuality,no existence.

2." She (Rand) sloughs over the distinction between extrospective and introspective awareness. "
Extrospection-awareness of what is exist.Introspection-awareness of content of one own consciousness-perception,tought,memory and so on by means of integration,not break down.Rand never spoke about analizing consciousness as axiom.What she said that one may observe it by means of introspection and formulate concepts about different aspects of consciousness by means of integration.There is no contradiction to observe existence which is also axiom, and to make concepts about its attributes.The same thing applies to consciousness.

3."Free-will is inconsistent with unbroken cause and effect."
Not if you understand the difference between determinism and casuality.
Free will is an example of one of these cases in which entity acts without antecedent cause.Uranium decay doesn't have antecedent cause,its action is inherent to its nature,so is the action of magnet.Stars are burning for billions of years without anything which is outside of them causes their actions.Living things's action is driven by their final cause-survival.Free will is inconsistent with determinism that is antecedent cause,but perfectly consistent with Man's final cause-to exist as rational beign.Free will doesn't require validation,all validations based on it.However any attempt to place the source of free will outside of the realm of human consciousness-be it world of Tao,Flux or quantum mechanics means that free will has antecedent cause which is contradiction in terms.

4."She(Rand) departs from the strictly mechanistic views as soon as they conflict with her views. However, this means she is inconsistent. One has to be inconsistent to believe in complete causality and also first causes and free-will."

Rand couldn't depart from mechanistic views since she never had any such views and one doesn't have to be inconsistent if one understands the nature of casuality as identity applied to action.Identity of Man is of such a nature that he can act only via free will.The cause of free will is Man's final cause-to be rational being,the only way he can survive.

5."All you had to do was clarify that you were not saying that all living entities had free-will but that they did have first cause."
But I've said it times and again and you knew that before you've made your assumption,thus it was deliberate misinterpretation.So you shouldn't complain.And you shouldn't flatter yourself by thinking that you are exposing flaws in Objectivism.You simply don't understand and misinterpret it.

Do all living things have first cause?

NickOtani's picture

(Leonid)1.Nick it is nowhere I implicated that all living things have free will.If you can demonstrate where and how I wanted to say that then I apologize.Until then I consider your statement as malicious misinterpretation since you know very well that I didn't and couldn't want to say such a thing.

Let’s go back and review the record:
I said, "If man’s nature doesn’t have antecedent cause, then man is a first cause of his behavior. This requires a break in the chain of causality. If there is no break, then there has to be determinism. Either way, there are unanswered questions. How can one believe in cause and effect and also suspend belief in it when it comes to men acting from free-will? How can this be rationally consistent?"
You said, “You have answered your question-man is a first cause of his behavior and not only man but every living thing.Life's identity is essentialy different from that of unanimated matter and so its casuation. It is not a break in Laplace casuality but different kind of casuality alltogether.For example I cannot predict whether you're going to answer my post or not.Does it means that you don't have fixed nature?”
I said, “First, Rand and company do not hold that non-human entities have free-will. This is something reserved for conceptual beings, humans, according to Rand and company. If you want to say it applies to all living things, then you are not talking about Objectivism.”

Notice that I did not misquote you. I was asking how one can be consistent and also believe in cause and effect with free-will, which requires first cause, a break in cause and effect. You said that I answered my own question, that man is first cause and not only man but every living thing. I said that Rand and company do not hold that non-human entities have free will. I said that if you want to say it applies to all living things, then you are not talking about Objectivism. In your next post, you accused me of misquoting you and called me dishonest. The statement, “If you want to say it applies to all living things, then you are not talking about Objectivism,” is not a misquote, not an ascription of what you said, not a malicious misinterpretation. It is a natural statement to make given its context. All you had to do was clarify that you were not saying that all living entities had free-will but that they did have first cause. You would still be wrong, but you wouldn’t be accusing me of dishonesty and maliciousness just for trying to untangle your confused statements. I’m getting a little sick of all these attacks on my character just for pointing out flaws in Objectivism.

2.You apparently unable to grasp the idea that determinism and casuality are not sine qua none-inspite all evidence I've presented.

(Nick)If things have causes, they are determined by those causes. Free-will is inconsistent with unbroken cause and effect. Uranium doesn’t act on its own, and neither does any living entity, according to materialistic scientists. Rand is not a materialistic or behavioristic scientist completely, but she is such as long as it suits her. She departs from the strictly mechanistic views as soon as they conflict with her views. However, this means she is inconsistent. One has to be inconsistent to believe in complete causality and also first causes and free-will.

3.About your "contradiction". By quoting out of context you will always run into contradiction. This is full quote of Rand's position:
"Two fundamental attributes are involved in every state, aspect or function of man's consciousness: content and action—the content of awareness, and the action of consciousness in regard to that content. These two attributes are the fundamental Conceptual Common Denominator of all concepts pertaining to consciousness …
"To form concepts of consciousness, one must isolate the action from the content of a given state of consciousness, by a process of abstraction. Just as, extrospectively, man can abstract attributes from entities—so, introspectively, he can abstract the actions of his consciousness from its contents, and observe the differences among these various actions."

I am aware of everything she said about content and action with regard to consciousness. It is still in contradiction to what she said about axiomatic concepts not being able to be analysed into attributes or component parts. And, the statement above has even further problems. She sloughs over the distinction between extrospective and introspective awareness. This is involved and can become material for another thread. Introspection is turning one’s eyes back in on themselves to observe that which observes. It is not completely possible. What would be observing that? There’s an infinite regress there. This is why the Existentialists distinguish between the subjects, the for themselves, and the objects, the in themselves. We cannot completely objectify ourselves.

4." Funny, that’s what I think of you."
At least something we agree on.

I’m still waiting for you to show me how to get from A is A to if A, then B.

Bis bald,

Nick

Leonid 1.Nick it is nowhere

Leonid's picture

Leonid

1.Nick it is nowhere I implicated that all living things have free will.If you can demonstrate where and how I wanted to say that then I apologize.Until then I consider your statement as malicious misinterpretation since you know very well that I didn't and couldn't want to say such a thing.

2.You apparently unable to grasp the idea that determinism and casuality are not sine qua none-inspite all evidence I've presented.

3.About your "contradiction". By quoting out of context you will always run into contradiction. This is full quote of Rand's position:
"Two fundamental attributes are involved in every state, aspect or function of man's consciousness: content and action—the content of awareness, and the action of consciousness in regard to that content. These two attributes are the fundamental Conceptual Common Denominator of all concepts pertaining to consciousness …

"To form concepts of consciousness, one must isolate the action from the content of a given state of consciousness, by a process of abstraction. Just as, extrospectively, man can abstract attributes from entities—so, introspectively, he can abstract the actions of his consciousness from its contents, and observe the differences among these various actions."

And the key words is process of abstraction which is integration,not breaking down-exactly opposite to what you claim.So don't try to fool all the people all the time.

4." Funny, that’s what I think of you."
At least something we agree on.

(Nick)"This was not a quote

NickOtani's picture

(Nick)"This was not a quote of you. It was a conditional statement that “if” you want to say this, then you are not talking about Objectivism."

(Leonid)Then you ascribe to me words which I never said and ignore what I really said. That is worse then misquoting.

(Nick)A conditional statement is not ascribing words to you. It is saying “if” you said these things. It is not saying you said them. It is not a misquote or an ascription. You accused me of misquoting and of being dishonest. Since you haven’t proven that this is true, you should do the honorable thing and apologize to me for making false accusations. If you don’t, then you are not an honorable man.

(Nick)"No, in the mechanistic model of a materialist, all things have causes, and all things have antecedent cause. I said, if something doesn’t have an antecedent cause, then it is a first cause, and this means it is either random or has free-will."

(Leonid)Objectivism is NOT materialism and I've demonstrated times and again that entities can act orderly and not at random according to their fixed nature without any antecedent cause.(like uranium).Action of living entities also doesn't have antecedent cause, it is due to their final cause,end,telos that is survival.Their action is not random but highly orderly and they don't have free will,only build-in mechanisms to project and achieve their goals. In humans this mechanism doesn't exists,replaced by free will which is expression of self-initiated response on conceptual level.

(Nick)It is true that Objectivism is not materialism, but it is incoherent because of this. It has to contradict itself when it rejects both materialism and idealism. Uranium does have causes for its behavior in a materialistic and mechanistic model. Also, all entities have antecedent causes which push them toward their final cause, intrinsic goal, of flourishing survival. Free-will, however, conflicts with this. If an entity has free-will, it must be a first cause.

I realize you won’t understand this, and you won’t believe it. Your beliefs are dogmatic and devoid of any reason or fact. Talking to you is like talking to a religious fanatic.

(Nick)"You don’t do a better job of addressing this issue than does Rand and Peikoff, and they don’t do well at all."

(Leonid)Do you really think that I,Peikoff or Rand need to get marks from you,Nick? This is empty criticism.
If you don't like my,Rand and Peikoff's explanation of free will why don't you offer yours?

(Nick)I have explained my criticism of Rand and Peikoff and presented my views in my Alice series. I can’t help it if people here are too lazy to read it.

(Nick)."Lots of things would be meaningless if A is not A, but it still does not follow from “A is A” that “if A, then B.”

(Leonid)A=A is precondition for "if A then B" and thus the second is corollary of the first.

(Nick)Logic doesn’t work that way, Leonid. A=A is just a way to keep the identity of variables during the course of an argument. Yes, it is necessary to prove that if A is A, then B is B, but it doesn’t prove that “if A, then B.” It proves that rain is rain, and a wet ground is a wet ground, but it doesn’t prove that if it rains, the ground gets wet. Tautologies are true by virtue of their grammatical structure, but “if A, then B” statements have to be proved by experience, by induction, and they could be wrong.

(Leonid)It is boring because you are moving in circles, don't offer any meaningfull argument,don't even try to understand position of your opponent.You just repeat your statements without any support of factual evidence or logic and argue just for argument sake.

(Nick)Funny, that’s what I think of you. I think I am explaining things to you, using reason and logic, and you just don’t understand. Things go right past you. You repeat your statements without any support of factual evidence or logic, or very inadequate reason and evidence. You make false accusations. You don’t apologize. Perhaps you are not able to understand some reasoning, but I also don’t think you are trying. You just disagree with me and argue. You can’t admit that you may be wrong.

bis bald,

Nick

Component parts or attributes

NickOtani's picture

I don't think there is a significant difference. In any case, Rand says axiomatic concepts, like consciousness, cannot be analyzed into attributes or component parts. Content and action are the categories of consciousness into which elements of consciousness fall. There is a contradiction, and it is not the only one. Shall I list several more?

bis bald,

Nick

Components or attributes?

David's picture

Nick

You identify 'content' and 'action' as "attributes or component parts". For conciousness to be analysed and reduced, you need to identify components parts, not attributes or component parts.
As you know, following earlier posts, I regard 'content' and 'action' to be attributes.
No components, no contradiction.

You are always moving in circles,Nick

Leonid's picture

Leonid

1."This was not a quote of you. It was a conditional statement that “if” you want to say this, then you are not talking about Objectivism."

Then you ascribe to me words which I never said and ignore what I really said. That is worse then misquoting.

2."No, in the mechanistic model of a materialist, all things have causes, and all things have antecedent cause. I said, if something doesn’t have an antecedent cause, then it is a first cause, and this means it is either random or has free-will."

Objectivism is NOT materialism and I've demonstrated times and again that entities can act orderly and not at random according to their fixed nature without any antecedent cause.(like uranium).Action of living entities also doesn't have antecedent cause, it is due to their final cause,end,telos that is survival.Their action is not random but highly orderly and they don't have free will,only build-in mechanisms to project and achieve their goals. In humans this mechanism doesn't exists,replaced by free will which is expression of self-initiated response on conceptual level.

3."You don’t do a better job of addressing this issue than does Rand and Peikoff, and they don’t do well at all."

Do you really think that I,Peikoff or Rand need to get marks from you,Nick? This is empty criticism.
If you don't like my,Rand and Peikoff's explanation of free will why don't you offer yours?

4."Lots of things would be meaningless if A is not A, but it still does not follow from “A is A” that “if A, then B.”

A=A is precondition for "if A then B" and thus the second is corollary of the first.

5.It is boring because you are moving in circles, don't offer any meaningfull argument,don't even try to understand position of your opponent.You just repeat your statements without any support of factual evidence or logic and argue just for argument sake.

You say characteristics, I say attributes or component parts

NickOtani's picture

On science: As this thread is not really about science, and as it diverts us from axioms, I will let you have the last word on it here. However, I would be happy to continue as a private exchange if you were interested to do so.

Feel free to start a new thread or post on my board, NickOtani’sNeo-Objectivism, if you want.

On axioms: I continue to be unconvinced by your assertion that Rand has analysed counciousness into two separate components. This is because looking at the excepts that you quoted from her book, it seems to me that she is describing conciousness, not reducing it.
If conciousness is the awareness of existence, then it will have the qualities or characteristics of sensing existence (content) and thinking about it (action) to realise it is existence. It seems to me that if there were only a sensing of existence 'component', you would have no knowledge that you were even sensing, due to the lack of thinking. On the other hand, if there were only a thinking 'component', I am not sure what you would be thinking about, as you would have no sense of any existence. These do not seem to be robust 'components' to me, but rather characteristics of the axiom of conciousness.

We can have differences of opinion. It is not really important to me that you agree with me entirely. I just think “content” and “action” are different attributes or component parts of consciousness, and Rand said axiomatic concepts like consciousness cannot be analyzed into such parts or characteristics. Other scholars who have written about Rand and her philosophy agree with me.

On contradictions: I am not (with or without Scott) "trying to deny Rand's contradictions". I cannot speak for Scott, but I just do not see the contradiction that you do. Also, your remark about me being like a Christian defending contradictions in the Bible is an incorrect assumption on your part.

It is not an assumption on my part that you are a Christian who denies contradictions in the Bible, but it is my perception that your behavior is just like that. You are denying this contradiction, saying you do not see it, even when I carefully map it out for you. There are Christians who also do not see contradictions in the Bible, even when we carefully point them out to them.

Bis bald,

Nick

You haven't shown me where I misquoted you.

NickOtani's picture

You misquoted me by saying "If you want to say it (free-will) applies to all living things, then you are not talking about Objectivism.”

This was not a quote of you. It was a conditional statement that “if” you want to say this, then you are not talking about Objectivism. You accused me of misquoting you and called me dishonest. I asked you to show me where I misquoted you. You have not done so. What you show me here is “not” me quoting you. Can’t you recognize a quote?

-and I repeat,I never said that all living things possess free will. What I've said that some entities (living and unanimated) don't have antecedent cause of their action-like radioactive decay of uranium.Its decay is inherent in its own nature. Uranium is first and only cause of its decay.If you understand from this that uranium has free will then this is your problem,not mine.

No, in the mechanistic model of a materialist, all things have causes, and all things have antecedent cause. I said, if something doesn’t have an antecedent cause, then it is a first cause, and this means it is either random or has free-will.

Cause of action of living entities also inherent in their nature. The difference is that their actions is teleological. Free will is cause of action of certain living organism-man-and it inherent to his nature-without any antecedent cause.It is ability to project goals into the future on conceptual level. It is nothing mystical about it.Mystic argument is argument for primary(God,primary mover),not first cause.

“Nature” of an entity determines what actions an entity will make in any situation. If an entity has free-will, it is not bound by a fixed nature. It is free. It also has to be causeless, as in a prime mover. First causes are prime movers. The argument for God as a first cause or prime mover is considered to be an argument for mysticism. It is not different when the argument is applied to man, unless it is handled differently, as Existentialists handle it. You and Rand merely use cause and effect to get to free-will, and then you discard it saying that free-will is the cause – without any antecedent cause. This is no different than saying God is the first cause, prime mover – without antecedent cause.

2." She is talking about the decision of man to focus his consciousness. "
I've addressed this issue in my article "Focus and choice"

You don’t do a better job of addressing this issue than does Rand and Peikoff, and they don’t do well at all.

3." If you look up the word “analysis” in the dictionary, it will say, “1. a breaking up of a whole into its parts to find out their nature"
One can examine different parts of a whole without to break it up-don't you discuss different aspects of painting without cutting it to pieces?

We don’t have to break things up literally. To analyze something is to separate in into parts to examine it better, but Rand said axiomatic concepts cannot be separated this way. She contradicted herself when she said that consciousness, an axiomatic concept, could be separated this way.

4. You don't really read my posts and you don't offer any meanful arguments or criticism.For example you negate the notion that casuality is corollary of identity by saing" Identity is :"A is A" and casuality is "If A then B" ignoring the obvious fact that if A is Non-A then statement " If A then B" is meaningless. Do you enjoy to waste your time like that? I'm getting bored.

Lots of things would be meaningless if A is not A, but it still does not follow from “A is A” that “if A, then B.”

I get a little bored talking with you too, Leonid. I think you are very dense, perhaps incapable of learning. You don’t present arguments, just dogmatic beliefs, and it seems to me you are immune to logic and reason.

bis bald,

Nick

Science and axioms ... and contradictions?

David's picture

On science: As this thread is not really about science, and as it diverts us from axioms, I will let you have the last word on it here. However, I would be happy to continue as a private exchange if you were interested to do so.

On axioms: I continue to be unconvinced by your assertion that Rand has analysed counciousness into two separate components. This is because looking at the excepts that you quoted from her book, it seems to me that she is describing conciousness, not reducing it.
If conciousness is the awareness of existence, then it will have the qualities or characteristics of sensing existence (content) and thinking about it (action) to realise it is existence. It seems to me that if there were only a sensing of existence 'component', you would have no knowledge that you were even sensing, due to the lack of thinking. On the other hand, if there were only a thinking 'component', I am not sure what you would be thinking about, as you would have no sense of any existence. These do not seem to be robust 'components' to me, but rather characteristics of the axiom of conciousness.

On contradictions: I am not (with or without Scott) "trying to deny Rand's contradictions". I cannot speak for Scott, but I just do not see the contradiction that you do. Also, your remark about me being like a Christian defending contradictions in the Bible is an incorrect assumption on your part.

Thank you Scott

Leonid's picture

Leonid

"You have much more patience than I."

Not anymore. But thank you.

Nick, I'm getting bored

Leonid's picture

Leonid

1 "Please show me where I misquoted you."
You misquoted me by saying "If you want to say it (free-will) applies to all living things, then you are not talking about Objectivism.” -and I repeat,I never said that all living things possess free will. What I've said that some entities (living and unanimated) don't have antecedent cause of their action-like radioactive decay of uranium.Its decay is inherent in its own nature. Uranium is first and only cause of its decay.If you understand from this that uranium has free will then this is your problem,not mine.
Cause of action of living entities also inherent in their nature. The difference is that their actions is teleological.Free will is cause of action of certain living organism-man-and it inherent to his nature-without any antecedent cause.It is ability to project goals into the future on conceptual level. It is nothing mystical about it.Mystic argument is argument for primary(God,primary mover),not first cause.

2." She is talking about the decision of man to focus his consciousness. "

I've addressed this issue in my article "Focus and choice"

3." If you look up the word “analysis” in the dictionary, it will say, “1. a breaking up of a whole into its parts to find out their nature"

One can examine different parts of a whole without to break it up-don't you discuss different aspects of painting without cutting it to pieces?

4. You don't really read my posts and you don't offer any meanful arguments or criticism.For example you negate the notion that casuality is corollary of identity by saing" Identity is :"A is A" and casuality is "If A then B" ignoring the obvious fact that if A is Non-A then statement " If A then B" is meaningless. Do you enjoy to waste your time like that? I'm getting bored.

Science, axioms, and contradictions

NickOtani's picture

I understand that being pragmatic is dealing with things in a practical way rather than following rules or principles. Therefore, science and/or the scientific method are not pragmatic as there are rules and principles. They do not vary their methodology in order to meet the need of any present condition.
(Cold fusion was not bad science. Science showed that it was not science.)

The rules and principles in scientific method are practical. They are implied in the problems we solve. If I enter my apartment and switch on the light only to find that nothing happens, that my apartment remains dark, or it becomes light for a moment and then becomes dark; I define the problem, formulate a hypothesis, formulate a procedure to test my hypothesis, and test it. If it works, my problem is solved. The problem is that my apartment doesn’t become lighted. It could be that my light bulb is burned out. My hypothesis is that if I replace my light bulb, the problem will be solved. To test this hypothesis, I replace my old light bulb with a new one and try the switch again. If the new light bulb works, if it solves my problem; then I have applied the rules and principles of scientific method to solve my practical problem. It was a very pragmatic thing to do.

I may not put his down on paper with assumptions and delimitations and publish the results, but it is an implicit scientific method.

As one of my old professors, William F. O’Neill, said, “The scientist does not say that light travels at 186,000 miles per second regardless of evidence to that effect but precisely because there is the clearest evidence to this effect and because such a statement can be verified experimentally under certain stipulated and replicable conditions.’

“A scientific fact is always and necessarily a fact which is verifiable by others, providing these others are competent and reliable observers who have addressed themselves to the same or similar problems under suitable conditions. Science is, then, basically and necessarily a dialogue between scientists.”

It is basically asking, “do you see what I see?”

In the case of cold fusion, this verification didn’t hold up. Saying something is “bad science” is just another way of saying this, that it may have been thought to be scientifically verified but was not.

On axioms: Rand (and others) are correct, an axiom cannot be analysed from within the philosophy, as it is something that is regarded as self-evidently true. Anyhow, it seems to me that 'content' and 'action' are qualities or characteristics of consciousness, not separate component parts of it. I think Scott's Apples and Red illustrates this point.

Yes, Rand says her axiomatic concepts are self-evidently true and cannot be analyzed, but she does still analyze consciousness in to the categories of content and action. “Apples” and “red” are elements or members of the content of consciousness, but the content of consciousness is not, itself, an element or member of consciousness. Consciousness would not exist without these two categories of content and action. They are the component parts, attributes, of consciousness or awareness which Rand says her axiomatic concepts don’t have. She is contradicting herself.

You and Scott are trying to deny Rand’s contradictions just as some Christians deny contradictions in the Bible. This is just one of her many contradictions.

Bis bald,

Nick

I'm probably missing even more then ...

David's picture

I understand that being pragmatic is dealing with things in a practical way rather than following rules or principles. Therefore, science and/or the scientific method are not pragmatic as there are rules and principles. They do not vary their methodology in order to meet the need of any present condition.
(Cold fusion was not bad science. Science showed that it was not science.)

On axioms: Rand (and others) are correct, an axiom cannot be analysed from within the philosophy, as it is something that is regarded as self-evidently true. Anyhow, it seems to me that 'content' and 'action' are qualities or characteristics of consciousness, not separate component parts of it. I think Scott's Apples and Red illustrates this point.

You seem to be missing a lot

NickOtani's picture

Science is not pragmatic. It does not produce information to suit present conditions; it does it following a set of rules that are unconcerned with present conditions. Cold fusion was pragmatic, but it turned out not to be terribly scientific.

David, pragmatism is sometimes identified with the overly simplified phrase; that which works. Cold fusion didn’t work. Therefore, it is not correct to say cold fusion was pragmatic. It was an example of bad science. Science that didn’t work.

Second, The term “science” as used by Rand, refers to a verification process, the scientific method. And, according to philosophers of science such as Pierce and Bronowski, science is merely a way of solving problems. It is radically empirical, relativistic and—ultimately—pragmatic.

Surely philosophical axioms are the foundation upon which philosophies are built? If "Rand said axiomatic concepts cannot be analyzed"; then that makes sense to me. An objectivist axiom cannot really be analysed from within objectivist philosophy.

But, she does analyze the axiomatic concept of consciousness into content and action. She contradicted herself. Don’t just read one statement and ignore the other.

Also, make an argument. Don’t just say something makes sense to you. That doesn’t make it objectively logical.

BTW, not all philosophies are systematic, in need of foundations upon which they are built. One can read Nietzsche and all Existentialists. They rebel against these systems which use axioms, and logical analysts like Goedel have proven how such systems cannot be consistent and closed.

Bis bald,

Nick

David, you're not missing anything...

atlascott's picture

...other than the fact that NickOtani is crackers.

Scott DeSalvo

Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur!

I may be missing something obvious, but ...

David's picture

I may be missing something obvious, but ...

Science is not pragmatic. It does not produce information to suit present conditions; it does it following a set of rules that are unconcerned with present conditions. Cold fusion was pragmatic, but it turned out not to be terribly scientific.

Surely philosophical axioms are the foundation upon which philosophies are built? If "Rand said axiomatic concepts cannot be analyzed"; then that makes sense to me. An objectivist axiom cannot really be analysed from within objectivist philosophy.

I don't think I'm confused, Leonid.

NickOtani's picture

Nick,to misqoute is not very honest way to conduct an argument.I never said that all living things have free will.

Excuse me; I did not misquote you. You said, “You have answered your question-man is a first cause of his behavior and not only man but every living thing.” If something causes something without being caused to cause it, it is acting as a first cause, acting either randomly or using volition, free-will. Notice I said, after quoting your exact words, “If you want to say it (free-will) applies to all living things, then you are not talking about Objectivism.” Objectivism also does not use first cause to account for the behavior of every living thing. Please show me where I misquoted you. If you can’t do this, then please apologize for accusing me of misquoting you and of being dishonest.

What I've said all over again is that life is self sustained self-generated process and all living things able to initiate self generated action without any antecedent cause. This is biological basis for free will which is self-initiated action on conceptual level.This is the fixed nature of Man. The cause of this action is projected goal which is survival.In this sense every living organism is the source of its action.That what you call mysticism?

That life is self-generated and self-sustained action has nothing to do with first cause, volition, or free-will. This is not Rand’s position. She is talking about the decision of man to focus his consciousness. This has no antecedent cause and is thus unexplained in Objectivism. It just magically occurs, like in mysticism. Reason cannot guide this choice because it is reason man must choose. He doesn’t have it until he chooses it. Yes, the goal is toward flourishing survival, but this focusing of one’s conceptual consciousness, which man needs for his proper survival qua man, is a choice in man, not an automatic function to pursue life as in all other, non-conceptual living things, according to Rand.

Science is a quest to explain the nature of things.It is not pragmatic. Empericists and logical positivists are pragmatic,but what they produce is hardly a science.

Yes, science is pragmatic and empirical. Logical positivism has nothing to do with anything we’re talking about here. It is a completely refuted ideology.

To analize different aspects of entity doesn't mean to break this entity down.You may discuss separately the shape,colour,taste and smell of an apple but you cannot actualy separate these properties.Action is atribute of living entity,man.Consciousness cannot act on its own. If you believe that it can , you believe in mind-body dichotomy and primacy of consciousness Your argument is invalid.There is no contradiction. In your zest to prove Objectivism wrong you've discarded facts,logic,common sense and intellectual integrity.

If you look up the word “analysis” in the dictionary, it will say, “1. a breaking up of a whole into its parts to find out their nature.” Rand said axiomatic concepts cannot be analyzed, there are not different aspects or attributes of the concepts, yet content and action are different attributes or parts of consciousness. There is a contradiction. In your zest to defend Objectivism, you’ve discarded facts, logic, common sense, and intellectual integrity.

Bis bald,

Nick

Leonid: An intellect as sharp as yours

atlascott's picture

...probably needs no praise or accolade--truth is its own reward. But nonetheless, I wanted to tell you that I appreciate your posts, Leonid, and your tireless and honest attempt to make any sense of NickOtani's positions here and in the Islam thread. Its an absolute Sisyphian task, a burden you have handled as a complete gentleman. You have much more patience than I.

Scott DeSalvo

Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur!

Touche yourself!

NickOtani's picture

You are welcome to your opinion, atlascott. Since it doesn't change my opinion of you, only confirms it, I'll give it all the consideration I think it is worth.

Nick

Nick ,in your argumentation confusion is master piece.

Leonid's picture

Leonid

1." Rand and company do not hold that non-human entities have free-will. This is something reserved for conceptual beings, humans, according to Rand and company. If you want to say it applies to all living things, then you are not talking about Objectivism"

Nick,to misqoute is not very honest way to conduct an argument.I never said that all living things have free will.
What I've said all over again is that life is self sustained self-generated process and all living things able to initiate self generated action without any antecedent cause. This is biological basis for free will which is self-initiated action on conceptual level.This is the fixed nature of Man. The cause of this action is projected goal which is survival.In this sense every living organism is the source of its action.That what you call mysticism?

2."Science is basically pragmatic"
Science is a quest to explain the nature of things.It is not pragmatic. Empericists and logical positivists are pragmatic,but what they produce is hardly a science.

3." One must analyze consciousness in order to identify different aspects of it, like content and action."

To analize different aspects of entity doesn't mean to break this entity down.You may discuss separately the shape,colour,taste and smell of an apple but you cannot actualy separate these properties.Action is atribute of living entity,man.Consciousness cannot act on its own. If you believe that it can , you believe in mind-body dichotomy and primacy of consciousness Your argument is invalid.There is no contradiction. In your zest to prove Objectivism wrong you've discarded facts,logic,common sense and intellectual integrity.

Touche!

atlascott's picture

1. I don't care if Ayn Rand would approve of me. I am able to separate a personality (I do not think I would have liked hers) from ideas (like them).

2. Those things you said about me are more of an attack than my jibe on the sheer rdiculousness of your position. You'll note that while I poked fun at your ideas, in a single post, you have dubbed me unable to debate, a jerk, and stupid. You are a very insecure person in my estimation, and not very good at distinctions.

3. You also completely ignored my very simple elucidation as to why your "genius" identification of a contradiction is no such thing. You are either stupid or dishonest. Maybe both.

4. You are mean spirited. Posting overlong posts which no one cares to read because you are obviously wrong and then heaping personal attacks on others is not good form, old boy. Taking a professorial tone doesn't make you intelligent. Discovering imaginary flaws in Ayn Rand's ideas doesn't make you a scholar. Just another misguided, unsuccessful person in a sea of wanna-be scholars.

5. Why don't you take your act to an Islamic nation, where the reward for your nonsense would be swift and fitting?

Scott DeSalvo

Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur!

You will always be confused, Leonid

NickOtani's picture

(Nick) "If man’s nature doesn’t have antecedent cause, then man is a first cause of his behavior. This requires a break in the chain of causality. If there is no break, then there has to be determinism. Either way, there are unanswered questions. How can one believe in cause and effect and also suspend belief in it when it comes to men acting from free-will? How can this be rationally consistent?"

(Leonid)You have answered your question-man is a first cause of his behavior and not only man but every living thing.Life's identity is essentialy different from that of unanimated matter and so its casuation. It is not a break in Laplace casuality but different kind of casuality alltogether.For example I cannot predict whether you're going to answer my post or not.Does it means that you don't have fixed nature?

(Nick)First, Rand and company do not hold that non-human entities have free-will. This is something reserved for conceptual beings, humans, according to Rand and company. If you want to say it applies to all living things, then you are not talking about Objectivism. Second, first-cause arguments are dismissed as arguments for mysticism when applied to the existence of God. They are also calling for mysticism when applied to free-will in humans. They use causality to get to their destination and then suspend it when they get there. This is not consistent and rational. Saying that it is entity caused causation does not solve any problems. And, if behavior is unpredictable, then either we can’t recognize a fixed nature or there isn’t one. A fixed nature determines how an entity will act in any given situation, and it is not consistent with free-will.

(Nick)2."One might declare that all swans are white after experiencing thousands of white swans and never experiencing a black swan, but the discovery of one black swan can refute, not just integrate, that knowledge claim. New knowledge can exonerate a man held to be guilty. It refutes the old knowledge claim. It doesn’t just integrate it."

(Leonid)This is true because this is inductive,not scientific knowledge. It doesn't explain to you why swans should be white,in other words it doesn't tell you anything about the nature of swans.

(Nick)Unless you agree with Brian S and his Popperian views, inductive reasoning is very much involved in scientific method and scientific knowledge. And, it tells about what is, not what should be.

(Nick)3."Scientists always leave room for doubt. New evidence can change results. Scientific method is not always true."

(Leonid)First, not always.Some scientific knowledge is absolute.For example periodic table,laws of Newton,different constants,(like speed of light in vacuum and so on).Second-man is not omnipotent,scientists are men and can make mistakes.But if knowledge has been proven as true,objective knowledge,it cannot be refuted,only integrated.

(Nick)First, you did not say some scientific knowledge is true. You said, “Knowledge obtained by proper scientific method is always true (and the emphasis is on "proper").” No reputable scientist would agree with that. Science is basically pragmatic. It is what seems to be true based on repeated tests, but it could be wrong. I gave you examples of where knowledge can be refuted, not just integrated. You are blowing these examples off. You are not being very honest, Leonid.

(Nick)4."If something changes, it must change from what it is to what it is not. However, according to the law of identity and non-contradiction and excluded middle, a thing cannot be what it is not."

(Leonid)Concept of change presupposes concept of time.Change is not momentary event. In any given moment of time a thing is what it is.Is that what you mean by snapshots?

(Nick)You selectively edited my statement. You didn’t include the part where I talked about how reality could be in a process of becoming, in a state of constant flux. This is where the snapshot comes in. It is the law of identity, a procedure rule for communication and thinking, not necessarily an objective fact about reality.

(Nick)5 "The more we talk, Leonid, the more confused you get."

(Leonid)I wonder,why? Maybe because I'm trying to untangle your confused ideas?

(Nick)No, I don’t think so.

(Leonid)P.S You haven't explained your "contradiction"

(Nick)I’ve already explained this several times in this thread and others. I discussed it with Richard. I quoted William F. O’Neill. And, I shouldn’t have to keep going over this. It should be obvious to any perceptive person who can read the quotes I presented. I think, Leonid, if I show you a square, you will insist it is a circle. My story about the tortoise and the hare applies to you as well as Duncan. You are both like Christian fundamentalists who won’t believe the Bible has contradictions in it even after presented with a list of them. Anyway, as I explained to Richard, “One must analyze consciousness in order to identify different aspects of it, like content and action. Yet, Rand said axiomatic concepts cannot be analyzed, there are not different aspects or attributes of the concepts, yet there are these different aspects or attributes of consciousness, awareness.” Later, after Richard argued with me a little, I explained, “I would agree that things like evaluation and reminiscence are to consciousness like stars and atoms are to existence. However, content and action are categories within consciousness, or awareness, which categorize attributes like evaluation and reminiscence, types of awareness. Consciousness cannot exist without content and action of the mind. They have to come into existence together. They break down awareness into component parts, something Rand says cannot be done to axiomatic concepts.” Now, don’t tell me I haven’t explained the contradiction.

bis bald,

Nick

I'm just trying to untangle your confused ideas,Nick

Leonid's picture

Leonid

1. "If man’s nature doesn’t have antecedent cause, then man is a first cause of his behavior. This requires a break in the chain of causality. If there is no break, then there has to be determinism. Either way, there are unanswered questions. How can one believe in cause and effect and also suspend belief in it when it comes to men acting from free-will? How can this be rationally consistent?"

You have answered your question-man is a first cause of his behavior and not only man but every living thing.Life's identity is essentialy different from that of unanimated matter and so its casuation. It is not a break in Laplace casuality but different kind of casuality alltogether.For example I cannot predict whether you're going to answer my post or not.Does it means that you don't have fixed nature?

2."One might declare that all swans are white after experiencing thousands of white swans and never experiencing a black swan, but the discovery of one black swan can refute, not just integrate, that knowledge claim. New knowledge can exonerate a man held to be guilty. It refutes the old knowledge claim. It doesn’t just integrate it."
This is true because this is inductive,not scientific knowledge. It doesn't explain to you why swans should be white,in other words it doesn't tell you anything about the nature of swans.

3."Scientists always leave room for doubt. New evidence can change results. Scientific method is not always true."
First, not always.Some scientific knowledge is absolute.For example periodic table,laws of Newton,different constants,(like speed of light in vacuum and so on).Second-man is not omnipotent,scientists are men and can make mistakes.But if knowledge has been proven as true,objective knowledge,it cannot be refuted,only integrated.

4."If something changes, it must change from what it is to what it is not. However, according to the law of identity and non-contradiction and excluded middle, a thing cannot be what it is not."

Concept of change presupposes concept of time.Change is not momentary event. In any given moment of time a thing is what it is.Is that what you mean by snapshots?

5 "The more we talk, Leonid, the more confused you get."
I wonder,why? Maybe because I'm trying to untangle your confused ideas?

P.S You haven't explained your "contradiction"

You should read closely

NickOtani's picture

You were trying to poke fun at what you claimed was my position, which was actually Rand's position, a position you are not sufficiently familiar with to trust my quote. You have to go back and re-read it. Yet you still try to defend it. So, your attempt to poke fun at me reflects back on you. It makes you look stupid.

If you were a good friend of mine, I wouldn't mind a bit of friendly derision. Your attempt at humor at my expense is not friendly. It is an attack, an attempt to make me look ridiculous without really trying to understand what I'm talking about. It makes you a jerk in my eyes, someone who can't debate, someone who tries to hide behind humor but can't even get it right. Rand would not approve of you.

bis bald,

Nick

Read closely

atlascott's picture

1. An attribute is not a component.

e.g.-red may be an attribte of an apple, but that dosnt mean that if you are builiding an apple, you need a box of "red."

2. All aspects of conciousness may have action and content as attributes. This does not define conciousness.

3. I'd have to re-read those excerpts for context. I do not really trust you to quote accurately or place a phrase in its proper context.

4. But again, an aspect or attribute is not a component.

5. I do not think my attempt at levity rose to the level of derision. I think I'm okay at tongue in cheek. You might try it some time. You might find it to be fun.

Scott DeSalvo

Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur!

The more we talk, Leonid, the more confused you get.

NickOtani's picture

1."I don't think you understand Popper or scientific method."

No ,I don't know much about Popper and I never mentioned him in my posts.You confuse me with somebody else.

I did not confuse you with someone else. You were engaging Brian S. about his views on induction and scientific method. Since his views are those of Popper, you were indirectly trying to engage with him about Popper’s views. However, it is obvious, from that post and this one, that you do not understand Popper, induction , or scientific method.

2.Everything you've said about cause-effect relating to man is right-exactly because man possesses free will.But free will itself is part of man's nature and therefore man's behavior-some times unpredictable- is according to his nature.Thus it represents casuality as man's identity applied to action.

If “nature” determines what an entity will do in any given situation, then an entity with a fixed nature cannot have unpredictable behavior. If behavior is unpredictable, then either nature is not known or not fixed. I went through great pains explaining to you that if an entity sits when prodded, then it can be said that sitting when prodded is part of that entity’s nature. However, if the entity also sometimes stands when prodded, then “nature” becomes meaningless. It does not determine what an entity will do in a given situation. One might as well say the entity does what it does. You ignored this explanation. It went right past you.

As I mentioned before, casuality doesn't always mean determinism,man's nature doesn't have antecedent cause.

If man’s nature doesn’t have antecedent cause, then man is a first cause of his behavior. This requires a break in the chain of causality. If there is no break, then there has to be determinism. Either way, there are unanswered questions. How can one believe in cause and effect and also suspend belief in it when it comes to men acting from free-will? How can this be rationally consistent?

In regard to unanimated matter and change-every time when entity is changing it acquiring new identity,thus the Law of casuality is still valid ( and the same thing applicable to man,but the nature of change is different).

If something changes, it must change from what it is to what it is not. However, according to the law of identity and non-contradiction and excluded middle, a thing cannot be what it is not. It always is what it is. Therefore, logically, it cannot change. On the other hand, if it is constantly in a process of becoming, then a fixed identity might just be an artificial snapshot, a still picture, that can be used for communication and thinking. Perhaps that’s what the law of identity does, preserve identities so we can use them in communication and thinking, not reflect reality as it really is, in a state of constant flux.

Casuality is not sine qua none of identity,it is identity applied to action or interaction with one or more different identities.

Causality is a different principle altogether from identity. Identity says that A is A. Causality says that if A, then B. One can’t get from one to the other without crossing a barrier from formal logic to experiential logic.

3.Induction is not scientific method but it doesn't mean it's philisophicaly invalid. Induction simply means generalization which made on the ground of repeated observations and logically applied to the individual case-like:
a. All men are mortal
b. Socrates is a man
c. Socrates is mortal
What proof Socrates had that all men are mortal? He or anybody else never observed a man living forever (and what is forever,anyway?). Does this constitute scientific proof? Obviously not-scientific proof would explain to us why man cannot live forever(genetics,thermodynamics and so on.)_However the observation is valid as long as it not refuted by observation to the contrary.In other words, in the context of our present knowledge-which is knowledge's identity-all men are mortal.The objection that nobody examined all men and it is possible that some of them are immortal is not valid since it amount to ask for the proof of negative. In short the validation of inductive method based on the fact that our knowledge is limited by its context.

You present Aristotle’s classic example of a universal syllogism, a deductive argument. The major premise, “All men are mortal,” is supported by inductive argument. It is not conclusive.

The deductive argument is valid in the technical sense because if the premises are true, the conclusion has to follow. The major premise sets up a classification into which the minor premise fits, and the conclusion fits into the minor premise, thus also the major premise. If it would have said:

All men are mortal.
Socrates is mortal.
Therefore, Socrates is a man.

it would not be valid. Socrates, in this case, could be a dog or cat or mouse, something else which is mortal. He wouldn’t necessarily be a man, so the conclusion doesn’t necessarily follow from the premises.

All this is irrelevant to our discussion of induction and scientific method. However, it is relevant to what “validity” means. You do use this word a lot, and I don’t think you realize what it means. I don’t think it can be applied to inductive arguments, and it doesn’t necessarily mean a conclusion is true. A conclusion can follow from premises in a valid argument but still be false, and it can be accidentally true, as it is above, when attached to an invalid argument.

4. It is important to distinguish knowledge obtained by induction from scientific knowledge. Inductive knowledge can be true or false. Knowledge obtained by proper scientific method is always true (and the emphasis is on "proper").

This is not true. Scientists always leave room for doubt. New evidence can change results. Scientific method is not always true. And, I think, as does Plato, false knowledge is not really knowledge. It is belief. Knowledge requires justification, but that justification could be merely a high degree of inductive support, as in the premise that all men are mortal.

Such a knowledge cannot be refuted by new knowledge and should be integrated.

Yes it can. One might declare that all swans are white after experiencing thousands of white swans and never experiencing a black swan, but the discovery of one black swan can refute, not just integrate, that knowledge claim. New knowledge can exonerate a man held to be guilty. It refutes the old knowledge claim. It doesn’t just integrate it.

For example inductive knowledge which is based on repeated observation only, tells us that the Earth is flat.Scientific knowledge tells us different story.

That the earth is not flat is just knowledge from more careful and extensive observation, inductive knowledge.

Bis bald,

Nick

Where is a contradiction,Nick ?

Leonid's picture

Leonid

"Two fundamental attributes are involved in every state, aspect or function of man's consciousness: content and action--the content of awareness, and the action of consciousness in regard to that content." (ITOE p."

"An axiomatic concept is the indentification of a primary fact of reality, which cannot be analyzed, i.e., reduced to other facts or broken into component parts." (ITOE p.55)

I say this is a contradiction. "

Why this is a contradiction? An entity may have two or more inseparable attributes which cannot be broken.For example consciousness cannot be separated from focus,entity from its identity etc...So content of consciousness cannot be separated from its action and action from an agent of action.In other words human consciousness cannot be separated from man. Only man can act.

If you stick to facts and reason, rather than tongue in cheek...

NickOtani's picture

...you'll find that Ayn Rand is the one saying, "Two fundamental attributes are involved in every state, aspect or function of man's consciousness: content and action--the content of awareness, and the action of consciousness in regard to that content." (ITOE p. 29-30)

So, is it Rand's position that you want to poke fun at?

Don't forget, Rand also said, "An axiomatic concept is the indentification of a primary fact of reality, which cannot be analyzed, i.e., reduced to other facts or broken into component parts." (ITOE p.55)

I say this is a contradiction. Without resorting to attempts at derision, at which you are not very good, can you demonstrate that it is not?

bis bald,

Nick

Tongue in cheek poke

atlascott's picture

Leonid:

It was a tongue in cheek poke at NickOtani's position that conciousness can be broken down into content and action. He did not define or explain why it was so, so in a humorous vein , I thought I would add completely ridiculous terminology that similarly was not defined or explained for a similar but more outrageous position regarding conciousness.

Scott DeSalvo

Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur!

atlascott,translation please.

Leonid's picture

Leonid

Would you please explain and define in plain English what it is subaware hyperexistence, submicrocontent and psuedoaction which is not action in itself but action in being and how exactly you breake down consciousness into content and action.Can consciousness act on its own?

Richard and Leonid...

atlascott's picture

What you gentlemen seem to be missing is that Nick is absolutely correct.

Whether you call it conciousness or awareness, it is clearly broken down into content and action.

I break it further down into what I like to call subaware hyperexistence, which is further broken down into submicrocontent and psuedoaction which is not action in itself but action in being.

Please, gents, get with it.

Scott DeSalvo

Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur!

Brian S!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Photo please!

more about induction

Leonid's picture

Brian S

"Leonid First is the presumption that a generalized
observation is somehow equivalent to an explanatory theory. It isn't. In fact, to arrive at a generalization you must have already had an explanatory theory in mind."

No, I never said that. What I've said is that repeated observations with identical results may or may not indicate cause-effect connection. The establishment and proof of this connection would be the explanation. I've stated that explicitly in my previous posts
"What proof Socrates had that all men are mortal? He or anybody else never observed a man living forever (and what is forever,anyway?). Does this constitute scientific proof? Obviously not-scientific proof would explain to us why man cannot live forever(genetics,thermodynamics and so on.)_However the observation is valid as long as it not refuted by observation to the contrary."
That what I've claimed previously and from this it's clear that I don't regard induction as scientific method-so you are barking on the wrong tree.
Now to your question-why to perform observations?
Performing observations is natural ongoing process and doesn't require lab time-all the world is one big lab. One cannot help not to notice that day is following night and vice versa,that after winter comes spring and then summer,that winter is cold and summer hot,and so on and etc...One may generalize and say: it is always cold at winter times, always was and therefore always will be. Does it explain anything? No. However this knowledge is valid (that it is cold at winter) unless it has been proven wrong by different observations. If one tells you why it is cold at winter time and bases his explanation on proper methodology that would be scientific proof and such a proof cannot be refuted no matter how much new knowledge one may acquire.

Why are you performing the observatons?

Brian S's picture

Leonid,

You wrote that "Induction simply means generalization which made on the ground of repeated observations...".

This sentence is riddled with a number of inductivist errors. First is the presumption that a generalized observation is somehow equivalent to an explanatory theory. It isn't. In fact, to arrive at a generalization you must have already had an explanatory theory in mind. There are an infinite number of generalizations compatible with any given set of observations and without a theory you have no way of knowing how to extrapolate the data. Indeed, you have no way of knowing what to observe.

Explanations do not arise by generalizing observations; they arise from attempts to solve a problem. That requires creativity, conjectures, and testing. It is out of the problem and the conjectures advanced to solve it that you learn what you need to observe. Without relativity, for example, no-one would have thought of observing gravity waves.

Note well what is missing in your statement: the whole reason why you are performing the observations. Surely you have not booked all that expensive lab-time just to do some random observations?

You have stated that you are not familiar with Popper. Get familiar. Popper and other critical rationalists, such as Bartley and Miller, have well and truly demolished the idea of induction. And, no, they have not sneaked induction in via the back door or some other oft-repeated lame excuse.

Gardner's Scholarship is Appalling

Brian S's picture

Nick,

You quote Gardner as saying:

Popper's critics insist that "corroboration" is a form of induction, and Popper has simply sneaked induction in through a back door by giving it a new name.

No matter that some critics may insist it; it is not true. Has Gardner even bothered to familiarise himself with the rebuttals to this objection, rebuttals that have been around for years? Let me quote from Alan Musgrave, who wrote in 1971:

Can it be so simple? The most widespread criticism of Popper's philosophy is that induction must be smuggled in somewhere. But the countless people who have urged this objection, in one form or another, themselves smuggle in assumptions which Popper rejected.

On the particular issue of whether corroboration smuggles in induction:

The objection assumes that it is reasonable for us to believe something if, and only if, we can justify what we believe, that is, show it to be true or probable. This assumption lies behind the claim that Popper "must be assuming that corroboration is a guide to truth, or near-truth, or high probability". But Popper has rejected the view that it is reasonable for us to believe something if, and only if, we can justify what we believe, that is, show it to be true or probable. Popper agrees with Hume that we cannot show that evidence-transcending beliefs are true or probable. Popper thinks, however, that we may reasonably believe what we cannot justify. Therefore the standard objection begs the question.

I'll let you read the rest here:

Let us turn to the first sentence of your quote:

The more often a conjecture passes efforts to falsify it, Popper maintained, the greater becomes its "corroboration," although corroboration is also uncertain and can never be quantified by degree of probability.

This is not what Popper maintained. On pg 18 of Objective Knowledge, Popper said corroboration

...is an evaluating report of past performance. Like preference, it is essentially comparative: in general, one can only say that the theory A has a higher or lower degree of corroboration that theory B, in the light of critical discussion... Being a report of past performance only, it has to do with a situation that may lead us to prefer some theories to others. But it says nothing whatever about future performance, or about the 'reliability' of a theory.

So Popper does not maintain that the more often a conjecture passes efforts to falsify it the greater its corroboration. Corroboration is comparative and helps us form a critical preference for one theory over another.

The rest of Gardner's quote is really just a dogmatic insistence that induction does exist and a desire to downplay the importance of Popper.

Induction is a religion and Gardner is a true believer!

Casuality,identity and induction

Leonid's picture

Leonid

Nick

1."I don't think you understand Popper or scientific method."

No ,I don't know much about Popper and I never mentioned him in my posts.You confuse me with somebody else.

2.Everything you've said about cause-effect relating to man is right-exactly because man possesses free will.But free will itself is part of man's nature and therefore man's behavior-some times unpredictable- is according to his nature.Thus it represents casuality as man's identity applied to action.As I mentioned before, casuality doesn't always mean determinism,man's nature doesn't have antecedent cause. In regard to unanimated matter and change-every time when entity is changing it acquiring new identity,thus the Law of casuality is still valid ( and the same thing applicable to man,but the nature of change is different). Casuality is not sine qua none of identity,it is identity applied to action or interaction with one or more different identities.

3.Induction is not scientific method but it doesn't mean it's philisophicaly invalid. Induction simply means generalization which made on the ground of repeated observations and logically applied to the individual case-like:
a. All men are mortal
b. Socrates is a man
c. Socrates is mortal
What proof Socrates had that all men are mortal? He or anybody else never observed a man living forever (and what is forever,anyway?). Does this constitute scientific proof? Obviously not-scientific proof would explain to us why man cannot live forever(genetics,thermodynamics and so on.)_However the observation is valid as long as it not refuted by observation to the contrary.In other words, in the context of our present knowledge-which is knowledge's identity-all men are mortal.The objection that nobody examined all men and it is possible that some of them are immortal is not valid since it amount to ask for the proof of negative. In short the validation of inductive method based on the fact that our knowledge is limited by its context.

4. It is important to distinguish knowledge obtained by induction from scientific knowledge. Inductive knowledge can be true or false. Knowledge obtained by proper scientific method is always true (and the emphasis is on "proper").Such a knowledge cannot be refuted by new knowledge and should be integrated. For example inductive knowledge which is based on repeated observation only, tells us that the Earth is flat.Scientific knowledge tells us different story.

Let me try to reason with you, Lenoid.

NickOtani's picture

I don't think you understand Popper or scientific method. Popper is not trying to confirm or build theories on induction. He is trying to do away with induction entirely. He is trying to make scientific method entirely deductive from the hypothesis, which is merely a guess, a creative conjecture. It is a conjucture submitted to crtiticism, the proper kind of testing, in an attempt to falsify it, not confirm it or supporty it. If it is not falsified, it is accepted as tentatively true. Popper is trying to explain scientific method without using the word "induction" at all. However, as I am pointing out, induction is still there. He just doesn't want to call it that.

The scientific method of Newton and Bacon relies on emperical confirmation, inductive support. The more something falls when we drop it, the more certain we are that it will do this the next time we drop it. We don't say that we have falsified the conjecture that it won't fall. We may have corroborated the conjecture that it will fall, but this is just an awkward way of saying something is inductively true.

Now, let's talk about cause and effect. This is demonstrateded with experience, with induction. If something happens a certain way each time we do something to it, we say that what we did caused it to happen that way. It is confirmed by observation and generalization. After awhile, we say "It is the "nature" of this thing to act this way when we do this thing to it." And, we have lots of success doing things this way. However, there are some problems. First, things do not always act the same way all the time. This thing we call "nature" of something, may not be as fixed as we think it is. Things are evolving and changing as we speak, especially with humans. It was once considered part of human nature that humans could not run a mile faster than four minutes. This limitation to our nature was exceeded. We had to redefine our nature. Other records are being broken every day. It's hard to pinpoint exactly what out nature is. And, free-will also hampers our attempts to discover a fixed nature for man. If a man always sits when we prod him, we can say it is his nature to do that. But, if he stands sometimes also, we can no longer say his nature is to sit always. Basically, the word "nature" becomes meaningless. It doesn't tell us a what man may do. It can mean that he will sit or that he will stand. It can mean anything and, therefore, nothing specific. Saying man acts according to his nature is just saying man does what he does, and this doesn't tell us what he does.

Anyway, cause and effect is a lot different than the law of identity. The law of identity is always going to be true, even if the veribles are false. It is not falsifiable. It doesn't need to be tested, like cause and effect. It is self-evident that A is A. It is not self-evident that man will sit if he is proded. He may stand. It is not self-evident that it will rain immediately after I wash my car next time. To claim that I already know or don't know the effects of causes, I would have to be omniscient. If I were omniscient, I would not need science or testing or anything. I would just automatically know everything.

Do you see now how casuality cannot be a corollary of the law of identity? Or, do you think you already know everything? The law of identity is true by virtue of its gramatical structure. The law of cause and effect has to be confirmed by experience, or not falisified and corroborated.

bis bald,

Nick

induction

Leonid's picture

Leonid

Brian S

"I hold it is unscientific to presuppose induction. In fact, as I have tried to explain, scientific explanation does not in any way rely on induction. "
I'd agree with your statement. Induction is not scientific explanation,but it may indicate the possibility of cause-effect connection.This is the task for scientist to investigate and to prove or reject it.One may speculate or build theories based on induction but the ultimate proof is demonstration of the nature of the entity and its interactions by reality check,that is an experiment.A knowledge may be incomplete,but this is epistemological,not metaphysical problem. In other words we may never know what the entity is but it is nevertheless.

To Brian S, I disagree with Popper on Induction

NickOtani's picture

I disagree with Karl Popper’s views on induction. I think, in his attempt to answer Hume and solve the problem of induction, he has merely invented different terms and rephrased the procedure of scientific method to attempt to eliminate the word “induction.” He has not really eliminated it.

Popper talks about the hypothesis as a conjecture, a creative possible solution to a problem. Such a conjecture may inspire progress. It is then subjected to tests in an effort to falsify it. If it is falsified, then it is dead. However, if it holds up, it is corroborated. A corroborated truth is better than one that is not, but it is still not absolute. Scientific truths are always tentative.

Notice that there is no mention of empiricism or support or degrees of certainty. Truth is not justified belief, according to Popper. It is a falsifiable proposition that is corroborated, but skeptics say this “corroboration” is just another way of describing induction. I agree with the skeptics.

Let’s go back over this issue very carefully:

Newton and Bacon introduced us to the scientific method. It was careful observation and generalization based on that observation, drawing conclusions from specific information. If an object always falls when dropped, one can predict with some certainty that the next time it is dropped, it will again fall. We also predict the sun will come up each morning, from our perspective, and several other things will happen on which we rely because of our experience with them. We have formulated laws of nature, such as the law of gravity, based on this process of inference.

David Hume, however, pointed out that such reasoning can never be completely certain. We often associate one thing with another because of its occurrence with the other, but we could be wrong. If it rains several times immediately after we wash our car, we may conclude, inductively, that washing our car has something to do with making it rain, that there is a cause and effect relation between washing our car and the rain. This would be false. However, it is the same reasoning we use to formulate the law of gravity. We could also notice that, in our experience, all swans are white. Does this mean there are no black swans? No. Inductive inferences are never conclusive. It is possible they can be wrong.

Karl Popper tried to get around this problem by saying induction is not part of the scientific method. He says that we do not try to find confirming evidence for conjectures but rather try to falsify them. When they are not falsified, they are tentatively true. He agrees that confirmation is never certain but that this is better than inductive inference, what we had before. Falsification can be definitive, as when we discover a black swan and can falsify the proposition that all swans are white.

What follows are a few statements from an article by Martin Gardner in 2001:

The more often a conjecture passes efforts to falsify it, Popper maintained, the greater becomes its "corroboration," although corroboration is also uncertain and can never be quantified by degree of probability. Popper's critics insist that "corroboration" is a form of induction, and Popper has simply sneaked induction in through a back door by giving it a new name.

Popper's great and tireless efforts to expunge the word induction from scientific and philosophical discourse has utterly failed. Except for a small but noisy group of British Popperians, induction is just too firmly embedded in the way philosophers of science and even ordinary people talk and think.

Confirming instances underlie our beliefs that the Sun will rise tomorrow, that dropped objects will fall, that water will freeze and boil, and a million other events. It is hard to think of another philosophical battle so decisively lost.

--Gardner, Martin. “A Skeptical Look at Karl Popper,” Skeptical Inquirer,
25(4):13-14, 72. )

bis bald,

Nick

Unscientific to Presuppose Induction

Brian S's picture

Leonid,

All we have to help us determine the nature of something are our theories. But we cannot be certain our theories are correct (although they could be). For example, a comprehensive explanation of the nature of a chair must include, among other things, theories about its atomic nature. But to understand atoms, we need the standard model of particle physics. Can you be sure that this is the ultimate theory or that it won't be overturned or expanded? Superstring theory tends to indicate we can't be. Is there an ultimate nature to be found beyond which no further explanation is possible? Maybe there is, maybe there isn't, but it is an assumption to presuppose there is.

I hold it is unscientific to presuppose induction. In fact, as I have tried to explain, scientific explanation does not in any way rely on induction. This is what Popper, Bartley, Miller, and others have shown. Instead of presupposing induction to justify theories, science actually proposes regularity in nature through theories. This is far from being empiricism, which is indeed a cancer of science.

Hope that helps!

limitation of knowledge

Leonid's picture

Leonid

Brian S

You said " Scientific progress is not a search for ultimate essences and ultimate natures - it is a seach for explanations. And this search will never end."-and I not sure I follow your logic.If things don't behave according to their nature,then according to what they behave? Scientific quest is a quest to learn the nature of things and their interactions, cause-effect connection. This is the base of induction.And if you reject that then what you mean by explanation? Every thing less then that would be empricism which is real cancer of science.Our knowledge is always contextualy limited. If we discover a new knowledge we should be able to integrate it with previous knowledge which has been proven as true in non-contradictory ways.General theory of gravitation of Einstein doesn't refute Newtonian theory but integrates it.

Leonid1."You do not know

Leonid's picture

Leonid

Nick

1."You do not know that volition and mind are not illusions and that this discussion is not the result of interaction of genetic traits with external stimuli. You just insist that it is not."

You right. I reject solipsism in regard to consciousness as I reject it in regard to existence.It's no need to prove self-evident.Observe that your proposition is self-refuting. Its first part "you don't know" is refuting the second part " volition and mind are not illusion" because if volition and mind are illusions then not you nor me or anybody else can know anything.

2."If causation is not broken, then every action has a sufficient reason. That means it has an antecedent cause, and that means it is determined, not free."

To have sufficient reason,casuation, not always means to have antecendent cause. Some causes are antecendent like in the case of Laplace determinism, but some are not. What causes water to be wet? What causes uranium to decay? What causes particles with the same charge to repulse each other?. What causes to organism to heal itself? There is no antecendent cause for all these. The cause is intrinsic part of the thing,part of its identity. That what Aristotle called first (not primary) cause.

3."You haven’t responded to my arguments about how causality cannot be a corollary of identity."

Please repeat this argument

You've clocked me on the Popper but I'm no follower of Kuhn

Brian S's picture

Brian S, you seem to be influenced by Karl Popper's views on induction, that it never really proves anything,

It's not that induction doesn't really prove anything, it's that induction is a myth, there is no process of induction, as I've attempted to explain. Yes, I am influenced by the Popperians (in particular, Bartley's pan critical rationalism).

and a better test of the scientific merit of something is its falsifiability.

Yes indeed. But not just that. There are other things like how much the theory explains and what problems it solves.

If it is not falsifiable, then it is not scientific. In that case, A is A is not scientific. It can never be false.

Yes, A is A is not scientific. Whether or not essences exist, it is unreasonable to assume apriori that an object has an ultimate essence (which of course is the thing of which A is A). Or that we can be absolutely sure we know it. I hold that further explanation is always possible, and this tends to suggests that the quest for ultimate essences is misbegotten.

Also, you seem to be concerned that new speculaions fit into a coherent framework of prior accepted truths, existing theoretical context.

Actually no. All I said was the problem arises out of the existing theoretical context. I didn't say that the conjecture to solve the problem needs to fit into that context: In fact, the conjecture might explode that context.

This sounds almost like Kuhn's paradigm theory. The test is if it fits. If it doesn't, then it is not true. If it doesn't, then it is not true. However, what if it is the one truth which disproves the entire paradigm?

Kuhn's paradigm theory is nonsense. I agree.

I touched on some of this in a prior post, in another thread, where I asked if philosophies had to be integrated. It could be that much truth is not coherent with existing theories. Perhaps those theories are only beliefs, and beliefs need not be true.

Indeed, it could be that the truth is not coherent with existing theories - this would upon close examination reveal itself as problems in those theories. And this comes back to my point about the problem arising from the existing theoretical context.

Popper's falsification theory and coherentism

NickOtani's picture

Brian S, you seem to be influenced by Karl Popper's views on induction, that it never really proves anything, and a better test of the scientific merit of something is its falsifiability. If it is not falsifiable, then it is not scientific. In that case, A is A is not scientific. It can never be false.

Also, you seem to be concerned that new speculaions fit into a coherent framwork of prior accepted truths, existing theoretical context. This sounds almost like Kuhn's paradigm theory. The test is if it fits. If it doesn't, then it is not true. However, what if it is the one truth which disproves the entire paradigm?

I touched on some of this in a prior post, in another thread, where I asked if philosophies had to be integrated. It could be that much truth is not coherent with existing theories. Perhaps those theories are only beliefs, and beliefs need not be true.

bis bald,

Nick

Induction doesn't happen

Brian S's picture

The hypothesis or conjucture is just a guess.

Yes, exactly.

It helps direct the testing.

Yes, by making predictions.

The testing is testing of a sample, specifics, and results are generalized to a whole.

No, the purpose of testing is to try to falsify the predictions and therefore your theory. If a specific observation falsifies your theory, that's it. Dead. Before you conduct your testing you already have your general hypothesis. Actually, I prefer the term explanation because that's really what science is about isn't it - explanation? Explanations are not, as I said before, generalized predictions: generalizing a result does not give an explanation.

This is the process of induction, reasoning from specific to general.

Let's go over the sequence again. Start with a problem. These arise out of the existing theoretical context. Formulate solution to problem. This involves making guesses (conjectures) and applying deductive reasoning to come up with an explanation. Good explanations should make predictions that can be tested. Aimed with our predictions, we make observations to see whether they hold up. If they don't ,the explanation is false. There is no induction going on here. It is all guesswork, deductive reasoning, and testing.

Thinking that a generalized prediction or generalized observation is an explanation is a non-sequitur. Induction doesn't happen. You have in fact admitted as much when you pointed out that even Ayn Rand didn't have a handle on it. Your reliance on induction undermines your argument.

Theories are not certain truths. They are theories. When they become more certain, they become theorems.

I never said they were certain truths. We can be uncertain about a true theory. Theories do not become more certain by making more observations. How do you objectively measure the certainty of a theory? How do you know some observation made tomorrow won't falsify a favourite theory? A false theory is quite simply false (although we may not yet know it) and it is ridiculous to think that there is some objective probability or degree of certainty that it is true.

Induction

NickOtani's picture

That's prettty much what I said. But this is certainly not induction. You don't get a hypothesis or conjecture from your problem by inducing it. The "proceeds to a hypothesis" step requires creativity and lots of deductive thinking and testing. Could you point out exactly where in your sequence induction occurs? It seems you are re-defining the word.

The hypothesis or conjucture is just a guess. It helps direct the testing. The testing is testing of a sample, specifics, and results are generalized to a whole. This is the process of induction, reasoning from specific to general. One can't test all the water in the world to see if it boils at a certain temperature, so the results of the sample are assumed to be true also of the all the rest of the untested water. It's specific to general. And, it is inconclusive. It is possible that water has a different boiling point at different elevations and under different conditions.

There is no objective way to assign degrees of certainty to theories. Theories are either true or false. That's it.

Theories are not certain truths. They are theories. When they become more certain, they become theorems. When they become more certain, they become laws. Still, there is a chance they could be wrong. We hear paternity tests are 99. 98 percent accurate. This is a degree of certainty, not an absolute.

bis bald,

Nick

Nick, The scientific method

Brian S's picture

Nick,

The scientific method is induction. It starts with a definition of the problem or issue and proceeds to a hypothesis, a plausible theory which is then tested within boundaries and with standards which will determine to what extent the hypothesis or theory holds up. When things have to be very precise, the standards become more exacting. If, through testing, the theories hold up, we say they become theorems.

That's prettty much what I said. But this is certainly not induction. You don't get a hypothesis or conjecture from your problem by inducing it. The "proceeds to a hypothesis" step requires creativity and lots of deductive thinking and testing. Could you point out exactly where in your sequence induction occurs? It seems you are re-defining the word.

When they become even more certain, we call them laws, or facts. Still, this only means they have a high enough degree of certainty that we can rely on them for certain purposes.

There is no objective way to assign degrees of certainty to theories. Theories are either true or false. That's it.

Lenoid

NickOtani's picture

"How do you know what you call free-will is not just an illusion"
Well if man doesn't have volition he doesn't have mind and therefore you cannot ask all those questions and I cannot answer them. The very fact that we involved in this discussion is a prove that people have volition and mind.You wouldn't seriously claim that this discussion is result of interaction of genetic traits with external stimuli.

I wouldn’t, but behavioral scientists would. I would have to have an alternate explanation that is more plausible than the one they posit. I think I do. However, you don’t. You do not know that volition and mind are not illusions and that this discussion is not the result of interaction of genetic traits with external stimuli. You just insist that it is not.

"The statement A is A is true whether A is true or false, and this is also the case with the other laws of formal, relational logic."
Law of Identity is not derived from formal logic. Exactly the opposite is true. Formal logic is based on Law of Identity which is basic metaphysical axiom: to be is to be something. It is no such a thing as existence without identity.

I never claimed that the law of identity is derived from formal logic. It is a procedural rule of formal logic. It applies to communication and thinking, communicating with one’s self. It does not identify reality as it is. It preserves the identity of variables while points are being made, but the objects represented by those variables may be changing their identities.

"How does conceptual faculity make freedom without breaking causation?"
It doesn't. Undetermined doesn't mean causeless.It's only mean that it doesn't have antecedent cause outside of the realm of human life.

If causation is not broken, then every action has a sufficient reason. That means it has an antecedent cause, and that means it is determined, not free.

"Simply because things act a certain way a certain number of times, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will always act that way." No,it does.They will always act according to their nature,their identity.How else they can act? All scientific research is based on that fact.And this is the basis of inductive thinking,not just number of observations.

I just spoke with Brian S about the induction, and I quote Ayn Rand saying she did not understand it. I also provided examples, in my Alice series, of how inductive reasoning doesn’t always accurately predict consequences. And, saying something will always act according to its nature is meaningless. If something turns to the right, it can be said that it did so because of its nature. However, the same thing can be said if it turns to the left. Whatever it does is its nature. One might as well say something does what it does, and this doesn’t tell us anything about what it does.

"How do you know that volition is an attribute of living conceptual entities, man, and how do you know its cause is inherent to the identity of life and the identity of man? Is this just an assumption? Is it suppose to be self-evident?"
I know that process of living is sine qua none of goal projecting. Trees and animals don't choose their goals,but people do. It is not an assumption but simple fact of human life.

I asked you how you know something, and you just answer that you know it, that it is not an assumption but a simple fact of human life. If you ask a theist how he or she knows God exists and he or she says he or she just knows it, that it is not an assumption but a simple fact, I don’t think you would accept it. It’s not really a good response.

"Behaviorists and other scientists will say that man has built in mechanisms also, just more sophisticated than those of trees and lower animals. How do you refute these scientists? Where is your reasoning and evidence?"
If man had build-in mechanisms of goal-projecting he wouldn't have need for reasoning and volition to choose his goals. He would act as automaton which behaviorists believe he is.By asking "where is your reasoning?" you refute behaviorists' claim.And besides,how they themselves arrived to this conclusion? By genetic trait?

No, it could be that the mechanisms in me are so complex that I really don’t know what causes me to behave as I do. Something could be causing me to ask “Where is your reasoning?” My ignorance as to what this cause is makes me think I am free. They, the behaviorists, could also be conditioned to arrive at the conclusion that they are conditioned.

BTW, You haven’t responded to my arguments about how causality cannot be a corollary of identity.

Bis bald,

Nick

Induction

NickOtani's picture

I mostly agree with your observations about casuality and the law of identity. However I disagree with the following:
An entity's nature is the kind of entity it is, and we determine this generally by observation and generalization. This is an inductive
process.
And this:

Causality is not tautological. It is inductive and inconclusive.
I think you weaken your case by bringing in induction, which is a mythical process. We in fact determine an entity's nature by solving problems. This involves making conjectures and seeing how well they stand up to testing and rational criticism. It does not involve anything like induction. All reasoning is hypothetico-deductive. The purpose of reasoning is to arrive at an explanation. Good explanations make predictions, but an explanation is not a generalized prediction.

I disagree with you, Brian S. The scientific method is induction. It starts with a definition of the problem or issue and proceeds to a hypothesis, a plausible theory which is then tested within boundaries and with standards which will determine to what extent the hypothesis or theory holds up. When things have to be very precise, the standards become more exacting. If, through testing, the theories hold up, we say they become theorems. When they become even more certain, we call them laws, or facts. Still, this only means they have a high enough degree of certainty that we can rely on them for certain purposes.
The scientific method is basically pragmatic. Ayn Rand does not like it because it does not rely on axioms and all her epistemology. She thinks it just looks for consequences, what works, what is practical. This may only be appearance, not reality. In medicine, problems can be solved by giving patients placebos instead of real medicine.

Still, there is a problem with induction that even David Kelley admits other philosophers see no solution to in Ayn Rand’s philosophy. Causality is only inferred because, as David Hume pointed out, things happen before other things and get associated with them. When someone is heating water and notices that every time it reaches a certain temperature, it boils. After several tests, he concludes that water boils at this temperature. However, one professor, in the Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, page 303, asked Ayn Rand when “…does one stop? When does one decide that enough confirming evidence exists? Is that in the province of induction?” Ayn Rand answered, “Yes, That’s the big question of induction. Which I couldn’t begin to discuss—because (a) I haven’t worked on that subject enough to even begin to formulate it, and (b) it would take an accomplished scientist in a given field to illustrate the whole process in that field.”

Bis bald,

Nick

Ultimate Natures

Brian S's picture

Leonid,

"Simply because things act a certain way a certain number of times, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will always act that way." No,it does.They will always act according to their nature,their identity.How else they can act? All scientific research is based on that fact. And this is the basis of inductive thinking,not just number of observations.

It is the basis of authoritarian thinking, not scientific research.

You seek ultimate explanations, the ultimate essence of things. If you have discovered the ultimate nature of something, then further explanation is impossible. And to seek it is foolishness.

Yet explanation can always be pushed; there are no limits to knowledge. Theories once thought to be certain get overturned and new theories arise to take their place. But when you say that a thing always acts according to its nature, you imply that ultimate explanation is possible, that knowledge has limits.

It's essentialism and essentialism is a cancer of philosophy. It leads to false ideas like induction. Fortunately the cancer can be cleanly excised. Scientific progress is not a search for ultimate essences and ultimate natures - it is a seach for explanations. And this search will never end. There will always be problems to solve. To think there won't be is nihilism.

Leonid"How do you know what

Leonid's picture

Leonid
"How do you know what you call free-will is not just an illusion"
Well if man doesn't have volition he doesn't have mind and therefore you cannot ask all those questions and I cannot answer them. The very fact that we involved in this discussion is a prove that people have volition and mind.You wouldn't seriously claim that this discussion is result of interaction of genetic traits with external stimuli.

"The statement A is A is true whether A is true or false, and this is also the case with the other laws of formal, relational logic."
Law of Identity is not derived from formal logic. Exactly the opposite is true. Formal logic is based on Law of Identity which is basic metaphysical axiom: to be is to be something. It is no such a thing as existence without identity.

"How does conceptual faculity make freedom without breaking causation?"
It doesn't. Undetermined doesn't mean causeless.It's only mean that it doesn't have antecedent cause outside of the realm of human life.

"Simply because things act a certain way a certain number of times, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will always act that way." No,it does.They will always act according to their nature,their identity.How else they can act? All scientific research is based on that fact.And this is the basis of inductive thinking,not just number of observations.

"How do you know that volition is an attribute of living conceptual entities, man, and how do you know its cause is inherent to the identity of life and the identity of man? Is this just an assumption? Is it suppose to be self-evident?"
I know that process of living is sine qua none of goal projecting. Trees and animals don't choose their goals,but people do. It is not an assumption but simple fact of human life.

"Behaviorists and other scientists will say that man has built in mechanisms also, just more sophisticated than those of trees and lower animals. How do you refute these scientists? Where is your reasoning and evidence?"
If man had build-in mechanisms of goal-projecting he wouldn't have need for reasoning and volition to choose his goals. He would act as automaton which behaviorists believe he is.By asking "where is your reasoning?" you refute behaviorists' claim.And besides,how they themselves arrived to this conclusion? By genetic trait?

Expel induction from your argument

Brian S's picture

Nick,

I mostly agree with your observations about casuality and the law of identity. However I disagree with the following:

An entity's nature is the kind of entity it is, and we determine this generally by observation and generalization. This is an inductive
process.

And this:

Causality is not tautological. It is inductive and inconclusive.

I think you weaken your case by bringing in induction, which is a mythical process. We in fact determine an entity's nature by solving problems. This involves making conjectures and seeing how well they stand up to testing and rational criticism. It does not involve anything like induction. All reasoning is hypothetico-deductive. The purpose of reasoning is to arrive at an explanation. Good explanations make predictions, but an explanation is not a generalized prediction. That this is apparent to you is evident from your statement that:

Simply because things act a certain way a certain number of times, it doesn't necessarily mean it will always act that way.

It is only through explanation that you know why something behaves one way sometimes and another way on other times.

To think explanations are arrived at through induction is to make a mistake of the first order.

Hello everybody!

Three points

NickOtani's picture

1 "I'd like you to address my argument that one can't get causality from the law of identity. Just saying that you can is not an argument."
Casuality means that A causes B. That means A has to be A and B has to be B and this is the definition of Law of Identity.Suppose that A interacts with B and the end-result is C. The same argument is applicable. Now what would define the nature of interaction between A and B? Their inherent proprties,in other words their identities.If one billiard ball hits another ball,the course of both balls is changing. If one egg hits another egg the result would be quite different. Why? Because the nature of eggs is different from that of billiard balls. To summarize:casuality is identity applied to action.Casuality is only possible because things have identity. How A can cause anything if A is nothing in particular?

Yes, causality means that A causes B, or “If A, then B.” This can be represented by the notation of symbolic logic as “A->B.” The law of identity is A is A, or A=A. It implies the law of non-contradiction, A cannot be non-A, ~(A^~A), and the law of excluded middle, A cannot be both A and non-A, ~(A->(A^~A). However, there is a difference between formal, relational logic, like the law of identity, contradiction and excluded middle, and empirical logic, like causality, A->B. One cannot get from tautologies like A=A and B=B to A->B. The tautologies of formal logic are true because of the structure of the statement. There is no way A is A can be false, even if A, by itself, is false. The statement A is A is true whether A is true or false, and this is also the case with the other laws of formal, relational logic. This is not the case with “If A, then B.” In this statement, if A is true but B is false, then the statement “A->B” is logically false. Causality is not tautological. It is inductive and inconclusive. This is not the case with the law of identity.

Even if it is true that causality is only possible if things have identity, this does not prove that things with identity cause other things with different identities. If A is A and B is B, it doesn’t necessarily follow that A causes B.

All your talk about nature, the nature of eggs or billiard balls, does nothing to help your case. An entity’s nature is the kind of entity it is, and we determine this generally by observation and generalization. This is an inductive process. Simply because things act a certain way a certain number of times, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will always act that way. This was the mistake the frog made in part one of Alice in Objectivist Land.

2."first cause is something which negates infinite regress."
Not if you define first cause as primary cause-the cause which causes every thing of its kind or every thing at all.Suppose you define X1 as primary cause of every thing which is belongs to genus X ( X1,X2,X3.....Xn).Then it's obvious that X1 is the cause of X1 and that is infinite regress.If you substitute for example X for existence then your X1 becomes creator,God and next question naturally would be " Who created God?"- which leads to infinite regress. The usual answer " one has to start somewhere" is not sufficient.The same thing applies to any primary cause. If by first cause you simply imply that particular entity causes certain action-like in the case of two billiard balls-then you are right. However bear in mind that in Laplass determinism is no such a thing as first cause in that sense.

It is not rational to ask what caused God if God is the first cause. It is like asking what is north of the North Pole.

Aristotle, Ayn Rand, Nathaniel Branden, and Leonard Peikoff all have first cause arguments. Aristotle argues for a prime mover to stop the infinite regreee which would result if there is no first cause, a cause which causes other things but is not, itself, caused. Rand, Branden, and Peikoff argue that man’s initial choice to focus is a first cause. There is no antecedent reason for it. It doesn’t cause itself. It just is, and it causes other things. Of course, the objectivist arguments are not really arguments but pronouncements of “self-evident” truth.

Branden said, “that man is capable of making choices which are first causes within his consciousness, i.e., not necessitated by an antecedent factor.” (Nathaniel Branden, “Volition and the Law of Causality,” The Objectivist V,3 (March 1966),p.8 )

And, I’m sure you don’t mean Laplass determinism. The man’s name is Laplace.
3. "Yes, but this doesn't explan how volition co-exists with causality."
If you agree with definition of casuality as it have been presented above then you may conclude that since volition is attribute of living conceptual entity-man and its cause is inherent to identity of life and identity of man.

I do think volition is possible for man, but I don’t think you’ve explained or proven it. How do you know that volition is an attribute of living conceptual entities, man, and how do you know its cause is inherent to the identity of life and the identity of man? Is this just an assumption? Is it suppose to be self-evident?

And that leads to another three questions :1. What is identity of life? 2. What is identity of man? 3.Why living entities do anything at all, in other words what is the cause of their actions?
I maintain that life can be identified as a process of projecting goals into the future and projected goal is the cause of action of any living organism. Let me elaborate. Living itself is goal projected into the future since it is no certainty in continuation of living-that why living organisms always face alternative of life and death.Living organisms able to initiate certain actions to achieve that goal which is not exists in the moment of initiation.

Behaviorists and most cognitivists will disagree with you. They will say entities do not initiate actions. Actions are a result of the interaction of genetic factors with external stimuli. There are reason for actions. They are not free or first causes.

A tree is turning its leaves to the sun in order to get sunlight to get energy. It may achieve that goal but it also may fail for different reasons. What is the cause of of tree's action?

The tree is not choosing to turn its leaves to the sun. It does so automatically.

The goal,projected into the future-to get energy.Suppose you ask :and what causes to the living entities to project their goals? The answer is that it is not and cannot be such a cause outside of the animated realm,since such a property is inherent to life, it is life's identity applied to action.And what is happening when living organism like man doesn't possesses build-in mechanisms to project his goals as viruses trees and low animals do? Then he has to choose his goals.

I do think man is different from other organisms and has free-will, but you do not prove or explain or prove it. You simply say man doesn’t possess built-in mechanisms and has to choose his goals. How do you know this? Behaviorists and other scientists will say that man has built in mechanisms also, just more sophisticated than those of trees and lower animals. How do you refute these scientists? Where is your reasoning and evidence?

The goal accepted by choice is purpose.Man does it by using his conceptual faculty-reason.The mechanism which allows him to do that is volition which is inherent feature of man's mind. Volition is the mechanism of goal-projecting on conceptual level. It cause,however is still the same-continuation of life,in this case life of man qua man,rational animal, which is man's identity.Volition is man's identity applied to action of goal-projecting.Anything which causes to you to want something is the cause of your volition.

So you say. How does conceptual faculity make freedom without breaking causation? How do you know man is more free than other animals? How do you know what you call free-will is not just an illusion? Perhaps you are conditioned to think you are free. And, how can you have freedom if you don’t believe in first causes?

Bis bald,

Nick

three points

Leonid's picture

Leonid

1 "I'd like you to address my argument that one can't get causality from the law of identity. Just saying that you can is not an argument."
Casuality means that A causes B. That means A has to be A and B has to be B and this is the definition of Law of Identity.Suppose that A interacts with B and the end-result is C. The same argument is applicable. Now what would define the nature of interaction between A and B? Their inherent proprties,in other words their identities.If one billiard ball hits another ball,the course of both balls is changing. If one egg hits another egg the result would be quite different. Why? Because the nature of eggs is different from that of billiard balls. To summarize:casuality is identity applied to action.Casuality is only possible because things have identity. How A can cause anything if A is nothing in particular?

2."first cause is something which negates infinite regress."
Not if you define first cause as primary cause-the cause which causes every thing of its kind or every thing at all.Suppose you define X1 as primary cause of every thing which is belongs to genus X ( X1,X2,X3.....Xn).Then it's obvious that X1 is the cause of X1 and that is infinite regress.If you substitute for example X for existence then your X1 becomes creator,God and next question naturally would be " Who created God?"- which leads to infinite regress. The usual answer " one has to start somewhere" is not sufficient.The same thing applies to any primary cause. If by first cause you simply imply that particular entity causes certain action-like in the case of two billiard balls-then you are right. However bear in mind that in Laplass determinism is no such a thing as first cause in that sense.

3. "Yes, but this doesn't explan how volition co-exists with causality."
If you agree with definition of casuality as it have been presented above then you may conclude that since volition is attribute of living conceptual entity-man and its cause is inherent to identity of life and identity of man.And that leads to another three questions :1. What is identity of life? 2. What is identity of man? 3.Why living entities do anything at all, in other words what is the cause of their actions?

I maintain that life can be identified as a process of projecting goals into the future and projected goal is the cause of action of any living organism. Let me elaborate. Living itself is goal projected into the future since it is no certainty in continuation of living-that why living organisms always face alternative of life and death.Living organisms able to initiate certain actions to achieve that goal which is not exists in the moment of initiation. A tree is turning its leaves to the sun in order to get sunlight to get energy. It may achieve that goal but it also may fail for different reasons. What is the cause of of tree's action? The goal,projected into the future-to get energy.Suppose you ask :and what causes to the living entities to project their goals? The answer is that it is not and cannot be such a cause outside of the animated realm,since such a property is inherent to life, it is life's identity applied to action.And what is happening when living organism like man doesn't possesses build-in mechanisms to project his goals as viruses trees and low animals do? Then he has to choose his goals. The goal accepted by choice is purpose.Man does it by using his conceptual faculty-reason.The mechanism which allows him to do that is volition which is inherent feature of man's mind. Volition is the mechanism of goal-projecting on conceptual level. It cause,however is still the same-continuation of life,in this case life of man qua man,rational animal, which is man's identity.Volition is man's identity applied to action of goal-projecting.Anything which causes to you to want something is the cause of your volition.

It's okay, Richard.

NickOtani's picture

We don't have to agree. I see Rand saying that axiomatic concepts cannot be analysed, broken down into component parts, but she breaks down consciousness into the component parts of content and action. I said nothing about understanding, which could be another state of consciousness. I agree that consciousness is awareness, but it cannot exist without content and action of the mind. That is what consciousness or awareness is.

bis bald,

Nick

Let's focus on these three points:

NickOtani's picture

I read your post very carefully. You did say that humans don't have the automatic functions that other living things have, so they have to substitute volition. Yes, but this doesn't explan how volition co-exists with causality. It is not enough to say causality if different in humans. And, first cause is something which negates infinite regress. It is a cause which is not itself caused but starts the casual chain. If it weren't there, there would be infinite regress, an unending chain with no beginning, no first cause. Finally, I'd like you to address my argument that one can't get causality from the law of identity. Just saying that you can is not an argument.

bis bald,

Nick

Leonid I don't think you

Leonid's picture

Leonid
I don't think you understand what I've said. Obviously,trees do not choose-they have build-in mechanisms to project their goals in order to survive.Exactly because man doesn't have them he substitutes them with volition and mind.And regarding to focus-you obviously haven't read the article I reffered to.
You wrong by saying "Infinite regress only occures when there is no first cause. " If X is first cause of every thing then this every thing has to include X and this is infinite regress.

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