Existence-Is-Identity Axioms

Stephen Boydstun's picture
Submitted by Stephen Boydstun on Sat, 2007-11-03 14:41

“To exist is to be something, as distinguished from the nothing of non-existence, it is to be an entity of a specific nature made of specific attributes. Centuries ago, the man who was—no matter what his errors—the greatest of your philosophers, has stated the formula defining the concept of existence and the role of all knowledge: A is A. A thing is itself. You have never grasped the meaning of his statement. I am here to complete it: Existence is Identity. . . .” (AS 1016).

Rand maintained that the concept of identity is a philosophical axiom, in the following sense: “An axiom is a statement that identifies the base of knowledge and of any further statement pertaining to that knowledge, a statement necessarily contained in all others, whether any particular speaker chooses to identify it or not. An axiom is a proposition that defeats its opponents by the fact that they have to accept it and use it in the process of any attempt to deny it. Let [one] who does not choose to accept the axiom of identity, try to present his theory without using the concept of identity or any concept derived from it” (1040). (See also Chapter 6 of ITOE and ARS - Lennox.)

Rand takes the proposition “Existence is identity” to express a primary fact. This proposition is a fundamental composition upon the concepts existence and identity (further, pp. 44–45), which concepts, along with the concept consciousness, Rand takes as axiomatic. Two other propositions expressing primary facts are “Existence exists” and “Consciousness is of existence not only itself.” Rand constructs arguments to show that these two propositions are indeed axiomatic (AS 1015–16, 1039–40).

I have come round to taking the proposition “Existence is identity” as an epigram encapsulating identity postulates on existence, such as the proposition “To exist . . . is to be an entity of a specific nature made of specific attributes.” Three years ago, led by Rand’s text, I began drawing forth other identity postulates on existence contracted into “Existence is identity.” I have constructed arguments showing that some of these postulates are indeed axiomatic. I will here share a couple of these postulates and my demonstrations that their denials give rise to self-contradictions.

A.  Exclusions of Non-Contradiction: Entities

Rand states her finer structure for the law of identity as follows. “Whatever you choose to consider, be it an object, an attribute, or an action, the law of identity remains the same. A leaf cannot be a stone at the same time, it cannot be all red and all green at the same time, it cannot freeze and burn at the same time. A is A. . . . A contradiction cannot exist. An atom is itself, and so is the universe; neither can contradict its own identity; nor can a part contradict the whole” (AS 1016).

Rand’s law of identity entails that objects come in some exclusive kinds. Leaf and stone are kinds that are exclusive with respect to each other. Any object is also of kinds that are not exclusive of each other: a leaf is a kind of plant part, it is a kind of light catcher, and it is a kind of drain clogger. To say that an object is a leaf and a stone violates identity in Rand’s sense; it is a contradiction. But to say that an object is a leaf and a drain clogger is no contradiction. Objects come in some exclusive kinds, and it is sensitivity to these sets of kinds that is written into Rand’s conception of noncontradiction concerning the kind-identity of an object. (Cf. Plato’s Sophist 252e–54b.)

Rand clearly intends that what is here proposed for objects is to be generalized to entities. Every entity is of some kinds that are exclusive relative to other kinds of entity. Rand uses the term entity in the paragraph preceding the object examples of leaf and stone. That is, she uses entity in the initial statement of her law of identity: “To exist is to be something, . . . it is to be an entity of a specific nature made of specific attributes” (AS 1016). On that page, it is clear that she takes for entities not only what are ordinarily called objects such as leaf, stone, or table, but micro-objects such as living cells and atoms, super-objects such as solar system and universe, and substances such as wood.

Now we have a modest problem. If we say “to exist is to be an entity of a specific nature made of specific attributes,” we seem to say that attributes are either entities or are not existents. Consider for attributes “the shape of a pebble or the structure of the solar system” (AS 1016). To avoid the patent falsehood that the shape of a pebble does not exist, shall we say that not only the pebble is an entity, but its shape is an entity? Rand reaches a resolution by a refinement in her metaphysics nine years after her first presentation. In 1966 she writes “Entities are the only primary existents. (Attributes cannot exist by themselves, they are merely the characteristics of entities; motions are motions of entities; relationships are relationships among entities)” (ITOE 15). Let us say then that to exist is either (a) to be an entity of a specific nature made of specific attributes or (b) to be some specific character in the nature of entities.

In ITOE Rand also makes the refinement of taking materials, physical substances, to be not fully specific entities. “Materials exist only in the form of specific entities, such as a nugget of gold, a plank of wood, a drop or an ocean of water” (ITOE 16). Materials, for Rand, would seem to fall under both (a) and (b), and I do not see any defect in that.

Let us now expose self-contradictions that obtain in denial of the ramification of "existence is identity" that entities are always of some exclusive kinds. Suppose an entity exists and is not of any kind that excludes it being any other kinds. If the supposed entity is nothing but existence itself, then there is no contradiction; one is simply talking about existence as a whole. So suppose an entity exists and is not of any kind that excludes it being other kinds and is not existence as a whole.

Then the supposed entity could be one with any other entities that are of exclusive kinds (just as a leaf that is a drain clogger could be one with a leaf that is dead, maple, and wet). For it is not an entity of any kind excluding it being other kinds. But to say that an entity is not of any exclusive kind and that it is one and the same with another entity that is of some exclusive kind(Drunk is a contradiction. (Non-A is A.) Indeed if some entity were not of any exclusive kind, then it could be one with the person who supposes such an entity. Then to suppose an entity that is not of any exclusive kind is to suppose that one’s person could be an entity not of some exclusive kinds. But that supposition contradicts the presupposition that one is of the exclusive kind person, a person who makes the (errant) supposition. (Cf. Aristotle’s Metaphysics 1007b19–1008a28.)

So I have argued the axiomatic standing of “existence is identity,” where the existents are entities and the identity is kind-identity. All entities are of some exclusive kinds—a leaf cannot be a stone at the same time—and this postulate must be accepted on pain of self-contradiction.

B. Exclusions of Non-Contradiction: Actions

Rand’s law of identity entails that actions come in some exclusive kinds in the following sense. Burning of a leaf and freezing of a leaf are kinds of actions that are exclusive with respect to each other. However, to say that a leaf is burning and floating is no violation of identity, no contradiction. Some actions of objects—burning and freezing in the case of leaves—are exclusive with respect to each other. Rand’s conception of noncontradiction concerning actions pertains to these. (Cf. Republic 436b, 436e; Metaphysics 1061b35–62a1.)

Rand’s law of identity also entails that every entity that has actions has certain actions and not others. A green leaf manufactures chlorophyll; a stone does not. Rand’s conception of noncontradiction concerning actions pertains to these exclusions as well. “The nature of an action is caused and determined by the nature of the entities that act; a thing cannot act in contradiction to its nature” (AS 1037). (Cf. On Generation and Corruption 338b15)

I want to prove axiomatic the truth that every action-bearing entity bears certain kinds of action and not others. Suppose an entity could bear any kind of action without restriction of the kind of action. Then it could bear all the acts of a leaf and a stone. Indeed, it could bear all the acts of all the kinds of entity there are. Such an entity would be the conjunction of all the kinds of entity there are with respect to their possible actions.

It would be more. Not only could this super-acting entity bear all the actions of, say, a leaf. It could also burn and freeze at the same time. Yet, having all the possible actions of a leaf, its burning excludes its freezing at the same time. Our super-acting entity is capable of burning and freezing at the same time, and it is incapable of burning and freezing at the same time. Our super-acting entity can float on water, like a leaf, and yet, like a stone, it cannot float on water. These are contradictions. No such entity can exist. There is no entity that can bear any kind of action without restriction of the kind of action.

Moreover, let a person suppose there could be an entity that could bear any kind of action without restriction of the kind of action. Such an entity could bear the act of supposing its existence, just as a person might do. But unlike a person, the super-acting entity could suppose at the same time that such an entity is impossible. But this contradicts the presupposition of a person that contradictories are false.

So I have argued the axiomatic standing of “existence is identity” where the existents are action-bearing entities and the identity is restriction of the kinds of actions of those entities. Rand’s thesis that any entity that exists has a specific nature [“to exist . . . is to be an entity of a specific nature . . .” (AS 1016)] has now been proven to be axiomatic insofar as the action nature of entities is concerned. The postulate that every action-bearing entity bears certain kinds of action and not others must be accepted on pain of self-contradiction.

It should be noticed that I have not proven that, for every action-bearing entity, some of the kinds of action it bears are exclusive with respect to each other. I leave open the possibility that some kinds of entities can bear all the kinds of actions in their repertoire simultaneously. Certainly a leaf is not such an entity.

(See also Change and Entity and Contradiction with Particulars.)


( categories: )

Foundations of Logic

Stephen Boydstun's picture

I noted earlier the work of Penelope Maddy in philosophy of logic. At the Pacific Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association, there will be a symposium on The Foundations of Logic.*

The meeting will be held in Vancouver at the Westin Bayshore. This session will be on April 10th at 4:00–6:00 p.m.

Speaker: Gila Sher

“Is Logic in the Mind or in the World?”

ABSTRACT – In this paper, I present an outline of a unified answer to the following questions: 1. Is logic in the mind or in the world? 2. Does logic need a foundation? What is the main obstacle to a foundation for logic? Can it be overcome? 3. How does logic work? What does logical form represent? Are logical constants referential? 4. Is there a criterion of logicality? 5. What is the relation between logic and mathematics? Due to limitations of space I focus primarily on the first two questions and briefly describe my answers to the last three.

Commentators: Philip Hanson and Marcus Rossberg

 

The session of the Ayn Rand Society will be the preceding evening.

 

* Related: a, b, cd, e, f, g

Good luck and good riddance

Leonid's picture

Leonid
(Leonid)No ,its presents countless contradictions,as I've shown number of times before.

(Nick)Pick a few and present them here. Don’t just blow hot air.

Here is just one.Reality,you said,is unidentified flux of nothing in particular.
1.This is by itself a contradiction.if something exists it exists as something,that is-possesing properties,identity.If something exists as nothing how you ever can know it? We learn about reality by using our perception.If things have no identity then it's nothing to perceive.One cannot perceive unidentified flux.Besides,every available evidence from our perception contradicts your premise.It says to us that our world is a sum of identified objects.On what basis you conclude that existence has no identity? Can you cite any observation that reality has no identity and therefore unobservable? If you cannot you are refuted and if you can you claim contradiction.
2.Subjects,according to you,differ from objects by having some inherent identity.This is another contradiction.You postulate two different realities with different metaphysics.You don't explain by what means subjects spontaniously acquire identity in unidentified reality.Your second premise contradicts the first.
3.You claim that we actually provide unidentified flux with identities by taking "snapshots".This claim brings up more contradictions.a)You cannot take any snapshots on something which has no identity.b)If reality has no identity you cannot be aware of it-one cannot be aware of nothing in particular.Identity precedes consciousness.That means you cannot possess any consciousness.
c) If things have no identities you cannot distinguish one thing from another and therefore you provide things with identities on arbitrary basis,by wish or whim.In other words your world is pure fantasy which has nothing to do with reality. Your position contradicts existence,consciousness and identity,evidence of your own eyes and common sense.It is contradiction to claim that such a position can be compatible with Objectivism.I said all this before but you conveniently choose to evade my arguments.I think I've wasted far too much time and effort in attemt to talk you out of your delusion.If reality itself cannot persuade you,nobody ever could.Good luck and good riddance.
P.S "You are an incredibly stupid person."
Shame,Nick! You ran out of arguments again.Or maybe just out of stuff you are sniffing?

I really don't like you, Leonid

NickOtani's picture

(Nick)1."Now, with regard to your unsupported claim that literature differs from philosophy"

(Leonid)It obviously differs.Philosophy is comprehensive view on reality.Literature is an art,presentation of abstracts in the concrete,perceptual form.The language of literature could be ambiguous,but that of philosophy should be precise.Ancient mythology is literature,not philosophy.

(Nick)Philosophy is the love of wisdom. Whether or not it is a comprehensive view of reality depends on ones view of reality and whether or not a comprehensive view of reality is possible. This is one of the issues of philosophy. Whether or not the language of literature is ambiguous is also issue. Yes, there are some poems which mean different things to different people, but there is also poetry which is very precise and clear. It can be like painting a mental picture which is worth more than a thousand words. Shakespeare’s words in the form of Macbeth’s speech about life being a tale told by and idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing; is the best statement of nihilism ever. T. S. Elliot’s persona in “The Love song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is the best illustration of a man living for others, subjugated to society, and “Invictus” by William Earnest Henley is one of the best statements of authentic individualism. The “I” speech from Rand’s Anthem is another. Linguistic Analysis type philosophers, like Russell, tried to deny that anything not provable in logic and mathematical systems is not meaningful. They are the ones trying to be precise, but they tend to miss a lot of things which are meaningful, which people live and die for, and are more important to them than the Pythagorean Theorem. Yes, math and logic are important, but they are not God. There is much which cannot be communicated by it but can be communicated in literature.

(Nick)2."NickOtani’sNeo-Objectivism preserves existential freedom within the objective parameters."

(Leonid)No ,its presents countless contradictions,as I've shown number of times before.

(Nick)Pick a few and present them here. Don’t just blow hot air.

(Leonid)Freedom cannot be derived from the flux of nothing in particular and cannot be achieved by re-creation of reality.This is the "freedom" to be delusional,"freedom" of drug addict to see reality as he pleases.

(Nick)Now, that’s not a very precise statement. It’s a bigoted opinion, not even an argument. It certainly isn’t philosophy or good literature.

(Nick)3."This is consistent with my views that words are not the objects"

(Leonid)This is not answer to my question.Previously you claimed that things have no identity and we provide it by taking snapshots. Now you say"It is not the reality in the snapshot." which is obvious contradiction to your previous position.I asked whether you've changed your view and you are evading the answer.

(Nick)You don’t seem to understand me. Yes, we give identity to that which surrounds us, but it is merely a provisional name we use to communicate and think. It is not necessarily the reality we try to capture with the name. It is a cubby hole we may have to adjust as we learn more about those things we name, take pictures of.

(Nick)4."We have provisional identities, based on our best information at the time"

(Leonid)According to you things don't have any identities before you take snapshots,including provisional identities.Things without identities wouldn't give you any information.

(Nick)We are the ones who put meaning into the world. We exist first and choose projects and identify that which helps us or hurts us in the pursuit of our goals. We don’t ask things for information. We give it information. If a tree helps us build a house, that is what we use if for. It’s existence first, then essence.
(Nick)5"animals and plants automatically do that which is in their rational self-interest as far as their capabilities allow."

(Leonid)-rationality means volitional noncontradictory integration of perceptual data into concepts.Animals clearly don't have such a faculty.Viruses also act toward self-benifit and self-preservation.Would you call them rational too? I never heard about rational virus-except in science-fiction.Are we going to discuss X-files now?

(Nick)Yes, viruses also act rationally toward their own self-interest. Volition has nothing to do with rational action. Computers act rationally, but computers do not have volition.

(Nick)6."If consciousness cannot be reduced to matter yet is an existent, then it is a ghost."

(Lenoid)-As I mentioned before consciousness is not an object,it's faculty,function.Your vision is also cannot be reduced to the matter. Software on your computer cannot be reduced to the hard driver.Does it make it ghost? Life is also not an object,it's a process,like the runnung of your car.When your car stops to run would you say that its running cease to exist,become nothingness.Regardless to all that,existence of nothingness is contradiction in terms.Entity cannot exist and not exist the same time.What it is-is and what it isn't-isn't.

(Nick)Binswanger disagrees with you. He says he is a dualist and that Objectivism dualistic. Is he wrong? And, I told you were Rand spoke of life as the fundamental alternative because it goes out of existence. It is something which becomes nothing. And, when Sartre says he is what he is not and is not what he is, he does not mean that he is and isn’t at the same time. He means that he is in a process of becoming.

(Nick)7"Any rational jurist would conclude that you don’t know how."

(Leonid)First no rational jurist would be able to reach any conclusion based on assumption that reality is unidentified flux of everchanging nothing in particular and all knowledge is relative.

Wow! All my explanation gets ignored so that you can hang on to this gross misinterpretation of my views. I don’t know what to say. It’s all I can do not to call you a name and say what I really think of you. If I do that, you’ll accuse me of resorting to insult. I can’t help it. You are misrepresenting my views, and I’m offended by it. You are an incredibly stupid person.

(Leonid)Second we are not in the court of law and I don't have to prove to you anything.I just used your argument to show that your philosophy is completely unapplicable to the real life.

(Nick)You haven’t done anything. You haven’t proven anything nor disproved anything I’ve said. I wish I could debate someone for whom I have more respect. It’s beneath me to keep responding to you.

bis bald,

Nick

Get life

Leonid's picture

Leonid
1."Now, with regard to your unsupported claim that literature differs from philosophy"
It obviously differs.Philosophy is comprehensive view on reality.Literature is an art,presentation of abstracts in the concrete,perceptual form.The language of literature could be ambiguous,but that of philosophy should be precise.Ancient mythology is literature,not philosophy.
2."NickOtani’sNeo-Objectivism preserves existential freedom within the objective parameters."
No ,its presents countless contradictions,as I've shown number of times before.Freedom cannot be derived from the flux of nothing in particular and cannot be achieved by re-creation of reality.This is the "freedom" to be delusional,"freedom" of drug addict to see reality as he pleases.
3."This is consistent with my views that words are not the objects" This is not answer to my question.Previously you claimed that things have no identity and we provide it by taking snapshots. Now you say"It is not the reality in the snapshot." which is obvious contradiction to your previous position.I asked whether you've changed your view and you are evading the answer.
4."We have provisional identities, based on our best information at the time" According to you things don't have any identities before you take snapshots,including provisional identities.Things without identities wouldn't give you any information.
5"animals and plants automatically do that which is in their rational self-interest as far as their capabilities allow."-rationality means volitional noncontradictory integration of perceptual data into concepts.Animals clearly don't have such a faculty.Viruses also act toward self-benifit and self-preservation.Would you call them rational too? I never heard about rational virus-except in science-fiction.Are we going to discuss X-files now?
6."If consciousness cannot be reduced to matter yet is an existent, then it is a ghost."-As I mentioned before consciousness is not an object,it's faculty,function.Your vision is also cannot be reduced to the matter. Software on your computer cannot be reduced to the hard driver.Does it make it ghost? Life is also not an object,it's a process,like the runnung of your car.When your car stops to run would you say that its running cease to exist,become nothingness.Regardless to all that,existence of nothingness is contradiction in terms.Entity cannot exist and not exist the same time.What it is-is and what it isn't-isn't.
7"Any rational jurist would conclude that you don’t know how."
First no rational jurist would be able to reach any conclusion based on assumption that reality is unidentified flux of everchanging nothing in particular and all knowledge is relative.Second we are not in the court of law and I don't have to prove to you anything.I just used your argument to show that your philosophy is completely unapplicable to the real life.

"Broken crutches" Are you using literary devices?

NickOtani's picture

(Nick)1. "You don’t seem capable of understanding literary devices like analogies and metaphors."

(Leonid)I think that you don't understand difference between literature and philosophy. Apparently Sartre didn't understand it as well.

(Nick)Let’s point out first that your retort here does nothing to counter my accusation that you do not understand literary devices. You are changing the subject. Second, you are not commenting on your misunderstanding of Bacon’s maxim or my argument that if you think it is ambiguous, then you must also think Rand’s philosophy is ambiguous. You are not trying to defend yourself against that charge. You lost that point. If you would be honest, you would admit it.

Now, with regard to your unsupported claim that literature differs from philosophy, literature is a means of presenting philosophy. Rand uses it as well as Sartre. The Epic of Gilgamesh and the literature of Homer and others is what humans used for history and understanding this existence prior to the impersonal ways of describing nature fostered in the west by Thales. Hinduism relies on long epic poems which talk about Braham and avatars like Krishna and Vishnu. Native Americans and certain Africans and South Americans have their stories which preserve their thought. There is much which can be captured in literature which cannot be captured in expository writing. Yes, literature also has limitations, which is why other forms of communication evolved. However, people who claim literature differs from philosophy don’t understand literature or philosophy.

(Nick)2."That’s all you do, use labels instead of arguments. I’m the one trying to get you to bring some original ideas to the discussion. My Neo-Objectivism is original."

(Leonid)What is original in ecclectic mixture of existentialism which is idealistic philosophy with poorly understood misinterpretated Objectivism.? What it can produce except a stream of contradictions?

(Nick)First, I don’t misunderstand Objectivism. You do. You’ve demonstrated this a number of times. Second, pure Objectivism already has contradictions and weaknesses. I’ve been pointing out these problems in my Alice series and in many of my subsequent posts on these pages. Pure Existentialism also has problems. When they are combined as I combine them, the weaknesses of each philosophy are offset as their strengths are augmented. Objectivism has a problem with freedom, but pure Existentialism reduces to pure subjectivism, relativism. NickOtani’sNeo-Objectivism preserves existential freedom within the objective parameters.

(Nick)3."It is like taking a snap shot. It is not the reality in the snapshot."

(Leonid)How that conforms to your previous claim that we actually provide identity to objects by taking snapshots?Are you changing your position here?

(Nick)This is consistent with my views that words are not the objects. They are variables we use in communication and thinking. We exist first and put meaning into our existence. We observe and classify, putting objects into cubbyholes, but they are our cubbyholes. It would be unidentified phenomena before this.

(Nick)4."We deal with provisional identities. We can’t really say what something is if it is still in a process of becoming."

(Leonid)On what basis you make your provisional identity then? Besides,the process of becoming never stops,so we never can say anything about what something is.Why to bother?

(Nick)It is true that we may never get to the end, but something is better than nothing. We have provisional identities, based on our best information at the time, and we adjust it as we learn more, as science is doing with Pluto and the method of analyzing lead in bullets. If we had all the answers, there would be no point in learning more. We don’t have all the answers, so we keep on learning.

(Nick)5."No, Leonid. You were clearly refuted here. You said you couldn’t believe Binswanger would say something so nonsensical as that Objectivism is dualistic. I showed you where he did say that"

(Leonid)No,you didn't.You misunderstood Binswanger.What he said is that consciousness cannot be reduced to the matter.That doesn't mean that matter and consciousness can exist separately.Rand once said "Mind without body is a ghost,body without mind is a corpse,both of them are symbols of death." It is no dualism in Objectivism.

(Nick)I’m aware of Rand’s statement, yet I’m also aware of Binswanger’s statement. Go back and read it. If consciousness cannot be reduced to matter yet is an existent, then it is a ghost. Or, perhaps Binswanger is wrong. Is that possible? I can point to other Objectivists who also talk about the consciousness as separated from the body but interacting with it. Don’t forget my other argument that an external world, which Rand mentions, implies and internal one as well. This is also a dualism.

(Nick)6."Animals are automatically rational."

(Leonid)Automatically rational is contradiction in terms.Rationality means ability to make decisions,based on conceptual thinking which is volitional process.Rationality pressuposes volition.

(Nick)No, animals and plants automatically do that which is in their rational self-interest as far as their capabilities allow. Trees reach out with their roots for nutrients in the soil and turn their leaves to the sun. This is rational action for the survival of the tree. Man has to weigh options and make decisions. It is not always automatic, and it is not always rational. Rationality does not presuppose volition. Irrationality does.

(Nick)7."You were criticizing Sartre for talking about nothingness, and I showed you where Rand also talked about it as the only fundamental alternative, that which makes the concept of value possible. Sartre uses it this way also."
(Leonid)And I showed that this topic has nothing to do with concept of existence of "nothingness" which is another contradiction in terms.

(Nick)Yes, when life ceases to exist, it changes from something to nothing. This is relevant to the topic of nothingness. There does exist a concept of nothingness in Objectivism, as paradoxical as that may sound.

(Nick)9."You can’t really stand on your own two feet and think for yourself. You are not independent enough.”

(Leonid)And how do you know that? Is this conclusive statement? Or maybe this is one of your provisional identities?And isn't it true that no knowledge is conclusive,one only can talk in terms of possibilities? Or it's also inconclusive? You said "You don't even know what a premise is."-on what basis you can know that if I never told you what premise is? I may know it and I may not,but you cannot know that except by using innate knowledge,revelation or one of your other mystical tools.And in any case as you said "It really isn’t anything in particular until we give it a name"-so it is your name against my and there is nothing to argue about.You should practice what you preach and then,maybe you will see what a mess you created out of philosophy.You are using two broken crutches-Existentialism and distorted Objectivism which you've corrupted.

(Nick)No, I don’t need to use revelation or something mystical. I am a teacher. I work with thousands of individuals, and I assess what they know and what they don’t. That is part of what I do for a living. Yes, it is a guess, and it could be wrong, but there is a high degree of certainty with the educated opinions of professionals. And, if I am wrong, you could easily prove it by telling me what premises are or laying out your arguments premise by premise. You aren’t doing this. Any rational jurist would conclude that you don’t know how.

bis bald,

Nick

You are using two broken crutches

Leonid's picture

1. "You don’t seem capable of understanding literary devices like analogies and metaphors."
I think that you don't understand difference between literature and philosophy. Apparently Sartre didn't understand it as well.
2."That’s all you do, use labels instead of arguments. I’m the one trying to get you to bring some original ideas to the discussion. My Neo-Objectivism is original."
What is original in ecclectic mixture of existentialism which is idealistic philosophy with poorly understood misinterpretated Objectivism.? What it can produce except a stream of contradictions?
3."It is like taking a snap shot. It is not the reality in the snapshot."
How that conforms to your previous claim that we actually provide identity to objects by taking snapshots?Are you changing your position here?
4."We deal with provisional identities. We can’t really say what something is if it is still in a process of becoming."
On what basis you make your provisional identity then? Besides,the process of becoming never stops,so we never can say anything about what something is.Why to bother?
5."(Nick)No, Leonid. You were clearly refuted here. You said you couldn’t believe Binswanger would say something so nonsensical as that Objectivism is dualistic. I showed you where he did say that"
No,you didn't.You misunderstood Binswanger.What he said is that consciousness cannot be reduced to the matter.That doesn't mean that matter and consciousness can exist separately.Rand once said "Mind without body is a ghost,body without mind is a corpse,both of them are symbols of death." It is no dualism in Objectivism.
6."Animals are automatically rational."
Automatically rational is contradiction in terms.Rationality means ability to make decisions,based on conceptual thinking which is volitional process.Rationality pressuposes volition.
7."You were Criticizing Sartre for talking about nothingness, and I showed you where Rand also talked about it as the only fundamental alternative, that which makes the concept of value possible. Sartre uses it this way also."
And I showed that this topic has nothing to do with concept of existence of "nothingness" which is another contradiction in terms.
9."You can’t really stand on your own two feet and think for yourself. You are not independent enough.
And how do you know that? Is this conclusive statement? Or maybe this is one of your provisional identities?And isn't it true that no knowledge is conclusive,one only can talk in terms of possibilities? Or it's also inconclusive? You said "You don't even know what a premise is."-on what basis you can know that if I never told you what premise is? I may know it and I may not,but you cannot know that except by using innate knowledge,revelation or one of your other mystical tools.And in any case as you said "It really isn’t anything in particular until we give it a name"-so it is your name against my and there is nothing to argue about.You should practice what you preach and then,maybe you will see what a mess you created out of philosophy.You are using two broken crutches-Existentialism and distorted Objectivism which you've corrupted.

Stop evading. Use your mind, Leonid. Stop using crutches.

NickOtani's picture

(Nick)1."Sartre advanced knowledge and philosophy by transcending logic and systematic philosophy, as did Nietzsche. What he said is not all that ambiguous to those who understand him When it is explained, the literal paradox disappears, but this is also what happens in Existentialism."

(Leonid)Literal paradox is ambiguity.

(Nick)No, some things have both literal and symbolic meanings, like Bacon’s quote, the one you don’t understand and seem willing to drop. “Atlas Shrugged” is an allusion to the myth about Atlas holding the world on his shoulders, but Rand is trying to say something about the producers of the world who keep it figuratively on their shoulders. You don’t seem capable of understanding literary devices like analogies and metaphors. You don’t do well understanding literal logic either.

I think you should answer my arguments and not evade, not try to change the subject and hope everybody will forget your weak claim and weaker reasoning. You interpreted Bacon’s maxim incorrectly. I corrected you, and you said he isn’t a philosopher and Sartre is and that Sartre should be expected not to be ambiguous. I said that if you thought Bacon was ambiguous, then you must think Rand is also, since Rand adopted Bacon’s maxim to summarize part of her philosophy. I also talked about how Bacon originated the scientific method, influenced philosophers, and is not ambiguous to those who understand him. You came back with the statement, “Literal paradox is ambiguity.” It is ambiguous to puppy dogs and people who have very little education in philosophy or literature. It is not ambiguous to those who are a little bit more knowledgeable and brighter than you.

(Nick)2."Nope, that is all Objectivist dogma. I don’t think you even understand We exist first and observe and classify previously unidentified phenomena. By doing so, according to existentialists, we create the world and ourselves. "

(Leonid)This is existentialist dogma,unsupported by any observations,typical arbitrary statement,contradictory claim for primacy of consciousness and subjective idealism.See,I can use labels instead arguments as good as you do,Nick and even better.But I don't enjoy this kind of conversation.It's waste of time and effort.Try to use your mind and bring some original ideas instead vague quotes and old anti-Rand/Peikoff cliches.

(Nick)That’s all you do, use labels instead of arguments. I’m the one trying to get you to bring some original ideas to the discussion. My Neo-Objectivism is original. My Alice series is original. I’ve brought up criticisms which nobody here has refuted yet. All they can do is avoid me or insult me. All you can do is ignore my arguments and fall back on Rand/Peikoff clichés, some of which you even get wrong.

(Nick)3."You tend to go to the extreme, saying anything in flux is so completely uncertain that we can’t even make provisional tags for it. Yes, some things are certain enough to save lives or send machines and people into outer space, but they are still only inductively certain, not conclusive"

(Leonid)I'm talking about metaphysics,axioms.You change topic and discuss epistemology.These are two different subjects..Some knowledge is conclusive,some is not.It has nothing to do with a question whether objects have inherent identity or not.

(Nick)You are not. The axiomatic concepts are matters for epistemology, according to Rand. That’s why they are discussed in her Objectivist Epistemology. She claims that Aristotle meant them to be metaphysical, that things have inherent identity, but she was wrong, according to John Herman Randal, an Aristotelian scholar. A is A is a procedural rule for logic, and logic is part of the subject matter of epistemology, how we know. Metaphysics is concerned with the foundation for what is. If what is is in a process of becoming, then the law of identity is a way of keeping something static for awhile, at least during the course of an epistemological argument. It is like taking a snap shot. It is not the reality in the snapshot.

4."(Leonid)b).If existence is indetermined flux than how do we distinguish one entity from another to label them?
(Nick)By taking conceptual snapshots, observing and categorizing, giving things labels, putting them into our cubbyholes."

(Lenoid)By taking snapshots on what? Observing what? Provisional identifications based on what?If you do all these things that means you already deal with identities of objects. If you observe unidentified flux of nothing in particular you'll get nothing to categorize.Only objects with properties could be categorized and puted into cubbyholes.

(Nick)We deal with provisional identities. We can’t really say what something is if it is still in a process of becoming. I explained this in depth, with examples from current science, where we are adjusting our cubbyholes and rewriting our textbooks, but you dropped all that. Are you hoping people will forget it?

(Nick)5."No, we can step off a cliff and fall, even before we call something gravity. It is a force of some kind but nothing in particular before we give it a name."

(Leonid)How nothing in particular kills us?

(Nick)It really isn’t anything in particular until we give it a name.

6.Binswanger:"Conscious experience is correlated with and does require a brain process, but there are still two irreducibly different things: the state of awareness and the brain process. "

(Leonid)That true,but that doesn't implicate mind-body dichotomy.Your visual perception also cannot be reduced to electro-chemical process in your eye or brain,but it doesn't mean you can separate the vision from the eye.Mind and body exist unseparated and Binswanger clearly indicated that:" The mind exists and the brain exists—and neither is the other."

(Nick)No, Leonid. You were clearly refuted here. You said you couldn’t believe Binswanger would say something so nonsensical as that Objectivism is dualistic. I showed you where he did say that. He is clearly not treating mind or consciousness as part of the body. It is separate, an existent of its own. “The mind exists and the brain exists—and neither is the other.” This is not saying that the mind is an ability of the brain. It is its own existent. Once again, you are demonstrating your lack of understanding of Objectivism, according to this prominent Objectivist.

(Nick)7."In the upcoming years, who knows what other facts of nature will emerge?"-

(Leonid) a lot of things and all of them have identity.Facts of nature don't emerge,they simply exist and we discover them.

(Nick)8."We can also call man the only irrational animal. This would distinguish him from other animals"

(Leonid)You can. That would mean then that other animals are rational and man is not.In such a case you should call them "man" and "man" you'd call an animal.Doesn't make any difference.

(Nick)Animals are automatically rational. They do what they must to pursue their own survival. Humans, however, do irrational things. Therefore, if we identify man the same way we identify other animals, by observation and generalization, then we would have to conclude that man is an irrational creature.

(Nick)9. "I cited where Rand talked about life as the only fundamental alternative. It is not, according to her, like running a mile. Have you not read “The Objectivists Ethics” in The Virtue of Selfishness?"

(Leonid)You simply evaded my response by changing the topic.Life,according to Rand is self-sustained process,not an object.Why you are talking about alternatives and choices? These are questions of ethics which TVOS discusses.I discuss metaphysics.And in any case it has nothing to do with concept of "nothingess" which is contradiction in terms.

(Nick)I am not changing subjects. You make false accusations. You were Criticizing Sartre for talking about nothingness, and I showed you where Rand also talked about it as the only fundamental alternative, that which makes the concept of value possible. Sartre uses it this way also.

(Nick)10."You are not very good at using logic."

(Leonid)It may be, but I use logic to understand reality,you use it for mind-games.

(Nick)I don’t agree. You don’t really use real logic, but what you think is logic you use as a crutch. You can’t really stand on your own two feet and think for yourself. You are not independent enough.

(Nick)11." I asked you to lay out your argument premise by premise, and you haven’t done that."

(Leonid)Neither you. All you do is to bring stream of assumptions unsupported by facts,contradictory by nature,vague and unprovable by any kind of logic.

(Nick)That’s an unsupported accusation. It’s a general statement not pointing to anything specific that I said. I’ve asked you before to pick something which you think is unsupported, and you didn’t do so. You just say everything I say is that way. That’s evasion. It is also evasion trying to turn that light back on me, evading the fact that you have not laid out your argument premise by premise. This is transparent, Leonid. You are trying to hide the fact that you don't know how to lay out an argument premise by premise. You don't even know what a premise is.

bis bald,

Nick

You try to prove unprovable. Try to use your mind instead

Leonid's picture

Leonid
1."Sartre advanced knowledge and philosophy by transcending logic and systematic philosophy, as did Nietzsche. What he said is not all that ambiguous to those who understand him
When it is explained, the literal paradox disappears, but this is also what happens in Existentialism."

Literal paradox is ambiguity.

2."(Nick)Nope, that is all Objectivist dogma. I don’t think you even understand We exist first and observe and classify previously unidentified phenomena. By doing so, according to existentialists, we create the world and ourselves. "
This is existentialist dogma,unsupported by any observations,typical arbitrary statement,contradictory claim for primacy of consciousness and subjective idealism.See,I can use labels instead arguments as good as you do,Nick and even better.But I don't enjoy this kind of conversation.It's waste of time and effort.Try to use your mind and bring some original ideas instead vague quotes and old anti-Rand/Peikoff cliches.

3."You tend to go to the extreme, saying anything in flux is so completely uncertain that we can’t even make provisional tags for it. Yes, some things are certain enough to save lives or send machines and people into outer space, but they are still only inductively certain, not conclusive"
I'm talking about metaphysics,axioms.You change topic and discuss epistemology.These are two different subjects..Some knowledge is conclusive,some is not.It has nothing to do with a question whether objects have inherent identity or not.

4."(Leonid)b).If existence is indetermined flux than how do we distinguish one entity from another to label them?

(Nick)By taking conceptual snapshots, observing and categorizing, giving things labels, putting them into our cubbyholes."
By taking snapshots on what? Observing what? Provisional identifications based on what?If you do all these things that means you already deal with identities of objects. If you observe unidentified flux of nothing in particular you'll get nothing to categorize.Only objects with properties could be categorized and puted into cubbyholes.

5."NicK)No, we can step off a cliff and fall, even before we call something gravity. It is a force of some kind but nothing in particular before we give it a name."

How nothing in particular kills us?

6.Binswanger:"Conscious experience is correlated with and does require a brain process, but there are still two irreducibly different things: the state of awareness and the brain process. "
That true,but that doesn't implicate mind-body dichotomy.Your visual perception also cannot be reduced to electro-chemical process in your eye or brain,but it doesn't mean you can separate the vision from the eye.Mind and body exist unseparated and Binswanger clearly indicated that:" The mind exists and the brain exists—and neither is the other."
7."In the upcoming years, who knows what other facts of nature will emerge?"- a lot of things and all of them have identity.Facts of nature don't emerge,they simply exist and we discover them.
8."We can also call man the only irrational animal. This would distinguish him from other animals"
You can. That would mean then that other animals are rational and man is not.In such a case you should call them "man" and "man" you'd call an animal.Doesn't make any difference.
9. "(Nick)I cited where Rand talked about life as the only fundamental alternative. It is not, according to her, like running a mile. Have you not read “The Objectivists Ethics” in The Virtue of Selfishness"
You simply evaded my response by changing the topic.Life,according to Rand is self-sustained process,not an object.Why you are talking about alternatives and choices? These are questions of ethics which TVOS discusses.I discuss metaphysics.And in any case it has nothing to do with concept of "nothingess" which is contradiction in terms.

10."You are not very good at using logic."
It may be, but I use logic to understand reality,you use it for mind-games.

11." I asked you to lay out your argument premise by premise, and you haven’t done that."
Neither you. All you do is to bring stream of assumptions unsupported by facts,contradictory by nature,vague and unprovable by any kind of logic.

It's only incomprehensible to those who can't comprehend

NickOtani's picture

(Nick)1."But what Rand meant by Bacon’s quote was that man can adjust nature to himself only by recognizing and respecting the laws of nature"

(Leonid)Bacon wasn't philosopher,Sartre is.One expect from philosopher to eliminate ambiguity,not to multiply it.

(Nick)That’s a weak argument for several reasons: First, Rand adopted Bacon’s statement to summarize part of her philosophy. If Bacon was ambiguous, then so was Rand. Second, it is debatable as to whether or not Bacon was a philosopher. He is included in the History of Philosophy because he was an influence on Hobbes, Descartes, Locke, and Hume. He is considered by many to be the originator of scientific method. Third, Sartre advanced knowledge and philosophy by transcending logic and systematic philosophy, as did Nietzsche. What he said is not all that ambiguous to those who understand him. He might be ambiguous to people like you, people who can’t see past the dust on their glasses.

(Nick)2."Things don’t come with name tags. We don’t ask things how they want to be identified.We observe and classify"

(Leonid)I have no problem with it.That is identification.I have a problem with your claim that existence is flux without identity and that we,who actually provide it,make things what they are.And this is a problem for two reasons.
a).Suppose I accept your claim.Providing identities is conscious process.One has to possess consciousness to do that.But consciousness is a faculty of awarness of existence.If existence is unidentified flux of no-things,things without any properties then what we would be conscious of? One cannot be conscious of something without identity and therefore one never would be able to aquire consciousness.Consciousness which conscious only of itself is contradiction in term.Without to acquire consciousness by observing things one cannot make any snapshots.In other words Law of Identity precedes consciousness.

(Nick)Nope, that is all Objectivist dogma. I don’t think you even understand it. You merely quote it. We exist first and observe and classify previously unidentified phenomena. By doing so, according to existentialists, we create the world and ourselves. I agree that there is some pre-existing essence to man which is independent of our wishes and whims, but there is freedom to create within those objective parameters. Besides, even those things we do identify enough to make into laws are only certain with degrees of certainty. You tend to go to the extreme, saying anything in flux is so completely uncertain that we can’t even make provisional tags for it. Yes, some things are certain enough to save lives or send machines and people into outer space, but they are still only inductively certain, not conclusive. You may have heard how science is back-pedaling on what was the science of identifying bullets used from certain boxes. This is freeing prisoners who were falsely imprisoned from the former scientific testimony. Science is also adjusting what they said formerly about the planet Pluto. Our cubby holes are getting adjusted, and textbooks have to be rewritten. If this continues, in a thousand years from now, our most certain truths will seem like the myths of Zeus and Thor seem to us. My first chapter in my Alice series shows what happens to the blind man, the turkey, and the frog when they depend too much on inductive evidence.

(Leonid)b).If existence is indetermined flux than how do we distinguish one entity from another to label them?

(Nick)By taking conceptual snapshots, observing and categorizing, giving things labels, putting them into our cubbyholes. Some things move slower than others and are easier to match up with our snapshots than are other things. Some things keep up some regularity as they change. This allows us to predict. We do notice that objects, like rocks and acorns, do have predictable natures, with high degrees of certainty. Humans are, however, more open ended. Within certain physical limits, they have freedom. We cannot box-in humans as we do objects. We even have some trouble, as I indicated above, with objects.

(Leonid)How do we know that entity X we should call "tree" and entity Y we should call "lake" Since they have no identity before we gave it to them our organs of perception cannot provide us with any information about them.

(Nick)Our sense organs do give us some information. Just because we can’t be certain doesn’t mean we can’t have anything. We make provisional identifications and distinctions and adjust them as we need to.

(Leonid) We cannot perceive unidentified flux,something which is nothing in particular,we cannot take any snapshots,our films would be empty.The only possible way to know existence in such a case would be mystical one-innate knowledge.If thing has no identity and exists prior to it essence the only way to know what it is in order to label it would be just to know.

(NicK)No, we can step off a cliff and fall, even before we call something gravity. It is a force of some kind but nothing in particular before we give it a name and refer to it. We can see something and call it a tree. We can use these labels in our communication and thinking. We must remember, though, that our words are not the objects. They are ways we have of trying to make sense of an absurd reality into which we find ourselves. It is existence first, then essence. BTW, Rand seems to just know her axiomatic concepts. She seems to think all humans have this implicit knowledge and often deny it. This is why she calls them immoral. It’s almost Platonic.

(Nick)3." Which of us are perceiving things as they are?"

(Leonid)The short answer would be -all of us.The long answer requires full examenation of perception.I think it is the issue for anther thread if you interested.As very brief summary I can only say that perception is result of interaction of entity,medium of perception and perceptional organs.The very purpose of perception is to provide us with information what things really are.

(Nick)I’ve written about this in my essay on perception, logic, and language. It is posted on the Dissent forum of this board.

(Nick)4."But Objectivism is also dualistic, according to Binswanger. The consciousness is not reducible to the matter. It is separate from the body. It perceives the external world. The existence of such a world logically implies an internal world. This is a dualism."

(Leonid)No. Consciousness is a faculty,an ability.It cannot be separated from the body since it is a faculty of the body.It is like to say that your faculty of vision is separated from your body.I don't think that Binswanger could utter such a nonsense and I know his works well.Can you provide support to your claim?

(Nick)Perhaps the most in-depth discussion of philosophy of mind by a prominent Objectivist philosopher is found in Harry Binswanger's 1998 three-tape course The Metaphysics of Consciousness (Binswanger 1998). In it, he says:

Conscious experience is correlated with and does require a brain process, but there are still two irreducibly different things: the state of awareness and the brain process. Yes, man does have a mind and a body, but neither can be reduced to the other... Consciousness exists and matter exists. Each is what it is and neither is a form of the other.

In a question-answer period afterwards, he says:

Dualism is a dangerous term because of its being used for a strawman. But if you mean: Do we believe there are really two existents? Yes! The mind exists and the brain exists—and neither is the other.

Later he says:

So, yes, I'm a dualist. Or as Leonard [Peikoff] says in OPAR, because the term dualism is not one we have to fight to save and it's so associated with Descartes, the proper word for it is: Objectivism, not dualism.]

We have our own distinct view here. But if you had to put it in the historical classification, yeah, we're not monists. We believe that both consciousness and matter exist and neither is reducible to the other.

Binswanger, Harry. 1998. The Metaphysics of Consciousness. Gaylordsville, CT: Second

(Nick)5"Tell me how gravity can have existence when it has no substance and is not a concept in someone’s mind, when it has no referent. What criteria would something have to have to not exist?"

(Leonid)First,gravity is not an object,it's relationship between objects,determined by objects' identities.Second,every one who jumps from the 20th floor without parachute will has refferent of it even if he never learned about concept of gravity and never heard such a word.Gravity exists simple as fact of nature.

(Nick)Yes, it exists as an unidentified phenomena which can make things and people fall. Once we give it an identity, we can refer to it. This way, we sort of bring it into existence. Psychologists recently came up with a condition known as Asberger’s syndrome. It didn’t exist when I was a kid. In the upcoming years, who knows what other facts of nature will emerge?

(Nick)6."How do we know that man is a rational animal? We observe and classify him, as we do with other animals. However, many so-called men are not very rational. Many of them are downright irrational. So, this so-called essential property is somewhat arbitrary."

(Leonid)No it's not arbitrary.It how we distinguish man from all other living things.This is unique,essential property of man.And this is not a question of numbers.If it were only one rational animal we would call him man. Futhermore,rationality is not automatic,it is potential ability. Man may choose to exercise it or not.This is what Rand calls primary choice.This is the essence of free will."Existentialists identify the essential property as freedom"-and they are wrong. Without mind,rationality how one can exercise his freedom? How he will make choices,by what means? That why animals don't have freedom-they have no mind.

(Nick)We can also call man the only irrational animal. This would distinguish him from other animals. What guides that initial choice to be rational? I think we’ve been here before, and you said Peikoff changed his position on that. Primary choice must be baseless, like the Existential choice. It must also be a first cause, if you want to be logical about it. Of course, first causes are not logical. I can explain all this with linguistics and Chomsky’s creativity principle, but it would probably be lost on you.

(Nick)7."Death is the point at which life goes out of existence. It is when the somethingness of life ceases, becomes nothing"

(Leonid)Life is not an object.It is a process.It is like you running a mile.When you finish to run would you say that your running went out of existence? It never existed.It is you,who exists and run. Objects,things cannot become nothing,existence exists.

(Nick)I cited where Rand talked about life as the only fundamental alternative. It is not, according to her, like running a mile. Have you not read “The Objectivists Ethics” in The Virtue of Selfishness?

(Nick)8."For me, logic is a tool"

(Leonid)For me,logic is also a tool.I use it to identify reality in noncontradictory way.Logic tells me that contradictions cannot exist since every thing is what it is.If,however,one divorces logic from reality it becomes a matter of faith,God,arbitrary mind game like chess.Some people may enjoy it,I'm not.

(Nick)You are not very good at using logic. You are trapped by a dogma you don’t even know as much about as I do. You didn’t do well defining “validity,” and you evaded defining “premises.” I asked you to lay out your argument premise by premise, and you haven’t done that. All you do is quote parts of Objectivist literature, but you also misunderstand some Objectivist literature. I think Objectivism is a sort of faith for you. Logic, as Rand and other Objectivist writers present it, is your god. This, however, is not the real logic of philosophers and logicians.

bis bald,

Nick

I don't understand uncomprehensible.You too,even if you say you

Leonid's picture

Leonid
1."But what Rand meant by Bacon’s quote was that man can adjust nature to himself only by recognizing and respecting the laws of nature"
Bacon wasn't philosopher,Sartre is.One expects from philosopher to eliminate ambiguity,not to multiply it.

2."Things don’t come with name tags. We don’t ask things how they want to be identified.We observe and classify"
I have no problem with it.That is identification.I have a problem with your claim that existence is flux without identity and that we,who actually provide it,make things what they are.And this is a problem for two reasons.
a).Suppose I accept your claim.Providing identities is conscious process.One has to possess consciousness to do that.But consciousness is a faculty of awarness of existence.If existence is unidentified flux of no-things,things without any properties then what we would be conscious of? One cannot be conscious of something without identity and therefore one never would be able to aquire consciousness.Consciousness which conscious only of itself is contradiction in term.Without to acquire consciousness by observing things one cannot make any snapshots.In other words Law of Identity precedes consciousness.
b).If existence is indetermined flux without properties how do we distinguish one entity from another to label them? How do we know that entity X we should call "tree" and entity Y we should call "lake" Since they have no identity before we gave it to them our organs of perception cannot provide us with any information about them. We cannot perceive unidentified flux,something which is nothing in particular,we cannot take any snapshots,our films would be empty.The only possible way to know existence in such a case would be mystical one-innate knowledge.If thing has no identity and exists prior to it essence the only way to know what it is in order to label it would be just to know.

3." Which of us are perceiving things as they are?"
The short answer would be -all of us.The long answer requires full examenation of perception.I think it is the issue for anther thread if you interested.As very brief summary I can only say that perception is result of interaction of entity,medium of perception and perceptional organs.The very purpose of perception is to provide us with information about things as they are.

4."But Objectivism is also dualistic, according to Binswanger. The consciousness is not reducible to the matter. It is separate from the body. It perceives the external world. The existence of such a world logically implies an internal world. This is a dualism."

No. Consciousness is a faculty,an ability.It cannot be separated from the body since it is a faculty of the body.It is like to say that your faculty of vision is separated from your body.I don't think that Binswanger could utter such a nonsense and I know his works well.Can you provide support to your claim?

5"Tell me how gravity can have existence when it has no substance and is not a concept in someone’s mind, when it has no referent. What criteria would something have to have to not exist?"
First,gravity is not an object,it's relationship between objects,determined by objects' identities.Second,every one who jumps from the 20th floor without parachute will get refferent of it even if he never learned about concept of gravity and never heard such a word.Gravity exists simple as fact of nature.
6."How do we know that man is a rational animal? We observe and classify him, as we do with other animals. However, many so-called men are not very rational. Many of them are downright irrational. So, this so-called essential property is somewhat arbitrary."

No it's not arbitrary.It how we distinguish man from all other living things.This is unique,essential property of man.And this is not a question of numbers.If it were only one rational animal we would call him man. Futhermore,rationality is not automatic,it is potential ability. Man may choose to exercise it or not.This is what Rand calls primary choice.This is the essence of free will."Existentialists identify the essential property as freedom"-and they are wrong. Without mind,rationality ,how one can exercise his freedom? How he will make choices,by what means? That why animals don't have freedom-they have no mind.

7."Death is the point at which life goes out of existence. It is when the somethingness of life ceases, becomes nothing"
Life is not an object.It is a process.It is like you running a mile.When you finish to run would you say that your running went out of existence? It never existed.It is you,who exist and run. Objects,things cannot become nothing,existence exists.
8."For me, logic is a tool"
For me,logic is also a tool.I use it to identify reality in noncontradictory way.Logic tells me that contradictions cannot exist since every thing is what it is.If,however,one divorces logic from reality it becomes a matter of faith,God,arbitrary mind game like chess.Some people may enjoy it,I'm not.

You are unable to understand a lot of things

NickOtani's picture

(Nick)!."Man, however, can, within objective parameters, adapt nature to himself. Humans can adapt nature to themselves."

(Leonid)Isn't that exactly what I've just said.? "Man exists by adjusting Nature to his needs."

(Nick)But what Rand meant by Bacon’s quote was that man can adjust nature to himself only by recognizing and respecting the laws of nature. He can’t just ignore reality and adjust it to himself. This would be Subjectivism, creating reality. The quote does not mean that man is the master and nature is the slave. It means that nature can be a slave only if man respects its mastery over him, that it cannot be abused. When it is explained, the literal paradox disappears, but this is also what happens in Existentialism. When we know what Sartre means when he says, “I am what I am not and am not what I am,” it is not paradoxical. It makes perfect sense. When we know what it means when Sartre says, “We are forced into freedom,” the paradox disappears. We understand it. People also understand such profound statements as “There are no absolutes,” even when a literalist will priggishly call it a contradiction. Don’t let logic limit understanding. It is a tool, not a god, not a prison.

(Nick)2."We just give them an identity, something to which we can refer when communicating and thinking about them."

(Leonid)This is a process of identification which is proper function of consciousness. Identity,however,is existence and comes before identification.

(Nick)Things don’t come with name tags. We don’t ask things how they want to be identified. We observe and classify. We objectify things, putting them into cubbyholes. They are, however, our cubbyholes. Sometimes we have to adjust those cubbyholes as we find out more about things. We don’t always perceive things as they are. We give them provisional identities so we can talk and think about them.

."(Nick)Since we don’t perceive things as they are, as accurately as some animals perceive them, it is not logical to infer that aliens perceive things as they are."

(Leonid)Every living thing peceives entities as they are.They just use different means of perception.If you'd percieve a person by X-rays instead light you'd perceive the same person.You wouldn't claim that your X-ray picture reflects not you but different person.

(Nick)If my senses perceived things like X-rays do, I’d think that this is the way things are. Other living things, however, may not perceive things that way. Which of us are perceiving things as they are?

4."(Nick)You still don’t seem to understand the difference between subjects and objects. It’s the subjects which provide identities for the objects, but they participate in creating their own identities."

(Leonid)Yes,I reject metaphysical dualism.It is but one existence.Any attemt to divorce identity from entity,object from subject and mind from reality leads to countless contradictions as you successfully demonstrated.

(Nick)But Objectivism is also dualistic, according to Binswanger. The consciousness is not reducible to the matter. It is separate from the body. It perceives the external world. The existence of such a world logically implies an internal world. This is a dualism.

5."Nick)That’s the contention of Objectivism, that we discover and do not create. However, as I said in other posts, there are things we bring into existence by attaching a label to unidentified phenomena, like we do with gravity. "

(Leonid)Yes,you did and that means recognition of the primacy of consciousness which is contradiction in terms.

(Nick)You quote Peikoff very well, but you don’t prove your case. Tell me how gravity can have existence when it has no substance and is not a concept in someone’s mind, when it has no referent. What criteria would something have to have to not exist?

(Nick)6."No, because we don’t know what man is."

(Lenoid)But we do. Man defined by his essential property as rational animal.If ,however ,one defines man by unessentials as ,say,featherless byped,or somebody who can ran a mile in 4 minutes,then,obviously we don't.

(Nick)How do we know that man is a rational animal? We observe and classify him, as we do with other animals. However, many so-called men are not very rational. Many of them are downright irrational. So, this so-called essential property is somewhat arbitrary. Existentialists identify the essential property as freedom, which is to say, paradoxically, man’s essence is open-ended. He participates in creating his own identity.

(Nick)7."death, is a nothingness which makes value possible."

(Leonid)It is not such a thing as nothing.Dead body is not nothing,it is dead thing,different from the living one but still exists.If you can show to me the hole from a doughnut I'd agree with you.

(Nick)Death is the point at which life goes out of existence. It is when the somethingness of life ceases, becomes nothing. It is very important. Matter changes form but does not cease to exist. Life does. This fundamental alternative, according to Rand, in The Objectivists Ethics, in The Virtue of Selfishness, makes the concept of value possible. You still aren’t taking this seriously, are you?

(Nick)8."I am not a complete Existentialist. I contend that man is in flux within parameters which are not in flux. "

(Leonid)Yes,you've said it before and I repeat that this is like to say that A is A and Non-A,a contradiction.

(Nick)Yes, I do not place as much emphasis on A is A as you do. It is a procedural rule for communication and thinking. Logic is a tool, not a god or a prison. I hold that there is some fixed identity in the parameters in which A is in a process of becoming.

(Nick)9."More about your inability to understand"

(Leonid)You right. I'm unable to understand contradictions.But you,apparently have no problems with it.As some postmodernist said "You don't get contradictions? Take drugs!"

(Nick)I am more than a computer. I understand some things which cannot be captured with logic. For me, logic is a tool. I use it and respect it. I think I understand it better than you do, but it is not my god. It is not my prison. This does not mean I am a postmodernist. I am a NickOtani’sNeo-Objectivist.

bis bald,

Nick

I 'm unable to understand contradictions.

Leonid's picture

Leonid
!."Man, however, can, within objective parameters, adapt nature to himself. Humans can adapt nature to themselves."
Isn't that exactly what I've just said.? "Man exists by adjusting Nature to his needs."

2."We just give them an identity, something to which we can refer when communicating and thinking about them."
This is a process of identification which is proper function of consciousness. Identity,however,is existence and comes before identification.

3."(Nick)Since we don’t perceive things as they are, as accurately as some animals perceive them, it is not logical to infer that aliens perceive things as they are."
Every living thing peceives entities as they are.They just use different means of perception.If you'd percieve a person by X-rays instead light you'd perceive the same person.You wouldn't claim that your X-ray picture reflects not you but different person.

4."(Nick)You still don’t seem to understand the difference between subjects and objects. It’s the subjects which provide identities for the objects, but they participate in creating their own identities."
Yes,I reject metaphysical dualism.It is but one existence.Any attemt to divorce identity from entity,object from subject and mind from reality leads to countless contradictions as you successfully demonstrated.

5."Nick)That’s the contention of Objectivism, that we discover and do not create. However, as I said in other posts, there are things we bring into existence by attaching a label to unidentified phenomena, like we do with gravity. "
Yes,you did and that means recognition of the primacy of consciousness which is contradiction in terms.

6."No, because we don’t know what man is."
But we do. Man defined by his essential property as rational animal.If ,however ,one defines man by unessentials as ,say,featherless byped,or somebody who can ran a mile in 4 minutes,then,obviously we don't.

7."death, is a nothingness which makes value possible."
It is not such a thing as nothing.Dead body is not nothing,it is dead thing,different from the living one but still exists.If you can show to me the hole from a doughnut I'd agree with you.

8."I am not a complete Existentialist. I contend that man is in flux within parameters which are not in flux. "
Yes,you've said it before and I repeat that this is like to say that A is A and Non-A,a contradiction.

9."More about your inability to understand"
You right. I'm unable to understand contradictions.But you,apparently have no problems with it.As some postmodernist said "You don't get contradictions? Take drugs!"

More about your inability to understand

NickOtani's picture

(Nick)1.Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.” This is literally a contradiction, a paradox."

(Leonid)Nature to be commanded (by man),must be obeyed(to man)-this is the meaning of the statement.Nature is a slave,man is a master. I still don't see contradiction.

(Nick)No, Leonid. You don’t understand Objectivism. Most animals and living things must adapt to nature. Man, however, can, within objective parameters, adapt nature to himself. Humans can adapt nature to themselves. To do so, they must follow the laws of nature. Reality is the final arbiter. If this would not matter, then Objectivism would be Subjectivism, subject to each individual’s wishes and whims. Man would be the complete master and nature the complete slave. This is definitely “not” what Rand meant.

(Nick)2."We see something and call it a tree."

(Leonid)We see something tall,with brown trunk and branches,green leaves. We can call it tree or may not to call it by any name,we can define it ostencibly by pointing on it and so on. That would not change a single leaf,nor it will add a smallest feature to the object,since its identity is metaphisically given and has nothing to do with our labeling,perceptions, concepts,wishes or whims. You cannot turn leaves to dollars by labeling them so.

(Nick)It is true that we don’t change things by labeling them. We just give them an identity, something to which we can refer when communicating and thinking about them.

(Leonid)We percieve things similary because things have fixed features and we have fixed common organs of perception.

(Nick)Things appear to have similar features due to our limited perception. They may actually have features we cannot perceive with our unassisted organs. Certain animals have more acute senses than we and perceive what we do not. They perceive things more accurately than we.

(Leonid)Even extraterrestial alliens would percieve things as they are,their logic should be non-contradictional and they have to recognize inallienable rights as long as they are intelligent beings.They don't have choice about that if they choose to live.

(Nick)Since we don’t perceive things as they are, as accurately as some animals perceive them, it is not logical to infer that aliens perceive things as they are.

(Leonid)We see certain features and properties which constitute identity of object or subject and give to them different names in different languages.

(Nick)You still don’t seem to understand the difference between subjects and objects. It’s the subjects which provide identities for the objects, but they participate in creating their own identities.

(Leonid)We,however don't provide entities with features by naming them.

(Nick)I never said we did. We just provide them with identity, a name tag.

(Leonid)They exist independently from us.

(Nick)That’s the contention of Objectivism, that we discover and do not create. However, as I said in other posts, there are things we bring into existence by attaching a label to unidentified phenomena, like we do with gravity. Remember, I mentioned Pirsig and his book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintence.

(Leonid)Language is often ambiguous,meaning of the words depend on context.When you say "white" you may mean colour or man of Europenian origin.That another reason why snapshots cannot provide identity, because identity is not ambiguous,it simply what entity is.

(Nick)Regular spoken language is often ambiguous. Predicate calculus is more precise. Meta languages like symbolic logic are more precise, but even they are not completely certain, according to logicians like Goedel. Still, certain things can be communicated in calculus which cannot be communicated in regular spoken language, but there are also things which require regular spoken language. Love sonnets sound much better in regular spoken language than in predicate calculus. And, some things may not be captured in either language. Logic and languages provide the strands in the nets we use to drag the universe for data we can observe and classify, identify. Some things, though, will inevitably slip through the holes in those nets. That which gets away may shed valuable light on that which we catch. Learning is a constant process. We may never have all the answers.

(Nick)3."You are trying to say that anyone who disagrees with Rand’s objectivism is a complete relativist and subjectivist. In a way, you are generalizing too much too."

(Leonid)I'm not,but even if I did,according to you,this is my snapshot which provides objects with identity and if it so then this is my snapshot against yours and we have nothing to agree or disagree about.

(Nick)No, this is not according to me. It is according to the complete relativist, which I am not. Not everyone who disagrees with you is a complete relativist. If that is your snapshot, then your picture is pretty distorted.

(Leonid)Logic, as you mentioned elswere, is a matter of faith and therefore arbitrary,not connected to existence.So why bigot should be persuaded by it?

(Nick)Because he agreed to accept logic as a standard. Didn’t you read that in the dialogue?

(Leonid)He has his own logic,based on different premises.As you've said wrong premises don't exlude valid argument and true conclusion.

(Nick)I also said logic is not the same as opinion. One can’t have one’s own logic. It is an independent standard. If the argument is invalid, leads to contradiction, it doesn’t matter if the premises are true or false, the conclusion is not certain to follow from the premises.

(Leonid)So how one can even know what is wrong and what is right? Rand's views according to that are as good as anybody else,Sartre,Marx,Plato, Lenin or Marcuse.

(Nick)According to complete relativism, that would be true. However, the bartender proved, through an old argument used by Plato, that complete relativism leads to contradictory conclusions. Plato did a lot to defend Objectivism.

(Nick)4." Volition implies that man’s nature is not fixed, man has freedom to become."

(Leonid)Does he have freedom to become non-man?

(Nick)No, because we don’t know what man is. There some features which remain constant, but there are also some features which change. It is only when everything is static that we can have a complete and fixed definition.

(Leonid)If he does then he's no longer man and doesn't have any freedom, which is contradiction-freedom to become not free,volition to become determined.

(Nick)He doesn’t. Your straw man definition of man as an entity with freedom is contradictory. An entity with freedom cannot have a fixed nature. If it did, then there would be no difference between man and an acorn or a rock, something which does not have freedom.

(Leonid)Besides,man cannot exist in such a state and his freedom becomes dead whish.But to die one doesn't need any freedom. This is completely determined process.(if one not in hurry)That means that volition is fixed,permanent feature.

(Nick)Nope, just because not everything is free, such as the determined process of death, it doesn’t mean other things are not free. As I keep saying, it is freedom within parameters.

(Nick)5."It is the whole which makes the doughnut possible."

(Leonid)You probably mean hole.

(Nick)Yes, I made a mistake. Thank you for pointing it out to me. We all know how perfect your spelling is.

(Leonid)Does it means that after eating doughnut you still keep its hole? Even Existentialist should preserve some remnants of common sense.

(Nick)You probably mean “mean”. It was a literary device, something like what is used in poetry to try to communicate something which cannot be communicated as well in literal logic. Unfortunately, if people are not very literary, they will miss the point. There is a contrast to somethingness. And, when my date stands me up at the restaurant, there is nothingness where she would normally be. I also pointed out how Rand talked about how the fundamental alternative to life, death, is a nothingness which makes value possible. You sloughed over that point. It’s important, much more important than some lame joke aimed at ridiculing me and Existentialism.

(Nick)6."Yes, we discussed this before. Remember? I said man’s inability to jump from here to the moon is not a limitation to him if it is not his goal to do so. If he does not choose to eat stones, breath water, or drink cyanide, then he does not have those limitations"

(Leonid)And if he does he ceases to exist.But for that he doesn't have to do anything. I'm talking about metaphysically given man's nature.Naturally man cannot jump to the Moon. He cannot eat stones and live.He also cannot change his nature,identity,in such a way that he loses his rationality and volition and still exists as a man.

(Nick)You still miss the point. If man does not choose to do what he can’t do, then it is not a limitation to him. Man determines his own limitations through the free choice of his projects.

7."(Leonid)So you admit then man is not flux and has unchangable essential identity-mind and volition.

(Nick)I never denied this."

(Leonid)But you've stated number of times that man is flux in the process of becoming.Flux means constantly changing entity without any fixed features including mind and volition.Entity cannot be flux and non-flux and man without mind and volition is not man. A is A.

(NicK)It takes a great deal of patience for me to keep explaining this to you, Leonid. Try to help me a little. Focus. It is not my contention that man is completely in flux, although this is the contention of Existentialism. I am not a complete Existentialist. I contend that man is in flux within parameters which are not in flux. There is a humanness, an essence of man, which remains the same from location to location and from time to time. An Asian in Asia is no more or less human than an American in Spokane. However, within those parameters, there is freedom to become. This is my Neo-Objectivism.

bis bald,

Nick

More about nature and contradictions

Leonid's picture

1.Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.” This is literally a contradiction, a paradox."
Nature to be commanded (by man),must be obeyed(to man)-this is the meaning of the statement.Nature is a slave,man is a master. I still don't see contradiction.

2."We see something and call it a tree."
We see something tall,with brown trunk and branches,green leaves. We can call it tree or may not to call it by any name,we can define it ostencibly by pointing on it and so on. That would not change a single leaf,nor it will add a smallest feature to the object,since its identity is metaphisically given and has nothing to do with our labeling,perceptions, concepts,wishes or whims.You cannot turn leaves to dollars by labeling them so.We percieve things similary because things have fixed features and we have fixed common organs of perception.Even extraterrestial alliens would percieve things as they are,their logic should be non-contradictional and they have to recognize inallienable rights as long as they are intelligent beings.They don't have choice about that if they choose to live.
We see certain features and properties which constitute identity of object or subject and give to them different names in different languages.We,however don't provide entities with features by naming them.They exist independently from us.Language is often ambiguous,meaning of the words depend on context.When you say "white" you may mean colour or man of Europenian origin.That another reason why snapshots cannot provide identity, because identity is not ambiguous,it simply what entity is.You have to distinguish between identity and identification.The first is metaphysical concept and the second is epistemological.For further elaboration you can watch that:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyJJC-J2g7A

3."You are trying to say that anyone who disagrees with Rand’s objectivism is a complete relativist and subjectivist. In a way, you are generalizing too much too."

I'm not,but even if I did,according to you,this is my snapshot which provides objects with identity and if it so then this is my snapshot against yours and we have nothing to agree or disagree about.Logic, as you mentioned elswere, is a matter of faith and therefore arbitrary,not connected to existence.So why bigot should be persuaded by it? He has his own logic,based on different premises.As you've said wrong premises don't exlude valid argument and true conclusion.So how one can even know what is wrong and what is right? Rand's views according to that are as good as anybody else,Sartre,Marx,Plato, Lenin or Marcuse.

4." Volition implies that man’s nature is not fixed, man has freedom to become."
Does he have freedom to become non-man? If he does then he's no longer man and doesn't have any freedom, which is contradiction-freedom to become not free,volition to become determined.Besides,man cannot exist in such a state and his freedom becomes dead whish.But to die one doesn't need any freedom. This is completely determined process.(if one not in hurry)That means that volition is fixed,permanent feature.

5."It is the whole which makes the doughnut possible." You probably mean hole.
Does it means that after eating doughnut you still keep its hole? Even Existentialist should preserve some remnants of common sense.

6."Yes, we discussed this before. Remember? I said man’s inability to jump from here to the moon is not a limitation to him if it is not his goal to do so. If he does not choose to eat stones, breath water, or drink cyanide, then he does not have those limitations"
And if he does he ceases to exist.But for that he doesn't have to do anything. I'm talking about metaphysically given man's nature.Naturally man cannot jump to the Moon. He cannot eat stones and live.He also cannot change his nature,identity,in such a way that he loses his rationality and volition and still exists as a man.

7."(Leonid)So you admit then man is not flux and has unchangable essential identity-mind and volition.
(Nick)I never denied this."

But you've stated number of times that man is flux in the process of becoming.Flux means constantly changing entity without any fixed features including mind and volition.Entity cannot be flux and non-flux and man without mind and volition is not man. A is A.

Without it, there would be no identity

NickOtani's picture

"(Nick)No, we just give it a label, an identity."

(Leonid)1.Label is not identity.Identity is property of the thing,sum of its essential features which distinguish it from every other object and determines the mode of its actions.Label is what we call these features.Labels are arbitrary-in different languages we label the same identity differently. If labels were sine qua none of identity then identity of the object would be subjective,dependend on the person who gives the label.

(Nick)Yes, it is. We see something and call it a tree. Things with similar characteristics are also called trees. Other people in our culture adopt this same terminology, and we can communicate, to some extent. It is not totally individually relative, but it might be considered culturally relative. Language is social. Some people argue that logic is not social, that modus ponens must hold in Asia as well as it does in Spokane. Rules of inference must hold in any culture, but some cultures may have slightly different structures which allow for more or less of these logical rules, and terms for objects may differ and emphasize different things. That’s why Whorf claims people in different cultures may understand certain concepts differently. This could be the reason why there is so much difficulty in communication at international conferences. What makes perfect sense to people who speak one language may be totally non-sense to people who only speak another, with different concepts and a different structure. Chomsky and Pinker claim that all human languages are capable of communicating all possible concepts, but this is debatable. Einstein used the language of calculus to explain his theories. They were more equipped for what he was explaining than regular spoken language. The same can be true for different languages. I am not claiming that because I disagree with you it means that everything is individually subjective, but there is some individual relativism even among people who speak the same language. It is a wonder that we can communicate as well as we do. I prove this in my classrooms from time to time. I say a word, like “tree,” and I have my students write down the first five words they associate with that word. Some say “leaf,” “branch,” “wood,” “twig,” and “forest.” Others say “bird,” “park,” “stream,” “maple,” and “squirrel.” If we are trying to get other people to understand us, to transfer what is in our minds to someone else’s mind, it is not easy. The exact same words mean something slightly different to some people than they do to others. This problem is even more pronounced when people speak entirely different languages and are from different cultures and had different learning experiences. It is even more pronounced when people have preconceived ideas and biases. This, I think, is part of the problem I am having with you. I don’t think you are really trying to be open to what I am saying.

(Leonid)Consider your own parable of bigot in the bar.Why bigot and bartender should argue at all? According to your philosophy each of them took different snapshot on the object-Vietnam war- and labeled it differently.Each of them provided this object with different identity.So people shouldn't argue about anything since identity is simple matter of opinion.Metaphysical subjectivism leads to ethical relativism.

(Nick)It’s a little more complicated than that. The bigot is generalizing too much, assuming that Asians are less than human and that this point of view is just as true as the bartender’s point of view that all men are equal. The bartender is using logic to prove that such as view is contradictory, and the bigot doesn’t get it. Complete individual relativism doesn’t hold up when challenged with logic, but limited relativism does. You are trying to say that anyone who disagrees with Rand’s objectivism is a complete relativist and subjectivist. In a way, you are generalizing too much too.

(Nick)2." I hold that there is a certain nature of man, a humanness, which exists for Asians as it does for humans in Spokane, and it doesn’t change from time to time."

(Leonid)So you admit then man is not flux and has unchangable essential identity-mind and volition.

(Nick)I never denied this. This is NickOtani’s Neo-Objectivism. It is not pure Objectivism, and it is not pure Existentialism. It is a combination of both along with elements of other philosophies. It is, as I said before, eclectic. It is the Jeet Kon Do of philosophy.
(Leonid)However you said "it is not logical to say it is a fixed feature of man’s identity that he has an unfixed identity, an ability to choose what he will become." Your first stetement contradicts the second.The true is that man has fixed identity which allows him to exercise mind and volition.

(Nick)No, it is your position that contradicts itself. Volition implies that man’s nature is not fixed, man has freedom to become. You are saying man has fixed nature to not have a fixed nature, not to be bound by a fixed nature.

(Leonid)If it weren't fixed,permanent feature of man it would mean that he may lose this ability.But in such a case he also would lose his "maness",becomes non-man.So it is not logical to suppose that man's identity is not fixed

(Nick)Existentialists would say that man has no permanent feature, or, paradoxically, man’s only permanent feature is change. He is not complete. He is still in the process of becoming. We can’t say what an individual is until he is dead and not capable of becoming something new in the future.

(Nick)3." Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.” This is literally a contradiction, a paradox."

(Leonid)Please explain why this is contradiction. I cannot see any.

(Nick)‘To command’ is the opposite of ‘to obey.’ It’s like saying that to be a master is to be a slave. It is like saying ‘To be A, one must be not-A.’ It is contradictory. If you don’t understand this, then you don’t understand simple logic.

(Nick)4."You have enough trouble with the basics, like existence before essence. "-

(Leonid)Yes,I think it is completely uncomprehensible to think that thing can exist as no-thing.This is contradiction in terms.

(Nick)Nothingness can be a kind of something. It forms the back ground on which somethingness manifests itself. It is the whole which makes the doughnut possible. Rand also talks about it when she says life ceases to exist. It is the only fundamental alternative she knows. It makes the concept of value possible.

(Nick)5."When things are completely bound by a fixed nature, they are not free to choose what they will be. This is an argument."

(Leonid)Man is not completely free.He cannot exist by eating stones,breathing water or drinking cianide.His nature,identity also doesn't allow him to exist as an animal or plant-without to use his mind and volition.

(Nick)Yes, we discussed this before. Remember? I said man’s inability to jump from here to the moon is not a limitation to him if it is not his goal to do so. If he does not choose to eat stones, breath water, or drink cyanide, then he does not have those limitations. His choices for projects determine his obstacles. I also said that he can choose to live as a plant or animal, but the plant or animal cannot choose to live as a human. The human has more freedom of choice. Why do you keep repeating the same stuff to which I already replied?

bis bald,

Nick

Label is not identity.

Leonid's picture

Leonid

1."(Nick)We don’t know anything until we exist."
This is not my point.My claim is that existence exists regardless to our consciousness.You claim that we provide identity and therefore existence to objects by taking snapshots.According to such a claim the opposite side of the Moon never existed before we took its pictures which is obvious absurd.

2"(Nick)No, we just give it a label, an identity.
Label is not identity.Identity is property of the thing,sum of its essential features which distinguish it from every other object and determines the mode of its actions.Label is what we call these features.Labels are arbitrary-in different languages we label the same identity differently. If labels were sine qua none of identity then identity of the object would be subjective,dependend on the person who gives the label.Consider your own parable of bigot in the bar.Why bigot and bartender should argue at all? According to your philosophy each of them took different snapshot on the object-Vietnam war- and labeled it differently.Each of them provided this object with different identity.So people shouldn't argue about anything since identity is simple matter of opinion.Metaphysical subjectivism leads to ethical relativism.

3." I hold that there is a certain nature of man, a humanness, which exists for Asians as it does for humans in Spokane, and it doesn’t change from time to time."

So you admit that man is not flux and has unchangable essential identity-mind and volition.However you said "it is not logical to say it is a fixed feature of man’s identity that he has an unfixed identity, an ability to choose what he will become." Your first statement contradicts the second.The true is that man has fixed identity which allows him to exercise mind and volition.If it weren't fixed,permanent feature of man it would mean that he may lose this ability,his essence will change to something else in the process of becoming.But in such a case he also would lose his "manness",become no-man.So it is not logical to suppose that man's identity is not fixed.Or he has his essential features,his identity or he is no man.

4." Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.” This is literally a contradiction, a paradox."

Please explain why this is contradiction. I cannot see any.Man exists by adjusting Nature to his needs.

5."You have enough trouble with the basics, like existence before essence. "-Yes,I think it is completely uncomprehensible to think that thing can exist as no-thing.This is contradiction in terms.

6."When things are completely bound by a fixed nature, they are not free to choose what they will be. This is an argument."

Man is not completely free.He cannot exist by eating stones,breathing water or drinking cianide.His nature,identity also doesn't allow him to exist as an animal or plant-without to use his mind and volition.This is not paradox to say that man can exist only qua man.This is Law of Identity.

Rand, herself, contradicts herself

NickOtani's picture

(Nick)1."Gravity didn’t exist until someone called it that."

(Leonid)And what happened to it before man came to existence? We know that Law of gravity had been applicable millions of years before man.

(Nick)We don’t know anything until we exist.

(Leonid)Our Solar system formation and as matter of fact we ourselves are result of gravity.However to name gravity "gravity" doesn't provide it with any features to form Solar system or black holes.

(Nick)No, we just give it a label, an identity.

(Leonid)Besides,laws of Nature are not objects. They are relationships,manifestations of interactions between objects according to their identity.

(Nick)Actually, even objects are just dense formations of matter, according to some scientists. It’s all just phenomena.

(Leonid)Things don't need tags to have identity. We need them to form concepts and communicate..

(NicK)We have concepts for things that don’t exist. Evidently, we don’t need them to form concepts and communicate.

(NicK)2." I agree there is some objective reality"

(Lenoid)-and some what?Non-objective reality? Objective non-reality? Please
explain.

(Nick)Again? I explained over and over again that I hold that there is a certain nature of man, a humanness, which exists for Asians as it does for humans in Spokane, and it doesn’t change from time to time. Within those parameters, however, man’s nature can change and develop. That’s what I mean by freedom within parameters.

(Nick)3."Objects exist as unidentified phenomena"

(Lenoid)-well ,as I said before this is violation of Law of Identity.

(Nick)The law of identity is a procedural rule for communication and thinking. It doesn’t bind objects in reality. However, Existentialists do recognize that non-human things are more fixed than humans. That is why it is pragmatic to call trees “trees” and not rocks.

(Lenoid)Nothing can exixst as no thing-that is without identity.

(Nick)There is a discussion about “nothingness” in Existentialism, but you would probably not understand it. You have enough trouble with the basics, like existence before essence. I do talk about it in my Alice series.

(Leonid)Identity is not provided by snapshots (perception)or by process of abstraction, but it is very essence of the thing.As Rand said existence is identity.

(Nick)You are not really presenting an argument, Leonid. You are merely repeating Objectivists’ claims. It is like I said, Rand is one of those philosophers who believe in essence prior to existence. Freedom is logically in conflict with that view. When things are completely bound by a fixed nature, they are not free to choose what they will be. This is an argument.

(Nick)4. "Volition is the ability of the subject to develop the mind’s nature, assuming there is no distinction between mind and body."

(Leonid)-Right. And this is fixed essential feature of man,his identity.This identity will not change as long man is man.

(Nick)No, it is not logical to say it is a fixed feature of man’s identity that he has an unfixed identity, an ability to choose what he will become. It’s like saying that it is an absolute that there are no absolutes, which pure Existentialism does say.

(NicK)5."Not all contradictions can be resolved. There is paradox."

(Leonid)"By the very essence of reality contradictions don't exist...if you face contradictions check your premises"-Rand,"Atlas shrugged" -this is another expression of Identity Law.

Yes, but Rand also uses paradoxical quotes. She quotes Bacon saying, “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.” This is literally a contradiction, a paradox. Existentialism has a few more such maxims. People who are not prigs about logic understand them just fine.

bis bald,

Nick

Tags are not identity

Leonid's picture

Leonid
1."Gravity didn’t exist until someone called it that."
And what happened to it before man came to existence? We know that Law of gravity had been applicable millions of years before man.Our Solar system formation and as matter of fact we ourselves are result of gravity.However to name gravity "gravity" doesn't provide it with any features to form Solar system or black holes. Besides,laws of Nature are not objects. They are relationships,manifestations of interactions between objects according to their identity. Things don't need tags to have identity. We need them to form concepts and communicate..
2." I agree there is some objective reality"-and some what?Non-objective reality? Objective non-reality? Please
explain.

3."Objects exist as unidentified phenomena"-well ,as I said before this is violation of Law of Identity.Nothing can exixst as no thing-that is without identity.Identity is not provided by snapshots (perception)or by process of abstraction, but it is very essence of the thing.As Rand said existence is identity.
4. "Volition is the ability of the subject to develop the mind’s nature, assuming there is no distinction between mind and body."-Right. And this is fixed essential feature of man,his identity.This identity will not change as long man is man.

5."Not all contradictions can be resolved. There is paradox."

"By the very essence of reality contradictions don't exist...if you face contradictions check your premises"-Rand,"Atlas shrugged" -this is another expression of Identity Law.

Not all contradictions can be resolved. There is paradox.

NickOtani's picture

(Nick)1."Natural laws, like gravity, can exist even if nothing falls. Sound waves exist even when nothing is around to hear or record them."

Doesn't it condradict your claim that we provide identity to objects? According to you if it's nothing around then objects have no identity.If there is nobody to hear then there is no soundwaves,only unidentified flux.

(Nick)Soundwaves really don’t have identity until someone identifies them. They are unidentified phenomena. Gravity didn’t exist until someone called it that. In this sense, humans brought the world into existence. Pirsig talks about this in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Before gravity had a name, what criteria would it have to have to not exist? It didn’t have substance. It wasn’t a concept in someone’s mind. We could not refer to it. It was unidentified phenomena. We gave it a name and, presto, it existed. We had to exist first. (Remember, pure Existentialism is entirely subjective. We create reality entirely. My position is not entirely subjective. I agree there is some objective reality, the parameters in which we have freedom to become.)

Your statement supports my claim that objects have identity independently from subjects.Your snapshots don't provide any identity.

(Nick)Sure they do. We take a snapshot of something and call it a tree. That provides it with identity.

As you said " A word is not a thing",and I add that perception of a thing is also not a thing.Objects exist and possess identity with or without subjects.To deny that is to deny the Law of Identity.

(Nick)Objects exist as unidentified phenomena until we give it identity through an abstraction process. Aristotle was a sophisticated nominalist. Rand sounds like one too, but she denounces nominalism. She tries to disidentify herself with traditional philosophy.

(Nick)2."If you separate form from substance, then you do what Plato does. Perhaps some forms always were and always will be."

-but I don't.Nothing can exist without to be something and, nothing can exist prior to existence.You,however ,separate entities from identities claiming that existence is unidentified flux unless you provide it with identity.You still haven't explain how something can exist prior to existence. To me is sound like contradiction in terms. If by that you simply mean that entity may have different identity prior to its present identity-like compost which used to be leaf before-then this is very awkward way of to put it. Besides,you cannot separate thing from its identity and compost is not a former leaf.It is altogether new object.

(Nick)It is very paradoxical. The concept of “existence” is complex, not as simple and static as Rand wants us to believe. I did post several different senses in which we understand “is”. It is much more than simple identity and static existence.

(Nick)3."Common languages are the conventions of certain groups. To the extent they agree with each other that a tree is a tree and a table is a table, they can communicate. "

I didn't speak about languages and communication. I just demonstrated that subjects cannot provide objects with identity as you claim,because in such a case object will have multiple identity,in other words no identity at all,it will be no objective reality.

(Nick)Objects don’t come with name-tags. We give them identities.

(Nick)4." One can’t completely define something still in the process of becoming."

-even the fact that one possesses mind and volition?

(Nick)Volition is the ability of the subject to develop the mind’s nature, assuming there is no distinction between mind and body.

Bis bald,

Nick

Please resolve your contradictions

Leonid's picture

Leonid

1."Natural laws, like gravity, can exist even if nothing falls. Sound waves exist even when nothing is around to hear or record them."
Doesn't it condradict your claim that we provide identity to objects? According to you if it's nothing around then objects have no identity.If there is nobody to hear then there is no soundwaves,only unidentified flux. Your statement supports my claim that objects have identity independently from subjects.Your snapshots don't provide any identity. As you said " A word is not a thing",and I add that perception of a thing is also not a thing.Objects exist and possess identity with or without subjects.To deny that is to deny the Law of Identity.You said "Natural laws, like gravity, can exist even if nothing falls. "-and that is contradiction in terms for natural laws are manifestation of interactions between objects,expression of their identities applied to action. If there no objects to fall on each other then it wouldn't be any gravity.

2."If you separate form from substance, then you do what Plato does. Perhaps some forms always were and always will be."-but I don't.Nothing can exist without to be something and, nothing can exist prior to existence.You,however ,separate entities from identities claiming that existence is unidentified flux unless you provide it with identity.You still haven't explain how something can exist prior to existence. To me that sounds like contradiction in terms. If by that you simply mean that entity may have different identity prior to its present identity-like compost which used to be leaf before-then this is very awkward way to put it. Besides,you cannot separate thing from its identity and compost is not a former leaf.It is altogether new object.

3."Common languages are the conventions of certain groups. To the extent they agree with each other that a tree is a tree and a table is a table, they can communicate. "
I didn't speak about languages and communication. I just demonstrated that subjects cannot provide objects with identity as you claim,because in such a case object will have multiple identity,in other words no identity at all,it
no objective reality.

4."For humans, those entities who participate in the creation of their own nature, it is existence before essence." human essence is rationality,man by definition is rational animal.If one exists as a vegetable then he (it) is definitly not human. Besides,man cannot exist on his own before his essence,as mindless creature,his nature doesn't allow it.If some men exist as such,they do it as parasites,totally dependend on others.So it is no existence before essence not for humans and not for any other objects.
" One can’t completely define something still in the process of becoming."-even the fact that one possesses mind and volition?

You won't understand if you don't try

NickOtani's picture

According to Sartre existence of man comes before his essence and according to you this "existence prior to essence is within parameters that are objective, prior to existence." What is prior to existence?

There can be conditions of existence which exist prior to existence. Natural laws, like gravity, can exist even if nothing falls. Sound waves exist even when nothing is around to hear or record them. Natures can be a mold into which objects grow, and they can pre-exist the objects. Plato and Aristotle thought that was the case, and Rand does also. For them, and even for me to some extent, it is essence before existence. According to Sartre, however, that mold is not complete for humans. For humans, those entities who participate in the creation of their own nature, it is existence before essence.

If A is prior to existence that simply means that A is not exists.How anything can be prior to essence,identity? If it is than in which form it exists?

If you separate form from substance, then you do what Plato does. Perhaps some forms always were and always will be.

Your system has three major flaws:
1.Separation of existence from identity
2.Separation of mind,logic from reality.
3.Subjectivism
All three fallacies cause incomprehensible contradictions by violating Law of Existence and Law of Identity which are not arbitrary formal constructs but conceptual description of reality.

A conceptual description of reality is not the same as reality. A map is not the territory. A word is not the thing.

John Hospers whom you said you know and appreciate presented long detailed discussion about this. You can read it in his book " An Introduction to Philosophical Analysis" second edition ppg 209-225. He calls The Law of Identity fundamental."Why are these fundamental?"-he asks."Because if they were not true,none of the other truths could be formulated,or even thought of...if you speak of table,you say the table is table;if the table were not table,what could you even be talking about"

Hospers is right. The law of identity is fundamental to communication and thinking. I’ve said this before also, that if variables don’t hold their identity during the course of an argument, then nothing can be concluded from the premises.

If existence prior essence or identity,what could you even be talking about,Nick?

That wasn’t part of the Hospers quote, and it has nothing to do with it. Anyway, I’m talking about phenomena which is in the process of becoming, not static with a fixed nature.

You said "subjects give objects their identity. There is phenomena out there, and we, the subjects, label it. We may call something gravity."
To label something doesn't mean to provide it with identity.Identity exists regardless one's consciousness,otherwise our wishes would be fishes.If subjects give objects their identity then it is no such a thing as objective reality-since everybody would provide objects with diferent identity.It wouldn't be such a thing as a table but Nick-table,Leonid-table and another 6 billion identities for the same object,meaning that this particular table wouldn't have any identity.

That’s how some people see things, as relative to each individual’s own interpretation. Common languages are the conventions of certain groups. To the extent they agree with each other that a tree is a tree and a table is a table, they can communicate. According to Benjamin Lee Whorf, some cultures don’t have the same structure in their languages and thus understand certain concepts differently. Linguistics is a very complex and interesting subject. Yes, people do see things differently depending on their backgrounds and interests. When some people look at a bicycle, they see a two wheeled contraption for riding around on, others see sprockets and spokes and chain links and all sorts of things overlooked by others. Some people, when they look under the hood of their automobile, they see a motor. A mechanic may see an engine block, carburetor, cylinder covers, and a lot of things others don’t identify. And, yes, a table is a table, but it can be different things in different circumstances. When the roof is falling, it could be a shelter under which we can hide. It could be a source of firewood. As you and Rand say, knowledge is contextual.

Besides,how subject can provide object with identity when subject himself doesn't have any. As Sartre explained " I am what I choose to be,and what I am cannot truly be known until my life is over.Only after my existence, in which I have forged an identity for myself,can my "essential" character be identified" If it so and one doesn't have identity then who is forging an identity for him? By what means?

What Sartre means by this is that his past is the only thing that is. His future hasn’t happened yet. When his life is over, he can be defined by everything he did, but he isn’t finished yet. One can’t completely define something still in the process of becoming.

Observe that Sartre is talking about essentials which for man means rationality,mind
So in fact Existentialism and you claim that something which is nothing in particular is forging his own identity by unidentified means and also provide the rest of the world with identity.No wonder you are in love with Lewis Carrol,but your Mad Hatter is the epitome of sanity comparing to that.

My Mad Hatter is a pragmatist, and many people would say he is much more sane than Rand. You wouldn’t understand that, though. You haven’t read the Alice series, in which this is all discussed and proven.

Bis bald,

Nick

what could you even be talking about,Nick?

Leonid's picture

Leonid

According to Sartre existence of man comes before his essence and according to you this "existence prior to essence is within parameters that are objective, prior to existence." What is prior to existence? If A is prior to existence that simply means that A is not exists.How anything can be prior to essence,identity? If it is than in which form it exists? Your system has three major flaws:
1.Separation of existence from identity
2.Separation of mind,logic from reality.
3.Subjectivism
All three fallacies cause incomprehensible contradictions by violating Law of Existence and Law of Identity which are not arbitrary formal constructs but conceptual description of reality.John Hospers whom you said you know and appreciate presented long detailed discussion about this. You can read it in his book " An Introduction to Philosophical Analysis" second edition ppg 209-225. He calls The Law of Identity fundamental."Why are these fundamental?"-he asks."Because if they were not true,none of the other truths could be formulated,or even thought of...if you speak of table,you say the table is table;if the table were not table,what could you even be talking about" If existence prior essence or identity,what could you even be talking about,Nick?
You said "subjects give objects their identity. There is phenomena out there, and we, the subjects, label it. We may call something gravity."
To label something doesn't mean to provide it with identity.Identity exists regardless one's consciousness,otherwise our wishes would be fishes.If subjects give objects their identity then it is no such a thing as objective reality-since everybody would provide objects with diferent identity.It wouldn't be such a thing as a table but Nick-table,Leonid-table and another 6 billion identities for the same object,meaning that this particular table wouldn't have any identity. Besides,how subject can provide object with identity when subject himself doesn't have any. As Sartre explained " I am what I choose to be,and what I am cannot truly be known until my life is over.Only after my existence, in which I have forged an identity for myself,can my "essential" character be identified" If it so and one doesn't have identity then who is forging an identity for him? By what means? Observe that Sartre is talking about essentials which for man means rationality,mind
So in fact Existentialism and you claim that something which is nothing in particular is forging his own identity by unidentified means and also provide the rest of the world with identity.No wonder you are in love with Lewis Carrol,but your Mad Hatter is the epitome of sanity comparing to that.

You misunderstand me again, Leonid

NickOtani's picture

According to Existentilism objects have Identity but subjects not.Your pre-existent essence of man is not Existentialism-and you never explained what do you mean by that.Sartre argued that whereas the essence of objects precedes their existence(sic!)"there is at least one being whose existence comes before his essence,a being which exists before it can be defined by any conception of it.That being is man."(Existentialism and Humanism.)You,however,presented opposite view,you've said that objects have no identity and we,who possess pre-existent essence provide this identity by taking snapshots.

No, subjects give objects their identity. There is phenomena out there, and we, the subjects, label it. We may call something gravity. I agree with the quote by Sartre, to some extent. I've said over and over again that Existentialism holds that existence is prior to essence. NickOtani's Neo-Objectivism, however, holds that this existence prior to essence is within parameters that are objective, prior to existence. We do possess some pre-existent essence, but we are also free, as the Existentialial existence prior to essence. I keep trying to explain this to you, but you twist it back to something I did not say.

You said" Existentialism does a better job of allowing for freedom and explaining the difference between humans and non-humans."-and I cannot see how.According to Existentialism man simply does not exists.It is unidentified non-entity.How,then,man has mind and volition?

It is not true that according to Existentialism, man does not exist. It is existence before essence. Read the quote you provided above. Man exists first as a free potential which participates in the creation of his nature. "'Existence' prior to essence." Not non-existence. Try to focus, Leonid.

bis bald,

Nick

According to existentialism man simply doesn't exists

Leonid's picture

Leonid

According to Existentilism objects have Identity but subjects not.Your pre-existent essence of man is not Existentialism-and you never explained what do you mean by that.Sartre argued that whereas the essence of objects precedes their existence(sic!)"there is at least one being whose existence comes before his essence,a being which exists before it can be defined by any conception of it.That being is man."(Existentialism and Humanism.)You,however,presented opposite view,you've said that objects have no identity and we,who possess pre-existent essence provide this identity by taking snapshots.Heidenberg writes that "a person is not a thing,a substance;"Dasein does not have the kind of Being which belongs to something merely present-at-hands...nor does it ever have it."(Being and Time)

You said" Existentialism does a better job of allowing for freedom and explaining the difference between humans and non-humans."-and I cannot see how.According to Existentialism man simply does not exists.It is unidentified non-entity.How,then,man has mind and volition?

Existentialism does have problems, so does Objectivism

NickOtani's picture

(Nick)1."Sartre said he is what he is not and is not what he is. It sounds like a parodox, a violation of the law of non-contradiction, but it simply means that he is still creating himself with every choice that he makes. He is not static, like an object or something with a fixed nature which has no choice"

(Leonid)Sartre has choosen very unfortunate way to describe the doubtless fact that everything,including himself is changing.But the obvious question then :what is changing and how ? This is his essence,his fixed human nature which is his mind and volition makes the process of change possible.Observe,that this essence itself doesn't and cannot participate in the process of change,for if it will change and became non-mind and non-volition how he will make choices to create himself? You haven't explain your concept of pre-existing nature,and I don't think you can divorce nature from existence.People can exist only qua people,their nature is to have unallienated rights.

(Nick)Rand also uses paradoxical quotes to describe certain aspects of her philosophy. She quotes Francis Bacon saying, “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.” Is this a contradiction? Literally, it is, but it is understood as a symbolic way of say that our reasoning must be consistent with the laws of nature, that reality is the final arbiter. Sartre’s statements also raise eyebrows, but they are profound and contain some truth. A literalist might say, “Oh, that’s a contradiction, a violation of the law of non-contradiction. It doesn’t make sense. Sartre is speaking non-sense,” but the literalist is missing the point. Man is changing and what he is at one point is not necessarily what he is at another point. He is in a process of becoming. The static picture is a snapshot that we use for communication and thinking, but reality is not a still picture. I alluded to this in the Alice series when Dr. K asked the potential jurist where the man was when he jumped off the bridge. I’ll let you look that up to see what I am talking about.

(Nick)2."Even choosing not to choose is a choice. Another logical paradox in Existentialism is that one is forced into freedom."

(Leonid)It is paradox for Existentialist because he doesn't recognize that everything,including man has essence,identity and man cannot choose to exist as vegetable-his nature doesn't allow that.It's like to say: man is not free because he cannot choose to breath water or to eat stones. This is an attemt to re-write reality,claim for primacy of consciousness.Man,however may choose to exist or not.

(Nick)Man cannot jump from here to the moon, but that is not a limitation if it is not his goal to do so. Man sets up his own limitation through the choice of his project. Yes, some people can choose to live as vegetables. They don’t flourish, but they have that choice. The vegetable, however, cannot choose to be a man. It does not have freedom. For man, reality is not yet completely written. At one time it was part of reality and the nature of man that man could not run faster than a four minute mile. This has been rewritten. Reality can be rewritten. It is not static. It is not just A is A. It is A is in the process of becoming.

(Nick)3."If everything is already mapped out for us, in a pre-existing Objective reality, then we have nothing to live for. "

(Lenoid)Nothing "is mapped out for us" in reality. Reality has identity independently from our consciousness.We can percept it and formulate concepts about it but we don't create it.Leaf is leaf is leaf even if Heraclitus doesn't recognize it.If it changes its colour from green to yellow it still a leaf.If it becomes compost it acquires new identity. Existentialists claims that we provide it with new identity by taking snapshots. This is subjective idealism,claim for re-creation of reality.

(Nick)A leaf has a fixed nature. It changes only within the parameters of its nature. Man is different. Man has undergone industrial revolutions because of his inventions, his creations. He lives differently now than he did in the past. Other animals and objects don’t show this level of change. They have a fixed nature, but man’s nature is more open. His potential has not yet been reached. He is free, free to participate in the creation of his own nature.

There is value in seeing things this way. It explains more than the view that a leaf is a leaf and a man is a man. Yes, everything is what it is, but this doesn’t get us very far. One can’t infer causation from A is A without adding a bunch of stuff about natures and how things do what they do. This doesn’t explain freedom in humans. It really doesn’t explain anything other than that things are what they are. You have to project all the other stuff onto it. Existentialism does a better job of allowing for freedom and explaining the difference between humans and non-humans.

Now, I agree that pure Existentialism, existence prior to essence, does not allow for certain things that are static facts, like that humans have some essence which gives them human rights and does not change. But I think I can hold this and also hold that, within those parameters, man is free to become.

Bis bald,

Nick

Existentialism is subjective idealism

Leonid's picture

Leonid
1."Sartre said he is what he is not and is not what he is. It sounds like a parodox, a violation of the law of non-contradiction, but it simply means that he is still creating himself with every choice that he makes. He is not static, like an object or something with a fixed nature which has no choice"
Sartre has choosen very unfortunate way to describe the doubtless fact that everything,including himself is changing.But the obvious question then :what is changing and how ? This is his essence,his fixed human nature which is his mind and volition makes the process of change possible.Observe,that this essence itself doesn't and cannot participate in the process of change,for if it will change and became non-mind and non-volition how he will make choices to create himself? You haven't explain your concept of pre-existing nature,and I don't think you can divorce nature from existence.People can exist only qua people,their nature is to have unallienated rights.

2."Even choosing not to choose is a choice. Another logical parodox in Existentialism is that one is forced into freedom."
It is paradox for Existentialist because he doesn't recognize that everything,including man has essence,identity and man cannot choose to exist as vegetable-his nature doesn't allow that.It's like to say: man is not free because he cannot choose to breath water or to eat stones. This is an attemt to re-write reality,claim for primacy of consciousness.Man,however may choose to exist or not.

3."If everything is already mapped out for us, in a pre-existing Objective reality, then we have nothing to live for. "
Nothing "is mapped out for us" in reality. Reality has identity independently from our consciousness.We can percept it and formulate concepts about it but we don't create it.Leaf is leaf is leaf even if Heraclitus doesn't recognize it.If it changes its colour from green to yellow it still a leaf.If it becomes compost it acquires new identity. Existentialists claims that we provide it with new identity by taking snapshots. This is subjective idealism,claim for re-creation of reality.

Existential Freedom within Objectivist Parameters

NickOtani's picture

1."They are the subjects who take the snapshots."
If I understood your position that according to you there are two kinds of existence:1. Subjects (read men) who possess identity and the rest of existence which is doesn't.But you claim that subjests are also flux.Flux with identity is contradiction. And there is no two existences with two diferent metaphisics.

No. There is a subject and object dichotomy, but it is not like you describe. According to pure Existentialism, reality is an absurd mess which has no meaning until humans, the subjects, the things for themselves, take snapshots and objectify it, observe and classify things with fixed natures, the objects, the things in themselves. Humans identify objects and entities from unidentified phenomenon. They cannot completely identify themselves because they are in flux, a process of becoming. Sartre said he is what he is not and is not what he is. It sounds like a parodox, a violation of the law of non-contradiction, but it simply means that he is still creating himself with every choice that he makes. He is not static, like an object or something with a fixed nature which has no choice. I understand this and respect it. I think we do have to have freedom to become, but I also think there is some pre-existing essence such that humans in Asia are still as human as humans in Spokane, and humans a long time ago are no more or less human than humans today. They all have human rights. Within those parameters, people are still free. They are not bound by a fixed nature, like objects and non-human life forms which don't have freedom.

2."Being in flux does not mean chaotic random action. It means being able to change, flexible, free, not static and bound by a fixed nature."
Change according to what rules? What is casuation of this change?. Objectivism's claim that casuality is identity applied to action. You deny this claim. Change without any particular cause is random,chaotic change and cannot be basis for free will.(besides,it isn't such a thing as change without cause.)

No. Change that is caused is not free. It is determined by the cause. Free choice is baseless. It is also not chaotic. Random action is not the result of free-will. Will has to be a controller, the result of a choice. Flourishing survival is the general goal toward which one acts, but there may not always be clear paths toward that goal. One must forge one's own. And, one is not free to avoid this choice. Even choosing not to choose is a choice. Another logical parodox in Existentialism is that one is forced into freedom.

3."Reality is an absurd mess."
If it so,then no discussion is possible or needed.

No. Reality is an absurd mess, but we can still put meaning into our existence by taking stands and making our lives matter. If everything is already mapped out for us, in a pre-existing Objective reality, then we have nothing to live for. We'd just be going through the motions, following our predetermined path. That is essence prior to existence where there is no freedom. Freedom means we make our own map and create our own nature, within those parameters about which I spoke.

bis bald,

Nick

More contradictions

Leonid's picture

Leonid
1."They are the subjects who take the snapshots."
If I understood your position that according to you there are two kinds of existence:1. Subjects (read men) who possess identity and the rest of existence which is doesn't.But you claim that subjests are also flux.Flux with identity is contradiction. And there is no two existences with two diferent metaphisics.

2."Being in flux does not mean chaotic random action. It means being able to change, flexible, free, not static and bound by a fixed nature."
Change according to what rules? What is casuation of this change?. Objectivism's claim that casuality is identity applied to action. You deny this claim. Change without any particular cause is random,chaotic change and cannot be basis for free will.(besides,it isn't such a thing as change without cause.)

3."Reality is an absurd mess."
If it so,then no discussion is possible or needed.

You read my words through the glasses of a bigot

NickOtani's picture

1."It is not my argument that other people could provide me with identity."
But you've said time and again that identity provided by snapshots.You said "Reality exists as unidentified phenomena. We give parts of it names like “gravity” and “Uranium.”"-and who are "we" if not other people.It is no way that unidentified flux will suddenly get identity all by itself.That would be contradiction in terms,some kind of miracle.You've said number of times that only possible way for flux to acquire identity is to be snapshoted.So who is doing snapshoting if not other people?And how they acquire their identity? Therefore your identity is completly second-handed,depended on snapshots of other people (and each of them has diferent snapshot of you)

Reality is an absurd mess. We try to make sense of it by observation and generalization. However, we can't classify ourselves the same way we classify objects. We are the subjects, the ones taking the snapshots and trying to make sense of the world. We are the ones giving it meaning. However, those objects have fixed natures. They are not free. We are the ones who change and choose and become. We are not the objects. We get our identity by choosing projects and making ourselves what we become. If we choose to be lazy and live inauthentically, by leaching off of others, it is we who have the responsibility for making ourselves that way, not others. If we decide to be responsible for ourselves and raise a family without violating other people's rights, we become that kind of person, regardless of what the bigot calls us. The bigot is an object trying to objectify us. It is not other people who make us what we are. It is we.

2."I can’t completely turn my eyes back in on themselves to observe that which observes. Neither can you. A ruler doesn’t measure itself." "But you,NickOtani,also part of reality.Who observes and classifies you? Who gives you name?
I do. I put meaning into my own existence. I choose my own projects and am, within certain parameters, what I do."

Don't you think that these two statements of yours contradicts each other? If ruler doesn't measure itself then how it can put meaning into its own existence especially if it not even ruler but nothing in particular, unidentified flux.

Because it has potential. It can't choose what it already has. It chooses what it will become. If it could measure it self completely, it would be complete, finished. It would have a fixed nature with no room to grow. It would be like a rock or the acorn which has no choice but to become an oak tree. If we have freedom, we are not bound by our natures and can participate in creating them.

3." I am in flux, but it allows me to participate in making myself."

If you were flux that the only possible action which would be open to you is chaotic random action,like in epileptic fit. Human volitional action is highly orderly and goal driven.Flux cannot explain volition. Besides,according to you after been snapshoted ( and this is also continious process) you suppose to have identity and according to your logic to lose your volition

Being in flux does not mean chaotic random action. It means being able to change, flexible, free, not static and bound by a fixed nature. And, goals do not drive. It is not the goal of a finished house that puts together the pile of wood. There has to be an efficient cause. It's the subject that acts, not the object. You can try to objectify me if you want, but I will escape the identity of your snapshot. You don't make me what I am. I do.

4."I do believe I have some pre-existing nature as a human."

Now what that suppose to mean? Nature pre-existing to what? To the birth? To the acquisition of identity? If you unidentified flux how you can have nature? Human nature means identity,certain fixed properties which belong only to humans-like rationality or volition. You've said that you don't have any fixed properties. Isn't it contradiction?

I didn't say I didn't have any fixed properties. I've always maintained that I have freedom within generalizable, fixed, parameters. I've explained this to you over and over again. It is in my writings going back years and years ago, but you only read what you want.

5."Humans in Asia are every bit as human as humans in Spokane and have the same human rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
As in Africa,Oceania,India and Alaska. But their unallienated rights are derivates of their fixed human identity-rational,volitional beign. Unidentified flux doesn't and cannot have any rights. Seems like contradiction again.

Freedom within parameters. I am not a pure Existentialist nor a pure Objectivist. I am a NickOtani'sNeo-Objectivist who combines Existentialism with Objectivism as Plato and Aristotle combined Heraclites with Parmenides, as Kant combined empiracism with rationalism, as Hegel combined thesis with anti-thesis, as Rand combines realism with idealism.

6."Sartre is every bit an egoist as Rand is. He does not live for other people. In fact, he resists them. “Hell is other people.” They objectify him. He would rather be the subject, the entity that participates in creating himself. And, he exists. It is existence prior to essence."

This statement begs number of questions.a)If it existence prior to essence then what is exists?

We do, the subjects. Everything else exists in our light but wouldn't have meaning without us. We exist existentially prior to Caesar.

Essence of Sartre as man is rational beign.

Not necessarily. His essence is freedom.

If he (it?) doesn't possess this essence how he can create himself? By what means?

By freely choosing his projects and working toward goals.

b)He may be self-professed egoist but the logical consequence of his snapshot theory is that everybody's essence and therefore meaningful existence depends on everybody else.

You don't listen, Leonid. People are not objects. They are the subjects who take the snapshots. They resist the fixed natures imposed on them by others. I am showing you a square, but all you see is a circle. You are reading my words through the glasses of a bigot.

bis bald,

Nick

It begs question.

Leonid's picture

Leonid

1."It is not my argument that other people could provide me with identity."
But you've said time and again that identity provided by snapshots.You said "Reality exists as unidentified phenomena. We give parts of it names like “gravity” and “Uranium.”"-and who are "we" if not other people.It is no way that unidentified flux will suddenly get identity all by itself.That would be contradiction in terms,some kind of miracle.You've said number of times that only possible way for flux to acquire identity is to be snapshoted.So who is doing snapshoting if not other people?And how they acquire their identity? Therefore your identity is completly second-handed,depended on snapshots of other people (and each of them has diferent snapshot of you)

2."I can’t completely turn my eyes back in on themselves to observe that which observes. Neither can you. A ruler doesn’t measure itself." "But you,NickOtani,also part of reality.Who observes and classifies you? Who gives you name?
I do. I put meaning into my own existence. I choose my own projects and am, within certain parameters, what I do."

Don't you think that these two statements of yours contradicts each other? If ruler doesn't measure itself then how it can put meaning into its own existence especially if it not even ruler but nothing in particular, unidentified flux.

3." I am in flux, but it allows me to participate in making myself."

If you were flux that the only possible action which would be open to you is chaotic random action,like in epileptic fit. Human volitional action is highly orderly and goal driven.Flux cannot explain volition. Besides,according to you after been snapshoted ( and this is also continious process) you suppose to have identity and according to your logic to lose your volition

4."I do believe I have some pre-existing nature as a human."

Now what that suppose to mean? Nature pre-existing to what? To the birth? To the acquisition of identity? If you unidentified flux how you can have nature? Human nature means identity,certain fixed properties which belong only to humans-like rationality or volition. You've said that you don't have any fixed properties. Isn't it contradiction?

5."Humans in Asia are every bit as human as humans in Spokane and have the same human rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
As in Africa,Oceania,India and Alaska. But their unallienated rights are derivates of their fixed human identity-rational,volitional beign. Unidentified flux doesn't and cannot have any rights. Seems like contradiction again.

6."Sartre is every bit an egoist as Rand is. He does not live for other people. In fact, he resists them. “Hell is other people.” They objectify him. He would rather be the subject, the entity that participates in creating himself. And, he exists. It is existence prior to essence."

This statement begs number of questions.a)If it existence prior to essence then what is exists? Essence of Sartre as man is rational beign. If he (it?) doesn't possess this essence how he can create himself? By what means? b)He may be self-professed egoist but the logical consequence of his snapshot theory is that everybody's essence and therefore meaningful existence depends on everybody else. Thus ,his philosophy is turning around ancient well-worn collectivist axis

You need to get my views correct before you refute them

NickOtani's picture

The argument that other people could provide you with identity by taking snapshots of you doesn't hold water for following reasons:

It is not my argument that other people could provide me with identity. That is not my argument. Where do you get that? Sartre is every bit an egoist as Rand is. He does not live for other people. In fact, he resists them. “Hell is other people.” They objectify him. He would rather be the subject, the entity that participates in creating himself. And, he exists. It is existence prior to essence.

a)According to you perception is relative, every snapshot is diferent, and you must have multiple identities which is violation of the Law of Non-contradiction.

This is your contention. Knowledge is contextual.

b) Who provided identity to other people by taking their snapshots? The obvious answer-some other people and so ad infinitum.But infinite regress is logical fallacy-your position notwithstanding-and the number of people is final in any given moment.

You don’t believe there is infinite regress in mathematics? What’s the most negative integer?

You also cannot provide yourself with identity by taking your own snapshots using introspection.First, according to you introspection is not sufficient tool of knowledge.

I can’t completely turn my eyes back in on themselves to observe that which observes. Neither can you. A ruler doesn’t measure itself.

Second as entity without identity you cannot take any actions at all-you don't have any properties for that,that is consciousness and volition So you are unidentified flux.

I wouldn’t have volition if I were bound by a fixed nature. I am in flux, but it allows me to participate in making myself. I can’t choose what is already given. I can only choose the potential. It’s existence prior to essence. It is not A is A. It is A is in the process of becoming.

According to you "Reality exists as unidentified phenomena. We give parts of it names like “gravity” and “Uranium.” We observe and classify. We deem certain entities “man.”" But you,NickOtani,also part of reality.Who observes and classifies you? Who gives you name?

I do. I put meaning into my own existence. I choose my own projects and am, within certain parameters, what I do.

(Actually, I do believe I have some pre-existing nature as a human. Humans in Asia are every bit as human as humans in Spokane and have the same human rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This is what Rand believes also. However, within generalizable parameters, I have freedom to participate in creating my nature. This is where I incorporate my Existentialism.)

Bis bald,

Nick

Look who is talking

Leonid's picture

Leonid
Nick:"You pass judgment on my philosophy. You call it an odious concoction (spelling "concoction" wrong), but can you summarize it in your own words? Do you know anything about what you criticize? Prove it."

The proof is that according to your own philosophy you don't exist. And here are my arguments:
Since I never had a privilege to take your snapshot you are unidentified flux. Law of Identity is not applicable to you; it is just arbitrary formal logical construction.As you said "The law of identity says that A is A. That is all. It does not say things have properties. It does not say “to be is to be something.”
The argument that other people could provide you with identity by taking snapshots of you doesn't hold water for following reasons:
a)According to you perception is relative, every snapshot is diferent, and you must have multiple identities which is violation of the Law of Non-contradiction.
b) Who provided identity to other people by taking their snapshots? The obvious answer-some other people and so ad infinitum.But infinite regress is logical fallacy-your position notwithstanding-and the number of people is final in any given moment.
You also cannot provide yourself with identity by taking your own snapshots using introspection.First, according to you introspection is not sufficient tool of knowledge. Second as entity without identity you cannot take any actions at all-you don't have any properties for that,that is consciousness and volition So you are unidentified flux.According to you "Reality exists as unidentified phenomena. We give parts of it names like “gravity” and “Uranium.” We observe and classify. We deem certain entities “man.”" But you,NickOtani,also part of reality.Who observes and classifies you? Who gives you name? Some other unidentified phenomena? By what means? Entity cannot exist without to be something. As Rand observed existence doesn't have identity, existence is identity. Without identity you are literally not a thing, nothing. In such a case who is writing all your posts? You have been refuted.

More on Origins of Logic

Stephen Boydstun's picture

In the thread Quantum Logic, I mentioned the following studies concerning origins of laws of logic:

 

Peikoff, L. 1985. Aristotle's Intuitive Induction. The New Scholasticism 59(2): 185-99.

Sainsbury, R.M. 2004. Option Negation and Dialetheias. In The Law of Non-Contradiction. Priest, Beall, and Armour-Garb, editors. Oxford: Clarendon.

Maddy, Penelope 2002. "A Naturalisitic Look at Logic" Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 76(2):61-90.

Macnamara, John 1986. A Border Dispute: The Place of Logic in Psychology. MIT.

Horn, Laurence 2001 [1989]. A Natural History of Negation. CSLI.

In Objectivity:

V1N3 33-34 in S. Boydstun's "Induction on Identity"

V1N4 50-52 in T. Machan's "Evidence of Necessary Existence"

V2N2 67-68 in M. Jetton's "Time, Prescience, and Biology"

V2N4 106 in K. Touchstone's "Mathematics and Intuition"

~~~~~~ 

I am delighted to learn that Professor Maddy’s paper has now been incorporated into Part III of this new book:

Second Philosophy A Naturalistic Method by Penelope Maddy (Oxford 2007)

From the back cover:

"Many philosophers these days consider themselves naturalists, but it's doubtful any two of them intend the same position by the term. In this book, Penelope Maddy describes and practises a particularly austere form of naturalism called 'Second Philosophy'. Without a definitive criterion for what counts as 'science' and what doesn't, Second Philosophy can't be specified directly - 'trust only the methods of science!' or some such thing - so Maddy proceeds instead by illustrating the behaviours of an idealized inquirer she calls the 'Second Philosopher'. This Second Philosopher begins from perceptual common sense and progresses from there to systematic observation, active experimentation, theory formation and testing, working all the while to assess, correct and improve her methods as she goes. Second Philosophy is then the result of the Second Philosopher's investigations.

"Maddy delineates the Second Philosopher's approach by tracing her reactions to various familiar skeptical and transcendental views (Descartes, Kant, Carnap, late Putnam, van Fraassen), comparing her methods to those of other self-described naturalists (especially Quine), and examining a prominent contemporary debate (between disquotationalists and correspondence theorists in the theory of truth) to extract a properly second-philosophical line of thought. She then undertakes to practise Second Philosophy in her reflections on the ground of logical truth, the methodology, ontology and epistemology of mathematics, and the general prospects for metaphysics naturalized."

From the Table of Contents: 

Part I: What is Second Philosophy?

1. Descartes' first philosophy

2. Neo-Cartesian skepticism

3. Hume's naturalism

4. Kant's transcendentalism

5. Carnap's rational reconstruction

6. Quine's naturalism

7. Putnam's anti-naturalism

Part II: The Second Philosopher at Work

8. What's left to do?

9. An illustration: truth and reference

10. Reconfiguring the debate

11. Disquotation

12. Minimalism

13. Correlation

Part III: A Second Philosophy of Logic

14. Naturalistic options

15. Kant on logic

16. Undoing the Copernican revolution

17. The logical structure of the world

18. The logical structure of cognition

19. The status of rudimentary logic

20. From rudimentary to classical logic

21. Caveats

Part IV: Second Philosophy and Mathematics

22. Second philosophy of science

23. Mathematics in application

24. Second methodology of mathematics

25. Second philosophy of mathematics

26. Second metaphysics

 

Poor, confused Leonid.

NickOtani's picture

Nick,you exibit enormous ability of projection.If I had to choose between religious dogmatist and you I'd take religionist any time.Their premises are wrong but at least they have integrity and think strait.You created odious concotion from Heraclitus,Sartre,buddism and Rand and became completly intoxicated with it,lost in your indetermined flux.Since you've discarded logic,reality and common sense the only argument which is still available to you is insult.You are poor confused soul.Try Tao meditation-you may feel better.

You are not much better at flaming than you are at debating. Can you spell Buddhism? We know you didn't know what "validity" was; do you know what "premises" are? Instead of learning something and getting better by talking with me, you just get more and more wrong, lost, and generally messed-up. It's sad.

You pass judgment on my philosophy. You call it an odious concoction (spelling "concoction" wrong), but can you summarize it in your own words? Do you know anything about what you criticize? Prove it.

bis bald,

Nick

Nick, you are poor confused soul

Leonid's picture

Leonid
"You, however, are no different from a religious fundamentalist who believes what he believes and considers anyone who criticizes it as some sort of a blasphemer. You have very little reason and logic. You are an unthinking dogmatist."

Nick,you exibit enormous ability of projection.If I had to choose between religious dogmatist and you I'd take religionist any time.Their premises are wrong but at least they have integrity and think strait.You created odious concotion from Heraclitus,Sartre,buddism and Rand and became completly intoxicated with it,lost in your indetermined flux.Since you've discarded logic,reality and common sense the only argument which is still available to you is insult.You are poor confused soul.Try Tao meditation-you may feel better.

Leonid becmes more and more outrageous

NickOtani's picture

(Leonid)Right. And that exactly why Aristotle formulated his Axioms-to avoid infinite regress in reasoning.Now Axioms are not self-evident,you don't formulate them by simple observation. They are abstract concepts. However as any abstractions they can be reduced to perceptual evidence.Besides,I've no problem with Godel.He just confirmed that all derivative knowledge is limited by its context.

(Nick)Rand claims that axiomatic knowledge is self-evident, not limited by context.

"(Nick)You really misrepresent me, Leonid. I do not deny the Law of Identity. I recognize it as a procedural rule for communication and thinking, which is what Aristotle meant it to be. "

(Leonid)Law of Identity has nothing to do with communication and thinking.It simply states that every thing which exists has properties.To be is to be something. Entity cannot exist as nothing in particular.And that will remain true even if there is nobody around to think or to communicate.So I don't misrepresent you.

(Nick)The law of identity says that A is A. That is all. It does not say things have properties. It does not say “to be is to be something.” These are all Randisms projected onto a simple rule of procedure for communication and thinking which preserves the identity of variables during the course of an argument. Arguments have everything to do with communication and thinking, not necessarily reality.

"(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."

(Leonid)Subjects don't do anything to objects.This is position of subjective idealist who thinks that whishes are fishes and anything could be sushi just because he named it so.

(Nick)Yes, subjects act on objects. The subject of a sentence is that which does something. The object is that which gets acted upon. People don’t want to be sex objects because then they don’t get to do anything. They become objectified, like objects. They would rather be subjects, ends in themselves, not means to the ends of others. The relationship with others should be subject to subject, not subject to object. Even Rand agrees with this.

2.(Nick)You are the one who said infinite regress makes proofs and explanations meaningless. I am showing that the infinite regress in mathematics does not make mathematical proofs and explanations meaningless.

(Leonid)It is mathematical symbol which indicates that number is heading to infinity,becomes increasingly larger or smaller but never reaches it. But it is no such a thing as infinitive number for infinitive number means not a number of any quantity but number without quantity at all which is contradiction in terms.E=MCsq has always final quantitative value for C is constant and M is also final.So how it proves that infinitive regress is valid logical argument? It is using of concept of infinitive regress ,not potential infinity makes all proofs meaningless.

(Nick)There are infinite series in mathematics. There is no smallest or largest number. There are still meaningful constructions with the numbers between. This contradicts your earlier statement that infinite regress makes explanations and proofs meaningless.

3."(Nick)Reality is in question."

(Leonid)Reality is not in question. Existence exists.This is our knowledge of reality can be incomplete. The argument which has nothing to do with reality has no value whatsoever.Your epistomological relativism could be easily refuted by simple question:are you absolutly positive that here are no absolutes? Is the statement "Present king of USA is wise man" true or false?

(Nick)I am not a complete skeptic. The statement that there are absolutely no absolutes does not work on me. The statement about the present king of USA is not relevant. You, however, are no different from a religious fundamentalist who believes what he believes and considers anyone who criticizes it as some sort of a blasphemer. You have very little reason and logic. You are an unthinking dogmatist.

bis bald,

Nick

I don't misrepresent you,Nick

Leonid's picture

Leonid
"(Nick)You really misrepresent me, Leonid. I do not deny the Law of Identity. I recognize it as a procedural rule for communication and thinking, which is what Aristotle meant it to be. "
Law of Identity has nothing to do with communication and thinking.It simply states that every thing which exists has properties.To be is to be something. Entity cannot exist as nothing in particular.And that will remain true even if there is nobody around to think or to communicate.So I don't misrepresent you.
"(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."

Subjects don't do anything to objects.This is position of subjective idealist who thinks that whishes are fishes and anything could be sushi just because he named it so.

2.(Nick)You are the one who said infinite regress makes proofs and explanations meaningless. I am showing that the infinite regress in mathematics does not make mathematical proofs and explanations meaningless.

It is mathematical symbol which indicates that number is heading to infinity,becomes increasingly larger or smaller but never reaches it. But it is no such a thing as infinitive number for infinitive number means not a number of any quantity but number without quantity at all which is contradiction in terms.E=MCsq has always final quantitative value for C is constant and M is also final.So how it proves that infinitive regress is valid logical argument? It is using of concept of infinitive regress ,not potential infinity makes all proofs meaningless.

3."(Nick)Reality is in question." Reality is not in question. Existence exists.This is our knowledge of reality can be incomplete. The argument which has nothing to do with reality has no value whatsoever.Your epistomological relativism could be easily refuted by simple question:are you absolutly positive that here are no absolutes? Is the statement "Present king of USA is wise man" true or false?

I've no problem with Godel

Leonid's picture

Leonid
Brian S "The second requirement forces the justificationist to justify rationally everything he holds true, including the two requirements themselves. This is not possible, however, because no matter how many reasons we have in support of some proposition P, the last reason always remains unjustified. So the justificationist's position cannot be justified on its own terms."

Right. And that exactly why Aristotle formulated his Axioms-to avoid infinite regress in reasoning.Now Axioms are not self-evident,you don't formulate them by simple observation. They are abstract concepts. However as any abstractions they can be reduced to perceptual evidence.Besides,I've no problem with Godel.He just confirmed that all derivative knowledge is limited by its context.

Self-evidence is no solution to infinite regress

Brian S's picture

Leonid,

As it happens, rational thinking does not require that certain propositions must be accepted as self-evident. You have committed yourself to this position because you think it is the only way to avoid the problem of infinite regress in chains of reasoning. It isn't.

Your position is basically the justificationist's position. A justificationist:

1. Accepts any proposition that can be justified.
2. Accepts only propositions that can be justified.

The second requirement forces the justificationist to justify rationally everything he holds true, including the two requirements themselves. This is not possible, however, because no matter how many reasons we have in support of some proposition P, the last reason always remains unjustified. So the justificationist's position cannot be justified on its own terms.

An alternative to justificationism is critical rationalism. A critical rationalist:

1. Rejects any proposition that has been successfully criticized.
2. Accepts no limits to criticism.

Critical rationalism regards any proposition as unproblematic until it is made problematic. Justificationism, conversely, regards any proposition as problematic until it is made unproblematic. Note that CR applies to itself: we reject it if it is successfully criticized.

Let's go back to Godel's theorem. As Nick put it: "a fully integrated system of propositions derived from axioms is not possible". Godel is an insurmountable wall for the justificationist, but not for the critical rationalist. For the critical rationalist does not accept something as true because it can be justified but rather because it has survived severe criticism and stringent testing (note: testing is a form of criticism). This involves neither an appeal to self-evident axioms nor any requirement that the proposition should be derivable from axioms.

So critical rationalism sits comfortably with Godel, it places no special emphasis on self-evidence, and it recognises full-square that objective truth exists. Much better than justificationism I say.

There is much more I could say about critical rationalism and justificationism, but I better duck down before Linz nags me again about a photo!

You don't recognize valid arguments, Leonid.

NickOtani's picture

(Nick)"Ultimate knowledge, in Aristotle’s philosophy, is derived from experience by an abstraction process."

(Leonid)Exactly.Experience means perceptual data of existence. And thats means Aristotelian logic and axioms reffer to existence,they aren't just tools of communication.

(Nick)No, if knowledge is contingent upon the abstractive process and mediated by prior sense experience, this means that it is relative. An Aristotelian “discovery,” as philosopher William F. O’Neill points out, is simply a “creation,” or inference, which corresponds to the facts in the sense that it is congruent with the actual phenomena which it purports to describe. Rand’s account of the perception of essential truth as a process of identification is more compatible with Plato’s point of view, that truth is innate, not relative to life experiences, and corresponds to some matching image, which is Truth (essence).

(Nick)2."I’d like you to show me anywhere where I have been wrong."

(Leonid)For example you are wrong to deny Law of Identity,fallacy of infinite regress,adopting Heraclitus's theory of flux which has been thoroughly refuted time and again,thinking that logic is faith and many other issues. I,however don't expect apology.

(Nick)You really misrepresent me, Leonid. I do not deny the Law of Identity. I recognize it as a procedural rule for communication and thinking, which is what Aristotle meant it to be. I recognize infinite regress, but I disagree with you that it makes proofs and explanations meaningless. I pointed out that there is infinite regress in mathematics but still meaningful proofs and explanations. E=MC squared is an example. I don’t deny Heraclites’s theory of flux, and neither do Plato and Aristotle. They subsume his theory, along with the theory of Parmenides, in their theories. They don’t thoroughly refute it. They use it. You have not shown where I am wrong about anything, and I don’t owe you an apology. You are the one making unsupported accusations against me.

(Nick)3." E=MC squared is an example of an explanation in mathematics which is not meaningless. You have been refuted."

(Leonid)How that proves infinite regress and how I've been refuted,except you've said so ?

(Nick)You are the one who said infinite regress makes proofs and explanations meaningless. I am showing that the infinite regress in mathematics does not make mathematical proofs and explanations meaningless.

(Nick)4."The first definition is the accurate and more precise definition used in philosophy. It is not “folly”. “Sound argument” is really less precise and more subjective, sloppy.

(Leonid)On what basis you say that? You don't support your claim by any argument.How you validate it? Why an argument which is based on right premises and doesn't have any fallacies is sloppy? This is the only argument which is valid in real sense,pertains to reality

(Nick)I told you that validity in a deductive argument can be demonstrated. It can be objectively demonstrated with Venn diagrams. This is support. All you can do is insist that your argument is sound, especially if reality is in question. Validity refers to the form of deductive arguments, not some vague notion of reality. But the major premises of deductive arguments are ultimately supported by inconclusive inductive arguments.

(Nick)5."Reality could be in question"

(Leonid)If reality is in question,no kind of validation is possible or needed.

(Nick)Reality is in question. We uncover a little more of it every day. We do not have the ultimate answers and may never have them. So, we keep looking. We operate on high degrees of certainty. We adopt certain laws of logic and nature and operate within them. We are wary of those who think they know better but don’t provide valid arguments to support their contentions, and don't recognize the valid arguments of others.

bis bald,

Nick

You don't really answer to me

Leonid's picture

Leonid
1."Ultimate knowledge, in Aristotle’s philosophy, is derived from experience by an abstraction process."

Exactly.Experience means perceptual data of existence. And thats means Aristotelian logic and axioms reffer to existence,they aren't just tools of communication.

2."I’d like you to show me anywhere where I have been wrong."
For example you are wrong to deny Law of Identity,fallacy of infinite regress,adopting Heraclitus's theory of flux which has been thoroughly refuted time and again,thinking that logic is faith and many other issues. I,however don't expect apology.

3." E=MC squared is an example of an explanation in mathematics which is not meaningless. You have been refuted."

How that proves infinite regress and how I've been refuted,except you've said so ?

4."The first definition is the accurate and more precise definition used in philosophy. It is not “folly”. “Sound argument” is really less precise and more subjective, sloppy.

On what basis you say that? You don't support your claim by any argument.How you validate it? Why an argument which is based on right premises and doesn't have any fallacies is sloppy? This is the only argument which is valid in real sense,pertains to reality

5."Reality could be in question"

If reality is in question,no kind of validation is possible or needed.

And still wrong!

NickOtani's picture

It is not Windelband but Aristotle who thoroughly refuted Heraclitus'flux theory by unanswerable argument that change is realization of potentiality of entity's essence,-he called it matter- which creates in this process new forms-term which he borrowed from Plato but gave to it new meaning-identity.

I never said Windelband did anything but speak of his interpretation of Aristotle. Both Aristotle and Plato dealt with Heraclites by subsuming the flux theory into a form theory. Plato emphasized the forms more so than the matter. Aristotle thought matter was more important, more real, because it becomes form, is the foundation for form.

Ultimate knowledge, in Aristotle’s philosophy, is derived from experience by an abstraction process.

I wrote about Aristotle and all his causes here: http://www.solopassion.com/nod...

You aslo wrong about a lot of things. So what?

I indicated where I demonstrated that Peikoff was wrong. I can be more specific if you want. I’d like you to show me anywhere where I have been wrong. If I made any mistakes, I’ve acknowledged them and apologized, but I don’t think anyone has proven me wrong about my charges against Rand and Peikoff. Don’t just make unsupported accusations, Leonid. It’s sloppy.

E=MC scuared has nothing to do with infinite regress.E is always has final quantitative value.It can be any value but not infinite value which exist only potentially.

You said that infinite regress makes proofs and explanations meaningless. I said that infinite series exist in mathematics and does not make proofs and explanations meaningless. E=MC squared is an example of an explanation in mathematics which is not meaningless. You have been refuted.

According to philosophical dictionary "validity" has two meanings:(1).Refers to the logical form of argument-regardless of its premises.So argument can be valid with false premises and invalid with true premises but fallacious logic.
(2) Valid argument is based on true premises and right logic-also called sound argument which connects concept and reality. I've no interest in the first since I don't bother to examine folly-it never accomplishes anything.When I use term "valid" I mean sound argument.Is that sloppiness?

The first definition is the accurate and more precise definition used in philosophy. It is not “folly”. “Sound argument” is really less precise and more subjective, sloppy. It can be used to describe inductive arguments which are always inconclusive. Reality could be in question. You tend to use “validity” any time you feel something sounds good. However, validity can be demonstrated. It is not just a matter of opinion, Leonid.

Bis bald,

Nick

Leonid"(Nick)No, Windelband

Leonid's picture

Leonid

"(Nick)No, Windelband is talking about Aristotle’s notion about matter approaching form. He is not saying that change presupposes identity."

It is not Windelband but Aristotle who thoroughly refuted Heraclitus'flux theory by unanswerable argument that change is realization of potentiality of entity's essence,-he called it matter- which creates in this process new forms-term which he borrowed from Plato but gave to it new meaning-identity.He also observed that is no such a thing as matter without forms or entity without identity.He proceeds to detailed description of the process of becoming-how entity may acquire new identity,naming 4 different causes of this process: material,efficient,formal and final.Only efficient cause is antecendent. Man may change for example from Objectivist to Existentialist but he cannot change his essence-rational,volitional nature of his cognition. He also cannot be Objectivist and Existentialist the same time and in same respect-that would be violation of the law of Non-contradiction. Contrary to what you've said Aristotle didn't formulated Axioms or logic because flux but to refute the theory of flux by proving that every entity has identity. He described in general terms self-evident truths.He regarded logic as science which is connecting general with particular and knowledge with object.Therefore he regarded logic as law of reality.

2."Nick)Peikoff has been wrong about a lot of things. I made that clear in my Alice series and in several other posts"
You aslo wrong about a lot of things. So what?

3."(Nick)As I said in my prior post, there are infinite series in mathematics. There are also proofs and explanations. Infinite regress does not make these things meaningless. E=MC squared is not meaningless. It can be and has been demonstrated empirically"

E=MC scuared has nothing to do with infinite regress.E is always has final quantitative value.It can be any value but not infinite value which exist only potentially.

4.(Nick)When you make up your own definition for precise and technical terms used in philosophy, it leads to sloppy reasoning"

According to philosophical dictionary "validity" has two meanings:(1).Refers to the logical form of argument-regardless of its premises.So argument can be valid with false premises and invalid with true premises but fallacious logic.
(2) Valid argument is based on true premises and right logic-also called sound argument which connects concept and reality. I've no interest in the first since I don't bother to examine folly-it never accomplishes anything.When I use term "valid" I mean sound argument.Is that sloppiness?

Still wrong

NickOtani's picture

(Nick)1."I quoted a respected Aristotelian scholar, philosopher John Herman Randall. Who do you cite as your authority? BTW, spell my name right. It is NickOtani."

(Leonid)Yes,NickOtani,I apologize for misspelling of your name. The authority I cite is Wilhelm Windelband. In his classical work " A History of Philosophy" he wrote:" The immediate aim of the Aristotelian logic is ,according to the express declarations of the philosopher, entirely methodological...Knowledge of the forms of right thinking can be gained ...from a definite idea of general relation of knowledge to its object. Thus the Aristotelian logic is connected in the most intimate manner with the metaphysical presupposition which lie at the basis of his treatment of other disciplines also. Out of this grows as the primary task for logic,that of recognising the true relation between general and the particular,and hence this fundamental form of abstract or conceptual thought..stands in the centre of the Aristotelian logic."( Wilhelm Windelband,A History of Philosophy 2001 the paper tiger,ppg 132-133)

(Nick)First, Wilhelm Windelband is a generalist, as are most writers of histories of philosophy. They know a little about all philosophers but only specialize on one or a few. Windelband specializes on Kant, not Aristotle. Randall is also a generalist but specializes on Aristotle. This would make him a more credible authority on Aristotle. Second, I use not only his credibility on Aristotle. There is also his argument that because reality is in flux, a law of identity is needed for communication and thinking. Even if this is a weak argument, it is better than no argument, which is what you present. Third, the quote you present above does not refute anything said by me or Randall. It affirms that logic is concerned with the forms of thinking, and it discusses Aristotle’s categorical syllogistic logic which proceeds from general to particular.

(Nick)2."First, you use this word “valid”. Do you know what it means? Can you define it in your own words and offer examples of validity and how it relates to truth?

(Leonid)First when I say "valid" I mean argument based on true premises,sound argument.I don't bother to examine logicaly valid arguments with false premises such as "present king of France is wise man". Validation is any process of relating mental contents to the facts of reality.

(Nick)When you make up your own definition for precise and technical terms used in philosophy, it leads to sloppy reasoning. “Valid,” as it is applied to deductive arguments, has to do with the form. It means that the conclusion follows from the premises. If the premises are true, the conclusion must also be true. The conclusion must not be true if one of the premises is false or if the argument is invalid, contains a fallacy. However, the premises of the argument could be false, and the conclusion could be false, but the argument could still be valid. Validity, in this sense, only has to do with the form of a deductive argument. It means that the conclusion, true or false, follows from the premises. The sense in which you mean it, that it is a conclusion which corresponds to the facts of reality, is not very precise. The facts of reality could be in doubt. What verifies them? And, what verifies the premises of a valid, deductive argument?

(Nick)Second, what is wrong with infinite regress"

(Leonid)Second,everything is wrong with infinite regress.Infinity exists only as potential. Actually every thing is final.Infinite regress makes the concept of proof meaningless. "The process of deducing,proving,and explaining,in which the ultimate task of science consists,must be preceded by the searching out of the starting-points for deduction,of the ultimate grounds of proof,and of the highest principles of explanation.The actitvity of thought involved in this process Aristotle calls dialectics,and has laid down its principles in the Topics" (ibid pg 137).Such irreducible principle is principle of Non-contradiction.

(Nick)As I said in my prior post, there are infinite series in mathematics. There are also proofs and explanations. Infinite regress does not make these things meaningless. E=MC squared is not meaningless. It can be and has been demonstrated empirically.

(Nick)3."Could you cite exactly where Aristotle says this?"

(Leonid)No I cannot. I quote Peikoff's lecture "A Revolution: the birth of reason,part 1. In this lecture he said " All proof consists of deriving from these archai(axioms) their consequences.Deny them,and you wipe out the very concept of proof."To demand a proof of everything,"-Aristotle says,"argues want of education". Since it is oral presentation,no refference has been given. However I think that this is in line with Aristotelian philosophy,considering every thing I've said and quoted above.

(Nick)Peikoff has been wrong about a lot of things. I made that clear in my Alice series and in several other posts.

(Nick)4."The reason Aristotle formulated a law of identity is because everything in reality, including man, was in a state of flux"

(Leonid)Wrong. Aristotle most emphaticly objected to the concept of reality as unidentified flux.For the Aristotelian conception of the world,as Windelband observed,"the truly real is the individual thing,determined in itself by its form.The Beign cognised in conception is the general essence,which realises itself in its particular manifestation and the process of this realisation is motion,change." (ibid p140). In other words the concepts of change presupposes concepts of identity. The essence of Man is rationality,conceptual thinking and volition.There are fixed properties of Man qua Man.

(Nick)No, Windelband is talking about Aristotle’s notion about matter approaching form. He is not saying that change presupposes identity.

bis bald,

Nick

Aristotle and logic

Leonid's picture

Leonid

1."I quoted a respected Aristotelian scholar, philosopher John Herman Randall. Who do you cite as your authority? BTW, spell my name right. It is NickOtani."

Yes,NickOtani,I apologize for misspelling of your name. The authority I cite is Wilhelm Windelband. In his classical work " A History of Philosophy" he wrote:" The immediate aim of the Aristotelian logic is ,according to the express declarations of the philosopher, entirely methodological...Knowledge of the forms of right thinking can be gained ...from a definite idea of general relation of knowledge to its object. Thus the Aristotelian logic is connected in the most intimate manner with the metaphysical presupposition which lie at the basis of his treatment of other disciplines also. Out of this grows as the primary task for logic,that of recognising the true relation between general and the particular,and hence this fundamental form of abstract or conceptual thought..stands in the centre of the Aristotelian logic."( Wilhelm Windelband,A History of Philosophy 2001 the paper tiger,ppg 132-133)

2."First, you use this word “valid”. Do you know what it means? Can you define it in your own words and offer examples of validity and how it relates to truth? Second, what is wrong with infinite regress"

First when I say "valid" I mean argument based on true premises,sound argument.I don't bother to examine logicaly valid arguments with false premises such as "present king of France is wise man". Validation is any process of relating mental contents to the facts of reality. Second,everything is wrong with infinite regress.Infinity exists only as potential. Actually every thing is final.Infinite regress makes the concept of proof meaningless. "The process of deducing,proving,and explaining,in which the ultimate task of science consists,must be preceded by the searching out of the starting-points for deduction,of the ultimate grounds of proof,and of the highest principles of explanation.The actitvity of thought involved in this process Aristotle calls dialectics,and has laid down its principles in the Topics" (ibid pg 137).Such irreducible principle is principle of Non-contradiction.

3."Could you cite exactly where Aristotle says this?"
No I cannot. I quote Peikoff's lecture "A Revolution: the birth of reason,part 1. In this lecture he said " All proof consists of deriving from these archai(axioms) their consequences.Deny them,and you wipe out the very concept of proof."To demand a proof of everything,"-Aristotle says,"argues want of education". Since it is oral presentation,no refference has been given. However I think that this is in line with Aristotelian philosophy,considering every thing I've said and quoted above.

4."The reason Aristotle formulated a law of identity is because everything in reality, including man, was in a state of flux"

Wrong. Aristotle most emphaticly objected to the concept of reality as unidentified flux.For the Aristotelian conception of the world,as Windelband observed,"the truly real is the individual thing,determined in itself by its form.The Beign cognised in conception is the general essence,which realises itself in its particular manifestation and the process of this realisation is motion,change." (ibid p140). In other words the concepts of change presupposes concepts of identity. The essence of Man is rationality,conceptual thinking and volition.There are fixed properties of Man qua Man.

Metaphysics and Logic

Stephen Boydstun's picture

I have suggested elsewhere that Rand’s metaphysics and epistemology may favor certain developments in two nonclassical logics: modal logic and relevance logic. But within our classical logic itself, it is not plausible that Rand’s 1957 metaphysics and the conception of logic she situates in it have any definite implications for elements beyond first-order predicate logic with quantification and with identity. Gödel proved in 1930 that this much of our classical logic is complete, in the sense that every valid formula is provable. (See Quine’s Methods of Logic or Heijenoort’s From Frege to Gödel.)

The formal disciplines of logic, set theory, and pure mathematics are of their own interest, and they are tools for disciplines centered on concrete existence. Such are science and metaphysics (ibid.). Incompleteness (in the logical sense) in parts of one’s formal apparatus does not impugn their appropriateness nor utility. We use Zorn’s Lemma (= Axiom of Choice) in mathematical physics, even though it has been proven that this thesis can be neither proven nor disproven. (See p.42 of Geroch’s Mathematical Physics; chap. 6 of Machover’s Set Theory, Logic, and Their Limitations.)

Axiomatization in statics or thermodynamics themselves must, of course, adopt axioms that are statements about concrete existents, and these are axioms in addition to those taken over from the formal disciplines. Rand did not pretend to an axiomatization of metaphysics (nor have I in the topic article), notwithstanding the importance she attached to axioms for metaphysics (and epistemology).

Writing of axiomatic concepts in metaphysics, Rand 1967:

“Axiomatic concepts are the constants of man’s consciousness, the cognitive integrators that identify and thus protect its continuity. . . .

“It is by means of axiomatic concepts that man grasps and holds this continuity [of existence and of one’s experience], bringing it into his conscious awareness and knowledge. It is axiomatic concepts that identify the preconditions of knowledge: the distinction between existence and consciousness, between reality and the awareness of reality, between the object and the subject of cognition.” (ITOE 56–57)

“[Although axiomatic concepts] designate a fundamental metaphysical fact, axiomatic concepts are the product of an epistemological need—the need of a volitional, conceptual consciousness which is capable of error and doubt. . . . Man’s consciousness, a consciousness capable of conceptual errors, . . . needs a special identification of the directly given, to embrace and delimit the entire field of its awareness—to delimit it from the void of unreality to which conceptual errors can lead. Axiomatic concepts are epistemological guidelines. They sum up the essence of all human cognition: something exists of which I am conscious; I must discover its identity.” (ITOE 58–59)

Wrong again, Leonid!

NickOtani's picture

Conceptual presentation made by whom? Presumable by man. But according to you man also doesn't have fixed nature,identity.He is also involved in the constant process of becoming,he is also flux. Therefore we are dealing here with snapshot of unidentified flux made by unidentified flux.From zero you can only get zero. A is A.
" And at the same time our discussion with such a man is evidently about nothing at all;for he says nothing.For he says neither "yes" or "no",but "yes" and "no",;and again he denies both of these and says "neither yes or no";for otherwise,there would already be something definite"-Aristotle,Book Gamma of the Metaphysics,NY,Random House 1941,1008a 30-34

The reason Aristotle formulated a law of identity is because everything in reality, including man, was in a state of flux. If it were not, there would be no need for a law of identity in communication and thinking.

Isn't it? A thing in a given set of circumstances has the potentiality to act only in one way,the way dictated by its nature.If not, what else can dictate its actions?In other words some cause-some effect.Change presupposes the Law of Identity.An acorn becoming an oak,it cannot become President of USA.

Stones, leaves, and acorns have fixed natures. They will act only one way in a given set of circumstances. Man, however, has free-will. He is not completely bound by his nature. He may live like a vegetable if he wants, or he can try to become President of the USA. His choices, not some pre-existing nature, will determine his obstacles. He participates in the creation of his own nature. It’s existence first and then essence.

Godel's theorem states by using sofisticated mathematical language that human knowledge like everything else has identity that is-it's limited by its context and Man is not omniscient.

First, Goedel’s second theorem states that if X is consistent, X being any mathematical or logical system depending on axioms, its consistency cannot be proved by methods formalizable in X. This means, among other things, a fully integrated system of propositions derived from axioms is not possible.

(Some people, like Peikoff, refer to Objectivism as a system. Others, like Kelley, refer to it as an edifice. They try to distinguish it from the rationalistic systems like those of Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Hegel, and Marx. In any case, whether Objectivism is a system or edifice, if it rests on axioms, it cannot be both consistent and closed.)

Second, Rand claims the axiomatic truths are true, not just true contextually. She holds that there are two kinds of truth, the contextual kind learned primarily through the senses and the axiomatic kind which is implicit in all experience and awareness and is self-evident. And, contextual means relative, that which is true for you may not be true for me, depending on our respective experience. This is not a very good standard for Objective truth.

That simple truth is known to any Objectivist.Aristotle observed that it is not valid to demand a proof of everything since it would lead to infinite regress.

First, you use this word “valid”. Do you know what it means? Can you define it in your own words and offer examples of validity and how it relates to truth? Second, what is wrong with infinite regress? We have infinite series in mathematics. There is no smallest number, no most negative integer. There is also no highest number, largest positive number. Still, there are numbers in-between. They exist.

"To demand a proof of everything,"-he says,"argues want of education".

Could you cite exactly where Aristotle says this?

There must self-evident thruths,first principles or axioms on which all proves depend.Such as laws of Contradiction. The laws of logic,says Aristotle,are laws of all reality,not just means of communication as NicOtam thinks.(SIC)

I quoted a respected Aristotelian scholar, philosopher John Herman Randall. Who do you cite as your authority? BTW, spell my name right. It is NickOtani.

They are laws of being qua being.The knowledge of these laws is precondition of any acquisition of knowledge, on any level ,in any field.That what is all fuss about.From axioms you may not derive all truths,but without axiom you cannot derive any truth.

Actually, science begins not with truth but with questions. Answers come with testing, not with someone saying “This is Truth!”

Bis bald,
Nick

Godel's theorem

Leonid's picture

Leonid

Brian

Godel's theorem states by using sofisticated mathematical language that human knowledge like everything else has identity that is-it's limited by its context and Man is not omniscient. That simple truth is known to any Objectivist.Aristotle observed that it is not valid to demand a proof of everything since it would lead to infinite regress."To demand a proof of everything,"-he says,"argues want of education".There must self-evident thruths,first principles or axioms on which all proves depend.Such as laws of Contradiction. The laws of logic,says Aristotle,are laws of all reality,not just means of communication as NicOtam thinks.They are laws of being qua being.The knowledge of these laws is precondition of any acquisition of knowledge, on any level ,in any field.That what is all fuss about.From axioms you may not derive all truths,but without axiom you cannot derive any truth.

A=A and 0=0

Leonid's picture

Leonid
1."A’ is a snapshot, a conceptual presentation of a still-picture of an entity, "

Conceptual presentation made by whom? Presumable by man. But according to you man also doesn't have fixed nature,identity.He is also involved in the constant process of becoming,he is also flux. Therefore we are dealing here with snapshot of unidentified flux made by unidentified flux.From zero you can only get zero. A is A.
" And at the same time our discussion with such a man is evidently about nothing at all;for he says nothing.For he says neither "yes" or "no",but "yes" and "no",;and again he denies both of these and says "neither yes or no";for otherwise,there would already be something definite"-Aristotle,Book Gamma of the Metaphysics,NY,Random House 1941,1008a 30-34

2."'A is A' is not 'if A, then B'"

Isn't it? A thing in a given set of circumstances has the potentiality to act only in one way,the way dictated by its nature.If not, what else can dictate its actions?In other words some cause-some effect.Change presupposes the Law of Identity.An acorn becoming an oak,it cannot become President of USA.

'A is A' is not 'if A, then B'

NickOtani's picture

“Change presupposes the concepts of what changes, from what and to what, [indeed] without the law of identity, no such concept as ‘change’ is possible.” (1039)

According to Zeno, student of Parmenides, if something changes, it must change from what it is to what it is not. However, because of the law of identity, which was not yet formulated in his time, he still knew that a thing cannot change from what it is, and it cannot be what it is not. Therefore, because of the law of identity, ‘change’ is not possible.

Also, in Alice in Objectivist Land, part eight, (http://www.solopassion.com/nod... ) Dr. P, the prosecutor, questions the Mad Hatter, a pragmatist, about this very issue:

“You seem to have this in common with the Existentialist that things are in process,” said Dr. P, “but don’t things have to have identity before they become?”

“What you are ignoring is that“ process” and “becoming” are the larger terms,” said the Mad Hatter, “‘A’ is a snapshot, a conceptual presentation of a still-picture of an entity, making something in process appear passive. It is not the case that specific natures, which are static, come first and then change. They are changing, and we give them unchanging natures for ease of communication and thinking.”

Bis bald,

Nick

Before Rand

Stephen Boydstun's picture

“We started from the proposition A = A . . . [because it is] something given with certainty in empirical consciousness. But . . . it is not the ‘I am’ that is based on ‘A = A’ but rather that the latter is based on the former.

“If we abstract from ‘I am’ the specific content, namely the self, and are left with the mere form that is given with this content, the form of an inference from being posited to being, . . . we then obtain ‘A = A’ as the basic proposition of logic, which can be demonstrated and determined only through the Science of Knowledge. Demonstrated, in that A is A, because the self that has posited A is identical with that in which A has been posited; determined, in that everything that exists does so only insofar as it is posited in the self, and apart from the self there is nothing. No possible A in the above proposition (no thing) can be anything other than something posited in the self.” (I, 98–99)

—Johann Gottlieb Fichte, The Science of Knowledge (1794); Peter Heath and John Lachs, translators (1970)

 

As readers of Rand’s 1957 metaphysics know, she turned that all around.

 

“It is . . . easy to establish the union between the notion of the rational and that of the persistent throughout time. The principle of identity is the true essence of logic, the real mould into which man pours his thought. ‘I agree’, says Condillac in the Langue des Calculs [1798], ‘that in this language, as in all others, one only makes identical propositions when the propositions are true’, and in his Logique [1780] he affirms that ‘the evidence of reason consists solely in identity’.

“To affirm, however, that an object is identical with itself seems to be a proposition of pure logic and, moreover, a simple tautology, or, if you prefer, an analytical judgment, according to the terminology of Kant. But as soon as the consideration of time is added, the concept becomes twofold, so to speak, for besides the analytical sense, it acquires a synthetical sense, as Spir excellently says. It is analytical ‘when it expresses simply the result of an analysis of the concept; synthetic, on the other hand, when it is understood as an affirmation relative to the nature of real objects'. . . .

“Thus the principle of causality is none other than the principle of identity applied to the existence of objects in time . . . .” (43)

“And science is not exclusively empirical; it is also the application to nature, in successive phases, of the principle of identity, the essence of our understanding. But from this principle, we can draw no precise proposition by deduction; this is why there can be no pure science, contrary to what Kant supposed [in Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science (1786); see V2N5, pp. 18–29]. In trying to explain phenomena, we attempt to make them comply with what this principle postulates, and that is why its intervention in science shows itself as a tendency, the causal tendency.” (402)

—Emile Meyerson, Identity and Reality (1908, 1912, 1926); Kate Lowenberg, translator (1930)

 

Compare Meyerson’s conception of identity and its place in knowledge with the conception of Rand 1957:

“Whatever the degree of your knowledge, these two—existence and consciousness—are axioms you cannot escape, these two are the irreducible primaries implied in any action you undertake, in any part of your knowledge and in its sum, from the first ray of light you perceive at the start of your life to the widest erudition you might acquire at its end. Whether you know the shape of a pebble or the structure of a solar system, the axioms remain the same: that it exists and that you know it.

“To exist is to be something, . . . an entity of a specific nature made of specific attributes . . . . Existence is Identity, Consciousness is Identification.

. . .

“Reason is the faculty that perceives, identifies, and integrates the material provided by [man’s] senses. The task of his senses is to give him the evidence of existence, but the task of identifying it belongs to his reason, his senses tell him only that something is, but what it is must be learned by his mind.

“All thinking is a process of identification and integration . . . . Logic is the art of non-contradictory identification.” (1015–16)

“The process of thinking . . . is the process of defining identity and discovering causal connections.” (1038)

Change presupposes the concepts of what changes, from what and to what, [indeed] without the law of identity, no such concept as ‘change’ is possible.” (1039)

“The law of causality is the law of identity applied to action. All actions are caused by entities. The nature of an action is caused and determined by the nature of the entities that act; a thing cannot act in contradiction to its nature.” (1037)

“[The day a person grasps] that physical objects cannot act without causes, . . . that the evidence [his organs of perception] give him is an absolute, but his mind must learn to understand it, his mind must discover the nature, the causes, the full context of his sensory material, his mind must identify the things that he perceives—that is the day of his birth as a thinker and scientist.” (1041)

Foundationalism, Axioms, and the Self-Evident

Brian S's picture

Guys, I wonder does Godel ring a bell with anybody here?

Godel's theorem tells us that no system of axioms can fully capture all the truths of arithmetic. There will always be truths that cannot be derived from your axioms, no matter how you choose them. Consequently, knowledge discovery in arithmetic can take on some of the character of science: that is, it becomes a process of making conjectures and trying to refute them rather than just a process of deriving truths from axioms.

If arithmetic cannot be placed on an axiomatic foundation, it is futile to hope that knowledge can be. So I don't understand why Objectivists make such a fuss about axioms and foundations.

Furthermore I don't understand why self-evidence is held in such high esteem. Rational investigation is concerned with what is true. What is true is not necessarily self-evident and what is apparently self-evident is not necessarily true. We should demand higher standards of truth than to claim it is self-evident. Why also be concerned with self-evidence in addition to truth? Or is it supposed to be self-evident why self-evidence is important?

Foundationalism. Another cancer of thought. Pah!

Naturally

Richard Wiig's picture

One still must go to the window to see if it is raining outside.

but one is better equipped for going to that window armed with the knowledge that A is A.

A is A

NickOtani's picture

That's all well and good. One still must go to the window to see if it is raining outside.

bis bald,

Nick

Way of Truth

Stephen Boydstun's picture

Richard Goode remarked: “‘A is A’ is a tautology, so it tells us nothing about the way the world is.”

 

Said of any existent, “A is A” can mean either “A is being A, specifically, A is predicatively being A the way it is and not in other ways” (Metaphysics 1041a10–26) or it can mean “A is the same as A”. The latter can be divided into the merely verbal, as when we say “a belly is a tummy” or it can be more than merely verbal interchangeability, as when we say “a triangle is a trilateral” or “the morning star is the evening star.”

It is because identity has various bearings in the real that it has various bearings in logic. These would include the license of substituting like for like and the proscription of equivocation. Truth is preserved under the former, spoiled under the latter.

Another bearing of identity in logic is the logical relation of identity, which is usually denoted by the equals-sign in the texts (Copi’s Symbolic Logic, 158–68; Quine’s Methods of Logic, 268–73). Logic assimilates this relation by adding two axioms to those sufficient for the logic of (logical) quantification. One of those additional axioms is: for any a, a = a.

Within the syllogistic, we have the identity formula “Every A is A”. This was being used by logicians at least by the time of Albert the Great (13th cent.). They used it, for example, to prove the convertibility of "No B is A" to "No A is B". They added "Every A is A" to "No B is A" to infer "No A is B", relying on one of Aristotle’s forms of syllogism (first mood of the second figure):

No L is M

Every S is M

No S is L

 

No B is A

Every A is A

No A is B

(Kneale and Kneale’s The Development of Logic, 235–36)

 

The workings of identity in logic can sometimes look like a barren exercise. But these workings are for true thinking about the way the world is.

"Is" can mean more than existence or identity

NickOtani's picture

“To exist is to be something, as distinguished from the nothing of non-existence, it is to be an entity of a specific nature made of specific attributes. Centuries ago, the man who was—no matter what his errors—the greatest of your philosophers, has stated the formula defining the concept of existence and the role of all knowledge: A is A. A thing is itself. You have never grasped the meaning of his statement. I am here to complete it: Existence is Identity. . . .” (AS 1016).

Rand wants the law of identity to mean more than Aristotle meant by it. Aristotle, according to the Aristotelian scholar, John Herman Randall, indicated that logic was concerned with procedural rules for communication and thinking, not with existence. A term is not a thing, but once it is defined, it should keep its identity during the course of a statement. No points can be made or conclusions drawn from premises if terms change identities in the middle of statements. However, those terms do not necessarily identify objects in reality, which may be in a state of flux. A term is a conceptual snapshot, not the thing itself.

Rand maintained that the concept of identity is a philosophical axiom, in the following sense: “An axiom is a statement that identifies the base of knowledge and of any further statement pertaining to that knowledge, a statement necessarily contained in all others, whether any particular speaker chooses to identify it or not. An axiom is a proposition that defeats its opponents by the fact that they have to accept it and use it in the process of any attempt to deny it. Let [one] who does not choose to accept the axiom of identity, try to present his theory without using the concept of identity or any concept derived from it” (1040). (See also Chapter 6 of ITOE and ARS - Lennox.)

First, axioms and rules of interest are procedural rules for communication and thinking, not statements about how things actually are in reality. Second, it is not significant that something has to be assumed or accepted in the process of denying it. This does not prove that it exists or is true. When Descartes says that he thinks, therefore he is; he is using this argument. He has to assume his own existence to deny it. However, Rand has no problem denying this argument because it denies empirical existence. It can also be denied because it is a circular argument assuming the conclusion it is proving. It is like saying “I exist and think, therefore I exist.” One’s existence is assumed, presupposed, in the statement that one thinks. There is also the argument that one cannot deny the existence of anything without accepting that it exists at least as a concept or something with a referent. Even Russell made the point that statement, “X does not exist,” is either false or meaningless. So, a religious person could, by that logic, claim that one cannot deny the existence of God without accepting it, without self-contradiction. Yet this does not stop Rand from denying it. (We could, of course, relegate God to the existing things such as Santa Clause and square circles.)

Rand takes the proposition “Existence is identity” to express a primary fact. This proposition is a fundamental composition upon the concepts existence and identity (further, pp. 44–45), which concepts, along with the concept consciousness, Rand takes as axiomatic. Two other propositions expressing primary facts are “Existence exists” and “Consciousness is of existence not only itself.” Rand constructs arguments to show that these two propositions are indeed axiomatic (AS 1015–16, 1039–40).

Susanne Langer, in her book, An Introduction to Symbolic Logic. New York: Dover, 1953, discusses at great length the various ambiguities which are inherent in using "existence" as a verb. Consider the following propositions:
1. The rose is red.
2. Rome is greater than Athens.
3. Barbarossa is Fredrick I.
4. Barbarossa is a legendary hero.
5. To sleep is to dream.
6. God is.
In each of these sentences we find the verb "is." But each sentence expresses a differently constructed proposition:
1. ascribes a property to a term; in
2. "is" has logically only an auxiliary value of asserting the dyadic relation, "greater than"; in
3. "is" expresses identity; in
4. It indicates membership in a class (the class of legendary heroes); in
5. entailment (sleeping entails dreaming); in
6. existence.
I also sometimes use, as I did in Alice in Objectivist land, the example of trying to answer the question, "who 'are' you?" If you are in a process of becoming, you are who you are not and are not who you are.
Where was the man when he jumped off the bridge? If you say he was on the bridge, that was before he jumped. If you say he was in the air, that was after he jumped. Sometimes, forms of the verb "to be" do not really capture the meaning of something in the process of taking place.
Finally, I'm also aware of the view that there are no real synonyms. I'm not sure I agree with this. It makes definitions difficult, and rules out tautologies like A is A, or bachelors are unmarried males. I still like these a-priori constructions.

I have come round to taking the proposition “Existence is identity” as an epigram encapsulating identity postulates on existence, such as the proposition “To exist . . . is to be an entity of a specific nature made of specific attributes.” Three years ago, led by Rand’s text, I began drawing forth other identity postulates on existence contracted into “Existence is identity.” I have constructed arguments showing that some of these postulates are indeed axiomatic. I will here share a couple of these postulates and my demonstrations that their denials give rise to self-contradictions.

And, again, simply because a denial leads to self-contradiction, this does not prove that the postulate is true, as I demonstrated above.

A. Exclusions of Non-Contradiction: Entities
Rand states her finer structure for the law of identity as follows. “Whatever you choose to consider, be it an object, an attribute, or an action, the law of identity remains the same. A leaf cannot be a stone at the same time, it cannot be all red and all green at the same time, it cannot freeze and burn at the same time. A is A. . . . A contradiction cannot exist. An atom is itself, and so is the universe; neither can contradict its own identity; nor can a part contradict the whole” (AS 1016).

The law of identity does entail the law of non-contradiction and the law of excluded middle. This is nothing new. Yes, a leaf can also be a drain clogger, but it cannot be a non-leaf. We already know this.

Rand’s law of identity entails that objects come in some exclusive kinds. Leaf and stone are kinds that are exclusive with respect to each other. Any object is also of kinds that are not exclusive of each other: a leaf is a kind of plant part, it is a kind of light catcher, and it is a kind of drain clogger. To say that an object is a leaf and a stone violates identity in Rand’s sense; it is a contradiction. But to say that an object is a leaf and a drain clogger is no contradiction. Objects come in some exclusive kinds, and it is sensitivity to these sets of kinds that is written into Rand’s conception of noncontradiction concerning the kind-identity of an object. (Cf. Plato’s Sophist 252e–54b.)

Still, there are contradictions which impact systems of logic. To eliminate them means to settle for systems of logic which are not closed or complete. This makes them meaningful. They can’t simply be ignored. Self-referential paradoxes are examples of such contradictions. They prove logically that logic has some loopholes. It may be a useful tool, but it is not 100% certain. It is not a new God.

Rand clearly intends that what is here proposed for objects is to be generalized to entities. Every entity is of some kinds that are exclusive relative to other kinds of entity. Rand uses the term entity in the paragraph preceding the object examples of leaf and stone. That is, she uses entity in the initial statement of her law of identity: “To exist is to be something, . . . it is to be an entity of a specific nature made of specific attributes” (AS 1016). On that page, it is clear that she takes for entities not only what are ordinarily called objects such as leaf, stone, or table, but micro-objects such as living cells and atoms, super-objects such as solar system and universe, and substances such as wood.

She omits herself, the subject observing and classifying these objects. She is somewhat different. Yes, a stone has a fixed nature. It is distinct from a leaf. However, a person can choose, to some extent, what kind of entity it wants to be. In some respects, the nature of a human is not yet completed, not yet fixed.

Now we have a modest problem. If we say “to exist is to be an entity of a specific nature made of specific attributes,” we seem to say that attributes are either entities or are not existents. Consider for attributes “the shape of a pebble or the structure of the solar system” (AS 1016). To avoid the patent falsehood that the shape of a pebble does not exist, shall we say that not only the pebble is an entity, but its shape is an entity? Rand reaches a resolution by a refinement in her metaphysics nine years after her first presentation. In 1966 she writes “Entities are the only primary existents. (Attributes cannot exist by themselves, they are merely the characteristics of entities; motions are motions of entities; relationships are relationships among entities)” (ITOE 15). Let us say then that to exist is either (a) to be an entity of a specific nature made of specific attributes or (b) to be some specific character in the nature of entities.
In ITOE Rand also makes the refinement of taking materials, physical substances, to be not fully specific entities. “Materials exist only in the form of specific entities, such as a nugget of gold, a plank of wood, a drop or an ocean of water” (ITOE 16). Materials, for Rand, would seem to fall under both (a) and (b), and I do not see any defect in that.

So, is “existence” an attribute of an object? Does Existence exist?

Let us now expose self-contradictions that obtain in denial of the ramification of (I) that entities are always of some exclusive kinds. Suppose an entity exists and is not of any kind that excludes it being any other kinds. If the supposed entity is nothing but existence itself, then there is no contradiction; one is simply talking about existence as a whole. So suppose an entity exists and is not of any kind that excludes it being other kinds and is not existence as a whole.

Okay, suppose a human exists. It is not a non-human. However, we really don’t know yet what a human is. At one time, no human could run a mile faster than four minutes. We could have said, at that time, that the inability of a human to run a mile faster than four minutes was part of the nature of man. But then a man did break the four minute mile record, and now several others have done it also. It can no longer be part of the nature of man, the definition of what kind of entity he is, that he cannot run the mile in less than four minutes. And, who can say what man may choose to do in the future? We can see what man has done in the past, but the future has not yet arrived. Man cannot choose what is given. He can choose what is possible. Perhaps it is not a case of A is A but that A is possibly something different than what A has been or is now. Freedom is in the possibility of what A can become.

Then the supposed entity could be one with any other entities that are of exclusive kinds (just as a leaf that is a drain clogger could be one with a leaf that is dead, maple, and wet). For it is not an entity of any kind excluding it being other kinds. But to say that an entity is not of any exclusive kind and that it is one and the same with another entity that is of some exclusive kind(Drunk is a contradiction. (Non-A is A.)

If we have problems defining something to begin with, then we would also have problems saying it is not what it is. We wouldn’t know what it is not if we don’t know what it is. Perhaps it is in the process of becoming.

Indeed if some entity were not of any exclusive kind, then it could be one with the person who supposes such an entity. Then to suppose an entity that is not of any exclusive kind is to suppose that one’s person could be an entity not of some exclusive kinds. But that supposition contradicts the presupposition that one is of the exclusive kind person, a person who makes the (errant) supposition. (Cf. Aristotle’s Metaphysics 1007b19–1008a28.)

The rules may change when we are talking about persons, as opposed to objects and non-human living things which have fixed natures and do not change from time to time. However, even those things change slowly, with evolution. Civilized people go through industrial revolutions and such, but even some humans still live as they always have. Do we define all humans by the most advanced or by some median?

So I have argued the axiomatic standing of “existence is identity,” where the existents are entities and the identity is kind-identity. All entities are of some exclusive kinds—a leaf cannot be a stone at the same time—and this postulate must be accepted on pain of self-contradiction.

I don’t know. I think you sloughed over some important distinctions, like the difference between procedural rules for language and thinking and rules for identifying reality, like the difference between subjects and objects, humans and non-humans, like the difference between existing and becoming.

B. Exclusions of Non-Contradiction: Actions
Rand’s law of identity entails that actions come in some exclusive kinds in the following sense. Burning of a leaf and freezing of a leaf are kinds of actions that are exclusive with respect to each other. However, to say that a leaf is burning and floating is no violation of identity, no contradiction. Some actions of objects—burning and freezing in the case of leaves—are exclusive with respect to each other. Rand’s conception of noncontradiction concerning actions pertains to these. (Cf. Republic 436b, 436e; Metaphysics 1061b35–62a1.)

Are we now going to slough over the difficulty of applying the law of identity to actions? It is not self-evident that causality is a corollary of identity, since identity is deductive and tautological and causality is inductive.

Rand’s law of identity also entails that every entity that has actions has certain actions and not others. A green leaf manufactures chlorophyll; a stone does not. Rand’s conception of noncontradiction concerning actions pertains to these exclusions as well. “The nature of an action is caused and determined by the nature of the entities that act; a thing cannot act in contradiction to its nature” (AS 1037). (Cf. On Generation and Corruption 338b15)

Things do what they do, but we talked about how it is difficult to ascribe a specific nature to humans, things which participate in creating their nature. It is not the same as the nature of a leaf or a stone.

I want to prove axiomatic the truth that every action-bearing entity bears certain kinds of action and not others.

And, how can you do that when you are not omniscient and cannot know the future? People make choices which become manifested in the future. If they have not made these choices yet, you cannot determine what kind of actions they are, and, therefore, what kind of actions they are not.

Suppose an entity could bear any kind of action without restriction of the kind of action. Then it could bear all the acts of a leaf and a stone. Indeed, it could bear all the acts of all the kinds of entity there are. Such an entity would be the conjunction of all the kinds of entity there are with respect to their possible actions.

Or, suppose an entity can bear some of the actions of other entities but not all. Even an all powerful God cannot logically create a weight so heavy that even He can’t lift it. Humans are limited by certain physical restraints. They cannot bend backwards against their joints. However, they do have a wide range of abilities not yet catalogued. Some can even live like stones or leaves. The stones and leaves, though, have a harder time living like humans. Humans, it seems, have more freedom of choice than do stones and leaves.

It would be more. Not only could this super-acting entity bear all the actions of, say, a leaf. It could also burn and freeze at the same time. Yet, having all the possible actions of a leaf, its burning excludes its freezing at the same time. Our super-acting entity is capable of burning and freezing at the same time, and it is incapable of burning and freezing at the same time. Our super-acting entity can float on water, like a leaf, and yet, like a stone, it cannot float on water. These are contradictions. No such entity can exist. There is no entity that can bear any kind of action without restriction of the kind of action.

Certainly, no entity can do what it logically cannot do. Is this profound?

Moreover, let a person suppose there could be an entity that could bear any kind of action without restriction of the kind of action. Such an entity could bear the act of supposing its existence, just as a person might do. But unlike a person, the super-acting entity could suppose at the same time that such an entity is impossible. But this contradicts the presupposition of a person that contradictories are false.

Oh, you have a loaded example of an entity that can do contradictory things and you conclude that such an entity cannot exist, logically, and that this contradicts those who say contradictions exist. It doesn’t contradict the notion that some things cannot yet be completely defined and have unfixed natures.

So I have argued the axiomatic standing of “existence is identity” where the existents are action-bearing entities and the identity is restriction of the kinds of actions of those entities. Rand’s thesis that any entity that exists has a specific nature [“to exist . . . is to be an entity of a specific nature . . .” (AS 1016)] has now been proven to be axiomatic insofar as the action nature of entities is concerned. The postulate that every action-bearing entity bears certain kinds of action and not others must be accepted on pain of self-contradiction.

No, you have only shown that things cannot do what they logically cannot do. We all know this. It is no big thing. We really can’t say that humans have a fixed nature and can only do certain kinds of actions and not others unless we are making a very meaningless statement that whatever they do is allowed by their nature and whatever they can’t do, at this time, is restricted by their nature. This has no philosophical or scientific use. It is like saying one does what one does and doesn’t do what one doesn’t. No wonder people lose interest in philosophy.

It should be noticed that I have not proven that, for every action-bearing entity, some of the kinds of action it bears are exclusive with respect to each other. I leave open the possibility that some kinds of entities can bear all the kinds of actions in their repertoire simultaneously. Certainly a leaf is not such an entity.

This last paragraph adds nothing to anything said above. Things do what they do. Yes, they can’t do what they can’t do. However, these are truisms. A is A is a tautology, it doesn’t tell us anything about the real world, as many philosophers have said. In arguing against psychological egoism in The Virtue of Selfishness, Branden points out that tautologies don’t prove anything useful. They are circular arguments, examples of begging the question. However, Rand wants us all to believe that the tautology A is A is some profundity which proves Objectivism. It doesn’t, even when followers like Boydstun try to project a lot onto it.

Bis bald,
Nick

Free will doesn't contradict Law of Identity.

Leonid's picture

Leonid

"Humans are entities which may do A in certain circumstances, but they may also choose to do B, not A. Therefore, one cannot define a specific nature for man"-this is specific fixed nature of man-to have mind and volition.That what Rand answered when asked "Doesn't free will contradictthe idea that man has a specific identity?"-"It's almost blindingly self-evident that the philosophical fundamental being ignored here is the Law of Identity...On what grounds did someone decide that choice contradict identity? That is an arbitrary construct of determinism...By what reasoning does anyone claim that ..human consciousness contradicts the Law of identity because it operates by choice? Free will is self-evident through observation....Is it contradiction to hold that we have firm identities and the capacity for choice?...We don't have a choice about our own nature...but about our action.(NFW 69)

"The Objectivity"-hardcopy

Leonid's picture

Leonid

How I can obtain the hardcopy of " The objectivity"? Electronic copy is difficult to download and use.

Object and action

Leonid's picture

Leonid

"Rand’s law of identity entails that objects come in some exclusive kinds. Leaf and stone are kinds that are exclusive with respect to each other. Any object is also of kinds that are not exclusive of each other: a leaf is a kind of plant part, it is a kind of light catcher, and it is a kind of drain clogger. To say that an object is a leaf and a stone violates identity in Rand’s sense; it is a contradiction. But to say that an object is a leaf and a drain clogger is no contradiction."

I think that this proposition requires clarification.If one calls the object " a leaf" one describes its properties,but if one speaks about drain clogger then he reffers to certain action which can be ascribed to vast majority of different objects-leaves,stones,hair,garbage and so on.The same thing applies to light catcher and to any action performed by objects.That is true that action is corollary of identity,but it is important to distinguish between an object and its action since English nouns often reffer to actions and not to objects-like runner,smocker,clogger etc..

Volitional Synapses

Stephen Boydstun's picture

Nick’s concerns were addressed in my Objectivity essay “Volitional Synapses,” which is available here: V2N1, 109–38; V2N2, 105–29; V2N4, 183–204. See also V1N3, 24–25.

 

I will address the concern registered by Richard Goode shortly.

"A" is in the process of becoming, to some extent.

NickOtani's picture

Rand’s thesis that any entity that exists has a specific nature [“to exist . . . is to be an entity of a specific nature . . .” (AS 1016)] has now been proven to be axiomatic insofar as the action nature of entities is concerned. The postulate that every action-bearing entity bears certain kinds of action and not others must be accepted on pain of self-contradiction.

I think the concept of free-will in humans completely blows this postulate out of the water. Humans are entities which may do A in certain circumstances, but they may also choose to do B, not A. Therefore, one cannot define a specific nature for man, one that identifies certain actions and not others in response to the same stimuli. To say that man's nature is to do whatever man does, even if there are certain physical restraints, is to make "nature" a meaningless concept. Man's nature is open ended, not fixed as in objects and non-human life forms, if man is free.

bis bald,

Nick

'A is A'

Richard Goode's picture

'A is A' is a tautology, so it tells us nothing about the way the world is.

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