DIMwit - Part II

seddon's picture
Submitted by seddon on Sat, 2012-09-15 12:07

This post will concern itself with the section in Peikoff’s new book concerning Kant, pp. 32-39. All quotations are from these pages unless otherwise indicated.

First a word about method. In the past what I have done is to quote, say, Peikoff and then quote Kant to show that Kant actually said the opposite, or at least not quite the same, as what Peikoff was claiming he said. But this sometimes looks like a he said-he said, or should I say, Peikoff’s interpretation vs. my interpretation. Problem is, most people differ over their interpretation of Kant. So I decided to narrow my approach. I will only quote Peikoff and show how he himself gives contradictory interpretations of Kant. So here goes.

1. Kant tells us that “logic and causality . . .are baseless.” But then “Kant undertakes to solve this problem by means of his “Copernican revolution.” That is, Kant provides a base, albeit mental, for inter alia “logic and causality.” So what is it. Base or baseless? But maybe we can save Peikoff by rewriting. Perhaps he should have written, “Hume presented Kant with the problem of the baselessness of causality. Kant solved this problem with his ‘Copernican revolution.’” But the trouble here is Kant comes off as the hero who rescued causality from the skeptic Hume. And we can’t have that.

2. Peikoff tells us that the categories are, “processing mechanisms that transform the raw data from reality. . . “ And Rand agrees. “the satisfaction of every need of a living organism requires an act of processing by that organism, be it the need of air or food or knowledge.” (IOE 81) But in the next sentence, “process” becomes “creation.” He talks of us “creating the spatio-temporal world, . . .” Nature is “merely reality-as-processed-by-man.” It should be process by a bat? All of our knowledge is processed by man—that was Rand’s point. I recommend dropping all this “creation” talk and stick to process. (For more on “creation,” see my book on Rand, 65-68.)

3. “Kant . . . rejects out of hand Aristotle’s theory that concepts derive from percepts.” [No he doesn’t, but let’s stick to Peikoff] But in the very next sentence he changes this in a radical way. Kant no longer rejects Aristotle’s theory out of hand but rather adds to it 12 new concepts (so different they are called “categories”) to the zillion concepts formed by abstraction. So what is it? Does Kant reject Aristotle’s theory out of hand, or does he accept the theory and add the 12 categories? You decide.

4. On 73 he spends several paragraphs tells us that Kant, unlike Plato and Aristotle who were “peerless masters” of integration, is the philosopher of disintegration (my K or Peikoff’s D2). He then tells us at the bottom of the page that “the categories are the mind’s fundamental INTEGRATORS.” (Emphasis Peikoff’s) Then in the next paragraph he writes that, “In Kant’s philosophy, integration is the original sin of cognition. . .it is a call not for non-integration but for anti-integration.” “He integrates a complex series of ideas covering all the basic questions—in order to show that integration is invalid.”

5. Then comes rather strange claim. Peikoff says, “A systematic argument claiming to prove that the questions of physics are unanswerable is not a system of physics, but the opposite.” He is talking about the CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. But whoever said that that book is a “system of physics.” Part One of Peikoff’s book is entitled EPISTEMOLOGY and that is what he deals with in his analysis of Plato, Aristotle and Kant. I would maintain that a book “claiming to prove that the questions of physics are unanswerable” can’t be a physics book by definition.

And what is the opposite of “a system of physics?” A ‘non-system of physics’ or a ‘system of non-physics’? Does it even have an opposite?
The paragraph ends with this gem. “In the eloquent [???] words of David Harriman, a colleague of mine: ‘Kant isn’t pro-integration just because he punches reason twelve times in combinations of three punches.” (The numbers “twelve” and “three” refer to the fact that Kant organizes the categories into 4 groups of 3 which gives 12.)

Of course this section on Kant is even worse when it comes to interpretation, but I have promised not to go there. At least for now.

Fred


( categories: )

Leonid

seddon's picture

You can buy my book on both Amazon and Barnes&Noble. It is cheaper on the latter.

Fred

Seddon

Leonid's picture

"And all that is real is part of reality. "

Of course. Cognition is part of reality, but what I mean is reality which exists independently from cognition.

Seddon

Leonid's picture

Where I can buy your book?

Leonid

seddon's picture

"No, they are real, but subjective."

And all that is real is part of reality.

Fred

Leonid

seddon's picture

"This is a bit more complicated than that."

True, but I didn't claim it was simple. But it is at least wbat I claimed. I cover this in my book. Not only does Kelley make the claim he names names. He names Aristotle and G. E. Moore. For the former see De Anima, III, 4, 429a18-23; for the latter THE REFUTATION OF IDEALISM, p. 25. The he cites Randall who writes, if "NOUS had an identity then it could not see without distortion. See my book, p. 64.

Fred

Seddon

Leonid's picture

" It claims that consciousness has NO identity."

This is a bit more complicated than that.

"We know of consciousness in the first place from the inside, as its subjects. From this perspective, the awareness of an object seems transparent, the simple presence of the object, a revelation of it. Unaware as we are, from this perspective, of the way our cognitive faculties operate to produce our awareness, it seems as if nothing but the object itself determines the way we grasp it…

The diaphanous model can be expressed as the thesis that if the means by which we perceive affect the way things appear in perception, then we cannot perceive things as they are, but only their effects on us.

David Kelley, “The Evidence of the Senses”, p 37, 104

That would mean that a spoon in the glass of water which seems to be broken is really broken and if we see an oasis in the middle of a desert, it cannot be a mirage – everything is as it appears. Therefore, according to this model we never could know anything about radio waves or X-rays, since we don't perceive them. Exactly this identity of human mind-its ability of conceptual thinking such a model negates.

Seddon

Leonid's picture

"Do you mean sensations are not real???"

No, they are real, but subjective. They are result of interaction of object and sensory organ via messenger. Brain doesn't processes an object, but electrical signals that are results of such an interaction.

Seddon

Leonid's picture

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Leonid

seddon's picture

"If we accept this view, how we would explain that we are conscious of ultrasound, radio waves, X-rays, background cosmic radiation, UV radiation and many other things which we cannot directly perceive?"

I don't think you understand the "the diaphaneous view of consciousness." It has nothing to do with "things which we cannot directly perceive?" It claims that consciousness has NO identity. Kelley elaborates on this view in ES.

Fred

Leonid

seddon's picture

"processing of sensations is not the same as processing reality".

Do you mean sensations are not real???

Fred

Seddon

Leonid's picture

"Objectivist of course rejects the diaphaneous view of consciousness."

Of course. If we accept this view, how we would explain that we are conscious of ultrasound, radio waves, X-rays, background cosmic radiation, UV radiation and many other things which we cannot directly perceive?

Seddon

Leonid's picture

Brain processes sensations and turns them into percepts. This is indeed automatic process. But we are functioning on conceptual, not perceptual level and in Objectivism concept-formation is volitional process. And in any case processing of sensations is not the same as processing reality. If it were it would be amount to the notion of primacy of consciousness.

Leonid

seddon's picture

This is not a reply but just an FYI. I found another "digestion" metaphor, this one by Popper on Kant. He writes on p. 245 of CONJECTURES AND REFUTATION, "We must adopt the view that in digesting our sense data etc." Notice also those philosophers who don't have to use such a metaphor, e.g., Aristotle, who, according to Kelley, assumee the diaphaneous view of consciousness. Reality just comes into consciousness as if through an open window. Objectivist of course rejects the diaphaneous view of consciousness.

Fred

Leonid

seddon's picture

"Awareness is a process, but it doesn't mean that awareness processes reality as food processor processes food."

Hey, it's Rand's metaphor, so deal with it. We have to process reality in order to deal with it. The brain automatically integrates sensation into percepts (which do not exist in reality). To be conscious of reality is to process it. So says Rand.

But the quotation you cite is food processor like. "to integrate sensations into percepts" is to (food) process sensations and what results is a percept. I side with Rand and Schopenhauer here--it's like digestion.

"it is not determined by a priori categories"

Why this Kantian reference--it is not warranted by anything I said. Nevertheless, it is determined, in part, by automatic brain processes, which work like a material equvalent of a priori categories.

Fred

Seddon

Leonid's picture

Awareness is a process, but it doesn't mean that awareness processes reality as food processor processes food. Such a process doesn't change reality but allow to perceive and to deal with it as it is. There is no dichotomy between reality and its appearance. That why Ayn Rand is not a nihilist.

That what she explicitly said:

"Awareness is not a passive state, but an active process. On the lower levels of awareness, a complex neurological process is required to enable man to experience a sensation and to integrate sensations into percepts; that process is automatic and non-volitional: man is aware of its results, but not of the process itself. On the higher, conceptual level, the process is psychological, conscious and volitional. In either case, awareness is achieved and maintained by continuous action." ( ITOE 37)

In short, human conceptual consciousness is a volitional process, it is not determined by a priori categories and its function is an identification of existence as it is.

Leonid

seddon's picture

"And we don't process reality, neither bat does."

Then what do you make of Rand's statement that, "Awareness is an active process." And she says this as an explicatio of a sentence in the previous paragraph that Consciousness . . . is the faculty of perceiving that which exists." (ITOE 29) So is Rand a nihilist?? It is Rand that compares percepiton to digestion (as does Schopenhauer) and digestion is definitely a process.

Fred

Seddon

Leonid's picture

Kant disintegrates not because he postulates certain mode of cognition albeit a priori, but because he claims that this mode makes an existence as it is unknowable. He effectively divorced mind from reality. That why Peikoff calls him a first nihilist. And we don't process reality, neither bat does. We perceive it as it is, all things in themselves by using sensation and conceptualize it by using mind. Unlike bat, we cannot perceive ultrasound. Nevertheless we discovered it and use it to make nice pictures of unborn babies.

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