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    • Michael Stuart Kelly

      Major Update to OL (please click to open)   02/09/2016

      Sorry for the inconvenience, but we had to update OL and there have been some serious changes made by IPB. The real bad news is that they had to merge User Names and Display Names. This meant that I had to choose between bad and bad. I opted to keep the log-on information the same, so you can get on OL like you always did, but now your User Name is displayed. If your User Name and Display Name were the same, you will not feel the change. If they were different, you are probably irritated right now. I will figure out how you can change this so you can revert to the Display Name you used before if you like, however this may entail a change in how you log-on. The good news is that OL is now searchable from the very beginning. This means all the old posts from the A-Team in Objectivism (and everybody else) will finally show up when you search for something. I will keep changing this announcement as we adapt to these new changes. It's a pain, I know, but after looking around the backend for a bit, I believe the benefits will far, far outweigh the current irritation. They changed things in a hamhanded way and I don't like that, but I can't do anything about it. Benefit-wise, they actually did a good job, so please bear with us. In addition to this change, many good things are coming over time. You are the reason OL exists and I am sorry you have to go through this. Think of it like birth pangs... (All right, all right, that's forcing it.  ) Michael
CJM

A few small problems I have with Objectivism

26 posts in this topic

Notes: I am not a troll, here to try to convert anyone, or provoke hostility. I am interested in Rands ideas and philosophy.

On Objectivist Epistemology

The validity of the senses, this is one I can't get my head around. Rand seems to hold that our perception of reality is objective reality. Is this so? This makes no sense to me, as it seems to suggest physiological infallibility on mans part. What we perceive is not objective reality, since our sensory systems act imperfectly.

On Objectivist Ethics

Objectivism seems to hold that a persons life should be their highest value. I see no reason why a rational person could not hold something else, e.g. their child's life to be of greater value than their own.

On Objectivist Metaphysics

The problem of free will and causality. This is the biggest stumbling block for me, as one who holds no belief in free will. The arguments I have found against this problem have seemed very weak to me. Free will is held to be self evident in Objectivism, but an argument brought for it seems to be that choice and free will are not contradictory to the law of causality, but a part of it, that volition is causality. Seemingly volition is a causa sui?

Any help on these problems would be greatly appreciated.

Edit: Apparently I can't spell.

Edited by CJM
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Notes: I am not a troll, here to try to convert anyone, or provoke hostility.

You aren't? That's no fun! :)

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CJM,

Welcome to OL.

Good questions and there are answers. I will let others respond for now.

(Just for one of your questions, quickly, volitional awareness is seen as a causal agent in the Objectivist literature I have read. This doesn't mean that there are no automatic prewired mental operations. The mind has both. If volitional awareness is a causal agent, free will is its nature as per the Law of Identity. This is confirmed by observation. That's the short version.)

Michael

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Notes: I am not a troll, here to try to convert anyone, or provoke hostility.

You aren't? That's no fun! :)

Ha!

CJM,

Welcome to OL.

Good questions and there are answers. I will let others respond for now.

(Just for one of your questions, quickly, volitional awareness is seen as a causal agent in the Objectivist literature I have read. This doesn't mean that there are no automatic prewired mental operations. The mind has both. If volitional awareness is a causal agent, free will is its nature as per the Law of Identity. This is confirmed by observation. That's the short version.)

Michael

Thanks for the answer and welcome.

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The validity of the senses, this is one I can't get my head around. Rand seems to hold that our perception of reality is objective reality. Is this so?

You are alive, reading English, at Objectivist Living, a forum. Valid. Well done.

Objectivism seems to hold that a persons life should be their highest value. I see no reason why a rational person could not hold something else, e.g. their child's life to be of greater value than their own.

If I let my child die, say for instance abandoned her and ran away to save my own skin instead of fighting off robbers, or made no effort to rescue her from a burning building, or delegated her education to church and state instead of answering her questions honestly -- the life being betrayed is my own. There is no pride or joy in cowardice.

volition is causality

Solar volition? Lunar? Do rocks or mushrooms choose their fate? Yet all of them cause man plenty of problems, or rather opportunity to study, think, experiment, take purposeful action (build a roof, make a calendar, melt iron ore and forge tools, use bleach and sunlight to control fungi). As Miss Rand used to say, there is only one choice: to think or evade the responsibility of thinking. That's the extent of your volition. To be or not to be.

Hi Brant.

Edited by Wolf DeVoon
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1. "Rand seems to hold that our perception of reality is objective reality. Is this so?"

She holds that what we perceive with our senses is objective reality, a different claim altogether.

2. "Objectivism seems to hold that a person's life should be [his] highest value. I see no reason why a rational person could not hold something else, e.g. [his] child's life to be of greater value than [his] own."

You might, in extreme circumstances, willingly risk or forfeit your life for a loved one or for a cause (as in a war). Galt's radio speech talks about this, and Branden has an entry in VoS on the topic. This could be a rational act because that these values matter as much as life to you and you wouldn't want to live without them. Thus the fact that you value your life is the reason why you'd do this, more explanatorily powerful and more fundamental than these particular values. Another reason valuing your life is of higher priority is that you will make a lot of choices and pursue a lot of goals that aren't related to your concern for your child; valuing your life will explain these, too.

3. Here you have simply stated your opinion. You'll have to give reasons if this is to be philosophically interesting.

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You are alive, reading English, at Objectivist Living, a forum. Valid. Well done.

This has nothing to do with the question I asked, which was based on the level of validity of our senses, or at least Rands ideas of them. Well done.

If I let my child die, say for instance abandoned her and ran away to save my own skin instead of fighting off robbers, or made no effort to rescue her from a burning building, or delegated her education to church and state instead of answering her questions honestly -- the life being betrayed is my own. There is no pride or joy in cowardice.

This is also completely off the point. Where was anything said about pride, joy or cowardice?

Either your life is your highest value, or it is not. It is my understanding that Rand holds that it is. If this is incorrect, I'd like to know. Id it is correct, then why can't a rational person hold some others life as a higher value than their own.

Solar volition? Lunar? Do rocks or mushrooms choose their fate? Yet all of them cause man plenty of problems, or rather opportunity to study, think, experiment, take purposeful action (build a roof, make a calendar, melt iron ore and forge tools, use bleach and sunlight to control fungi). As Miss Rand used to say, there is only one choice: to think or evade the responsibility of thinking. That's the extent of your volition. To be or not to be.

Again, this is off the point of my question completely. I don;t really know what to say to you about this one.

1. "Rand seems to hold that our perception of reality is objective reality. Is this so?"

She holds that what we perceive with our senses is objective reality, a different claim altogether.

I think this is pretty much the same statement structured differently, if you disagree could you point out why?

Our perception of reality is what we perceive with our senses. What we perceive with out senses is of reality.

2. "Objectivism seems to hold that a person's life should be [his] highest value. I see no reason why a rational person could not hold something else, e.g. [his] child's life to be of greater value than [his] own."

You might, in extreme circumstances, willingly risk or forfeit your life for a loved one or for a cause (as in a war). Galt's radio speech talks about this, and Branden has an entry in VoS on the topic. This could be a rational act because that these values matter as much as life to you and you wouldn't want to live without them. Thus the fact that you value your life is the reason why you'd do this, more explanatorily powerful and more fundamental than these particular values. Another reason valuing your life is of higher priority is that you will make a lot of choices and pursue a lot of goals that aren't related to your concern for your child; valuing your life will explain these, too.

But if your life is your highest value, if you are "To hold one’s own life as one’s ultimate value" by very definition you cannot hold any other value to matter as much as your own life. Is this not a contradiction?

3. Here you have simply stated your opinion. You'll have to give reasons if this is to be philosophically interesting.

This isn't my opinion at all, it is what I have heard numerous times in defense of Objectivisms satance on free will.

"Choice, however, is not chance. Volition is not an exception to the Law of Causality; it is a type of causation."

Leonard Peikoff “The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy

So, I take it from this and most of my other readings that volition is a causa sui, a logical impossibility as I am sure you are aware.

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(Hi, Wolfo. You still where you were getting a tan?

--Brant)

Edited by Brant Gaede
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The validity of the senses, this is one I can't get my head around. Rand seems to hold that our perception of reality is objective reality. Is this so? This makes no sense to me, as it seems to suggest physiological infallibility on mans part. What we perceive is not objective reality, since our sensory systems act imperfectly.

Correct.

On Objectivist Ethics

Objectivism seems to hold that a persons life should be their highest value. I see no reason why a rational person could not hold something else, e.g. their child's life to be of greater value than their own.

Indeed.

On Objectivist Metaphysics

The problem of free will and causality. This is the biggest stumbling block for me, as one who holds no belief in free will. The arguments I have found against this problem have seemed very weak to me. Free will is held to be self evident in Objectivism, but an argument brought for it seems to be that choice and free will are not contradictory to the law of causality, but a part of it, that volition is causality. Seemingly volition is a causa sui?

Again correct. I'm not going to repeat here everything I wrote about free will, but you can read more here and here, with more references in the second link, etc. You'll see that on this forum already a lot has been written about this subject, and following my links you'll get a good idea of it.

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It would seem from reading those links that you are not very Objectivist, Mr Dragonfly, however, I will read them properly tomorrow when I have more time.

Your a compatibilist?! That's even worse! Free will cannot exist without the possibility of alternative choices, and more importantly, there ability to be carried out.

Edited by CJM
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It would seem from reading those links that you are not very Objectivist, Mr Dragonfly, however, I will read them properly tomorrow when I have more time.

Your a compatibilist?! That's even worse! Free will cannot exist without the possibility of alternative choices, and more importantly, there ability to be carried out.

Yup, I'm not an Objectivist and I am a compatibilist. A lot of confusion about "free will" exists while people often are not clear about the exact definition of "free will" and incorrectly think that they understand what it exactly means (hint: the "possibility of alternative choices" creates a seductive trap that must be avoided). But you can find that all in my posts, of course!

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It would seem from reading those links that you are not very Objectivist, Mr Dragonfly, however, I will read them properly tomorrow when I have more time.

Your a compatibilist?! That's even worse! Free will cannot exist without the possibility of alternative choices, and more importantly, there ability to be carried out.

Cian:

I guessing you are Irish and can trace back to Tipperary ... Kilkenny maybe.

At any rate, welcome to OL.

Adam

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What lovely questions! You will find a variety of different answers to them on this forum.

On Epistemology

Our senses are not infallible, but we have processes of validation. However, there are many of us here who argue that the world can't exist purely as a product of sensory stuff because such a world would be deterministic. Basically, we can validate both sensory knowledge and internal non-sensory apprehensions; further, there is no evidence at all that the universe consists only of sensory-perceived stuff. For example, consciousness cannot be perceived through sensory-perception. Therefore, the process of validation is a more important consideration for knowledge than the origin of apprehensions (external sensory, internal "subjectivity". This is not an Objectivist position, this is my own.

On Ethics

My take is that "our life" is essentially our identity, our values, our volitional presence. Our chosen values, whatever they might be, is our life... not our biological survival per se.

On Metaphysics

(see epistemology). It all depends on how you want to see consciousness. There have been some pretty ruthless debates on this forum about the existence or non-existence of volition. Neither side has budged, and I'm sure those who believe in determinism think I'm just as wrong as I think they are wrong to believe their beliefs. But from an Objectivist standpoint, volition does exist, it is a causal agent, and it is a necessary premise for any and all validation processes of knowledge. NBranden writes in detail about this in The Psychology of Self-Esteem.

Great to have you here!

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Yup, I'm not an Objectivist and I am a compatibilist. A lot of confusion about "free will" exists while people often are not clear about the exact definition of "free will" and incorrectly think that they understand what it exactly means (hint: the "possibility of alternative choices" creates a seductive trap that must be avoided). But you can find that all in my posts, of course!

I have read a lot of what you posted(some of the links to older threads from other links I haven't read through yet) and I am having difficulty finding how you reconcile Determinism and free will. I have found a lot of you saying they are not incompatible, but very little on why you feel this is.

Unless you hold a less strict definition of what "free will" entails I am at a bit of a loss as to where you stand.

Cian:

I guessing you are Irish and can trace back to Tipperary ... Kilkenny maybe.

At any rate, welcome to OL.

Adam

Thank you, Adam.

What lovely questions! You will find a variety of different answers to them on this forum.

On Epistemology

Our senses are not infallible, but we have processes of validation. However, there are many of us here who argue that the world can't exist purely as a product of sensory stuff because such a world would be deterministic. Basically, we can validate both sensory knowledge and internal non-sensory apprehensions; further, there is no evidence at all that the universe consists only of sensory-perceived stuff. For example, consciousness cannot be perceived through sensory-perception. Therefore, the process of validation is a more important consideration for knowledge than the origin of apprehensions (external sensory, internal "subjectivity". This is not an Objectivist position, this is my own.

On Ethics

My take is that "our life" is essentially our identity, our values, our volitional presence. Our chosen values, whatever they might be, is our life... not our biological survival per se.

On Metaphysics

(see epistemology). It all depends on how you want to see consciousness. There have been some pretty ruthless debates on this forum about the existence or non-existence of volition. Neither side has budged, and I'm sure those who believe in determinism think I'm just as wrong as I think they are wrong to believe their beliefs. But from an Objectivist standpoint, volition does exist, it is a causal agent, and it is a necessary premise for any and all validation processes of knowledge. NBranden writes in detail about this in The Psychology of Self-Esteem.

Great to have you here!

On Ethics

Yes, I see I may have taken Rand too literally when that was said. Even still, it seems a contradiction to me. Her whole Ethics seem strangely constructed, I can't quite figure out how she is getting from A to B quite often, and her moral absolutism bothers me.

On the free will issue, even if volition can be said to exist, and can be called a casual agent, there seems no reason why it should be viewed any differently than the rolling of an inanimate object which crashes into and shifts another. "Volition" itself is still subject to causality, unless it comes from nothing.

That is an interesting stance on epistemology.

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Welcome to OL, Cian!

Bill P

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On the free will issue, even if volition can be said to exist, and can be called a casual agent, there seems no reason why it should be viewed any differently than the rolling of an inanimate object which crashes into and shifts another. "Volition" itself is still subject to causality, unless it comes from nothing.

That sounds like compatibilism to me.

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That sounds like compatibilism to me.

Not at all. You can consciously commit to a course of action without having alternatives.

Thanks Bill!

Edited by CJM
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That sounds like compatibilism to me.

Not at all. You can consciously commit to a course of action without having alternatives.

No alternatives = determinism.

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After visiting ObjectivismOnline(then getting put on lockdown for promoting "Subjectivism" lol), I am even more confused. What they seem to be claiming in relation to Epistemology is not that true knowledge of objective reality is possible, merely subjective knowledge by another name which they feel is very accurate.

If this is the case, what is there big problem with the "veil of perception" and the ideas of people like Kant?

The Objectivist position in relation to these issues would seem to suggest that we can gain objective knowledge, but thats not what they hold.

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Is this the "ism" that you are referring to?

Compatibilism

First published Mon Apr 26, 2004; substantive revision Mon Oct 5, 2009 Compatibilism offers a solution to the free will problem. This philosophical problem concerns a disputed incompatibility between free will and determinism. Compatibilism is the thesis that free will is compatible with determinism. Because free will is typically taken to be a necessary condition of moral responsibility, compatibilism is sometimes expressed in terms of a compatibility between moral responsibility and determinism.

http://plato.stanfor...compatibilism/

I am not familiar with it.

Adam

Edited by Selene
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Notes: I am not a troll, here to try to convert anyone, or provoke hostility. I am interested in Rands ideas and philosophy.

On Objectivist Epistemology

The validity of the senses, this is one I can't get my head around. Rand seems to hold that our perception of reality is objective reality. Is this so? This makes no sense to me, as it seems to suggest physiological infallibility on mans part. What we perceive is not objective reality, since our sensory systems act imperfectly.

Actually your senses are quite accurate in what they detect of the reality beyond your own personal being, such data being recorded 24/7, albeit slightly delayed (by a few milliseconds) from the actual stimulus. (Some people can actually perceive this delay.) What you do with this mass of undifferentiated data, on the other hand, depends upon how competently you relate it to your own pre-existing percepts and concepts.

On Objectivist Ethics

Objectivism seems to hold that a persons life should be their highest value. I see no reason why a rational person could not hold something else, e.g. their child's life to be of greater value than their own.

This is a definitional problem only. You use the term "rational person". In O-speak, the "rational person" is one who holds his own life as the highest value; it's a package deal. What you are proposing is internally inconsistent. But the phenomenon exists both in art and reality (see Michael's article on "Turning the Other Cheek" on RoR), as you are trying to point out. That's the reason for the special pleading about "life not being worth living without....etc. etc. etc." (Of course, in a true O-ist world, the "rational person" who found his external values unattainable would logically have to choose a new set of values rather than choosing self-destruction. As I said, special pleading.)

On Objectivist Metaphysics

The problem of free will and causality. This is the biggest stumbling block for me, as one who holds no belief in free will. The arguments I have found against this problem have seemed very weak to me. Free will is held to be self evident in Objectivism, but an argument brought for it seems to be that choice and free will are not contradictory to the law of causality, but a part of it, that volition is causality. Seemingly volition is a causa sui?

What you're looking at, in volition, is a potential for taking that mess of sense data inputs mentioned above, and making sense of it. What makes some people utilize this potential fully, while most fail? Internally, scientifically, physically, chemically, electrically, in detail, the most honest answer is, "WE DON'T KNOW". But we see its effects, these effects are defineable, measurable, but not necessarily predictable, so we put a mental box around, and write a name on the box, calling it "volition", and hoping someone doesn't confuse it with an orgone box.

So yes, I agree with much of Oism, but I know it has moon-crater size holes in it. I hope I haven't discouraged your inquiries.

Steve

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