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#41 Neil Parille

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 05:40 PM

Roger,

I base my opinion of Peikoff as a philosopher not just on this quote, but on The Ominous Parallels and OPAR (both if which I've read in full). Peikoff discusses causality in some detail in OPAR. I think there are good reasons to reject skepticism on this and other issues, but I don't think it can be done based on Peikoff's empiricism.

His lectures on induction are $210 and his lecture series Objectivism Through Induction are $270. Having listened to his DIM series, my expectation is that they aren't worth this rather high price.

#42 Roger Bissell

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 05:57 PM

Roger,

I base my opinion of Peikoff as a philosopher not just on this quote, but on The Ominous Parallels and OPAR (both if which I've read in full). Peikoff discusses causality in some detail in OPAR. I think there are good reasons to reject skepticism on this and other issues, but I don't think it can be done based on Peikoff's empiricism.

His lectures on induction are $210 and his lecture series Objectivism Through Induction are $270. Having listened to his DIM series, my expectation is that they aren't worth this rather high price.


I wish we'd had this discussion before you spent good money on the DIM series. I would have strongly urged you to get the "Induction in Physics and Philosophy" series. But then, I was more intrigued by DIM and less so by IPP, until I heard them both myself. Timing, I guess.

IPP is probably the best overview I have seen of how induction works in building up massive systems of knowledge, whether in science or philosophy, and I think it is some of Peikoff's best work to date. It is at least 12 years more recent than any comments on induction that he made in OPAR, not to mention Ominous Parallels. If I could spare the time to whip up a paraphrased presentation of his IPP lectures, I would, because I think it would be of enormous benefit to anyone interested in the subject. But I've got too much on my plate already.

DIM as you know is his template for analyzing cultural influences in various fields. It's probably his most original work, and it's not so bad (certainly not so bad as some make it out to be), but I hope he puts a lot of elbow grease into the re-writes before letting it be published. But it's a philosophically guided tour of the culture, by means of a pedagogical tool (the set of 5 DIM categories), not an overall elucidation of the basic method of human knowledge that is induction.

My suggestion: since the IPP lectures are too pricey, stay tuned for Harriman's volume on IPP, which he is in the process of writing. (Some material has already appeared in print in The Objective Standard.) Surely, it will fit your budget, and it will be a much easier target for our feverish discussions of science and knowledge. :-) In the meantime, since the material ~is~ there, and you don't want to avail yourself of its pricey version, maybe you should reserve judgment on the strength of his views on induction until you've actually seen them?

REB
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#43 Neil Parille

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 06:08 PM

Roger,

Actually, I heard the DIM lectures when they were free on the ARI's website. (For all they know, they still are.)

Rand was a creative thinker, and I'm willing to cut her some slack given that her training in philosophy wasn't too substantial (not much more than an undergraduate degree from what I recall). But as far as Peikoff goes, I'm not impressed. For example, was it fair for him to attack Cassier in The Ominous Parallels in some snide remark, but not tell his readers that he was anti-Nazi and left for the US after Hitler took over?

That being said, I have heard many people whom I respect speak highly of his tape series.

#44 Robert Campbell

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 08:14 PM

Roger,

I'm interested in what Leonard Peikoff has to say in "Induction in Physics and Philosophy." But I have to give priority to what Dr. Peikoff has chosen to publish, not what he is leaving in an audio medium at a price that will appeal only to extreme specialists, or to true believers.

Do you realize that I was able to buy the complete harpsichord sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti--on 34 CDs--for less than ARI is charging for IPP? You can get 104+ Haydn symphonies, performed by an excellent orchestra, for just over half of what IPP costs.

David Harriman's book may take years to complete, if it is ever done at all. His articles in The Objective Standard are another matter--I will go get these promptly.

But as far as Dr. Peikoff is concerned, I'm sticking with his statements about proof for propositions in Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. That's what he's seen fit to print. (And he writes in OPAR as though Ayn Rand has already solved all the problems and nothing of significance is lacking.)

Robert Campbell

#45 Chris Grieb

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 04:53 AM

Robert;

Your point about Peikoff's lectures is well taken. It is one of the reasons I am getting fewer things from ARI bookstore.

Another item is there is always some great work coming down the pike. Mary Ann Sures said in the late 60ths that she was going to bring forth her Esthetics course as a book.

Given Peikoff's age and health problems I have great doubts that DIM will ever be published.



#46 Neil Parille

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 05:31 AM

I would emphasize what Robert and Chris said.

For example, Peikoff's induction course is $205. It looks to be 14 hours long. I can purchase an 18 hour Teaching Company course for $70. (If I get the download, it's only $50.) In fact the von Mises Institute has all its lectures free.

If Peikoff has solved the problem of induction and validated human reason as the blurb claims, he should try to publish these epoch-making findings, or at least make them more accesible. (And, if I recall correctly, Kripke's Naming and Necessity are transcripts of lectures he gave.)

And Chris is correct - we've been told for years that various books will come out.

Edited by Neil Parille, 06 September 2007 - 05:59 AM.


#47 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 06:14 AM

Ellen,

Thanks for the corrections. I will repeat the excerpts below with the corrections included because I want to highlight one thing. My utter contempt for the schism culture. This is mainly at the feet of those who keep this flame alive today with excommunications, etc., but I also have no respect for it even when promoted by Rand. That was what I was trying to convey and it is still valid (as will be seen by the excerpts with the corrected details).

When Rand finished Atlas Shrugged, she had no intention of writing nonfiction (and she could not even get herself to write fiction anymore—she was devastated with the reception of AS). But her young lover, Nathaniel Branden, and his wife who was one of her disciples, wanted to open the way to present a structured version of her philosophy, and thus save the world from its perishing orgy. They started a nonfiction enterprise (NBI) and this ultimately enticed her to start writing nonfiction. She had declared that Nathaniel was her intellectual heir.

One point I should mention. I corrected the part about Rand not wanting to write fiction anymore (I received a note to this effect). Rand actually had a contract to write another fiction novel on finishing Atlas. But she was still devastated with the reception of AS.

However, the unstated condition on this title was that he continue to be her lover. Instead, his marriage to Barbara fell apart (there went the smokescreen) and he fell in love with a younger woman. [....]

(Frank's niece Mimi Sutton was somewhat close because of her memories of Frank.)

That previous post was written off the top of my head and in a lot of pain (a toothache - the tooth was just extracted). I stand by the spirit of that post, if not some of the details.

I spent over 30 years distant from the Objectivist culture and one of the reasons was so I could make sure I was worthy of interaction with these people when I finally met them. But when I finally jumped into the subculture, I found pettiness and schisms. Very little that was heroic or rational. It was a major disappointment. Big time.

Michael

EDIT: As you suggested, I made the corrections in the original post.

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#48 BaalChatzaf

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 06:39 AM

I would emphasize what Robert and Chris said.

For example, Peikoff's induction course is $205. It looks to be 14 hours long. I can purchase an 18 hour Teaching Company course for $70. (If I get the download, it's only $50.) In fact the von Mises Institute has all its lectures free.

If Peikoff has solved the problem of induction and validated human reason as the blurb claims, he should try to publish these epoch-making findings, or at least make them more accesible. (And, if I recall correctly, Kripke's Naming and Necessity are transcripts of lectures he gave.)

And Chris is correct - we've been told for years that various books will come out.


As Master Yoda says: Do not your breath hold, else blue turn you will.

By the way, the induction problem is solved. It is impossible to verify a universally quantified statement over an infinite domain by checking the individual cases. In particular an empirical -proof- of a generalization arrived at by induction is not possible. However a -disproof- is. All you need is a single counterexample.

Induction is a necessary thing for getting from particulars to general statements. Unfortunately there is no guarantee that an induction is correct. We can't learn without induction, but we cannot rely on the validity of induction either.

Ba'al Chatzaf
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#49 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 06:56 AM

However a -disproof- is. All you need is a single counterexample.

Bob,

Just curious. Does that statement hold as a "universally quantified statement over an infinite domain"? After all, the only thing we have is individual cases of checking so far.

Michael

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#50 BaalChatzaf

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 07:10 AM

However a -disproof- is. All you need is a single counterexample.

Bob,

Just curious. Does that statement hold as a "universally quantified statement over an infinite domain"? After all, the only thing we have is individual cases of checking so far.

Michael


My very point. Which is why (except in trivial cases) we cannot show our inductions to be valid. There is no way to prove the inductive generalization all crows are black which is induced from a finite set of instances of crows which are black and no instances (yet observed) of crows which are not black. To prove this generalization empirically one would have to examine every crow that was, this is and that ever will be. Clearly this is impossible.

In mathematics we can infer universal statements from other universal statements. Euclid's Elements are an example of how this is done. All of the geometric postulates are universally quantified (implicitly and explicitly).

From these universally quantified postulates we can infer universally quantified assertions such as for all triangles the sum of the angles is a straight angle.

In physics, the laws of nature are general (universally quantified) statements. For example, Newton's Law of Gravitation. Given any two point masses m1 and m2 at any non zero distance d, the force that one exerts on the other is equal to G*m1*m2/d^2, where G is the gravitational constant.

We can't do science with just singular assertions. At some point we -must- generalize even at the risk of being in error.

Ba'al Chatzaf
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#51 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 07:38 AM

Bob,

So you are saying that it might be possible to have a counterexample and still not disprove something? Or does the counterexample disprove in all cases "universally quantified over an infinite domain"?

Michael

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#52 BaalChatzaf

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 08:07 AM

Bob,

So you are saying that it might be possible to have a counterexample and still not disprove something? Or does the counterexample disprove in all cases "universally quantified over an infinite domain"?

Michael


Sigh! Counterexample IS disproof. Have you ever had a course in logic. I mean *real* logic, the kind they teach in universities, not Rand's caricature of logic?

The negation of for all x P(x) is there exists x such that -P(x). So if you come up with a specific instance n such that -P(n) then you have proven for all x P(x) is false.

Ba'al Chatzaf
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#53 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 08:12 AM

Bob,

So you are saying that because we know individual cases of logic and they have held, they are true in all future cases?

How do you know that? Can you prove it?

Michael

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#54 BaalChatzaf

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 10:16 AM

Bob,

So you are saying that because we know individual cases of logic and they have held, they are true in all future cases?

How do you know that? Can you prove it?

Michael


I say no such thing. Puhleeeeze, learn some logic. Get a textbook on logic and learn something about first order predicate logic. Apparently what you "know" of logic is Rand's distorted and incorrect assertions about logic. If you want to learn medicine you go to a doctor for lessons, not a novelist. If you want to learn logic you go to a logician for lessons, not a novelist.

You can get Copi's textbook on logic pretty cheap at www.abebooks.com or borrow a copy from you local library. His textbook is not the very best or latest but it is solid enough for the non-specialist in logic to learn the basics. You don't even need the latest edition. You can get one or two editions back for cheap.

Ba'al Chatzaf
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#55 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 10:22 AM

Bob,

Can you prove that logic is always right about the falsity of something? I am asking for a reason. Trying to sidestep about my level of education is not an answer.

Michael

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#56 BaalChatzaf

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 11:08 AM

Bob,

Can you prove that logic is always right about the falsity of something? I am asking for a reason. Trying to sidestep about my level of education is not an answer.

Michael


Logic is about the validity of inference, not the truth or falsity of premises. It deals with the issue: does the conclusion follow from the premises. Puhleeze, learn some logic.

Ba'al Chatzaf
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#57 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 12:17 PM

Bob,

Come on. You're sidestepping. If something does not follow from the premises, the formulation is false. Call it by any name you want, illogical, wrong, whatever.

What I am asking is how can you prove that logic will work in every instance of disproving a proposition by presenting one exception (or more). I thought that was calling the proposition false in any case.

But back to the question. Are you sure such logic will work every time? If you are sure, why are you sure?

We are discussing a process that is "universally quantified over an infinite domain."

Michael

Know thyself...


#58 Robert Campbell

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 04:18 PM

Michael,

On some issues, we all ought be bugging Bob K. This, however, is definitely not one of them. Though I have some disagreements with Bob K's philosophy of logic, none of them is relevant here.

Formal logic is the study of valid and invalid forms of argument.

Formal logic tells us the following:

A. A universal generalization (e.g., "All swans are white") is falsified (proven false) by one counterexample (e.g., "Swan#9867 is black"). If "Swan#9867 is black" is true, then "Some swans are black" has to be true, as does "Some swans are not white," so "All swans are white" has to be false.

B. Contrariwise, you can pile up true statements about this particular swan and that particular swan as high as you like, but from

"Swan#1 is white"
"Swan#2 is white"
"Swan#3 is white"
.
.
.
"Swan#9866 is white"

it does not validly follow that

"All swans are white"

These premises could all be true, yet the conclusion could still be false--for instance, because "Swan#9867 is black" is also true.

You can't take data statements about this swan and that swan and so on and use them to verify a universal conclusion. In slightly different words, you can't prove a generalization about all swans on the basis of data about particular swans.

By the way, this particular point can be made just as easily with ancient formal logic (the kind that Aristotle and the Stoics and the Medievals used) as with modern symbolic logic (the kind that was introduced by Gottlob Frege with the initial goal of making mathematical proofs more rigorous). Modern logic is necessary for some purposes, but not for all.

Because of this basic point I am confident that Leonard Peikoff has not presented a "solution to the problem of induction," in those lectures that ARI is selling for $205 a pop. He may have done some other things, and these might be valuable. But the likelihood that Dr. Peikoff has come up with logically valid inductive argument forms is, well, the same as the likelihood that his favorite gremlins are holding a conference on Venus.

Robert Campbell

#59 Daniel Barnes

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 05:15 PM

Robert:
>Because of this basic point I am confident that Leonard Peikoff has not presented a "solution to the problem of induction"...

Yes.

When, by extension, Leonard Peikoff or any other Objectivist, can demonstrate how to validly derive universal laws from existential (or observation) statements - no matter how numerous - then they can claim to have solved the problem of induction.

Further, even if he has come up with some solution, wrapped up somewhere in one of his 137-cassette-series lectures, this solution cannot be part of official Objectivism.

Why? Because Ayn Rand didn't think of it. As I've noted before, on pages 304/5 of the ITOE she plainly admits she does not know the answer to this famous problem, and has never even thought seriously about it.

As she didn't think of it, even if this fantastic creature exists, it cannot be part of (official) Objectivism.

The fact that many Objectivists appear to believe she did solve Hume's problem is just due to years of propaganda from various sources hyping her as having solved all the major philosophical issues etc. They took it on trust that this was the case, but unfortunately there is absolutely no evidence that she or her successors have done anything of the sort. None, zero, zip, nada.

#60 Ellen Stuttle

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 05:39 PM

Because of this basic point I am confident that Leonard Peikoff has not presented a "solution to the problem of induction," in those lectures that ARI is selling for $205 a pop. He may have done some other things, and these might be valuable. But the likelihood that Dr. Peikoff has come up with logically valid inductive argument forms is, well, the same as the likelihood that his favorite gremlins are holding a conference on Venus.


Thank you, Robert. I'd been debating whether to try to pose a question to Roger about just what Peikoff claims to have demonstrated in those lectures. But since I'm not feeling well enough for sustaining dialogue, I hesitated to ask. You've provided enough groundwork, maybe I can frame this succinctly:

Roger, does Peikoff actually claim to have solved "the problem of induction"? If so, how is he defining "induction"? What is he thinking the problem is? I did hear a lecture which I think was from the IPP series (via a friend who has the tapes). What I understood Peikoff to be trying to do was to demonstrate that you can get causal necessity from experience. He was claiming (with an assist from a clue provided by Greg Salmieri [sp]) that we get our first knowledge of necessary cause from our own direct experience of being able to move our own bodies. But even granting this point, how would it solve the problem of induction? I realize I might be asking something more complicated than you can explain easily, or than you have time to explain. But I and probably others here too would welcome any clues you can provide on Peikoff's argument.

Ellen

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