Leaderboard


Popular Content

Showing content with the highest reputation on 06/20/2020 in all areas

  1. 1 point
    Did someone say Branden? I hope nothing got double clicked, and repeated. I saw it happened once. Oh, and Nathaniel Branden stopped typing in capitals when someone told him it seemed he was yelling, Anthony. Peter From: Nathaniel Branden Reply-To: brandenn To: "R. Christian Ross" < CC: atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: Reason Date: Wed, 21 Nov 2001 07:21:38 -0800 I would say, and I am confident Rand would agree, that what is inherent in our nature is the capacity to reason, assuming we go through normal stages of development (an infant can't reason, obviously). The great student of cognitive development, Jean Piaget, maintained that if, during teen-age years, a person does not develop high level of cognitive abilities ("formal operations"), it is virtually impossible to develop them later in life. If this is true, then the world is full of people whose reasoning ability is not absent but severely limited. Reason as a process is, of course, epistemological, but as a capacity, inherent as a potential in our nature, it is, if you wish "metaphysical." I put the word in quotes because, strictly speaking, metaphysics addresses only the fundamental nature of reality, not such things as the attributes of man or lower animals. And, finally, in calling man "a rational animal," Rand meant (a) that we humans have a capacity to reason that differentiates us from lower animals (genus and differentia), but also (b) that that capacity explains more about our behavior than any other trait or attribute. Nathaniel Branden From: Nathaniel Branden Reply-To: brandenn To: RogerEBissell CC: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: Re: Reason Date: Wed, 21 Nov 2001 21:18:50 -0800. THE REASON WHY THERE IS SOME CONFUSION ON THIS POINT, I SUSPECT, IS THAT RAND SOMETIMES USED "METAPHYSICAL" TO MEAN "PERTAINING TO REALITY (USUALLY EXTERNAL REALITY), AS CONTRASTED WITH PERTAINING TO CONSCIOUSNESS, AND YOU WILL SEE THIS USAGE AMONG SOME HER FOLLOWERS. HOWEVER, PHILOSOPHICALLY, IT IS NOT PRECISE BECAUSE "MAN'S NATURE" IS AN EMPIRICAL, SCIENTIFIC ISSUE NOT A PHILOSOPHICAL ONE, ALTHOUGH IT OBVIOUSLY HAS PROFOUND PHILOSOPHICAL RAMIFICATIONS. NATHANIEL BRANDEN From: Nathaniel Branden Reply-To: brandenn To: atlantisSubject: ATL: Objectivist metaphysics Date: Fri, 23 Nov 2001 13:55:08 -0800. In response to my earlier post in which I explained that the definition of human nature is not part of metaphysics, I have been asked to elaborate on what is included in the domain of metaphysics. It's an important question because it touches on one of the most important and distinctive features of Objectivism. Rand rightly dismissed "cosmology" as not part of philosophy, insisting instead that it was the province of science. She argued that metaphysics deals only with the most fundamental features of existence as such. She set forth what has been called correctly "a minimalist metaphysics"--fundamental truths that no scientific discovery could disprove and that all scientific discoveries presupposed. This came down to Aristotle's laws of logic, which (as she and others have observed) are also laws of reality (Brand Blanshard's "Reason and Analysis" is great on this point), and also the law of causality. In other words, metaphysics is concerned with that which is true "of being qua being." By this definition, the particular attributes of man or other animals are in the domain of science, meaning they are not "metaphysical." However, as I observed in a previous note, Rand sometimes used the term "metaphysical" more broadly to mean "pertaining to reality" as contrasted with "pertaining to consciousness"--, on other occasions, as meaning "pertaining to that which is given in nature" as contrasted with the "man-made." I hope this clarification is helpful. Nathaniel Branden From: Nathaniel Branden Reply-To: brandenn To: Michael Hardy <hardy CC: atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: Objectivist metaphysics Date: Fri, 23 Nov 2001 18:29:38 -0800 Michael Hardy wrote: >Nathaniel Branden <brandenn@pacbell.net> wrote that Ayn Rand set forth what has been called correctly "a minimalist metaphysics" --fundamental truths that no scientific discovery could disprove and that all scientific discoveries presupposed. This came down to Aristotle's laws of logic, which (as she and others have observed) are also laws of reality (Brand Blanshard's "Reason and Analysis" is great on this point), and also the law of causality. >I for one would have said the laws of logic belong to epistemology rather than metaphysics. Can anyone explain this classification? Shouldn't the nature of free will also belong to metaphysics? Mike Hardy THE LAWS OF LOGIC ARE, QUA LAWS OF THOUGHT, EPISTEMOLOGICAL, AND, QUA LAWS OF REALITY, METAPHYSICAL. NATHANIEL BRANDEN From: Nathaniel Branden To: ATLANTIS Subject: ATL: ONE MORE THOUGHT Date: Fri, 23 Nov 2001 18:33:38 -0800/ If one accepts that metaphysics is concerned only with being qua being, then one sees that volition is not "metaphysical." Such at any rate was Rand's position, which I share. Nathaniel Branden From: Nathaniel Branden Reply-To: brandenn To: Michael Hardy <hardy CC: atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: free will & epistemology Date: Sat, 24 Nov 2001 15:51:10 -0800 Michael Hardy wrote: > Nathaniel Branden <brandenn@pacbell.net> wrote: > If volition does not belong in metaphysics, where does it belong among the branches of philosophy? Good question. I would venture to say...epistemology. >The argument you wrote that appeared in _The_Objectivist_, and which was also put forth by miscellaneous philosophers before that, and by me when I was in 12th grade, could be summarized by saying "epistemology presupposes free will", and Leonard Peikoff did put it in those words in his 12-lecture course he delivered under Ayn Rand's supervision in 1976. It has also been observed, by a much larger number of philosophers and others, that *ethics* also presupposes free will. To say that ethics presupposes free will does not mean that ethics is the branch of philosophy in which the nature of free will belongs, and the same is true of epistemology. > Nathaniel, in your 20-lecture basic course at NBI you said philosophy is the attempt to answer three questions: (1) What exists? (2) How do you know? (3) So what? Epistemology deals with the second question. Why is free will a part of the answer to the second question? Saying only that epistemology presupposes free will fails to answer this unless you also want to say epistemology is a part of ethics. -- Mike Hardy IF SOMEONE WANTS TO EXPAND THE MEANING OF METAPHYSICS TO INCLUDE "THE FUNDAMENTAL NATURE OF MAN," SO BE IT, NO ONE IS GOING TO ARREST HIM (OR HER); NO ONE IS EVEN LIKELY TO GET EXCITED ABOUT THE QUESTION, ONE WAY OR THE OTHER. I SUGGESTED THAT VOLITION BELONGS AS PART OF THE FOUNDATION OF EPISTEMOLOGY, IN THE OBJECTIVIST SYSTEM, BECAUSE THAT FOUNDATION HAS ALWAYS STRESSED THE NON-INFALLIBLE, NON-OMNISCIENT NATURE OF HUMAN CONSCIOUSNESS, AND THE SIGNIFICANCE OF VOLITION IN THIS CONTEXT. I DON'T KNOW HOW TO MAKE MY VIEWPOINT ANY CLEARER, SO I AM GOING TO STOP AT THIS POINT. GO IN PEACE, EVERYONE. NATHANIEL BRANDEN From: Nathaniel Branden Reply-To: brandenn To: "R. Christian Ross" atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: Reason Date: Wed, 21 Nov 2001 07:21:38 -0800. I would say, and I am confident Rand would agree, that what is inherent in our nature is the capacity to reason, assuming we go through normal stages of development (an infant can't reason, obviously). The great student of cognitive development, Jean Piaget, maintained that if, during teen-age years, a person does not develop high level of cognitive abilities ("formal operations"), it is virtually impossible to develop them later in life. If this is true, then the world is full of people whose reasoning ability is not absent but severely limited. Reason as a process is, of course, epistemological, but as a capacity, inherent as a potential in our nature, it is, if you wish "metaphysical." I put the word in quotes because, strictly speaking, metaphysics addresses only the fundamental nature of reality, not such things as the attributes of man or lower animals. And, finally, in calling man "a rational animal," Rand meant (a) that we humans have a capacity to reason that differentiates us from lower animals (genus and differentia), but also (b) that that capacity explains more about our behavior than any other trait or attribute. Nathaniel Branden From: Nathaniel Branden Reply-To: brandenn To: ATLANTIS Subject: ATL: ONE MORE THOUGHT Date: Fri, 23 Nov 2001 18:33:38 -0800 If one accepts that metaphysics is concerned only with being qua being, then one sees that volition is not "metaphysical." Such at any rate was Rand's position, which I share. Nathaniel Branden From: Nathaniel Branden To: atlantis Subject: ATL: one more Date: Tue, 27 Nov 2001 13:27:05 -0800 Oh, yes, one more. Anyone who thinks AR provided rational grounds for her assertion that no rational woman would want to be President of the U.S.--doesn't understand Objectivist epistemology. Nathaniel Branden From: BBfromM To: atlantis Subject: ATL: Man-woman relationships Date: Sun, 2 Dec 2001 19:11:10 EST I once read something that still has me laughing helplessly whenever I think of it. It was a book written by a raging feminist, and nowhere was there a hint of the possibility that any woman might react differently than she did -- except once. One turned a page to see another page that was blank except for one bold-faced line: EVERY WOMAN LOVES A FASCIST. There was no explanation and no reference to the line in the rest of the book. I thought it hysterically funny, and I knew exactly what she meant. Barbara