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Posts posted by Neo-Aristotelian

  1. On 10/8/2017 at 6:24 AM, regi said:

    [1] Material existence is comprised entirely of existents. Or is it?

    [2] The view that all of existence consists of all the existents there are is technically called an "entity ontology" in contrast to the opposite view called a "matter ontology." The entity ontology is implied in some philosophies (Locke, for example) and explicitly in others (Rand, for example). Rand said that only entities exist. In that view, "matter," is simply, "all the material entities."

    [3] Based on the explicit entity ontology, Objectivism holds an entity view of cause. According to that view, it is an entity's nature and attributes that determine or "cause" its behavior. That is also the basis for the Objectivist argument for volition. They dismiss the "determinism" argument against volition (everything has a cause therefore everything is determined, by simply saying, for volitional beings, volition is the cause of their behavior.)

    [4] The entity ontology is contradicted by another Objectivist assertion, however, "matter can be neither created or destroyed." But if matter is only entities, that could not be. Entities are created and destroyed all the time. If we try to get around the problem by saying matter can change its form we have adopted a matter ontology, because entities do not change from one kind of entity into another by some kind of transmutation. Some entities simply cease to be. Other entities come into existence that never were before; for example, every human being.

    [5] If something can be neither created or destroyed, we must always have the same amount of it. When one thing changes into another, or ceases to be, or a new thing comes into existence, what is it we still have the same amount of? When the lamb becomes lamb stew, what is the thing, of which, there is still the same quantity? It certainly isn't lambs?

    There's too much commentary in this thread to read, but I'll take a stab at the riddle [Disclaimer: Since the riddle is described as Objectivistic, I have to admit I don't know if my thoughts are Objectivistic, although I certainly lean Objectivist.]:


    I'm not familiar with the terms "entity ontology" and "matter ontology."  But I make a distinction between existents and entities, and in it, the former subsumes the latter.  Thoughts of consciousness and characteristics of entities are also existents.

    I don't know the context behind Rand's saying that only entities exist.  I'm more interested in philosophic truth than merely what she said though, and in the most fundamental sense, no, only existents exist.  Rand's supposed saying is too narrow as it excludes thoughts and characteristics. 

    So I'd revise Rand's supposed view: Matter is what comprises entities.  And individual units of matter are constituent entities of the subsuming entity.


    Because matter is not only entities, the rest of the riddle no longer stands.

    But suppose Rand did say that only entities exist.  Perhaps the context was material existence (perhaps that's your reason for invoking [1]).  And perhaps Rand was conveying how matter consist of existents (as I earlier said).  Recognizing and identifying constituent existents is a metaphysical issue of perception (and some constituent existents require instruments to allow us to perceive) and an epistemic issue of specificity.

  2. It's said that emotions can cloud judgment. I've noticed that I can at times be certain of my judgment despite feeling strong emotions. In other times, I don't trust my judgment and choose to delay judgment until my emotions subside. This concerns me because I don't clearly know conceptually when I can trust my judgment given strong accompanying emotions.

    Additionally, it's arguable that we are always experiencing an emotional "cadence" in the background as a result of our attitude towards ourselves, others, the rest of existence, our sense of self-efficacy, and our sense of self-identity.

    Regardless, how does one know if his judgment is not clouded? More specifically, how does one know that his judgment isn't simply motivated by pleasure/pain?

    Hindsight is supposedly 20/20, but how does one know that that hindsight isn't clouded by emotions?

  3. Concepts reference an infinite number of permutations of species (i.e. particulars subsumed under the concept). The decision-making process of choice involves considering concepts against other concepts. One can begin to fathom the infinite possibilities in consideration, but it's the power of conceptualization that divides and conquers these infinite possibilities. But what really adds to the complexity is that most human decisions involve higher level concepts, and higher level concepts are predicated upon other concepts, and those lower level concepts are predicated upon even lower level concepts and so on. So we have interrelated levels of infinitude that are parceled by conceptualization.

    Lower animals, however, are easier to predict because they don't have this conceptual ability. They simply associate particulars with particulars, so their actions are relatively simplistic.

  4. I agree that causality is derived from entities and not linked by events (this mistake led to Hume's skepticism of causality). However, I disagree with what Peikoff said in OPAR:
    "If, under the same circumstances, several actions were possible—e.g., a balloon could rise or fall (or start to emit music like a radio, or turn into a pumpkin), everything else remaining the same—such incompatible outcomes would have to derive from incompatible (contradictory) aspects of the entity's nature. But there are no contradictory aspects. A is A" (14-15).
    In other words, the possible number of actions of non-conscious entitiesto not contradict Objectivism's tenet that human beings are capable of choice between multiple possible actions, I've taken the liberty to specify non-conscious entitiesis necessarily one in any given circumstances. How is this validated? I would think that to know how many actions are possible for any entity, conscious or non-conscious, comes much later after discovering these basic axioms/corollaries; it requires study of that entity, and that study requires an accumulation of advanced knowledge.
    If we can't be certain of how many actions are possible for non-conscious entities in any given circumstances, are there any negative implications that would prevent us from later discovering the answer?
    An interesting rebuttal is that if there are multiple possible actions in any given circumstances, the entity must choose among these actions; thus, multiple possible actions are only available for conscious entities because it's consciousness that produces multiple possible actions. An example of such entities are human beings, but even I doubt that (see my thread on free will). However, such multiple actions of non-conscious entities can be explained by randomness (e.g. quantum randomness). I know it's said that randomness is actually a limitation in knowledge, but that presupposes that non-conscious entities are limited to one action in any given circumstances. So to maintain this in light of this presupposition is circular.
  5. I'll first provide a short post as context. Then I'll provide an elaboration of my reasoning. I started this discussion elsewhere, so there may be some strange references, but nothing significant.


    My thesis for free will:
    Free will is deterministic. I acknowledge that free will is our ability of choice, but choices are caused by mental contents. Introspection reveals that we make choices on the basis of mental contents.
    Example: If I possess the mental contents that the Blackjack dealer has 21 and that my well-being is a value, it will cause me to decide to fold; another person who doesn't have either of these mental contents will not make the decision of folding.
    Determinism states that human actions are necessarily caused by prior events. Traditionally, these events are physical, but I contend that in human actions, they are mental. The kicker though is that we immediately begin stocking our minds with beliefs since birth, and as children, we are not in full control of ourselves—we are like lower animals until we more fully develop the faculty of reason. **So if choices are caused by antecedent mental contents, do we ever escape the path set by childhood?** Even my awareness that I have choice is caused by the mental content of a correct conception of choice, the mental contents that constitute the skill of introspection, etc. People who lack these mental contents would not arrive at the same awareness I have.
    I'm starting a thread because my there isn't enough space here. I'd like to focus now on the implications of free will being deterministic. And the more I think about it, the more confident I am that free will is deterministic: I cannot think of choosing (whether it's between options or whether to focus) that is not predicated on antecedent mental contents.
    Firstly, I think the term, "free will," has too much baggage; I prefer to just acknowledge that we have choice. However, choice is determined by mental contents. This doesn't mean that we cannot have control of our lives. I posit that self-control is not a binary case of whether one has it or not; rather, one possesses self-control in degrees. The degree of self-control is a function of how well a certain belief is integrated; that belief is that one *can* choose.
    Specifically, if someone believes he can choose, but only in certain circumstances, he only has self-control in those circumstances. For example, if one believes that he is a product of society or mob mentality, he will by default not choose to evaluate (more specifically, choose not focus on) majority beliefs. Because he is not consciously guarding his mind from the beliefs of others, this leaves him susceptible to absorbing them. This absorption is a metaphor for consciously accepting beliefs on the basis of appealing to the majority, not identifying fallacies, etc. or subconsciously integrating them because of the automatic association with mental contents. This susceptibility is a function of the rational integrity of his mental contents.
    However, this same person may still choose to examine an aspect of a majority belief if that aspect conflicts (conceptually or associatively) with a personal belief that falls within the range of circumstances in which he believes he can choose. This may start a chain of thinking that eventually leads to the thinking about the majority belief itself; in other words, thinking about a part may eventually lead to thinking about the whole. For example, if this same person is at a party and everyone agrees that marijuana improves thinking so now would be a good time to smoke, he will initially be inclined to agree because examining a majority vote never enters his radar of choice. But he has learned from experience that marijuana impairs highly abstract thinking for many hours, and examining whether he needs highly abstract thinking for the next eight hours immediately enters his radar of choice. Since he has a test to study for afterwards, he chooses to decline smoking. If his mind has already subsumed abstract thinking as a species of thinking, as opposed to abstract thinking and thinking as two distinct genera, he will realize the connection and start the ball rolling towards examining the majority belief that marijuana improves thinking.
    So the belief that one can choose is contextual. An example of an incorrect context is emotions; the correct context is the beliefs responsible for emotions. Whatever the context, the belief that one can choose causes one to focus on circumstances if they are relevant to the context.
    So choice (free will for those who are attached to the term) is contingent on how well this belief of choice is integrated. Prior to integrating this belief, one is void of choice. Now, something else I've been chewing is whether our conceptual ability necessitates the belief that we have choice. After all, to conceptualize is to choose what symbol to represent the concept, and what characteristics are essential. Can one conceptualize without being aware of his choosing? Does being aware of his choosing necessarily mean he is aware he can choose at least in certain contexts? If so, how does he learn under what contexts he can choose? I would say the answer to the first two questions is "yes" and "no" respectively. My answer to the third is that the very first beliefs are introduced by the environment and that one's innate predisposition, if such things exist, dictate what formative beliefs are absorbed; if predispositions do not exist, then the formative beliefs are directly absorbed from the environment until one has enough beliefs to serve as a "postdisposition." This is also why philosophy is so powerful—it serves as a postdispositional, self-reinforcing view of the world—and why it is so difficult to get others to see the errors in their own philosophies.
    If choice is determined by mental contents, it will mean that there ought to be a resolved focus to persuade individuals and society by correcting their mental contents—their beliefs.