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Folks, I have just published my SECOND philosophy book - this one on the theory of propositions and related topics. You can check it out on Amazon.com here: https://www.amazon.com/Whats-Your-File-Folder-Propositions/dp/1689839163/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=what's+in+your+file+folder&qid=1568325732&s=books&sr=1-1 This book takes a deep dive into Ayn Rand’s theory of knowledge. It explains why her followers failed to develop a model of the proposition fulfilling the promise of her pioneering work on concepts—and it reveals the essence of propositions and the principles by which they operate in our gaining knowledge by identifying the facts of reality. These revelations are based on a fuller appreciation and application of some of Rand’s most pregnant ideas: the metaphor of concepts as “mental file folders”—the unit-perspective as the key that unlocks the conceptual stage of awareness and welds together its three levels—form and content of cognitive awareness both being objective—and consciousness essentially consisting of differentiation and integration (functionally) and subject and object (structurally). On this basis, the author offers a significant revision to Rand's model of concepts and a new model of propositions, giving considerable attention to axioms and statements about nonexistent subjects and offering a fuller explanation of how syllogisms function in grasping truth. The author's main contention is that Objectivism's epistemology (and epistemology in general) lacks a viable model of propositional knowledge due to neglect of the "unit-perspective" view of concepts. This pioneering insight of Rand's, he says, not only is an essential building block of her concept theory, but also is the means for providing the clearest X-ray picture of our multilayered conceptual knowledge. Using the unit-perspective to expand Rand's theory of concepts, the author then introduces "duplex" and "triplex" units, which he shows are the components of propositions and syllogisms, which are composed of concepts that integrate single or "simplex" units, as he calls them. The author also argues that Rand's largely underdeveloped concept of the "dual-aspect objective" is vital for understanding how knowledge is grounded in reality. he explains how consciousness essentially involves an interaction between a conscious subject (i.e., organism) and some of aspect of the world which becomes the object of that subject's awareness, then applies this idea to perception, introspection, concepts, propositions, and syllogisms. The author also defines content of awareness carefully distinguishing it from both object and form of awareness, and applies those distinctions throughout.In addition, the author discusses how truth is both dual-aspect and contextual, and he shows how units, too, have a dual aspect, even on the level of syllogisms. He also shows how differentiation and integration are the conscious processes at work, for better or worse, in both logic and in logical errors, which include the fallacies of "Frozen Abstraction" and "False Alternative," as well as a long-standing Objectivist conflation of falsity and contradiction and a relatively more recent Objectivist error, the fallacy of "genuine awareness."
Some thoughts from the author of 'The Righteous Mind,' Jonathan Haidt (see OL mentions here), at Spiked online: The Fragile Generation -- my favourite conceptual creep is with the weasel-term "Fake News." Where the species-genera distinction is obscured mightily. On an unrelated note, "Hate whomever you want. It's your right." Lauren Southern bashes back at micro-aggressions from the folks at Reason TV.
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.
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. Context: 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. Elaboration: 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.