George H. Smith

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On October 14, 2016 at 7:04 PM, BaalChatzaf said:

internally held mental states that do not produce externally observable actions  cannot be morally judged.  Such states  have no moral or ethical  import therefore cannot be judged either moral or immoral.  To but it more briefly  only external actions can be moral or immoral.  

This coming from the man who calls morality "doxa".

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4 hours ago, Samson Corwell said:

This coming from the man who calls morality "doxa".

Moral -judgements- are doxa.  Moral classifications of  insofar as they refer only to what is generally observable  might be objectively established.  

Intentions cannot enter into the matter because no one knows any intentions other than his/her own.  Humans cannot "read the minds"  of other humans. 

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On 6/10/2016 at 8:03 PM, Roger Bissell said:

Kant seems so reasonable on so many issues (including this one). It's hard to integrate that with the idea that he is "the most evil man in history." :wink: 

Ayn Rand "does not hesitate to call a philosophical figure evil, based on what she takes to be the consequences for human life of the ideas he advocates" (A Companion to Ayn Rand, 327).

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1 hour ago, merjet said:

Ayn Rand "does not hesitate to call a philosophical figure evil, based on what she takes to be the consequences for human life of the ideas he advocates" (A Companion to Ayn Rand, 327).

I nominate Muhammad, founder of Islam, as a competitor to Kant for the title of most evil man who ever lived.

 

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3 hours ago, jts said:

I nominate Muhammad, founder of Islam, as a competitor to Kant for the title of most evil man who ever lived.

 

Funny. But little comparison. I think each in his own manner believed his ideas would 'do good' for man and in that might lie their "evil", but his explicit advocacy and carrying out of forced obedience awards Mohammed the evil prize.

For Kant to be objectively "evil" he'd have to know full well he was deliberately misleading and untruthful. I've not seen evidence of insincerity and dishonesty in the limited quantities I've read - and comprehended - by him. (Causation, we know was just one forte of Rand's. I've conjectured that possibly Rand judged Kant to be so highly intelligent as to be able to clearly foresee the consequences of ideas - like her - so was actually paying his genius some back-handed respect. Perhaps he didn't ;) ).

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14 hours ago, anthony said:

For Kant to be objectively "evil" he'd have to know full well he was deliberately misleading and untruthful. I've not seen evidence of insincerity and dishonesty in the limited quantities I've read - and comprehended - by him. (Causation, we know was just one forte of Rand's. I've conjectured that possibly Rand judged Kant to be so highly intelligent as to be able to clearly foresee the consequences of ideas - like her - so was actually paying his genius some back-handed respect. Perhaps he didn't ;) ).

I agree. And when we look at Kant's explicitly stated purpose and goal, we find something quite different from the "all-destroyer" fountainhead of statist totalitarianism that the Randians allege him to be.

Throughout his Critical Philosophy, Kant was working from what he took to be an inescapable premise—Hume’s notion of the cognitively unbridgeable gap between knowledge and true reality—but he was not a nihilist-skeptic destroyer. Instead, Kant attempted a major pushback against the deadly effects of Hume’s extreme skepticism, in order to save what for him were two crucial values of Western culture: science and ethics. Kant was thus actually a conservative, moderating development in the face of Hume’s disintegrative skepticism.

In contrast to the Disintegrative stance of Hume, Kant affirmed causality and lawful connections in nature and the ability of the human mind to know them, as well as the ability of the mind to build up systematic bodies of knowledge in science and philosophy from a base in experience. As Sciabarra notes, “Kant recognized that human knowledge constitutes a coherent interconnected whole” (2000, 55). Kant also emphatically insisted that cognition, including logic and system-building—and therefore, all the sciences, including mathematics, metaphysics, and physics—are limited to, or based on, facts in the realm of experience.

In terms of substantive philosophy, Kant was the beleaguered defender of mainstream Enlightenment values, while “Hume’s views were revolutionary, far more revolutionary than he himself realized” (Jones 1969b, 12). As Jones further clarifies, "Hume regarded reason as merely an instrument for detecting relations
among ideas; reason can tell us nothing . . . about the real world. . . .There is no rationale in nature to which the rational mind of man conforms. Hume in effect was driving a wedge between reason and nature. . . . Among Hume’s contemporaries Kant was almost alone in recognizing the destructive force of this attack on reason. . . . Kant was deeply committed to the Enlightenment ideal. Hence he was deeply disturbed by Hume’s argument." (12–13) In other words, Kant was a reactionary rather than a radical - or, rather, a thinker using methodologically "radical" means to argue for "reactionary" or status quo social-cultural values.

Ironically, Kant, in trying to undo Hume’s baleful influence, stumbled into the same pitfall as the conservatives in their fight against left-liberalism and socialism. What Rand wrote about Kant was thus actually more appropriately directed at Hume, and what she said about Kant’s opponents was at least as applicable to him, since Hume won with Kant’s help. Kant conceded Hume’s basic premise, and gave away the ballgame, just as the conservatives have more recently in relation to the liberals, progressives, and socialists. Like Rand, Kant similarly railed against the ineffectual or harmful attempts of his predecessors to protect major values—in his case, the mainstream Enlightenment values of reason, science, and religious morality—even while advocating an unconventional intellectual framework. Kant set forth his Critical Philosophy in an attempt to provide a solid basis for those values—values which very few people at the time regarded as controversial, but which were being thrown into skeptical doubt by the intellectual gridlock between the rationalists and the empiricists.

Unlike Rand, however, Kant did not have the protective shield of a consistent, reality-based set of premises to carry into battle. Instead, he conjured up a witch’s brew of Humean irrationalism and Platonic-Leibnizian rationalism that did more harm than good. As Jones (1969b) notes, “[Kant] realized that to answer Hume some compromise was necessary and in this compromise he proposed to save as much as he could. Ultimately, however, Kant made many more concessions to anti-rationalism than he realized. . . . Kant’s philosophy thus constitutes one of the fundamental turning points in the history of Western thought” (13). Ironically, then, Kant fell short in much the same way in attempting to stem the tide of Humean irrationalism as did the twentieth-century political conservatives in their efforts to hold back the advances of left-liberal statism. It’s intriguing to speculate that, had Rand been Kant’s colleague in the late 1700s, she might well have blasted him in the same way she did the American right in the mid-1900s, and for the same reasons. His flawed arguments failed to “conserve”—not just preserve, but rationally validate and defend—reason, science, and morality, just as those of the political conservatives failed to “conserve” (validate and defend) political freedom, capitalism, and rugged individualism. With friends like Kant and the conservatives, who
needs enemies!

Had Rand and her colleagues expressed their justifiable disdain for Kant’s shortcomings in a manner similar to the way they raked political conservatives over the coals, that would have sufficed to make the point, without needing to engage in histrionics and hyperbole. (Full stop.) Instead, however, we have been subjected to over fifty years of trumped-up charges against Kant, some of which conflict with one another, some of which are context-dropping distortions, and many of which are simply not correct.

I discuss some of these in my 2013 JARS review of Peikoff's DIM Hypothesis. (The preceding comments were adapted from that review essay.)

REB

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I agree that Rand misjudged Kant. He did not intend ill for anyone.

With overkill, she did accomplish one thing, though. For the O-Land community that was springing up around her, she expelled Kant from the realm of philosophy that should be studied and turned him into a scapegoated villain to organize the community around.

Did she intend that--to turn Kant into political propaganda instead of intellectual discourse? Probably not. But, to some people outside of O-Land, the fact that she did makes her one of the most evil women to ever live.

(Do I see a pattern here?)

:)

Michael

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On 2016/12/18 at 6:49 AM, Roger Bissell said:

I agree. And when we look at Kant's explicitly stated purpose and goal, we find something quite different from the "all-destroyer" fountainhead of statist totalitarianism that the Randians allege him to be.

Throughout his Critical Philosophy, Kant was working from what he took to be an inescapable premise—Hume’s notion of the cognitively unbridgeable gap between knowledge and true reality—but he was not a nihilist-skeptic destroyer. Instead, Kant attempted a major pushback against the deadly effects of Hume’s extreme skepticism, in order to save what for him were two crucial values of Western culture: science and ethics. Kant was thus actually a conservative, moderating development in the face of Hume’s disintegrative skepticism.

In contrast to the Disintegrative stance of Hume, Kant affirmed causality and lawful connections in nature and the ability of the human mind to know them, as well as the ability of the mind to build up systematic bodies of knowledge in science and philosophy from a base in experience. As Sciabarra notes, “Kant recognized that human knowledge constitutes a coherent interconnected whole” (2000, 55). Kant also emphatically insisted that cognition, including logic and system-building—and therefore, all the sciences, including mathematics, metaphysics, and physics—are limited to, or based on, facts in the realm of experience.

In terms of substantive philosophy, Kant was the beleaguered defender of mainstream Enlightenment values, while “Hume’s views were revolutionary, far more revolutionary than he himself realized” (Jones 1969b, 12). As Jones further clarifies, "Hume regarded reason as merely an instrument for detecting relations
among ideas; reason can tell us nothing . . . about the real world. . . .There is no rationale in nature to which the rational mind of man conforms. Hume in effect was driving a wedge between reason and nature. . . . Among Hume’s contemporaries Kant was almost alone in recognizing the destructive force of this attack on reason. . . . Kant was deeply committed to the Enlightenment ideal. Hence he was deeply disturbed by Hume’s argument." (12–13) In other words, Kant was a reactionary rather than a radical - or, rather, a thinker using methodologically "radical" means to argue for "reactionary" or status quo social-cultural values.

Ironically, Kant, in trying to undo Hume’s baleful influence, stumbled into the same pitfall as the conservatives in their fight against left-liberalism and socialism. What Rand wrote about Kant was thus actually more appropriately directed at Hume, and what she said about Kant’s opponents was at least as applicable to him, since Hume won with Kant’s help. Kant conceded Hume’s basic premise, and gave away the ballgame, just as the conservatives have more recently in relation to the liberals, progressives, and socialists. Like Rand, Kant similarly railed against the ineffectual or harmful attempts of his predecessors to protect major values—in his case, the mainstream Enlightenment values of reason, science, and religious morality—even while advocating an unconventional intellectual framework. Kant set forth his Critical Philosophy in an attempt to provide a solid basis for those values—values which very few people at the time regarded as controversial, but which were being thrown into skeptical doubt by the intellectual gridlock between the rationalists and the empiricists.

Unlike Rand, however, Kant did not have the protective shield of a consistent, reality-based set of premises to carry into battle. Instead, he conjured up a witch’s brew of Humean irrationalism and Platonic-Leibnizian rationalism that did more harm than good. As Jones (1969b) notes, “[Kant] realized that to answer Hume some compromise was necessary and in this compromise he proposed to save as much as he could. Ultimately, however, Kant made many more concessions to anti-rationalism than he realized. . . . Kant’s philosophy thus constitutes one of the fundamental turning points in the history of Western thought” (13). Ironically, then, Kant fell short in much the same way in attempting to stem the tide of Humean irrationalism as did the twentieth-century political conservatives in their efforts to hold back the advances of left-liberal statism. It’s intriguing to speculate that, had Rand been Kant’s colleague in the late 1700s, she might well have blasted him in the same way she did the American right in the mid-1900s, and for the same reasons. His flawed arguments failed to “conserve”—not just preserve, but rationally validate and defend—reason, science, and morality, just as those of the political conservatives failed to “conserve” (validate and defend) political freedom, capitalism, and rugged individualism. With friends like Kant and the conservatives, who
needs enemies!

Had Rand and her colleagues expressed their justifiable disdain for Kant’s shortcomings in a manner similar to the way they raked political conservatives over the coals, that would have sufficed to make the point, without needing to engage in histrionics and hyperbole. (Full stop.) Instead, however, we have been subjected to over fifty years of trumped-up charges against Kant, some of which conflict with one another, some of which are context-dropping distortions, and many of which are simply not correct.

I discuss some of these in my 2013 JARS review of Peikoff's DIM Hypothesis. (The preceding comments were adapted from that review essay.)

REB

Roger, Thanks, that's illuminating. Like MSK and you affirm, I also think it's a pity that Rand with her single "evil" remark (and the "histrionics" by some) may have had the effect of cutting off much further discourse by Oi'sts on Kant. There are parallels it seems between Objectivism and Kant which should be investigated, as well as the fundamental departures, all which only improves understanding of both philosophies and enhances Objectivism by contrast (I claim;)). Right through Kant, one reads of "concepts", "autonomy", "freedom", man "as end in himself" (but distinct from Rand's egoism I think, in that Kant was wary of utilitarianism or using others to one's ends) - and so on.

By what you say, one can't let Kant off scot-free, either. Here's a thinker who recognised the problem of the old dilemma: rationalism vs. empiricism, set out to resolve it and had the brilliance to put paid to it once and for all, and didn't succeed. With his compromise (or "witch's brew") of attempting to hold on to (I think) a creationist, purposive view of Nature (teleology) he no more overturned Humean ("baleful") skepticism than allowed it a greater foot hold. And - to the most serious charge I consider Rand levelled - what she nominated "...the essence of Kant's doctrine, which represents the negation of ~any~ consciousness, of consciousness as such". Could you explain how she came to this conclusion - has it merit, or is it more fitting to Hume?

With respect to Ghs's essays of Kant's almost agreeable political system, is it really so surprising how close Kant came there? I've not been disabused of the notion yet, from reading quite a bit by scholars of his aesthetics up until his ethics, that Kant had always in mind an overview - one of elevating the harmony of man and Nature and creating harmony between man and men. To live within and beneath an harmonious society (and nature) which reflects "summum bonum" was then his climactic end purpose, I surmize. After all, if one is going to first conceive of and design a perfect society 'a priori', like building a "perfect" but empty mansion, one would want ethical and others-respecting citizens to inhabit it, and to that purpose Kant emphasized "the good will" and duty to others - and to oneself - not forgetting a categorical duty to one's universalised principles. Close to what we'd call integrity and consistency - except in O'ism, for one's selfish motive. Kant's is a 'duty to dutifulness', I sorta see it, for the good of all. How very Germanic! (Of the nation, and of various Germans and/or Austrians I've known).

Conversely we know Rand's 'climax' lay in the individual and his rational-selfish morality, for which a government and his right to un-interfered action play a supportive role and are a corollary and essential effect.

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18 hours ago, anthony said:

And - to the most serious charge I consider Rand levelled - what she nominated "...the essence of Kant's doctrine, which represents the negation of ~any~ consciousness, of consciousness as such". Could you explain how she came to this conclusion - has it merit, or is it more fitting to Hume?

She held consciousness to be awareness of something that exists independently of one's awareness - not the creation of something of which one is then aware. Existence is independent of consciousness - not dependent upon consciousness. Rand advocated the former, and she said Kant advocated the latter: Primacy of Existence vs. Primacy of Consciousness.

The way I read Kant, however, is that *both* consciousness/mind and existence/reality are unknowable things-in-themselves, lurking in the "noumenal realm," and that whatever nature they have, they interact in such a way that the *product* of that interaction is the world as we experience it, the world of appearance, the "phenomenal realm." He believed in identity and cause-and-effect, but he also said we can't go beyond sense experience and whatever we can build from that. (He was a very accomplished physical scientist and theorist prior to becoming a philosopher.) So, he shied away from ascribing specific qualities to mind and reality, apart from what we *observe* through perceptual observation and introspection.

This interactive process *is* how we know the world, and the world "as we know it" - and ourselves "as we know ourselves" - really *are* built up or "constructed" from such interactions. However, it's not that either reality or our mental faculties are constructs. They are real. The *product of their interaction* - things and selves as we know them - is the form in which we are aware of those things and selves. So, it is *experience* that is the construct, the *form* of our awareness of the world.

Kant got it half right, and his Copernican Revolution really just latched onto the other side of a false dichotomy: the mind determines/constructs out of reality the world we experience vs. reality determines what our minds experience. Instead, together, they *both* determine/construct the world and the self we experience. The world and the self are the forms in which we are aware, through their interaction, of reality and the mind. (And by "mind," I mean merely a conscious living organism's brain and nervous system.)

I don't think this qualifies as "negating consciousness as such." But if the realist elements of Kant's philosophy are rejected (identity and causality), leaving just the idealist Primacy of Consciousness, "construction of reality," then sure, Kant was fundamentally mistaken. And I think that is the Orthodox Objectivist interpretation of him. So, take your pick.

REB

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16 hours ago, Roger Bissell said:

She held consciousness to be awareness of something that exists independently of one's awareness - not the creation of something of which one is then aware. Existence is independent of consciousness - not dependent upon consciousness. Rand advocated the former, and she said Kant advocated the latter: Primacy of Existence vs. Primacy of Consciousness.

The way I read Kant, however, is that *both* consciousness/mind and existence/reality are unknowable things-in-themselves, lurking in the "noumenal realm," and that whatever nature they have, they interact in such a way that the *product* of that interaction is the world as we experience it, the world of appearance, the "phenomenal realm." He believed in identity and cause-and-effect, but he also said we can't go beyond sense experience and whatever we can build from that. (He was a very accomplished physical scientist and theorist prior to becoming a philosopher.) So, he shied away from ascribing specific qualities to mind and reality, apart from what we *observe* through perceptual observation and introspection.

This interactive process *is* how we know the world, and the world "as we know it" - and ourselves "as we know ourselves" - really *are* built up or "constructed" from such interactions. However, it's not that either reality or our mental faculties are constructs. They are real. The *product of their interaction* - things and selves as we know them - is the form in which we are aware of those things and selves. So, it is *experience* that is the construct, the *form* of our awareness of the world.

Kant got it half right, and his Copernican Revolution really just latched onto the other side of a false dichotomy: the mind determines/constructs out of reality the world we experience vs. reality determines what our minds experience. Instead, together, they *both* determine/construct the world and the self we experience. The world and the self are the forms in which we are aware, through their interaction, of reality and the mind. (And by "mind," I mean merely a conscious living organism's brain and nervous system.)

I don't think this qualifies as "negating consciousness as such." But if the realist elements of Kant's philosophy are rejected (identity and causality), leaving just the idealist Primacy of Consciousness, "construction of reality," then sure, Kant was fundamentally mistaken. And I think that is the Orthodox Objectivist interpretation of him. So, take your pick.

REB

How does one distinguish between "pseudo existence"  (consciousness of something created in the mind)   and real existence.  When we think we are aware of something outside of us  our awareness is still brain/mind  generated so how do we know the object of our awareness exists  without us? 

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11 minutes ago, BaalChatzaf said:

How does one distinguish between "pseudo existence"  (consciousness of something created in the mind)   and real existence.  When we think we are aware of something outside of us  our awareness is still brain/mind  generated so how do we know the object of our awareness exists  without us? 

Place your fingers on a chunk of ice or a hot stove. Is your awareness of the ice or stove "brain/mind generated" or "brain/mind transmitted"?

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4 hours ago, merjet said:
4 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:

How does one distinguish between "pseudo existence"  (consciousness of something created in the mind)   and real existence.  When we think we are aware of something outside of us  our awareness is still brain/mind  generated so how do we know the object of our awareness exists  without us? 

Place your fingers on a chunk of ice or a hot stove. Is your awareness of the ice or stove "brain/mind generated" or "brain/mind transmitted"?

Neither, strictly speaking.

It certainly can't be *transmitted* by the brain/mind. Transmitted *to what*??

And while the brain/mind is involved in the *generation* of the awareness of existence, so is existence (i.e., whatever exists that is the *object* of awareness). It is the *interaction* of the brain/mind with energy coming in from something else in the world that generates *awareness of* that something else *by* the brain/mind. It is the ice or stove "in interaction with* the brain/mind that generates the brain/mind's awareness of it, and that awareness is different in each case because the nature of what is interacting with the brain/mind is different, while the nature of the brain/mind is (relatively) constant.

(In introspection, when the brain/mind is aware of itself, because the energy coming to it is from another part of itself, then *one* part of the brain/mind is interacting with *another* part of the brain/mind. But the pattern and principle involved are the same, because the brain/mind is at once *that which* is aware of something, and the *something* which is the object of awareness.)

In one of his history of philosophy lectures back in the previous century, Peikoff likened perception to a collision. The nature of the collision is determined by the nature of the two objects that interact (collide). It's not just Car A's nature or Car B's nature alone that determines the nature of the collision, but both of them in interaction. The collision is neither Car A-generated nor Car B-generated, but Car-A-Car-B-interaction generated. I think that seeing the nature of consciousness in light of this analogy is very clarifying, and that this is one of Peikoff's best contributions to epistemology and philosophy of mind.

REB

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10 hours ago, Roger Bissell said:

Neither, strictly speaking.

It certainly can't be *transmitted* by the brain/mind. Transmitted *to what*??

And while the brain/mind is involved in the *generation* of the awareness of existence, so is existence (i.e., whatever exists that is the *object* of awareness). It is the *interaction* of the brain/mind with energy coming in from something else in the world that generates *awareness of* that something else *by* the brain/mind. It is the ice or stove "in interaction with* the brain/mind that generates the brain/mind's awareness of it, and that awareness is different in each case because the nature of what is interacting with the brain/mind is different, while the nature of the brain/mind is (relatively) constant.

(In introspection, when the brain/mind is aware of itself, because the energy coming to it is from another part of itself, then *one* part of the brain/mind is interacting with *another* part of the brain/mind. But the pattern and principle involved are the same, because the brain/mind is at once *that which* is aware of something, and the *something* which is the object of awareness.)

In one of his history of philosophy lectures back in the previous century, Peikoff likened perception to a collision. The nature of the collision is determined by the nature of the two objects that interact (collide). It's not just Car A's nature or Car B's nature alone that determines the nature of the collision, but both of them in interaction. The collision is neither Car A-generated nor Car B-generated, but Car-A-Car-B-interaction generated. I think that seeing the nature of consciousness in light of this analogy is very clarifying, and that this is one of Peikoff's best contributions to epistemology and philosophy of mind.

REB

isn't this "interaction" the most elemental base of the correspondence theory of knowledge? It's just that since the process has been automated in a mind very early on and so successfully - and is still ongoing - we aren't usually conscious of it. Your introspective intuition has been born out by neuroscientists - without having to be expert in this field - we can extrapolate that with each and every sensory experience, certain neurons in a certain part of the brain are excited into action in a specific manner - correspondingly. Even before understanding the concept of "colour", or specifically "red" colour say, some neurons somewhere would originally always react-behave in a certain way when one observed the existent. The same with "shape" (curved, angular); "distance" (near, distant); "movement" (quick, slow - towards one or away); size, etc.. With ever-increasing sensory ability the automated process becomes increasingly more sophisticated and certain (and presumed upon) as the senses collude with each other and one's sensory experiences become better integrated into complex conceptual knowledge.

(I'm considering that some thinkers' unawareness of, but implicit presumption upon, this "self-progamming" (as Branden put it) might have something to do with those theories of brain/mind dualism).

Always is the brain-mind grasping: What is it? (and following: What does it mean, for good or ill, to me?) and it's an active and interactive process, automatic or conscious.

(How did Peikoff write it? "Not by experience alone nor by logic alone, but by logic applied to experience"-- or something close to that).

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10 hours ago, Roger Bissell said:

Neither, strictly speaking.

It certainly can't be *transmitted* by the brain/mind. Transmitted *to what*??

And while the brain/mind is involved in the *generation* of the awareness of existence, so is existence (i.e., whatever exists that is the *object* of awareness). It is the *interaction* of the brain/mind with energy coming in from something else in the world that generates *awareness of* that something else *by* the brain/mind. It is the ice or stove "in interaction with* the brain/mind that generates the brain/mind's awareness of it, and that awareness is different in each case because the nature of what is interacting with the brain/mind is different, while the nature of the brain/mind is (relatively) constant.

(In introspection, when the brain/mind is aware of itself, because the energy coming to it is from another part of itself, then *one* part of the brain/mind is interacting with *another* part of the brain/mind. But the pattern and principle involved are the same, because the brain/mind is at once *that which* is aware of something, and the *something* which is the object of awareness.)

In one of his history of philosophy lectures back in the previous century, Peikoff likened perception to a collision. The nature of the collision is determined by the nature of the two objects that interact (collide). It's not just Car A's nature or Car B's nature alone that determines the nature of the collision, but both of them in interaction. The collision is neither Car A-generated nor Car B-generated, but Car-A-Car-B-interaction generated. I think that seeing the nature of consciousness in light of this analogy is very clarifying, and that this is one of Peikoff's best contributions to epistemology and philosophy of mind.

REB

The collision analogy  is pretty good.  Mr. P.  is describing interaction.  We may conclude logically that none of us will have a completely objective grasp of the world outside our skin.  Physical science is an attempt to identify the -invariant features', i.e.  those features which remain invariant  over all conscious observers.   Hence physical science is an attempt to infer the "view of no one in particular" from the views  of all observers. Then there is a further abstraction.  The covariant abstraction which attempts to infer the laws and symmetries from all "the views of no one in particular"  varying over all frames of reference.   What remains the same  in every frame of reference.  These are the major physical invariants, constants and symmetries.  The Crown Jewel  of the  hyper-abstraction is Noether's Theorem which  matches  conservation laws  with symmetries.

Please see:   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noether's_theorem

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On December 17, 2016 at 11:49 PM, Roger Bissell said:

I agree. And when we look at Kant's explicitly stated purpose and goal, we find something quite different from the "all-destroyer" fountainhead of statist totalitarianism that the Randians allege him to be.

Throughout his Critical Philosophy, Kant was working from what he took to be an inescapable premise—Hume’s notion of the cognitively unbridgeable gap between knowledge and true reality—but he was not a nihilist-skeptic destroyer. Instead, Kant attempted a major pushback against the deadly effects of Hume’s extreme skepticism, in order to save what for him were two crucial values of Western culture: science and ethics. Kant was thus actually a conservative, moderating development in the face of Hume’s disintegrative skepticism.

In contrast to the Disintegrative stance of Hume, Kant affirmed causality and lawful connections in nature and the ability of the human mind to know them, as well as the ability of the mind to build up systematic bodies of knowledge in science and philosophy from a base in experience. As Sciabarra notes, “Kant recognized that human knowledge constitutes a coherent interconnected whole” (2000, 55). Kant also emphatically insisted that cognition, including logic and system-building—and therefore, all the sciences, including mathematics, metaphysics, and physics—are limited to, or based on, facts in the realm of experience.

In terms of substantive philosophy, Kant was the beleaguered defender of mainstream Enlightenment values, while “Hume’s views were revolutionary, far more revolutionary than he himself realized” (Jones 1969b, 12). As Jones further clarifies, "Hume regarded reason as merely an instrument for detecting relations
among ideas; reason can tell us nothing . . . about the real world. . . .There is no rationale in nature to which the rational mind of man conforms. Hume in effect was driving a wedge between reason and nature. . . . Among Hume’s contemporaries Kant was almost alone in recognizing the destructive force of this attack on reason. . . . Kant was deeply committed to the Enlightenment ideal. Hence he was deeply disturbed by Hume’s argument." (12–13) In other words, Kant was a reactionary rather than a radical - or, rather, a thinker using methodologically "radical" means to argue for "reactionary" or status quo social-cultural values.

Ironically, Kant, in trying to undo Hume’s baleful influence, stumbled into the same pitfall as the conservatives in their fight against left-liberalism and socialism. What Rand wrote about Kant was thus actually more appropriately directed at Hume, and what she said about Kant’s opponents was at least as applicable to him, since Hume won with Kant’s help. Kant conceded Hume’s basic premise, and gave away the ballgame, just as the conservatives have more recently in relation to the liberals, progressives, and socialists. Like Rand, Kant similarly railed against the ineffectual or harmful attempts of his predecessors to protect major values—in his case, the mainstream Enlightenment values of reason, science, and religious morality—even while advocating an unconventional intellectual framework. Kant set forth his Critical Philosophy in an attempt to provide a solid basis for those values—values which very few people at the time regarded as controversial, but which were being thrown into skeptical doubt by the intellectual gridlock between the rationalists and the empiricists.

Unlike Rand, however, Kant did not have the protective shield of a consistent, reality-based set of premises to carry into battle. Instead, he conjured up a witch’s brew of Humean irrationalism and Platonic-Leibnizian rationalism that did more harm than good. As Jones (1969b) notes, “[Kant] realized that to answer Hume some compromise was necessary and in this compromise he proposed to save as much as he could. Ultimately, however, Kant made many more concessions to anti-rationalism than he realized. . . . Kant’s philosophy thus constitutes one of the fundamental turning points in the history of Western thought” (13). Ironically, then, Kant fell short in much the same way in attempting to stem the tide of Humean irrationalism as did the twentieth-century political conservatives in their efforts to hold back the advances of left-liberal statism. It’s intriguing to speculate that, had Rand been Kant’s colleague in the late 1700s, she might well have blasted him in the same way she did the American right in the mid-1900s, and for the same reasons. His flawed arguments failed to “conserve”—not just preserve, but rationally validate and defend—reason, science, and morality, just as those of the political conservatives failed to “conserve” (validate and defend) political freedom, capitalism, and rugged individualism. With friends like Kant and the conservatives, who
needs enemies!

Had Rand and her colleagues expressed their justifiable disdain for Kant’s shortcomings in a manner similar to the way they raked political conservatives over the coals, that would have sufficed to make the point, without needing to engage in histrionics and hyperbole. (Full stop.) Instead, however, we have been subjected to over fifty years of trumped-up charges against Kant, some of which conflict with one another, some of which are context-dropping distortions, and many of which are simply not correct.

I discuss some of these in my 2013 JARS review of Peikoff's DIM Hypothesis. (The preceding comments were adapted from that review essay.)

REB

What was this "pitfall"?

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On December 21, 2016 at 5:21 PM, merjet said:

Place your fingers on a chunk of ice or a hot stove. Is your awareness of the ice or stove "brain/mind generated" or "brain/mind transmitted"?

Neither.

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On December 21, 2016 at 0:55 AM, Roger Bissell said:

She held consciousness to be awareness of something that exists independently of one's awareness - not the creation of something of which one is then aware. Existence is independent of consciousness - not dependent upon consciousness. Rand advocated the former, and she said Kant advocated the latter: Primacy of Existence vs. Primacy of Consciousness.

The way I read Kant, however, is that *both* consciousness/mind and existence/reality are unknowable things-in-themselves, lurking in the "noumenal realm," and that whatever nature they have, they interact in such a way that the *product* of that interaction is the world as we experience it, the world of appearance, the "phenomenal realm." He believed in identity and cause-and-effect, but he also said we can't go beyond sense experience and whatever we can build from that. (He was a very accomplished physical scientist and theorist prior to becoming a philosopher.) So, he shied away from ascribing specific qualities to mind and reality, apart from what we *observe* through perceptual observation and introspection.

This interactive process *is* how we know the world, and the world "as we know it" - and ourselves "as we know ourselves" - really *are* built up or "constructed" from such interactions. However, it's not that either reality or our mental faculties are constructs. They are real. The *product of their interaction* - things and selves as we know them - is the form in which we are aware of those things and selves. So, it is *experience* that is the construct, the *form* of our awareness of the world.

Kant got it half right, and his Copernican Revolution really just latched onto the other side of a false dichotomy: the mind determines/constructs out of reality the world we experience vs. reality determines what our minds experience. Instead, together, they *both* determine/construct the world and the self we experience. The world and the self are the forms in which we are aware, through their interaction, of reality and the mind. (And by "mind," I mean merely a conscious living organism's brain and nervous system.)

I don't think this qualifies as "negating consciousness as such." But if the realist elements of Kant's philosophy are rejected (identity and causality), leaving just the idealist Primacy of Consciousness, "construction of reality," then sure, Kant was fundamentally mistaken. And I think that is the Orthodox Objectivist interpretation of him. So, take your pick.

REB

Fid she ever read Oakeshott?

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On 1/9/2017 at 5:21 PM, Samson Corwell said:
On 12/17/2016 at 10:49 PM, Roger Bissell said:

...

In terms of substantive philosophy, Kant was the beleaguered defender of mainstream Enlightenment values, while “Hume’s views were revolutionary, far more revolutionary than he himself realized” (Jones 1969b, 12). As Jones further clarifies, "Hume regarded reason as merely an instrument for detecting relations among ideas; reason can tell us nothing . . . about the real world. . . .There is no rationale in nature to which the rational mind of man conforms. Hume in effect was driving a wedge between reason and nature. . . . Among Hume’s contemporaries Kant was almost alone in recognizing the destructive force of this attack on reason. . . . Kant was deeply committed to the Enlightenment ideal. Hence he was deeply disturbed by Hume’s argument." (12–13) In other words, Kant was a reactionary rather than a radical - or, rather, a thinker using methodologically "radical" means to argue for "reactionary" or status quo social-cultural values.

Ironically, Kant, in trying to undo Hume’s baleful influence, stumbled into the same pitfall as the conservatives in their fight against left-liberalism and socialism. What Rand wrote about Kant was thus actually more appropriately directed at Hume, and what she said about Kant’s opponents was at least as applicable to him, since Hume won with Kant’s help. Kant conceded Hume’s basic premise, and gave away the ballgame, just as the conservatives have more recently in relation to the liberals, progressives, and socialists. ...

REB

 

What was this "pitfall"?

See the above-highlighted sentence.

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25 minutes ago, wolfdevoon said:

Thanks, George. Always give me something to set my jaw. Lemme guess. "Self-ownership" means immune from law courts, jury duty, right?

Not being immune to colds doesn't mean they'll seriously impede or kill you.

--Brant

now I know where the names Old Tappan, New Jersey and the Tappan Zee Bridge come from:)

and "we" hanged Major Andre at Tappan, New York (Rockland County)--I've visited the monument

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3 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

Not being immune to colds doesn't mean they'll seriously impede or kill you.

--Brant

now I know where the names Old Tappan, New Jersey and the Tappan Zee Bridge come from:)

and "we" hanged Major Andre at Tappan, New York (Rockland County)--I've visited the monument

The wrong man was hanged.  It should have been Benedict Arnold and Peggy Shippen too, for good measure.

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