The limitations of reason?


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consider this..

we know which we know in the context of which we know it.. and that is what gives rise to the limitations of reason.. if there are 5 objects in a room, and one only knows of three.. he may come up with the perfect philosophical theory to jump on all 3, not realizing that there are actually 5 possibilities to jump on.. or that one of the 5 may even be in the way of one of the 3..

In the same way the ancient Spaniards had the perfect route planned out rationally to get from Spain to India.. and landed in America...

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You're right.

Reason, in the Objectivist sense (i.e. empirical reason), is contextual. One's experiences are experiences of something specific. Thus, one's concepts and abstractions are always open-ended; you have to be ready to accept new knowledge.

I don't think this disproves Rand or Objectivism or reason or anything. It just means that human understanding is a work in progress. Reason is a process, not a final result.

Does any other process manage to produce results better than reason? The answer is no.

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Limits of reason. Start with a definition from the Ayn Rand Lexicon.

Reason is the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses.

From this definition, one limit of reason is the limits of man's senses.

But what we can't know by reason, we can't know period.

Reason is man’s only means of grasping reality and of acquiring knowledge—

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actually i would personally argue that..

that which we cannot know by reason, we cannot know by reason.. and reasonably.. that is the only thing we can truly assert from that

that which we can know by "feel".. we can know by "feel" etc... and this "knowledge" is not a concrete knowledge .. but rather an abstract knowledge of probability sort of thing.. and reason.. has no "solid proof" against this concept.. other than a subjective attempt to demonize it as "mysticism"

does anyone else find it curious that there seems to be a praising of the left brain, and a demonization of the right brain going on?

If the right wasnt as much a part of life as the left.. we wouldnt have it

left-brain-vs-right-brain-25745-1298568348-10.jpg

Sometimes objectivism if taken in its whole.. looks far too much like the left side

everything comprised of simply computeristic rational structures

the left brain is in essense what is "good".. the right brain in essense what is "evil"'

I am not arguing about all of Rands theories as a whole.. what I am arguing against is the idea that her framework and underlying base theories of objectivism is this "end all be all theory of everything.. and thats it.. case closed the whole world can be explained through basic Newtonian logic" type of deal..

I was just reading this article by Nathanael Brandon.. and it struck me how similiar it was to the very questions I was asking.. about emotions being just "value judgements of facts" and all that:

Among the many unfortunate consequences of believing that we are the product only of our premises and that our premises are chiefly the product of the thinking we have done or failed to do is a powerful inclination, on the one hand, to regard as immoral anyone who arrives at conclusions different from our own, and, on the other hand, an inclination to believe that people who voice the same beliefs as we do are people with whom we naturally have a lot in common. I remember, at Nathaniel Branden Institute, seeing people marry on the grounds of believing that a shared enthusiasm for objectivism was enough to make them compatible; I also remember the unhappiness that followed. Professing the same philosophical convictions is hardly enough to guarantee the success of a marriage and not even enough to guarantee the success of a friendship: Many other psychological factors are necessary.

as well as this

Notice further -- and this is especially true of Atlas Shrugged -- how rarely you find the heroes and heroine talking to each other on a simple, human level without launching into philosophical sermons, so that personal experience always ends up being subordinated to philosophical abstractions. You can find this tendency even in the love scene between Galt and Dagny in the underground tunnels of Taggart Transcontinental, where we are given a brief moment of the intimately personal between them, and then, almost immediately after sexual intimacy, Galt is talking like a philosopher again. I have reason to believe that Galt has a great many imitators around the country and it's driving spouses and partners crazy!

kind of relates to my very concerns

and this

She used to say to me, "I don't know anything about psychology, Nathaniel." I wish I had taken her more seriously. She was right; she knew next to nothing about psychology. What neither of us understood, however, was how disastrous an omission that is in a philosopher in general and a moralist in particular.

my point is.. how can one rationalize about things like the inner workings of the human mind, art, human relations, etc.. through simple reason of mind.. it is an improper use of reason similar to the example in my first post.. only instead of there being 3 knowns and 2 unknowns.. it is more like 3 knowns and an unlimited potential number of unknowns..

the result can seem totally rational.. although not neccesarily even work in the real world..

I like what Nietzche said.. the purpose of rationality, is not to find some "Truth".. or some "magic answers" but to simply find "what works"

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consider this..

we know which we know in the context of which we know it.. and that is what gives rise to the limitations of reason.. if there are 5 objects in a room, and one only knows of three.. he may come up with the perfect philosophical theory to jump on all 3, not realizing that there are actually 5 possibilities to jump on.. or that one of the 5 may even be in the way of one of the 3..

In the same way the ancient Spaniards had the perfect route planned out rationally to get from Spain to India.. and landed in America...

But without "reason" they would never gotten on their boats which in turn would never have existed, etc. We can tell the same story about the discovery of antibiotics.

--Brant

use reason to deny reason; is that the reason or simply the consequence?

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Thats exactly what im saying..

They were able to use reason to build boats because they facatually understood all the paramaters of boat building.. they were right there in front of them.. there were no unknowns..

If one knows 5 objects.. and there are only in fact 5 objects.. one can construct a reasoned explanation for how to maneuver them..

and thats why they were able to use reason to build their boats, but not reach America

If I like two girls and I have the choice between either one.. and I know for sure I like girl A better than girl B.. I can use reason to assume that i should rather pick girl A than girl B...

But to attempt to use reason to understand the psychological processes in my mind behind that.. would be over stepping the bounds of reason.. unless I know ALL the factors of the inner workings of my mind..

It becomes entirely possible in that case that I could come up with a theory which is "perfectly logical" in theory.. just like the path from Spain to America.. however.. not play out in the real world at all..

or as Nathanael Brandon says:

I have already mentioned that there is one great missing element in the objectivist system, namely, a theory of psychology, or, more precisely, an understanding of psychology. Rand held the view that human beings can be understood exclusively in terms of their premises, that is, in terms of their basic philosophical beliefs, along with their free will choices. This view is grossly inadequate to the complexity of the actual facts. It is, further, a view that flies totally in the face of so much that we know today about how the mind operates.

Many factors contribute to who we become as human beings: our genes, our maturation, our unique biological potentials and limitations, our life experiences and the conclusions we draw from them, the knowledge and information available to us, and, of course, our premises or philosophical beliefs, and the thinking we choose to do or not to do. And even this list is an oversimplification. The truth, is we are far from understanding everything that goes into shaping the persons we become, and it is arrogant and stupid to imagine that we do.

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That's Nathaniel Branden.

If you stagger around on a deserted island and by happenstance find a cave full of pirate loot, please don't use the happy event--if it be one--to denigrate reason. There are acts of creation and acts of discovery. If you wish to discuss such do so, but the more reason is denied the more it is affirmed.

--Brant

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Interesting.

If a person believes that objectivity consists of experiencing only 'justifiable' emotion, the person ends up by corrupting the ability to be objective. It happens when one feels uncomfortable simply experiencing an emotion and perhaps expressing it. Ignoring the feeling, the person sets out to 'prove' that the object of the emotional response is 'immoral' or 'wonderful' or vile' or 'brilliant' or whatever. Now, sometimes it happens that the qualities that he or she projects are justifiable, but that is not the point. The point is that the person is incapable of knowing. [Honoring the Self: Self-Esteem and Personal Transformation; Bantam Books; Pocket Edition; Published September 1985; ISBN 0-553-26814-7; pg. 176

I am in the process of reading this and I just read the above section while I was in town. Seems applicable here.

Adam

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What happened to "emotions are not tools of cognition"?

I think Alex Jones ate them all.

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I just read this quote on another website.. I would agree with it

The best one-line critique of Objectivism I ever heard was leveled by a friend of mine, who said, "Ayn Rand was the ultimate spokesman for the left hemisphere of the brain." The left hemisphere is conventionally associated with methodical reasoning skills, which are obviously a crucial part of what it means to be human. But there is also the vast spectrum of thought processes linked to the right cerebral hemisphere - the ability to think in terms of nonverbal associations, symbols, metaphors, images, poetry, myth, music, shapes, and holistic patterns, and to generate intuitive insights that cannot be reduced to linear reasoning. There is the mysterious realm of emotions and personal interactions, the unconditional love of a parent for a child, the willingness to sacrifice for a cause greater than oneself. Little of this finds its way into the sterile, airless terrain of Rand's philosophy

As far as objectivists left.. at first I thought the same thing...

Then from what I came to realize is

Ayn Rand is another person.. with many good ideologies.. and many bad ones..

that PURE objectivism.. is a joke.. nothing more than her personal immature dogma.. what is even dogmatic in itself is for someone to make a philosophy up in their heads and then title it "objectivism" as if it presents the one and only true reality and anyone who argues with it is un-objective

To think Ayn Rand is god and to clammor to every word she says as "objective reality" is quite silly

Im all for using rationality to balance self interest- and through that process creating a personal code of ethics and rules to live by to accomplish ones goals, Im all for capitalism and free markets... Im all for ones ability, without feeling "duty" or guilt to others to live for oneself..

But when taken too far into the whole epistimology, metaphysics, and a global explanation of the entire world that exists in Rands head.. it does seem rather silly

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This is so far off the mark as to be hallucinatory. She was also a great artist. Check out her novels if you think she didn't know about emotion and imagery.

Philosophy is by its nature an arcane academic discipline. If it isn't difficult it isn't interesting as philosophy.

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Ah...youth...the ability to espouse their concept of absolute truth, at the top of their virgin lungs, without any sense of style, consideration for the other person's feelings and where the person that they are rudely castigating walked, suffered and had the courage to emerge battered and unbowed.

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Ayn Rand directly stated that emotions, and all processes which are not directly rational to not be tools of cognition..

That does not mean I believe that she did not feel them.. Also being a writer, is a far more left brain process of a description of reality, then lets say being a musician.. which she was not..

As a musician . her concept of all emotions being value judgments relative to what is beneficial to ones survival or not.. really makes very little to no sense... as I cannot figure out how boop boop boop is more beneficial to my survival as wop wop, , yet I still pick one over the other, using emotions as tools of cognition..

Again.. the whole concept of reducing all of reality to left brain reason seems rather silly..

I think Ayn Rands explanation of the entire world.. is simply a rather primitive and underdeveloped under evidenced version of modern science.. since modern science is the very definition of PURE objective reason.. and even it has not claimed to "definitively objectively" figure out all the things that Ayn Rand has as such solely in her own mind

Perhaps the idea that I find the most silly, is the idea that we can explain away all human action using basic Newtonian reasoning..

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Pope:

If you grew up and witnessed a Communist revolution wherein plagues were rampant, people you knew, and possibly loved, vanished and were never heard from again...do you think that you might be able to cut her some slack in the comfort of your California bedroom?

Just an inquiry, not a personal attack.

Adam

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I definitely understand what you are saying..

And I do cut her slack...

I believe her theories on capitalism were great.. theories on rational self interest, etc..

I guess what bothered me was her dogmatic "reasonings" of psychology and attempts to explain away the entire world inside her mind, tell everyone who didnt use "pure rationality" to govern their lives that they were wrong.. and that everyone who didnt agree with her was wrong..

LOL

But.. yea.. everyone is human.. sometimes it seems like this is the very thing that PURE objectivism often struggles with admitting ;)

I can definitely see where she is coming from.. as a "reactionary" message to where she came from.. the same reason I was initially drawn to her writings, as a reactionary message to where I came from..

I guess if she proposed her own personal philosophy under the premises that this was not only good for the individual, but also a balance with what was good for the masses, and is the opposite of communism which clearly "works" for neither.. I would go wholeheartedly with that..

Attempting to take it into the realm of epistimology, metaphysics, etc.. and the realms of "explaining the universe and all of human nature" was I believe.. overstepping her boundaries..

Her strongest point was interpersonal economics

In fact.. I totally see where she was coming from when she developed her theory that "you cant think with emotions!" I often bitch about the same thing.. when it comes to discussing politics, policy, etc.. people start bringing up things like "well my uncle was part of that! and what do you think he doesnt deserve equality!" or "you are selfish and that is not fair to everyone!".. etc.. and it makes me want to smack them upside the head..

I guess where I draw the distinction is..

Emotions are where personal value judgements come from

Rationality is the means and argument of deciding which is the best way to actualize those personal value judgements

So one simply cannot argue for or against anothers personal value judgements, and they are not rational at all in many ways

The realm of political argument resides in rationality, that is.. lets all agree on what value judgement, what ultimate purpose we are trying to get to.. and then rationally decide what is the best way to get there

Therefore rational argument has no place for emotions

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Adam, Adam...

If a young man grows up in a Jewish ghetto, surrounding which is anti-Semitism so pervasive it is as much a fact of life as the Bolshevism of Rand's perilous girlhood... and he is forced into a life of religious study, against which his individualism rebels in his early teens, and he manages to break free,,,,

Do you "cut him slack" on the shortcomings of works he later writes, the product of his own introspections and struggles. if you find you do not agree with his ideas?

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Lol Selene.. now that you said that.. I am beggining to think about it and feel some sympathy for Rand...

She was just a woman who thought in a clear rational way, and she was seeing all the irrational bullshit going on around her and all the destruction it was bringing..

She just wanted to escape and bring some goodness and sense back into reality..

Although she did overstep her boundaries in my view..

And thats what probably causes such a harsh reaction of me bashing the shit out of SOME of her philosophies.. since I guess it is a reactionary thing for the feeling that she almost tries to get inside someones head and tells them how exactly to think properly, or how not to, and if you agree with her you are good and smart, and if you dont you are evil and stupid and your life will fail.

Although at the same time I can totally see where she was coming from with all of that..

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Lol Selene.. now that you said that.. I am beggining to think about it and feel some sympathy for Rand...

She was just a woman who thought in a clear rational way, and she was seeing all the irrational bullshit going on around her and all the destruction it was bringing..

She just wanted to escape and bring some goodness and sense back into reality..

Although she did overstep her boundaries in my view..

And thats what probably causes such a harsh reaction of me bashing the shit out of SOME of her philosophies.. since I guess it is a reactionary thing for the feeling that she almost tries to get inside someones head and tells them how exactly to think properly, or how not to, and if you agree with her you are good and smart, and if you dont you are evil and stupid and your life will fail.

Although at the same time I can totally see where she was coming from with all of that..

I understand this. The Rand-worship you noted in a previous post, arose because Rand the novelist was wedded to Rand the philosopher; she unwisely said that her fictional heroes exist in real life and that she knew one. Worse, she allowed her followers to believe that everything she did in her life was a reflection of her philosophy and could be justified by it/ She put an intolerable burden on herself in this way.

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One of the things I think Rand messed up in was the whole view of the purpose of argument..

Argument ultimately begins with personal value judgements.. and people have to share the same personal value judgments in order for that argument to even make sense.. such as.. they have to be arguing about the same thing..

Preferences such as, whether to turn something into a circle or a square, whether one wants to live for oneself or for others, whether to make a doughnut.. or a piece of cake.. are entirely subjective value judgments, not exactly entirely backed by "objective reason" per se..

it is the METHODS OF GETTING THERE.. which are objective and rational..

If two people decide it is best to make a doughnut.. they can rationally argue about how to best make that doughnut, and emotions do not belong in such an argument or form of cognition..

If one person wants to make a doughnut, and the other a piece of cake.. there is NO WAY people can "use rational reasoning" to argue that situation..

That is what i think Ayn Rand ultimately missed.. and what Nietzche understood about philosophy..

That things are ultimately subjective.. AND objective.. not one nor the other..

as he says something along the lines of.. when studying any philosophers argument.. you first have to ask yourself what moral premises are they pushing for..

or in other words what is their value judgement.. do they want cake, ice cream, doughnuts, or pudding..'

Neither being reasonably "right" nor "wrong" neither objectively "good" nor "evil"

As I have stated previously.. evil is simply everything which goes against your personal subjective value judgements.. and good is everything that goes for them..

In the christian inquisition, the heretics burned were "evil".. the christians doing it were "good".. Im sure from many of our perspectives and personal value judgments.. the christians doing the burning were "evil" and the heretics were "good"

That is the ultimately scary thing about morality, and all forms of good and evil, is that it does not objectively exist..

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Lol Selene.. now that you said that.. I am beggining to think about it and feel some sympathy for Rand...

She was just a woman who thought in a clear rational way, and she was seeing all the irrational bullshit going on around her and all the destruction it was bringing..

She just wanted to escape and bring some goodness and sense back into reality..

Although she did overstep her boundaries in my view..

And thats what probably causes such a harsh reaction of me bashing the shit out of SOME of her philosophies.. since I guess it is a reactionary thing for the feeling that she almost tries to get inside someones head and tells them how exactly to think properly, or how not to, and if you agree with her you are good and smart, and if you dont you are evil and stupid and your life will fail.

Although at the same time I can totally see where she was coming from with all of that..

I understand this. The Rand-worship you noted in a previous post, arose because Rand the novelist was wedded to Rand the philosopher; she unwisely said that her fictional heroes exist in real life and that she knew one. Worse, she allowed her followers to believe that everything she did in her life was a reflection of her philosophy and could be justified by it/ She put an intolerable burden on herself in this way.

Hah this is funny.. because I have heard several things.. such as .. Rand had a love interest with some man, who then broke up with her to have sex with younger women.. and the "irrational, emotional" sparks were flying..

Also I heard she objectively knew that cigarette smoking did not cause cancer.. until she got lung cancer..

Also from what I understand she lived off medicare and welfare for her later years..

This is not to bash the shit out of her like some terrible person.. but simply.. to bring her down to earth.. the difference between pride and arrogance.. is that one is based in reality, while the other in fantasyland..

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Pope:

Excellent.

When I started teaching at a NY City University when I was twenty (20), I was astounded to hear the bitching and moaning of my eighteen (18) and nineteen (19) year old students concerning their parents, their church and their existence.

It was a transformative part of my life. I was armed with a strong philosophy of reason that relied on ethics, a moral center and freedom. Yet, I was their contemporary. So, I decided to ask simple Socratic questions.

I clearly remember asking one of my students who was my age whether his parents, who he was railing about, had parents also. He stopped, obviously, and said, arrogantly, of course, that they did.

I then inquired as to whether they may have fucked them up? Yes, I used that exact language. He thought about it for quite awhile and contritely said, I never thought about that. He became one of my finest students and went on to be an excellent scientist. Sometimes you have to stop blaming your parents and move on.

Adam

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To some extent, we are all a reactionary product of our environments

meanwhile..

logically objectivize this

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Az_7U0-cK0

I agree with Niezche.. that pure rationality, not in line with passions and instincts is simply WEAK rationality.. it is a symptom of people who are weak minded..

as he said

`Reason' is the cause of our falsification of the evidence of the senses"

he speaks of this form of "weak reason" which is not in line with the passions..

Humans do not desire truth at all, but "the pleasant, life-preserving consequences of truth"

In other words from my perspective . it comes from an inner weakness and FEAR.. because ultimately what we fear.. is the fear of the unknown.. so the greatest fear of all.. is that our lives may be run by forces which are not ultimately known, not ultimately controllable or quantifiable, and not totally within our control..

By contrast, however, cognition is usually in the service of need and aims for the self-preservation of life. The weak type of life which is underlying this constellationmust, by so being, aim for self-preservation. It is here that standard reason has its place. It is completely fixed on the advantages for life
"The whole apparatus of knowledge is an apparatus for abstraction and simplification - directed not to knowledge, but toobtaining power over things"

more info in this paper: http://www2.uni-jena.de/welsch/Papers/nietzscheReas.html

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