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Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology Test (Introduction, Chapters 1-8, Summary)

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This test has been designed to assess your comprehension of Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology (ITOE) [Expanded Second Edition, April 1990]. Questions have been formed from the Introduction, Chapters 1-8, and the Summary. It is not intended to be an open book test. There are 100 questions – each is worth 1 point. This test can be taken by students before and after reading ITOE (as a pre and/or post-test). Only reading Ayn Rand’s fictional work will not be sufficient preparation to excel on this test. This assessment can help students of Objectivism and study-group organizers determine the ideal study materials and is not intended to evaluate one’s agreement with Objectivism.

Test Score Range:
0-60: Minimal understanding (Low) – Basic study needed
61-69: Moderate understanding (Low-Mid) – Basic study needed
70-80: Good understanding (Intermediate) – Basic study review needed
81-90: Competent (High-Mid) – Proceed to more technical studies
91-100: Advanced (High) - Proceed to more technical studies

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Do it, you guys. I went in without a lick of thought and got 72. Now I know that mere exposure to Randianocity allows seepage into the mind over the years. Carol, we are doomed to The Knowledge.

70-80: Good understanding (Intermediate) – Basic study review needed

Basic study review. This is how it starts, the end.

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Do it, you guys. I went in without a lick of thought and got 72. Now I know that mere exposure to Randianocity allows seepage into the mind over the years. Carol, we are doomed to The Knowledge.

70-80: Good understanding (Intermediate) – Basic study review needed

Basic study review. This is how it starts, the end.

You are a better man than I am Gunga din, I din't. I already know more than is good for me.

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but of course I did.

GOOD, GRIEF.

I have never read IOTE, but I did not fail this test miserably . It was really fun and thought provoking to take. I did not know I had remembered so much basic Rand.

Randall, thank you for your work on this.

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And henceforth I shall fear no man in rational battle, glittering though he may be in Randian armour,who hath not taken this test and not failed miserably , triple negatives withal notwithstanding.

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OK, dear Carol - now you've osmotically gleaned enough insight, let's hear some counter-

arguments to the Objectivist theory of knowledge. It's too easy to dismiss flippantly, not so easy to contradict honestly, I think you'll find.

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Scored 77%.

I actually read the book through two or three times and have referred to it several times over the years when designing training modules. However, this is very technical and Rand was somewhat peculiar about what she thought about what she thought. I mean, without actually testing other people, you only know what is inside your own mind -- and Ayn Rand was not truly an introspective person. If she was, then she and I are markedly different inside our heads. So, much of ITOE just did not stick with me. But I captured my results to a Word document and I will go back over ITOE with this as a guide.

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OK, dear Carol - now you've osmotically gleaned enough insight, let's hear some counter- arguments to the Objectivist theory of knowledge. It's too easy to dismiss flippantly, not so easy to contradict honestly, I think you'll find.

You've got me. I'm sure I could not counter-argue honestly, and as I've mentioned, I don't know how to cut and paste.

All men are bigger than their philosophies. Women are smaller.

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I spent a couple of hours going over the answers and reading the book. I used a paperback edition with Peikoff's "Analytic Synthetic Dichotomy" appended. I have a few questions about the test and about Rand's theories.

I understand that selection is necessary. Rand said much about concepts. However, I note that her definition is in italics. "A concept is a mental integration of two or more units possessing the same distinguishing characteristic(s) with their particular measurments omitted." The test does ask about this in a way, but not directly. Also, Peikoff quotes this in his essay, which validates its centrality.

The test also skipped the discussion of methods.

Regarding Rand's theories considering that concepts are formed by the omission of measurement, it seems contradictory to claim that concept-formation is in large part mathematical. Moreover, Rand does not go into detail on that point to validate or prove it.

Page 7 in the harcover and Page 8 ppb cites a redundant definition. (I do not want to discuss the test in detail, but this is on the order of "A bird is an animal that is a bird and is warm-blooded." So, I find that incompletely discussed at the very least, a perhaps erroneous in the specific claim of what conceptual cognition is.

I am not sure that mathematicians would agree that mathematics is the science of measurement, any more than physics is the study of bodies in motion. Measurement is at the historical root of mathematics, perhaps, but many fields (such as fields, perhaps) are highly abstract and therefore beyond measurement. Topology certainly is an example of that.

As Rand goes back and forth between her imaginary chlld learner and the specific hierarchy of formal knowledge, her example of "father" and "man" was poorly chosen. Other concepts would have worked as well.

I am not sure that an infant's world is one of undifferentiated chaos. In fact, I believe that we perceive sound in the womb, and begin learning language before we are born. Thus, we are not born tabula rasa. Other examples may come from others with different knowledge.

All in all, I really appreciated the oppotunity to take the test. My questions being as they are, nonetheless, I have no complaints.

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Regarding Rand's theories considering that concepts are formed by the omission of measurement, it seems contradictory to claim that concept-formation is in large part mathematical.

I am not sure that mathematicians would agree that mathematics is the science of measurement, any more than physics is the study of bodies in motion. Measurement is at the historical root of mathematics, perhaps, but many fields (such as fields, perhaps) are highly abstract and therefore beyond measurement. Topology certainly is an example of that. I am not sure that an infant's world is one of undifferentiated chaos. In fact, I believe that we perceive sound in the womb, and begin learning language before we are born. Thus, we are not born tabula rasa. Other examples may come from others with different knowledge.

Why contradictory? Measurement omission as part of the process does not require that measurements be in the end product. I offer an analogy. In some places the use of scaffolding is part of the process of constructing a building, but not part of the end product, the building.

I agree on the second point.

Many who study infant cognition agree that an infant's world isn't an undifferentiated chaos.

You are right about sound, but that doesn't wholly invalidate tabula rasa. "Tabula rasa is the epistemological theory that individuals are born without built-in mental content and that their knowledge comes from experience and perception" (link). Hearing sounds while in the womb is still experience and perception. What you invoke here is faculty or capacity, not content. Tabula rasa figuratively means blank slate, not no slate.

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I took the test and scored 91. (I have read ITOE extensively.) Seeing what I got wrong, I thought "duh." I may have done better if I had taken more time. It was a very long test considering the reward, which I told Randall.

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OK, dear Carol - now you've osmotically gleaned enough insight, let's hear some counter- arguments to the Objectivist theory of knowledge. It's too easy to dismiss flippantly, not so easy to contradict honestly, I think you'll find.

You've got me. I'm sure I could not counter-argue honestly, and as I've mentioned, I don't know how to cut and paste.

All men are bigger than their philosophies. Women are smaller.

Rest assured: many of those of us who're self-trained, non-academic philosophers

will admit to battling with ITOE through many reads. Not aided by Rand's odd terseness of style and concentrated content in it. But understanding the O'ist theory of knowledge does impinge crucially on the rest - the ethics, which leads on to capitalism - and are gripes of yours, I believe.

"Got you"?? Nuh- uh, I doubt that very much. I'd have to get up very early...

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OK, dear Carol - now you've osmotically gleaned enough insight, let's hear some counter- arguments to the Objectivist theory of knowledge. It's too easy to dismiss flippantly, not so easy to contradict honestly, I think you'll find.

You've got me. I'm sure I could not counter-argue honestly, and as I've mentioned, I don't know how to cut and paste.

All men are bigger than their philosophies. Women are smaller.

Rest assured: many of those of us who're self-trained, non-academic philosophers

will admit to battling with ITOE through many reads. Not aided by Rand's odd terseness of style and concentrated content in it. But understanding the O'ist theory of knowledge does impinge crucially on the rest - the ethics, which leads on to capitalism - and are gripes of yours, I believe.

"Got you"?? Nuh- uh, I doubt that very much. I'd have to get up very early...

In my o, Rand's terseness of style and concentration of content were because of her instincts and training purely as a writer, to say the most in the fewest words, and also because of her irritation or unwillingness at having to explain herself at length. She ultimately left that to Peikoff.

She defined or redefined words, making her definitions essential to understanding her philosophy, so students of Objectivism in a way have to learn a second language, I understand the difficulties of that.

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Merlin, thanks.

On other points, I happen to have three books on Proto-Indo European. This is relevant here because in ITOE, Rand asserts a hypothetical infant and a hypothetical child. What I remember of my own experiences were not at all hers. More deeply, our languages are theoretically reconstructed only to about 8000 BCE at best and mostly from about 5000 BCE forward. Rand knew Russian and French (and some German) before learning English. However, ITOE displayed no special knowledge of that. While all are IndoEuropean, Russian is in the "shatam" family and possesses older forms not found in the other three, such as the "singular-dual-plural" for nouns, and strong inflection, i.e., noun cases: nominative, accusative, dative, genitive, instrumental, prepositional. But case itself was an invention as our language evolved from pre-Indo European to proto-IE. Whether something is masculine or feminine or neuter depends on whether it was considered animate or inanimate -- and their definitions then might not be ours today.

The historical development of language provides clear, concrete, scientific evidence about epistemology. For one thing, it seems that verbs are older than nouns.

(Next day edit follows)

So, what is the epistemological consequence of nouns developing from verbs? Is it generally true that we perceive actions, first, and then with wider understanding come to perceive actors? Is that a generalizable claim? According to Objectivist metaphysics, actions cannot exist without actors - and I agree, of course - but it seems that we perceived the actions first, identified them with names.

It is also true that pronouns developed later than nouns. This makes sense as a pronoun is a wider abstraction.

Rand made a point about crows counting only a limited number in their memories, but humans having the ability to count to ten and beyond. However, the Singular-Dual-Plural (1-2-Many) of her native Russian echoes the facts from Sumeria and all over really that 1-2-Many was the human way until about 3000 BCE. That is relatively recent. The words for 4,5,6,7, ... were invented relatively late. In many non-Semitic languages, the root for seven is still the Semitic "sabbath." In Indo-European the word for 5 was derived (logically enough) from "hand" (penta - panj: Punjab="5 Rivers" - punch (ouch!)), but not until relatively late.

This is another case of the epistemology of languages of how we made up new words by splitting off shades of meaning. It is one way; others are by analogy and contrast. The word for BEAR is "ursus" which is likt the RS in horse. Big animal. But you do not want to chase down a bear and hop on, so stay away from cross old Bruno (Mister Brown).To avoid problems like that. we call the thing by an appellation, a nickname or soubriquet, lest we "speak of the devil and he will come."

In the oldest form of our common language, Pre-Indo-European, nouns and verbs were active or stative. As Pre-IE evolved into Proto-IE, gender was attached to nouns, with active nouns being masculine or femine and stative nouns being neuter. In old IE languages like Sanskrit and Latin, hand and foot are masculine, while heart and liver (internal organs) are neuter.

Natural events are described in the third person neuter: it rains; it thunders; it lightenings.

Psychological states are described in third person neuter: Latin "pudet" (it embarrasses me) and German "Es tut mir Leid" It does me sorrow for "I'm sorry."

This reflect a centripetal/centrifugal dichtomy in which "my hand" in inalienable, but "my shirt" can be given away: different grammatical forms for "my" attach to the hand versus the shirt. We see this also in verbs that were once the same word, then acquired dichotomous meanings: I am sad (centripetal) versus I weep (for someone, centrifugal). The crying was the root word and then endings were attached to show the differences in intention, then later, some dialects kept one word or the other, but used prepositions and cases to show the directions of the intentions.

So, is the epistemology of the Germans different from that of the Romans or Hittites?

English is wonderful for its huge vocabulary, but our simplistic grammar allows confusions that "primitive" people never would have allowed. Again, this is only since the last 8000 years. These people are us: they worked metals and traveled in wheeled vehicles. The Hittite word for water was watta. So, in Rand's ITOE when she attempted to generalize about concepts and abstractions and grammatical elements, she may only have contructed a rationalist edifice for which empirical evidence from historical linguistics may exist... or may not...

Finally, this an interest area, for me, obviously, but I claim no special knowledge. The real expert here was Ted Keer... but he was banned..

(A postscript:

Lest we generalize wrongly, I want to add that so-called primitive languages tend to have more complicated grammars than so-called civilized languages. Cities bring people together. When this happens, the vocabulary explodes, but the grammar collapses. We use more and newer words to express what had been simple and direct. That is also an old and deep observation about city slickers versus rubes (rubino: red; farmers are sunburned).

Russian has 6 Nominative, Gentive, Dative, Accusative, Instrumental, Prepositional

Latin has 7: Nominatve, Genitive, Dative, Accusative, Ablative, Locative, Vocative

Gothic had 6 cases: Nominative, Genitive, Dative, Accusative, Vocative, Instrumental

German has 4 cases: Nominative, Genitive, Dative, and Accusative.

English has 3 cases: Nominative, Genitive, Objective

Hungarian has over a dozen (14, I think): all of those above, plus, inessive, adessive, regressive, progressive, superessive allative, sublitive... In Hungarian you always know where something is going: in, out, up, down, away, toward... A Communist Party song was titled "A Partek! A Nepek!" Nep is a people plural as singular. The song title means not just "The Party! the People!" but "(Forward) the Party! (Forward) the People!" Now as much as I like my maternal ancestors, these were barbarians who came to Europe only 1000 years ago, and borrowed the words for house, cap, breakfast, and whore. You gotta wonder what life was like on the steppes. Just to say, primitive people have complicated grammars.

... and what is the epistemological consequence of that?

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I scored a 95, so I guess I get to proceed on to more technical issues. (Which is kind of like being told you're legally married after living with someone for 40 years and having kids and grandkids. :-)

I made some dumb mistakes, but I agree with Michael that the man-father example was a little dubious. I thought that ~all~ broader concepts included more knowledge than the narrower concepts subsumed by them. If that's so, then Rand was mistaken when she said (p. 27) the concept of "father" requires more knowledge than the concept of "man." Rand says on p. 23 that a wider concept "includes all the characteristics of its constituent units." The concept of "man" includes all the units of "father," plus a big bunch more, so "man" would seem to include more knowledge than "father" (not the other way around). No?

I guess my 95 score entitles me to bloviate and nit-pick a bit. :-) But really, I'm more interested in cranking out some Rand-based proposition theory and clarifying her chapter on axiomatic concepts.

REB

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Merlin, thanks.

On other points, I happen to have three books on Proto-Indo European. This is relevant here because in ITOE, Rand asserts a hypothetical infant and a hypothetical child. What I remember of my own experiences were not at all hers. More deeply, our languages are theoretically reconstructed only to about 8000 BCE at best and mostly from about 5000 BCE forward. Rand knew Russian and French (and some German) before learning English. However, ITOE displayed no special knowledge of that. While all are IndoEuropean, Russian is in the "shatam" family and possesses older forms not found in the other three, such as the "singular-dual-plural" for nouns, and strong inflection, i.e., noun cases: nominative, accusative, dative, genitive, instrumental, prepositional. But case itself was an invention as our language evolved from pre-Indo European to proto-IE. Whether something is masculine or feminine or neuter depends on whether it was considered animate or inanimate -- and their definitions then might not be ours today.

The historical development of language provides clear, concrete, scientific evidence about epistemology. For one thing, it seems that verbs are older than nouns.

(Next day edit follows)

So, what is the epistemological consequence of nouns developing from verbs? Is it generally true that we perceive actions, first, and then with wider understanding come to perceive actors? Is that a generalizable claim? According to Objectivist metaphysics, actions cannot exist without actors - and I agree, of course - but it seems that we perceived the actions first, identified them with names.

It is also true that pronouns developed later than nouns. This makes sense as a pronoun is a wider abstraction.

Rand made a point about crows counting only a limited number in their memories, but humans having the ability to count to ten and beyond. However, the Singular-Dual-Plural (1-2-Many) of her native Russian echoes the facts from Sumeria and all over really that 1-2-Many was the human way until about 3000 BCE. That is relatively recent. The words for 4,5,6,7, ... were invented relatively late. In many non-Semitic languages, the root for seven is still the Semitic "sabbath." In Indo-European the word for 5 was derived (logically enough) from "hand" (penta - panj: Punjab="5 Rivers" - punch (ouch!)), but not until relatively late.

This is another case of the epistemology of languages of how we made up new words by splitting off shades of meaning. It is one way; others are by analogy and contrast. The word for BEAR is "ursus" which is likt the RS in horse. Big animal. But you do not want to chase down a bear and hop on, so stay away from cross old Bruno (Mister Brown).To avoid problems like that. we call the thing by an appellation, a nickname or soubriquet, lest we "speak of the devil and he will come."

In the oldest form of our common language, Pre-Indo-European, nouns and verbs were active or stative. As Pre-IE evolved into Proto-IE, gender was attached to nouns, with active nouns being masculine or femine and stative nouns being neuter. In old IE languages like Sanskrit and Latin, hand and foot are masculine, while heart and liver (internal organs) are neuter.

Natural events are described in the third person neuter: it rains; it thunders; it lightenings.

Psychological states are described in third person neuter: Latin "pudet" (it embarrasses me) and German "Es tut mir Leid" It does me sorrow for "I'm sorry."

This reflect a centripetal/centrifugal dichtomy in which "my hand" in inalienable, but "my shirt" can be given away: different grammatical forms for "my" attach to the hand versus the shirt. We see this also in verbs that were once the same word, then acquired dichotomous meanings: I am sad (centripetal) versus I weep (for someone, centrifugal). The crying was the root word and then endings were attached to show the differences in intention, then later, some dialects kept one word or the other, but used prepositions and cases to show the directions of the intentions.

So, is the epistemology of the Germans different from that of the Romans or Hittites?

English is wonderful for its huge vocabulary, but our simplistic grammar allows confusions that "primitive" people never would have allowed. Again, this is only since the last 8000 years. These people are us: they worked metals and traveled in wheeled vehicles. The Hittite word for water was watta. So, in Rand's ITOE when she attempted to generalize about concepts and abstractions and grammatical elements, she may only have contructed a rationalist edifice for which empirical evidence from historical linguistics may exist... or may not...

Finally, this an interest area, for me, obviously, but I claim no special knowledge. The real expert here was Ted Keer... but he was banned..

(A postscript:

Lest we generalize wrongly, I want to add that so-called primitive languages tend to have more complicated grammars than so-called civilized languages. Cities bring people together. When this happens, the vocabulary explodes, but the grammar collapses. We use more and newer words to express what had been simple and direct. That is also an old and deep observation about city slickers versus rubes (rubino: red; farmers are sunburned).

Russian has 6 Nominative, Gentive, Dative, Accusative, Instrumental, Prepositional

Latin has 7: Nominatve, Genitive, Dative, Accusative, Ablative, Locative, Vocative

Gothic had 6 cases: Nominative, Genitive, Dative, Accusative, Vocative, Instrumental

German has 4 cases: Nominative, Genitive, Dative, and Accusative.

English has 3 cases: Nominative, Genitive, Objective

Hungarian has over a dozen (14, I think): all of those above, plus, inessive, adessive, regressive, progressive, superessive allative, sublitive... In Hungarian you always know where something is going: in, out, up, down, away, toward... A Communist Party song was titled "A Partek! A Nepek!" Nep is a people plural as singular. The song title means not just "The Party! the People!" but "(Forward) the Party! (Forward) the People!" Now as much as I like my maternal ancestors, these were barbarians who came to Europe only 1000 years ago, and borrowed the words for house, cap, breakfast, and whore. You gotta wonder what life was like on the steppes. Just to say, primitive people have complicated grammars.

... and what is the epistemological consequence of that?

Igenis, we borrow all the caps and houses and breakfast and whores we want!, Hee, hee, you got way with words, I think I borrow you for my tocansano.

Attila

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I scored a 95 ... but I agree with Michael that the man-father example was a little dubious. ... I guess my 95 score entitles me to bloviate and nit-pick a bit.

My wife and I were in Target and this mom passed us and her baby pointed to me and said "Mama." We have a story about our daughter, hot food, and a sharp object, when she used a word of her own for both.

Attila -- tocansano is not a word I know. But, I have a story for that. My family is pretty typical in thinking with 80% of all Americans that we, too, are "above average." About 10 years ago, we were at my brother's for Thanksgiving, my wife, daughter and I driving in to Westchester, NY from Lansing, Michigan. We got in late, had a pre-Thx dinner, and a couple of glasses of wine, and then the Scrabble board came out. My nephew wanted to play a second game, so I did. Well, it got near the end and it was past midnight and he put down some letters and it was almost a word, but I did not challenge it. His wife looked at the board. "What's that?!... You didn't challenge him?!... You thought he knew a word you didn't?!" Well, OK, it was pretty clear that he would never know a word that she didn't. But she has her limitations, too: she stopped her doctoral research to get a second master's. -- Do you know the scene from "Three Amigos" where Jefe says, "There is a plethora of Amigos!" and El Guapo replies, "Tell, me, Jefe, what is a plethora because I would hate to think that you would use word like plethora without knowing what is a plethora."

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The concept of "man" includes all the units of "father," plus a big bunch more, so "man" would seem to include more knowledge than "father" (not the other way around). No?

Yeah, I'd think that the word "man" would refer to the male of the species, thus signifying that gender, and therefore a role in reproduction, is not just included in the concept, but is an essential characteristic of it.

J

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Roger,http://www.objectivistliving.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=12808&p=174975'>*

I think the concept man includes the concept father and the concept childless male, though only after learning those subdivisions. The concept table would not necessarily include the object that is an end table at first; that could be added later to the already included objects that are the dinner table and the card table.

(Forget not, I hope, the guys at http://rebirthofreason.com/Forum/ArticleDiscussions/1639.shtml#5'>’91 and http://www.objectivistliving.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=7324&p=74671'>’96. Then too, the guy at http://www.objectivity-archive.com/volume1_number4.html#31'>’92 [§II].)

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Attila -- tocansano is not a word I know. But, I have a story for that. My family is pretty typical in thinking with 80% of all Americans that we, too, are "above average." About 10 years ago, we were at my brother's for Thanksgiving, my wife, daughter and I driving in to Westchester, NY from Lansing, Michigan. We got in late, had a pre-Thx dinner, and a couple of glasses of wine, and then the Scrabble board came out. My nephew wanted to play a second game, so I did. Well, it got near the end and it was past midnight and he put down some letters and it was almost a word, but I did not challenge it. His wife looked at the board. "What's that?!... You didn't challenge him?!... You thought he knew a word you didn't?!" Well, OK, it was pretty clear that he would never know a word that she didn't. But she has her limitations, too: she stopped her doctoral research to get a second master's. -- Do you know the scene from "Three Amigos" where Jefe says, "There is a plethora of Amigos!" and El Guapo replies, "Tell, me, Jefe, what is a plethora because I would hate to think that you would use word like plethora without knowing what is a plethora."

OK, you got the job. Hee, hee! You good storyteller too.

Correct answer to this is, "I am honoured, my Kagan . I shall mount this fine mare behind Bela and ride forth to serve you with my life. This is very fine kumiss you serve in your yurt."

Now I can get rid of treacherous scribe Karoly. Hee, hee!

Attila

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I thought that ~all~ broader concepts included more knowledge than the narrower concepts subsumed by them. If that's so, then Rand was mistaken when she said (p. 27) the concept of "father" requires more knowledge than the concept of "man." Rand says on p. 23 that a wider concept "includes all the characteristics of its constituent units." The concept of "man" includes all the units of "father," plus a big bunch more, so "man" would seem to include more knowledge than "father" (not the other way around).

Your paraphrase from page 27 omits the extensive/intensive distinction.

Just as wider integrations of concepts require a more extensive knowledge, so narrower subdivisions of concepts require a more intensive knowledge. For instance, the concept "father" requires more knowledge than the concept "man"—since it requires knowledge of man, of the act of reproduction, and of the consequent relationship.

Father has all the characteristics of the concept man, plus having children. So in that sense father requires more knowledge -- of that specific additional characteristic.

When concepts are integrated into a wider one, the new concept includes all the characteristics of its constituent units; but their distinguishing characteristics are regarded as omitted measurements, and one of their common characteristics determines the distinguishing characteristic of the new concept: the one representing their "Conceptual Common Denominator" with the existents from which they are being differentiated (22).

This is the one that strikes me as problematic. A bit before she used furniture as an example. Saying that furniture includes all the characteristics of table, since another constituent unit, e.g. chair or cabinet, has characteristics that table does not is a problem.

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