Is a fundamental the same thing as essence?


Recommended Posts

Not synonyms - yes, "something wider". The existent is conceptual, an entity a "thing". A "metaphysical essence" is puzzling to me, Michael.

 

Existent

The building-block of man’s knowledge is the concept of an “existent”—of something that exists, be it a thing, an attribute or an action. Since it is a concept, man cannot grasp it explicitly until he has reached the conceptual stage. But it is implicit in every percept (to perceive a thing is to perceive that it exists) and man grasps it implicitly on the perceptual level—i.e., he grasps the constituents of the concept “existent,” the data which are later to be integrated by that concept. It is this implicit knowledge that permits his consciousness to develop further.

(It may be supposed that the concept “existent” is implicit even on the level of sensations—if and to the extent that a consciousness is able to discriminate on that level. A sensation is a sensation of something, as distinguished from the nothing of the preceding and succeeding moments. A sensation does not tell man what exists, but onlythat it exists.)

The (implicit) concept “existent” undergoes three stages of development in man’s mind. The first stage is a child’s awareness of objects, of things—which represents the (implicit) concept “entity.” The second and closely allied stage is the awareness of specific, particular things which he can recognize and distinguish from the rest of his perceptual field—which represents the (implicit) concept “identity.”

The third stage consists of grasping relationships among these entities by grasping the similarities and differences of their identities. This requires the transformation of the (implicit) concept “entity” into the (implicit) concept “unit.”

“Cognition and Measurement,”

Link to post
Share on other sites

6 minutes ago, anthony said:

A "metaphysical essence" is puzzling to me, Michael.

Anthony,

My edits and your post crossed.

I'll answer you more fully later (gotta leave with family), but for now, here is my edit:

22 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

... metaphysical essence, which is a ghost to some people (not me) and something different to others (me) like organizing forces or whatever controls the large patterns.

btw - You might enquire into what "grasp" means to Rand. Does our brain have fingers? :) 

I'll have a little neuroscience for you later...

Michael

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Brant,

How about man living in groups? Does philosophy have anything to say about that? Hmmmmm?...

:) 

The way you framed this presumes that philosophy is only epistemology.

If philosophy is defined in terms of the fundamental nature of the universe, then it cannot only be epistemology.

I don't presume that.

Rand's metaphysics are scant--basically, the referents of the axiomatic concepts. The only other person I've seen who noticed this is George Smith. In fact, he is where I got this notion.

But just because Rand did not develop much thought metaphysically, that does not mean philosophy does not deal with metaphysics like the principles (mostly based on direct observation) of the later science categories. It does.

Michael

EDIT: From "Philosophy: Who Needs It?" by Ayn Rand:

If you are only going to talk about the widest abstractions, using your logic, breaking life forms into animal, vegetable, insect, etc., is too specific. Things need to be divided into living and unliving. Hell, to be totally safe and "philosophical," you would need to say man is a "rational existent."

:evil: 

Epistemology in action always combines with metaphysics.

Let's call it a car. Not moving it's pure epistemology. Moving it goes down a road through the countryside or whatever with the needed driver turning the wheel and using the pedals. That's a car in action. It's then neither an abstraction nor a dream. But if into the ditch it wasn't used right.

This assumes the car was made right.

--Brant

Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:

We (humans)  call humans the rational animal.   I think there is a bias  at work here.   I bet the whales and the dolphins  do not call us the rational animal. 

Perhaps humans are the irrational animal.  Do you know any other animal that recreationally poisons itself and eats food contrary to its physiological adaptation and makes war against its own kind and has religions?

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, jts said:

Perhaps humans are the irrational animal.  Do you know any other animal that recreationally poisons itself and eats food contrary to its physiological adaptation and makes war against its own kind and has religions?

Irrational supposes rational. The first is negative, the second positive. I look upon rational as the primary concept with rational and irrational as secondary, derivative concepts. (This is not an Objectivist formulation.) Thus "man the rational animal" can also be the irrational animal. What he cannot be is the non-rational animal for that's all the other animals.

rational/irrational

    rational

--Brant

Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Some people think "existent" is a direct synonym or replacement for "entity" and others think it means something wider (i.e., something that exists). I fall into the second category. Ditto for metaphysical essence, which is a ghost to some people (not me) and something different to others (me) like organizing forces or whatever controls the large patterns. 

Michael

I think it's useful and net positive when people disagree. It doesn't upset me, nor do I expect anyone to change what they think.

Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, jts said:

Perhaps humans are the irrational animal.

Jerry,

It's obvious that humans are both rational and irrational. But just like Rand's insistence that rationality is man's "distinguishing characteristic," there really are a bunch of scientists, modern psychologists, etc., who claim over and over that man is irrational and that rationality is only an illusion.

Some, like Lisa Feldman Barrett in an otherwise excellent book I read of hers, How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain, outright claims (in an irritating nonstop mantra throughout the book) that free will doesn't exist and all our decisions are made by unconscious processes before we are even aware of wanting to make them. (btw - In some cases, she's right as proven by measuring different brain activities, but some cases are not a universal fact for all cases like she is all-too-gleeful to assume.)

Rand was right about the attack on the mind. For some damn reason, the folks who most use their mind attack it. But Rand's defense of the mind is done with such zeal that she elevates many unwarranted speculations to the role of fact. Her theory of emotions and subconscious is, at the best, on the self-help level. Although she does provide some good self-help advice for using the underbelly of the mind (like in writing), it's mostly opinion that is based on introspection and presented as fact. Two good examples are her theory of "sense of life," and her adoption of Locke's claim that man is born "tabula rasa" in terms of his brain's contents.

Michael

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd accept "tabula rasa" for conceptual content at birth. But that's all; it's way too simple to be left as such; way too much is going on in the growing brain reflecting its stimulating needs. There's a sensory flood into it that obviously starts in the womb. I didn't go conceptual until I was 2 1/2 when I became a thinking person. If it happened earlier I've no memory of it. (My earliest memory might have been me in a crib crying out for my mother because I felt I couldn't breathe. I could have been as young as 2.)

--Brant

Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, Brant Gaede said:

I'd accept "tabula rasa" for conceptual content at birth.

Brant,

If you start looking into the neuroscience of concept, I doubt you would.

Here's a very quick example. There are specific neurons from birth (before, actually) that automatically identify snake-shaped and spider-shaped things as threats.

Call that what you wish, but you will have to rationalize a lot to call that tabula raza. That is pure information about the outside world that is pre-wired.

What's more, when those innate images get merged with four-legged creatures in the imagination, you get a dragon, which is a mythical creature that has been present in some form or other in every major civilization known to man.

If you want to call the mind tabula rasa at birth in terms of speaking a language, playing golf, getting drunk, painting a landscape, etc., I would agree with that. :) 

Michael

Link to post
Share on other sites

To set the scene.

Ba’al wrote about whale’s rationality: There is nothing wrong with how they live. end quote

Stephen Boydstun wrote about humans on another thread: . . . . The fetus during the first trimester lacks an adequate neural foundation for minimal subjective experience . . . . By the end of that interval, the brain of the fetus is recognizable as a mammalian brain, but does not yet have the structural features of a primate brain. The lower brain of the human fetal brain at this stage has begun to have indications of neuronal maturity, although the higher brain at this stage has not. The fetus during the first trimester lacks an adequate neural foundation for minimal subjective experience. end quote

Michael wrote back to another letter writer on this thread: Call that what you wish, but you will have to rationalize a lot to call that tabula raza. That is pure information about the outside world that is pre-wired. end quote

The “hard wiring” in a whale and a human is different and not just in their threat evaluations, as with spiders, snakes and unrestricted breathing for humans, and sharks and breathing above the surface of the water for whales. I do not think ANY OTHER SPECIES including mammalian ones like elephants and whales, have crossed the threshold to rational sentience, even though every creature on earth must make and execute the right choices to survive.

Something wonderful occurred a million years ago and it just affected our human ancestors. Use a sliding scale of value to judge the sacrosanctity of other species, but my point is that whales may live the life they were destined to live but humans shape their own destinies by a factor greater than a billion.

Signed: that smart, talkative, big brained parrot.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The theory (Aristotle's before Locke and Rand) was in refutation of Platonicism i.e. - of the mind "...as an entity that pre-existed somewhere in the heavens, before being sent down to join a body here on Earth". [New World Encyc] A dismissal of mystical "innate ideas" was the whole thrust of tabula rasa philosophers, it seems.

Basically, there can't be anything in the consciousness that didn't arrive via consciousness. 

However, as a minor quibble, there is no reason why the precise moment of birth should begin sensory experience for the infant, and it's common knowledge now, it isn't. Evidently she does feel warmth etc. and hear-feel the mother's heartbeat for some(?) weeks before birth. I reckon it may be that these first impulses initiate her subconsciousness. To identify shapes as threatening requires a perceptual, conceptual, emotional capability, so I don't agree that pre-wired knowledge is possible. (There are too many known instances of babies fearlessly playing with scorpions and snakes, etc.).  

Link to post
Share on other sites
19 hours ago, jts said:

Perhaps humans are the irrational animal.  Do you know any other animal that recreationally poisons itself and eats food contrary to its physiological adaptation and makes war against its own kind and has religions?

 

Chimpanzee troops make war on other Chimpanzee troops.  Also Chimpanzees have be seen killing other Chimps.  You can tell how closely related Humans and Chimps are.  96 %  genetically identical.  Chimps and Humans are latter day descendants of the same species of ill tempered beasts. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Peter said:

Stephen Boydstun wrote about humans on another thread: . . . . The fetus during the first trimester lacks an adequate neural foundation for minimal subjective experience . . . . By the end of that interval, the brain of the fetus is recognizable as a mammalian brain, but does not yet have the structural features of a primate brain. The lower brain of the human fetal brain at this stage has begun to have indications of neuronal maturity, although the higher brain at this stage has not. The fetus during the first trimester lacks an adequate neural foundation for minimal subjective experience. end quote

Peter,

There's a reason growth is not considered an essential attribute in definitions of living things within Objectivism. The moment you consider growth to be essential, you have blown your case for abortion wide open.

So long as growth is not essential (for a mental entity, that is, because physically, the growth cycle happens in all humans irrespective of anyone's idea system), you can divide up the growth of a human being into phases where it is OK to kill him or her in certain phases. Why? Because according to this rationale, the human in that phase is not really human. This is exactly what Stephen is getting at in your quote.

But that does not make any sense to me.

I agree with Rand that we can make mental entities that break when the real entity breaks and becomes several entities. Her example was a table, which is one entity mentally and one in reality, but if its legs are sawed off, it becomes a broken table entity mentally, but five actual entities in reality (a board and four sticks).

The problem comes when we take an actual entity (like a human being), deny parts of it in our mental entity (like some stages of the growth cycle), then pretend the actual parts excluded are not only not part of the mental entity, they are not part of the actual entity. That's not a correct identification. That's fudging.

And when we use this furdge as justification for killing, this is epistemologically appalling.

Incidentally, I am not in favor of making abortion illegal. But I am staunchly against massacring epistemology in order to justify this position. I have a different reason, one based in reality and reflected by correctly corresponding mental entities with their referents. And it allows me to intensely dislike abortion and others not mind, but both use the same concepts.

Michael

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well said Michael. And I agree with Ba’al’s point that we REQUIRE socialization with other humans to become  . . . human  . . . if to be human is more than a toddler groping around on the forest floor.

I remember reading “Tarzan” in the sixth grade, and Tarzan thought human thoughts though he was raised by a mother gorilla. But if I remember, the author then fictionalized that the apes also spoke so the main character could have a relationship with his mother and fights of domination that including speaking and arguing with the other male apes.

The few cases of feral children who were raised by a human mother for the first few years of their life but then abandoned or orphaned show kids who are quite runty, dirty, and pathetic though still squeaking out a life. More probable are kids who are raised until perhaps the age of six or seven by a mother or grandmother, then orphaned and raised by exploiters as with the stories of Dickens or Robert Louis Stevenson.

Which reminds me of the book by Walter Mosely I just finished, called “Charcoal Joe.”  The protagonist Easy Rawlins rescues a pretty sixteen year old girl from a sex trafficking ring, and returns her to her parents. But before that, Easy’s partner shoots the trafficker, and when the sixteen year old girl awakens from a heroine binge she asks Easy, “Do you have a fix?”

Peter           

Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, anthony said:

The theory (Aristotle's before Locke and Rand) was in refutation of Platonicism - of the mind "...as an entity that pre-existed somewhere in the heavens, before being sent down to join a body here on Earth". [New World Encyc] A dismissal of mystical "innate ideas" was the whole thrust of tabula rasa philosophers, it seems.

Basically, there can't be anything in the consciousness that didn't arrive via consciousness. 

However, as a minor quibble, there is no reason why the precise moment of birth should begin sensory experience for the infant, and it's common knowledge now, it isn't. Evidently she does feel warmth etc. and hear-feel the mother's heartbeat for some(?) weeks before birth. I reckon it may be these first impulses initiate her subconsciousness. To identify shapes as threatening requires a perceptual, conceptual, emotional capability, so I don't agree that pre-wired knowledge is possible. (There are too many known instances of babies fearlessly playing with scorpions and snakes, etc.).  

fetuses can sense sound while still in the womb.  Reactions to sound have been observed in fetuses six months along.  So the unborn infant's sensory apparatus is there and it has a brain that  processes what it can hear or feel in utero. Tests made on newborn infants show that they can recognize their mother's voice.  The mother's voice is carried by bone, connective tissue and blood throughout her body so her "passenger" can hear it if its ears are  working.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Play classical music in a pregnant woman's room but not too loud. The infant inside will "scratch" its ears in annoyance at loud sounds and when the baby is in obvious pain when high pitched sounds are perceived.  

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/5/2017 at 8:48 AM, Brant Gaede said:

I'd accept "tabula rasa" for conceptual content at birth. But that's all; it's way too simple to be left as such; way too much is going on in the growing brain reflecting its stimulating needs. There's a sensory flood into it that obviously starts in the womb. I didn't go conceptual until I was 2 1/2 when I became a thinking person. If it happened earlier I've no memory of it. (My earliest memory might have been me in a crib crying out for my mother because I felt I couldn't breathe. I could have been as young as 2.)

--Brant

Seems to me that the age of reason is 9 or 10.

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Wolf DeVoon said:

Seems to me that the age of reason is 9 or 10.

That is just about right.  A normal kid of that age has all his/her marbles.  All that is lacking is experience.  We are near our mental peak (I would estimate)  somewhere between 12 and 15.  

I was able to pay more attention to my grandchildren when they were young. More so than my children  (Daddy was away at work and missed a great deal)  I was fascinated to see how the grandchildren became  mentally capable and at what age.  Almost by magic between the ages of 5 and 10  they become fully rational in the sense of being able to reason and solve problems (deduction and induction busy at work together). They also seemed to inhale new knowledge with no visible  source (not visible to me).  It  is awe inspiring  just how smart kids get and how fast they become smart.  I can't quite say that children are fully rational between 12 and 15  because there are self control and temper-loss issues.  Also kids that age are not patient. But they sure are quick and smart.

Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Wolf DeVoon said:

Seems to me that the age of reason is 9 or 10.

Maybe. You have to think your way into it. It's still a work in progress for me.

--Brant

Link to post
Share on other sites

Ba’al wrote: I was fascinated to see how the grandchildren became mentally capable and at what age.  Almost by magic between the ages of 5 and 10 they become fully rational in the sense of being able to reason and solve problems (deduction and induction busy at work together). end quote

Recently, my six year old granddaughter was talking to her great grandmother, and I noticed her correcting Great Grandma, and she was right. Wow. At six she understands what kidding and sarcasm are, though she doesn’t like it. At a recent Joan Jett concert she fell asleep around her usual bed time.

Peter

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 year later...

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now