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3 hours ago, Mark said:

The main text about “trash” stays as is but I added this footnote:

This is why I don't trust Mark.

There is only one use of the word trash by Rand in all her Q&A's (that I, or anybody I know of, know of--Robert Campbell would probably be the best one to consult), and there is no other specific contemporary artist she was asked about in her Q&A who would be capable of "trying to cash in on her popularity by selling art ostensibly related to her novels," but he still writes in the text as before: "Once at a Ford Hall Forum Q&A ..." and then does a footnote that explains nothing about the artist he referred to. When talking about Parrish in the footnote, he doesn't even say she said it at a Ford Hall Forum Q&A.

Anything to not have to admit his text was misleading and now he's making it up.

And it's so easy to fix. I don't get it, but there it is.

It's his article and he wants it that way. That's his right, but others are going to notice the inaccuracy.

(This reminds me of how politicians apologize by saying they are sorry you didn't understand what they said.)

He's never going to change, so you have to check his stuff and take the details with a grain of salt until you've checked them.

I still like him as a battering ram against the troubling stuff the ARI people want to keep hidden, though. He does that well.

:) 

Michael

 

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Mark, I'm about two-thirds through reading the article.  Awful guy.  Heroic woman, remarkable courage and dedication to accomplish what she's achieved despite having been rendered paraplegic.

Neil, I might sound a bit Arian about Hickman, but I don't think Rand's notes on Hickman were stupid and I also don't think they are in any form a derogatory indication of her character. Bra

What counts is what she had published. Rand was a creator. Big time. --Brant super big time

2 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

This is why I don't trust Mark.

There is only one use of the word trash by Rand in all her Q&A's (that I, or anybody I know of, know of--Robert Campbell would probably be the best one to consult), and there is no other specific contemporary artist she was asked about in her Q&A who would be capable of "trying to cash in on her popularity by selling art ostensibly related to her novels," ...

I don't recall ever hearing of Rand being asked about contemporary artists/followers trying to cash in on her popularity. There were artists in her outer circle who seem to have conformed themselves to Rand's theories, but she liked them, bought some of their work, and I think she wanted to sort of groom them to be the leaders of the coming Objective arts renaissance.

Cordair gallery didn't yet exist, and Newberry hadn't yet latched onto the "movement," so I don't know which artist would actually qualify as fitting the right time frame and of having at least some recognition in O-land.

So, it all sounds like a mistake -- that someone misunderstood something, and now it's being reported as having happened, or possibly having happened, when it's probably just an unintentional game of telephone/grapevine/Chinese whispers.

J

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21 hours ago, Ellen Stuttle said:

Glad you think so.

The fun thing about Rand's theory of art is that it doesn't end there. The next step is for someone to delve into what is wrong with us and our senses of life for not adoring Minns' work. Probably Torres. If I recall, he's the one who has most enjoyed that weapon.

J

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I’m not infallible and it’s possible I mis-recollected, but of the two
 A doesn’t recall ever ...
 B recalls ...
which carries more weight?  Well, of course it depends.  If A listened carefully to everything Rand said in all the Q&A then A carries the day.  But has Jonathan?

As far as the “Who Is Richard Minns?” article is concerned this is a very small point.  I don’t want to make a mistake, but if I have it’s not the end of the article.  Maybe I’ll put in the footnote that the point is contested.  It will have to wait though, it’s low priority.

 

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17 hours ago, Mark said:

I’m not infallible and it’s possible I mis-recollected, but of the two
 A doesn’t recall ever ...
 B recalls ...
which carries more weight?

Neither.

What carries weight would be you citing reality rather than reporting a rumor, inferring something that didn't happen, or making shit up.

 

Quote

If A listened carefully to everything Rand said in all the Q&A then A carries the day.  But has Jonathan?

The above is what is called "appeal to authority." It's a fallacious tactic. Your having listened to more Rand Q&As than I have, if that's even true, doesn't make your claim about Rand's "trash" comment and artistic leeches true.

Cite. Quote. Provide evidence to support your assertion. There's no valid substitute to evidence.

J

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Jonathan just isn't thinking or he is intent on finding moral fault -- a rather common failing among "Objectivists.".  What I wrote was not based on rumor.

I can do without this.  Jonathan can reply all he wants, I won't see it.

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18 hours ago, Mark said:

As far as the “Who Is Richard Minns?” article is concerned this is a very small point.  I don’t want to make a mistake, but if I have it’s not the end of the article.  Maybe I’ll put in the footnote that the point is contested.  It will have to wait though, it’s low priority.

Mark,

The question which artist Rand's "Trash" remark pertained to is, granted, low priority from the standpoint of Minns' character and guilt.

However, Rand documentably did call Maxfield Parrish's work "Trash" in a Ford Hall Forum Q&A, and no way did Parrish's work deserve that judgment.  Thus the judgment reflects badly not on Parrish but on Rand's competence as a critic of art.  Thus you've in effect worked against your purpose in calling on Rand's imagined opinion about Minns' work.  If a poor judge would be negative about some artwork, that's no discredit to the artwork.

Ellen

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33 minutes ago, Mark said:

Jonathan just isn't thinking or he is intent on finding moral fault...

Um, WTF?

 

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-- a rather common failing among "Objectivists."

I'm not an "Objectivist."

 

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What I wrote was not based on rumor.

Then provide a source, douchebag.

J

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28 minutes ago, Ellen Stuttle said:

However, Rand documentably did call Maxfield Parrish's work "Trash" in a Ford Hall Forum Q&A, and no way did Parrish's work deserve that judgment.

Exactly. It's documented, citable, quotable. Where is Mark's documentation about the claim that Rand called the work of her artistic acolytes "trash"?

J

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59 minutes ago, Jonathan said:

Where is Mark's documentation about the claim that Rand called the work of her artistic acolytes "trash"?

Jonathan,

Vanity mars his efforts.

Among his weapons of attack, he sometimes makes up something up that sounds like it could or should be true, and then he wants others to accept that as fact. When called on it if it is false, he responds as if he was being insulted, throws out his own insults, and doubles his efforts to get people to accept his wrong statement as right.

You gave him the benefit of the doubt a little earlier. What do you think about where that went? :) 

I think he has shown by now that this is not a mistake. He does this because he likes it. He thinks it's good to do this. 

At times I've tried to point an error out here or there as if it were a mistake made in good faith. I've done this because I believe his efforts would be exponentially more devastating to his target if he relied on fact only. But he insists on including easily debunked statements in his work, thus he gives the people he criticizes an easy out. All they have to do is point to the falsehood and say, "See? He's wrong there. So what else is he wrong about? All he wants to do is smear." Most readers react to that by moving on and not looking further.

Rather than doing a professional ramrod follow through to the killshot when he gets the spotlight, he prefers to basque in the vanity horseshit. I've seen it enough to know it's a choice, not an error.

What's worse, just as he makes up wrong shit about people who he simultaneously attacks with legitimate information, if you let him get too close, he eventually makes up the same kind of wrong shit about you. After a public burst of attention, a vanity high evaporates quickly. A person who craves this has to get the next fix from wherever he can if there are no more public bursts. That generally means someone nearby. And that means you, if you are nearby.

But like I said, his efforts are not without value. He's like a watchdog barking at something evil hiding in the bushes. He just barks at squirrels and possums, too. Even shadows.

So you have to take that into account with his work. You can never take it as accurate at face value. It's good to look at what he barks at, but you have to check the things he says, especially when he postures as an expert and goes broad instead of citing sources and giving specific examples. Still, looking to where he barks, thus knowing what to check, has its own value. Reading his stuff is not a waste of time. It's just not the whole enchilada.

That's s shame, too, because without the vanity horseshit, it could be.

His life. His choices. You either accept him the way he is or you are going to get frustrated. There is no way to be helpful if your intention is to help him get it right. Those who try end up unwittingly playing a role in the scripts in his head so he can unfold a drama to himself that he's a misunderstood martyr for the truth. He's not going to change.

Like I said, he does that because he likes it.

(I used to do crack cocaine because I liked it. Actually, I loved it. I wasn't able to get clean until I stopped trying to control it, stopped trying to fool others, and admitted that to myself.)

Michael

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I found some old letters that discuss Rand and Art. Closed up for brevity. Peter

From: Ellen Moore To: Atlantis Subject: ATL: Sensation versus perception by Rand Date: Mon, 16 Sep 2002 14:52:44 -0500. I could not resist this issue. The topic of an infant's sensory experience brings up an issue I long puzzled over in Rand's writing.  What did Rand mean when she wrote?

<< "As far as can be ascertained, an infant's sensory experience is an undifferentiated chaos.  Discriminated awareness begins on the level of percepts.      Percepts, not sensations, are the given, the self-evident.  The knowledge of sensations as components of percepts is not direct, it is acquired by man much later: it is a scientific, *conceptual* discovery. ...">>

Yet, in my reading of various Objectivist philosophy students and professors, they continue to use "sensation" and "perception" as meaning the same process with terms having the same meaning - they use the terms* mistakenly* as if they were interchangeable - when they do not refer to the same process.  So, in writing they most often use the one word when they should use the other and vice versa.  Their confusions breed more confusions. I see this mistake as the basic reason for these people not understanding what Rand meant.

Roger B. asked, "Ascertained by whom?"  I think Rand meant 'ascertained by the psychologists who comment'.  Since her time, I've seen no evidence that scientists can yet isolate and identify, technologically, a single, separate sensation.  And no human being of any age is aware of a single, isolated sensation.

Rand defined, <<" A "perception" is a group of sensations automatically retained and integrated by the brain of a living organism, which gives it the ability to be aware, not of single stimuli, but of *entities*, of things.  An animal is guided, not merely by immediate sensations, but by *percepts*.  Its actions are not single, discrete responses to single, separate stimuli, but are directed by an integrated awareness of the *perceptual* reality confronting it." >>

In OPAR, p. 52, Peikoff wrote, << "The first stage of consciousness is that of sensation.  A "sensation" is an irreducible state of awareness produced by the action of a stimulus on a sense organ.  "Irreducible" here means: incapable of being analyzed into simpler conscious units.  By its nature, a sensation lasts only as long as the immediate stimulus." >>

Peikoff is mistaken in what he presents as an Objectivist view because this is NOT compatible with Rand's views as stated above.  He appears here to equate consciousness with awareness at the level of sensations. Rand does not - her meaning is that human awareness begins only at the retained and integrated level of percepts.  Peikoff also mistakenly concludes two paragraphs later that human infants remain aware only of sensations, and are not aware of perceptions, until a matter of months after birth.  This is obviously ridiculous, as any observer can be aware.  And Binswanger is even more mistaken and confused in his essay on the relation between sensory perception and volition.

Rand makes it perfectly clear that a sensation is an immediate, discrete, separate stimuli caused by the interaction between a sense organ in direct contact with entities in reality.  A percept is a *group of sensations automatically retained and integrated by the brain of a living organism*.

According to Rand, humans at birth or at later ages do not "perceive" sensations - we are *not aware of sensations*.  We are aware of percepts automatically retained and integrated by the brain.  This is entirely an automatic *physical" process over which we have *no control*.  We cannot ignore perceptions, they are given, self-evident, physically processed by the brain and coming into our awareness.  We are necessarily aware, meaning automatically conscious of our perceptions.  What necessarily comes next in the process of cognition is what we will do about the details we perceive, and that is the *key human* process of conscious awareness that is volitional.

So, when Rand made the comment about an infant's sensory experience being an undifferentiated chaos, it makes sense in the context of her explanations and definitions.

The infant's sensory organs at birth are functional - they produce a flow of single, separate sensations from the sense organ via the myelinated neurons to the brain.  When a group of sensations is retained and integrated by the brain, only then is the infant aware of a percept of a discernible aspect of reality.  After that, the process of being aware of perceptions is an acquired skill in recognizing the patterns that make up different aspects of entities.

At no point does Rand's writing give the impression that neonates [during the first month] do not have the function of perception.  [Keep in mind that she spoke of an "infant" which is averaged to be from birth to two years of age, and it is clear to read where she maintained, in The Comprachicos, that during the first year of life an infant learns more keenly and observantly that at any other stage.]

As I read the information that Jonas Muliolis presented from his studies, Rand's view fits nicely with the modern scientific view of evidence regarding perception.  And it fits with my studies of a decade ago, and with my parenting observations from over 40 years -- except for one point.  I learned that a neonate's visual *focus* is 8-12 inches, and has full 20/20 vision by about 3 months - as perfect as adults'. The normal process is maturation and perceptual development into the initial conceptual level.

How can an observer know if the edges of neonates' visual state are blurred?  This paragraph bothers me, as a faulty implication, ""The limitations of a baby's perceptual abilities actually help him to cope. For example, by seeing less, hearing less distinctly, and feeling less intensely than an older baby the newborn is less likely to become overwhelmed by sensory stimulation. Because the baby cannot move around at will, he doesn't have ways to get away from bright lights, loud noises, or too many touches."

Temple Grandin, an autistic university professor, maintained that autism is caused by actually painful perceptions in newborns, i.e., they withdraw when born with an abnormal and painful sensory/perceptual mechanism, and that requires special gentle treatment.  Normal, well-developed babies are eager experience seekers.

If there is now any new conclusive evidence available about neonate vision and/or autism, I'd like to be informed. But overall, Rand was right on perception - until proven otherwise. Ellen Moore

From: PaleoObjectivist To: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: Sensation versus perception by Rand Date: Mon, 16 Sep 2002 22:41:50 EDT

Ellen Moore wrote: The topic of an infant's sensory experience brings up an issue I long puzzled over in Rand's writing.  What did Rand mean when she wrote?

<< "As far as can be ascertained, an infant's sensory experience is an undifferentiated chaos.  Discriminated awareness begins on the level of percepts.      Percepts, not sensations, are the given, the self-evident.  The knowledge of sensations as components of percepts is not direct, it is acquired by man much later: it is a scientific, *conceptual* discovery. ...">> 

Yet, in my reading of various Objectivist philosophy students and professors, they continue to use "sensation" and "perception" as meaning the same process with terms having the same meaning - they use the terms* mistakenly* as if they were interchangeable - when they do not refer to the same process.  So, in writing they most often use the one word when they should use the other and vice versa.  Their confusions breed more confusions.>>

Yes, and Ayn Rand was guilty of the same error. See her essay "Art and Cognition" in ~The Romantic Manifesto~, where she says, "Single musical tones are not percepts, but pure sensations; they become percepts only when integrated." (p. 59, ppbk)

The source of her error was an uncritical reading of Helmholtz' work on acoustics, ~On the Sensations of Tone as a Physiological Basis for the Theory of Music." In it, Helmholtz refers to our perception of musical tones as "sensation." However, as he made abundantly clear in his work, musical tones are ~already~ integrated, being the product of various simple tones produced when a physical object vibrates. So, Rand adopted "sensation" language and applied it to ~integrated~ contents of awareness, definitely a no-no. For further details on this gaffe of hers, see my essay, "Music and Perceptual Cognition" in ~The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies~, vol. 1, no. 1 (Fall 1999).

Ellen Moore continues: >I see this mistake as the basic reason for these people not understanding what Rand meant.

Yes, and for Rand committing the same error herself.

>Roger B. asked, "Ascertained by whom?"  I think Rand meant 'ascertained by the psychologists who comment'.  Since her time, I've seen no evidence that scientists can yet isolate and identify, technologically, a single, separate sensation.  And no human being of any age is aware of a single, isolated sensation.

Yes, I agree. However, Rand explicitly ~claimed~ that human beings have awareness of single, isolated "sensations" of ~musical tone~. This is in contradiction with her earlier writing, and with your claim about her overall view. Also, as far as what she meant by "ascertained" is concerned, I think she meant not just by so-called experts, but also by any alert, rational observer. What is important here is that Ayn Rand ~believed~ that newborn babies experience the world on the sensation level, and only sometime later begin to differentiate and integrate their sense data into a perceptual awareness of entities.

> Rand defined, " A "perception" is a group of sensations automatically retained and integrated by the brain of a living organism, which gives it the ability to be aware, not of single stimuli, but of *entities*, of things.  An animal is guided, not merely by immediate sensations, but by *percepts*.  Its actions are not single, discrete responses to single, separate stimuli, but are directed by an integrated awareness of the *perceptual* reality confronting it." >>

 > In OPAR, p. 52, Peikoff wrote, "The first stage of consciousness is that of sensation.  A "sensation" is an irreducible state of awareness produced by the action of a stimulus on a sense organ.  "Irreducible" here means: incapable of  being analyzed into simpler conscious units.  By its nature, a sensation lasts only as long as the immediate stimulus." >>

> Peikoff is mistaken in what he presents as an Objectivist view because this is NOT compatible with Rand's views as stated above.  He appears here to equate consciousness with awareness at the level of sensations. Rand does not - her meaning is that human awareness begins only at the retained and integrated level of percepts.

True, that is Rand's meaning in her 1966 work, ~Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology~. Yet -- and this is what makes her error all the more glaring -- ~five years later~ she claims that human beings ~do~ have awareness at the level of "sensations." However, it is "sensations" of a very peculiar kind: ~musical~ "sensations" which are ~retained and integrated~. In other words, ~perceptions~, although she apparently was mentally deteriorated enough by that point (1971) that she didn't realize the contradiction between her claims about awareness of musical tone and her earlier remarks (1966) about sensation and perception.

>Peikoff also mistakenly concludes two paragraphs later that human infants remain aware only of sensations, and are not aware of perceptions, until a matter of months after birth.  This is obviously ridiculous, as any observer can be aware.

This is basically correct, although technically, Objectivism does not hold that we are aware of perceptions or sensations. It holds that we are aware of reality (i.e., of entities, attributes, etc.) perceptions are a ~form in which we are aware~ of reality, not ~that which we are aware of~ per se. With that understood, yes, Peikoff blew it big-time in his comments in OPAR. However, it is ~clearly~ compatible with what Rand wrote 25 years earlier in ~Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology~, when she said, "As far as can be ascertained, an infant's sensory experience is an undifferentiated chaos. Discriminated awareness begins on the level of percepts." (p. 5) There's no other rational way to interpret this statement than that Rand (and Peikoff) viewed newborn babies as being on the sensation level of awareness, and that they only began to have perceptual awareness at some ~later~ time.

>According to Rand, humans at birth or at later ages do not "perceive" sensations - we are *not aware of sensations*.  We are aware of percepts automatically retained and integrated by the brain.

Untrue. According to Rand, humans at later ages ~do~ experience sensations, as noted above. I encourage list-members to read or re-read Rand's esthetics essay in which she stumbles badly in applying her epistemology.

>So, when Rand made the comment about an infant's sensory experience being an undifferentiated chaos, it makes sense in the context of her explanations and definitions.

That's a strained explanation. A much simpler and likelier explanation is that Rand was ~wrong~. She accepted the "conventional wisdom" on the subject ("as far as can be ascertained"), which is simply in error. Also, bear in mind what Debbie said about babies whose mothers were drugged during labor/delivery -- how their nervous systems and awareness were depressed for some hours/days after birth -- in contrast to babies who were born "naturally." A description of drugged newborns is ~not~ an accurate measure of the perceptual capabilities of newborns. Rand, who railed against the shoddy, concrete-bound state of modern psychology, was a victim of some of its shoddiest observations and claims.

>At no point does Rand's writing give the impression that neonates [during the first month] do not have the function of perception.

Not true. See p. 5 of ITOE

>But overall, Rand was right on perception - until proven otherwise.

I have just proven otherwise. Q.E.D. Best 2 all, Roger Bissell

From: Ellen Moore To: Atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: Sensation versus perception by Rand – RB Date: Thu, 19 Sep 2002 15:27:13 -0500 Roger, I reread Rand's "Art and Cognition" several times, and I do not find the problems there which you seem to. I do think that she is explaining the same point as Helmholz - in her own way.

The passage that troubles you on p. 59 is not difficult to understand. Rand considers that a "single musical tone" is a pure sensation, and it becomes a percept only when integrated with a sequence of appropriate ones producing a musical phrase or melody - which we perceive as musical.  A tone alone is a single unintegrated sound, a sensation, not yet integrated within a sequence that forms a perception of Music.  [As you know, she views a percept as a group of two or more sensations automatically integrated by the brain.] It would appear that she viewed a sensation in the ear of hearing a single tone was the first kind of human awareness of sound -- which made the perception, then conception, of music possible for man.

You wrote, "In other words, ~perceptions~, although she apparently was mentally deteriorated enough by that point (1971) that she didn't realize the contradiction between her claims about awareness of musical tone and her earlier remarks (1966) about sensation and perception."

Mentally Deteriorated? -- by 1971? --  I think not. More likely it is your misunderstanding of her essay content which is one of her most fascinating, complex,, analytical and innovative.  It probably challenges some of your own instilled ideas about music. Here's what I'll do. I have a friend who is an Objectivist, an artist, and a composer of music.  I'll write and get his views of how her essay fits into her premises on perception.  And I'll let you know what he thought.. Meanwhile, would you outline clearly for the list what you see that is wrong with what she is saying here about how music as an art form -- which she points out is different from our perception of the other classical art forms.  Ellen M.

From: PaleoObjectivist To: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: Re: Sensation versus perception by Rand - RB Date: Thu, 19 Sep 2002 21:46:42 EDT/ Ellen Moore wrote: >I reread Rand's "Art and Cognition" several times, and I do not find the problems there which you seem to.

You have to mentally hold "Art and Cognition" and ~Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology~ in your mind at the same time in order to see the problems I am referring to. Merely pointing to the former and making excuses for it and praising its innovative character won't make its accompanying problems go away.

 > I do think that she is explaining the same point as Helmholz - in her own way.

Yes, she is, but she is misusing terminology. That is, she is copying Helmholtz in using the term "sensation" to refer to our perceptual awareness of sound. If Helmholtz had been an Objectivist, and if he were well-versed in Rand's ITOE, he would have said, "Oops, let me re-title my book so that it's correct: "On the ~Perception~ of Musical Tone...etc." In other words, I am saying that Rand uncritically adopted Helmholtz' inappropriate terminology to refer to our awareness of musical tones. At the very least, this indicates an uncharacteristic sloppiness on her part.

> The passage that troubles you on p. 59 is not difficult to understand. Rand considers that a "single musical tone" is a pure sensation,

Yes, and Rand considers ~wrong~! In ITOE (p. 5), she says that man is not "able to experience a pure isolated sensation." Yet, we are able to experience pure isolated awareness of a musical tone, which she says in "Art and Cognition" is a ~sensation~. She says in ITOE (p. 5) that "sensations, as such, are not retained in man's memory," yet we are able to retain in memory our awareness of musical tones, which she says in "Art and Cognition" is a ~sensation~.

A person who was well versed in both the nature of awareness of musical tones and on the concepts of "perception" and "sensation" as developed by Rand in ITOE would ~never~ have made the gaffe that she did in "Art and Cognition" in calling awareness of musical tones a "sensation."

>and it becomes a percept only when integrated with a sequence of appropriate tones producing a musical phrase or melody - which we perceive as musical.  A tone alone is a single unintegrated sound, a sensation, not yet integrated within a sequence that forms a perception of Music.  [As you know, she views a percept as a group of two or more sensations automatically integrated by the brain.]

No, a tone alone is an integrated sound all by itself; its components, simple tones, are integrated automatically by the ear to produce a musical tone. This is from Acoustics 101, and it has been known since the time of Helmholtz. He knew it, too, he just mislabeled it as "sensation." However, Rand, apparently did not bother to read ~that~ part of Helmholtz' work, since it didn't seem pertinent to her thesis about our experience of music being based on integration of "sensations" of individual musical tones.

Yes, our awareness of a single musical tone can be integrated into the perception of a group of two or more tones, just as our awareness of a goose can be further integrated into the perception of a group of two or more geese. But in both cases, these are ~perceptions~ being integrated into ~broader perceptions~, not "sensations" being integrated into perceptions.

>It would appear that she viewed a sensation in the ear of hearing a single tone was the first kind of human awareness of sound -- which made the perception, then conception, of music possible for man.

This is a completely untenable interpretation of Rand's view. In ITOE, she said (p. 5) that "discriminated awareness begins on the level of percepts." When we hear an individual musical tone, however, we are hearing a ~discriminated~ tone, not an "undifferentiated chaos" (Rand's description of the sensation level of awareness). Rand was clearly describing in "Art and Cognition" our awareness’s of individual musical tones ~as if~ they were percepts, but ~referring~ to them as "sensations."

This, by the way, is not the ~only~ contradiction that she allowed to slip by in "Art and Cognition." She also referred to architecture as a form of art, which she defines as something that ~re-creates reality~ (p. 45), yet she said that architecture does ~not~ re-create reality (p. 46). Ouch, that's a bad one! I don't suppose you have an explanation or an excuse for this glaring contradiction, do you?  🙂

> You wrote,  "In other words, ~perceptions~, although she apparently was mentally deteriorated enough by that point 1971) that she didn't realize the contradiction between her claims about awareness of musical tone and her earlier  remarks (1966) about sensation and perception."  Mentally Deteriorated? -- by 1971? --  I think not.

Perhaps not. Perhaps it is just the result of uncharacteristic sloppiness, as suggested above. However, I've already pointed out "two strikes" in her "Art and Cognition" essay. That's two too many for someone supposedly still in full control of her mental faculties.

 > More likely it is your misunderstanding of her essay content which is one of her most fascinating, complex,, analytical and innovative.  It probably challenges some of your own instilled ideas about music.

That's an interesting hypothesis, but you have provided no evidence to back it up -- and I have provided two incontrovertible examples of her engaging in statements that contradict her earlier writings ("The Psycho-Epistemology of Art" and ~Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology~). You're going to have to do better than that.

 > Here's what I'll do. I have a friend who is an Objectivist, an artist, and a composer of music.  I'll write and get his views of how her essay fits into her premises on perception.  And I'll let you know what he thought..

I'm all ears. 🙂  Yet, as you so correctly pointed out previously, there is a great deal of confusion about the proper usage of the terms "sensation" and "perception." And as I pointed out, the usage of "sensation" by Helmholtz was not in keeping with the Objectivist epistemology, and Rand uncritically adopted that usage. Your Objectivist musician friend had better be an independent, critical thinker and not an uncritical admirer of this sloppy, meandering essay. It's good and has valuable insights to offer, but it's not ~that~ good.

>Meanwhile, would you outline clearly for the list what you see that is wrong with what she is saying here about how music as an art form -- which she points out is different from our perception of the other classical art forms.

No. I am very busy at present, preparing a monograph on the nature of art for publication, and I will be going into the hospital on Monday for gall bladder surgery, so I do not have time to write a thorough piece on this for the list. However, I will do the next best thing and refer the interested reader to my essay, "Music and Perceptual Cognition," published Fall 1999 in ~Journal of Ayn Rand Studies~ and posted on the internet with a link on this webpage:

http://members.aol.com/REBissell/indexmmm.html

From: Ellen Moore To: Atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: sensation versus perception by Rand – RB Date: Fri, 20 Sep 2002 12:38:23 -0500

Roger, I can see that your views are fixed, but hopefully, not final. I assure you I am able to hold her stated premises in my mind from one essay to another. And lastly, what you answered in this post is exactly what I was asking for, i.e., what do you see as the problem in what she wrote in ART and Cognition.  I have no reason to read your further essay to understand what you think that problem is here. I wish you a speedy recovery from your surgery.

You wrote, "Yes, our awareness of a single musical tone can be integrated into the perception of a group of two or more tones, just as our awareness of a goose can be further integrated into the perception of a group of two or more geese. But in both cases, these are ~perceptions~ being integrated into ~broader perceptions~, not "sensations" being integrated into perceptions."

I view this passage as entirely mistaken, i.e., not following the Objectivist view of the process of sensations being integrated into perceptions.  Question - do you view "an awareness" as "a sensation"?  I don't.  I view a perception as an awareness.  So here, to my understanding you have garbled up the process.  That is the problem I mentioned about not using the proper meanings of "sensation versus perception".

Now, to make a few more points - since I may differ from what you say. Hearing a sound is a perception - because it is composed of continuous sensations repeated as long as the sound lasts, and integrated automatically as a perception. Seeing a goose is a perception because the group of two or more visual sensations presented AS the object are integrated automatically by the brain as a perception of one "goose".  But 'geese' is a concept drawn from the perceptions of two or more "goose". I wonder if you do not grasp the process of  "sensations" as "giving", or producing, perceptions, i.e. conscious awareness.

You write, "When we hear an individual musical tone, however, we are hearing a ~discriminated~ tone, not an "undifferentiated chaos" (Rand's description of the sensation level of awareness)."

I think Rand was wrong to consider sensations as an "undifferentiated chaos".  I view sensations as an orderly physical process that could not (identity-wise) be anything but necessarily orderly.

Re: Architecture, is not mentioned on p. 45, but on p. 46 Rand states that, "Architecture is in a class by itself, because it combines art with a utilitarian purpose and does not re-create reality, but creates a structure for man's habitation or use, expressing man's values."  and, "(Architecture, qua art, is close to sculpture: its field is three-dimensional, i.e.  sight and touch, but transported to a grand spatial scale.)

I did not locate quickly another mention of architecture here. So, what is your problem about this? I can accept that Rand may have made mistakes, being fallible, but I never assume her published essays indicate "sloppiness" in her intended language, or in her views. In other words, I do not agree that you "have provided two incontrovertible examples of her engaging in statements that contradict her earlier writings."  You'll still have to prove to me that this is a "sloppy and meandering" essay, because I think its valuable insights make it a very "good", fascinating, and interesting essay. Later, Take good care of yourself, Roger. Ellen M.

From: PaleoObjectivist To: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: Re: sensation versus perception by Rand - RB Date: Fri, 20 Sep 2002 22:28:03 EDT. Ellen Moore wished me a speedy recovery from my surgery, which I appreciate very much, thanks, Ellen. 🙂

I think that we are either arguing past each other on the issue of sensation vs. perception, or one or the other of us is misunderstanding the nature of these two processes on a sufficiently deep level that we are not going to resolve our disagreement about Rand's view of musical awareness. At any rate, I'm pushing the pause button on that topic.

You also wrote: >Re: Architecture, is not mentioned on p. 45, but on p. 46 Rand states that, "Architecture is in a class by itself, because it combines art with a utilitarian purpose and does not re-create reality, but creates a structure for man's habitation or use, expressing man's values."  and, "(Architecture, qua art, is close to sculpture: its field is  three-dimensional, i.e. sight and touch, but transported to a grand spatial scale.)

 > I did not locate quickly another mention of architecture here. So, what is your problem about this?

My problem is that on p. 45, she gave a definition of art that includes the attribute of "re-creation of reality," and on p. 46, she said that architecture is one of the forms of art, but also on p. 46, she said that architecture does not re-create reality. You don't get much more clearly contradictory than that! And yes, that ~is~ a problem for me. 🙂

>I can accept that Rand may have made mistakes, being fallible, but I never assume her published essays indicate "sloppiness" in her intended language, or in her views.

I agree one shouldn't ~assume~ Rand is being sloppy. One should look at the evidence (listed above) and make all reasonable guesses as to why she would have written something that seems to be a gross contradiction. Honestly, I can't see any other reason for her to include such a blatant contradiction in the first two pages of "Art and Cognition," than sheer sloppiness. Can you? What other possibilities are there? That she was stamping her foot at reality and saying "I want to have my definition of art and eat it, too"?? That she was blanking out the obvious conflict between her view of architecture as a non-reality-re-creating form of art and her definition of art as re-creating reality? Really, I'm being overly ~charitable~ in interpreting her error as sloppiness. The only other explanations I can think of are considerably less flattering and moral.

Gotta go to work, for the second time today. <sigh> Thanks again for the good wishes about my medical condition. I'll be in good hands. The Sisters of St. Joseph don't mess around. 🙂 Best 2 all, Roger Bissell

From: PaleoObjectivist To: objectivism Subject: OWL: Contradictions in "Art and Cognition" Date: Fri, 20 Sep 2002 03:44:27 EDT Contradictions in "Art and Cognition" by Roger E. Bissell

As has been correctly pointed out by other writers, there is a great deal of confusion about the proper usage of the terms "sensation" and "perception." The terms are often used interchangeably, even though as Ayn Rand clearly explained in ~Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology~ (1966), they do ~not~ refer to the same process.

Sadly, however, Ayn Rand was guilty of the same error. See her essay "Art and Cognition" in ~The Romantic Manifesto~, where she says, "Single musical tones are not percepts, but pure sensations; they become percepts only when integrated." (p. 59, ppbk)

The source of her error was an uncritical reading of Helmholtz' work on acoustics, ~On the Sensations of Tone as a Physiological Basis for the Theory of Music." In it, Helmholtz refers to our perception of musical tones as "sensation." However, as he made abundantly clear in his work, musical tones are ~already~ integrated, being the product of various simple tones produced when a physical object vibrates. So, Rand adopted "sensation" language and applied it to ~integrated~ contents of awareness, definitely a no-no. (For a more extended discussion of this point, I refer the interested reader to my essay, "Music and Perceptual Cognition," published Fall 1999 in ~Journal of Ayn Rand Studies~ and posted on the internet with a link at: http://members.aol.com/REBissell/indexmmm.html)

As Rand argued in ~Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology~, no one is aware of single, isolated sensations. Yet, she later explicitly ~claimed~ ("Art and Cognition") that human beings have awareness of single, isolated "sensations" of ~musical tone~. This is in contradiction with her earlier writing.

In her 1966 work, ~Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology~, Rand clearly states that human awareness begins only at the retained and integrated level of percepts. Yet -- and this is what makes her error all the more glaring -- ~five years later~ she claimed that human beings ~do~ have awareness at the level of "sensations." However, it is "sensations" of a very peculiar kind: ~musical~ "sensations" which are ~retained and integrated~. In other words, ~perceptions~. Apparently, for whatever reason, Rand didn't detect the contradiction between her 1971 claims about awareness of musical tone and her earlier remarks (1966) about sensation and perception.

In ~Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology~, Rand wrote, "As far as can be ascertained, an infant's sensory experience is an undifferentiated chaos. Discriminated awareness begins on the level of percepts." (p. 5) In other words, when one has discriminated awareness of reality, one is functioning on the perceptual level, not the sensation level.

Yet, according to Rand's 1971 essay, "Art and Cognition," humans at later ages ~do~ experience sensations. She holds that our awareness of discriminated musical tones is not perception but sensation. I encourage list-members to read or re-read Rand's esthetics essay in which she stumbles badly in applying her epistemology to the issue of musical awareness.

The problem is not Rand's agreement with Helmholtz' ~view~ of the nature of musical tones, but her misuse of terminology. That is, she is copying Helmholtz in using the term "sensation" to refer to our perceptual awareness of sound. If Helmholtz had been an Objectivist, and if he were well-versed in Rand's ITOE, he would have said, "Oops, let me re-title my book so that it's correct: "On the ~Perception~ of Musical Tone...etc." In other words, I am saying that Rand uncritically adopted Helmholtz' inappropriate terminology to refer to our awareness of musical tones. At the very least, this indicates an uncharacteristic sloppiness on her part.

Here is further evidence of Rand's contradiction. In ITOE (p. 5), she says that man is not "able to experience a pure isolated sensation." Yet, we ~are~ able to experience pure isolated awareness of a musical tone, which she says in "Art and Cognition" is a ~sensation~. She says in ITOE (p. 5) that "sensations, as such, are not retained in man's memory," yet we ~are~ able to retain in memory our awareness of musical tones, which she says in "Art and Cognition" is a ~sensation~.

 

A person who was well versed in both the nature of awareness of musical tones and on the concepts of "perception" and "sensation" as developed by Rand in ITOE would ~never~ have made the gaffe that she did in "Art and Cognition" in calling awareness of musical tones a "sensation."

A tone alone is an integrated sound all by itself; its components, simple tones, are integrated automatically by the ear to produce a musical tone. This is from Acoustics 101, and it has been known since the time of Helmholtz. He knew it, too, he just mislabeled it as "sensation." However, Rand, apparently did not bother to read ~that~ part of Helmholtz' work, since it didn't seem pertinent to her thesis about our experience of music being based on integration of "sensations" of individual musical tones. Yes, our awareness of a single musical tone can be integrated into the perception of a group of two or more tones, just as our awareness of a goose can be further integrated into the perception of a group of two or more geese. But in both cases, these are ~perceptions~ being integrated into ~broader perceptions~, not "sensations" being integrated into perceptions.

Rand said (ITOE, p. 5) that "discriminated awareness begins on the level of percepts." When we hear an individual musical tone, however, we are hearing a ~discriminated~ tone, not an "undifferentiated chaos" (Rand's description of the sensation level of awareness). Rand was clearly describing in "Art and  Cognition" our awareness’s of individual musical tones ~as if~ they were percepts, but ~referring~ to them as "sensations."

This, by the way, is not the ~only~ contradiction that she allowed to slip by in "Art and Cognition." She also referred to architecture as a form of art, which she defines as something that ~re-creates reality~ (p. 45), yet she said that architecture does ~not~ re-create reality (p. 46). What explanation or excuse can there be for this glaring a contradiction?

Perhaps it is a sign of mental deterioration. Perhaps it is merely the result of uncharacteristic sloppiness, as suggested above. However, I have already pointed out "two strikes," two incontrovertible examples of contradictions in Rand's "Art and Cognition" essay. That's two too many for someone supposedly still in full control of her mental faculties. Best regards to all, Roger Bissell, musician-writer

From: Ellen Moore  To: Atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: sensation versus perception by Rand – RB Date: Sat, 21 Sep 2002 11:10:31 -0500 Roger, No, I do not agree that we are simply "talking past each other".  We disagree.  But. I'm willing to pause the discussion in your present crisis.

 

I read your post on OWL, and I have quick and three simple questions.

1.  When is a "tone alone" its components of simple tones, i.e., what is the difference between a "tone" and a "simple tone"?

2.  Are all tones a "musical tone"?

3.  Is a "tone" equal to a "sound" or a "noise"?

Rand explained that she viewed architecture is a special case of ART plus human utility.  So, I do not see any contradiction as you seem to. It is still ART, a re-creation of reality according to the artists metaphysical value judgments - though it differs by having structural utility. Rest easy, Ellen

From: PaleoObjectivist To: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: Re: sensation versus perception by Rand - RB Date: Sat, 21 Sep 2002 17:43:27 EDT

Ellen Moore wrote: >No, I do not agree that we are simply "talking past each other".  We disagree.  But. I'm willing to pause the discussion in your present crisis.

You are disagreeing with something I did not say (which gives me reason to want to not just pause, but discontinue entirely our discussion of the sensation versus perception controversy). I did ~not~ say that we are "simply 'talking past each other', but that we are ~either~ talking past each other ~or~ are in disagreement.

Here is the passage from my email that you are misrepresenting: >I think that we are either arguing past each other on the issue of sensation vs. perception, or one or the other of us is misunderstanding the nature of these two processes on a sufficiently deep level that we are not going to resolve our disagreement about Rand's view of musical awareness.  > I read your post on OWL, and I have quick and three simple questions. 1.  When is a "tone alone" its components of simple tones, i.e., what is the difference between a "tone" and a "simple tone"?  2.  Are all tones a "musical tone"? 3.  Is a "tone" equal to a "sound" or a "noise"?

1. When a physical object vibrates, it often creates sound waves of various frequencies. The lowest frequency sound wave is called the "fundamental." The sound wave of next higher frequency is double the frequency of (i.e., an octave above) the fundamental and is referred to as the "first overtone." The next higher frequency sound wave is an octave and a fifth above the fundamental, etc. Each of these sound waves generates in the ear what Helmholtz called "simple tones," and the auditory mechanism ~integrates~ these simple tones (i.e., the fundamental and its overtones) into a musical tone, which is the form in which we ~perceive~ the complex of sound waves that impinge on our auditory system. We don't perceive simple tones; we perceive the sound wave complex that generates them as a single, unified musical tone.

2. Yes, all tones are musical tones. "Musical tone" is redundant. A tone is defined as "a musical sound of definite pitch and character."

3. Tones and noises are two kinds of sounds. A "boom" or a "thud", for instance is a non-musical sound, since it does not have a definite pitch; and it could specifically be a noise, to the extent that it is experienced as loud, unpleasant, or disturbing. The genus is sound, and tones and various non-musical sounds (including noises) are the species of sound.

Note: our awareness of ~any~ kind of sound, to the extent that sound is experienced as having a definite character (even though not a definite pitch) is a ~perception~. There is no sensation-perception dichotomy between noise and music. Even a cacophony (i.e., a harsh, discordant mixture of sounds) is a perceptually discriminable ~something~ that can be identified as such -- though not easily analyzed by a listener into its components, of course). In that respect, a cacophony is somewhat like a crowd, perceived from a distance; the individuals (sounds and people) are so tightly crowded together, that all one can discriminate is the aggregate. If you get close enough to either a crowd or a cacophony, however, you can usually sort out the individuals.

>Rand explained that she viewed architecture is a special case of ART plus human utility.  So, I do not see any contradiction as you seem to. It is still ART, a re-creation of reality according to the artists metaphysical value judgments - though it differs by having structural utility.

You must read more carefully. Look again at p. 46 of The Romantic Manifesto, where Rand says:  "~Architecture~ is in a class by itself, because it combines art with a utilitarian purpose AND DOES NOT RE-CREATE REALITY..." (caps added to aid visual perception of contradiction 🙂

Why else do you suppose that Harry Binswanger, at Rand's direction, decided ~not~ to include an entry for "architecture" in his ~Ayn Rand Lexicon~? Apparently, in the last year or two of her life (if not earlier), Rand realized that her view of architecture was not consistent with her definition of art, so rather than ~admit~ this inconsistency, she asked Harry to pull the plug on the "architecture" entry. I personally think this is a moral crime on Binswanger's and Rand's part. Better for her to have bitten the bullet and ~admitted~ that architecture did not fit her definition of art and thus that her earlier claims that it was art were false, ~or~ that her definition of art was flawed and in need of revision. But too much apparently was at stake to make either admission publicly. After all, a huge part of Rand's reputation was based on a novel centering on an architect; and to publicly admit that architecture was ~not~ a form of art would have severely damaged her credibility.

On the other hand, another significant part of Rand's reputation, as a philosopher of art, was based on her much used and quoted definition of art; and to admit that this definition was in error would have required that Binswanger dump not just the entry for "architecture," but the much larger entry for "art." ~No way~ could ~that~ be allowed. So, like a medic performing triage on an incoming patient, Binswanger decided, with Rand's agreement, to minimize the losses by omitting the "architecture" entry. In other words, Rand and Binswanger conspired in a gigantic "BLANK-OUT," of one of her most celebrated causes: the creative architect.

This is but one example of the Objectivist movement tendency (especially those of the ARI/Peikoffian persuasion) to toss unpleasant facts down the memory hole. There is no excuse for such re-writing of reality, especially the reality of the philosophy of Objectivism itself. Best 2 all, Roger Bissell

 

P.S. -- I'm not sure how much of a crisis I'll go through; perhaps it will be a walk in the park. However, I'll say now that I have enjoyed the exchange of ideas on Atlantis. With all of its faults, it is still a very good opportunity to offer and get feedback on one's thoughts about Objectivism and other topics -- and it is a great place to see sharp minds in action, which is always inspiring even when they are wrong. 🙂  Also, I want to express my appreciation to those who have, online and offline, offered encouragement and support both for my ideas and for my medical health. "God bless you all."

From: Neil Goodell  To: ObjWTL Subject: OWL: Sensation, Perception, Awareness, and Rand Date: Sat, 21 Sep 2002 14:54:04 -0600 Subject: Sensation, Perception, Awareness, and Rand Was:  Contradictions in "Art and Cognition" [from 9/20/02) by Roger E. Bissell

In his essay Roger pointed out several instances where Rand seemed to contradict herself. One of the instances appears quite clear, and the other, Roger argues, arises from a misreading of Helmholtz. What I wish to explore in this post, very briefly, is the relation among sensation, perception, and awareness, and briefly comment on Rand's word usage.

Roger writes: >Rand said (ITOE, p. 5) that "discriminated awareness begins on the level of percepts." When we hear an individual musical tone, however, we are hearing a ~discriminated~ tone, not an "undifferentiated chaos" (Rand's description of the sensation level of awareness). Rand was clearly describing in "Art and Cognition" our awareness’s of individual musical tones ~as if~ they were percepts, but ~referring~ to them as "sensations."

To begin with, "awareness" is a vague term. It exists on a continuum from the simplest action of an external stimulus acting on a sensory nerve and causing it to fire, to what we think of (as adults especially) as consciousness. Adding the descriptor " discriminated" in front of "awareness" does not clarify things at all because there is no meaningful way to define "discriminated." Two examples: One: at the perceptual level, many people when listening to music cannot tell the difference between a sharp and a flat, this is something they have to be taught, how to tell one from the other. Two: at the conceptual level, Rand clearly understood how and why the initiation of force by government against the populace (e.g., taxes) was wrong, yet many of her detractors could not and cannot "see" this at all.

At what point does "discriminated" enter the picture here? Before or after a person has been taught how two sounds differ? Was the "awareness" undiscriminated before this? What if a person disagrees with Rand's position on the use of force, does that constitute undiscriminated cognition?

To expand on the perceptual example just a bit. When someone is being taught how a sharp and a flat differ in how they sound, they are not acquiring new sensory nerves in their ear. Rather they are training their mind, cognitively, how to differentiate one from the other. Certainly new neural connections are being made in the brain as a result of this learning, but so far as we know the structure of the sensory nerves in the ear is not changing.

The problem here is this: what constitutes discrimination? If we hear a sound, our ears respond but our eyes do not. Is this discrimination? If a newborn hears a sound, does it hear the same sound as does the new mother?

Before we can answer this question, we need to understand what happens to the sound presented to the mother and her newborn. (There are some maturational differences between the two but the hearing system is relatively fully developed at birth, unlike vision.)

If in the delivery room a machine's alarm goes off, the mother will likely become either agitated or panicky. The infant will probably start crying (if it is not already doing so). Same stimulus, but two different responses.

What is happening to the mother is easily understood. Sound waves enter the mother's ears, the mother knows alarms happen when bad things are afoot, so this causes her to feel anxiety.

What about the newborn? Did sound waves enter the ears? Yes. Did the sensory nerves in the ears send along "information" in terms of neurons firing, to the brain? Yes. Did the brain respond to these nerve firings? Yes. What did the brain do? It made the baby cry. (Why or how this occurs is not important for this example.) But if the nurse gives the newborn to the new mother, or the mother goes over to the infant, and the mother begins cooing, it is likely that the infant's crying will decrease and eventually stop. From this example it is clear that the five-minute-old infant is performing discriminated acts of perception and making differentiated responses to specific environmental stimuli. I see no principled difference between the mother and the newborn in this example. Both perceived the same sound and both responded with a particular action, and the infant's reaction changed in response to a new stimuli.

So, when does "awareness" begin? When the sensory nerves are stimulated? In many cases, yes. In others, no. (How many of you are always aware of the clothes you are wearing as they constantly move across your skin? Or the constant pulsating of the blood coursing through your ears?) So, does awareness that we have adapted  to and thus blocked out, count as awareness? Whether we draw the line at emotional, cognitive, explicit, or implicit types of awareness, there is no clear boundary between it and any/all of the others.

What all forms of awareness have in common is this: If the stimuli is strong enough to cause a sensory nerve to fire, that action potential, when it reaches the brain, alters the neuroanatomy of the brain, even if it is only a single neuron. Maybe a new branch grows on a dendrite, or the action potential excites/inhibits that neuron to fire/not fire. When/if an identical stimuli occurs, and causes the same nerve to fire and send its action potential to the brain, it will encounter a brain that has been slightly modified by the prior instance of the stimuli, and this time will therefore have a slightly different effect on the neuroanatomy.

(This is the basic method by which the brain learns to make finer and finer discriminations. Each new stimulus acts on an increasingly complex brain structure. If our newborn eventually becomes a doctor who delivers babies, when that same alarm sounds in the delivery room, the nerve firings in the (same) ear will encounter a radically different neuro-structure in the brain of the adult than they did as a newborn. But that very first instance left its indelible mark in the future structure of the brain, small as it was.)

Back to the example: As a result of the alarm sounding, both the mother's brain and the newborn's brain have been slightly and subtly altered, permanently. If the alarm sounds repeatedly, either the mother will continue to panic or will eventually disregard it, depending on the explanation she is given for it. With repeated exposure the infant will also, eventually, come to disregard the sound, or not cry as adamantly.

Clearly the details of how a sound is discriminated by the mother and the newborn differ, but not the fact that a sound is being discriminated and specifically responded to. Although it is possible to make a physiological distinction between sensation and perception, defining sensation to be nerve stimulation outside the central nervous system, and perception as neuronal stimulation inside the CNS, anything more than this simply falls apart under scrutiny. But this is not at all what Rand had in mind. Rand, at least implicitly, adopted the linear tripartite view of mind still taught in psychology: Sensations lead to perceptions which in turn leads to concept activation, with each succeeding level more complex and more robust than the next. This model is wrong. (I've written on this previously and won't repeat myself here.) With few exceptions, awareness exists as soon as a stimulus causes a sensory nerve to send its action potential (firing) to the CNS. (The few exceptions are reflex behaviors mediated within the spinal cord.) Within the CNS there exist many, many kinds and types of awareness, of which "consciousness" is only one (i.e., in the present moment knowing that we know something). Within the CNS there is no meaningful difference between a sensation, a percept, and a concept. We can make artificial distinctions in terms of cognitive complexity (and there are valid reasons for doing so), but these are differences of degree not of kind. We can adopt Rand's view that only concepts have word tags associated with them, and certainly many of them do, but there exist a plethora of mental constructs equally or more complex that do not have such tags, such as emotions, and that are just as validly a component or form of awareness.

So to sum up: Rand was working within the constructs and models available to her at the time and her arguments and formulations must be understood in that light. Our knowledge has advanced during the past 40+ years, and words that had one meaning in 1960 often have a more refined, or possibly radically different, meaning today. While I believe Rand was trying to adapt and incorporate some of the then-current technical language of perception into her theories, she did not have the technical background necessary to fully understand the words and their implications. Therefore her word meanings must be understood in the context in which she used them and not in their technical sense as used by experts/knowledgeable people, either then or today. --Neil Goodell    21 September 2002

From: "John Enright" To: <objectivism Subject: OWL: Sensation and Contradiction in "Art and Cognition" Date: Sat, 21 Sep 2002 14:11:07 -0500. Roger Bissell (9/20) discusses Rand's usage of the term "sensation" under the heading: "Contradictions in Art and Cognition".

As far as I can see, the sensation issue is not a contradiction in Art and Cognition.  It involves rather an apparent contradiction between Art and Cognition and the Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, published about 5 years earlier.

ITOE: "Sensations, as such, are not retained in man's memory, nor is man able to experience a pure isolated sensation." (p5 of Meridian trade pb)

 

A&C: "Single musical tones are not percepts, but pure sensations; they become percepts only when integrated."

 

So "pure isolated sensations" cannot be experienced, but musical tones, which we obviously can and do experience, are described as "pure sensations."

First, let me ask an English major question: what work is "isolated" doing in the proposition from ITOE?  Does it represent a significant qualification?  Because we don't have an outright contradiction until we get rid of the "isolated."

 

As an aside, I am not even sure of what a "pure isolated sensation" is supposed to be, and whether such a thing could exist at all.  Is it the firing of a single nerve cell? If it's under the threshold of awareness, does it deserve to be called a sensation at all?  Sensations that we are cannot be aware of are surely a problematic notion, and the whole idea seems to have come into disrepute, judging from the entry on sensation in Flew's Dictionary of Philosophy (rev 2nd ed).

Kelley speaks of the difficulty of finding "examples of genuine sensations," but goes on to say that "it is possible to produce something like a sensation in normal subjects by presenting them with severely impoverished sensory stimuli - flashes of light, points of pressure on the skin, tones of a single frequency..." (47-48, Evidence of the Senses)

Note Kelley's mention of "tones of a single frequency" as being something like sensations. He goes on to say that "The term [sensation] actually covers a range of experiences, lying along a continuum with no sharp border line between sensation and perception."  (49) I think this last statement is the real key to resolving the apparent contradiction in Rand's two articles.  The appearance of a contradiction arises because she is referring to different points along the continuum.

Her "pure isolated sensations" that we cannot experience are at the start of the continuum, where isolated nerves fire in response to sound waves, but the "pure sensations" of single musical tones are much further along the continuum toward perception. So I don't think the sensation issue is evidence that Rand had slipped into philosophical dotage at this point in her life. John Enright

From: PaleoObjectivist To: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: Something somewhat completely different Date: Mon, 23 Sep 2002 03:32:03 EDT Andrew Taranto wrote: >I was browsing the site for _What Art Is_, and came across some material dealing with Rand's definition of art ("selective recreation of reality") and problems of applying that definition to music.  I'd been a little preoccupied with this, ever since reading the _Romantic Manifesto_. Here's my rough cut at a solution. Art can be grouped into two types: static and dynamic.

There are various ways of grouping the arts, and this is one of them. It's a good way to group them, but you have to be careful in specifying what is essential about each group.

> Static art includes painting and sculpture, which recreate reality spatially, in two and three dimensions, respectively. Dynamic art includes music and literature (the latter because it is experienced as a progression, whether through the plot of a story, or the rhythm of a poem).

Actually, music and literature are quite analogous to one another. There is music that is structured and that functions more like poetry -- 16th and 17th century dance forms, for instance. And there is music that is structured and that functions more like a story with a plot-line -- much of the music from Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven on through the Late Romantics (e.g., Rachmaninoff) and other early 20th century composers such as Shostakovich. These are probably the two most prominent ways in which both literature and music function. Modern literature and music is an entirely different ball of wax. 😛

> This is to say: static art is a spatial recreation of reality; dynamic art is ~essentially~ a temporal recreation. I qualify with "essentially" because much of dynamic art also involves spatial recreation -- imagery in a poem or story, and of course the "world" of a movie or play. However, the temporal element is the overriding one: the plot in a story, or the rhythm of poetry.

This distinction, while factually accurate, is not ~fundamental~. I like to bring everything down to its relationship to entities. In the case of dynamic art, we are dealing with things and their attributes and their actions. (In music, the "things" are musical "themes" such as motifs, melodies, etc., and their "actions" are the recurrences and transformations of those themes, in varying rhythmic and harmonic and orchestrational contexts. This is strongly analogous to what happens in literature, as described by Rand in several essays in ~The Romantic Manifesto~.)

 

In static (I almost wrote "statist" 🙂 art, we are dealing with things and their attributes. Any actions ~suggested~ by such art are implied by the things and their attributes, but such art is by its nature non-active.

 > With respect to music: music is a concretization of "temporal reality."

When Rand speaks of "concretizing" in relation to art, she is speaking of bringing abstractions to the perceptual level so that we can grasp them as though they were concretes. The abstractions she is talking about are the ones dealing with very basic questions about the nature of the universe and of man, such as: Is man capable of pursuing goals and achieving values? Is man capable and worthy of happiness? Is the universe intelligible, and is man's mind capable of grasping reality? Is man a metaphysical misfit, or is he capable of harmonizing with the universe and flourishing? Etc. The ~answers~ to those questions are what Rand referred to as "metaphysical value-judgments," and they are the basis of one's sense of life and of one's response to art and a lot of other things.

Now, some of those questions/answers are things that involve "temporal reality," i.e., ~action~, and the temporal arts are well suited to concretize and present them. For instance, both Romantic literature and Romantic music are an ideal medium for concretizing the idea that man is capable of pursuing and achieving values. In Romantic music, the idea is concretized not in terms of imaginary human characters pursuing human values, but in terms of melodic themes that ~behave like~ imaginary human characters; the process by which melodic themes are gradually developed and transformed in Romantic music is governed by rules of harmonic progression that tie the music together like the plotline of a Romantic novel. (Leonard B. Meyer has been writing about this since the 1960s in books such as ~Music, the Arts, and Ideas~; the Schenkerian analysts have done quite a bit of work on the phenomenon of goal-directedness in music, too.)

 > This makes sense to me, since human hearing is best suited to discern temporal  relationships, while sight is best suited to discern spatial relationships.

I agree with the point about sight and spatial relationships, but I disagree about hearing and temporal relationships. I think that hearing and sight are both well suited to discern temporal relationships, and I would be hard pressed to tell which is better than the other in that regard. (Though I'm open to any reasonable argument and evidence supporting your claim.) The one thing that is true is that hearing is not going to help you very much in perceiving static art! Interestingly, however, some music can ~simulate~ static art to some extent, by having a musical background that changes very little or not at all, while melodic elements move around in the foreground. But literature can do this, too, especially in staged or filmed versions.

> Change is necessarily a temporal concept, which static art precludes by definition. Music concretizes, among other things, change. (I think "concretize" may not really be the right word for this, but I'll stick with the Objectivist terminology.)

Space and time, stasis and change, static and dynamic, etc., are important ideas, but they are not of the same level of fundamentality as entities and their attributes and actions, which are the ~content~ of art. Nor are they of the same level of fundamentality as the metaphysical value judgments, which are the ~theme~ of art. I hope this helps sort out some of the issues involved in understanding how music re-creates reality, for it certainly does! Best 2 all, Roger Bissell

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Ellen,

Good point, I hadn’t thought of it.  One could argue that since Minns’ subject matter in his “Atlas Shrugged Quadrilogy” concerns her work, her opinion of it would have more worth.  Also, just because she goofed with Parrish (and maybe she confused him with another Max somebody) we shouldn't disregard every artistic evaluation she ever made.

Still, from a propaganda point of view, that is, my wanting to persuade people, it is confusing to have to bring up Parrish in the same breath and it tells against my argument, as you say.

That, plus because my recollection might be wrong, I removed the paragraph in question. (Again, you may need to press your browser's refresh key to see the update.)

Setting aside aesthetic value, does anyone here remember Rand  expressing annoyance from the copyright angle that some people were selling artwork depicting her characters?  Of course the first question is:  Was that happening?

 

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29 minutes ago, Mark said:

Setting aside aesthetic value, does anyone here remember Rand  expressing annoyance from the copyright angle that some people were selling artwork depicting her characters?  Of course the first question is:  Was that happening?

 

Sort of. There's a claim that Rand considered a lawsuit against the rock band Rush. Their album 2112 was based on ANTHEM, and the liner notes contained the line "Dedicated to the genius of Ayn Rand."

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Her lawyer may have done some threatening.

One gets the impression she had no idea about subjective esthetic appreciation when it came to her opinions about art. Instead she used "sense of life." Everything had to be objectified.

--Brant

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22 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Jonathan,

Vanity mars his efforts.

Among his weapons of attack, he sometimes makes up something up that sounds like it could or should be true, and then he wants others to accept that as fact. When called on it if it is false, he responds as if he was being insulted, throws out his own insults, and doubles his efforts to get people to accept his wrong statement as right.

Yup. Bluff and bluster.

J

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1 hour ago, Brant Gaede said:

Her lawyer may have done some threatening.

Brant,

Rand's biggest beef, from all accounts I have read, was not that people imitated her and tried to cash in on her fame. (That idea went into the O-Land zeitgeist with that silly Valliant book against the Brandens--that author said cashing in for a paycheck was the prime intention of both Brandens. And that book was decades after Rand had passed on.)

When she was alive, Rand claimed people plagiarized her.

Henry Mark Holzer, her lawyer, was quick to issue threatening letters to those who she claimed did that back then. Rand even said the Libertarian Party was nothing but plagiarism of her with the hippy stuff thrown in. (Those are not her words, but they are the gist. I would have to look this up to get the exact quotes, but you can find them most likely in the bios by Barbara and Anne Heller, Nathaniel's memoir, Jennifer Burns's book, or a taped interview with Holzer on DVD--which I believe it was done by Duncan Scott.)

I do remember her having Holzer send a nastygram to Mimi Gladstein who wrote a book (The Ayn Rand Companion) that was little more than a list of her works so that people who liked her writing could look for them (or even better, it was an academic kind of resource book). I didn't get the impression Rand's objection was someone cashing in on her fame, though. It was the fact that she did not give permission for such a book and that she could not control what was in it. But it was about her work with almost nothing by the author.

Rand's thing was control of what was hers much more than worrying about what other people did financially. This went all the way back to her infancy--her deal with her mother to hold a toy for a year, then discovering her mother had given it to charity or something. Rand was pissed, even at that age, because the toy was hers, not her mother's.

Hell, she would not allow an AS movie without control of the final cut. Not because of money or who would cash in, but because the story was hers.

Also, remember the Phil Donahue TV show where Rand blasted a member of the audience for saying she had outgrown Rand's ideas or something like that? Rand didn't blast her because Rand disagreed with her. Rand blasted her for doing this on HER (Rand's) show. If I remember correctly, she said that several times with a great deal of emphasis. I see emphatic jerky finger-pointing from her in my mind, but I would have to see the tape to make sure.

Rand could abide by people making money off her. She was not a very good negotiator. She could not abide by people speaking in her name without her specific authorization--because her name and her voice was hers. She controlled this. Period. Second hand money and fame (people cashing in) had very little to do with the root of that.

I know I'm speaking in her name just to say that :) , but she was pretty vocal about this. The Objectivist Newsletter and The Objectivist have several notices warning against unauthorized people putting on lectures or study groups to learn about her ideas. She also claimed the philosophy of Objectivism was hers and did that thing of making people who adhered to it call themselves "Students of Objectivism" rather than Objectivists. 

Michael

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10 hours ago, Mark said:

Setting aside aesthetic value, does anyone here remember Rand  expressing annoyance from the copyright angle that some people were selling artwork depicting her characters?  Of course the first question is:  Was that happening?

 

I don't remember ever hearing of Rand expressing such annoyance, but I'd be interesting in learning of any evidence that she did so.

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57 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Also, remember the Phil Donahue TV show where Rand blasted a member of the audience for saying she had outgrown Rand's ideas or something like that? Rand didn't blast her because Rand disagreed with her. Rand blasted her for doing this on HER (Rand's) show. If I remember correctly, she said that several times with a great deal of emphasis. I see emphatic jerky finger-pointing from her in my mind, but I would have to see the tape to make sure.

 

 

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13 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Brant,

Rand's biggest beef, from all accounts I have read, was not that people imitated her and tried to cash in on her fame. (That idea went into the O-Land zeitgeist with that silly Valliant book against the Brandens--that author said cashing in for a paycheck was the prime intention of both Brandens. And that book was decades after Rand had passed on.)

When she was alive, Rand claimed people plagiarized her.

Henry Mark Holzer, her lawyer, was quick to issue threatening letters to those who she claimed did that back then. Rand even said the Libertarian Party was nothing but plagiarism of her with the hippy stuff thrown in. (Those are not her words, but they are the gist. I would have to look this up to get the exact quotes, but you can find them most likely in the bios by Barbara and Anne Heller, Nathaniel's memoir, Jennifer Burns's book, or a taped interview with Holzer on DVD--which I believe it was done by Duncan Scott.)

I do remember her having Holzer send a nastygram to Mimi Gladstein who wrote a book (The Ayn Rand Companion) that was little more than a list of her works so that people who liked her writing could look for them (or even better, it was an academic kind of resource book). I didn't get the impression Rand's objection was someone cashing in on her fame, though. It was the fact that she did not give permission for such a book and that she could not control what was in it. But it was about her work with almost nothing by the author.

Rand's thing was control of what was hers much more than worrying about what other people did financially. This went all the way back to her infancy--her deal with her mother to hold a toy for a year, then discovering her mother had given it to charity or something. Rand was pissed, even at that age, because the toy was hers, not her mother's.

Hell, she would not allow an AS movie without control of the final cut. Not because of money or who would cash in, but because the story was hers.

Also, remember the Phil Donahue TV show where Rand blasted a member of the audience for saying she had outgrown Rand's ideas or something like that? Rand didn't blast her because Rand disagreed with her. Rand blasted her for doing this on HER (Rand's) show. If I remember correctly, she said that several times with a great deal of emphasis. I see emphatic jerky finger-pointing from her in my mind, but I would have to see the tape to make sure.

Rand could abide by people making money off her. She was not a very good negotiator. She could not abide by people speaking in her name without her specific authorization--because her name and her voice was hers. She controlled this. Period. Second hand money and fame (people cashing in) had very little to do with the root of that.

I know I'm speaking in her name just to say that :) , but she was pretty vocal about this. The Objectivist Newsletter and The Objectivist have several notices warning against unauthorized people putting on lectures or study groups to learn about her ideas. She also claimed the philosophy of Objectivism was hers and did that thing of making people who adhered to it call themselves "Students of Objectivism" rather than Objectivists. 

Michael

l think Rand's big problem in the 1960s was she wasn't getting laid. The big problem behind that was her rationalizing her romantic relationships and making it stick.

--Brant

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8 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Brant,

I want to know when she stood on a tall-ass rock in the middle of snowy mountains...

:)

Michael

Most of her life.

We just wrote her biography.

--Brant

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