Logical Structure of Objectivism


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Alfonso (Bill),

Welcome to OL!

I don't know about the progress, but I downloaded, printed and bound a copy of The Logical Structure of Objectivism and skimmed through it. I have not had time to read it all, yet, but what I did read was fantastic.

The very best part to me was the lack of Objectivist jargon. Thomas and Kelley managed to discuss simple to complex Objectivist concepts in their own words. This is already a strong characteristic of Kelley's writing and probably one of the reasons he is so often misunderstood by more orthodox-leaning Objectivists. His concepts are identical to Rand's, but he has his own vocabulary. Not only do I think this is seen as heresy by them, but I have perceived a mental habit in some of their writing of using words to close the mind off to new thought. (This is called a kneejerk reaction on an extreme level.)

Michael

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Michael;

Some time ago I remember reading that you really didn't understand a philosophy until you could explain it in your own words.

Alfonso;

Let me welcome you to OL.

You have to be able to explain it to your mother in your own words.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Bob; This would be a little hard since they have both passed on.

Intended in the general sense. If your mama was still around to listen, could you explain various systems of philosophy to her so she could grasp the basics?

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Michael;

Some time ago I remember reading that you really didn't understand a philosophy until you could explain it in your own words.

Alfonso;

Let me welcome you to OL.

Thanks, Chris.

Alfonso

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  • 2 years later...

Michael;

Some time ago I remember reading that you really didn't understand a philosophy until you could explain it in your own words.

Alfonso;

Let me welcome you to OL.

Ayn Rand would have said here, what she said many times, that you should: "Check your premises." She meant that every individual should verify every idea they use in all of their logical thinking.

At another time she said that one should evaluate and verify every concept they use as a basis for their own philosophy. [paraphrased] She meant that in that sense that Objectivism should strictly adhere to the facts of existents in reality. Nor was an idea to be considered to be open to emotions, conjecture or consensus; just the facts.

She said that an individual should write new definitions for every concept the person uses, and that the definitions should be checked for adherence to a proper context of facts. She was strict regarding the matter that one's own definitions may be checked against Objectivism, and she invited discussion on the matter provided that the philosophy of Objectivism or happy rational discussion was advanced.

What I have never found are examples of Ayn Rand being proved wrong and accepted being wrong. One of the reasons is that regarding Objectivism she was never wrong. You may have new questions and hypotheses; and you are free to check them against Objectivism and bring them into publication. She searched for authors with whom she could establish a serious conversation and respect.

Ralph Hertle

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What I have never found are examples of Ayn Rand being proved wrong and accepted being wrong.

There are plenty, Ralph. Here's a standard example of a simple yet profound error of Rand's:

"The truth or falsehood of all of man’s conclusions, inferences, thought and knowledge rests on the truth or falsehood of his definitions." - ITOE, p65

What's the problem with this? Well, there are no such things as "true" or "false" definitions. The meanings of words are, contra Rand, <i>conventions.</i>

Demonstration: You point to a young dog, and say that's a "puppy". I point to an arrogant young man and say, no, Ralph, you're wrong, that's the true meaning of "puppy". How do you decide which is the "true" and "false" ones?

She searched for authors with whom she could establish a serious conversation and respect.

She did not understand many of the issues she believed she had solved, and was mostly ineducable as to the problems with her arguments. She did not seriously examine her own ideas, nor for the most part those of others, hence she was not taken seriously. Respect is earned, not given.

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There are plenty, Ralph. Here's a standard example of a simple yet profound error of Rand's:

"The truth or falsehood of all of man’s conclusions, inferences, thought and knowledge rests on the truth or falsehood of his definitions." - ITOE, p65

What's the problem with this? Well, there are no such things as "true" or "false" definitions. The meanings of words are, contra Rand, <i>conventions.</i>

Demonstration: You point to a young dog, and say that's a "puppy". I point to an arrogant young man and say, no, Ralph, you're wrong, that's the true meaning of "puppy". How do you decide which is the "true" and "false" ones?

I think this misses the target, too. The (denotative) meaning of a word is what the word refers to. It is people's use of words that is conventional.

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I think this misses the target, too. The (denotative) meaning of a word is what the word refers to. It is people's use of words that is conventional.

The referent of a word is revealed by its usage. One of the uses of usage is the indication of referents. The relation (word;referent) is produced by convention. Another way of putting it is that words in and of themselves have no meaning or referent. They are just articulations or signs.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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She said that an individual should write new definitions for every concept the person uses, and that the definitions should be checked for adherence to a proper context of facts.

You don't define concepts, you define words. A concept is something you imagine and it can be described with words but what you define is the word representing the concept.

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I expected some controversy and will try to clarify. The meaning is what one individual refers to when he/she uses a particular word. What is conventional is that different individuals use the same word to denote the same set or kind of referents. One person's meaning may follow or not follow convention.

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Merlin,

I wonder how many times these old tired arguments are going to be presented to keep the definition game going to bash Rand.

Some people refuse to understand Rand's conceptual structure and they pretend it does not exist. Then they bash Rand because her words do not fit their structure. What's worse, they also pretend that everybody agrees with their structure when that's obviously not the case.

This is a game, not ideas. Not persuasion. Just a game of "Tag, you're it."

Michael

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MSK,

Maybe Barnes, a fan of Popper, grabbed Wittgenstein's poker to use against Rand (link). :D

And isn't it ironic that truth means correspondence with reality, yet Barnes implies there is no such thing as a definition that corresponds or does not correspond to reality? :)

Edited by Merlin Jetton
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Merlin,

I wonder how many times these old tired arguments are going to be presented to keep the definition game going to bash Rand.

Some people refuse to understand Rand's conceptual structure and they pretend it does not exist. Then they bash Rand because her words do not fit their structure. What's worse, they also pretend that everybody agrees with their structure when that's obviously not the case.

This is a game, not ideas. Not persuasion. Just a game of "Tag, you're it."

Michael

As for LSO still being in unpublished "beta" status for over 10 years......don't get me started!

Oh well, cheer up. Who could ask for anything more for the inquiring mind, roaming those bookstores, then to happen upon.... OPAR!

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And isn't it ironic that truth means correspondence with reality, yet Barnes implies there is no such thing as a definition that corresponds or does not correspond to reality? :)

And I never cease to be amazed by the elementary logical errors committed by Objectivists...

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And I never cease to be amazed by the elementary logical errors committed by Objectivists...

And I never cease to be amazed by cheap-shot assertions as clear as mud.

Edited by Merlin Jetton
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Yes, we should try not to take cheap shots. :) I really am interested in discussing the idea that definitions can be right or wrong, true or false, etc. This seems to be an important idea in Objectivism and I, for one, do not understand it. I am not interested in bashing Rand or anyone else but I am curious about what is meant by this. Hell, there is even controversy about what it means for propositions to be true or false and they are actually asserting something. A definition does not assert anything does it? This seems to be the crux of the issue.

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I wonder how many times these old tired arguments are going to be presented to keep the definition game going to bash Rand.

Some people refuse to understand Rand's conceptual structure and they pretend it does not exist. Then they bash Rand because her words do not fit their structure. What's worse, they also pretend that everybody agrees with their structure when that's obviously not the case.

This is a game, not ideas. Not persuasion. Just a game of "Tag, you're it."

Michael

Shorter MSK: Rand is allowed to mark her own homework, and critics who refuse to understand this are tiresome.

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Shorter MSK: Rand is allowed to mark her own homework, and critics who refuse to understand this are tiresome.

Daniel,

How would you know? You speak an entirely different conceptual language than Rand, and then try to fault her for not speaking yours. And you refuse to learn hers.

I will give you this. I suppose according to a Popperian structure, Rand is wrong on much.

How about Popper according to a Randian structure?

But you wouldn't know about this last, since you don't really know what a Randian conceptual structure is. According to the arguments from you I have read, you act like the whole world agrees that Popper's positions are valid. The trouble is that the whole world does not agree with this.

So here's even a shorter version without the partisan taunt you favor: Repeating all this for the umpteenth time is tiresome.

Michael

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How would you know? You speak an entirely different conceptual language than Rand, and then try to fault her for not speaking yours. And you refuse to learn hers.

...How about Popper according to a Randian structure?

Hi Mike

There is no "Popperian structure" or "Popperian conceptual language" that I speak, or that anyone is required to learn before you can officially criticise his ideas. Standard logic applies, and typical dictionary definitions. There is no equivalent of the Randian Double Secret Decoder Ring in Critical Rationalism. Popper uses few neologisms, and where he does use jargon it is typical of the field he is discussing, not of his own invention.

The fact that Objectivism requires its own language, and even apparently its own logic (see Binswanger's remarks here) to express and justify its "conceptual scheme" is merely obscurantism.

But you wouldn't know about this last, since you don't really know what a Randian conceptual structure is.

If before you can criticise Rand's ideas, you first have to accept her own special "conceptual structure", there is a very technical philosophical expression for this: it's called marking your own homework.

Edited by Daniel Barnes
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Daniel,

Marking her own homework? Come on. You can do better than that.

Here are the real questions.

Standard?

Typical?

Popper???

I rest my case. Your world view is that the Popper way is the one of enlightenment.

:)

And, inferring from your statement, you believe that Popper's ideas rest on the standard and the typical. The fact is, though, I don't see evidence that Popper's ideas are standard or typical at all, not even his definitions. They are certainly not universally accepted or used. Popper's realm of influence is small, despite the George Soros's of the world. (btw - I believe Soros uses Popper as an intellectual facade to establish a veneer of validity more than he actually follows Popper's idea of Open Society.)

You can criticize Rand without using Objectivist jargon. Nobody established a condition that you cannot. But it does help if you try to understand what she was getting at. Dragonfly, in fact, does this quite well. And he is far closer to your thinking than mine. Thus, I can disagree with him on standards and premises, to use Objectivist language, and even whether Rand was right or wrong, but I do not need to object to him attributing to Rand what she did not mean.

Michael

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And, inferring from your statement, you believe that Popper's ideas rest on the standard and the typical.

You are making an incorrect inference. Popper, unlike Rand, does not need a special book or website to find out what he means by particular words. Unlike Rand, he does not appeal to a special definition (nor "new, improved" version) of logic.

Popper's ideas are highly untypical and interesting, but unlike Rand they do not require a special "conceptual scheme" before they can be properly understood or judged. You can use ordinary language and logic.

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And, inferring from your statement, you believe that Popper's ideas rest on the standard and the typical.

You are making an incorrect inference. Popper, unlike Rand, does not need a special book or website to find out what he means by particular words. Unlike Rand, he does not appeal to a special definition (nor "new, improved" version) of logic.

Popper's ideas are highly untypical and interesting, but unlike Rand they do not require a special "conceptual scheme" before they can be properly understood or judged. You can use ordinary language and logic.

Danial:

Out of curiosity, does that make one better or more valid than the other?

Adam

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