Why wasn't Eddie Willers invited to Galt's Gulch?


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When the fish woman was mentioned in Atlas I was not surprised to find that was Ayn Rand's cameo in the novel.

On the question of pets I suspect that Ayn Rand would have regarded this as an effort to "humanize" the heroes.

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SL, That's part of the problem when using examples, and only examples, as the arguments. But there's even a deeper problem. Can a hatchling or chick build a nest by instinct? No it

I would think the reason a lot of discussions around instinctual behaviors and the like are center around infancy is due to the fact that infancy is the time with the least amount of experience, the i

TG, Now you are beginning to see it in all its glory. Once you see it, you can't unsee it. And then the argument always boils down to: An instinct is an instinct unless it isn't. O

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As I recall, this took place during the secret Taggart-Rearden vacation in Wisconsin. A sheriff recounts to them that one of the Starnes heirs had a creepy obsession with a woman in town and that, just after she married someone else, he committed suicide in their bedroom.

Thanks.

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Does Objectivism favor bringing children into the world? I think so. We should bring children into the world  with the I.Q. of at least one objectivist parent and then raise them to follow their hearts and brains under our guidance.  Peter

From: William Dwyer To: objectivism Subject: OWL: Re: Ban on cloning (Jason) Date: Tue, 7 Aug 2001 21:21:48 -0700/ TanTrung LeTran asked (8/4) "if human life is the standard of value, then isn't creating a new life 'more ethical' than none?"

Barbara Branden replied, "By 'life is the standard of value,' Ayn Rand was stating that one's own life is the standard, not the lives of others."

According to Rand, one's own life is the ~ purpose ~ of morality (which may be what Barbara intended), not the standard.  In her essay, "The Objectivist Ethics", Rand states: "The Objectivist ethics holds man's life as the ~standard~ of value -- and ~his own life~ as the ethical ~purpose~ of every individual man.

"The difference between "standard" and "purpose" in this context is as follows:  a "standard" is an abstract principle that serves as a measurement or gauge to guide a man's choices in the achievement of a concrete, specific purpose.  'That which is required for the survival of man ~qua~ man' is an abstract principle that applies to every individual man.  The task of applying this principle to a concrete, specific purpose -- the purpose of living a life proper to a rational being -- belongs to every individual man and the life he has to live is his own."

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13 hours ago, Peter said:

Does Objectivism favor bringing children into the world? I think so. We should bring children into the world  with the I.Q. of at least one objectivist parent and then raise them to follow their hearts and brains under our guidance.  Peter

From: William Dwyer To: objectivism Subject: OWL: Re: Ban on cloning (Jason) Date: Tue, 7 Aug 2001 21:21:48 -0700/ TanTrung LeTran asked (8/4) "if human life is the standard of value, then isn't creating a new life 'more ethical' than none?"

Barbara Branden replied, "By 'life is the standard of value,' Ayn Rand was stating that one's own life is the standard, not the lives of others."

According to Rand, one's own life is the ~ purpose ~ of morality (which may be what Barbara intended), not the standard.  In her essay, "The Objectivist Ethics", Rand states: "The Objectivist ethics holds man's life as the ~standard~ of value -- and ~his own life~ as the ethical ~purpose~ of every individual man.

"The difference between "standard" and "purpose" in this context is as follows:  a "standard" is an abstract principle that serves as a measurement or gauge to guide a man's choices in the achievement of a concrete, specific purpose.  'That which is required for the survival of man ~qua~ man' is an abstract principle that applies to every individual man.  The task of applying this principle to a concrete, specific purpose -- the purpose of living a life proper to a rational being -- belongs to every individual man and the life he has to live is his own."

Not "human life" - not "one's own life" - not, of course, other's lives. The standard of value is: man's life. The proper life of man qua man. This was categorically stated by Rand and in the last para, but how many fallacious derivations of it have arisen to confuse and misdirect O'ists!

From the abstraction to the concrete, (an individual life) from which he/she refers back to the abstract measure.

How can your own life be the standard of your own life?! (leaving you an absence of "a standard"?). This gets self-referencing and subjective.

Barbara went a step further: "...one's own life is the standard, not the lives of others". Rather, ones own life is one's supreme value. Acting for one's purpose, by that ~standard~ of value, man's life. 

By this, Peter, it is not (necessarily) "more ethical than none" to create another "human life", as was asked.

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2 hours ago, anthony said:

Not "human life" - not "one's own life" - not, of course, other's lives. The standard of value is: man's life. The proper life of man qua man. This was categorically stated by Rand and in the last para, but how many fallacious derivations of it have arisen to confuse and misdirect O'ists!

From the abstraction to the concrete, (an individual life) and he/she refers back to the abstract measure.

How can your own life be the standard of your own life?! (leaving you an absence of "a standard"?). Get's self-referencing and subjective.

Barbara went another step further: "...one's own life is the standard, not the lives of others". Rather, ones own life is one's supreme value. One's purpose acted for by that ~standard~ of value, man's life. 

By this, Peter, it is not necessarily "more ethical than none" to create another human life as was asked.

 

Anthony, what is the purpose of abstraction?

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Tony,

Be careful not to let semantics confuse the concepts.

Barbara was talking about something much different than William Dwyer was.

Sometimes the same word or phrase can mean two different things depending on context and presuppositions.

 

The Erased Agent 

The critical component here is something I used to call in my mind "the erased agent." This is an error when people ask questions like "What if existence does not exist?" A person must exist to even ask that question. The person, the agent, got erased in their minds (but not in reality).

A whole lot of intellectuals these days commit that error in different forms.

William D did that a lot in his arguing. (I have tangled with him in the past.) In this case re cloning, he wanted to remove his own life from ethics in order to prescribe proper ethics for others. He wanted the good to be good for... whatever... something out there called "human life"... but his life could be excluded.

Barbara corrected him, basically saying the agent (he) was not exempt from morality when prescribing the good for others. (She used a different frame, but that is the essence of what she was saying.)

By definition and reality, something cannot be good for "human life" and not good for a human agent's life at the same time since the agent is a human. (Ergo, is cloning good for his, William's, life? If not, then how can it be good for all others, that is for "human life"?)

The rest is semantics.

 

Deducing Reality from Principle

In fact, semantically, William can said to be correct using the "deduce reality from principle" method. Conceptually, especially in tying concepts to observed reality as Rand does, he is not correct. That's what Barbara corrected since he was talking within a Randian context.

This whole thing of standard and purpose is a headache in O-Land. It never gets resolved. Throw in cognitive biases and a few other mental goodies and it turns into the mess we have whenever it comes up.

The trick to untangle it is to understand the concepts and referents involved, not just the jargon.

In the "erased agent" system of thinking, anything is possible. Just point to a word of phrase and say, "That is my standard for deducing the rest," and forget about what that word of phrase actually points to out here in reality.

 

William D Exists

But, to go syllogism-wise:

Humans exist.
William D is a human.
Therefore William D exists.

When discussing ethics for "human life," he cannot exist and not exist at the same time. Yet thar yonder is where she blows...

:) 

Even as an agent talking in the abstract, "human life" refers to him, William, too. Once he--as a human--gets included in his own arguments, the arguments no longer make much sense in terms of being universally true.

Michael

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Here's an old NB quote just for the hell of it.

On 1/1/2012 at 3:32 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

NB discussed the difference between standard and purpose (which is almost the same thing as a goal, but slightly different). This made it hell to find in the search engines. But I finally found it.

Egoism & Benevolence by Nathaniel Branden (dated August 18, 2011).

Here's the pertinent quote.

Nathaniel Branden said:
... the Objectivist ethics is a set of abstract principles, of which the purpose is the life and well being of the individual – here is where egoism comes in – but of which the standard is that which serves man's life as a rational being. To quote Ayn Rand: "The difference between a 'standard' and a 'purpose'... is as follows: a 'standard' is an abstract principle that serves as a measurement or gauge to guide a man's choices in the achievement of a concrete, specific purpose. 'That which is required for the survival of man qua man' is an abstract principle that applies to every individual man. The task of applying this principle to a concrete, specific purpose – the purpose of living a life proper to a rational being – belongs to every individual man, and the life he has to live is his own." (The Objectivist Ethics) What I want you to note here is that Objectivism says, in effect, that which is rational, in a given context, will serve your self-interest. It does not say that which you decide serves your self-interest is the rational. Self-interest, or happiness, is the purpose, not the standard. People destroy themselves every day by pursuing paths that they feel are to their self-interest. Self-interest, per se, is not and cannot be the standard; it can only be the purpose. Otherwise, the question is left open: By what standard do you determine what is to your self-interest?

In the Objectivist Ethics, reason has the last word, not "self-interest" – where "self-interest," in effect, hangs in a void.

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data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw==

 

Reason...

Michael

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29 minutes ago, Strictlylogical said:

 

Anthony, what is the purpose of abstraction?

 To remove and isolate all lesser attributes of entities (here, individual men/women) to arrive at "one", all-embracing concept, i.e. "man"? That's my best shot right now. Thanks for an easy question SL!

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Michael, With something as crucial as Rand's statement which is the center of Objectivist ethics, I think there's no room for ambiguity. Her words set me off wrongly years ago as I also interpreted it to mean "my life" - the standard of value- etc.

I've been arguing this strongly as it dismays me to notice others going a similar route to mine. With an ethics as powerful as this, it can bite back if one's understanding of egoism strays into subjectivity.

After all, I thought then, hers was an ethics of (rational) egoism, not so? So I - my life - must be the "standard". My interpretation made a kind of sense, semantically, (and rationalistically) however was all backwards.

"Standard" is the key word, but it was too easy to skip past as inessential.

And "man" is the key, not A man.

Your argument is good, to bring in the "deduce reality from principles" error. Loaded also with those sterling characters in Rand's novels, one may also "deduce reality from" - her art.

The solution, simplistically, would be to have induced principles from reality. But we were mostly all young and idealistic then with not a lot of life experiences...

("Purpose", could do with more unbundling. I think it's the concretization - an individual's purpose from the abstraction, man's life).

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58 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Here's an old NB quote just for the hell of it.

Reason...

Michael

Yup, Branden said it all. It is unbelievable that he and his original knowledge should have been um, de-platformed by Objectivists, never to be heard by many.

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41 minutes ago, anthony said:

Her words set me off wrongly years ago as I also interpreted it to mean "my life" - the standard of value- etc.

Tony,

Here's another premise to check in all that.

Your life, your individual life, is the only standard that matters in dangerous situations where immediate action is needed to keep from dying.

You don't get to choose a different standard. Reality and nature provide that for you.

In that context, if you make the right choice and act on it, you live. If you make the wrong choice and act on it, you die.

That even supersedes NB's observation about reason. If a large wild carnivore comes running your way with teeth gnashing, your amygdala goes into overdrive scaring you shitless and you take off running. In other words, you make the right choice irrespective of reason. :) 

Then again, if you are scared shitless, freeze and close your eyes hoping it will all go away, that choice could use a strong dose of reason. :) 

In either case, the standard of action is imposed by reality, that is, you live or die depending on what you do immediately. And that's as an individual, not as man qua man.

So at least there is one context where you can use your own particular life as a standard of value (as more or less understood in this discussion).

But to keep confusion at bay, I believe the trick is to try to understand the concepts behind the words one encounters and make sure they ALWAYS connect to reality one can observe in some manner, even if one has to boil them down a bit to get there. 

Michael

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Right, I see where you're going. But as man's LIFE is the standard of value, MY life is the highest value (I own) abstractly derived from that standard. Therefore, I, as animal, amygdala and all will run like hell in the real event of said carnivore. Not stopping to ponder the concepts involved.

That cardinal virtue rationality ensures that one is always, hopefully, connected to reality, one's own reality included.

This method is rationally inseparable from "standard" and provides the justification for rational selfishness.

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2 hours ago, anthony said:

Right, I see where you're going. But as man's LIFE is the standard of value, MY life is the highest value (I own) abstractly derived from that standard. Therefore, I, as animal, amygdala and all will run like hell in the real event of said carnivore. Not stopping to ponder the concepts involved.

That cardinal virtue rationality ensures that one is always, hopefully, connected to reality, one's own reality included.

This method is rationally inseparable from "standard" and provides the justification for rational selfishness.

Tony,

I didn't understand this, but if you're happy with it, I'm happy, too.

:)

btw - There comes a moment (a context) when standard and value become the same. Or do you think this is impossible? If it is impossible, where did the standard come from? Something unrelated? :) 

And let's not forget purpose. Where did that go? :) 

And now we're in abstract-only-land and can talk all day and night without saying a damn thing.

:) 

Michael

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6 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Tony,

I didn't understand this, but if you're happy with it, I'm happy, too.

:)

btw - There comes a moment (a context) when standard and value become the same. Or do you think this is impossible? If it is impossible, where did the standard come from? Something unrelated? :) 

And let's not forget purpose. Where did that go? :) 

And now we're in abstract-only-land and can talk all day and night without saying a damn thing.

:) 

Michael

Michael, All this may become over-abstracted. Basically one needs an over all, objective, standard for all of our values. Otherwise, we can have and keep no personal standards, or else they turn into what one "feels" a 'standard' should be at any given moment..

The Objectivist ethics holds man's life as...etc.

The statement is clearly the boiled-down summation to Rand's preamble, where she went into 'life', in general, the necessities of - and man's essential, autonomous and uniquely rational nature, and so to the justification for one holding one's own life as one's highest value and purpose.

iow, she made the objective explanation of the *ultimate* standard of value that justifies, covers all one's consciously accepted values (like physical survival, spiritual well-being, purpose, the virtues) for life proper to man, lived by each individual.

The abstract level delineates the standard of value for all men's lives ever, i.e. for 'man's life'. That is, after all, where any and all values and valuing in the universe comes from. One holds 'standards', as with virtues, but one and one's life can't be one's own standard-of-value without compromising what "standard" and "value" are.

I.e. Whatever I choose to do is right and good (because I am my own standard).

To make any sense, a standard is the objective reference point and measure to rate one's performance by, simply. One's life is not the gauge itself.

 

 

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3 hours ago, anthony said:

The abstract level delineates the standard of value for all men's lives ever, i.e. for 'man's life'. That is, after all, where any and all values and valuing in the universe comes from. One holds 'standards', as with virtues, but one and one's life can't be one's own standard-of-value without compromising what "standard" and "value" are.

I.e. Whatever I choose to do is right and good (because I am my own standard).

To make any sense, a standard is the objective reference point and measure to rate one's performance by, simply. One's life is not the gauge itself.

Tony,

Think about Rand's criticism of Plato and take a look again at what you just wrote. Plato held that the perfect essence of a thing was in some sort of abstract world (which we access through our minds) and here on earth there are only imperfect reflections of it.

Using other words, you basically said the same thing about human life.

And here is the rub. A standard is simply a form of measurement. It is set by observation as part of the shebang, not solely by "someone said."

A standard is not a perfect contextless thing, a perfect "reference point," that you strive toward and use to constantly measure how close you get to it.

Epistemologically, everything you observe exists in a context, the most fundamental one being you, meaning you Tony, are observing it.

You cannot erase the agent and still observe. 

This is not the same thing as subjectivism. 

Absolutes exist and are expressed as axioms. To assume the opposite of an axiom, you have to use the original axiom itself. For example, existence.

A standard is different. When a principle is used as a standard, it arises from observation and induction of many things and expressed by a statement, then that statement is constantly checked by more observation and induction and deduction. That's basically what a principle is.

"Man's life qua man" is not an axiom. To assume the opposite, say something like, "man's life qua accident and change," I don't need to use "man's life qua man" to get there. I use observation and witnessing it, and checking it against what I continue to observe, and also checking it against what others constantly observe and witness. Thus, when I observe that a single human life exists as both an individual and as a member of a species, I can even come up with a valid standard like "man's life qua member of human species." 

Standards change when reality changes and is observed and tested like that.

Axioms never change. One can't observe anything and make knowledge with it without using them in their original form. One cannot observe nonexistence or non-identity or use non-consciousness to observe. 

As long as I am on this, here's a brain teaser. A standard of perfection implies a perfect state of existing as part of it. And that, ultimately becomes a contradiction because, perfect is a comparative term and comparative terms need something to compare against. So a standard of perfection is also a standard of imperfection. That means any state of perfection includes a state of imperfection as part of the same thing.

:) 

Michael

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"Man's life" can be the ONLY standard of value.

Michael, you'd surely agree there's nothing in existence, in an unconscious, uncaring universe, that has value, can value itself nor can observe, discover and create values, without the existence of man's life. Values without man's life is a contradiction in terms. That life without values is null and void.

From this standard only, can be affirmed one's own, individual life-value: in order to survive and thrive, by way of those observable, introspectible, identifiable virtues and values that serve one as means to that end.

This is not a "standard of perfection", by any means. This is totally - practical. It is what is right and proper to men - without guarantees of avoiding accidents, illness and such like. Or, intervention by other men. 

Remove that standard of value and anything goes.

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21 minutes ago, anthony said:

Michael, you'd surely agree there's nothing in existence, in an unconscious, uncaring universe, that has value, can value itself nor can observe, discover and create values, without the existence of man's life.

Tony,

I can't validate that with observation.

I am within the universe. A part of it. The universe does not exist at my pleasure. It's bigger than me. Smaller, too. There's time. And so on.

I'm stuck right here where I'm at on this ball spinning through time and space with the standard equipment humans have to process awareness.

I'm not omniscient or eternal, so I can't claim as knowledge things I don't know and can't ultimately observe.

I'm happy that way, too. I better be. I've got no choice about that. Law of identity and all.

Michael

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18 hours ago, anthony said:

 To remove and isolate all lesser attributes of entities (here, individual men/women) to arrive at "one", all-embracing concept, i.e. "man"? That's my best shot right now. Thanks for an easy question SL!

What is a "lesser attribute" of an entity.  What determines it's removal from a concept?

 

For example, what about a particular apple, what "lesser attribute" is to be removed from the "one", all-embracing concept "apple"?

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SL, How does one move mentally from this individual person, that individual person, etc. ad infinitum - to "man"?

And - all those and these human lives - to the identification: man's life.

Call it what you will, but I see abstraction as essentialization. Removing all the less significant and non-relevant characteristics of humans, big-small, brown-white, male-female, past-present-future. Etc. Until there can't be anything more removed.

So ending with "man" - and - "rational animal".

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20 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Tony,

I can't validate that with observation.

 

Michael

Michael, I can.

If there's a "valuer" in the universe which is not 'human' (in some, or any form) then we must posit a supernatural being.

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Anthony, I had initially asked you what the purpose of abstraction was.

This answer

 

On 3/26/2021 at 3:47 PM, anthony said:

 To remove and isolate all lesser attributes of entities (here, individual men/women) to arrive at "one", all-embracing concept, i.e. "man"? That's my best shot right now. Thanks for an easy question SL!

and the answer to my follow up question focus on what abstraction is.  I'm still interested in talking about the purpose of abstraction. 

Why bother with the process of arriving at the concept?  What use is a concept? "What for"?

 

 

As an aside your answers imply abstraction involves a removal or ignorance of some universal characteristics, i.e. some particular "lesser" or "less significant" "non-relevant" characteristics.  How do you pick and choose which universals to keep in the concept?  Does your concept of "man" include that he is a kind of mammal with four limbs and no tail?  Is that part of man's nature?  When thinking about how man could or should climb down a tree, what abstraction do you use to take into account this fact about the nature of man?

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9 hours ago, anthony said:

Michael, I can.

If there's a "valuer" in the universe which is not 'human' (in some, or any form) then we must posit a supernatural being.

Tony,

In other words, you have visited all places in the universe and determined, through observation, that no other life forms exist except ones that evolved on earth or in earth-like conditions? 

Also, you are 100% sure that humans have stopped evolving and there is no future sense organs in human development? In other words, if humans cannot perceive something in the universe (including on earth), it doesn't exist?

That existence is limited to human perception.

You can say that as a metaphysical fact?

In other words, you control the existence of the universe instead of it controlling human appearance and evolution.

I'm impressed. You are awesome.

:) 

(Or are you deducing the limits of the universe from a principle? :evil: )

Michael

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49 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Tony,

In other words, you have visited all places in the universe and determined, through observation, that no other life forms exist except ones that evolved on earth or in earth-like conditions? 

 

:) 

(Or are you deducing the limits of the universe from a principle? :evil: )

Michael

I thought I covered that. "Human, in some or any form", was what I specified. Any rational animal, at some advanced stage of evolution, with consciousness and self-knowledge, must have the identical standard of value, 'man's' life.

Visiting the whole universe? Like the saying goes, you don't need to taste all the oceans to know the sea is salty.

The rational animal alone has the ability to value, can value itself, can observe, discover and create values.

"The capacity to, and source of, value", I think Rand put it.

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24 minutes ago, anthony said:

I thought I covered that. "Human, in some or any form", was what I specified. Any rational animal, at some advanced stage of evolution, with consciousness and self-knowledge, must have the identical standard of value, 'man's' life.

Tony,

Actually, you didn't cover why other possible life forms that develop a form of rationality must have an identical standard of value to humans, neither before nor here.

All you do is proclaim it with the word "must."

Besides, you just misquoted yourself.

You didn't say: "Human, in some or any form."

You actually said (my emphasis):

10 hours ago, anthony said:

If there's a "valuer" in the universe which is NOT 'human' (in some, or any form)...

and followed with your standard "must":

10 hours ago, anthony said:

... then we MUST posit a supernatural being.

Why must we?

No real reason other than must is an end in itself.

:) 

Another term for this proposition is "false dichotomy."

Throw out observation as a fundamental form of validation and people can must all over themselves at will.

Michael

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4 hours ago, Strictlylogical said:

Anthony, I had initially asked you what the purpose of abstraction was.

This answer

 

and the answer to my follow up question focus on what abstraction is.  I'm still interested in talking about the purpose of abstraction. 

Why bother with the process of arriving at the concept?  What use is a concept? "What for"?

 

 

As an aside your answers imply abstraction involves a removal or ignorance of some universal characteristics, i.e. some particular "lesser" or "less significant" "non-relevant" characteristics.  How do you pick and choose which universals to keep in the concept?  Does your concept of "man" include that he is a kind of mammal with four limbs and no tail?  Is that part of man's nature?  When thinking about how man could or should climb down a tree, what abstraction do you use to take into account this fact about the nature of man?

SL,

One needs to conceptualize to structurally retain a huge amount of knowledge; and to abstract, to reduce untold numbers of existents to their core nature. So one can mentally eliminate (e.g.) biological differences and other characteristics in order to summon up the totality of individual men - to "man" and his fundamental identity: his consciousness.

"How do you pick and choose?" A good question.

 

Fundamentality, Rule of.

[Definitions, ITOE]

"Now observe, on the above example [the definition of “man”], the process of determining an essential characteristic: the rule of fundamentality. When a given group of existents has more than one characteristic distinguishing it from other existents, man must observe the relationships among these various characteristics and discover the one on which all the others (or the greatest number of others) depend, i.e., the fundamental characteristic without which the others would not be possible. This fundamental characteristic is the essential distinguishing characteristic of the existents involved, and the proper defining characteristic of the concept.

Metaphysically, a fundamental characteristic is that distinctive characteristic which makes the greatest number of others possible; epistemologically, it is the one that explains the greatest number of others.

For instance, one could observe that man is the only animal who speaks English, wears wristwatches, flies airplanes, manufactures lipstick, studies geometry, reads newspapers, writes poems, darns socks, etc. None of these is an essential characteristic: none of them explains the others; none of them applies to all men; omit any or all of them, assume a man who has never done any of these things, and he will still be a man. But observe that all these activities (and innumerable others) require a conceptual grasp of reality, that an animal would not be able to understand them, that they are the expressions and consequences of man’s rational faculty, that an organism without that faculty would not be a man—and you will know why man’s rational faculty is his essential distinguishing and defining characteristic".

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