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


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To stress the point, even assuming an "instinct for self-preservation" - what use is it? How are you going to live for more than a day on that, and any other instincts?

What to do to 'self-preserve'?

Go find water, by instinct. Can anyone? I've not touched on, e.g. how you weave a basket, build a wall, design a skyscraper, raise a child, instinctively.

That's how much civilisation and the reasoning which produced it is taken for granted by everybody - presumed upon (the stolen concept fallacy). 

 

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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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The contexts of Rand's usage of "instincts" in her fiction, MSK quoted, are obviously a.) slighting of the characters, they who believed in their 'instincts' and b.)  a deduction 'felt' from prior knowledge, but evaded ("An instinct that came from reasons which he knew, but spent his whole effort on not knowing, had told him...")

Instinct can hardly come from reason, in any understanding - especially Rand's. The general idea at large is that it precedes or replaces reason.

Naturally, those excerpts are not Rand's approval or acceptance of instincts.

 

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The experience of and empathetic recognition of strong emotions and their physical manifestations in others as phenomenon is of a different kind then say that the sun is ‘bright’ and that we seem to instinctually avoid looking directly at the sun.

For me trying to integrate this difference into my entire base of knowledge means I’m not ready to concede that as a species we have evolved out of any survival benefits that may be hardwired or instinctive.

As a said before perhaps instinctual is the wrong term or that if the term is correct in naming some like phenomenon, there may be differences of degree or kind that makes instinct the wrong moniker.

Reason as capacity has the potential to ‘answer’ all questions , but one big trick is to make sure that the questions being asked are the right questions for the answers one is looking for.

Take the phenomenon of seeing the color ‘red’. I can never know for sure that red looks to you the same way red looks to me , but as long as we both agree the object in front of us is red in color we can dispense with our individual coherence or non coherence of internal experience as irrelevant.

Basically we both see red apples by the mechanics of perception , light impinges on our eyes and eventually the brain identifies the quality in question and we all do it. We all react to the external stimuli is the same way. The ability to communicate the idea of seeing red is different then the ‘act’ of seeing red. That communication is a result of a functioning volitional , conceptual consciousness.Learning that the ability to distinguish red objects from other objects could have survival benefits , eg don’t eat the red ones is , ..well a benefit . And there are myriad examples of ‘learning’ to figure out important information about external stimuli that when utilized benefit survival and prospering .

But for me , what is harder to figure out is how/why experience of internal phenomenon eg, emotions or even more pointedly ‘strong’ emotions is universal . I get why red and the brightness of the sun is independent of the apprehension of the entity ‘seeing’ them . The sun is out there being the sun doing sun things and the effects just impinge on all willy-nilly. But why are happy and sad the same ,   the locus of the phenomenon is internal to entity , comes from within and emanates out , yet like effects of the sun on each individual entity retains the same universality.

Again , I probably have or am using the wrong questions , but there is something there , there , no ? 

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2 hours ago, tmj said:

The experience of and empathetic recognition of strong emotions and their physical manifestations in others as phenomenon is of a different kind then say that the sun is ‘bright’ and that we seem to instinctually avoid looking directly at the sun.

For me trying to integrate this difference into my entire base of knowledge means I’m not ready to concede that as a species we have evolved out of any survival benefits that may be hardwired or instinctive.

 

How do you detect those in the first place? Excluding the possibility of any magical - instinctive - absorption of others' emotional state, their grief, anger or joy, that recognition (by one) of their strong emotions, can only be seen and heard. You detect through your senses. Facial expressions, human sounds, bodily actions, words. What follows would often be your emotional sympathy for their plight or happy situation, arising out of your value-judgments regarding human (or animal) pain, suffering, pleasure, etc. This is humanly good; that is bad and unbefitting to human life, by your objective standards (originally consciously derived from "man's life").

I'd say it's the same phenomenon. Perceive, identify, evaluate: then, emotional response. In this instance of empathy and many situations, those happen rapidly, processed within a few seconds, and seemingly - instinctively. Not so.

(And to "instinctually" avoid looking at the sun, was learned knowledge, by experience - it is painful, a warning by your senses that you can do self-damage this way).

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I hear ya, but man something in me sounds so smart and efficient.

Take that learning about the sun , how did the pain know?

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13 hours ago, ThatGuy said:

Since the dictionary definitions are being disputed, I got curious about the origin of the word...here's the etymology of the word "instinct"...interesting that there's no mention of "Rationality" in it...
 

instinct (n.)

early 15c., "a prompting" (a sense now obsolete), from Old French instinct (14c.) or directly from Latin instinctus "instigation, impulse, inspiration," noun use of past participle of instinguere "to incite, impel," from in- "into, in, on, upon" (from PIE root *en "in") + stinguere "prick, goad," from PIE *steig- "to prick, stick, pierce" (see stick (v.)).

Meaning "animal faculty of intuitive perception" is from mid-15c., from notion of "natural prompting." General sense of "natural tendency" is first recorded 1560s.

https://www.etymonline.com/word/instinct

Speaking of definitions:

Peikoff says this in OPAR:

“The lower conscious species may be said to survive by ‘instinct,’ if the term means an unchosen and unerring form of action (unerring within the limits of its range). Sensations and percepts are unchosen and unerring. An instinct, how- ever—whether of self-preservation or anything else—is precisely what a conceptual being does not have. Man cannot function or survive by the guidance of mere sensations or percepts. A conceptual being cannot initiate action unless he knows the nature and purpose of his action. He cannot pursue a goal unless he identifies what his goal is and how to achieve it.7"

I noted that he says IF the term means what he goes on to say...but why use "If"? Why not consult a dictionary or even the etymology? Seems like a similar omission to Rand's unnamed dictionary source for the definition of "selfish".

(And why "unerring"? Are all animal instincts "unerring", even within the limits of its range? Not sure what he means, exactly...)

I also wonder if there's a reluctance to consider the idea of human instincts in addition to reason based on the same rejection of Aristotle's "Prime Mover", and the rejection of "final teleology"...

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9 hours ago, tmj said:

But for me , what is harder to figure out is how/why experience of internal phenomenon eg, emotions or even more pointedly ‘strong’ emotions is universal .

T,

Here is the short version on universality of brain things. You can accept it or not, but this is the direction science is headed in. Those who understand this end up making gigantic companies like Google and Facebook in a very short time, or indoctrinating an entire generation to produce adult woke-bots who would not know how to survive on a desert island by themselves without a friggin' safe space (meaning most of them would not survive or reproduce). And, like it or not, it is critical to know this stuff in order to combat those toxic threats effectively. 

 

Brain evolution overview

The process of brain evolution is an easy pattern to detect once you see it. If you go back in time to before mammals, and even earlier with the first appearance of neurons, you can then go forward over many species through the development of the spinal chord, the brain stem, and component after component until you get to a fully developed cortex. Note that even the cortex is divided up into parts. (btw - Your cortex is like a wadded up ball of paper. It can be unfolded. :) )

So why did these components evolve and why are they interconnected? Obviously they evolved because something in their environment needed the capability in order for individual members of the species to deal with that something.

If you do one thing only from this post, brand this point into the back of your brain. This will be the Occom's Razor that cuts through a lot of bullshit.

The mandate from evolution is that individuals (not all) in a species must survive long enough to reproduce. Otherwise, the species dies out.

And that means all those early life forms are our ancestors. The ones who developed capabilities (what we can call instincts) to deal with their environment long enough to survive and reproduce passed those capabilities on. Those who did not develop these capabilities ended up being dinner for other species or otherwise croaked. One cannot reproduce if one is dead. Thus, no genes get passed down.

 

Brain expansion based on change in environment

Now here's where things get interesting. As life forms explored new environments, they encountered new places to get food and protection and reproduce safely, but they also encountered new threats and hostile conditions that were not present (or were negligible) in where they came from. So out of necessity, they had to deal with those threats.

Brains are made of stuff that is easier to evolve than wings or limbs, so the brain evolved much faster than the physical body from primal ooze. And for new more complex behaviors to get coded into neurons, new sections of brain had to evolve to house it, so to speak. 

Now just because a new layer or lump of brain evolved, that didn't mean the previous layers and lumps disappeared. And each of the previous ones had a whole lot of behaviors and routines built into them. Many times, the new environment did not need some of those capacities. And sometimes the priorities of the new section conflicted with the old.

So not only did brains have to acquire new capacities to deal with new environments, they also had to evolve a way of working with previous layers of brain in a form that did not sabotage survival and reproduction. Don't forget, if this problem did not get solved and did not evolve in individuals in our human species, the ones who did not acquire it were NOT our ancestors. They died without passing on their genes.

 

One example out of countless

I could list example after example, but for the sake of simplicity, here is one that is easy to visualize. When pre-human primates were still living in trees, they had developed an automatic fear of snakes, spiders and predatory birds. (As an aside, Jordan Peterson says this is where the dragon archetype comes from, being that in one form or another, it is universal across all cultures.)

[EDIT: Oops. I left out big-ass usually loud carnivores. :) ]

After leaving trees and descending to the plains and developing the habit of walking on two legs, and in addition to the early development of reason and cooperation in groups, the metaphysical threat of snakes, spiders and predatory birds gradually became so insignificant to the majority of individuals that nowadays in a city, it is about as close to nonexistent as it can get without eradication of those specific species.

Yet, as Pinker has pointed out, texting while driving (how's that for a new deadly environment?) comes with a a high degree of mortality, yet nobody senses a gut-wrenching fear of it.

However, still today, if you suddenly detect something slithering near you, or a spider-like form crawling across your arm, or you see out of the corner of your eye a a large flappy thing suddenly coming at you, you not only flinch, your fight-flight system kicks in big time and goes into overdrive.

Notice that it works this way even if the slithering thing is a garden hose being pulled by someone you are not aware of yet, or the spider-like form is a small dustball carried by a draft, or the large flappy thing is a kite gone bad.

That reaction is instinct. It's left over from environments that are no longer relevant (but would be if you got stranded on a desert island.) Not only do you react with sudden sharp focused attention, sweating, increased heart beats, and so on, you act on it immediately, generally by the startle reflex.

I'm almost afraid to mention an example like that because the example itself tends to be nitpicked and rationalized to death by people intent on not understanding what it is an example of. (Which is one of the reasons I'm not talking about red or a bright sun right now. Without the foundation I'm discussing, a discussion of that--fact-wise--will always be beside the point.)

 

Brain modules

The thing is, our brain is made up of many modules, not just one or two. Hell, we even have two major portions dividing the the limbic system and cortex each in two (left brain and right brain). Each module evolved to deal with certain problems of survival and reproduction that are native to specific environments where our ancestors lived. And as each module developed, it was fine-tuned for working in harmony with the other modules, not in a perfect way, but enough for individuals to survive and reproduce. Once again, those that managed to pull this off are our ancestors. Those that didn't died off. 

(And those imperfection interactions are the root of all evil and the basis of the need for morality. :) )

In practical terms, this leads to a a few things one should be aware of.

1. Reason is not a state of being in a whole brain. It's how certain modules (interconnected with the other modules) work. If those "reason" modules are turned off by disease or drugs or whatever, reason is no longer present.

2. Another point, did you know there are modules where an "I" is totally lacking? There is no awareness there that surfaces into conscious awareness. The cerebellum is a good example. This is the large ball behind the brain stem as it goes upward into the limbic system. This is where most automated motor function resides. Even if reason is not present, but the brain is still alive, those non-"I" modules still work.

3. There actually is a part where the brain needs input from the environment to grow in a specific way--a blank slate so to speak. This is called "stem cells" and they are enormously present in newborns and fetuses. They are identical at the beginning, but grow into anything. But they are not the whole story with prewiring in the brain. The whole story is way too long for a post and, hell, just like neuroscientists and modern psychologists, I am still learning.

(btw - The blank slate thing is one example among many where Rand landed on a truth that works within a larger context, but then she pushed it out as contextless, that is, universal to all situations. As her way of communicating was often belligerent, bellic and "us against them," this triggers the fight-flight instinct in most people--an instinct by the way :) , and that limits what reason is able to process. That's another essay, though.)

4. No brain module is missing in the processing of anything where conscious awareness is working, but some modules are more intense (meaning the blood flow is higher in them, the electrical and chemical activity is greater, and so on) at specific times and in specific situations. This results in the same person seeing the world through different frames, which is an experience common to all of us. 

For an easy example, if you are in an airplane that suddenly starts to nose-dive and you were absorbed in thinking through a complex math problem before that happened, how focused will you stay on the math problem? :) It does not go away, but your frame changes drastically. Your awareness focuses on the danger. Which means the more primitive part of your brain kicks in and overrides the other modules.

I could go on, and believe me, there is a shitload more, but this works as a scratch on the tip of the iceberg just to let you know that a lot of stuff about the human mind outside of O-Land literature exists on a solid foundation. (And this is not to denigrate O-Land literature. It's merely to make an identification of something critical to add to your knowledge. Rand's writings are the main source that informed my worldview, after all. :) And I hold that this worldview is a solid foundation to build on.)

 

Pinker lectures

If you are interested, here is a free Harvard lecture series by Steven Pinker that will be completed at the end of April: Introduction to Psychological Science. The lectures are surprisingly newbie-friendly. Sixteen are already up and there will be a total of 23 (see here). I don't know how long they will stay up and be free, but I suspect for a long, long time.

I don't agree with everything Pinker says (this means his interpretations, not his facts which are rock solid), but man is this an easy education into the brain and mind while including modern advances in brain science. And at least he's not boring, although those bug-eyes as he reads the teleprompter make you think he took a strong hit of something. :) 

So take from this post what you find valuable and leave the rest. I hope you actually look at this stuff, though--and learn some facts and think about them.

Shutting this out will make you an ineffective world-changer--especially against some very evil people who are experts at it--if changing the world for the better is interesting to you.

Michael

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12 hours ago, anthony said:

There's absolutely no need to become combative, Michael.

Tony,

Sorry. I let the frustration get to me.

To be blunt, discussing this with you is like a horse-and-buggy person back in the day telling a car person that cars can't possibly work because they don't eat alfalfa.

(In case it's not obvious, in my analogy, you are the horse-and buggy person and I the car person. :) )

And the horse-and-buggy person is really adamant and refuses to even consider the internal combustion engine, etc. He won't look.

Wheels instead of hoofs? Well, maybe. It's a weird idea, but he can see it in some rare cases. After all, a buggy has wheels. But there's no getting around how to feed the car.

To him, he's an expert in horses and if a horse doesn't eat alfalfa or some kind of feed, there is no way it will have the strength to pull a buggy. Ergo, cars can't possibly work. I mean, come on. Carburetor? Jeez, Louise... Where do you put the alfalfa in to be chewed? And, speaking of the obvious, where does the fecal matter come out? Got an answer for that one, smart guy?

:)

So, until you get educated a little on the brain, we are going to have to agree to disagree.

(btw - I still like you. I never stopped. :) )

Michael

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22 hours ago, anthony said:

To stress the point, even assuming an "instinct for self-preservation" - what use is it? How are you going to live for more than a day on that, and any other instincts?

What to do to 'self-preserve'?

Go find water, by instinct. Can anyone? I've not touched on, e.g. how you weave a basket, build a wall, design a skyscraper, raise a child, instinctively.

That's how much civilisation and the reasoning which produced it is taken for granted by everybody - presumed upon (the stolen concept fallacy). 

 

You seem to be fighting against the idea instinct is the primary guide to action or its final arbiter, but I don’t think anyone is making that claim.

I think you tend to deny the significant impact of instinct on human function and  experience, on our minds and bodies, even our feelings and thoughts, because you find certain things about what a human is, to be distasteful.

You ignore those things about the nature of man which you find distasteful... at your peril.  For to think about what man is and what he should do you cannot use a concept of man which fails to accept the reality of his entire nature, not if you wish to know or to live.

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2 hours ago, Strictlylogical said:

about what a human is, to be distasteful.

 

Some projecting going on. Identify one human instinct that there is.

"Innate knowledge" is the definition.

But you guys won't provide a list of observable instincts that are not biological behaviors and needs, subconsciously-gathered knowledge, previous value-judgments, etc.

I've made all the argument and zip from you. Now a ludicrous and presumptuous ad hom.

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15 hours ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

To him, he's an expert in horses and if a horse doesn't eat alfalfa or some kind of feed, there is no way it will have the strength to pull a buggy. Ergo, cars can't possibly work. I mean, come on. Carburetor? Jeez, Louise... Where do you put the alfalfa in to be chewed? And, speaking of the obvious, where does the fecal matter come out? Got an answer for that one, smart guy?

:)

So, until you get educated a little on the brain, we are going to have to agree to disagree.

(btw - I still like you. I never stopped. :) )

Michael

Basically, no problemo, Michael. I am flabbergasted that I have to keep pointing out the obvious.

And you all don't accept it. This: I keep repeating and showing, we are animals. I admire that and said so. A serious discussion begins from there to encapsulate "we are also rational animals".

That they are compatible is too obvious to mention. You can see it, the effects of it and experience reason yourself.

"Compatibilism": that's the thing.

Strikes me that's not acceptable here. You are all resisting the idea there is no false dichotomy between mind and physicality.

BUT. If you want to advance that we are *instinctive*, rational animals - show me the money! I want to see or hear real-life examples.

 

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21 hours ago, ThatGuy said:

Speaking of definitions:

Peikoff says this in OPAR:

“The lower conscious species may be said to survive by ‘instinct,’ if the term means an unchosen and unerring form of action (unerring within the limits of its range). Sensations and percepts are unchosen and unerring. An instinct, how- ever—whether of self-preservation or anything else—is precisely what a conceptual being does not have. Man cannot function or survive by the guidance of mere sensations or percepts. A conceptual being cannot initiate action unless he knows the nature and purpose of his action. He cannot pursue a goal unless he identifies what his goal is and how to achieve it.7"

I noted that he says IF the term means what he goes on to say...but why use "If"? Why not consult a dictionary or even the etymology? Seems like a similar omission to Rand's unnamed dictionary source for the definition of "selfish".

(And why "unerring"? Are all animal instincts "unerring", even within the limits of its range? Not sure what he means, exactly...)

I also wonder if there's a reluctance to consider the idea of human instincts in addition to reason based on the same rejection of Aristotle's "Prime Mover", and the rejection of "final teleology"...

"There's nothing in the subconscious mind that didn't get there by conscious means". I think that's how LP put it.

Of course that extends to distant memories and forgotten feelings and buried emotions ... and all experiences - likely returning also to the sensations one had as a pre-born baby.

They got in here via my vision and hearing and touch and taste. Conscious means.

In all my time of considering and introspection of that I have established for myself that Peikoff was bang on.

 

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33 minutes ago, anthony said:

I am flabbergasted that I have to keep pointing out the obvious.

Tony,

Multiply that by about 100,000 and that's the way I feel when I talk about cars not eating alfalfa (metaphorically speaking, of course.)

It's kinda obvious.

:)

btw - I noticed that you are making it all about Peikoff now.

It's not about Peikoff and some partisan war surrounding him.

It's about the brain and how it works.

Michael

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55 minutes ago, anthony said:

Some projecting going on. Identify one human instinct that there is.

"Innate knowledge" is the definition.

But you guys won't provide a list of observable instincts that are not biological behaviors and needs, subconsciously-gathered knowledge, previous value-judgments, etc.

I've made all the argument and zip from you. Now a ludicrous and presumptuous ad hom.

What makes you think instinct has anything to do with knowledge or thought?

Speaking of projection... you project onto animals and the instinct guiding them with your unique human capacity of rational thought.

There is no reason to think any human or animal experiences instinct as knowledge or thought. 

As for distaste... you think some aspects about the nature of humans are not high enough to include in your concept of human... making it impossible for you to make decisions about what a man should do if it has anything to do with his lower nature... but man is man... and what he should do is contingent on the entirety of the reality of his nature.

 

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On 4/1/2021 at 9:00 AM, anthony said:

Naturally, those excerpts are not Rand's approval or acceptance of instincts.

I wasn't going to respond to this, but I will now.

In other words, Rand didn't believe in instincts except for when she did. And those times don't count.

Beautiful reasoning...

And even better channeling of her ghost.

:)

Michael

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34 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Tony,

Multiply that by about 100,000 and that's the way I feel when I talk about cars not eating alfalfa (metaphorically speaking, of course.)

It's kinda obvious.

:)

btw - I noticed that you are making it all about Peikoff now.

It's not about Peikoff and some partisan war surrounding him.

It's about the brain and how it works.

Michael

Geez, now that's getting picky. I reported a single comment of Peikoff's (which I see as true). All about ... nope.

It is about the brain and the mind and how they both work.

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50 minutes ago, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Tony,

This is bullshit.

I've given several examples.

Too bad you don't read them.

Michael

I believe that comment was in answer to SL.

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46 minutes ago, Strictlylogical said:

What makes you think instinct has anything to do with knowledge or thought?

 

 

Can you build a nest, by instinct?

That's what in meant by "knowledge" in the context of instinct in animals. I.e. HOW to do something and WHAT to do.

"Thought" doesn't enter the -many- amazing things which a bird can do - instinctively. I'd have thought that was plain.

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28 minutes ago, anthony said:

Can you build a nest, by instinct?

That's what in meant by "knowledge" in the context of instinct in animals. I.e. HOW to do something and WHAT to do.

"Thought" doesn't enter the -many- amazing things which a bird can do - instinctively. I'd have thought that was plain.

I didn’t say humans have bird instincts,   I merely note that your so called logic you use to refute any and all instinct in humans is premised on an assumption that instincts we observe in animals should be experienced in a certain way when you have no idea how instinct is experienced by the animals you accept have them.  What basis could you possibly have to posit that humans should experience, something you claim we absolutely do not experience, namely instinct, in a particular manner, namely, as knowledge instead of an urge, feeling, or impulse?

 

In any case, my comment regarding the paucity of your concept of man, as in incomplete rather than in low esteem, still stands, and does so irrespective of whether man has instincts or not.

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36 minutes ago, anthony said:

I believe that comment was in answer to SL.

Tony.

Oops. I screwed up. I wert too fast and embedded the wrong quote.

This (from the same post) is what I was referring to.

2 hours ago, anthony said:

But you guys won't provide a list of observable instincts that are not biological behaviors and needs, subconsciously-gathered knowledge, previous value-judgments, etc.

I considered myself as part of "you guys." And, of course, I have provided examples.

:)

Michael

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1 hour ago, Strictlylogical said:

What makes you think instinct has anything to do with knowledge or thought?

 

 

I was about to comment on the phrase "instinctual knowledge"...that the etymology of instinct doesn't say anything about knowledge; rather, its defined as a "prompting" or "impulse", and NOT about "innate conceptual knowledge".

If I'm remembering correctly, Rand had acknowledged such impulses of hunger and such, but separated those from "instinct".

instinct (n.)

early 15c., "a prompting" (a sense now obsolete), from Old French instinct (14c.) or directly from Latin instinctus "instigation, impulse, inspiration," noun use of past participle of instinguere "to incite, impel," from in- "into, in, on, upon" (from PIE root *en "in") + stinguere "prick, goad," from PIE *steig- "to prick, stick, pierce" (see stick (v.)).

Meaning "animal faculty of intuitive perception" is from mid-15c., from notion of "natural prompting." General sense of "natural tendency" is first recorded 1560s.

 

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25 minutes ago, Strictlylogical said:

I didn’t say humans have bird instincts...

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 can't. It can't even fly.

Whenever people talk about instincts in O-Land and are of the view that human instincts do not exist, they always leave out growth. The logic goes like this.

If you point to an instinct (like being left handed or right handed, which only appears after growth takes place), they claim that this is a learned behavior because experience helped fill the "blank slate."

(btw - The natural instinct in that case can be modified by conscious effort or being forced to use the other hand, but that's a different issue. The natural impulse is there and it only develops after growth takes place.)

But when they point to animals (or insects) they always talk about ADULT members of a species. That's what they use when they point to an example of an instinct. They never talk about why such instinct isn't visible in the very young.

In other words, if an animal grows into a behavior, it's because that's an instinct. If a human grows into a behavior, that's because experience is feeding conceptual development.

Experience doesn't count for animal instincts, but it does count for proving humans don't have instincts

It's a double standard.

Also, I'm still stuck on the instinct of a black widow spider eating her mate after copulation. I've known several human women like that. I wonder if that's by instinct...

:evil:  :) 

Michael

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42 minutes ago, ThatGuy said:

I was about to comment on the phrase "instinctual knowledge"...that the etymology of instinct doesn't say anything about knowledge; rather, its defined as a "prompting" or "impulse", and NOT about "innate conceptual knowledge".

If I'm remembering correctly, Rand had acknowledged such impulses of hunger and such, but separated those from "instinct".

instinct (n.)

early 15c., "a prompting" (a sense now obsolete), from Old French instinct (14c.) or directly from Latin instinctus "instigation, impulse, inspiration," noun use of past participle of instinguere "to incite, impel," from in- "into, in, on, upon" (from PIE root *en "in") + stinguere "prick, goad," from PIE *steig- "to prick, stick, pierce" (see stick (v.)).

Meaning "animal faculty of intuitive perception" is from mid-15c., from notion of "natural prompting." General sense of "natural tendency" is first recorded 1560s.

 

Here's an example from Galt's Speech where Rand referred to automatic body functions vs. conceptual knowledge:

“To think is an act of choice. The key to what you so recklessly call “human nature,” the open secret you live with, yet dread to name. is the fact that man is a being of volitional consciousness. Reason does not work automatically; thinking is not a mechanical process; the connections of logic are not made by instinct. The function of your stomach, lungs or heart is automatic; the function of your mind is not. “

So it seems that she is acknowledging automatic, unconscious genetically inherited/generated bodily impulses as real, but separate from conceptual knowledge. Fine enough, but why conflate them with conceptual knowledge, or knowledge with instincts? Why say "An 'instinct' is an unerring and automatic form of knowledge. A desire is not an instinct" without quoting the definition source? Why just assert that THAT is THE definition? (Similar to what she did with "selfish"...)


Probably because other thinkers had done so, straying from the etymology of instinct as impulse, and conflating them, the way that Romantic mystics or Nietzsche or Freud did.

It seems to me that she let them define the terms, and responded on the basis of that, instead of being "Radical" and going to the root, to check the premise of the term:

“To think is an act of choice. The key to what you so recklessly call 'human nature,'the open secret you live with, yet dread to name. is the fact that man is a being of volitional consciousness. Reason does not work automatically; thinking is not a mechanical process; the connections of logic are not made by instinct. The function of your stomach, lungs or heart is automatic; the function of your mind is not. “
--


“Philosophically, Nietzsche is a mystic and an irrationalist. His metaphysics consists of a somewhat 'Byronic' and mystically 'malevolent' universe; his epistemology subordinates reason to 'will,' or feeling or instinct or blood or innate virtues of character.”

---

"Nietzsche’s rebellion against altruism consisted of replacing the sacrifice of oneself to others by the sacrifice of others to oneself. He proclaimed that the ideal man is moved, not by reason, but by his 'blood,' by his innate instincts, feelings and will to power—that he is predestined by birth to rule others and sacrifice them to himself, while they are predestined by birth to be his victims and slaves—that reason, logic, principles are futile and debilitating, that morality is useless, that the 'superman' is “'beyond good and evil,' that he is a 'beast of prey' whose ultimate standard is nothing but his own whim. Thus Nietzsche’s rejection of the Witch Doctor consisted of elevating Attila into a moral ideal—which meant: a double surrender of morality to the Witch Doctor.

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"It must be noted that philosophers contributed to the confusion surrounding the term 'Romanticism.' They attached the name 'Romantic' to certain philosophers (such as Schelling and Schopenhauer) who were avowed mystics advocating the supremacy of emotions, instincts or will reason."

 

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