Mike Hansen

Objectivist Contradictions

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You seem to have misunderstood me on both counts. I said you were right on one count, but do not know it - not that you were wrong. Second, I didn't say that I wouldn't or could explain to the readers of my words. Just not to you.

"I can explain it, just not to you" will not work either

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You seem to have misunderstood me on both counts. I said you were right on one count, but do not know it - not that you were wrong. Second, I didn't say that I wouldn't or could explain to the readers of my words. Just not to you.

"I can explain it, just not to you" will not work either

The relevant verb is not can but will.

And my refusal seems to be working extremely well, thanks.

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Speaking to the original question, Her worst contradiction was her promotion of authoritarianism in Objectivism (particularly her TOF endorsement of it), but you won't run into that problem at OL, most people here are completely immunized.

More insidious than overt contradiction is her view that the philosophy is complete or that it properly emphasizes the right things in every place.

Good points, I'll add them to the list.

Peter:

May we see see the list that you have amassed please.

Adam

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[

The relevant verb is not can but will.

So you say. But I don't believe you.

I believe Ted. Having followed Ted for several years I'm pretty certain he won't say something he cannot prove. He may be showing a bit of benevolence here, he's been known to be moderated in other places for, the best that I can determine, the protection of certain other members self-esteem.

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Thanks; I get it now. To give her her due, I'd speculate that she would demand that you should apply the virtue of independent thought, first.

And then, agree with her. :D

Failing 100% agreement, would you consider the appellation "neo-Objectivist" valid and proper?

Tony

It's a massive compliment to her for someone to don the word she coined as the name for their life philosophy. In return for this, she slaps you in the face and demands intellectual subservience. No one who actually believes in her philosophy of independence would suffer such an insult. No true Objectivist would therefore use that word to describe their own philosophy of life. So no, I do not consider the word "neo-Objectivist" valid and proper.

Shayne

Interesting, that you and Ted are both opposed to "neo-Objectivism", but for different reasons!

Shayne, as O'ism becomes more widespread, I'm sure there are going to be all manner of people calling themselves Objectivist. There will be no stopping it. (Yes, this is rationalism on my part.)

We are talking about justice and honesty here, I realise.

On balance, between 'complimenting' Rand by adhering to her basic principles, and 'complimenting' her by using the name of her philosophy, I'll go with both - and with Ted - on this.

The first book of Rand's I read was Virtue of Selfishness. A kid I had had a huge falling out with tossed it on my desk one day after two years of not talking and said I would appreciate it. I laughed out loud when I read the opening sentence, and was a full-blown Objectivist within two weeks.

Realize that I am bisexual, and had come out to my friends and family the year before. Rand's comments on homosexuality weren't exactly complimentary.

Who cares? She put into words and crystalized for me everything I already believed.

I had dreamt in the first grade that there was a secret the adults were keeping from us and that the answer was in a book I found hidden in a crawlspace in a basement of a friend's.

Virtue of Selfishness was that book.

Rand was a cranky old woman who might have been better served had she not been so bitter. But who cares? I adhere to the essence of and the main tenets of her philosophy. I am grateful to call myself an Objectivist.

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The problem with volition is that it is both cause and effect (actually like most things that exist to varying degrees).

Asking if volition is determined is sort of like asking where the starting point of a circle is, or which can you do without and still have a whole, the top or the bottom?

All things have both form and content--you cannot remove one without destroying the thing. The same reasoning applies to volitional beings, and goes even further. What they can do is determined, but within the confines of such limitation (including a vast array of possibilities), they have free choice. For example, man can walk to the right or to the left. Which one he does is caused by his volition. Man cannot stand naked, flap his arms and fly. That part is determined and no amount of volition will make it happen.

This is pretty obvious to me, but I see it come up all the time with people who try to play gotcha with Rand.

She is wrong on a few things, but I find it of far more value to identify this stuff correctly rather than shoot for discrediting her (or defending her, for that matter) where the issue is semantics and little else. Apropos, that form of rhetoric reminds me of politicians.

Michael

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The problem with volition is that it is both cause and effect (actually like most things that exist to varying degrees).

Asking if volition is determined is sort of like asking where the starting point of a circle is, or which can you do without and still have a whole, the top or the bottom?

All things have both form and content--you cannot remove one without destroying the thing. The same reasoning applies to volitional beings, and goes even further. What they can do is determined, but within the confines of such limitation (including a vast array of possibilities), they have free choice. For example, man can walk to the right or to the left. Which one he does is caused by his volition. Man cannot stand naked, flap his arms and fly. That part is determined and no amount of volition will make it happen.

This is pretty obvious to me, but I see it come up all the time with people who try to play gotcha with Rand.

She is wrong on a few things, but I find it of far more value to identify this stuff correctly rather than shoot for discrediting her (or defending her, for that matter) where the issue is semantics and little else. Apropos, that form of rhetoric reminds me of politicians.

Michael

Excellent on all counts.

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All things have both form and content--you cannot remove one without destroying the thing. The same reasoning applies to volitional beings, and goes even further. What they can do is determined, but within the confines of such limitation (including a vast array of possibilities), they have free choice. For example, man can walk to the right or to the left. Which one he does is caused by his volition. Man cannot stand naked, flap his arms and fly. That part is determined and no amount of volition will make it happen.

This is pretty obvious to me, but I see it come up all the time with people who try to play gotcha with Rand.

Determinism means that there is only one possible outcome to a situation, not that there are a number of

impossible outcomes. That is what it means in the general debate on free will, and that is what it means

in Objectivism: ""A thing cannot act against its nature, i.e., in contradiction to it's identity, because A is A and contradictions are impossible. In any given set of circumstances, therefore, there is only one action possible to an entity, the action expressive of it's identity."' OPAR

Inasmuch as this is about understanding the correct use of words, it is very properly "semantics".

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Peter,

Hi. btw - Welcome to OL.

I am a conceptual thinker, not so much a semantical one (unless I am doing poetry or something like that). The problem with thinking semantically without concepts fundamentally behind it is that you take a word like "outcome" as applied to the future of one existent and try to apply it to another with a different nature, then go around claiming some kind of contradiction.

I say if anyone thinks that way, they are wrong. The law of identity and all...

Specific to volition, the "determined outcome" part of volition concerns its nature--what it will do in the future qua volition, not a spatial outcome like a ball rolling from one place to another.

An "outcome" for a volitional being is that it chooses. What it chooses is not the outcome based on its nature. That it chooses is. This nature is so "determined" that the volitional being can choose to choose and choose to not choose--but it all boils down to choosing.

It cannot do otherwise. This is the only possible outcome, which is how you defined determinism.

How's that for determined?

In your formulation, though, the outcome of any particular choice must be applied to the faculty itself of volition. (With the odd idea that your formulation proves that Rand engaged in some kind of contradiction.)

In the case of the ball, the ability to roll and an actual instance of rolling are two different things--or better yet, two different facets of the same thing. Can you imagine something rolling without having the capacity to roll? If there is no capacity to roll, there can be no determined outcome from rolling.

Ditto for volition and choosing. You can't isolate a particular choice from the ability to choose. Rather than proving that free choice does not exist, or only free choice exists, this fact shows clearly that both determinism and free choice are part of volition.

The nature of volition results in a determined future outcome and there can be no other--it chooses. What it chooses is the free choice part, but that no longer pertains to the nature of volition per se. That only pertains to a specific choice.

It seems reality is bigger and more inclusive than a human theory. Ain't that something?

And it gets worse when the theory is based on floating different concepts through the same word and pretending the different meanings mean each other when you need a contradiction.

And don't forget, a volitional being does not have the same nature as a rolling ball, at least mine doesn't... :)

Michael

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Peter,

Hi. btw - Welcome to OL.

Thankyou

I am a conceptual thinker, not so much a semantical one (unless I am doing poetry or something like that).

All thinkers have toe express themselves in words. To the listener there is no discernible difference between

wonderful concepts expressed poorly and poor concepts expressed well. Hence being non-semantic is nothing to

pride yourself on.

The problem with thinking semantically without concepts fundamentally behind it is that you take a word like "outcome" as applied to the future of one existent and try to apply it to another with a different nature, then go around claiming some kind of contradiction.

That isn't a problem in this case because Rand and Peikoff say causality/determinism is universal and applies to all existents.

I say if anyone thinks that way, they are wrong. The law of identity and all...

The LoI is precisley what is held up as making determinism applicable to everything. If you want to

say humans are an exception (as Peikoff sometimes does, when not contradictorilly saying causality is exceptionless), you cannot consistently hold that determinism is a corollary of the LoI.

Specific to volition, the "determined outcome" part of volition concerns its nature--what it will do in the future qua volition, not a spatial outcome like a ball rolling from one place to another.

I have no idea what that is a reference to. Either its future choices are determined or not.

Whether they are "spatial" is irrelevant. Do you think minds are outside of space.

An "outcome" for a volitional being is that it chooses. What it chooses is not the outcome based on its nature. That it chooses is. This nature is so "determined" that the volitional being can choose to choose and choose to not choose--but it all boils down to choosing.

Of course the outcome of a specific act of choice one one occasion is a specific outcome, and on another occasion another choice and another

outcome. It is hard to see what you are objecting to here. You might be saying that causality/nature/identity things

doesn't involve to events, including events of choosing. But a notion of causality that doesn't include

events is useless for science: we can no longer say that a ball starts rolling when pushed, because being

pushed is an event. Moreover, if determinism only applies to things an not events, we cannot say future events are fixed..but that is just what Rand does say:

"All the countless forms, motions, combinations and dissolutions of elements within the universe, from a floating speck of dust to the formation of a galaxy to the emergence of life, are caused and determined [emph. added] by the identities of the elements involved".

It cannot do otherwise.

You just said "it can choose to choose, or choose not to choose". Make your mind up.

This is the only possible outcome, which is how you defined determinism.

So now you are saying there is only one possible outcome for all entities, in contradiction to your previous claim that

there is more than one for volitional entities.

In your formulation, though, the outcome of any particular choice must be applied to the faculty itself of volition.

I think that if all events are determined, the mental event of choosing is determined. If you think choice is some sort of causeless cause, the you are simply denying one of the Rand/Peikoff claims.

(With the odd idea that your formulation proves that Rand engaged in some kind of contradiction.)
In the case of the ball, the ability to roll and an actual instance of rolling are two different things--or better yet, two different facets of the same thing. Can you imagine something rolling without having the capacity to roll? If there is no capacity to roll, there can be no determined outcome from rolling.

I fail to see what relevance it has. Determinism has it that one event causes another, and if it applies universally it must

apply to the kind of event that is an act of choice. That you need to have a faculty of choice to

choose has no bearing on that

Ditto for volition and choosing. You can't isolate a particular choice from the ability to choose.

Who is doing that? Obviously to make a choice you need the faculty of choice as a precondition. And equally obviously,

the specific details of a choice made under a particular set of circumstances aren't determined by the general

possession of the faculty, they are determined by the background assumptions of the individual,

the factors weighing up the choice many other fine details. But so what? How does any of this

show that you can make free choices in a determined universe?

Rather than proving that free choice does not exist, or only free choice exists, this fact shows clearly that both determinism and free choice are part of volition.

That isn't remotely clear. That a a faculty of volition (or anyhing else) is a necessary precondition of

something has nothing to do with determinism. Necessary preconditions are compatible with a situation

having more than one outcome. Rolling the die is a precondition, but any of 6 numbers can come up. The incompatibility

between determinism and free choice comes in with the claim that a situation has only one outcome, and

that is a claim that has been made by Rand and Peikoff. If you think that causality doesn't mean that, but

just means necessary

preconditions, you have a better theory than them, and you have a different theory than them, and they

are still contradictory as I said!

The nature of volition results in a determined future outcome and there can be no other--it chooses.

That's a blunt assertion of a contradiction.

If people choose, their actions aren't determined; and if the future is fixed, so are their future decisions, and they

therefore have no free choice.

What it chooses is the free choice part,

That contradicts your own statement: "The nature of volition results in a determined future outcome"

And don't forget, a volitional being does not have the same nature as a rolling ball, at least mine doesn't... :)

Don't forget the causality is a corollory of identity, and applies to everything.

Edited by peterdjones

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What it chooses is the free choice part,

That contradicts your own statement: "The nature of volition results in a determined future outcome"

And don't forget, a volitional being does not have the same nature as a rolling ball, at least mine doesn't... :)

Don't forget the causality is a corollory of identity, and applies to everything.

In my very layman's way of thinking, I'm guessing that your argument is based on the concretism heard from Physicists - all particles in the universe are determined; Man is composed of particles - therefore, etc., etc.

Not to distinguish beween a conscious (and self-conscious) being, and inanimate matter, is ridiculous. We are more than the sum of our parts, self-evidently.

THIS is the 'rational animal's' identity.

Within many constraints and limitations, each individual can select from a vast number of permutations and combinations to his own ends. Hence, volition.

Tony

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In my very layman's way of thinking, I'm guessing that your argument is based on the concretism heard from Physicists - all particles in the universe are determined; Man is composed of particles - therefore, etc., etc.

I am not arguing for or against free will. I am arguing that Rand held a mutually contradictory st of views on the subjecct

Not to distinguish between a conscious (and self-conscious) being, and inanimate matter, is ridiculous.

So you say. However, we appear to be made out of the same quarks and electrons as everything else

We are more than the sum of our parts, self-evidently.

So you say. Explaining how emergence works is not easy, and Rand doesn't.

THIS is the 'rational animal's' identity.

Within many constraints and limitations, each individual can select from a vast number of permutations and combinations to his own ends.

So you say. However, the vast array of possibilities you appeal to is contradicted by the Rand-Peikoff claims about

determinism.

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In my very layman's way of thinking, I'm guessing that your argument is based on the concretism heard from Physicists - all particles in the universe are determined; Man is composed of particles - therefore, etc., etc.

I am not arguing for or against free will. I am arguing that Rand held a mutually contradictory set of views on the subjecct

Not to distinguish between a conscious (and self-conscious) being, and inanimate matter, is ridiculous.

So you say. However, we appear to be made out of the same quarks and electrons as everything else

We are more than the sum of our parts, self-evidently.

So you say. Explaining how emergence works is not easy, and Rand doesn't.

THIS is the 'rational animal's' identity.

Within many constraints and limitations, each individual can select from a vast number of permutations and combinations to his own ends.

So you say. However, the vast array of possibilities you appeal to is contradicted by the Rand-Peikoff claims about

determinism.

Edited by peterdjones

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Peter,

You still have some thinking to do. "I'm right and you're wrong" and/or "I'm right and Rand's wrong" seem to be the only intellectual message you are interested in conveying.

Sorry, but that's boring.

I suggest you learn what Rand was saying correctly, then go off on your "I'm right and Rand's wrong" crusade. Until that happens, I know I can't take you seriously.

I don't play this game anymore and I won't be playing it now. Otherwise, enjoy the forum.

Michael

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You still have some thinking to do.

I am not going to accept that I have made any mistakes unless sombody can explain them to me.

I'm right and you're wrong" and/or "I'm right and Rand's wrong" seem to be the only intellectual message you are interested in conveying.

Yes. I am arguing that Rand is wrong since she is contradictory. Why not? The title of the thread is "objectivist contradictions".

so that is a relevant message.

I suggest you learn what Rand was saying correctly,

I have quoted her directly.

then go off on your "I'm right and Rand's wrong" crusade. Until that happens, I know I can't take you seriously.

If you are implying that no one can criticise Rand on this forum, then I don't take it seriously.

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For the benefit of the reader, this last exchange is a great example of an epistemological problem I call the cognitive-normative inversion. A person starts out by judging, then seeks to identify--when he should start out with a knowledge-based sequence, i.e., identify-then-judge.

Notice the poster's judgment in place ("I'm right and Rand is wrong"), then notice how he seeks facts/other judgments that support it. You can detect this kind of attitude simply by the number of times such a person repeats the judgment (normative idea) that is in what should be the cognitive seat (in this case, that Rand was wrong).

I'm not trying to give this guy a hard time. It's just such an easy case that it serves as a great example.

Here's a logical fallacy as gravy:

1. Attributing a meaning Rand did not use to a word that she did,

2. Noticing where Rand's views elsewhere clash with this foreign meaning,

3. Claiming that this proves Rand contradicted herself.

This is a very common fallacy with Rand critics. But it happens when a person is on a "prove someone wrong at all costs" quest instead of a "learn what someone meant, then judge it" quest.

Like I keep saying, you have to know what something is (identify it correctly) before you can properly judge it. In the cognitive-normative inversion, a person has judged what he does not know, then seeks whatever he can find to back that up. Even to the point of committing logical fallacies.

In my experience, there is not much point in engaging a person who is on such a quest until he puts the cognitive part of his brain in gear on the fundamental level (meaning he places more emphasis on getting it right before he judges instead of the contrary--in this case, correctly understanding Rand's meanings before judging her logic). You will mostly get talking points and little else to anything you say, not a true exploration of ideas.

Michael

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Whosoever has found a contradiction in Objectivism is free to correct it and improve the philosophy. If you just want to jump up and down on it making nasty noises, that's just nihilistic.

--Brant

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For the benefit of the reader, this last exchange is a great example of an epistemological problem I call the cognitive-normative inversion. A person starts out by judging, then seeks to identify--when he should start out with a knowledge-based sequence, i.e., identify-then-judge.

Notice the poster's judgment in place ("I'm right and Rand is wrong"), then notice how he seeks facts/other judgments that support it.

The pertinent point is that I found facts to support the conclusion. You cannot prove someone to be contradictory

by selective ommision, hence, whatever I am doing, I am doing nothing wrong.

You can detect this kind of attitude simply by the number of times such a person repeats the judgment (normative idea) that is in what should be the cognitive seat (in this case, that Rand was wrong).

I am not just repeating that Rand is wrong: I am quoting her contradicting herself.

This is a very common fallacy with Rand critics. But it happens when a person is on a "prove someone wrong at all costs" quest instead of a "learn what someone meant, then judge it" quest.

Am I making a mistake of interpretation? If I am, no one will say what it is. Why is that?

Like I keep saying, you have to know what something is (identify it correctly)

Like is say, I am quoting her directly.

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Whosoever has found a contradiction in Objectivism is free to correct it and improve the philosophy

As it happens, I have my own theory of FW. However, I have no motivation to "improve" objectivism, since

I would just be up against people who think it is perfect, and that I am failing to understand it in

some unspecified way.

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Whosoever has found a contradiction in Objectivism is free to correct it and improve the philosophy

As it happens, I have my own theory of FW. However, I have no motivation to "improve" objectivism, since

I would just be up against people who think it is perfect, and that I am failing to understand it in

some unspecified way.

By this premise, why are you here then?

--Brant

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Whosoever has found a contradiction in Objectivism is free to correct it and improve the philosophy

As it happens, I have my own theory of FW. However, I have no motivation to "improve" objectivism, since

I would just be up against people who think it is perfect, and that I am failing to understand it in

some unspecified way.

If you think most people at OL think Objectivism's perfect you're very wrong.

Shayne

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Peter, I haven't been following this discussion very closely but upon skimming it seems like all you're doing is saying that Rand's belief in cause and effect is determinism, and then you juxtapose this with her view on free will and say it's contradictory.

It's been a while since I've read Rand on these issues, but in principle there is nothing wrong with observing that we have free will, and also observing that the nature of existents is that they behave in a causal, determined manner according to their nature. Reconciling these two things is a separate matter, and while it might be interesting to see how Rand would have done it, the fact that she didn't is no contradiction.

Shayne

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Am I making a mistake of interpretation? If I am, no one will say what it is. Why is that?

Peter,

This is the last one of yours I am going to do (for now at least).

This statement of yours above is equivalent to sticking your fingers in your ears and singing, "La la la la la la la la la..."

I, for one, have showed you where you are making a "mistake of interpretation" (it's actually more serious than that epistemologically, but I will use your words here since they convey the general gist).

You ignored the argument while you kept parroting your self-promoting opinion. I would wager good money (and win) that, at the time of reading this post, you don't have a clue as to what that argument was. I would further wager you don't even remember it and need to go back and see if you can find it just to be able to articulate it.

I can't do your reading for you and I'm not even going to try to cut through the "la la la." That's why I need to wait for you to mature a bit intellectually before taking you seriously.

Now I'm done for real (unless you violate the posting guidelines).

Michael

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