Victor Pross Posted April 7, 2007 Share Posted April 7, 2007 (edited) The 'Stolen Concept'Here’s an intellectual exercise to hone some brain cells: Give your example of a “stolen Concept.” Why is it important to know what a “stolen concept” is? This is a question I would like to answer, and maybe you have your own answer...As a reminder: The ‘stolen concept’ fallacy is the canard of using a concept while denying the validity of its genetic roots, i.e., of an earlier concept(s) on which it logically depends.*(1) The “stolen concept” is easy enough to understand.**(2.1) Let’s concretize this concept. As Rand said: “You cannot prove that you exist or that you’re conscious, they chatter, blanking out the fact proof presupposes existence---and the concepts ‘proof’ and ‘existence’ only makes sense if one is conscious” Note from MSK: The two parts of the above quote by Rand do not belong together. The first part was written by Rand in Galt's speech in Atlas Shrugged. The second part starting with "and the concepts..." were not written by Rand, but falsely attributed to her.Above, Rand is citing an example of a stolen concept, and she asked a good question: When a universal sceptic blabbers on--is his conversation being conducted from non-existence? One must logically exist to even discuss (or disagree) with this intellectual larceny artist---and must also, incidentally, be conscious to realize that this creature is perpetrating the stolen concept fallacy. Imagine a so-called intellectual stating that one cannot evaluate ideas. “There is no right or wrong, good or bad,” he declares.**(2.2) “I don’t think it’s appropriate to tell people what’s right or wrong.” His position amounts to this: “It’s wrong to believe in wrong and right.” And who are you, he huffs, to judge what is good or bad? The culprit “stole” and is using the same concepts he seeks to discredit, namely, the concepts “right” and “wrong.” **(2.3)Try this one on for size: “Since reason is fallible,” some people assert, “man can’t be certain of anything,” Your response: “How then are you so certain of reason’s fallibility?” Detecting a mistake stems from grasping a truth. One doesn’t need infallibility in order to possess certainty. The alternative to omniscience is not scepticism.**(2.4) One more elaborate example: God Exists. How does 'God'....'exist'? The whole concept of “god”---as an article of faith---is a floating abstraction. “God” as traditionally defined--as a supernatural being--is a systematic contradiction of a primacy of existence orientation***(3)---and yet, it is declared, God exists! But existence is a self-sufficient primary. It is not a product a supernatural realm. There is nothing antecedent to existence, noting apart from it---and no alternative to it.****(4) And yet the use of the word “exists” is being stolen to attribute it to “god”---a being that openly contradicts the very concept of existence. It is “stealing” the word “exists” while denying the validity of its genetic roots: perception. ***Now, why is it important to know what a “stolen concept” is? Particularly since Kant, it as been said, the philosophical technique of concept stealing--of attempting to negate reason by means of reason--has become a general bromide, a gimmick worn transparently thin.****(5) Why is it important to know what a “stolen concept” is? Stolen concepts are, I think, perpetrated by people who are either irrational, intellectually dishonest---or, less drastically, possess an unidentified contradiction in their thinking. As you evaluate the validity of people’s assertions, remember that ideas matter. Bad ideas undercut life and the efficiency of one’s intellectual capabilities to deal with life. Good ideas promote life and self-esteem. That’s why adopting a rational, demonstrable, non-contradictory, comprehensive, integrated set of ideas---that is, a philosophy based on reason---is an urgent necessity for anyone concerned with the pursuit of happiness and the business of living.**(2.5)What are your examples of the stolen concept in action?-NOTE FROM ADMINISTRATOR:Plagiary first identified here.* Plagiarized from Footnote by Leonard Peikoff to "Philosophical Detection" by Ayn Rand in Philosophy: Who Needs It (p. 22). The original passage reads as follows:(1)The "stolen concept" fallacy, first identified by Ayn Rand, is the fallacy of using a concept while denying the validity of its genetic roots, i.e., of an earlier concept(s) on which it logically depends.** Plagiarized from How to Catch a Concept Thief by Wayne Dunn. The original passages read as follows:(2.1)The stolen concept fallacy is easy to understand.(2.2)Imagine one of your professors or fellow students disagrees with the premise of this article-- that ideas need evaluation. "There is no right or wrong, good or bad," he insists, "everything is relative."(2.3)The culprit "stole" and is using the same concepts he seeks to discredit, namely, the concepts "right" and "wrong."(2.4)Try this one: "Since reason is fallible, man can't be certain of anything?" Your response: "How then are you so certain of reason's fallibility?" Detecting a mistake stems from grasping a truth. One doesn't need infallibility in order to possess certainty. The alternative to omniscience is not skepticism.(2.5)As you evaluate the validity of people's assertions, remember that ideas matter. Bad ideas undercut life; good ideas promote life. That's why adopting a rationally demonstrable, non-contradictory, comprehensive, integrated set of ideas --i.e., a philosophy based on reason -- is an urgent necessity for anyone concerned with living.*** Plagiarized from the entry, "God," by Leonard Peikoff in The Ayn Rand Lexicon (p. 187), originally part of "The Philosophy of Objectivism" lecture series (1976). The original passage reads as follows:(3)“God” as traditionally defined is a systematic contradiction of every valid metaphysical principle.**** Plagiarized from A Sunday morning invitation by Peter Cresswell. The original passage reads as follows:(4)... existence is a self-sufficient primary: it is not a product of a supernatural dimension or of a supernatural being or of anything else or anyone else. Existence is not a why, it's an is.Existence itself is simply all that exists -- there is nothing prior to it; nothing antecedent to it; nothing apart from it -- and no alternative to it.***** Plagiarized from Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology (2nd Expanded Edition), "Axiomatic Concepts," (p. 61) by Ayn Rand. The original passage reads as follows:(5)... particularly since Kant, the philosophical technique of concept stealing, of attempting to negate reason by means of reason, has become a general bromide, a gimmick worn transparently thin. OL extends its deepest apologies to Leonard Peikoff as both author and Ayn Rand's heir, Wayne Dunn and Peter Cresswell. Edited August 13, 2007 by Michael Stuart Kelly Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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