Thursday, October 07, 2010

Rick Warden's Critique of Objectivism

A Christian named Rick Warden who has attempted to commandeer the comments section of my blog refuting Sye Ten Bruggencate’s “proof” for the existence of a god, posted his objections to the philosophy of Objectivism.

While the objections which Rick raises against Objectivism are superficial and reflect a profound unfamiliarity with what Objectivism actually teaches, his mistakes are common among theistic apologists attempting to debate non-believers on the topic of logic.

Rick openly admits that he is “still in the learning mode regarding Objectivism” – i.e., he acknowledges his own unfamiliarity with what Objectivism teaches. But this does not stop him from running roughshod into battle even though he’s completely unarmed. In spite of acknowledging his ignorance of Objectivism, he thinks he’s already found a bunch of fallacies in Objectivism.

I will examine Rick’s criticisms below. We will find that, as with so many critics of “non-Christian thought,” Rick has a talent for making a lot of errors in the space of just a few statements.

Rick writes:
I would be interested to know your criticisms on this response to your premise from an article:
Okay. Bring it on.

It is an undeniable fact that a subject is distinct from the objects of its awareness: a subject and its objects are not one and the same – the two are engaged in a relationship.
Rick asked:
Is it really ‘an undeniable fact’?
Rationally speaking, yes, it is. Whenever an individual perceives and/or consider any object, his action of perceiving and/or considering that object is distinct from the object he’s perceiving and/or considering. On what rational basis could anyone deny this? Even in denying it, he would be instantiating the very distinction he’s denying.

Rick wrote:
As far as we may surmise, pure, unadulterated logic does not submit into an absolute metaphysical subject/object dualism explanation.
It’s not clear what Rick is trying to say here. He introduces the notion of dualism, which has many meanings and connotations in the history of philosophy. Greater precision of expression is recommended here if Rick has a point he wants to get across.

At any rate, logic does have a metaphysical basis, and it is not consciousness in isolation from any object it’s conscious of. Rather, the metaphysical basis of logic is the subject-object relationship – i.e., the subject of consciousness engaged in awareness of some object(s). A subject’s awareness of some object(s) is a metaphysical fact – i.e., objective, since this awareness itself is not the product of conscious intentions. When we sense things, we have no choice over the fact that we sense or what it is we are sensing. Anyone who has experienced pain realizes this, at least implicitly: when one feels pain, he cannot choose not to feel it. If we could, we wouldn’t need painkillers or anesthesia, nor would we be so reluctant to go to the dentist.

Rick wrote:
Ask an objectivist: “In terms of human perception, is logic considered a subject or an object?”
The question, as I understand it, seems rather incoherent. Why specifically “in terms of human perception” here? We do not perceive logic; logic is conceptual. Also, logic itself is not the subject of consciousness: the concept ‘logic’ does not denote a conscious being. Subjects (in the sense that I use it in the passage quoted from my blog above) are conscious beings. I, Dawson Bethrick, am a subject; the reader who is reading this is a subject. Logic, on the other hand, is a set of abstract principles which regulate identification; identification is an activity performed by a conscious subject.

But without doubt, logic can be an object of awareness, but I would not say of perceptual awareness. We don’t see, feel or touch logic. Logic does not make noises, nor does it produce an odor. But we can think about logic, we can examine logic, we can write about logic, we can talk about logic, we can marvel at logic. When we do any of these things, logic is the object of our awareness. So logic can be an object of our awareness, just as it is in this very sentence – since I’m talking about logic.

Rick wrote:
If the objectivist says logic is a ‘subject’, then it is considered a part of the mind.
Actually, if one were to say that logic is a subject, he’d be saying (as I have used the terms) that logic is a conscious being in its own right. I don’t think this is the case, and I don’t see why anyone would think this. This would be an instance of personifying an inanimate object.

Rick continued:
Logic, from a utilitarian view, is a tool, an aspect of reasoning. Without a mind, logic would have no use whatsoever. This implies, from a materialist perspective, it should be a cart the horse of reason pulls. But objectivists have a problem here. While Logic is used personally, as a tool for subjective reasoning, it is not ONLY personal, it consists of universal laws, it endures from one generation to the next, as do known ‘external’ natural laws.
Let’s keep in mind what specifically it is we’re talking about when we talk about logic. “Logic is the art or skill of non-contradictory identification” (Ayn Rand, “Philosophical Detection,” Philosophy: Who Needs It, p. 15). Logic’s very purpose is to guide man’s ability to identify and integrate what he perceives. This is entirely in keeping with the proper understanding of the nature of reason:
Reason is the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses. (Ayn Rand, “The Objectivist Ethics,” The Virtue of Selfishness, p. 20)
Reason integrates man’s perceptions by means of forming abstractions or conceptions, thus raising man’s knowledge from the perceptual level, which he shares with animals, to the conceptual level, which he alone can reach. The method which reason employs in this process is logic—and logic is the art of non-contradictory identification. (Ayn Rand, “Faith and Force: Destroyers of the Modern World,” Philosophy: Who Needs It, p. 62)
Only biological organisms (specifically human beings) identify and integrate what they perceive conceptually, and since logic is the method which regulates this process, it is man who needs logic (as he does not automatically identify and integrate what he perceives). Essentially, logic is to epistemology what a code of values is to morality. Since the process of identifying and integrating what we perceive is a volitional operation, we need a structured set of guidelines to guide our cognitive choices. Only where a conceptual consciousness is concerned, is logic even going to be a consideration.

Rocks do not need logic; rivers do not need logic; a pile of leaves does not need logic; shooting stars do not need logic. Given this context, then, it is definitely true that “without a mind, logic would [be of] no use whatsoever.”

Now it is true that logic as a set of principles guiding human thought endures from one generation to the next. To put it short, logic is the same for everyone. But this fact does not undermine the Objectivist position or its understanding of logic. “Logic has a single law, the Law of Identity, and its various corollaries” (“Philosophical Detection,” Philosophy: Who Needs It, p. 15). The law of identity does not change, either from place to place, or person to person, or generation to generation. It is rooted directly on the one fact that everything in the universe has in common, namely the fact of existence: if something exists, it is what it is.

Moreover, on the Objectivist view, logic is conceptual in nature (see here), and human beings possess consciousnesses capable of the conceptual level of cognition. It is the open-endedness or “universality” of concepts, given their the process by which they are formed (i.e., by abstraction, specifically the operation known as measurement-omission), which gives logic its universal applicability. This is why a good theory of concepts is indispensable to understanding the issues which Rick has raised. Logic certainly does in fact depend on human minds, but not on their whims, rather on their essential nature as conscious subjects in a relationship with the objects of their awareness, i.e., the primacy of existence. Logic owes its stability, immutability and universality of applicability to its conceptual nature and its foundation on the law of identity.

That the nature of concepts is the key here can be demonstrated with a simple example, the concept ‘man’. We form the concept ‘man’ on the basis of just a few perceptual inputs - in fact, only two are really required. “ A concept is a mental integration of two or more units possessing the same distinguishing characteristic(s), with their particular measurements omitted” (Ayn Rand, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, p. 13). Based on those few perceptually given samples, say Jones and Smith, we omit the specific measurements of each – Jones is 6’2” tall, portly, bearded, wears glasses, dressed in a white coat, is a doctor, is 53 years old, speaks four languages, etc., while Smith is 5’8” tall, slender, clean-shaven, wears a three-piece suit, is a company CEO, is 48 years old, speaks English and a little pig Latin, etc. – and integrate them into a single mental unit – the concept ‘man’. Because of measurement-omission, we can integrate more “units” – i.e., other men – into the same concept, as we discover them. There is no quantitative limit to integration; the concept ‘man’ is open-ended – i.e., “universal” – in that it includes every man who exists, who has existed and who will ever exist. It is a universal classification.

Notice how this allows for us to communicate with each other. You have formed the concept ‘man’ based on specific individuals whom you have encountered over your life, and I have formed the concept ‘man’ based on the specific individuals whom I have encountered over my life. Unless we grow up in the same small town, the specific individuals in your encounter set are going to be entirely different from those in my encounter set. However, since we have both formed the concept ‘man’ by essentially the same process – i.e., by a process of abstraction, we can each have an idea of what the other is talking about when we speak of men.

The same is the case with the concepts which inform the principles of logic. Since they too are concepts formed by the same process, they have their analogues in every mind which has performed that process to form them, just as you and I both had sufficiently similar concepts of ‘man’ already formed in our knowledge base. Of course, it can get tricky as we form abstractions on the basis of previously formed abstractions, as we now start developing a hierarchical structure, and the need for uniform definitions becomes crucial. This is where the objective theory of concepts proves its worth. “The final step in concept-formation is definition. This step is essential to every concept except axiomatic concepts and concepts denoting sensations” (Leonard Peikoff, Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, p. 96) In other words, until we’ve secured our concepts with proper definitions, our work in forming them is not finished. “A definition is a statement that identifies the nature of the units subsumed under a concept” (Ayn Rand, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, p. 40). It is often in the realm of definitions where thinkers encounter their greatest point of conflict with each other. This is why I urge my theistic interlocutors to make their definitions clear. They frequently have a hard time doing this, and I think a major reason why is that they simply do not have a good grasp of concepts.

Let me re-emphasize the broader point: Since existence holds metaphysical primacy, logic will always have its proper anchor: the law of identity , regardless of who is using it. Since existence exists independent of consciousness, and consciousness is consciousness of objects, there is a proper orientation between the subject of consciousness (the human thinker) and its objects (anything he perceives and/or considers). That orientation is identified by the primacy of existence: the objects of consciousness are what they are independent of the conscious activity by which the subject is aware of them.

So the answer to the supposed conundrum which Rick raises here, is supplied by Objectivism’s axioms, the primacy of existence, and its theory of concepts.

Also, a couple of other cautionary corrections for Rick here:
1. Objectivism is not a form of Utilitarianism.
2. Objectivism is not materialism.

Rick wrote:
If the objectivist says logic is an ‘object’, then it is presumed to be a part of the ‘external’ world and they have another problem.
This is a non sequitur. Logic indeed can be an object of consciousness (just as it is in the case of this discussion – it is one of the objects under our consideration), but it does not follow from this that logic is “part of the ‘external’ world” exclusively. We do have the capacity for introspection, in which case our own consciousness can become an object to itself. When I introspect, I am aware of my own conscious activity, and that conscious activity of which I am aware, is the object of my introspective awareness. When I see a ball (an object in “external reality”), I am perceiving it; when I think about my perceiving the ball, my perception of the ball becomes what is properly understood as a secondary object of my consciousness (since I had to perceive the ball first in order for my perception of the ball to be an object of my awareness).

Similarly with logic. Logic is a set of principles, informed by concepts, which regulates proper identification of objects, and it too can be an object of our awareness. An object, mind you, as I use it in the passage which Rick quoted from my blog, is anything one perceives and/or considers. It can be an extramental entity (such as a ball), or some conscious activity (such as my awareness of the ball).

So, the problem which Rick raises here does not afflict Objectivism.

Rick wrote:
No one has ever perceived logic, or its effects, with his or her senses and thus cannot ‘objectively’ account for its existence.
This is another non sequitur. It’s likely a consequence ignoring not only the conceptual nature of logic, but also our capacity for introspection.

Since, as I pointed out above, we can introspect, we do have the capacity to identify the process by which we form concepts. And here’s why: since this process of forming concepts does have identity (e.g., it works one way and not others), and we can become aware of it (by means of introspection), we can objectively identify it (by adhering to the primacy of existence). So yes, we can objectively account for it, but only if we maintain fidelity to the primacy of existence and have a good understanding of concepts. (Christianity provides for neither, which is why you think these are problems for non-Christians.)

Rick: “If the objectivist says gravity is similar because it is not seen but known by its effects, it seems to be a weak corollary.”

But the Objectivist did not say this. Next?

Rick: “What does this imply metaphysically?”

The Objectivist is beyond implications at this point, because he as the primacy of existence – i.e., he has explicitly identified the proper relationship between a consciousness and its objects.

Rick: “Therefore, if there is a question of which has primacy metaphysically, logic does.”

The issue of metaphysical primacy has to do with the proper relationship between a consciousness (i.e., a subject) and its objects. I already explained why logic is not the subject – it’s not a conscious entity. And yes, we saw how logic can be an object. But it’s only one of many objects, and it could only be a secondary object at best (since we need to introspect to become aware of it). So it would not do to say that logic specifically has metaphysical primacy; this would be too narrow, and it would fail to identify the proper relationship between consciousness and its objects in terms of essentials - i.e., consciousness and existence. Indeed, the concept ‘logic’ is not conceptually irreducible, and since the issue of metaphysical primacy must be settled at the axiomatic level of cognition, we must address it in terms of axiomatic concepts.

Rick: “If the existence of logic refutes the assumed metaphysical subject/object duality and logic metaphysically predominates over reason, then an absolute subject/object duality, strictly based on human reasoning, should not be considered a metaphysically reliable premise.”

The existence of logic does not refute the primacy of existence. On the contrary, the primacy of existence makes it possible (since the primacy of existence is its fundamental basis) and necessary (since the human mind in the effort to identify its objects is fallible).

Rick raised another criticism:
The Primacy of Existence theory supposedly disproves Theism because it assumes a single world view cannot entertain both a primacy of existence example (man) and a primacy of consciousness example (God). But there is a third possibility, based on the existence of logic, that something may, in fact, be independent of- and indefinable by the apparent subjective and object duality.
Let’s see if any of this this successfully applies to Objectivism.

Essentially, Rick’s objection amounts to the view that the primacy of existence and the primacy of consciousness are not jointly exhaustive, that “there is a third possibility” that is allegedly an alternative to the primacy of existence and the primacy of consciousness.

An argument has already been developed in anticipation of this kind of claim, and can be found here: Are the Primacy of Existence and Primacy of Consciousness Exhaustive Metaphysics? While I would phrase certain statements in this essay differently if I were writing it myself, the overall gist of this paper brings the point home rather well. The following point is noteworthy when considering Rick’s speculative proposal:
Of course, if you're a believer in the Primacy of Consciousness, you might think that there are things other than consciousness and existence, because your consciousness could create [i.e., imagine] them. In this case, you could advocate the Primacy of Something Else, although this would be highly illogical, in that you've already presupposed that your consciousness has created these new things, and that, presumably, they are existents. But besides, the Primacy of Consciousness is false.
Notice that, not only does Rick propose his alternative to the primacy of existence and the primacy of consciousness in a tentative manner (he casts it as a “possibility… that something may…” rather than an actually existing and defensible alternative), but also that he does not present any argument for his claim. In fact, his whole effort to evade the choice between the primacy of existence and the primacy of consciousness indicates that he does not understand the issue of metaphysical primacy to begin with. This is extremely common among theistic critics of Objectivism.

Also notice that, after reading my argument, Rick does not come out and endorse the primacy of consciousness, which I argue to be the underlying premise of theism. This is not unexpected. Theists typically try to distance themselves from explicitly endorsing the primacy of consciousness metaphysics once its failings have been pointed out to them. And yet, like other theistic critics of Objectivism who are reluctant to admit the subjective underpinnings of their worldview, Rick does not explain how his theism could survive without it; he does not explain how one could believe in a universe-creating, reality-ruling god without assuming the primacy of consciousness.

Given what he does write in response to my argument (Rick interacts with very little of it), it’s clear that Rick’s reading of it is faulty. This is evidenced by the fact that he wants to introduce a “third alternative” to the jointly exhaustive orientations identified by the issue of metaphysical primacy. For one thing, Rick does not seem to grasp that the issue of metaphysical primacy pertains to the relationship between a consciousness (the subject) and its objects (what the subject is conscious of). This is why there are only two perspectives to consider in weighing the issue of metaphysical primacy: the primacy of the objects of consciousness (i.e., the primacy of existence, the objective position) vs. the primacy of the subject (i.e., the primacy of consciousness, the subjective position). We are limited to these two alternatives because a consciousness and its objects are the only parties to the relationship.

Also, since the relationship between a subject and its objects is not a relationship between equals (an object and the activity by which the subject has awareness of it are not the same; the actions which produce awareness are performed by the subject, even those actions which are involuntary), it cannot be the case that both the subject and its objects jointly share metaphysical primacy. This would ignore the nature of consciousness as a faculty which must discover the nature of its objects as it seeks to identify them. Man is not omniscient, nor does he begin his awareness of the world with exhaustive knowledge of the objects which he will eventually encounter in his conscious experience.

So there can be no “third option,” as Rick would like to believe.

Another tragic mistake of Rick’s is his attempt to base the possibility of a “third possibility” on “the existence of logic.” Recall that logic is “the art or skill of non-contradictory identification.” If logic in fact exists, it can only imply that those consciousnesses which make use of it, do so because knowledge of the identity of the objects they encounter is not an automatically given, but a goal which they must pursue by incorporating logic as a method which regulates identification. In other words, logic necessarily presupposes the primacy of existence by virtue of its role in the cognitive process: to ensure the conformity of man’s mind to reality as he develops his knowledge beyond the level of perceptually self-evident facts.

That Rick thinks this “third possibility” (alternative) to the primacy of existence and the primacy of consciousness “may, in fact, be independent of- and indefinable by the apparent subjective and object duality,” could only signify its irrelevance to the subject-object relationship, if in fact such an animal were accepted as a reality. Indeed, Rick offers no reason to suppose that his “third possibility” would at all be relevant, let alone tell us what exactly it is he has in mind. Perhaps he has his god in mind here, but this would be most odd since he characterizes it as a “possibility” which is “based on the existence of logic,” which would make logic’s existence prior to and independent of his god’s existence. It is hard to see how such a view could avoid the charge of heresy within the Christian religion.

In conclusion, Rick’s criticisms of Objectivism fall flat on their face. In presenting them he demonstrates that he is not sufficiently familiar with Objectivism to critique it intelligently, and makes numerous blunders as a result. Given Rick’s lack of familiarity with Objectivism, he is in no position to raise defensible objections against its view of logic, the primacy of existence, or its arguments against theism. And as I have shown above, it is his own mistakes which supply the thrust to his criticisms.

by Dawson Bethrick

Labels: , , ,

60 Comments:

Blogger Rick Warden said...

Dear Dawson,

I was a bit surprised at your comment that you believed I've “attempted to commandeer the comments section” of your article on Sye. If you want me to write less you can simply ask. If you remember, you were upset Sye didn't stick around to debate you and you complained Christians rarely debate you at your blog. Now I've raised some theoretical propositions as comments, still trying to understand Objectivism, and you seem to have gotten very defensive. I realize this philosophy is very important to you and there can be a sense of crisis if you feel threatened by my probing.

Thank you for correcting my misuse of the word logic. It is neither a subject nor an object, as you pointed out. It is, however, intrinsically both subjective and objective and your article has not disproved this.

A big problem with your article here is that you are using definitions for words that are inaccurate. This basically discredits the reasoning of the entire article, but I'll continue to address it anyway. You chose to use your own founder's definitions for words to support her philosophy. This is a no no. As a Bible anti-apologeticist, I thought you would know this.

The terms “art” and “skill” are nowhere to be found in the *standard* definition of logic. Logic is officially defined as “the formal principles of reasoning.” Reason, however, is officially defined as the “proper exercise” of the mind. Ayn Rand's definition of logic and its relationship to reason is fallacious. This must be so for Rand and objectivists because there is a pretentious attempt to force logic into a false dualistic paradigm. I'll offer a comparison which I believe highlights this issue.

Cont...

October 07, 2010 4:36 PM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Part 2

DB: “It is an undeniable fact that a subject is distinct from the objects of its awareness.”

DB: “On what rational basis could anyone deny this?”

We are dealing with the subject of metaphysical ontology and the nature of being. When you write a subject is “distinct” from “objects” in the world as a basis of “Objectivism” you are essentially implying they are independent. But on an ontological level, can they really be? I'll give you a comparison.

Case 1: Atheistic Objectivism:
The brain is a product of- dependent upon- and effected by the physical world.

Consciousness is a product of- dependent upon- and effected by the brain.

Therefore, consciousness cannot logically be considered ontologically or biologically independent of the “external world.”

Case 2: Theism:
The brain is a product of both God's creation and the physical world - dependent upon- and effected by the physical world.

Consciousness is effected by the condition of the physical brain but is essentially a spiritual element. It is either spiritually "dead" or spiritually "alive" according to John chapter 3.

Because consciousness is essentially spiritual it is truly independent of the physical world. But only a Christian who has been "born-again" spiritually has the Christ consciousness, also called the mind of Christ in scripture.

I know you do not believe in Theism, but I use this comparison to point out what true ontological Objectivism looks like. In the latter example the subject is truly distinct from the object of the external world. This is why Jesus could say the following:

“I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.” (John 17. 14-16)

When I wrote that you need light in order to see and objectify your stapler, I was showing that nothing can be truly independent in the materialist's world. According to your worldview, your mind and brain are biological products, that's it. All matter is interdependent with energy and time. E = MC squared. You are IN the world and you can't get out of it ontologically. The subject/object duality is an illusion. But for me it is a reality. Ironically, my worldview allows me to be more “objective” than you because I am IN this world but not OF it.

Ayn Rand was brilliant and highly motivated. But if you look closely at her bio, there are reasons why she chose atheism in high school and wanted to adamantly defend the idea of autonomous individualism. She was never really “objective” about philosophy in the former sense of seeking philosophical truth for its own sake. Essentially, she refused the light. She chose darkness.

October 07, 2010 4:45 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hello Rick,

Thanks for your comments. Below is my reply.


Part I:

Rick: “I was a bit surprised at your comment that you believed I've ‘attempted to commandeer the comments section’ of your article on Sye. If you want me to write less you can simply ask.”

Don’t worry, Rick, I don’t mind it when people try to commandeer my blog’s comments sections. Really, so long as it’s not spam. As you may have noticed, I do not monitor my comments board. It's free for all.

Rick: “If you remember, you were upset Sye didn't stick around to debate you and you complained Christians rarely debate you at your blog.”

I don’t recall being upset per se. A little disappointed that he gave up so easily, but that’s because I was looking forward to the enjoyment of an exchange with him. But his choices and actions did not surprise me.

Rick: “Now I've raised some theoretical propositions as comments, still trying to understand Objectivism,”

You see, Rick, this is what would cause me to pause if I were you. It’s clear that you’ve never studied Objectivism before, and that you have virtually no grasp of what it teaches, from its basic essentials to its farthest-reaching technicalities. And yet, you have tried to critique it. Don’t your actions strike you as at least a bit premature?

Rick: “Thank you for correcting my misuse of the word logic. It is neither a subject nor an object, as you pointed out.”

But logic is an object, as I explained in my blog, just as it is in our discussion. Remember, by “object” I mean anything which one perceives and/or considers. I was very careful to define this term and explain that we have awareness of logic by means of introspection. What gave you the impression that I pointed out that logic is not an object?

Rick: “It is, however, intrinsically both subjective and objective and your article has not disproved this.”

Actually, what I have stated can only be interpreted (if you’ve read and understood it) to mean that logic is strictly and exclusively objective – i.e., based on the primacy of existence. Also, notice that you have not presented an argument for the view that logic is “intrinsically both subjective and objective,” so we can safely say that, so far (at least in our discussion together), you have not proven that it is both subjective and objective. Of course, if you do decide to produce such an argument, I would expect you to make your definitions clear. I.e., what do you mean by “subjective” and what do you mean by “objective”?

[Continued…]

October 07, 2010 10:26 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Part II:

Rick: “A big problem with your article here is that you are using definitions for words that are inaccurate. This basically discredits the reasoning of the entire article, but I'll continue to address it anyway. You chose to use your own founder's definitions for words to support her philosophy. This is a no no. As a Bible anti-apologeticist, I thought you would know this.”

What specifically is a no-no, and why? Objectivism defines its own concepts in terms of its own concept theory. That’s not a no-no in Objectivism. I even quoted Dr. Peikoff when he points out that definition is the final step of concept-formation. On the contrary, Rick, I am being intellectually responsible to my task by clarifying my definitions, whether or not they are shared by others. This allows readers, who may not come to my article with Objectivism’s definitions in mind, to understand more precisely what it is I’m talking about, and why they support my conclusions. There is nothing illicit in doing this. I agree entirely with Rand when she writes:

“Definitions are the guardians of rationality, the first line of defense against the chaos of mental disintegration.” (“Art and Cognition,” The Romantic Manifesto, p. 77)

and

The truth or falsehood of all of man’s conclusions, inferences, thought and knowledge rests on the truth or falsehood of his definitions.” (Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, p. 49)

Objectivism takes definitions very seriously.

Rick: “The terms ‘art’ and ‘skill’ are nowhere to be found in the *standard* definition of logic.”

Too bad for the “standard” definition of logic. Porter explains why “art” is appropriate to the definition of ‘logic’:

“Logic’s first CCD [conceptual common denominator] is ‘art’. Within that, logic is distinguished from other arts by its end, conceptual identification, and then within that lesser CCD by its means, exposing contradictions.” [Ayn Rand’s Theory of Knowledge, p. 129)

Clearly logic is an art or skill (as opposed to a hobby, photograph or business venture, etc.), broadly understood as an ability to do something well. It’s a skill that we can learn, hone and master. If you don’t like “art” or “skill” (for reasons you are welcome to state), you could replace it with “discipline.” But then we’d still need, as Porter points out, to differentiate logic from other disciplines, which is what Rand’s definition in fact does.

Rick: “Logic is officially defined as ‘the formal principles of reasoning’.”

“…officially…”? Are definitions regulated by some international body, like the UN?

In my view, “the formal principles of reasoning” is not sufficiently precise for philosophical purposes, while Rand’s definition cuts right to the essentials common to all its applications – namely “the art or skill of non-contradictory identification,” which is what a worthy definition is called to do.

Rick: “Reason, however, is officially defined as the ‘proper exercise’ of the mind.”

Again, this is philosophically imprecise, indeed unacceptably so. Given this definition of ‘reason’, who’s to say that “the ‘proper use’ of the mind” is not a matter of clairvoyantly contacting ancient alien witch doctors by means of anamnesis? The definition you cite does not isolate the essentials of what reason actually is (it’s the faculty which identifies and integrates what is given in perception), it does not specifically comport with the nature of man’s consciousness (which begins with the perceptual level of awareness), nor does it differentiate reason from mystical processes which could, on mystical presuppositions, be said to be the “proper exercise” of the mind (such as telepathic reception of decretive communiqués beamed from a supernatural source, like revelations from Blarko the Wonderbeing). Rand’s definition slashes off all such nonsense before it even has a chance to pop its ugly head up.

So it’s not surprising that a Christian would want to find fault with them.

[Continued…]

October 07, 2010 10:27 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Part III:

Rick: “Ayn Rand's definition of logic and its relationship to reason is fallacious.”

How so? Specifically, what fallacy is Rand committing when she identifies logic as the method of reason? Do you think reason uses a non-logical method?

Rick: “This must be so for Rand and objectivists because there is a pretentious attempt to force logic into a false dualistic paradigm.”

Rick, you are the one who has introduced the use of the word “dualistic” in our discussion, and you haven’t even explained what specifically you mean by it or what, if anything, you think is wrong with it. Objectivism is not dualistic in the Cartesian sense (or, really, the Christian sense). The only “dualism” (again, not an Objectivist concept) that you might have in mind when trying to understand the principles which I’ve been presenting to you, would be the subject-object relationship – i.e., the relationship between consciousness and its objects. It’s hard to see how you could actually be trying to say that there is no such relationship between the activity by which we are conscious of things, and the things we are conscious of. When you are conscious, are you not conscious of something? Do you think consciousness exists in an object-less void? (This is a serious question since you are a Christian, and certain statements that you have made suggest very strongly that you think there is no relationship between subject and object).

Rick: “When you write a subject is ‘distinct’ from ‘objects’ in the world as a basis of ‘Objectivism’ you are essentially implying they are independent.”

No, I am not, not in any way, shape or form. And I have no idea why you would think this. The concept “distinct” does not mean “independent,” nor does it imply independence. My daughter is distinct from me, but she’s certainly dependent upon me. I am distinct from my pen, but I depend on it when writing checks to pay my bills. I am distinct from an airline, but I’m dependent on it to get me across the ocean. Things that are distinct from each other can be independent of each other (I am distinct from you, and I don’t depend on you), but distinctness does not at all imply this necessarily to be the case.

In the present context, consciousness is distinct from its objects, but this does not imply in any way that it is independent of existence. Indeed, consciousness also exists! Also, note what the axiom of consciousness explicitly points out: consciousness is consciousness of existence; i.e., consciousness requires an object(s).

The primacy of existence, however, explicitly acknowledges the fact that existence is not dependent on conscious activity. This is the essence of the concept of objectivity – the objects of consciousness exist independent of the conscious activity by which the subject is aware of them.

Rick: “Therefore, consciousness cannot logically be considered ontologically or biologically independent of the ‘external world’.”

And Objectivism nowhere argues that consciousness is not dependent upon biology. In fact, I have posted a blog in which I argue specifically that consciousness is biological in nature (see here).

Also, the very thesis of the primacy of existence holds that consciousness depends on its objects – it needs them, to have something to be aware of.

[Continued…]

October 07, 2010 10:29 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Part IV:

Rick: “Consciousness is effected by the condition of the physical brain but is essentially a spiritual element. It is either spiritually ‘dead’ or spiritually ‘alive’ according to John chapter 3.”

Actually, Rand accurately identified the religious view of man as follows:

“They have taught man that he is a hopeless misfit made of two elements, both symbols of death. A body without a soul is a corpse, a soul without a body is a ghost—yet such is their image of man’s nature: the battleground of a struggle between a corpse and a ghost, a corpse endowed with some evil volition of its own and a ghost endowed with the knowledge that everything known to man is non-existent, that only the unknowable exists.” (Atlas Shrugged)

Rick: “Because consciousness is essentially spiritual it is truly independent of the physical world.”

It sounds like it’s your view, Rick, which holds that “they [the subject and the object] are independent” of each other. On Christianity’s view, consciousness is some alien phenomenon not of this world and not knowable through this-worldly means. But what about animals other than human beings? Dogs, cats, horses, squirrels, squid, locusts, etc., they all have the faculty of consciousness too. Is their consciousness also “essentially spiritual” and “truly independent of the physical world”? Here’s a another question: by what means can you be conscious of things in the world if your consciousness is “truly independent of the physical world”? If you say by means of sense perception, then you’re identifying a means which is in fact dependent on “the physical world.” How do you see without eyes? How do you touch without skin? How do you smell without a nose?

Rick: “But only a Christian who has been ‘born-again’ spiritually has the Christ consciousness, also called the mind of Christ in scripture.”
Christ is supposed to be equal with the Christian god (Phil. 2:6). And the Christian god is supposed to be both infallible and omniscient. So “the mind of Christ,” by virtue of the law of identity, must be both infallible and omniscient. I can only suppose, then, that you do not have “the mind of Christ,” for you’ve made so many errors in your attempts to interact with Objectivism. Someone possessing an omniscient and infallible mind could not make any mistakes, and he would know what Objectivism actually teaches.

Rick: “I know you do not believe in Theism, but I use this comparison to point out what true ontological Objectivism looks like.”

Frankly, Rick, you don’t know enough about Objectivism to accurately portray “what true ontological Objectivism looks like.”

Rick: “In the latter [Rick’s Christian] example the subject is truly distinct from the object of the external world.”

Are you’re conflating “distinct” with “independent” again? If so, it’s still a mistake. Objectivism does not in any way affirm that consciousness is independent of its objects. As for what Jesus said, he nowhere weighed in on the issue of the proper relationship between consciousness and its objects. The passage you cited (John 17:14-16) has nothing to do with the issue. The gospels characterize Jesus as utterly oblivious to the whole question.

[Continued…]

October 07, 2010 10:31 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Part V:

Rick: “When I wrote that you need light in order to see and objectify your stapler, I was showing that nothing can be truly independent in the materialist's world.”

In terms of consciousness? Well, objects like staplers are truly independent of consciousness. And of course, we would not make such a blunder as to suppose that consciousness can exist independent of existence. Such a view is nonsensical, absurd and irrational.

Rick: “According to your worldview, your mind and brain are biological products, that's it.”

You err in not knowing Objectivism. While the brain and its activity (consciousness) are strictly biological, my mind is not an automatic , passively resulting product of non-conscious biological causes, but in fact a cumulative product of my nature and my own choices and actions over the course of my life. Just as my character is.

Rick: “You are IN the world and you can't get out of it ontologically.”

The only way to “get out” of the world is to die, Rick. This is the Christian worldview’s ideal. My worldview’s ideal is living. Beyond that, we can imagine other worlds, but they would only “exist” in our imagination.

Rick: “The subject/object duality is an illusion.”

So, when you are aware of an object, you’re really not aware of an object? Watch your stolen concepts, Rick.

Rick: “But for me it is a reality.”

What is, the illusion you just mentioned? That’s quite an admission there.

Rick: “Ironically, my worldview allows me to be more ‘objective’ than you because I am IN this world but not OF it.”

What do you mean by “objective” if you think the subject-object relationship is “an illusion”?

And yes, you are too “of the world” just as much as I or anyone else is. You are composed of atoms, molecules, bones, tissue, organs, etc. If you aren’t, then stop eating, sleeping, breathing air, drinking fluids, and all the other things that biological organisms do.

Rick: “Ayn Rand was brilliant and highly motivated. But if you look closely at her bio, there are reasons why she chose atheism in high school and wanted to adamantly defend the idea of autonomous individualism.”

Rand made choices for reasons? Egads! How awful! *poke*

Individualism? Oh no! What will the collective think?

Rick: “She was never really ‘objective’ about philosophy in the former sense of seeking philosophical truth for its own sake. Essentially, she refused the light. She chose darkness.”

Rick, when you make statements like this, and present no argument to support them, you appear to be blowing hot air.

Regards,
Dawson

October 07, 2010 10:32 PM  
Blogger Cydonia said...

I was surprised to see Rick's objection to Dawson clearly defining each term. Even if Dawson was just making up words at random then defining them clearly, what's the problem?

I would still like to see Rick's response to:

Also notice that, after reading my argument, Rick does not come out and endorse the primacy of consciousness, which I argue to be the underlying premise of theism. This is not unexpected. Theists typically try to distance themselves from explicitly endorsing the primacy of consciousness metaphysics once its failings have been pointed out to them. And yet, like other theistic critics of Objectivism who are reluctant to admit the subjective underpinnings of their worldview, Rick does not explain how his theism could survive without it; he does not explain how one could believe in a universe-creating, reality-ruling god without assuming the primacy of consciousness.

I suspect he will avoid it like the plague.

October 09, 2010 6:22 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Cydonia: “I was surprised to see Rick's objection to Dawson clearly defining each term. Even if Dawson was just making up words at random then defining them clearly, what's the problem?”

It’s a good question. I’ve read many Christian apologetics books, and it’s always remarkable to me how infrequently Christian apologists are willing to define their key terms as they use them in their arguments. Occasionally you might find an actual glossary, such as John Frame's, but don't be surprised to find that the defintions given there are woefully inadequate (see for instance my blog The Concept of Chance: Right and Wrong Uses). But glossaries are typically outside the norm. Very often, the real meaning of a key term remains unstated.

For example (and I stress: this is just one example), an apologist might put forward the argument that there must be a god because otherwise the universe would have no “meaning.” No definition of “meaning” is offered to give the argument informed content; it’s just taken for granted that the “logic” of such a position is somehow self-evident. When it is pointed out that meaning is a property of concepts (as I do in my blog Theistic Misuse of the Concepts of Meaning, Value and Purpose), the whole argument collapses.

And this is what’s so ironic. Christians are always telling us how important their god is to meaning. But how much importance do they put on meaning itself? Cydonia’s correct: it’s when I explicitly identify the meaning of my concepts that the apologist throws a tizzy. But if meaning were important, why does this happen? I suspect that Christians prefer that the meaning of concepts remain elusive, so as to hide their epistemological sins.

On the contrary, our definitions are vital, and that is why I think it’s important to lay them out clearly, and be ready to defend them.

As for the issue of metaphysical primacy, Rick is apparently taking the path of denial on the matter, albeit rather clumsily. He refers to the subject-object relationship as a “dualism” (I think of it as a *relationship* and have been careful to characterize it as such), calling it a “false dualistic paradigm” (how is the recognition that consciousness has an object false?), and even says it’s “an illusion” (talk about stolen concepts!). Then, as soon as he’s done referring to it as “an illusion,” he says “But for me it is a reality.” We can try to follow where he’s trying to go with this kind of characterization, but I get the impression that even he does not know.

Regards,
Dawson

October 10, 2010 7:17 AM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Part 1

Dear Dawson,

I first visited and commented on your "Sye" article on 9/25. You invited me to “test” your philosophy on 9/27: “Have you tested Objectivism, Rick?”

To me, the most remarkable and striking fact I've learned so far at your blog is that Objectivism does not recognize the universally accepted definition of logic as principles and as a science, but, rather, defines it mainly as an “art.” The second most remarkable fact is that it has taken dozens of comments and approximately 2 weeks, as an inquirer, to find out that I need to learn a new language, a new lexicon, in order to logically understand the essence of what Objectivism is actually proposing.

You have insinuated many times already I've “commandeered” your blog, but have yet to define specifically what that means so I may avoid doing it in the future. In any event, my persistence has seemed to have paid off in that only recently I have understood that I need to learn a new language in order to understand what you are writing.

But these newly discovered facts raise questions: 1) Has it ever occurred to you Dawson that a rational philosophical dialogue cannot take place unless two people are speaking the same language?

From what I've gathered so far, straightforwardness is out of character with the philosophy of Objectivism. In at least 7 ways I've found Objectivism to be misleading. Why is it that the theme of darkness keeps coming to mind?

Cont...

October 10, 2010 9:51 PM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Dear Dawson,

I noticed the official Rand lexicon is not available for free at the Rand Institute. In other words, I need to financially support the Institute before I can investigate its validity online. Pretty sad.

Question(2): If I use the brand-name Ayn Rand definition for logic, do I need references each time? Is it possible for the Rand Institute to sue me if I do not respect the copyright Rand definition of logic?

These are valid questions Dawson and I'd like an answer before I continue debating with you. The more I learn about Objectivism, the less I trust both it and the Institute.

On 10/8 You invited me to test your philosophy based upon the Objectivist “norms of definition.” I prefer to test it based upon the time-tested definition of logic, thank you anyway:

1. “a science that deals with the principles and criteria of validity of inference and demonstration : the science of the formal principles of reasoning.” (Websters Online Dictionary)

Notice the words “science” “Principles” “criteria” “validity” “Inference” and “demonstration.” In my opinion, and in most people's opinions, these are all extremely important words. They are here for a reason. Notice the term “formal principles.” Objectivism is highly subjective and it's easy to show it is based upon highly motivated false assumptions about reality. To launch off and create one's own personal definition of logic as an “art” is quite a leap.

Many people have labeled Rand's Objectivism as a cult-like philosophy and the more I read about it, the more I understand why. This would be an interesting point-by-point comparison to make. If you want to try and link Christianity with death. Why not consider Peikoff's ideas about life and death:

“The war in Afghanistan was a letdown for him (Peikoff) because we took care not to inflict civilian casualties. This, says Peikoff, is immoral: in Iraq, too, we are far too squeamish about innocent civilians. And I note that Peikoff emphasizes the word 'innocent,' even as he proclaims that it would be immoral not to condemn these innocents to death. When someone in the audience cried out in horror at this brazen display of naked evil, Peikoff interrupted his talk and imperiously demanded 'please throw that man out.'"

This reference was from a Ford Hall Forum speech, "America Versus Americans, referenced in the following article: The Objectivist Death Cult
http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig5/raimondo1.html

Best regards,

Rick

October 10, 2010 9:56 PM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Part 2

I noticed the official Rand lexicon is not available for free at the Rand Institute. In other words, I need to financially support the Institute before I can investigate Objectivism's validity online. Pretty sad.

Question(2): If I use the brand-name Ayn Rand definition for logic, do I need references each time? Is it possible for the Rand Institute to sue me if I do not respect the copyright Rand definition of logic? These are valid questions Dawson and I'd like an answer before I continue debating with you. The more I learn about Objectivism, the less I trust both it and the Institute.

On 10/8 You invited me to test your philosophy based upon the Objectivist “norms of definition.” I prefer to test it based upon the time-tested definition of logic, thank you anyway:

1. “a science that deals with the principles and criteria of validity of inference and demonstration : the science of the formal principles of reasoning.” (Websters Online Dictionary)

Notice the words “science” “Principles” “criteria” “validity” “Inference” and “demonstration.” In my opinion, and in most people's opinions, these are all extremely important words. They are here for a reason. Notice the term “formal principles.” Objectivism is highly subjective and it's easy to show it is based upon highly motivated false assumptions about reality. To launch off and create one's own personal definition of logic as an “art” is quite a leap.

cont...

October 10, 2010 10:06 PM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Part 3

Many people have labeled Rand's Objectivism as a cult-like philosophy and the more I read about it, the more I understand why. It would be most interesting to make a point by point comparison of Objectivism and, say, the Jehovah's Witnesses. If you want to try and link Christianity with death. Why not consider Peikoff's ideas about life and death:

“The war in Afghanistan was a letdown for him (Peikoff) because we took care not to inflict civilian casualties. This, says Peikoff, is immoral: in Iraq, too, we are far too squeamish about innocent civilians. And I note that Peikoff emphasizes the word 'innocent,' even as he proclaims that it would be immoral not to condemn these innocents to death. When someone in the audience cried out in horror at this brazen display of naked evil, Peikoff interrupted his talk and imperiously demanded 'please throw that man out.'"

This reference was from Peikoff's Ford Hall Forum speech, "America Versus Americans, referenced in the following article: "The Objectivist Death Cult"
http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig5/raimondo1.html

Best regards,

Rick

October 10, 2010 10:09 PM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Part 2 (for some reason did not post)

I noticed the official Rand lexicon is not available for free at the Rand Institute Site. In other words, I need to financially support the Institute before I can investigate Objectivism's validity online. Pretty sad.

Question(2): If I use the brand-name Ayn Rand definition for logic, do I need references each time? Is it possible for the Rand Institute to sue me if I do not respect the copyright Rand definition of logic? These are valid questions Dawson and I'd like an answer before I continue debating with you. The more I learn about Objectivism, the less I trust both it as a philosophy and the Institute that supports it.

On 10/8 You invited me to test your philosophy based upon the Objectivist “norms of definition.” I prefer to test it based upon the time-tested definition of logic, thank you anyway:

1. “a science that deals with the principles and criteria of validity of inference and demonstration : the science of the formal principles of reasoning.” (Websters Online Dictionary)

Notice the words “science” “Principles” “criteria” “validity” “Inference” and “demonstration.” In my opinion, and in most people's opinions, these are all extremely important words. They are here for a reason. Notice the term “formal principles.” Objectivism is highly subjective and it's easy to show it is based upon highly motivated false assumptions about reality. To launch off and create one's own personal definition of logic as an “art” is quite a leap.

Cont...

October 10, 2010 10:15 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hello Rick,


Part I:

Rick: “I first visited and commented on your ‘Sye’ article on 9/25. You invited me to ‘test’ your philosophy on 9/27: ‘Have you tested Objectivism, Rick?’”

Actually, this was an inquiry, not specifically an invite. You had made a big deal about testing your religion’s teachings. I just wondered if you had tested mine. I already knew the answer. I was drawing your attention to something.

Rick: “To me, the most remarkable and striking fact I've learned so far at your blog is that Objectivism does not recognize the universally accepted definition of logic as principles and as a science, but, rather, defines it mainly as an ‘art’.”

“…universally accepted…”? If it were truly “universally accepted,” then everyone (including even Objectivists) would accept it. And you’re reading a divisiveness into the matter that’s not really there. Objectivism sees its definition of logic as an improvement upon earlier models, since it is deliberately congruent with its concept theory. See my 10 Oct. comment in this blog for some relevant points you are likely unfamiliar with.

Rick: “The second most remarkable fact is that it has taken dozens of comments and approximately 2 weeks, as an inquirer, to find out that I need to learn a new language, a new lexicon, in order to logically understand the essence of what Objectivism is actually proposing.”

You have many unchecked, unexamined and unrecognized epistemological habits and faults which are in drastic need of correction, Rick. I was in a very similar situation when I first discovered Objectivism. That was over 18 years ago. Of course, it helped that I was no longer trying to convince myself that imaginary beings were really running the world behind everything I perceived. So with such fantasies out of the way, I was able to grasp many fundamental truths to which I was previously blind.

And it’s not a new language per se that you need to acquire (English works just fine), but a set of rational principles which are likely new to you (and which you won’t find in the bible). You might be surprised at just how cognitively economical Objectivism really is. Over the last decade, I’ve realized how important it is to have a good understanding of Objectivism’s theory of concepts. That’s uncharted territory for you, Rick. So your astonishment is not surprising.

Rick: “You have insinuated many times already I've ‘commandeered’ your blog,”

Not “many times,” Rick. Just once so far as I can recall, and I did so in the first sentence of a blog entry, primarily to capture the reader’s attention. And no, not my blog proper, just the comments section of one of my blog entries.

Rick: “but have yet to define specifically what that means so I may avoid doing it in the future.”

Don’t worry about it, Rick. You are the entertainment, so feel free to continue. As I noted before, I do not monitor reader comments. Not sure I’d even know how to…

[Continued…]

October 11, 2010 12:28 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Part II:

Rick: “In any event, my persistence has seemed to have paid off in that only recently I have understood that I need to learn a new language in order to understand what you are writing.”

If you’re being genuine with yourself, Rick, you’ve taken the first step of a wonderful, immensely rewarding journey, Rick. But essentially you’re right: while English works fine, Objectivism does require a lot of dedicated thought and integration as well as a willingness to jettison irrational ideas and poor epistemological habits. It’s not for those who have given up on ideas.

Rick: “1) Has it ever occurred to you Dawson that a rational philosophical dialogue cannot take place unless two people are speaking the same language?”

Sure. I’ve traveled overseas. Communication is always more successful when there’s a common language.

Has it ever occurred to you that, if you are genuinely interested in learning what Objectivism teaches, that it’s probably not best to rely on secondhand sources with an axe to grind, and to actually examine its primary sources with the willingness to allow yourself to say, “Hmmm, I never thought of it this way before, I’ll have to give that some further thought”? You might find that it’s not the language per se that’s different, but the fact that it actually has meaning. For instance, what does Christianity mean by the concept ‘causality’?

In my travels to foreign lands, I have found that the right attitude can make up for some vast deficiencies in commonality. I'd think that, living in Ukraine and being married to a local there, you of all persons could appreciate this. So much of it depends on your willingness to learn new things. It's a choice that no one else can make for you, Rick.

Rick: “From what I've gathered so far, straightforwardness is out of character with the philosophy of Objectivism.”

Really? And you think Christianity is “straightforward”? My, Rick, you have such a long ways to go.

Rick: “In at least 7 ways I've found Objectivism to be misleading. Why is it that the theme of darkness keeps coming to mind?”

Let’s see your list. If it helps your understanding, I’d be happy to review it.

Rick: “I noticed the official Rand lexicon is not available for free at the Rand Institute. In other words, I need to financially support the Institute before I can investigate its validity online. Pretty sad.”

Why is it “sad”? Do you want everything for free?

But you’re in luck, Rick. The Ayn Rand Lexicon is available online for free here. The link to this site is also on my blog's main page, under the heading "Recommended Resources." I guess you didn't see it before.

Rick: “Question(2): If I use the brand-name Ayn Rand definition for logic, do I need references each time?”

If you quote someone, don’t you normally cite your source?

Rick: “Is it possible for the Rand Institute to sue me if I do not respect the copyright Rand definition of logic?”

I do not represent the ARI, Rick. If you’re genuinely curious about this, I suggest you contact them and ask.

[Continued…]

October 11, 2010 12:39 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Part III:

Rick: “1. ‘a science that deals with the principles and criteria of validity of inference and demonstration : the science of the formal principles of reasoning.’ (Websters Online Dictionary)”

If you take into consideration what I wrote in my 10 October comment on this blog, you’ll see why Rand’s definition of logic implies the specific aspects of the identification process, including inference, demonstration, proof, validity, soundness, argument, conclusion, etc., etc., etc. If “criteria of validity of inference and demonstration” are part of the process of non-contradictory identification, then it is included in the meaning of logic as Objectivism defines it. Do you think they are part of that process?

Rick: “Notice the words ‘science’ ‘Principles’ ‘criteria’ ‘validity’ ‘Inference’ and ‘demonstration’.”

Yes, I can read.

Rick: “In my opinion, and in most people's opinions, these are all extremely important words.”

You are welcome to your opinion, Rick. I think they're important too. But I also recognize that they are already implied in Rand's definition.

By the way, how many people have you polled on this, Rick?

Rick: “Objectivism is highly subjective”

Rick, what do you mean by “subjective”? Where did you get this concept, how did you form it, and what (if anything) is wrong with something that is “highly subjective”?

Now, after you define your term, please show how “Objectivism is highly subjective.”

Rick: “and it's easy to show it is based upon highly motivated false assumptions about reality.”

Such as? If it’s so “easy to show,” why not trot out Objectivism’s “highly motive false assumptions about reality” and show them to me? Identify them.

Rick: “To launch off and create one's own personal definition of logic as an ‘art’ is quite a leap.”

Why?

Rick: “Many people have labeled Rand's Objectivism as a cult-like philosophy”

That’s true; many dishonest, uninformed and/or hostile persons have reached for all kinds of castigations in order to malign Objectivism. That you would repeat such a claim only indicates how unfamiliar you are with Objectivism and/or how little you understand the nature of cults.

Rick: “and the more I read about it, the more I understand why.”

Really? Can you explain why? What makes Objectivism “a cult-like philosophy” as you understand it?

At any rate, in case you’re seriously interested in correcting your ignorance on the matter, here are two resources which you may find enlightening:

Objectivism as a Cult

Is Objectivism a Cult?

Also, if anything’s a cult, Rick, it is a religion like yours. You like dictionaries – look up the definition yourself. Your religion claims its founder was a god! You can’t get any more “cult-like” than that.

Rick: “It would be most interesting to make a point by point comparison of Objectivism and, say, the Jehovah's Witnesses.”

But even you would agree (I’d hope anyway), that before you could do this, you’d want to have an accurate understanding of both worldviews, no? (I don’t know what you know about JWs, but your familiarity with Objectivism is dismal.)

[Continued…]

October 11, 2010 12:45 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Part IV:

Rick: “If you want to try and link Christianity with death. Why not consider Peikoff's ideas about life and death:”

I’ve considered many things that Peikoff has stated about war, civilian casualties, and the need of a nation of free individuals to protect itself from agression. I realize that a lot of people who have bought into the idea that self-sacrifice is man’s primary moral obligation, will have negative emotional reactions to Peikoff’s views on this matter. Peikoff’s views are based on man’s interest to live, so in fact life is the primary moral standard behind his stated views. Peikoff has not deviated from this so far as I can see (the lecture referenced is located here).

Keep in mind, Rick, that Objectivism is not the world which preaches the following:

“to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21)

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1)

“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.” (Mark 8:35)

“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 – I don’t know about you, but I don’t keep as “friends” people who would expect this of me.)

Also, it is not my worldview which enshrines an invisible magic being that would demand any of its members to be willing to kill his own son (cf. Gen. 22:1-10).

So yes, Christianity is indeed a cult of death worship. Look at how you rail against the philosophy for living on earth!

Regards,
Dawson

October 11, 2010 12:51 AM  
Blogger Bill Snedden said...

Hilarious.

Let's stipulate that Objectivism is a cult and Rand was a cult leader and further that Peikoff is a degenerate war-monger.

Now exactly how does this impugn the axioms of existence, identity, or Rand's theory of concept formation?

October 12, 2010 1:00 PM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Dear Cydonia,

"How one could believe in a universe-creating, reality-ruling god without assuming the primacy of consciousness?"

- Because God, as described in scripture, is eternally existent and eternally conscious. Logic crosses over the false ontological subject/object dichotomy. Logic is based on unchanging, universal principles and yet is used only in the mind, subjectively.

October 20, 2010 9:31 PM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Dear Dawson,

DB: "By what means can you be conscious of things in the world if your consciousness is “truly independent of the physical world”? If you say by means of sense perception, then you’re identifying a means which is in fact dependent on “the physical world.” How do you see without eyes? How do you touch without skin? How do you smell without a nose?"

Because a physical means is used, a body, senses, it does not require that consciousness is a biological product. Computers are physical and contain abstract information, meaning and ideas.

October 20, 2010 9:36 PM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Dear Dawson,

The title of this "Rick's Critique" article is misleading and is merely based on one of my comments. It does not represent the sum-total of my critique of Objectivism, as implied.

I am, however, presently writing a critique: "Objectivism Disproved - Part One: A False Start in the Wrong Race"

The following is an introduction you may consider. When the article is complete I'll send you a link.Don't lose any sleep over it.

"As a philosophy, Objectivism must be judged on its own merits. It begins with the statement “Existence exists.” This is like saying “living lives” or “reasoning reasons.” As Antirand.org has pointed out, Rand's phrase here represents a case of language confusion and, thus, philosophical confusion. In reality, only vital, dynamic entities such as trees can live, only thinking entities such as people can reason and, likewise, only specific entities and phenomena can exist. This hollow concept of “existence” is nonsensical, it doesn't actually “exist” in the true meaning and sense of the word."

Best regards,

Rick

October 20, 2010 9:45 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Cydonia (quoting me): "How one could believe in a universe-creating, reality-ruling god without assuming the primacy of consciousness?"

Rick: “Because God, as described in scripture, is eternally existent and eternally conscious.”

This does not address the question. Rather, what Rick writes here simply confirms the appropriateness of Objectivism’s critique of theism. Rick affirms that according to his god-belief his god is supposed to be conscious. We know this. His god-belief, if it is informed by “scripture” (i.e., the Christian bible), also affirms that this god created the universe by an act of consciousness, and rules it according to its own conscious intentions. These views grant metaphysical primacy to some form of consciousness (“God”) over any and all its objects (which it is said to have created and presently rules over). So the question remains: how could one believe in a universe-creating, reality-ruling god without assuming the primacy of consciousness? Rather than show how he could believe in a universe-creating, reality ruling god without assuming the primacy of consciousness, Rick makes a statement which only confirms theism’s inherent problem.

Rick also stated: “Logic crosses over the false ontological subject/object dichotomy.”

It’s not at all clear what this is trying to say, but seems to be affirming a mistake which I corrected in my blog. Rick is apparently saying that there is no subject-object relationship (“false ontological subject/object dichotomy”), which could only mean: there is no consciousness whatsoever. If Rick wants to backpedal and say “No, consciousness does exist!” then he needs to explain how consciousness can exist without something to be conscious of (i.e., objects). When Rick affirms that his god is “eternally conscious,” is he saying that it’s “eternally conscious” of nothing? That would hardly be fruitful. Again, I think Rick needs to give these matters a little deeper thought.

Rick: “Logic is based on unchanging, universal principles and yet is used only in the mind, subjectively.”

Logic is based on the axioms, the primacy of existence and the objective theory of concepts, and therefore Objectivism. Observe:

1. Axioms: The facts denoted by the axioms are fundamental and unchanging, and the axioms are informed by axiomatic concepts – i.e., universal references. There is no corner in reality where they are not true.

2. The primacy of existence is inalterable: it does not change, and cannot be changed. To change it would mean that sometimes the primacy of consciousness is true. But the very statement “the primacy of consciousness is true” is self-contradictory. Logic assumes the primacy of existence for the very reason why the statement “wishing makes it so” is false.

3. The objective theory of concepts: Logic applies the core principle of the objective theory of concepts, namely the principle of measurement-omission (“omitted measurements must exist in some quantity, but may exist in any quantity” – Ayn Rand, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, p. 18), to any set of existents, attributes, qualities, ideas, etc., which exist or can exist in a formalizable relationship. This is essentially the same principle we find in algebra: in the equation X + Y = Z, the variables “X” “Y” and “Z” must represent some quantity, but may represent any quantity. Similarly, in the syllogism “If P then Q; P; therefore Q,” the variables “P” and “Q” must represent some quantity (i.e., they must represent something), but can exist in any quantity (i.e., anything). So logic’s dependence on the axioms, the primacy

And no, logic is not used “subjectively,” but objectively, by virtue of the principle of reduction. We know this because we use logic to traverse the hierarchy of knowledge, essentially from that which is not perceptually self-evident to that which is perceptually self-evident.

Regards,
Dawson

October 21, 2010 3:43 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

I wrote: "By what means can you be conscious of things in the world if your consciousness is ‘truly independent of the physical world’? If you say by means of sense perception, then you’re identifying a means which is in fact dependent on ‘the physical world’. How do you see without eyes? How do you touch without skin? How do you smell without a nose?"

Rick: “Because a physical means is used, a body, senses, it does not require that consciousness is a biological product.”

This is essentially the position I’m challenging you to validate, not simply assert as if it could be taken for granted.

You seem to be conceding that you need physical means (specifically "a body, senses") in order to perceive things, but still want to affirm that consciousness is not inherently biological. How is consciousness not biological? Specifically, how is it something other than a natural part of the biological organism which possesses it? Whatever answer you give to this question must take into account the fact that human beings are not the only biological organisms which possess consciousness. Other biological organisms also possess consciousness. Why do we find consciousness only in biological organisms, and not in, say, rocks, raindrops, dust particles, gas, etc.? If consciousness is not inherently biological, it seems we should find it in things which are not biological at all. But we don’t. How do you explain this?

Of course, Rick, we can all imagine that consciousness exists outside a biological framework, such as in a rock or a supernatural being. (I’m reminded of primitives who think belching volcanoes need to be appeased with the sacrifice of the village virgin.) But as thinking adults we need to deal with facts, Rick, not fantasies.

Rick: “Computers are physical and contain abstract information, meaning and ideas.”

Rick, computers are not conscious. They do not perceive, they do not form abstractions, they do not have intentions, they do not come up with ideas. I’m guessing you haven’t really given this matter very much thought.

Regards,
Dawson

October 21, 2010 3:47 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Part I:


Rick: “The title of this ‘Rick's Critique’ article is misleading and is merely based on one of my comments.”

The title sums up what the reader should expect to find in my blog entry. It is not misleading as I interact directly with your (exceedingly poorly informed) criticisms of Objectivism. It is not based on one of your comments; my post interacts with many of your statements.

Rick: “It does not represent the sum-total of my critique of Objectivism, as implied.”

The title of my post does not necessarily imply that the comments of yours with which I interact represent the sum total of your critique of Objectivism. This could only be inferred by incorporating additional premises which are not affirmed by my post's title.

In a previous comment you stated “In at least 7 ways I've found Objectivism to be misleading.” I’m still waiting for you to enumerate these seven ways you believe Objectivism is misleading. Be careful to cite your sources, and seriously: try to interact with Objectivism actually teaches for once.

You state that you are now working on a new and improved critique of Objectivism, and quoted your introductory statement. You announce your working title as “Objectivism Disproved – Part One: A False Start in the Wrong Race.” After reviewing your first paragraph (see below), this statement “A False Start in the Wrong Race” is quite fitting for your own piece.

Rick: "As a philosophy, Objectivism must be judged on its own merits.”

If only you would do precisely this, Rick. The rest of your paragraph shows that you are unfaithful to the principle stated in the first sentence. Let me show you:

Rick: “It begins with the statement ‘Existence exists’. This is like saying ‘living lives’ or ‘reasoning reasons’.”

How so? And according to whom? Not according to Objectivism (you want to judge Objectivism on its own merits, right?). Neither statement “living lives” or “reasoning reasons” is at all conceptually equivalent to the axiom “existence exists.” If the goal is to judge Objectivism on its own merits, then its teachings should first be understood as Objectivism informs them. It’s hard to see how anyone could legitimately have difficulty understanding the meaning of the axiom of existence, or accepting its truth. According to Objectivism, the concept ‘existence’ is the widest of all concepts: it denotes everything which exists. The axiom “existence exists” is simply the recognition that everything which exists, exists. It is similar to Parmenides’ dictum “what is, is,” in that it is explicitly stating an obvious fact. In terms of meaning, it is equivalent to saying “there is a reality,” or “reality exists.” Rand’s axiom represents an improvement over Parmenides’ recognition in that it consists of a single concept, which ensures that it qualifies as an actual axiom (i.e., it is conceptually irreducible).

The fact that existence exists is fundamental. You can verbally deny it, but you cannot deny it without performatively contradicting yourself (it would have to be true for anyone even to try to deny it).

So already you’re off to a bad start if your critique is supposed to adhere to the principle stated in your initial sentence.

[Continued...]

October 21, 2010 3:56 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Rick: “As Antirand.org has pointed out,”

My, Rick, you really must be desperate if you’re taking cues from this website. Its author has a malicious axe to grind, and gives no evidence that he even understands Objectivism. He does not quote any statement by Rand (i.e., whatever point in Objectivism he seems to be griping about, he does not even have the courage to quote what she says) and seems to have accepted a Hollywood/Michael Moore understanding of capitalsm. He fumigates about folks like Dick Cheney and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and seems to be an admirer of Hugo Chavez (he writes: “Chavez is standing up, and standing up mightily, to these corporate scoundrels who think the world to be not only a stage, but their stage”). You’ve chosen a very strange bedfellow indeed, Rick. But continue:

Rick: “Rand's phrase here represents a case of language confusion and, thus, philosophical confusion.”

Really? How so? Where do you or this Hugophile show that any confusion here is Rand’s, and not your own? When trying to critique Rand’s axiom, why not quote what she wrote about it, what she says it means, why she thinks it’s a proper statement, etc., and interact with that? Don’t you have more substance than to react to it like a 14-year-old brat doesn’t care for much of anything?

Rick: “In reality, only vital, dynamic entities such as trees can live, only thinking entities such as people can reason and, likewise, only specific entities and phenomena can exist.”

Is this your view, Rick? Or is it supposed to represent something that Objectivism affirms? (It nowhere states this, by the way.)

Rick: “This hollow concept of ‘existence’ is nonsensical,”

So, when you apply the concept ‘existence’ to your god (as when you say “God exists”), you’re making use of a “hollow concept” that is “nonsensical”? Do you really believe what you’re writing, Rick? Are you even aware of what it is you’re trying to say here?

Rick: “it doesn't actually ‘exist’ in the true meaning and sense of the word."

As I mentioned, according to Objectivism, the concept ‘existence’ is the widest of all concepts, denoting everything that exists. You’re saying that it is false to affirm that everything which exists, exists.

Yes, Rick, your confusion is indeed legendary. What's worse is that you've now got a track record which demonstrates you aren't very willing to learn. Keep in mind: you represent Christianity.

Regards,
Dawson

October 21, 2010 4:02 AM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Dear Dawson,

DB:"How one could believe in a universe-creating, reality-ruling god without assuming the primacy of consciousness?"

You don't seem to get my point. The dichotomy between primacy of consciousness and existence is false. I cannot use a false proof or prove what is false.

Examine your so-called axiom of existence: “Existence Exists.” “Existence” here is a concept, a symbol. If I say “life lives” the “life” here is not a specific, concrete life, it is a language symbol of an abstract concept of life. The same is true with your “existence” in “existence exists.”

Do you disagree with this???

So what does this mean? What the axiom is really saying is “A concept of existence exists.” A concept of existence is a product of a mind, it is a product of a consciousness. So if you carry the meaning to its logical conclusion, the axiom of existence ultimately proposes “Consciousness exists.”

The axiom of existence is sophistry and doesn't work because it is not based on true prime reality. I can show you what seems to be a valid and true first propositions of prime reality:

October 22, 2010 10:03 PM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Part 2

This seems to be a more infallible start:

Knowledge of Existence depends upon consciousness.

Knowledge of consciousness depends upon existence.

Can you find any error in these statements?

2.Let's go back to logic. Logic is utilized only in the mind and yet its universal principles are not of the mind, they are external. Logic crosses the subject/object, consciousness/existence dichotomy. I don't think you can weasel out of this fact.

How did the universal principles of logic come metaphysically “before” consciousness if its only utilitarian function is of the mind???

I can give cases showing logic and mathematics are interrelated. I can show cases that mathematics and logic are not invented but rather discovered phenomena and are embedded in the physical world.

Do you disagree with this???

You don't seem to want to admit, as Rand didn't, what logic really is. The principles of logic stand alone as do the laws of gravity. They exist outside of the tenets of your philosophy. They do not need to be explained by- or justified by your philosophy.

Do you really disagree with these points???

Best regards,

Rick

October 22, 2010 10:09 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Part I

Rick: “You don't seem to get my point. The dichotomy between primacy of consciousness and existence is false.”

Just by saying that this is the case, you’re assuming the primacy of existence. You aren’t saying that it’s the case because you *want* it to be that way, right? You’re saying that it’s that way regardless of what anyone wants. You're saying it's that way independent of anyone's wishes, emotional fits, preferences, self-deceptions, fantasies, errors, etc. But, that’s the primacy of existence.

Consider what the primacy of existence says: it says that the objects of awareness are what they are *independent* of the conscious activity by which the subject is aware of those objects. Of course, if you deny that there are any subjects and objects to begin with (you call it a "false dichotomy"), then apparently you believe your power to deny something is omnipotent. That would be an example of the primacy of consciousness, assuming that the objects depend on the conscious activity of the subject.

If you want to present an argument showing that the primacy of existence vs. the primacy of consciousness is a false alternative, I’d be happy to look at it. But so far, it does not appear that you understand the issue in question at all.

Rick: “Examine your so-called axiom of existence: ‘Existence Exists’. ‘Existence’ here is a concept, a symbol. If I say ‘life lives’ the ‘life’ here is not a specific, concrete life, it is a language symbol of an abstract concept of life. The same is true with your ‘existence’ in ‘existence exists’.”

Rick, you make a most elementary mistake here. I’ve already explained what the axiom “existence exists” means using other terms. Yet you still distort what it is saying. The axiom “existence exists” is NOT saying “the concept ‘existence’ exists.” Rather, it’s saying that everything which the concept ‘existence’ DENOTES exists.

Rick: “Do you disagree with this???”

I disagree with your analysis, yes. See above, and see my earlier attempts to explain this to you, which you seem not to have read.

Rick: “So what does this mean? What the axiom is really saying is ‘A concept of existence exists’. A concept of existence is a product of a mind, it is a product of a consciousness.”

Wrong. As I mentioned above, the axiom “existence exists” is not saying that the *concept*’existence’ exists – as if it were floating around in the universe waiting to be identified. On the contrary, it affirms that WHAT THE CONCEPT ‘EXISTENCE DENOTES exists. In this respect, it’s no different from saying “man exists” or “trees exist” or “the universe exists.” When someone says “man exists,” he’s not talking about the concept ‘man’ itself, but rather what the concept ‘man’ denotes - i.e., the existential units to which the concept ‘man’ refers.

Rick: “So if you carry the meaning to its logical conclusion, the axiom of existence ultimately proposes ‘Consciousness exists’.”

Rick, the axiom of existence is not an argument. It’s an axiom. But it does imply consciousness, but not for the reason you suppose. Rather, the axiom of existence is the fundamental recognition that there is a reality, that things exist, and just by recognizing this fact implies the axiom of consciousness, since recognition is an act of consciousness. This is Basic Objectivism 101. That this needs to be explained to you indicates how behind you are on the learning curve.

[Continued…]

October 22, 2010 10:51 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Part II


Rick: “Knowledge of Existence depends upon consciousness. Knowledge of consciousness depends upon existence. Can you find any error in these statements?”

Do you think there’s an error in your two statements? If so, what do you think it is?

Rick: “2.Let's go back to logic. Logic is utilized only in the mind and yet its universal principles are not of the mind, they are external.”

Is this your view? If so, what is a universal? What does it look like? By what means are you aware of universal principles if they are "not of the mind," but “are external”?

Rick: “Logic crosses the subject/object, consciousness/existence dichotomy. I don't think you can weasel out of this fact.”

I have no idea what you mean by “subject/object, consciousness/existence dichotomy,” or what you mean by “logic crosses” this dichotomy that you have in mind. I have not spoke of a “subject/object” dichotomy, but a relationship between consciousness and its objects. It’s not a dichotomy: it’s the two participants of experience engaged in a relationship.

Rick: “How did the universal principles of logic come metaphysically ‘before’ consciousness if its only utilitarian function is of the mind???”

Objectivism holds that universals *are* concepts (I've written on this here), and that concepts are the product of a particular type of mental activity known generally as abstraction. It does not hold that “universals” (i.e., concepts) “come metaphysically ‘before’ consciousness.”

Again, it appears that you have not been reading anything I’ve been writing very carefully.

Rick: “I can give cases showing logic and mathematics are interrelated.”

Objectivism recognizes the close relationship between logic and mathematics. The connection between the two is their conceptual nature. Did you not read point #3 in my initial 21 Oct. comment-response to you, where I explain how the process of measurement-omission is fundamental to both algebra and logic?

Rick: “I can show cases that mathematics and logic are not invented but rather discovered phenomena and are embedded in the physical world.”

Objectivism holds that logic and mathematics are in fact discoveries, not things conjured by the imagination, but in fact based on actual facts which we discover in the world. However, neither logic nor mathematics are concretes existing in the world by themselves. They have to do with how the mind interacts with the facts it discovers in the world. In other words, they are rooted in the subject-object relationship (not “dichotomy” as you seem to think it is).

[Continued…]

October 22, 2010 10:59 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Part III

Rick: “You don't seem to want to admit, as Rand didn't, what logic really is.”

And what’s that?

Rick: “The principles of logic stand alone as do the laws of gravity.”

If “laws” is another word for *principles* (and it is in my view – a principle is a general truth upon which other truths depend), then neither the principles of logic nor the *laws* of gravity exist as concretes in the world apart from the subject-object relationship. Principles are conceptual in nature: they are identifications (i.e., conceptual integrations produced by a process of abstraction) of facts which we discover in the world. Principles (including "laws", which are principles pertaining to metaphysical features we discover in the world) are not concretes which we find laying on the ground.

Now gravity itself – i.e., the natural force which the concept ‘gravity’ denotes - exists entirely independent of the subject-object relationship; it is not conceptual, it is metaphysical, and it is something we discover and identify by means of a concept (namely the concept 'gravity').

Rick: “They exist outside of the tenets of your philosophy. They do not need to be explained by- or justified by your philosophy.”

I think you’re a very confused man who needs to re-think why you're trying to have a discussion with me. Really, what exactly is your purpose in commenting here if you’re not going to make the slightest effort to understand what I write and interact with it? Every time you comment, you require profound correcting. You charge Objectivism with making obvious, boneheaded blunders that it does not at all make, but in fact explicitly avoids. At this point I can only suppose that you’re angling for the cheapest shots you can muster in order to settle in your mind that this particular atheistic worldview is somehow deficient, false, misguided, etc. It’s not. But you’ll not understand this unless you revise your attitude.

Regards,
Dawson

October 22, 2010 11:06 PM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Part 1

Dear Dawson,

DB: "Just by saying that this is the case (primacy of existence is false), you’re assuming the primacy of existence."

- No,take a step back for a minute, stop repeating your knee jerk mantras and consider the possibility that quantum physics has proven this theory to be false.

DB: "Consider what the primacy of existence says: it says that the objects of awareness are what they are *independent* of the conscious activity by which the subject is aware of those objects."

- Your philosophy can say whatever it wants to, but each new discovery in quantum physics drives another nail into the coffin of Rand's "Objectivism."

Experiments in quantum physics show that simply looking at something as tiny as an electron--just focusing our awareness upon what it's doing for even an instant of time--changes its properties while we're watching it. This is a 100% proven and truly objective fact.

This video of the Quantum physics double slit experiment explains this peer reviewed fact (observance changes reality) in easy to understand terms:

http://www.bestofgooglevideo.com/video.php?video=74

You can continue to repeat your primacy of existence mantra, but it is in conflict with many proven scientific facts and experiments.

In addition to the double slit experiment, there is the Zeno effect, or "watched pot effect." Simply observing continuously whether an atom is in a certain state keeps it in that state forever.

Quantum physics has altered the Aristotelian views Rand based her philosophy upon.The question is, are you willing to follow where truth leads, or are you going to stick to your outdated philosophy and personally held beliefs?

...the "paradox" (of quantum physics) is only a conflict between reality and your feeling of what reality "ought to be."

- Richard Feynman

I know it may be hard to come to terms with scientific facts that oppose your beliefs.There can be a great sense of denial. Some people have required a deprogramming process. I would recommend a Christian counselor because the New Age counselors will lead you in the wrong spiritual direction.

October 23, 2010 7:28 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

oh for crying out loud!

Is an election is super imposition or not?

Law of excluded middle

Can you create an experiment know to produce wave like behavior and by the mere act of will make the quanta act like particles? uh NO!

Law of Identity

While it is true one can alter the results of an experiment by observing it, this does not mean we are in a subjective universe. First off it is the means of observation and not the observation its self, secondly the terms and conditions to produce the spooky quantum effects are not up to the observer. Want spooking effects you must do xyz, if you do abc you get classical results. No sorry, quantum physics is not going to over turn the law of identity. After all its either quantum mechanical or it is not.

October 23, 2010 8:14 PM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Part 2

In terms of logic, you've argued that its principles are not "concrete" because they are "conceptual." You compare this with gravity:

Now gravity itself – i.e., the natural force which the concept ‘gravity’ denotes - exists entirely independent of the subject-object relationship; it is not conceptual, it is metaphysical, and it is something we discover and identify by means of a concept (namely the concept 'gravity')."

Is logic merely conceptual and not metaphysical?

Aristotle coined the concept of logic. But was everyone illogical before Aristotle? Of course not. What does this mean? Logic is an inherent property. How deep does logic go into reality?

The nature of logic is reality itself. Anything that exists does so in relation to non-existence. This is the first axiom of logic, The Law of Non-Contradiction. If existence exists, logic exists. To deny logic is to deny existence.

If there is a contradiction in human "logic" it is because the human conception has veered from intrinsic *logic*

"Gravity" describes a force acting upon objects. "Logic" describes the nature of reality itself, whether or not forces are considered. Reality has *logic*, "logic" is based on reality. "Logic" is not a mere conception, because You can only dispose of *logic* by disposing of reality itself.

*Logic* is absolute and exists outside of human conception, therefore it is metaphysical:

"Physicists Validate Absolute Logic As Equator Self-contradiction."

http://sci.tech-archive.net/Archive/sci.math/2010-03/msg01544.html

Personally, I don't find these to be "confusing" ideas, but self evident ones.

Best regards,

Rick

October 23, 2010 8:41 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

logic is a recognition of the nature of reality in conceptual form. You continue to confuse the concept with what it denotes.

October 23, 2010 8:45 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

l love the physicist validate absolute log as equator self contradiction. First I know of no such thing as absolute logic, there is only logic. And just might I ask did he prove his conclusion without invalidating his argument, or did you not use logic?

October 23, 2010 8:48 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

ugh, sorry for the grammar fail, should have said

And just how might I ask did he prove his conclusion without invalidating his argument, or did he not use logic?

October 23, 2010 8:49 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Part I

I wrote: "Just by saying that this is the case (primacy of existence is false), you’re assuming the primacy of existence."

Rick: “No,take a step back for a minute, stop repeating your knee jerk mantras and consider the possibility that quantum physics has proven this theory to be false.”

Rick, the very notion of “proof” necessarily presupposes the primacy of existence. No legitimate science or scientific experiment can disprove the primacy of existence. There’s a lot of junk science out there, and scientists are not all monolithically working from a rational philosophy. Many scientists bring unchecked premises into their work, and these unchecked premises can easily influence the conclusions they draw from their work. In short, don’t believe every YouTube video you watch.

I wrote: "Consider what the primacy of existence says: it says that the objects of awareness are what they are *independent* of the conscious activity by which the subject is aware of those objects."

Rick: “Your philosophy can say whatever it wants to, but each new discovery in quantum physics drives another nail into the coffin of Rand's ‘Objectivism’."

“…each new discovery in quantum physics” does this? You say this, even though it’s been painfully clear from our conversation hitherto that your understanding of what it is you say “each new discovery in quantum physics” refutes, is worse than poor.

Rick: “Experiments in quantum physics show that simply looking at something as tiny as an electron--just focusing our awareness upon what it's doing for even an instant of time--changes its properties while we're watching it. This is a 100% proven and truly objective fact.”

Even the video you linked to about the double slit experiment does not unequivocally establish that “simply looking at something… changes its properties.” Indeed, the conclusion that “observation” alone alters outcomes in the experiment trades on an equivocation. Did you catch it? Watch the video again, and pay close attention. First it says that the experimenters installed “a measuring device” next to one of the slits. The video does not tell us what specifically this “measuring device” is; graphically the cartoon uses a big eyeball atop a tripod to represent this. But I doubt very much it was simply a naked eye as this implies. It is at this point that this “measuring device” is then characterized as “observation,” as if it were a conscious person simply “peeking” (their word) at what’s happening. Even the grandfatherly professor on the video says “the quantum world is far more mysterious than [physicists] could have imagined.”

But notice that even then, the conclusion is not that the wave patterns conform to someone’s dictates, wishing, emotions, preferences, fantasies, temper tantrums, etc. The primacy of existence could only be compromised if the scientists conducting the experiment could direct the patterns by a sheer act of will. But just the fact that they observe one thing under one set of conditions (e.g., without the “measuring device” monitoring the electron) and something else under a different set of conditions (e.g., with the “measuring device” monitoring the electron) suggests, in full compliance with the primacy of existence, that the particle’s behavior and the resulting pattern do not conform to someone’s will, but in fact follow a causal sequence which the scientists probably do not fully understand at this time. (Again, they admit that it’s “far more mysterious” than they imagine it to be.)

Physicist David Harriman (himself an Objectivist) has exposed a lot of the bunk notions that pass as “science” in the field of physics today. If you’re interested in a truly rational understanding of the science of physics, I recommend you consult his work.

[Continued…]

October 23, 2010 9:12 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Part II

Rick: “You can continue to repeat your primacy of existence mantra, but it is in conflict with many proven scientific facts and experiments.”

Again, I suspect you really haven’t given the matter much genuine consideration, Rick. The alternative to the primacy of existence is the primacy of consciousness. My observation of something does not change its nature. Take for instance my cell phone. By observing it, it does not change into something other than a cell phone. But why not? I thought that that the double slit experiment proves that “observance changes reality” (your words, Rick). What’s going on? Either observation does change reality, or it doesn’t. Or, is existence fickle in your view?

Rick: “Aristotle coined the concept of logic. But was everyone illogical before Aristotle? Of course not. What does this mean? Logic is an inherent property. How deep does logic go into reality?”

What do you mean by the statement “logic is an inherent property”? An inherent property of what? Is logic an inherent property of thinking? If so, it seems there’d be no such thing as illogical thinking. But there is such a thing as illogical thinking.

Rick: “The nature of logic is reality itself.”

I have no idea what you intend to mean by this. The concepts ‘logic’ and ‘reality’ do not denote one and the same thing.

Rick: “Anything that exists does so in relation to non-existence.”

So, non-existence is a thing which things that exist, exist in relation to? What is a "relation to non-existence" anyway? How does something exist "in relation to non-existence"? What does "non-existence" have to do with things that exist?

Rick: “If existence exists, logic exists.”

How exactly does this follow? Unhide your premises, Rick.

Rick: “’Gravity’ describes a force acting upon objects. ‘Logic’ describes the nature of reality itself, whether or not forces are considered.”

So, in your view, logic is merely descriptive? Typically theists tell us that logic is normative. But that’s not what you’re saying here.

As I stated in a previous message, you appear to be a deeply confused man. You need to lay off the mysticism habit – it’s destroying your mind.

Regards,
Dawson

October 23, 2010 9:16 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Justin: “No sorry, quantum physics is not going to over turn the law of identity.”

Hi Justin,

Good to see you again. I hope things are well for you.

Welcome to my handholding session with Rick Warden. You can check out the comments section of this blog to see where it all started, and how it’s progressed since then.

And you’re right – neither quantum physics nor any other mental contraption is going to overturn the law of identity. The following quote by Dean Sandin seems quite apropos to Rick’s latest attempt to discredit Objectivism:

“Quantum Mechanics holds that a particle is nowhere and everywhere throughout some extended region, until magic happens and instantaneously it’s at one place. Of course, QM doesn’t say “magic”. But rationally speaking it means magic. I.e., non-identity in various guises, whether named non-locality, backwards-in-time causality, indeterminacy, the (literal and physical) primacy of consciousness, or whatever.

“To reject QM as physically wrong is fine. It’s necessary. But it is not merely physically wrong. The deeper rot in QM is the admission of non-identity into physical reasoning. Doing physics right doesn’t merely mean getting the right answers from a mathematical formalism – not while the underlying entities can’t be non-contradictorily grasped. It also means eliminating the contradictions that prevent the clear grasp of the physical entities. And that means rediscovering identity, and admitting back into the basis of physics the real entities that QM gives up on.”

Now what new objection is Rick going to raise next?

Regards,
Dawson

October 23, 2010 9:28 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

"To reject QM as physically wrong is fine. It’s necessary. But it is not merely physically wrong. The deeper rot in QM is the admission of non-identity into physical reasoning. Doing physics right doesn’t merely mean getting the right answers from a mathematical formalism – not while the underlying entities can’t be non-contradictorily grasped. It also means eliminating the contradictions that prevent the clear grasp of the physical entities. And that means rediscovering identity, and admitting back into the basis of physics the real entities that QM gives up on.”




actually Dawson I think I am going to respectfully disagree with you on this one. I don't see how a particle smeared out as some sort of wave until interacted with (i.e. observation) contradicts the law of identity. The way I see it, that is a quanta's identity under certain conditions, namely that it does not have a certain position. There are many things in the classical physical sense that have not hard edges as it were, such as an actual wave on a beach, or a cloud. That is how I conceptualize a quantum wave, like a defuse entity until it is interacted with in the right way, then it collapses to a point like object. This is it's identity and it acts in accordance with it, not the whims of the observer, although the act of observing can fulfill the required conditions to collapse the wave function. I am however in full agreement that QM is not the basis for a sound philosophy or does it invalidate the law of identity. Like directed to Rick, it is either QM or it is not, there is no escaping identification.

October 24, 2010 12:02 AM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

Oh by the way I am doing fine. I have a new employer and am back in the software trade. Hopefully this one will not send my job overseas, but like I said back then, no one owes me a job, thats my job:)

October 24, 2010 12:06 AM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

Oh a question for you, I am knee deep in an on going debate out here in real space over the merits of Rand's theory of ethics and how that relates to politics. My opponent is an self described communist. I realize that this is outside the scope of this blog, concerned as it is with presuppositionalism. However as this is of interest to objectivism as a whole, I was wondering If I could relay his argument to you for discussion here. I would like to present his argument for critical review and you are the only one I know that could effectively take it on from the objectivist point of view. The essence of his argument appears to be that Rand misidentified man's nature as an autonomous moral agent. That a proper identification of man would take into account his nature as a social animal. That there really is no choice but to be part of society, i.e. the tribe. And so some due consideration must therefore be made to a collectivist ethic. Anyway your thoughts?

October 24, 2010 12:15 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Hi Justin,

Glad things are going well for you, and that you’re back in business. That’s great news!

In response to the Dean Sandin quote, you wrote: “actually Dawson I think I am going to respectfully disagree with you on this one. I don't see how a particle smeared out as some sort of wave until interacted with (i.e. observation) contradicts the law of identity…”

I understand your comments. I don’t think Sandin had specifically the double slit experiment in mind when he stated that “the deeper rot in QM is the admission of non-identity into physical reasoning.” Maybe he does, but he seems to be speaking more broadly about QM generally, or at least some of the methods which researchers have used. Prior to stating this in his post, Sandin disentangles a three-part package-deal that he detected and notes that only one of its elements is philosophical in nature. Sandin says the following about the third disentangled element:

“Action at a distance (superfluously also called instantaneous action at a distance, and often termed non-locality) would by definition be non-physical (tantamount to magic). It can’t ever rationally be an element of physics. That is a philosophical issue. In recognition of this, Einstein called non-locality ‘spooky’, Newton called it absurd.”

I think this is what Sandin has in mind when he speaks of “non-identity” of the particle.

I did note in the double slit video that the professor says that the particle “interferes with itself” and “it goes through both slits, and it goes through neither [slit].” At first blush, this all sounds contradictory, but I’m not familiar enough with all the issues to know all the ins and outs here. That being said, many Objectivists have pointed out contradictions in quantum physics research (e.g., Harriman, Binswanger, etc.), and a contradiction is a contradiction regardless of which field of study it occurs in.

Also, in the double slit experiment, the identity of the “measuring device” seems to be denied, or at least ignored. As I pointed out, what specifically this “measuring device” is, is not stated in the video, and it quickly becomes “observation,” even though the human eye cannot perceive particles the size of an electron. So how is it determined with certainty that the “measuring device” used in the experiment is not responsible for interfering with the experiment?

As for your interaction with the self-identified communist, I’d be happy to examine the points in contention. Feel free to e-mail me. Specifically, I’d like to examine his argument in his own words.

Regards,
Dawson

October 24, 2010 11:53 AM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Dear Dawson,

I have to agree with Justin and respectfully disagree with you as well.

Your quote by Dean Sandin is an iconic example of someone adamantly out of touch with reality:

“To reject QM as physically wrong is fine. It’s necessary."

I'll grant you that the double slit experiment "observer effect" is still inconclusively proven mathematically. But the question remains open.

In an article at physicsworld.com “Quantum physics says goodbye to reality” dated Apr 20, 2007, Austrian physicists offer that the quantum observer effect is proven in another even more radical way, that the sub-atomic world can only exist when it is being observed.

While the observer effect is one aspect of quantum mechanics, non-locality is another, and has been conclusively proven many times.

Like Sandin, Einstein didn't believe in non-locality, calling it "spooky actions from a distance"(Good subject for Halloween.)

However, Alain Aspect in 1982 was the first to conclusive proof non-locality experimentally. It has been proven experimentally many times since.

This article shows one such example:

'We have broken speed of light'

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/3303699/We-have-broken-speed-of-light.html

"The scientists were investigating a phenomenon called quantum tunneling."

It is not surprising that objectivist-minded scientists would oppose quantum physics because non-location dismantles the possibility of truly observing any one thing or system objectively. If the physical world as we know it is interconnected at a subatomic level, which appears to be the case, then it seems objectivism is out of a job.

There is a lot of quantum quackery, such as promoted in "The Secret" but there is also undeniable evidence supporting subatomic interconnectedness as supported by valid science.

Best regards,

Rick

October 26, 2010 9:50 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Rick: “I have to agree with Justin and respectfully disagree with you as well.”

It’s not clear that you’re agreeing with Justin here, Rick. So far as I can tell, Justin has not surmised that the primacy of existence is false, nor has he said anything like “objectivism is out of a job.” Justin did say that “QM is not the basis for a sound philosophy,” and yet your purpose in introducing QM to the discussion seems expressly geared toward drawing philosophical conclusions.

At any rate, Sandin himself might be happy to discuss the matter with you if you think he’s so mistaken.

Rick: “In an article at physicsworld.com ‘Quantum physics says goodbye to reality’ dated Apr 20, 2007, Austrian physicists offer that the quantum observer effect is proven in another even more radical way, that the sub-atomic world can only exist when it is being observed.”

Is this another way of saying that things like electrons and protons only exist when they’re being observed? I don’t know how else to interpret what you’re saying here, and if that is what you (or the Austrian physicists) really mean to say, you’re telling me that Sandin is out of touch with reality? Even the double slit experiment does not suggest that “the sub-atomic world can only exist when it is being observed.” Depending on what is meant by “observed,” the double slit experiment shows that things at the quantum level happen one way when they’re not observed (and thus the sub-atomic particles must exist, for they’re doing the acting), and that things happen another way when they are observed. It does not suggest that nothing exists at the quantum level until it’s observed.

Again, as I pointed out earlier, the documentary on the double slit experiment said that “a measuring device” was used to monitor the activity at the sub-atomic level. What specifically was this “measuring device”? If it wasn’t a human eye, then it seems that “observe” is a loaded term.

Regardless, we do not perceive reality at the sub-atomic level, a level of inquiry which physicists seem unanimous in only one assessment: that it’s mysterious (they seem to disagree on so much else). As I mentioned, my observing my cell phone does not change its nature; it remains what it is independent of my conscious activity. This wouldn’t be the case if the primacy of existence principle were not true. I can see why you prefer to take the debate into the field of physics, since there is, as you yourself admit, a lot of quackery going on there, plenty to try to seek refuge in.

Rick: “It is not surprising that objectivist-minded scientists would oppose quantum physics because non-location dismantles the possibility of truly observing any one thing or system objectively.”

And yet, “the sub-atomic world can only exist when it is being observed.”

Rick: “If the physical world as we know it is interconnected at a subatomic level, which appears to be the case, then it seems objectivism is out of a job.”

Rick, let’s face it: you’ve been wanting to find a way to convince yourself that Objectivism is full of holes for weeks now. It’s clear that you’re going to believe what you want to believe. You don’t need my permission. But I do not see where you’ve disproven any tenet of Objectivism. And it’s not because I haven’t been paying attention to you.

Regards,
Dawson

October 26, 2010 11:39 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

The real issue here on QM is on one hand individuals that conflate QM with the Copenhagen interpretation and those that don't. I accept QM, I reject the Copenhagen interpretation. Remember it is just that, an interpretation of whats going on, not a formal proof of anything. In fact if one were to accept it at face value, I fail to see how that person could go forth and prove anything while at the same time avoiding hypocrisy. The axiom of identity is unavoidable, even for those that wish to do so. Furthermore for those that would propose that reality does not exist unless observed, I have some questions.

1. Did anyone observe the rock that created meteor crater in Arizona?

2. Did anyone actually see the bullet in flight that killed JFK?

3. Does a cat qualify as an observer, if so how about an amoeba?

QM is truly some strange stuff, strange stuff that happens at a scale so small we can barely conceptualize it. We however are entities of what Richard Dwakens calls the middle world. Our world is not a quantum mechanical one, tho it seems to emerge form it. Thus we need a philosophy suited to our world and our nature, not one for ghostly elections and wave functions. Objectivism fits this bill. Whats the alternative, some world view based on QM that tells people to simply wish for or observe their success? Yeah try that one out for a day or two and see where it gets you.

October 27, 2010 3:16 PM  
Blogger Justin Hall said...

A further questions, If reality does not exist until someone observes it, well has anyone actually observed god? I mean with sight, hearing, touch, smell or taste, not some sort of subjective emoting? Because if so then by that logic god does not exist. Also if we create reality by observation why is that we can be surprised by things no one else has observed either?

Subjectivism always reducing to absurdity... always...

October 27, 2010 9:38 PM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Hello Dawson,

Just wanted to stop by and wish you a metaphysical Christmas. I would wish you a merry Christmas but recent Gallup polls have shown that atheists tend towards a state of depression, as compared to spiritually minded souls. Suit yourself.

After a brief review, the above referenced quote by guru Dean Sandin seems to be the epitome of Ethos rhetoric:

"To reject QM as physically wrong is fine. It’s necessary. But it is not merely physically wrong. The deeper rot in QM is the admission of non-identity into physical reasoning."

Because quantum mechanics doesn't support the objectivist law of identity, it is QM that must be wrong...

You wrote "Rick, let’s face it: you’ve been wanting to find a way to convince yourself that Objectivism is full of holes for weeks now."

I don't believe it's full of holes, but really without a solid foundation in reality.

QM shows objectivism is not a convincing explanation.

Quantum physics has shown it's impossible to “objectify” any physical object and to develop a truly objective philosophy. The universe is interconnected at a sub-atomic level by energy. The Bible states the universe consists by God, that God holds all things together.

Christianity is one of the few religions which describes a God who is both imminent and transcendent.

"Gallup Polls Highlight Happiness, Health and Logic in Spirituality"

http://templestream.blogspot.com/2010/12/gallup-polls-highlight-happiness-health.html

December 17, 2010 10:24 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Re: Gallup Poll

Many suffer from depression, including theists. I highly doubt that atheists are depressed because they don’t believe in an invisible magic being. If that were the case, their depression is probably traceable back to their discovery that Santa Claus is not real and did not, like Christian adults, take the path of replacing Santa with a religious stand-in to suspend belief. More likely, it’s due to their failure to adopt a rational worldview, namely Objectivism. Most atheists are not Objectivists, and it would be interesting to review the findings of a Gallup poll that specifically targeted Objectivists.

I can certainly agree that the presence of self-contradictory premises in one’s worldview can, as you put it in your blog, “subconsciously lead to mental instability and depression.” In fact, this is a major reason why my sojourn into Christianity almost two decades ago was, hands down, the most depressing experience in my life. I simply could not, as you apparently can, sustain the myriad contradictions which the Christian worldview required me to swallow. Needless to say, my life improved immeasurably once I ridded my life of mysticism and adopted a rational perspective.

What’s curious is that our previous dialogue has apparently been gnawing at you over the past couple months. And you’re insinuating that I’m depressed? Because of a Gallup poll? Amazing.

Re: QM

Rick, in regard to our previous discussion on QM, which you abandoned, there are numerous outstanding points which you have yet to address. You have proposed QM as a defeater of the primacy of existence. But it’s been explained why this is not the case. You have also insisted (for no good reason) that the primacy of existence vs. the primacy of consciousness is a “false dichotomy,” and it’s been pointed out (with explanation) that this very statement assumes the primacy of existence. You’ve not successfully tackled any of these and other points, yet you come back with rather feeble taunts for who knows what purpose. Your actions are very puzzling.

Rick: “Because quantum mechanics doesn't support the objectivist law of identity, it is QM that must be wrong...”

I don’t think anyone argued this. Rather, the argument is that QM, or at least some interpretations of QM, cannot be true because they violate the law of identity. Notice the difference?

Rick: “QM shows objectivism is not a convincing explanation.”

How, Rick? What specifically does Objectivism set out to explain while failing to do so?

Rick: “Quantum physics has shown it's impossible to “objectify” any physical object and to develop a truly objective philosophy.”

What do you mean by “’objectify’ any physical object”? And if it’s true that it is impossible “to develop a truly objective philosophy,” then, accordingly, no philosophy – including yours (and QP) – can rightly claim to be objective. Of course, the truth of this statement hinges not only on the premises which are supposed to support it, but on your terms’ definitions. It’s still unclear to me what you might mean by “objective.” You don’t explain it.

Rick: “The universe is interconnected at a sub-atomic level by energy.”

Statements like this seem rather vague and over-reaching to me. What specifically is it intended to mean? There is a yellow highlighter on my desk. How is it “interconnected” with a shoelace to a pair of shoes you had back in grade school?

Rick: “The Bible states the universe consists by God, that God holds all things together.”

The bible presents a fantastic, imaginative view of reality which departs from reality from its very foundations, beginning with its acceptance of the primacy of consciousness. One can easily *imagine* that there is a god, and that it created everything and “holds all things together,” but a rational adult acknowledges that the imaginary is not real. Rick, I suggest you give it some deeper thought.

Regards,
Dawson

December 19, 2010 10:16 AM  
Blogger rhiggs said...

Rick Warden said:

"...recent Gallup polls have shown that atheists tend towards a state of depression, as compared to spiritually minded souls"


What a load of nonsense. Rick seems to be trolling atheist sites with this garbage.

In reality, 15.6% of very religious people reported to have been diagnosed with depression at some point in their life, while 18.7 % of non-religious people did.

A massive difference of 3.1%! Only a deliberately dishonest person would miscontrue this to mean that atheists tend towards a state of depression, while religious people do not.

And Rick has a terrible habit of leaving out the result for moderately religious people. They came in at 20.4%. The result is clearly non-linear.

Anyway, just because something makes you on average 3.1% less likely to suffer from depression has no bearing on whether it is actually true.

December 22, 2010 6:03 AM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Dawson, you wrote: “You have proposed QM as a defeater of the primacy of existence. But it’s been explained why this is not the case.”

This, the so-called explanation: “QM, or at least some interpretations of QM, cannot be true because they violate the law of identity.”

Dawson, you may call QM non-location the minority report of “some interpretations” but, the fact is, “actions at a distance” and non-locality have been developing since the mid 20th century and are mathematically and scientifically proven. Quantum computers and a quantum Internet are on the way based precisely on this phenomena.

Dawson, you and other atheists have a preconceived notion that identity must be tied to the observable anthropomorphic perspective of everyday life. But your view doesn't match the facts. You conclude QM must be wrong because of your anthropocentric bias. Wasn't that the same type of logic the Catholic church used to defend the man-centered, Earth-centered solar system?

“And if it’s true that it is impossible “to develop a truly objective philosophy,” then, accordingly, no philosophy – including yours (and QP) – can rightly claim to be objective.”

I believe you need to differentiate between Rand's “Objectivism” and philosophical “objectivity,” referring to the actual existence of something, without reference to people's impressions or ideas. Rand's Objectivism subtly presupposes materialism and is ultimately not objective in the broader sense of the word. It fails to account for certain known facts.

Debating with you has helped me to gain a greater appreciation of the philosophical strength of my beliefs. Rand's objectivism does not embrace the reality of absolute truth and therefore is simply a highly developed, convoluted form of relativism.

December 25, 2010 11:36 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Rick: “This, the so-called explanation: ‘QM, or at least some interpretations of QM, cannot be true because they violate the law of identity’.”

No, that was not the explanation I was referring to. The explanation I was referring to can be found earlier in our discussion. I see no need to repeat it.

Rick: “the fact is, ‘actions at a distance’ and non-locality have been developing since the mid 20th century and are mathematically and scientifically proven. Quantum computers and a quantum Internet are on the way based precisely on this phenomena.”

Rick, what exactly does this have to do with whether or not the primacy of existence is valid metaphysics?

Rick: “Dawson, you and other atheists have a preconceived notion that identity must be tied to the observable anthropomorphic perspective of everyday life.”

Where have I affirmed such a position?

Rick: “But your view doesn't match the facts.”

Where specifically does my view fail to “match the facts”?

Rick: “You conclude QM must be wrong because of your anthropocentric bias.”

If this is what you’ve taken from the preceding discussion we’ve had, you’ve misunderstood quite a bit. Please show me specifically where I drew the conclusion that “QM must be wrong because of [my] anthropocentric bias.” All I’ve pointed out is that a violation of the law of identity is a contradiction, and that contradictions cannot be true. This is what you’re bucking against. Why? Apparently because you want to reserve for yourself some privilege to call a contradiction true.

Rick: “I believe you need to differentiate between Rand's ‘Objectivism’ and philosophical ‘objectivity’,”

Rick, you need to do your own homework here. If you are proposing a difference between Rand’s understanding of objectivity and what you here call “philosophical ‘objectivity’,” you need to explain that difference as you have it in mind here.

Rick: “Rand's Objectivism subtly presupposes materialism”

How so? Please, if nothing else, explain this. Make sure to cite your sources.

Rick: “and is ultimately not objective in the broader sense of the word.”

What is “the broader sense of the word” that you have in mind here? And how does this cohere with your earlier claim that QP “has shown it's impossible to …develop a truly objective philosophy”?

Rick: “It fails to account for certain known facts.”

Which specific “known facts” do you have in mind, and how do you know that Objectivism (or, at any rate, Rand’s meaning of objectivity) “fails to account for” them?

Rick: “Debating with you has helped me to gain a greater appreciation of the philosophical strength of my beliefs.”

Rick, your beliefs depend on blurring the distinction between reality and imagination. Such a belief set cannot be true. This is your problem, not mine.

Rick: “Rand's objectivism does not embrace the reality of absolute truth and therefore is simply a highly developed, convoluted form of relativism.”

This is apparently the view you had before you engaged me, and by affirming it now it shows that you have not grown one iota from the experience. You are unteachable on the matter.

Regards,
Dawson

December 26, 2010 7:43 AM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Part 1

Hello again, Dawson,

"Rick, what exactly does this have to do with whether or not the primacy of existence is valid metaphysics?"

It is a rather important point, rejecting science as your selected quote advises:

"To reject QM as physically wrong is fine. It’s necessary. But it is not merely physically wrong. The deeper rot in QM is the admission of non-identity into physical reasoning."

You state I have not "grown one iota" in debating with you, but you are incorrect. I have more knowledge of the deep errors in objectivism.

When I first visited your blog, I mentioned my surprise that there was no summary of what Rand's objectivism proposes. But, like pulling teeth, after some weeks of asking questions and debating I was able to apprehend some essential information. Based on your answers, Rand held that there is no absolute truth but truth is merely a human convention used for the purpose of human happiness and logic does not consist of fixed laws but is considered mainly a subjective art.

The fact that it's very difficult to find a straightforward outline of objectivist tenets underscores the reality that objectivism logically weak. I've found that the maxims and underlying concepts seem to be used intermittently like a game of Three Card Monte.

January 17, 2011 1:44 AM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Part 2

Contrary to what you wrote, Objectivism does tacitly propose materialism in a few ways. I can demonstrate this quite easily. Objectivism proposes a so-called dichotomy between what is referred to as the “primacy of existence” or the “primacy of consciousness.” Contrary to what your blog articles state, theism does not fall into any such dichotomy because scriptures describe the God who is both eternally conscious and eternally existent. It's really a simple idea, but for some reason your articles have a lot of misinformation attempting to propose otherwise.

In terms of quantum physics, objectivism is stuck in a rut with no escape. You quoted an expert who offers that the laws of quantum non-locality and entanglement do not support the law of identity and therefore the laws of physics must be somehow be rejected. You personally implied the findings of quantum physics must somehow be a minority report. I have to disagree here on both accounts, Dawson, and offer a third option. The quantum laws of non-locality and entanglement are neither in error nor are they a minority report. It is objectivism's materialistic concept of the law of identity, not the laws of physics, which is off.

January 17, 2011 1:46 AM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Part 3

The most logical metaphysical understanding of the law of non-contradiction and the laws of quantum physics is the theistic explanation. The concept of identity in theism is not based on the visible/physical world but, rather, identity has a deeper, spiritual basis, as outlined in Hebrews 11. Unlike objectivism, there is no philosophical contradiction between quantum non-locality, entanglement and the law of non-contradiction (law of identity) in theism.

On the one hand you (and other objectivists) claim there is no absolute truth but then you and your ethos experts claim the law of identity cannot be broken. This leads to two questions:

1) If truth is a mere human convention, as you apparently believe, why can't the law of identity be broken -or excused on some occasions? Are you implying that absolute truth exists in the law of identity? It seems so.

2) If objectivism does not embrace tacit materialism, why is it not possible there is a spiritual dimension that cannot be seen but nevertheless allows for the law of identity to operate? The transcendent understanding of reality does not break the proven laws of quantum physics, but objectivism does according to your own resources and quotes.

There is a time-tested maxim in the scientific method: If your hypothesis doesn't match the proven results, recheck your hypothesis.

But, here is the main problem it seems. As you had written, objectivism is quite different from the scientific method in that objectivists don't seek truth for its own sake, but, rather, for the sake of human happiness, and a false understanding of human happiness at that. There is a subjective materialist presupposition that truth, and life in general, is based on humanistic self aggrandizement, which, research shows, does not lead to true happiness at all.

January 17, 2011 1:48 AM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Part 4

If you look at my recent blog article on spirituality and happiness, you will find Gallup polls that show selfishness and materialism are not conducive to happiness, but spirituality is. Ayn Rand chose atheism at age 13, according to her personal notes. In her so-called “philosophy for life” she ended up addicted to meth as she wrote the Fountainhead.

I've demonstrated how objectivism doesn't quite seem to work logically or pragmatically. And it doesn't take an earth-shaking revelation from God to realize that selfishness in not a true virtue. If you look at the Google trends graph, you can see that year by year less people are interested in objectivism and it's really not surprising at all.

I want to thank you for the opportunity of debating with you because you apparently have a lot of courage to do so, considering what you are attempting to defend. Many other people at atheistic blogs simply prefer to wimp out of debates but you are different.

I would offer some personal advice to you and anyone who reads this post to seriously consider the possibility you are living in a state of denial. If your premises force you to reject science, sound logic and a life of increased happiness, maybe these are signs that something is wrong.

Best regards,

Rick

January 17, 2011 1:56 AM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

For some reason, parts one and three of my reply didn't remain posted... -Will have to add them again later.

January 17, 2011 2:07 AM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Part 1

"Where have I affirmed such a position?"

(...That identity is based upon observable, materialistic assumptions.)

Your selected quote by Sandin implies this:

“Quantum Mechanics holds that a particle is nowhere and everywhere throughout some extended region, until magic happens and instantaneously it’s at one place. Of course, QM doesn’t say “magic”. But rationally speaking it means magic. I.e., non-identity in various guises, whether named non-locality, backwards-in-time causality, indeterminacy, the (literal and physical) primacy of consciousness, or whatever.

“To reject QM as physically wrong is fine. It’s necessary. But it is not merely physically wrong. The deeper rot in QM is the admission of non-identity into physical reasoning..."

Sandin (and objectivism) has a problem with proven scientific facts and has to "reject" these facts because of a materialistic presuppositionalism.

Theism does not have a contradiction with non-locality and entanglemnt because the supernational understanding of the physical world is precisely based on the understanding that identity is not based on the 3D Cartesian coordinate system, as outlined in Hebrews 11. In terms of quantum physics, theism has a logical explanation but materialistic objectivism is bankrupt.

January 17, 2011 4:29 AM  
Blogger Rick Warden said...

Part 3

You wrote I have not grown "one iota" in debating with you. I'm not sure what there is here to grow into - a state of denial?

When I first visited your blog, I mentioned my surprise that there was no summary of what Rand's objectivism proposes. But, like pulling teeth, after some weeks of asking questions and debating I was able to apprehend some essential information. Based on your answers, Rand held that there is no absolute truth but truth is merely a human convention used for the purpose of human happiness and logic does not consist of fixed laws but is considered mainly a subjective art.

1) If truth is a mere human convention, as you apparently believe, why must science be "rejected" and not the law of identity? Are you implying that absolute truth exists in the law of identity? It seems so.

2) If objectivism does not embrace tacit materialism, why is it not possible there is a spiritual dimension that cannot be seen but nevertheless allows for the law of identity to operate? The transcendent understanding of reality does not break the proven laws of quantum physics, but objectivism does, according to your own resources and quotes. There is a time-tested maxim in the scientific method: If your hypothesis doesn't match the proven results, recheck your hypothesis.

January 17, 2011 4:38 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home