Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Primacy of Existence vs. the Prior Certainty of Consciousness

Recently I posted a lengthy blog entry comprehensively analyzing a Youtube video titled Why The Primacy of Existence Is No Problem For Any Presuppositionalist by someone calling himself “Ozymandias Ramses II” – or simply “Ozy” – who apparently has a number of videos discussing presuppositionalism.

In my examination of what Ozy states in that video, I found a number of outstanding errors, errors which bring into question Ozy’s familiarity with Objectivism, and I set out to correct them in that examination.

Yesterday I received two comments responding to my blog entry by one or more anonymous visitors to my blog. Both comments are posted by “Unknown,” and the commenter did not sign his or her posts with a name. The second comment appears to be an elaboration on the initial one, and it came before the first one was published on my blog for visitors to read. So all indicators are that both comments were submitted by the same author.

Here is the text of the first comment:
Dawson, If you wish to understand Ozy's position better, I recommend you watch his video on properly-basic beliefs. 
It seems you would need to presuppose these properly-basic beliefs before you can assert your primacy of existence.
About three hours later, I received the following comment, also by “Unknown”:
It seems to me that for Dawson to assert his version of the "primacy of existence" that he would have to presuppose all the properly-basic beliefs that Ozy talked about in one of his other videos. 
Dawson states "The primacy of existence pertains to the relationship between the subject of consciousness and its objects. By ‘subject of consciousness’ I mean the perceiver or knower, and by ‘object’ I mean anything that the subject of consciousness perceives and/or considers. When I see a ball, for example, I am the subject engaging in conscious activity, and the ball is the object of my conscious activity."  
Dawson has to assume there is a mind independent reality and his cognitive abilities are working correctly to be able to perceive existing objects independent from his own consciousness for his "primacy of existence" to work.
As you can see, both comments include a link to another of Ozy’s videos, one which I have not watched. Since posting my blog entry, I did view another video of Ozy’s – a different one, one that is more than three hours long (!). I watched about half of it and found similar mistakes when the topic of the primacy of existence was raised. So I’m not confident that watching yet another video of Ozy’s will somehow undo the mistakes that I exposed and corrected in my blog entry.

Now, turning to the comments above, their author either did not read my blog entry, or – supposing she did – she did not understand the points that I made in it. But let’s explore what this individual wrote and see what we can see.

In the initial quote, “Unknown” writes:
If you wish to understand Ozy's position better, I recommend you watch his video on properly-basic beliefs.
Hmmm… That’s odd. I figured that Ozy could speak well for himself when he addresses a matter that is the whole point of his video. The video which I examined was purposed expressly to address what he calls “the primacy of existence argument,” and I found many errors in it. Given that his entire treatment of the matter was remarkably flawed, I suppose the question at this point boils down to: Do I want to “understand Ozy’s position better”? In response to this, I can only ask: Why should I?

“Unknown” closed the initial comment with the following claim:
It seems you would need to presuppose these properly-basic beliefs before you can assert your primacy of existence.
This is very close to the statement which “Unknown” makes in the second comment, which is:
It seems to me that for Dawson to assert his version of the "primacy of existence" that he would have to presuppose all the properly-basic beliefs that Ozy talked about in one of his other videos.
Again, “Unknown” clearly did not grasp what I presented in my analysis of Ozy’s statements. And frankly, I’m a little puzzled. After all, it should not be difficult to understand that we perceive (and therefore are conscious of things) prior to and independently of conceptualizing anything. “Unknown” speaks of “assert[ing] the primacy of existence.” But what “Unknown” does not grasp is the fact that we recognize the fact that the objects of consciousness exist and are what they are independent of conscious activity. For someone like “Unknown,” this recognition remains implicit and not fully understood. What “Unknown” is really saying here is that even before one recognizes the primacy of existence, he must assume all these things (so-called “properly-basic beliefs” – something Alvin Plantinga talks a lot about) first. In other words, before I can perceive objects and identify them based on direct firsthand awareness of them, I have to make all these assumptions about my mind, my faculties, truth, etc., etc., etc.

The error that is made here (and I have no doubt that this same error afflicts the video which “Unknown” has promoted) was identified by Ayn Rand as the prior certainty of consciousness. Rand explains as follows:
Descartes began with the basic epistemological premise of every Witch Doctor (a premise he shared explicitly with Augustine): “the prior certainty of consciousness,” the belief that the existence of an external world is not self-evident, but must be proved by deduction from the contents of one’s consciousness—which means: the concept of consciousness as some faculty other than the faculty of perception—which means: the indiscriminate contents of one’s consciousness as the irreducible primary and absolute, to which reality has to conform. What followed was the grotesquely tragic spectacle of philosophers struggling to prove the existence of an external world by staring, with the Witch Doctor’s blind, inward stare, at the random twists of their conceptions—then of perceptions—then of sensations.  
When the medieval Witch Doctor had merely ordered men to doubt the validity of their mind, the philosophers’ rebellion against him consisted of proclaiming that they doubted whether man was conscious at all and whether anything existed for him to be conscious of. (“For the New Intellectual,” For the New Intellectual, p. 28)
The error here should be obvious. It consists of a fundamental reversal, namely the premise that consciousness of objects which exist independent of consciousness cannot happen before consciousness performs certain internal functions in relation to itself, such as “assuming” certain things about its functions’ reliability. In essence, this is the view that some form of solipsism is the mind’s proper starting point: the mind begins by being aware only of itself, performs various assessments about its abilities, and upon reaching said assessment then vets the senses to ensure their reliability somehow.

Not only does this deny the fact that perception is itself a form of awareness (indeed, much more fundamental than the form of awareness needed to perform any kind of assessments, as I explained in my blog entry), it also affirms consciousness being conscious only of itself (as its very starting point!), which is a clear contradiction in terms. This is known as the fallacy of pure self-reference.

What this ignores is the fact that the very faculty which makes “assuming” anything possible is not available until after one is conscious of things existing independent of one’s conscious activity. Assumptions are conceptual. Thus it is impossible to assume anything until the conceptual level of consciousness has been reached and developed. Prior to this, one is at best only at the perceptual level. There is no “assuming” going on at the perceptual level of consciousness. All there is at that point is direct awareness of objects. This awareness is caused by biological organs which function independently of conceptualization.

Think of the stomach. Does one need to “assume” that his stomach is working properly in order to digest? Clearly not. The stomach functions independent of our assumptions. A praying mantis does not first need to assume that its digestive tract is operating properly before it can “reliably” digest the food it consumes. An infant human being does not even know that it has a stomach, let alone have the conceptual resources necessary to make “assumptions” about its activity, and yet it still digests food all the same. (It better, or it won’t live very long.)

Similarly with the function of the heart. The heart’s maintenance of the circulatory system in our bodies does not depend on any “assumptions” we make about our heart, its capacity, its functionality, its “reliability.” The heart functions entirely independently of any assumptions we make.

The same with hair growth, blood platelet generation, respiration, muscular activity, cell regeneration, waste removal, bone growth, etc.
 
If all these other biological functions do not depend on “assumptions” that we make for their operation, why is it different when it comes to sense perception, which itself is also a biological function?

Blank out.

“Unknown” closed the second comment with the following unargued assertion:
Dawson has to assume there is a mind independent reality and his cognitive abilities are working correctly to be able to perceive existing objects independent from his own consciousness for his "primacy of existence" to work.
Why is this the case? No reason is offered. No argument is offered. No analysis of the relationship between the conceptual level of consciousness and the perceptual level of consciousness is even hinted at. It’s just a massive assertion that will never turn out to be rationally tenable no matter how much effort is given to make it appear true.

The primacy of existence is true regardless of what anyone assumes. That’s the whole point. In other words, since truth necessarily rests on the primacy of existence, and the primacy of existence qua axiom is a species of truth, it necessarily applies to itself.

Also, notice how “Unknown” herself makes use of the primacy of existence while ignoring its fundamental nature. For clearly “Unknown” is not saying that what she asserts in her comments is true because she wants it to be true, because she prefers it to be the case, that she hopes its true, etc. Not at all. On the contrary, “Unknown” – like anyone else – assumes the truth of the primacy of existence, though without fully grasping it, while making completely false assertions about its nature.

It’s just more ignorance speaking out its nether regions, and if this is representative of what we will find in more videos by Ozy, then I won’t waste my time. I stand by my verdicts.

by Dawson Bethrick

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34 Comments:

Blogger freddies_dead said...

Dawson. I figured I'd give the video a go. It's 35 minutes long and Ozy starts by saying we assume reason's reliability without having a justification of it.

He spends the first 20 minutes or so noting a "partial list" of "properly basic beliefs" which he says "make up" rationality.

They're the presuppositions we must assume in order to have rationality i.e. we cannot actually prove these things but we rely on them anyway.

Here's the list:

The existence of a mind independent reality.

The validity-preserving character of logical deduction i.e. the assumption that the inference rules of formal logic will hold - that you will get a true conclusion from true premises.

The reliability of induction (he mentions Hume and Hempel's raven paradox).

Causation. Apparently we don't see it, we have to infer it, which of course relies on us presupposing inference.

The concept of truth i.e. that to claim to have an accurate concept of truth you must first presuppose truth.

The existence of other minds. We have no direct access, we infer them (he mentions how pain is experienced differently by the one in pain and the one observing someone in pain).

Reliability of perception.

Reliability of memory.

Concept of self & agency.

Apparently none of them are self evident and we can't justify them without circular arguments.

October 29, 2014 8:15 AM  
Blogger Bachalon said...

"Dawson has to assume there is a mind independent reality and his cognitive abilities are working correctly to be able to perceive existing objects independent from his own consciousness for his "primacy of existence" to work."

Gotta love people who try to undermine the reliability, and use of, the senses: how can this notion be advanced but with appeal to those very things?

Is this fact true independent of one's wishes?

If so, then it makes use of the primacy of existence and thus contradicts itself.

October 29, 2014 1:35 PM  
Blogger photosynthesis said...

Like freddies_dead I thought, "What's 30+ minutes? Let's watch." But I could not go beyond two minutes.

October 30, 2014 5:36 AM  
Blogger Floyd FP said...

Dawson,
Thank you for replying to my comments in a new blog article. I apologize for my profile name appearing as "Unknown". I have since figured out how to update my blogger profile and I hope it will now appear as "Floyd FP". I am also sorry that you did not watch the Ozy's video I pointed you to that is only about 35 minutes and spent your time watching another video that is over 3 hours.
It seems you still do not understand all the prior beliefs that you must presuppose before you can even assert your definition of the "primacy of existence". In your description of this principal, you state "I mean the perceiver or knower, and by ‘object’ I mean anything that the subject of consciousness perceives and/or considers." So you mentioned 2 things: 1) the perceiver or knower and 2) the 'object'. Ask yourself what is required for there to be a perceiver and object to begin with. For the perceiver/knower to perceive some object (let's say a computer that is in front of you), there would have to be a computer in front of you (the metaphysical truth condition), you belief the computer is in front of you (the doxastic condition) and your belief is caused by the computer actually being in front of you (the justification condition). If one of these doesn't hold, you don't know it. For these conditions to be possible, the "properly-basic beliefs" mentioned in earlier posts would need to be true. For example, for there to be a computer in front of you there must exist a mind-independent reality for the computer to exist in and is not merely an image in your mind. For you to be able to perceive the computer there must be a concept of self & agency, have a reliable perception, memory, etc. You seem to think all these prior beliefs are "self-evident". That claims needs an argument that you have not given. As Ozy points out in his video and what freddies_dead commented on, "none of them [i.e. these properly-basic beliefs] are self evident and we can't justify them without circular arguments." These are the presuppositions that are building blocks for which we have reason and knowledge.
You accuse me of denying "the fact that perception is itself a form of awareness...it also affirms consciousness being conscious only of itself (as its very starting point!), which is a clear contradiction in terms." How is this a clear contradiction? You assert the claim without argument. You can deny Solipsism but you need an argument to claim that you have a logically justified reason it is false. You state "What this ignores is the fact that the very faculty which makes “assuming” anything possible is not available until after one is conscious of things existing independent of one’s conscious activity." Does that not beg the question that there is a mind-independent reality?
You go on to accuse me of committing "the fallacy of pure self-reference". I never heard of this informal fallacy before so I googled it. Anton Thorn states that it "occurs when a concept or statement is asserted as referring exclusively to its own object-less referring.[1]" In the footnote he writes "[1] This definition of the fallacy of pure self-reference is my own creation, which is based on my own efforts to isolate the essential problem as illustrated by many examples, some of which appear in this paper. If a more concise statement defining this little-known fallacy could be supplied, I would love to see it." I could not find non-Objectivist site that mentions this fallacy. On the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy website, I found an article about self-reference but no mention of this specific fallacy. Can you point me to a non-objectivist website that discusses this fallacy or show how it is an informal fallacy that non-objectivist logicians do recognize? The only other google hits I found are Christian apologists accusing Objectivists like you of making the term up.

October 30, 2014 6:59 AM  
Blogger Floyd FP said...

Bachalon,
I am not trying to undermine their reliability. I have to assume them to be able to reason and have knowledge and to even recognize the "primacy of existence".

October 30, 2014 7:02 AM  
Blogger Robert Bumbalough said...

From aynrandlexicon.org the fallacy of prior certainty of consciousness reads

Descartes began with the basic epistemological premise of every Witch Doctor (a premise he shared explicitly with Augustine): “the prior certainty of consciousness,” the belief that the existence of an external world is not self-evident, but must be proved by deduction from the contents of one’s consciousness—which means: the concept of consciousness as some faculty other than the faculty of perception—which means: the indiscriminate contents of one’s consciousness as the irreducible primary and absolute, to which reality has to conform. What followed was the grotesquely tragic spectacle of philosophers struggling to prove the existence of an external world by staring, with the Witch Doctor’s blind, inward stare, at the random twists of their conceptions—then of perceptions—then of sensations.

When the medieval Witch Doctor had merely ordered men to doubt the validity of their mind, the philosophers’ rebellion against him consisted of proclaiming that they doubted whether man was conscious at all and whether anything existed for him to be conscious of.

“For the New Intellectual,” For the New Intellectual, 173


Why doesn't Ozy understand that accepting the axiom of consciousness as self-evident while denying the axiom of existence as not self-evident is a blatant double standard?

October 30, 2014 7:09 AM  
Blogger photosynthesis said...

Floyd FP,

I'm going to attempt something of an answer. But I have to warn you of two things.

1. I'm not speaking for Dawson
2. I'm not speaking for Objectivism

«It seems you still do not understand all the prior beliefs that you must presuppose before you can even assert your definition of the "primacy of existence".»

You seem to be mistaking what is needed to recognize the primacy of existence with whether such primacy is correct. That existence is independent of the mind is the thing we could only recognize after having a good deal of conceptual frameworks before making such realization. That does not mean that the conceptual framework could be there without the primacy of existence. Do you get this at all? I don't need a concept of pain before I can feel pain. Better?

«So you mentioned 2 things: 1) the perceiver or knower and 2) the 'object'. Ask yourself what is required for there to be a perceiver and object to begin with.»

They have to exist. The knower has to be conscious.

«For the perceiver/knower to perceive some object (let's say a computer that is in front of you), there would have to be a computer in front of you (the metaphysical truth condition)»

So you agree that the computer has to exist, and call this a "metaphysical truth condition." Sounds kind of ok. If and only if you don't mean that you need a concept of truth before you can perceive the computer. If and only if, such "metaphysical truth condition" means that the computer should be there, and that, ahem, it exists independently of the perceiver.

«you belief the computer is in front of you (the doxastic condition)»

No. In order to perceive the computer you don't need to believe that the computer is in front of you. You seem to mistake perception with identification. Perception is what your senses send to your brain. Identification is what you do with those percepts.

« and your belief is caused by the computer actually being in front of you (the justification condition)»

Seems more like a continuation of the prior mistake. Perception is one thing, identification is afterwards.

... cont ...

October 30, 2014 8:35 AM  
Blogger photosynthesis said...

... cont ...

«For example, for there to be a computer in front of you there must exist a mind-independent reality»

Sure. The proper order of things: things exists independently of consciousness. See? you agree!

«For you to be able to perceive the computer there must be a concept of self & agency»

Nope. All you need is the computer and the senses that can perceive the computer. Concepts are formed after perceived shit, not before. One cannot form a concept of self unless one has perceived otherness.

«You seem to think all these prior beliefs are "self-evident". That claims needs an argument that you have not given.»

Actually no. Read carefully and you will see that the self-evident "reduces" to the very axioms and nothing else. These "properly basic beliefs" seem to be a mixture of axioms and concepts that fail to recognize the difference between concepts and their referents.

«You accuse me of denying "the fact that perception is itself a form of awareness...it also affirms consciousness being conscious only of itself (as its very starting point!), which is a clear contradiction in terms." How is this a clear contradiction? You assert the claim without argument.»

Because a clear contradiction does not need an argument. But Dawson did explain why this is a contradiction of terms.

«You can deny Solipsism but you need an argument to claim that you have a logically justified reason it is false»

It's actually the other way around. You should be able to prove that solipsism is true. Otherwise it's as much fantasy as gods and fairies.

«You state "What this ignores is the fact that the very faculty which makes “assuming” anything possible is not available until after one is conscious of things existing independent of one’s conscious activity." »

Oh, so you saw the explanation.

«Does that not beg the question that there is a mind-independent reality?»

Any attempt at denying that there's a mind-independent reality requires a mind-independent reality. Without it you could not have a concept of self, of otherness, etc.

Anyway. Please think about it. I think that you jumped into answering mode before digesting Dawson's post carefully enough.

October 30, 2014 8:36 AM  
Blogger photosynthesis said...

Robert,

«Why doesn't Ozy understand that accepting the axiom of consciousness as self-evident while denying the axiom of existence as not self-evident is a blatant double standard?»

I don't think that it is a double standard. Much more of a properly basic mistake.

:)

October 30, 2014 8:38 AM  
Blogger Robert Bumbalough said...

Flyod FP > // "What this ignores is the fact that the very faculty which makes “assuming” anything possible is not available until after one is conscious of things existing independent of one’s conscious activity." Does that not beg the question that there is a mind-independent reality?//

Ayn Rand disposed of such silliness. > // “You cannot prove that you exist or that you’re conscious,” they chatter, blanking out the fact that proof presupposes existence, consciousness and a complex chain of knowledge: the existence of something to know, of a consciousness able to know it, and of a knowledge that has learned to distinguish between such concepts as the proved and the unproved.

When a savage who has not learned to speak declares that existence must be proved, he is asking you to prove it by means of non-existence—when he declares that your consciousness must be proved, he is asking you to prove it by means of unconsciousness—he is asking you to step into a void outside of existence and consciousness to give him proof of both—he is asking you to become a zero gaining knowledge about a zero.

When he declares that an axiom is a matter of arbitrary choice and he doesn’t choose to accept the axiom that he exists, he blanks out the fact that he has accepted it by uttering that sentence, that the only way to reject it is to shut one’s mouth, expound no theories and die.

Galt’s Speech, For the New Intellectual, 154 //

http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/axioms.html

October 30, 2014 10:50 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Thanks all for the wonderful discussion.

Floyd,

There are many errors in what you’ve come back with, but I’m glad to see that Photo and Robert have checked many crucial yet mistaken premises in what you have affirmed. Please consider carefully.

My time is short and frankly I should be sleeping right now (it’s 2:30 am here), but wanted to follow up with a few additional points.

As I read through your statements, I can only wonder what you (or Ozy, or anyone who holds the view you’ve espoused) understand a concept to be. On your view, what are concepts? How are they formed? Where is your analysis of concepts?

As I’ve stressed in my blog entry, much of the problem here can be traced to cluelessness over the proper relationship between the conceptual level of consciousness and perception, which you have not addressed. Your view clearly assumes that concepts are available prior to and/or independently of perception. Objectivism has a theory of concepts which shows this to be entirely false. But where is your competing theory of concepts? On your view, specifically:

1. What is a concept?
2. How is a concept formed?
3. Where does the content which informs your concepts come from?
4. By what means are you aware of the content that informs your concepts?
5. How does a concept relate to the objects it subsumes?
6. What is necessary to form a concept? Or
7. Do you think the mind comes with all its concepts already packed and ready to go at birth?

Another point which you, Ozy et al. seem oblivious to is the fact that the view which you’ve espoused leads inescapably to an infinite regress. Consider:

A) To have confidence that one’s mental faculties are functioning properly, one must assume certain “properly-basic beliefs” (call these “basic beliefs set N”);
B) But that act of assuming basic beliefs set N is itself an operation of one’s mental faculties, so to assume basic beliefs set 1, one must assume that the mental faculties by which he assumes basic beliefs set N are reliable, which means that, to do this, he must assume basic beliefs set N-1;
C) and likewise, since assuming basic beliefs set N-1 is an operation of one’s mental faculties, one must assume those faculties are reliable, which means he must assume basic beliefs set N-2, and so on.

It’s a never-ending regress on such a view. There’s no starting point here, let alone no objective starting point. It all begins by looking inward as a means of ensuring one’s house is in order, so to say, before one can look outward. But this just collapses into a universe of stolen concepts. Subjectivism is the starting point to all this.

Regards,
Dawson

October 30, 2014 12:37 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Floyd,

You wrote (quoting me): “You accuse me of denying ‘the fact that perception is itself a form of awareness...it also affirms consciousness being conscious only of itself (as its very starting point!), which is a clear contradiction in terms.’ How is this a clear contradiction?”

Consciousness is an activity. An activity does not have identity until it actually happens. Before I go swimming, I cannot say I’m swimming. If consciousness were conscious only of itself, of what precisely would it be conscious of?

Think of it this way: take two mirrors and place them face to face against each other, with nothing for them to reflect but their own reflecting, not even light. The two mirrors are analogous to consciousness being conscious only of itself, with no objects distinct from itself to be conscious of (cf. nothing to reflect). Now ask: what are the mirrors reflecting? There is nothing for them to reflect. It would be complete darkness. How can that qualify as consciousness? It can’t. It’s a complete void. There is no object for consciousness to be conscious of, which means: no consciousness.

[continued…]

October 30, 2014 1:06 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Regarding the fallacy of pure self-reference, you wrote: “I could not find non-Objectivist site that mentions this fallacy.”

That doesn’t surprise me, but it’s too bad.

You wrote: “On the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy website, I found an article about self-reference but no mention of this specific fallacy.”

And?

You wrote: “Can you point me to a non-objectivist website that discusses this fallacy or show how it is an informal fallacy that non-objectivist logicians do recognize?”

Can’t think of one offhand. Why is that important?

You wrote: “The only other google hits I found are Christian apologists accusing Objectivists like you of making the term up.”

Well, at the end of the day, every term can be said to be “made up.” We formulate terms to identify what we discover. The word ‘soap’ was “made up” at some point. What’s important is that its meaning is clear and its usage is consistent.

Thorn cites Binswanger (see here), and I’ve listened to the lecture where Binswanger discusses this a number of times (Binswanger gives examples which Thorn no doubt is referring to). And if I recall, in that lecture, Binswanger is open about the designation being something he came up with, dubbing it “the fallacy of pure self-reference.” I’m sure you would agree that a fallacy needs some distinguishing designation, no? Also in that lecture, Binswanger also traces the problem back to Kurt Godel.

Think of the statement: “This statement is false.” If this is taken to refer only to itself, how can one say it’s true or false? To what is it referring? It is referring only to its own referring. Referring to what? Blank out.

Yep, it’s a go-nowhere. I’m surprised anyone would struggle with this. But I realize that many minds have been corrupted by seriously crappy philosophies out there. Some just want to stay cocooned in their crap. I would hope, Floyd, that you would not be one of them. For your sake. But it makes no difference to me either way.

Regards,
Dawson

October 30, 2014 1:06 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Dawson,

I do hope Floyd makes an attempt to answer your questions about concepts.

Ydemoc

October 30, 2014 7:40 PM  
Blogger Floyd FP said...

photosynthesis wrote "Any attempt at denying that there's a mind-independent reality requires a mind-independent reality. Without it you could not have a concept of self, of otherness, etc.". I don't see how that follows. The only thing that is needed is a mind.

October 31, 2014 5:16 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Floyd,

In response to Photo's statement, you wrote: "I don't see how that follows."

So, you don't understand what Photo is saying here.

Then you wrote: "The only thing that is needed is a mind."

What specifically does this statement follow, if not your own confession of ignorance above?

Regards,
Dawson

October 31, 2014 5:20 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Floyd,

You wrote: “It appears that you still do not understand the point I am trying to make”

If that’s true, then don’t blame me. I understand English very well. It is up to you to articulate your position. Pretend I’m stupid. Spell out what you want to say.

You wrote: “you still not have watched the 35 minute video where Ozy explains properly basic beliefs that you must hold to even apply your primacy of existence.”

It’s true, I have not listened to any more of Ozy’s videos. I’ve given reasons why I don’t think I need to. Have you understood them? I have more important things to do with my time. You don’t have to like that. But it’s a fact that you’ll just have to learn to live with.

You wrote: “You attempt to understand my position by stating ‘A) To have confidence that one’s mental faculties are functioning properly, one must assume certain “properly-basic beliefs” (call these “basic beliefs set N”);’. That is not correct.”

It’s not? Are you sure? Do you trust your faculties on this?

You wrote: “One of the assumed properly-basic beliefs is ‘one’s mental faculties are functioning properly’.”

And “assuming” this to be the case is itself an operation of said mental faculties. So a series is instigated. How does it stop?

You wrote: “So I am not appealing to any argument that my mental faculties are functionly properly. I am simply assuming they are.”

Whether it’s an act of arguing or an act of assuming, it’s still an operation of said faculties. Perhaps you need to read what I’ve presented, and this time, try to understand.

[continued…]

October 31, 2014 6:09 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

You wrote: “You ask me 7 questions on my view of concepts. I fail to see why this is relevent to the discussion.”

Yes, your failure. It’s an important admission. Even Ozy, in the three videos of his that I have watched, has made reference to the importance of having “conceptual resources” to address these matters. So what is a concept according to your view? How do you answer my questions?

You wrote: “Concepts are abstract ideas or general notions that are formed in the mind.”

What are “abstract ideas”? How are they “formed in the mind”? Address my questions. If you cannot, just say: “I don’t know.” Be honest. Why is that such a difficult choice?

You wrote: “A mind is required to form them and they come about through various sensory inputs and our cognitive processes.”

That’s vague, but you do acknowledge the ingredient of “various sensory inputs.” Please, elaborate!

You wrote: “We are not born with all of concepts ‘already packed’ and we develop concepts over time with our experience.”

What, then, is the theory of concepts that tells you these things? Again, addressing my questions will help tease this out.

You wrote: “I don't see the issue here and I don't think my view of concepts is at odds with your own.”

If you don’t see the issue, then your view of concepts is not anything close to my own. Or, you simply haven’t taken the opportunity to integrate these matters. In fact, if your view of concepts were in alignment with mine, you’d be far more informed on these matters than you are, and you’d have no problem both addressing my questions and recognizing their relevance to the issues involved here. But clearly you don’t.

You need to give it more thought. Stop expecting others to spoon-feed you. Think like an adult.

Regards,
Dawson

October 31, 2014 6:11 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Floyd has posted another reply in which he states:

<< Why don't answer your 7 questions about concepts yourself and I will let you know if I agree with them or not. >>

I can now safely confirm that Floyd is a troll. He is not interested in presenting his position. Like an apologist, he is only interested in pursuing matters only to the extent that his gimmickry can accommodate them.

Floyd - or whoever he is - has nothing of substance to offer. He is therefore banned from my blog.

Bye, Floyd. You had your chance.

Regards,
Dawson

October 31, 2014 6:52 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Floyd announces:

"Your two mirror analogy also fails to account for the very concepts that form within our minds. So the mirrors would be reflecting our internal thoughts."

"...internal thoughts..." about what?????????

Blank out on steroids.

I'm so glad these aren't my problems!

Regards,
Dawson

October 31, 2014 7:00 AM  
Blogger Robert Bumbalough said...

In part, the confusion between Flyod's floating abstractions derived from the missteps of errant analytical philosophy stem from failure to understand that an essential commensurate characteristic of the concept of validation is embodied in the definitions of the words 'assume' and 'suppose' but that of 'speculative guessing' isn't. Consider the Oxford Dictionary definitions.

Assume - verb > 1. Suppose to be the case, without proof:

Suppose - verb > 1. Assume that something is the case on the basis of evidence or probability but without proof or certain knowledge:

To assume means to suppose and to suppose means to assume and both words include the commensurate characteristic of 'without proof', and the later 'on the basis of evidence.' Since we all have the best evidence possible that reality is real and is what it is independent of any form of consciousness. Note: There is no justification for positing existence of mind. It has never been detected. What performs the activity of thinking and cognition is brains, and they're physical biological organs that process physical information that occurs as encodings in atomist, reductionist, and material particles. So it is fair to say validation of Objectivism's axioms and primacy of existence is a process of supposing because proof thereof isn't possible, but our direct sensory access to our own veridical subject vs object and perception vs awareness-of-perception relations constitutes a rock solid and iron clad validation of the axioms and POE. Validation subsumes the concept proof that in turn rests upon and is dependent upon a reality that's real and is what it is independent of any form of consciousness.

When a savage or looter accuses an O-ist of some fallacy, they're accusation only makes sense if proof is possible, and proof is only possible IFF material reality exists independent of any consciousness. If consciousness makes what is observed as reality, then it can revise or change it at will or even randomly such that there would be no nature or identity as only the arbitrary would obtain. Flyod's accusation of question begging in defense of his assertion that there isn't any reality constitutes a performative inconsistency.

October 31, 2014 10:58 AM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Flawed Floyd has sent another comment. I will interact with his statements (why not? he sent them to me) because doing so will be instructive.

He writes: “You are being very dishonest.”

How am I “being very dishonest”? Floyd was allowed to have his say on my blog, and I interacted with his objections. I took time out of my life to explain to him the errors in his objections. Others here have as well. I explained that much of his problem stems from a faulty understanding of concepts, and I listed seven questions for him to address, from his perspective, to bring this out.

Floyd writes: “I see you have censored my comments and just offered your filtered parts of them.”

Floyd errs in conflating banning from one little blog with “censoring.” Floyd has not been “censored.” He is still free to publish his claptrap anywhere else in the world. I do not have the power to censor anyone, nor would I want it. Meanwhile, Floyd does not have any “right” to post on my blog; he does so by privilege, which I granted him, and which he abused.

Floyd asks: “Who is acting like a child here?”

Certainly not I. I took Floyd’s objections seriously, enough so to give them time and even post a new entry interacting with what he has affirmed. As have others here, I have endeavored to educate Floyd, to teach him where his views are wrong, and to correct him and point him to the proper solutions to his problems. Floyd initially expressed gratitude, but this gratitude soon evaporated when he realized that his position’s illicit premises were not being swallowed here. When I posed seven crucial questions to help bring out his understanding of concepts, he refused to answer them and just told me to answer them and said he’d let us know whether he agrees or not. He doesn’t understand concepts. And he’s doing his best to keep this from coming to light.

Floyd writes: “You can have internal thoughts about many things including pink unicorns and false fallacy claims like ‘the fallacy of self-reference’. :)”

“Internal thoughts” as opposed to what other kind? No one is saying that one cannot have “internal thoughts.” The issue is not whether we can think or not. The issue is what is the relationship between concepts and perception. That is why I posed these questions. Floyd does not understand how his mind works, so he has a very difficult time following the bouncing ball, even though I’ve slowed its bounce by a factor of 100 so that he might have a chance to learn something important. Unfortunately, he has made the decision that something else is more important, like protecting his initial, flawed stance on these matters. Why is it my responsibility to continue entertaining such shenanigans? When do people start taking responsibility for the integrity of their own minds?

[continued…]

October 31, 2014 6:09 PM  
Blogger Bahnsen Burner said...

Floyd writes: “I have presented my position over and over again and now you ask me even absurd questions when you do not even want to understand Ozy's position at all since you have admittedly cannot deal with actually addressing them directly.”

I “cannot deal with actually addressing [Ozy’s position] directly”? Really? Good grief! What is this?????

Floyd calls my questions “absurd.” But earlier he insisted that I answer them and then he’d tell us whether he agrees with my answers or not.

Here are the questions I posed to Floyd:

<< 1. What is a concept?
2. How is a concept formed?
3. Where does the content which informs your concepts come from?
4. By what means are you aware of the content that informs your concepts?
5. How does a concept relate to the objects it subsumes?
6. What is necessary to form a concept? Or
7. Do you think the mind comes with all its concepts already packed and ready to go at birth?
>>

Floyd calls these “absurd.” So in his estimation, it’s absurd to ask someone, in the context of a discussion about the nature of the relationship between the conceptual level of consciousness and perception, what a concept is, how a concept is formed, where the content of a concept comes from, etc.?????

If Floyd cannot answer them, perhaps he could tell us where Ozy answers them.

Floyd writes: “You simply ignore the fact that your Randian axioms are dependent on prior presuppositions that you simply cannot admit to.”

See, this is why it is Floyd, not I, who is being dishonest. This has been explained to him. I don’t know how much he has read of what has been written in response to his objections, but certainly if he were a careful reader and a careful thinker, and if he adopted the attitude necessary for learning on these matters, he could have gained in his understanding from what has been explained to him. But he just comes back saying I’m “ignoring” something that is not true in the first place.

Clearly Floyd has accepted the fundamental premise that the mind begins by looking inward where these mysterious “presuppositions” and “assumptions” originate in a complete vacuum, without any input from outside the mind, and, after “assuming” that these “presuppositions” and “assumptions” are somehow true (by what standard? Blank out), he proceeds to look outward somehow (magically?) having the confidence that the means by which he looks outward are now valid, given that their seal of validity have been bestowed upon them by fiat of “internal thoughts” which simply presupposed their way to their desired conclusion all along.

It’s just more stolen concepts choking in subjectivism originating in the vacuum of pure self-reference.

Floyd closes with the following: “Have a nice day.”

You can count on that.

Regards,
Dawson

October 31, 2014 6:12 PM  
Blogger Robert Bumbalough said...

Dawson > “Internal thoughts” as opposed to what other kind?

There isn't a mind vs body dichotomy. There are no minds. Cognition, thinking, reasoning, conceptualization, perception, emotions, feelings and such are brain activities. The brain is integrated with the body. They are one and the same stuff. Floyd is a Rationalist who embraces a wild ass guess that's not even an assumption or supposition of dualism. Neither rationalism or empiricism are valid, but Objectivism is valid.

October 31, 2014 7:42 PM  
Blogger Robert Bumbalough said...

Peikoff goes on at length about chewing on and digesting ideas in his lectures that are transcribed into "Understanding Objectivism." For instance:

//something you have to face and answer. It’s a whole complex process, which Ayn Rand herself called “chewing”— on the obvious analogy. And the way she thought of it was like this: First you hear or think of an idea— that’s like taking a bite of food into your mouth. But then comes the chewing, the breaking it down, the ripping it into its elements, establishing its reality tie in detail. And the result, of course, is digestion— you can assimilate it, your system can use it. That’s the purpose of the first half of the course: It’s the theory and practice of chewing ideas, and thereby making them digestible. Without this, your ideas will be generalized, unconvincing, and ultimately unimportant to you. With it, your ideas should be like “two and two is four” or “the sky is blue”— lucid, convincing, reality-based.

Peikoff, Leonard (2012-03-06). Understanding Objectivism: A Guide to Learning Ayn Rand's Philosophy (p. 24). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition. //

Let's chew on the fallacy of pure self-reference, shall we?

Why can't one derive meaning or essential characteristics from statements that refer only to their own referring? e.g.:

This statement refers only to it's own referring

This statement isn't fallacious. What is fallacious is any attempt to derive any sort of essential meaning other than the statement's own referring. Why isn't the law of identity a case of pure self reference? A is A looks very much like the prior statement.

October 31, 2014 7:56 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Floyd,

If you're reading this, Dawson is correct in pointing out that the position that you're defending is "...just more stolen concepts choking in subjectivism originating in the vacuum of pure self-reference."

I urge you to read Dawson's most recent entry again, along with his other works. Perhaps then you'll have some understanding of where your errors lie. Here's a clue: when we talk about "awareness," (i.e., consciousness), there would be no basis whatsoever for forming such a concept without there first being ***something to be aware of***.

Ydemoc

October 31, 2014 8:20 PM  
Blogger Robert Bumbalough said...

Floyd's probably a law abiding citizen even though he believes by faith a raft of fallacious ideas including a commitment to dualism and the fantasy that existence isn't self evident, so I echo Ydemoc's urging. Please Floyd go back and reread or actually read Dawson's essay's on Ozy's wrong headed ideas an those of the errant philosopher's whom he parrots. If you choose not to do that, then consider answering Dawson's questions regarding concepts.

November 01, 2014 9:59 AM  
Blogger 95BSharpshooter said...

Seems that Floyd FP is an escapee from the Funny Farm, but I don't have the patience, anymore, to deal with smug people who WON'T pull their head out of their sphincters.

November 04, 2014 6:04 PM  
Blogger Eu Phoric said...

What is existence?

November 12, 2014 11:44 PM  
Blogger Ydemoc said...

Eu Phoric,

It is all around you. Or, as Rand puts it:

Since axiomatic concepts are identifications of irreducible primaries, the only way to define one is by means of an ostensive definition—e.g., to define “existence,” one would have to sweep one’s arm around and say: “I mean this.” (Definitions
Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, 41)

And here:

Existence and identity are not attributes of existents, they are the existents. . . . The units of the concepts “existence” and “identity” are every entity, attribute, action, event or phenomenon (including consciousness) that exists, has ever existed or will ever exist. (“Axiomatic Concepts,”
Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, 56)

Also see Dawson's blog entry, Is Existence Merely an Attribute?

http://bahnsenburner.blogspot.com/2009/06/is-existence-merely-attribute.html

Ydemoc

November 23, 2014 10:49 AM  
Blogger markis leme said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 27, 2014 5:11 PM  
Blogger markis leme said...

Hello Dawson

Hello this is my first time writing thought I've been reading your blog for over 2 years and I really wish to thank you .Your blogs been a life saver when I've found myself in doubt and despair on philosophical matters
but I fear I may yet again be in a crisis of Objectivism due to the following article by Winston Wu

www.debunkingskeptics.com/Contents.htm

Now I know this isn't Presuppositionlism but a large amount of it's content is clearly mystical in nature and an problem to reason and Objectivism now a there have been rebuttals the best being Emil Karlsson's which can be found here

debunkingdenialism.com/2014/03/29/in-defense-of-paranormal-debunking-part-i-bayesian-self-defence/
debunkingdenialism.com/2014/09/06/in-defense-of-paranormal-debunking-part-ii-evidentialism/

Wu,s argues against the demand for evidence Wu argues that the mystic is under no obligation to give us evidence because the mystics own personal experience serves as all the proof they require and that in many cases evidence cannot be shown via the nature of the claim in question Wu appeals to arguments the fact he can't show us what he dreamed last night but claims he knows on personal experience that he dreamed and our objections are irrelevant to the fact he dreamed thus his belief dose not need justification to a others and then argues that if we want evidence we have to come to it by the same means and that appeals to the burden of proof are useless as it will not solve the issue of what an unknown phenomenon is

Wu,s argues against the notion that extraordinary claim require extraordinary evidence he claims that the term extraordinary is to subjective and that anyone who has not experienced something could call it extraordinary he gives the example that a tribe in west Africa would find airplanes extraordinary just as we would find Astro projection extraordinary thus we can't appeal to the extraordinary as a claim against the mystical and that things do exist that don't leave evidence behind things like radio waves and in some cases the nature of the extraordinary cannot be readily observed or observed via the non mystics means

Wu argues that mystic and supernatural explanation and effects are as good and are as observable as natural arguments and effects and are as demonstrated by science as natural ones and the non mystics are simply bias or ignorant due to the fact they cannot offer an explanation he argues that effects like chi are as observable as gravity and that just because chi has never been directly observed dose not mean it's not the cause and that like many other energy fields or invisible forces it could yet be discovered and that just because mystics don't have a idea how something works dose not make there theory or observations false he appeals to the example that we understood the principle of matter manipulation long before we understood atoms but that lack of understanding dose not refute the manipulation of matter

Continued

November 27, 2014 5:11 PM  
Blogger markis leme said...

ontinued



Wu also argues that calling people dishonest or delusional is unjustified unless we can demonstrate a motivation for lying or evidence the person in question is unhinged in his thinking Wu uses the example of a scientist who proposes a radical idea that would cost him his job or a psychics who dose readings for free or a homeopath who treats people for free they are not profit motivated and calling them delusional lacks a justified basis so Wu argues that objections of personal motive are invalid




The last keystone argument in Wu 's article is his attack on notions like background knowledge such the laws of physics and and the razors by arguing they don't dictate reality and are not universal and then tries to points to findings in quantum mechanics that undermined physics and that idea the Occams razor only applies to natural things and science not the universe in general (how he knows this i don't know )


The rest of Wu's article is a more specific defense of individual mystic claims using his above objections to defend them from objections the 4 specific claims he makes that are a direct threat to Objectivism specifically is his defense and appeal to miracles ,prayer ,his so called personal witness of reality altering magic and his accounts of reality altering feats done by Uri Geller with various scientists as witnesses to said event

that's a some up of his position any thoughts ?

November 27, 2014 5:12 PM  
Blogger Robert Bumbalough said...

Markis leme paraphrasing Wu

// ... thus his belief dose not need justification to a others ... //

Of course. Wu must choose objectivity; she is under no obligation to live objectively. She is free to destroy her own mind with whatever fantasies she imagines. Her skepticism is no challenge to Objectivism.

November 28, 2014 3:13 PM  

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