The Fallacy of the Stolen Concept

cheezues
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The Fallacy of the Stolen Concept

I'm posting this article for the purpose of expanding on why "existence" is an axiomatic concept. Within several threads I've mentioned the Fallacy of the Stolen Concept in reference to the existence of reality, and I believe few if any understand what it is. So here you go, from it's originator Nathaniel Branden.

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The Fallacy of The Stolen Concept - Nathaniel Branden, PhD
This essay was originally published in The Objectivist Newsletter in January 1963.

The distinguishing characteristic of twentieth-century philosophy is a resurgence or irrationalism—a revolt against reason.

Students in colleges today are assailed with pronouncements to the effect that factual certainty is impossible, that the contents of man’s mind need bear no necessary relationship to the facts of reality, that the concept of “facts of reality” is an old-fashioned superstition, that reality is “mere appearance,” that man can know nothing. It is with such intellectual equipment that their teachers arm them to deal with the problems of life.

In the prevalence of these claims, primordial mysticism is winning its ultimate triumph and (for the moment) is enjoying the last laugh—because men are now taught to accept as the voice of science, the conclusion that man’s reason is impotent to know the “real” world, and that the world knowable to reason is not “real.”

In this article, I shall confine myself to the analysis of a single principle—a single fallacy—which is rampant in the writings of the neo-mystics and without which their doctrines could not be propagated.

We call it “the fallacy of the stolen concept.”

To understand this fallacy, consider an example of it in the realm of politics: Proudhon’s famous declaration that “All property is theft.”

“Theft” is a concept that logically and genetically depends on the antecedent concept of “rightfully owned property”—and refers to the act of taking that property without the owner’s consent. If no property is rightfully owned, that is, if nothing is property, there can be no such concept as “theft.” Thus, the statement “All property is theft” has an internal contradiction: to use the concept “theft” while denying the validity of the concept of “property,” is to use “theft” as a concept to which one has no logical right—that is, as a stolen concept.

All of man’s knowledge and all of his concepts have a hierarchical structure. The foundation or ultimate base of this structure is man’s sensory perceptions; these are the starting points of his thinking. From these, man forms his first concepts and (ostensive) definitions—then goes on building the edifice of his knowledge by identifying and integrating new concepts on a wider and wider scale. It is a process of building one identification upon another—of deriving wider abstractions from previously known abstractions, or of breaking down wider abstractions into narrower classifications. Man’s concepts are derived from and depend on earlier, more basic concepts, which serve as their genetic roots. For example, the concept “parent” is presupposed by the concept “orphan”; if one had not grasped the former, one could not arrive at the latter, nor could the latter be meaningful.

The hierarchical nature of man’s knowledge implies an important principle that must guide man’s reasoning: When one uses concepts, one must recognize their genetic roots, one must recognize that which they logically depend on and presuppose.

Failure to observe this principle—as in “All property is theft”—constitutes the fallacy of the stolen concept.

Now let us examine a few of the more prevalent anti-reason tenets and observe how they rest on this fallacy.

Consider the laws of logic. In the Aristotelian school of thought, these laws are recognized as being abstract formulations of self-evident truths, truths implicit in man’s first perceptions of reality, implicit in the very concept of existence, of being qua being; these laws acknowledge the fact that to be, is to be something, that a thing is itself. Among many contemporary philosophers, it is fashionable to contest this view—and to assert that the axioms of logic are “arbitrary” or “hypothetical.”

To declare that the axioms of logic are “arbitrary” is to ignore the context which gives rise to such a concept as the “arbitrary.” An arbitrary idea is one accepted by chance, caprice or whim; it stands in contradistinction to an idea accepted for logical reasons, from which it is intended to be distinguished. The existence of such a concept as an “arbitrary” idea is made possible only by the existence of logically necessary ideas; the former is not a primary; it is genetically dependent on the latter. To maintain that logic is “arbitrary” is to divest the concept “arbitrary” of meaning.

To declare that the axioms of logic are “hypothetical” (or merely “probable”) is to be guilty of the same contradiction. The concept of the “hypothetical (or the “probable”) is not a primary; it acquires meaning only in contradistinction to the known, the certain, the logically established. Only when one knows something which is certain, can one arrive at the idea of that which is not; and only logic can separate the latter from the former.

“An axiom is a statement that identifies the base of knowledge and of any further statement pertaining to that knowledge, a statement necessarily contained in all others, whether any particular speaker chooses to identify it or not. An axiom is a proposition that defeats its opponents by the fact that they have to accept it and use it in the process of any attempt to deny it. Let the caveman who does not choose to accept the axiom of identity, try to present his theory without using the concept of identity or any concept derived from it … ” (Atlas Shrugged).

When neo-mystics challenge the concept of “entity” and announce that “naive” reason notwithstanding, all that exists is change and motion—(“There is no logical impossibility in walking occurring as an isolated phenomenon, not forming part of any such series as we call a ‘person,’” writes Bertrand Russell)—they are sweeping aside the fact that only the existence of entities makes the concepts “change” and “motion” possible; that “change” and “motion” presuppose entities which change and move; and that the man who proposes to dispense with the concept of “entity” loses his logical right to the concepts of “change” and “motion”: having dropped their genetic root, he no longer has any way to make them meaningful and intelligible.

When neo-mystics assert that man perceives, not objective reality, but only an illusion or mere appearance—they evade the question of how one acquires such a concept as “illusion” or “appearance” without the existence of that which is not an illusion or mere appearance. If there were no objective perceptions of reality, from which “illusions” and “appearances” are intended to be distinguished, the latter concepts would be unintelligible.

When neo-mystics declare that man can never know the facts of reality, they are declaring that man is not conscious. If man cannot know the facts of reality, he cannot know anything—because there is nothing else to know. If he cannot perceive existence, he cannot perceive anything—because there is nothing else to perceive. To know nothing and to perceive nothing is to be unconscious. But to arrive—by a complex chain of “reasoning” and a long string of such concepts as “knowledge,” “perceive, “evidence,” “infer,” “proof”—at the conclusion that one is not conscious, is scarcely epistemologically admissible.

"'We know that we know nothing,’ they chatter, blanking out the fact that they are claiming knowledge—‘There are no absolutes,’ they chatter, blanking out the fact that they are uttering an absolute—‘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.” (Atlas Shrugged)

Existence exists (that which is, is) and consciousness is conscious (man is able to perceive reality)—these are axioms at the base of all of man’s knowledge and concepts. When neo-mystics contest or deny them, all of the concepts they use thereafter are stolen. They are entitled only to such concepts as they can derive from non-existence by means of unconsciousness.

It is rational to ask: “How does man achieve knowledge?” It is not rational to ask: “Can man achieve knowledge?”—because the ability to ask the question presupposes a knowledge of man and of the nature of knowledge. It is rational to ask: “What exists?” It is not rational to ask: “Does anything exist?”—because the first thing one would have to evade is the existence of the question and of being who is there to ask it. It is rational to ask: “How do the senses enable man to perceive reality?” It is not rational to ask: “Do the senses enable man to perceive reality?”—because if they do not, by what means did the speaker acquire his knowledge of the senses, of perception, of man and of reality?

One of the most grotesque instances of the stolen concept fallacy may be observed in the prevalent claim—made by neo-mystics and old-fashioned mystics alike—that the acceptance of reason rests ultimately on “an act of faith.”

Reason is the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by the senses. Faith is the acceptance of ideas or allegations without sensory evidence or rational demonstration. “Faith in reason” is a contradiction in terms. “Faith” is a concept that possesses meaning only in contradistinction to reason. The concept of “faith” cannot antecede reason, it cannot provide the grounds for the acceptance of reason—it is the revolt against reason.

One will search in vain for a single instance of an attack on reason, on the senses, on the ontological status of the laws of logic, on the cognitive efficacy of man’s mind, that does not rest on the fallacy of the stolen concept.

The fallacy consists of the act of using a concept while ignoring, contradicting or denying the validity of the concepts on which it logically and genetically depends.

This fallacy must be recognized and repudiated by all thinkers, if truth and reality are their goal.

In the absence of such recognition and repudiation, the gates are left open to the most lethal form of mysticism—the mysticism that postures as “science.”

Who are the neo-mystics’ victims?

Any college student who enrolls in philosophy courses, eagerly seeking a rational, comprehensive view of man and existence—and who is led to surrender the conviction that his mind can have any efficacy whatever; or who, at best, gives up philosophy in disgust and contempt, concludes that it is a con game for pretentious intellectual role-players, and thus accepts the tragically mistaken belief that philosophy is of no practical importance to man’s life on earth.

So as you can see, as has been logically proven, asking someone to"prove existence" or "prove that reality exists" is an incorrect question and refutes itself.


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Yes. No one has denied the

Yes. No one has denied the infallibility of these 'axioms'. All that's been pointed out it that there's several more things that are transcendentally necessary so it seems silly to make such a fuss over Rand's three.

How about that I am capable language?
To deny the fact I use language is a self contradiction.
What's more, it's not entailed by identity, existence or consciousness.
There are certain conditions required for reasoning to be possible and these conditions are transcendentally necessary. Identity, existence and consciousness are three examples... but I don't see anything too significant about them...

The whole "3 unbreakable axioms" sounds like they were put in for melodrama rather understanding. Why call them axioms either? Consciousness entails identity and existence while axioms are supposed to be logically independent of each other.


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Language rests on these

Language rests on these axioms, it isn't independant or irreducable.

The 3 Objectivist Axioms are irreducable, thats what makes them axiomatic. 

 Metaphysically, language requires an objective reality for intelligibility because unless you're understanding what I'm saying language is worthless.  It requires a being with the physical characteristics that enable it to produce language as well as comprehend and manipulate it.

 Epistemologically, language requires a consciousness capable of forming ideas and communicating them.

 So it's not as fundamental, although it's very essential.


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Language requires

Language requires consciousness but consciousness doesn't entail language.
Just like how consciousness requires existence but existence doesn't entail consciousness. And isn't identity a linguistic concept?
A way of denoting an entity?

I'm not sure of the importance of these axioms either.
They don't seem to be the base of any theory because they are being justified by the fact that we are using language and that they are necessary conditions for language use.
They aren't irreducible physical axioms either.
What's their point/purpose/function?

(you don't mind the aggressiveness of my debating, do you? I usually find that the best way to understand someone's philosophy is to put it to the test, as that usually reveals their motivation for positing it in the first place. Smile)


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Strafio wrote: you don't

Strafio wrote:
you don't mind the aggressiveness of my debating, do you? I usually find that the best way to understand someone's philosophy is to put it to the test, as that usually reveals their motivation for positing it in the first place.

Quite the contrary, I welcome aggressive debate, as long as it remains a debate. 

 

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Language requires consciousness but consciousness doesn't entail language.

Exactly, thats why consciousness is the axiomatic concept, where as language is not.  Language is reducable, consciousness is not.

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Just like how consciousness requires existence but existence doesn't entail consciousness.

Right, but this happens at the same time.  The fact that you grasp the concept of existence (which can happen implicitly without knowing any language to express such a realization) you must possess the type of consciousness capable of percieving and recongnizing it.  Infants become vaguely self-aware before they learn to speak.

 

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And isn't identity a linguistic concept? A way of denoting an entity?

The concept of "entity" is merely metaphysical, denoting that something exists.  Identity addresses that it is a specific type of something and separate from other things.  Identity is the law of non-contradiction put into a single word.  Upon grasping that existence exists and that you percieve it(consciousness) you become aware enough to realize that existence exists seperate from yourself, you possess a seperate identity.  Identity's purpose is not to distinguish between  it is vs (it is not), but between it is this vs (it is that).  To exist as anything is to exist as something specific.

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I'm not sure of the importance of these axioms either.

Someone on here posted a topic about proving that reality existed.  Since reality is implied within everything we do, it doesn't require proof, only validation.

This also serves as the basis for the Philosophy of Objectivism, which is an alternative value system to Christianity.  I think it's value here is that it's derrived from these axioms, this is the most fundamental aspects of the philosophy and they logically lead into views on Metaphysics, Epistemology, Ethics, Politics and Art.  Which makes it very powerful. 

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They don't seem to be the base of any theory because they are being justified by the fact that we are using language and that they are necessary conditions for language use.

They are the basis of Objectivism, but are otherwise irrefutable absolutes ignored by theists.  Identity is a very important axiom used in the criticism of gods nature, especially the Omni-God arguement.  Attributing characteristics to god doesn't ell us what god is, it doesn't give us the physical substance of god to say that god is good, or god is love, these are not descriptions of a metaphysical entity, but of a personality we haven't been given anything physical to attribute.  A consciousness that doesn't exist physically, and doesn't possess a specific identity is a contradiction and an impossibility.

This is essential to refuting the first cause arguement.

If god used any method to create creation for instance, gods identity (his nature) is bound by the laws of cause an effect.  A creation without a method is a contradiction because a creation presupposes a creator, a creator must employ methods to create, that method was a cause, we are the effect.  So since god, if he is a first cause, must have had a cause himself.  Even moreso, it's more plausable with this logic to assert a race of gods, which would discredit monotheistic religions like Christianity and Islam and place the earth like it was some kind of tiny insignificant science project of some god, not unique.

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They aren't irreducible physical axioms either.
 

I'm not sure what you mean by "physical" axioms.  They are irreducable though, and necessarily valid.  "Validation" I take to be a broader term than "proof," one that subsumes any process of establishing an idea's relationship to reality, whether deductive reasoning, inductive reasoning, or perceptual self-evidence. In this sense, one can and must validate every item of knowledge, including axioms.  The validation of axioms, however, is the simplest of all: Sense perception. 

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What's their point/purpose/function?

All of the above is to establish a very rational secular basis for human knowledge and values, a foundation from which all values and concepts can be measured against and structured from for consistency.  As opposed to resting on "god did it" or any other attempted evasion of these axioms as absolute and self-evident truths. These are the same axioms used in deconstructing the concept of god and are also used to construct the conceptual framework of human existence.


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cheezues wrote: Exactly,

cheezues wrote:
Exactly, thats why consciousness is the axiomatic concept, where as language is not. Language is reducable, consciousness is not.

The thing is, consciousness, existence and identity don't imply language so they don't seem to be sufficient as axioms.

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Just like how consciousness requires existence but existence doesn't entail consciousness.

Right, but this happens at the same time. The fact that you grasp the concept of existence (which can happen implicitly without knowing any language to express such a realization) you must possess the type of consciousness capable of percieving and recongnizing it. Infants become vaguely self-aware before they learn to speak.


I'm not sure about this psychological claim.
More to the point, axioms are not meant to be based on psychological claims, they are supposed to be transcendentally necessary. I also think that to grasp the concepts of existence and consciousness you need to come across them linguistically.

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And isn't identity a linguistic concept? A way of denoting an entity?

The concept of "entity" is merely metaphysical, denoting that something exists. Identity addresses that it is a specific type of something and separate from other things. Identity is the law of non-contradiction put into a single word.


Again, I can't see how any of this is possible without linguistic capabilities. We build concepts through linguistic practice. I know this is a psychological claim but true axioms should be impervious to attacks from psychological claims.

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Someone on here posted a topic about proving that reality existed. Since reality is implied within everything we do, it doesn't require proof, only validation.

These 'axioms' aren't the only way to defend such a view. After all, we've shown that these axioms are justified by language use, so whatever these 'axioms' can entail, a linguistic-based philosophy can also entail.

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They are the basis of Objectivism, but are otherwise irrefutable absolutes ignored by theists. Identity is a very important axiom used in the criticism of gods nature, especially the Omni-God arguement.

Ah. Is this based on Smith's book?
I'm quite a fan of it.
You don't need to posit rules of identity as an 'axiom' though.

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All of the above is to establish a very rational secular basis for human knowledge and values, a foundation from which all values and concepts can be measured against and structured from for consistency.

But they seem to be arbitrary foundations.
Although they are necessarily true, I don't see how they make good foundations for anything else. Maybe they would make more sense if I'd read some of the lass' philosophy but even so, rejecting them as axioms isn't a matter of contradiction or stolen concept.

My preferred foundation for reason is as follows:
'My language is as I understand it.'
It is the necessary assumption for communication and reason and rejection of it involves a stolen concept fallacy. (as you have to understand it in order to reject it)
The laws of identity, non-contradiction and excluded middle (and other tautology-based laws) follow from the rules of our language - they will apply to anyone who uses our language i.e. tries to reason with us. Anyone who posits a theory or description of the world does so in language so will be bound by linguistic rules in this way.
From those three laws (and others like them) we can build methods of logical deduction etc. That would be enough for pure reason on its own, and this reason is what we would use to critically analyse other areas of knowledge, e.g. reality, ethics, epistemology...


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Strafio wrote: Yes. No one

Strafio wrote:
Yes. No one has denied the infallibility of these 'axioms'. All that's been pointed out it that there's several more things that are transcendentally necessary so it seems silly to make such a fuss over Rand's three.

When you say "transcendentally necessary" are you refering simply to the fact that the axiom of existence can be gleaned a priori, anywhere, by any sentient brain? I.e. that given a basic metaphysics of the existence of a sentient brain, the axiom is unavoidable?

Or do you mean more than that? 

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How about that I am capable language?


To deny the fact I use language is a self contradiction.
What's more, it's not entailed by identity, existence or consciousness.

Here's something interesting to ponder. If you are conscious, as David Hume noted, you must be conscious of something. Consciousness works just like the axiom of existence... you can't use existence as a predicate, to exist is to exist as something and to be conscious is to be conscious of something.

And, if you are conscious of something it must be something akin to the basis of language - a symbol. 

 

 

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There are certain conditions required for reasoning to be possible and these conditions are transcendentally necessary. Identity, existence and consciousness are three examples... but I don't see anything too significant about them...

To me, their significance is that there are objective realities to the universe. It defeats radical nihilism, and as bizare as radical nihilism may seem, it manages to creep into more philosophies than we might first imagine.

 

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The whole "3 unbreakable axioms" sounds like they were put in for melodrama rather understanding. Why call them axioms either? Consciousness entails identity and existence while axioms are supposed to be logically independent of each other.

Yes. You can't have consciousness without something to be conscious of... 

Those who know the good, do the good. - Socrates

Books on atheism.


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(Did you read my last post?

(Did you read my the end last post? I put a suggested alternative 'first principles of philosophy' in it. It ought to supplement the answers given on this one.)

todangst wrote:
When you say "transcendentally necessary" are you refering simply to the fact that the axiom of existence can be gleaned a priori, anywhere, by any sentient brain? I.e. that given a basic metaphysics of the existence of a sentient brain, the axiom is unavoidable?

Or do you mean more than that?


My idea of 'transcendentally necessary' means that given that we are reasoning, certain conditions follow a priori. So that someone needs to exist with consciousness in order to reason means that conscious existence is transcendentally necessary.

I'm trying to avoid contingent claims about specifics of psychology as they are to be analysed with reason rather than be a foundation to it. We obviously need a common sense 'folk psychology' for these transcendentally necessary results but such common sense understanding of psychology is also transcendentally necessary - that we need to be competent with the meaning of the words we use.

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Here's something interesting to ponder. If you are conscious, as David Hume noted, you must be conscious of something. Consciousness works just like the axiom of existence... you can't use existence as a predicate, to exist is to exist as something and to be conscious is to be conscious of something.

And, if you are conscious of something it must be something akin to the basis of language - a symbol.


I hadn't thought it like that.
Although I still don't see it as enough to entail the competence of language required for reason. After all, animals are considered conscious but we don't necessarily consider them capable of reason.

What's more, the justification of it being necessarily true seems to be linguistically justified, so I'd say that language is more fundamental than these 'axioms'.


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Strafio wrote: The thing

Strafio wrote:

The thing is, consciousness, existence and identity don't imply language so they don't seem to be sufficient as axioms.

This is why I should have gone into more detail about the function of an axiomatic concept from the beginning.  An Axiomatic concept isn't something that necessarily implies anything except it's fellow axioms.  It is a foundation, a point of reference.  While these axioms do not necessarily imply language, language itself rests upon all three of these to be coherant. Because these are axioms specifically pertaining to human existing in reality, to grasp these conceptsth includes acknowledging (implicitly) at you possess the type of consciousness capable of doing so.  Again, these are a basis for philosophy, and living as a rational animal.  Language is not axiomatic because it requires things, or assumes them, just by asserting language.  A being capable of language must exist, and exist as something specific (a human) and must possess a consciousness capable of understanding and manipulating the language.  While Existence, Identity, and Consciousness and irreducable validated self-evidencies, language is not.

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More to the point, axioms are not meant to be based on psychological claims, they are supposed to be transcendentally necessary.t I also think that to grasp the conceps of existence and consciousness you need to come across them linguistically.

Ah, but you see thats the thing thats most important.  Whether or not you grasp these axioms is irrelevant, because they are still validated self-evidencies.  And grasping a concept does not necessarily mean grasping it explicitly and fully understanding it's far reaching implications.  When a baby grasps that when it cries it can draw attention from its mother it's learned that it exists independantly of its mother and that they each possess identity, existence without identity is impossible.  Consciousness for the infant is also implied in the interaction because it grasps a cause and effect relationship that isn't always based on shitty diapers, it can cry for no reason other than it just wants attention.  all of this without language.  Consciousness, percieving that which exists, is used here in its widest sense, equivalent to "being aware of" to be conscious is to be conscious of something, and language isn't necessary for grasping and relying on these axioms.  Understanding is an entirely different story, but even then language would be just one capability, an attribute of the potentiality of your consciousness, so even then it's unfundamental and reducable.

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Again, I can't see how any of this is possible without linguistic capabilities. We build concepts through linguistic practice. I know this is a psychological claim but true axioms should be impervious to attacks from psychological claims.

Language is essential in concept formation, it is the end product of a massive cumulation of information.  "Chair" for example is a concept that relates to every type of chair everywhere thats ever been at any time, and it's completely summed up in this concept.  Without this concept "chair" and the language to unify all of that data into a single mental concrete, we would only be as congniscent as a chimp.  A bar stool might very well be something completely different to us than a Lazy boy recliner.  Furthermore "furniture" would be meaningless because "furniture" isn't an object, it's an abstraction that categorically classifies existents to aid in our ability to comprehend even larger amounts of data at one time.  So here you're absolutely right, but axiomatic concepts do not require understanding to be valid.  Notice, and it's very important, that I didn't say "to be proven" because axiomatic concepts are perceptual self-evidencies that directly link experience to reality and form the foundation upon which all subsequent knowledge depends, and would be impossible without.  These concepts are necessarily valid.  Understanding (not on the scale that humans are capable) is still possible without language, and they still apply to infants and small children with underdeveloped linguistic faculties.

 

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These 'axioms' aren't the only way to defend such a view. After all, we've shown that these axioms are justified by language use, so whatever these 'axioms' can entail, a linguistic-based philosophy can also entail.

Beginning at the beginning is important, especially when you're trying to defend a belief as fundamental as the existence of reality.   I've already demonstrated that language isn't fundamental, but is reducable and relies on consciousness, existence, and identity to even exist.  We rely on language to complete the cycle (it happens at the end) when forming a new concept of something, that alone implies something more fundamental with which to base understanding.  Understanding doesn't necessarily entail language, language necessarily entails understanding. Axioms aren't as such because they "imply" or "entail" anything but because they are irreducable and implicit within grasping anything and everything.

 

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Ah. Is this based on Smith's book?
I'm quite a fan of it.
You don't need to posit rules of identity as an 'axiom' though.

The axioms are not from smith's book, but he does rely on the law of non-contradiction throughout the entire book.  Critics of religous faith must.

Again, one doesn't "posit" these axioms becuase they are necessarily true and implicit in every action and thought you take or think.  "Positing" them is redundant in itself unless someone doesn't quite understand them, (like someone who would doubt that reality is real) becuase they are so fundamental and powerful they, when emphasized as I have, have the power to rattle a person.

They aren't "rules" they are irrefutable facts of existence, and implicit in every thought and action.  It's an unbreakable rule metaphysically, epistemologically is where the mix up begins and contradicting viewpoints begin occupying nearby one another.  The only evidence that breaking this rule epistemologically has occured is holding this contradiction is true, when in fact it cannot reference or be squared against any facts of or in reality at the same time and in the same respect. 

 

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But they seem to be arbitrary foundations.
Although they are necessarily true, I don't see how they make good foundations for anything else. Maybe they would make more sense if I'd read some of the lass' philosophy but even so, rejecting them as axioms isn't a matter of contradiction or stolen concept.

Rejecting them must entail the fallacy of the stolen concept because these axioms are necessarily true. 

We'll run through them...

How would one reject Existence?  One would have to employ the use of non-existence in order for any rejection to be true, such a method does not exist and cannot exist, because it itself is non-existence.

How would one reject Consciousness?  Rejection of consciousness epistemologically itself implies a consciousness capable of grasping the concept of arguement, consciousness, rejection, existence of itself being capable of the choice of rejection as opposed to acceptance, through language, through concept formation,  however.  You could employ ignorance for this through un-consciousness, but that would be the equivalent of denying your minds existence.

How would one reject Identity?  Well, before one can ask what any existent is, it must be something, and one must know this.  If not, then there is nothing to investigate-or to exist.  Inherant in a person's grasp of any object is the recognition, in some form, that; there is something I am aware of.  There is (existence); something (identity); I am aware of (consciousness).

I addition to being not only aware (consciousness) I can also formulate ideas and comprehend with the aid of language, but "unconscious language" is a contradiction in terms. 

I don't see how you can say these are arbitrary immediately before sayin they are necessarily true.  Something's not quite clicking for you but I'd like to explain more if I can, I just need more illumination from you about what we're not clear about.  Choosing these as "foundations" isn't even a choice.  Acknowledging them as such is a choice.  Grasping them takes understanding, validating them does not.

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My preferred foundation for reason is as follows:

These axioms are more fundamental than this, more basic and more all encompassing.  Not simply a foundation for reason (which is a faculty or an attribute of consciousness itself and reducable) but a foundation for all philosophy. 

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'My language is as I understand it.'

I prefer to think of language more of a science rather than an "as I understand it" kinda thing.  If I want to express myself accurately and allow others the highest probability for understand it, I must use predefined objective definitions as HUMANS have defined them, and understand them.  Not just me.

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It is the necessary assumption for communication and reason and rejection of it involves a stolen concept fallacy. (as you have to understand it in order to reject it)
The laws of identity, non-contradiction and excluded middle (and other tautology-based laws) follow from the rules of our language

So language dictated the law of identity, or did the law of identity (and its extension of logic) allow for a system like language to form.  You see, even in language the law of identity is implicit in it's understanding.  A is not B is not C is not D.  It does not logicaly flow that "because we designed the alphabet of 26 letters THEREFOR non of them are the same and so the law of identity was born.  You see where I'm comin from here about the hierarchy of our concepts.  Identity is fundamental, language is not AS FUNDAMENTAL and in fact relies on identity to exist intelligibly. 

 

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they will apply to anyone who uses our language i.e.

Should axiomatic concepts at the base of all human knowledge and philosophy be an "english-only" issue?  =\ seems less than all inclusive, too narrow. 

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tries to reason with us. Anyone who posits a theory or description of the world does so in language so will be bound by linguistic rules in this way.

Even language though, is derived from existence.  The existence of the tree predicated the word for a tree.  The existence of existence predicated the existence of consciousness, consciousness then evolved the need for language.  Think of it in biological terms if you need too, it flows logically that way as well.  Existence and no humans, existence as such.  Existence existed as something whether anyone was aware of it or not, rocks were rocks, elements on the period table existed BEFORE we classified them, etc...  existence and identity don't discriminate between animate and inanimate matter, so the evolution of life is insignificant in this transition from the existence of existence being primary, existence being specific and possessing identity, then consciousness came about and grasped all of this.  Language came much later.  I speak only about conceptual language, beyond body language and grunts.


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From those three laws (and others like them) we can build methods of logical deduction etc.

logical deduction relies fundamentally on the concept of non-contradiction.  Logic as defined in Objectivism is "the art of non-contradictory identification."

basic example: Apples (identity) are all fruits (identity). Logical statement. therefor all Fruits (identity) are all apples (identity). Logically inaccurate, not because A=B so B=A but because of what the identity of those concepts are, the fact THAT apples exist and that our consciousness has this nice little mental container for referring to all fruits acknowleding that apples are not the only kind of fruit there is, (chair and furniture could have applied here as it did earlier, just as easily)

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That would be enough for pure reason on its own, and this reason is what we would use to critically analyse other areas of knowledge, e.g. reality, ethics, epistemology...

If language is the basis of it all, then really any symbolic interactionist could easily come along and say "it is whatever we say it is just because we want to, it's just language."


cheezues
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todangst wrote: Here's

todangst wrote:

Here's something interesting to ponder. If you are conscious, as David Hume noted, you must be conscious of something. Consciousness works just like the axiom of existence... you can't use existence as a predicate, to exist is to exist as something and to be conscious is to be conscious of something.

Except that "consciousness that doesn't exist" "non-existent consciousness" (however you wanna phrase it) only erases any assertion that consciousness is possible without existence, making existence a mandatory requesite.  Existence without consciousness on the other hand of that coin, is possible.

 

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And, if you are conscious of something it must be something akin to the basis of language - a symbol.

Except that to talk about consciousness as a perceptual faculty doesn't imply any symbol system begin with.  Perception does not translate into a system of symbols until we begin conceptualizing, which is much higher up in our cognitive developement.  So Consciousness without symbols is to be aware of someTHING, but not really know what it is or how to classify it conceptually.  The only thing that exists is it's ability to construct or learn this system of symbols, it exists as a natural property of the human brain, as a potential.

 Except consciousness doesn't necessarily entail the ability to understand 

 

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To me, their significance is that there are objective realities to the universe. It defeats radical nihilism, and as bizare as radical nihilism may seem, it manages to creep into more philosophies than we might first imagine.

When I began philosophy I think the ultimate quest was understanding a system of thought that is both  unique and respective to the individual and not dogmatic and at the same time uniform to everyone in their own way.  These 3 principles, Objective irrefutable facts, must be that basis and must be evident in every conclusion any philosophy comes to.

"reality doesn't exist" is the absolute rejection of all 3. 

 

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The whole "3 unbreakable axioms" sounds like they were put in for melodrama rather understanding. Why call them axioms either? Consciousness entails identity and existence while axioms are supposed to be logically independent of each other.

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Yes. You can't have consciousness without something to be conscious of...

Axioms are not "supposed to be" And don't have to be logically independant of each other.  Axioms are self evident truths that require no proof.  Validation is all that can be done, ostensively, perceptually.

Furthermore I don't think it's possible to cover the foundation for both fundamental branches of philosophy (metaphysics and epistemology) in one axiomatic concept. This trio applies to the two largest categories and the rest proceed from these only as derivities, to disassociate politics or ethics from metaphysics and epistemology is to essentially be baseless and unfounded. 


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cheezues wrote: This is why

cheezues wrote:
This is why I should have gone into more detail about the function of an axiomatic concept from the beginning. An Axiomatic concept isn't something that necessarily implies anything except it's fellow axioms. It is a foundation, a point of reference.

In maths, axioms of a system are supposed to determine the entire system by what follows from them. That is how they are the foundation of the system. These certainly aren't axioms in the traditional sense. A new meaning to the word, perhaps?

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Again, these are a basis for philosophy, and living as a rational animal.

They can't be. If they can't infer language from them then any philosophical system built on them will be lacking.

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Language is not axiomatic because it requires things, or assumes them, just by asserting language. A being capable of language must exist, and exist as something specific (a human) and must possess a consciousness capable of understanding and manipulating the language.

No one is denying that other things are conceptually necessary for language, consciousness and existence being two of many things, but language is also necessary for us to have and recognise those concepts. Linguistic Determinism is something like what I have in mind.

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While Existence, Identity, and Consciousness and irreducable validated self-evidencies, language is not.

I think that it is.
'validation' requires linguistic practice. Working out what's irreducible requires language. We've also established that language can't be reduced to these three axioms either.

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Ah, but you see thats the thing thats most important.  Whether or not you grasp these axioms is irrelevant, because they are still validated self-evidencies.

Um... you need to grasp something before you can even think about validating or evidencing it!

Having read a bit more of your defenses, it seems that your three axioms form a basis for psychology than philosophy, the study of mind. So perhaps the question that's really under dispute is whether the root of all philosophy is language or psychology.


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Rejecting them must entail the fallacy of the stolen concept because these axioms are necessarily true.

We'll run through them...


Dude, I said rejecting them as axioms, not rejecting the truth of them. You can reject their axiomatic status without invoking the stolen concept fallacy.

Anyway, here's where I got to positing language as the root of all philosophy:
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These axioms are more fundamental than this, more basic and more all encompassing. Not simply a foundation for reason (which is a faculty or an attribute of consciousness itself and reducable) but a foundation for all philosophy.

Maybe this is where our disagreement lies.
I think that the foundation of reason is the foundation of philosophy.
Philosophy is the study of wisdom and knowledge and this surely can't be separated from reason.

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'My language is as I understand it.'

I prefer to think of language more of a science rather than an "as I understand it" kinda thing. If I want to express myself accurately and allow others the highest probability for understand it, I must use predefined objective definitions as HUMANS have defined them, and understand them. Not just me.


The 'my' was just to acknowledge that there are languages out there that I don't understand. It is impossible for me to reason with someone who I cannot communicate with so we must have language in common, or atleast a translator between us.

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So language dictated the law of identity, or did the law of identity (and its extension of logic) allow for a system like language to form.

The former.

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You see, even in language the law of identity is implicit in it's understanding. A is not B is not C is not D. It does not logicaly flow that "because we designed the alphabet of 26 letters THEREFOR non of them are the same and so the law of identity was born. You see where I'm comin from here about the hierarchy of our concepts. Identity is fundamental, language is not AS FUNDAMENTAL and in fact relies on identity to exist intelligibly.

Here's the distinction. Before language, 'identity' was just a psychological function that allowed language to devellop. It's only in the context of language that it can become a LAW of identity.

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they will apply to anyone who uses our language i.e.

Should axiomatic concepts at the base of all human knowledge and philosophy be an "english-only" issue? =\ seems less than all inclusive, too narrow.


Obviously, any language with rules similar enough that the laws governing it's use are directly translatable. Incidently, logic didn't naturally occur in countries like China and Japan with their unique form of language. It is supposed that the spread of Buddhism (with Indian influence) that brought logic to these places.

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Even language though, is derived from existence.

No. It just causally depends on existence. There's a difference.
Once you understand what language is and what existence is you understand that language's causal dependence on existence is a conceptual necessity. But for conceptual necessity to be you need language. For there to be talk of truth, scepticism, proof, validation, evidencing, language is a pre-requisite all of these.

I'm not simply positing language as a causal dependence either.
Philosophy itself a linguistic activity. That's why language is our determiner of all philosophy. If you look through your defenses of the necessity of those axioms, you see that each defense involved the impossibility of denial. That's because denial involved argument... once again it came down to language.

I know that 'reason requires language' is similar to 'language requires consciousness'. The difference is, language seems to contain everything that's necessary for reason while consciousness doesn't. Animals are conscious but we could never imagine them philosophizing.

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The existence of the tree predicated the word for a tree. The existence of existence predicated the existence of consciousness, consciousness then evolved the need for language.

Predicated is the wrong word. The word for a tree was causally dependent on the existence of a tree. If you carry on like that, consciousness is no longer irreducible as that has physical causes, as does all thoughts involving identity and consciousness.

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Think of it in biological terms if you need too, it flows logically that way as well. Existence and no humans, existence as such. Existence existed as something whether anyone was aware of it or not, rocks were rocks, elements on the period table existed BEFORE we classified them, etc... existence and identity don't discriminate between animate and inanimate matter, so the evolution of life is insignificant in this transition from the existence of existence being primary, existence being specific and possessing identity, then consciousness came about and grasped all of this. Language came much later. I speak only about conceptual language, beyond body language and grunts.

Causal dependence again. The study of causal dependence is physics, not philosophy.

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From those three laws (and others like them) we can build methods of logical deduction etc.

logical deduction relies fundamentally on the concept of non-contradiction. Logic as defined in Objectivism is "the art of non-contradictory identification."

basic example: Apples (identity) are all fruits (identity). Logical statement. therefor all Fruits (identity) are all apples (identity). Logically inaccurate, not because A=B so B=A but because of what the identity of those concepts are, the fact THAT apples exist and that our consciousness has this nice little mental container for referring to all fruits acknowleding that apples are not the only kind of fruit there is, (chair and furniture could have applied here as it did earlier, just as easily)


Yes, Identity is a psychological function before it becomes a LAW.
However, logic depends on the LAW of identity. Identity as a mere psychological function would be insufficient. Identity can only become a law under the conditions of a language.

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If language is the basis of it all, then really any symbolic interactionist could easily come along and say "it is whatever we say it is just because we want to, it's just language."

Nope. While they were speaking in English they'd have to follow the rules of language. Language without the rules being follows just isn't language anymore. Maybe they might talk in a different language with different rules, but then they could no longer say "it is whatever we say" because that sentence is English, or atleast we could no longer interpret it's English meaning as your objection requires us to.

One last thing I should note on.
My main criticism of your 'axioms' is that language's causal dependence is irrelevent to the basis of philosophy. If this criticism is to help me then I need to show that language is more than just causally dependent. Although I like the look of Linguistic Determinism, it's far from certain and it would be foolhardy to base my entire philosophy on it.

Philosophy is a linguistic activity.
It is not possible to philosophise without the use of language.
Therefore, all the rules of using language apply first and foremost.
If to do philosophy is to use language, if you aren't using language correctly then you cannot be doing philosophy correctly. As doing philosophy correctly depends on language, the relation of language to philosophy is of practical relevence. On the other hand, you could say "Ah! You need to consciously exist to do philosophy!" and your listener could reply; "Ofcourse. Your point being?" as such statements aren't relevent unless the question "Do I consciously exist?" is raised.

Rand's axioms only seem to be of psychological importance. Even then, there seems to be conflation going on. For instance, even though a person's consciousness and existence are required for them to be a subject of psychological study, the concepts don't seem so fundamental. Existence is irrelevent again - a red herring piece of information, and many philosophers are disputing over what consciousness actually is, so it can be hardly fundamental as it itself depends on a result of study.


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Quote: In maths, axioms of

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In maths, axioms of a system are supposed to determine the entire system by what follows from them. That is how they are the foundation of the system. These certainly aren't axioms in the traditional sense. A new meaning to the word, perhaps?

Axioms are not axioms because they imply causes or what follows from them unless what follows from them is "everything."

This isn't Math, It's Philosophy, but the same principle remains in this situation, because everything in philosophy if it can be considered true in any way must relate back to these basic axioms because these axioms are the foundation and the connection between human consciousness and existence.

Mine isn't a new definition,
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/axiom
1.) a self-evident truth that requires no proof.
(In order to prove that language functions the way it does, it relies on more basic principles and aspects of existence, an axiom wouldn't because an axiom would be self-evident. Most linguists conceed this quickly because they understand language to be fluid, and dependant upon lots of different things.)

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axiom
In epistemology, an axiom is a self-evident truth upon which other knowledge must rest, from which other knowledge is built up. Not all epistemologists agree that any axioms, understood in that sense, exist.
(knowledge can exist on a perceptual level without language)

Because this is a broad subject "Philosophy" and an axiom is "a self-evident truth upon which other knowledge must rest" we must begin at the beginning, the base of all knowledge. Because knowledge exists independant of language (on the perceptual level) language is not an adequate axiomatic concept for philosophy.

Just like in the statement "I think therefor I am." The thinking takes place before it's understood that an "I" is seperate from whatever else "is" and later the prerequisite of consciousness "I" is recognized as existence so the same applies to language.

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They can't be. If they can't infer language from them then any philosophical system built on them will be lacking.

From the knowledge we've gathered about the universe the Earths existence and the life forms on it are hugely improbable. An axioms function is not to infer anything, but provide the basis and foundation for everything and provide a connection between the highly improbable human consciousness an existence as it is. Consciousness only implies the existence of an entity capable of consciousness, but such an entity must exist because we're here doing just that. Language implies both a consciousness, and everything that a consciousness implies. Language is a tool for gaining knowledge and a necessary function on the perceptual level, but human existence is not reducable to language, it is reducable to consciousness.

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No one is denying that other things are conceptually necessary for language, consciousness and existence being two of many things, but language is also necessary for us to have and recognise those concepts. Linguistic Determinism is something like what I have in mind.

Presented in a more direct way...

1) In epistemology, an axiom is a self-evident truth upon which other knowledge must rest, from which other knowledge is built up.

2) knowledge (however basic) is possible prior to learning language, on the perceptual level of consciousness.

3) therefor language is not an axiomatic concept.

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'validation' requires linguistic practice. Working out what's irreducible requires language. We've also established that language can't be reduced to these three axioms either.

I reduced language and exposed it as depending on those more basic axioms just earlier in this post.

Validation is simply acknowledging was is necessarily true because it is beyond the comcept of "proof."

Can I prove that knowledge is accessible prior to language?
Simply ask yourself how humans evolved to the point of the conceptual level of consciousness, everything prior to that.
Infants that discover crying gets attention, is useful knowledge the infant uses without learning it.

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Um... you need to grasp something before you can even think about validating or evidencing it!

Having read a bit more of your defenses, it seems that your three axioms form a basis for psychology than philosophy, the study of mind. So perhaps the question that's really under dispute is whether the root of all philosophy is language or psychology.

Is grasping something, understanding it, the same as that something being valid or necessarily true? Just as 'existence' is more fundamental than 'consciousness' existence was necessarily valid before our conscious awareness developed to the point where we 'grasped' it.

Philosophy isn't reducable to simply being "language" or "psychology" philosophy is translated as "the love of knowledge" and is a discipline for understanding the root of knowledge, metaphysics, ethics, politics, and art... language is a subcategory of knowledge but you could easily spend a lifetime dedicated to the philosophy of language, I understand where you're coming from and I personally LOVE studying language. Considering the three axioms from that narrow of a vantage point might make them seem superfluous, but its when you begin interrelating them with ALL branches of philosophy that they become absolutely crucial to grasp.

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I think that the foundation of reason is the foundation of philosophy. Philosophy is the study of wisdom and knowledge and this surely can't be separated from reason.

Not all philosophies are based on Reason. Religions for an easy example, are ancient philosophies centered around Faith. So it surely CAN be seperated from reason, but will be false and invalid 100% of the time if that is done.

The foundation for philosophy, is the need of human beings for an integrated outlook on life and a guide to action, how to form a value system, and how their life relates and exists within all of existence, but more importantly to answer the question, Why?

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So language dictated the law of identity, or did the law of identity (and its extension of logic) allow for a system like language to form.

"The former."

I was trying to put it plainly enough so that you'd accept the ladder, but I'll go into what I think is a different kind of approach to this aspect of the disagreement.

This is a perspective best described by the primacy of consciousness.

"The primacy of consciousness theory asserts that consciousness somehow creates reality. Sometimes it takes the form of a divine consciousness that creates reality, and sometimes it takes the form of each individual consciousness creating their own personal reality.

In either case, there is a contradiction. To be conscious is to be aware (of something.) One can not be aware without something to be aware of. In other words, a consciousness without anything to be conscious of is not a consciousness. Nor can a consciousness be aware of itself and claim to be independent of existence, because if a consciousness is aware of itself, then it must itself exist and be an existent.

The truth is that Existence is primary."

Identity allows for language to be meaningful. Without identity, language could meaning nothing and everything at once at the same time and in the same respect. Regardless of when we grasp the concept, and regarldess of the means we employ (the use of language) existence is primary.

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Here's the distinction. Before language, 'identity' was just a psychological function that allowed language to devellop. It's only in the context of language that it can become a LAW of identity.

Philisophical laws are not the same as legislative laws, although there could be an arguement made to marry the two, in that we don't create them, we discover them. Because we discover fundamental underlying laws of existence (axioms) from which to build and validate or create higher abstractions (language) those axioms which underly are the more basic, the more primary, the axiomatic.

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Causal dependence again. The study of causal dependence is physics, not philosophy.

The reason these causal dependancies are necessary to understand is because language, to mean anything depends on something to refer to that exists to be true. So, causal dependancies is not only a matter of physics, but of logic as well.

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Identity as a mere psychological function would be insufficient. Identity can only become a law under the conditions of a language.

So before language developed, the identity of anything and everything was non-existent. Your reasoning here is faulty, How does identity function phsychologically? Its an unintelligible question because identity isn't a phsychological function it's an irreducable axiom that applies to pscyhological processes, but is not a process itself. Any inanimate object is an example of this, it posseses a specifc identity because it is what it is and nothing else, a human consciousness also possesses a specific identity not as a process, but in definition, that's what it is.

To say that Identity can only become a law under the conditions of language is fallacious because what you really mean is that "Identity can only become (UNDERSTOOD) as a law under the conditions (THROUGH THE USE OF) language."

A human consciousness' purpose is not to create reality but to percieve it and form it's conceptual framework in accordance with it. Identity is an abstract, but its a property of EVERYTHING, whether we can linguistically define it or conceptually understand it or not.

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language's causal dependence is irrelevent to the basis of philosophy

Mainly because language itself is irrelevant to the basis of philosophy. An axiomatic concept is never irrelevant.

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It is not possible to philosophise without the use of language.

True but its possible to gain knowledge without language as conscious a human, possible to exist without language as a conscious human. Philosophy is a much boarder subject than you give it credit. The axioms I've defined provide substantial basis (irrefutable even) for every aspect of philosophy.

Philosophic axiomatic concepts are only so powerful because it's not something we "can just say with language."

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It is not possible to speak without the use of language.

I agree with you, but this has nothing to do with what an axiomatic concept is, and why it is.

Your conclusion from this point on is a product of your misunderstanding about what axiomatic concepts are and what their function is, what their qualifications are, and how they're used.

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Rand's axioms only seem to be of psychological importance.

You've never pointed out what "phsychological importance" they "seem to be." Care to elaborate?

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For instance, even though a person's consciousness and existence are required for them to be a subject of psychological study, the concepts don't seem so fundamental.

Their function is not "to find a basis for phsychological study" this is again a result of your misunderstand of what axiomatic concepts are.

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Existence is irrelevent again - a red herring piece of information.

How can you call the prerequisite for EVERYTHING a red herring? I can't go where ever you are mentally and picture this the way you are... I'm trying to step into your shoes here and I can't.

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and many philosophers are disputing over what consciousness actually is, so it can be hardly fundamental as it itself depends on a result of study.

A dispute over it's identity is not a dispute over it's existence. Conscious is what it is, and human beings will always possess a specialized type.


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Alright. I see what you mean

Alright. I see what you mean by axiom now.
However, you said that these axioms are supposed to provide a basis and foundation for other beliefs, but earlier you admited that they are not sufficient to infer language. If they can't infer the most basic things then they clearly aren't sufficient as foundations. They are just three amongst many self evidence truths, all of which are ultimately justified by a basic understanding of our language.

cheezues wrote:
Because this is a broad subject "Philosophy" and an axiom is "a self-evident truth upon which other knowledge must rest" we must begin at the beginning, the base of all knowledge. Because knowledge exists independant of language (on the perceptual level) language is not an adequate axiomatic concept for philosophy.

I'll concede that some kind of knowledge is possible without language. A simple 'first order' knowledge, like where their nest is. Philosophy requires more complex knowledge, a 'second order' knowledge about knowledge and this second order knowledge is impossible without language. That's why philosophy is impossible without language.

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Just like in the statement "I think therefor I am." The thinking takes place before it's understood that an "I" is seperate from whatever else "is" and later the prerequisite of consciousness "I" is recognized as existence so the same applies to language.

Once again you're conflating causal precedence with rational precedence and this conflation appears to be the entire foundation of this "three axiom" philosophy.

What ought to clear things up is a distinction between casual explanation and rational justification. The causal explanation is of the states of the world required for X and the rational explanation is why we should believe X. Your justifications for the three axioms seems to be that they are causally necessary for philosophy. We need to exist, be conscious and exist as something before we can do philosophy. That doesn't make them relevent to the foundations of philosophy though. They are causal precedents but not rational precedents. They are early results of philosophy, justified by rational precedents, rather than the foundations from which justification stems.

Perhaps I've misunderstood you. Perhaps you believe that these three axioms are rational precendents as well as causal precedents? In that case, you are know longer claiming that we have to be both conscious and existing to do philosophy, you are saying that we have to be aware that we are conscious and existing before we do philosophy. However, all your arguments seem to be that if we are doing philosophy or using language then we must therefore exist, i.e. they are arguing for causal precedence and then assuming that rational precendence naturally follows.

What's more, your defense of the the causal precedence of your axioms betrays your implicit acknowledgement of language being their rational precedent:
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Consciousness only implies the existence of an entity capable of consciousness, but such an entity must exist because we're here doing just that. Language implies both a consciousness, and everything that a consciousness implies.
'Language implies' is to say that language is the premise upon which the truth of your axioms rests. I've brought up two points:
1) The kind of knowledge required for philosophy is 'second order' knowledge that requires linguistic capabilities.
2) The root of philosophy is what it rationally depends upon rather than casually depends upon. If we carry on down the line of causal dependence then we wind up at the big bang.

The rest of this post will be applying these two points to your arguments.

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Presented in a more direct way... 1) In epistemology, an axiom is a self-evident truth upon which other knowledge must rest, from which other knowledge is built up. 2) knowledge (however basic) is possible prior to learning language, on the perceptual level of consciousness. 3) therefor language is not an axiomatic concept.

Epistemology is more than just having knowledge, it requires second order knowledge. First order knowledge is basic enough to precede language. Second order language isn't. Epistemology cannot be prior to language.

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'validation' requires linguistic practice. Working out what's irreducible requires language. We've also established that language can't be reduced to these three axioms either.

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I reduced language and exposed it as depending on those more basic axioms just earlier in this post. Validation is simply acknowledging was is necessarily true because it is beyond the concept of "proof."

Firstly, there was no reduction as something 'reduced' needs to be completely explained by. Consciousness alone doesn't explain language. It is one necessary condition among many.
Your 'exposition' of language was of its causal dependence.
Validation is a question of rational dependence.
When you justify a belief do you justify it with what caused you to believe or do you show that it is validated by rational method?

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Can I prove that knowledge is accessible prior to language? Simply ask yourself how humans evolved to the point of the conceptual level of consciousness, everything prior to that. Infants that discover crying gets attention, is useful knowledge the infant uses without learning it.

That's fine. I accept first order knowledge precedes language.
It's just that first order knowledge is not sufficient for concepts such as validation, etc...

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Not all philosophies are based on Reason. Religions for an easy example, are ancient philosophies centered around Faith. So it surely CAN be seperated from reason, but will be false and invalid 100% of the time if that is done.

These are still founded on reason.
Even when they are centered around faith, they try to use reason to justify this. They are still using reason, even if it is bad reason.

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I was trying to put it plainly enough so that you'd accept the ladder, but I'll go into what I think is a different kind of approach to this aspect of the disagreement. This is a perspective best described by the primacy of consciousness. "The primacy of consciousness theory asserts that consciousness somehow creates reality. Sometimes it takes the form of a divine consciousness that creates reality, and sometimes it takes the form of each individual consciousness creating their own personal reality. In either case, there is a contradiction. To be conscious is to be aware (of something.) One can not be aware without something to be aware of. In other words, a consciousness without anything to be conscious of is not a consciousness. Nor can a consciousness be aware of itself and claim to be independent of existence, because if a consciousness is aware of itself, then it must itself exist and be an existent. The truth is that Existence is primary.

Right. Once you understand the concepts of consciousness and existence, the fact that you exist consciously is undeniable. However, philosophy does not rest on this understanding. It is conceptually possible for someone to philosophise without these concepts. We understand existence by the contrast of non-existence. We hear a story and are given the distinction between real and pretend.
But imagine that someone never came across this distinction, that they never came across a story so the distinction between existence and non-existence was one they never had to learn. They could still philosophise on subjects that didn't involve existence/non-existence, like morality.

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The reason these causal dependancies are necessary to understand is because language, to mean anything depends on something to refer to that exists to be true. So, causal dependancies is not only a matter of physics, but of logic as well.

We can use logic to establish causal dependencies, but the interest in logic is rational dependence, because rational dependence is at the root of knowledge. Physics is a study how the world is so causal dependencies is what we're looking to discover. Philosophy, the study of knowledge, is more interested in how we justify our knowledge. That's why causal depence isn't so important.

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Existence is irrelevent again - a red herring piece of information.

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How can you call the prerequisite for EVERYTHING a red herring? I can't go where ever you are mentally and picture this the way you are... I'm trying to step into your shoes here and I can't.

Simple. Realise that causal prerequisites aren't what's important and all talk of existence (which is a concept purely for describing states of the physical world) will be clearly off topic.


jive turkey
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Since I'm now branded with

Since I'm now branded with the Theist label (I'm told this is so that you won't get confused…really) I will dutifully go to my side of the net and start hitting ball back over to the other side. I do have some time constraints so this post is not intended to be anything like a complete defense, simply a perspective and a starting point for discussion.

I'm curious about the ultimate point in the Stolen Concept argument referenced, namely that "faith in reason" is a stolen concept. I read the article once and think I follow the argument and I agree that the conclusions are true in that model. Speaking only for myself, when I conceptualize 'faith in reason' I think of believing that reason can provide the complete picture, that nothing is beyond the reach of reason. Or, more fundamentally, that reality is indeed ultimate reality.

Let me introduce a model that helps me manipulate these concepts:

I'm writing this post on Windows XP SP2. The windows kernel's job is to provide a framework in which other processes can 'exist' and perform functions. To do this, the kernel directly interfaces with the hardware resources like the RAM and CPU and allocates them to other processes. However, in my case, XP is not sitting directly on top of the hardware, it is running as a virtual machine on top of a virtual OS. Now, XP 'thinks' it is sitting directly on top of the hardware (it is a 'real' instance of XP) and everything works precisely like it would if XP were interfacing the hardware directly, but in fact, it is not. It is still the job of the kernel to know what resources it has and allocate them to other processes and it still does this job just as well as an installation of XP that really does sit on top of the hardware. However, there is a deeper layer that XP has no means of accessing.

This is where I see faith in reason, or perhaps I should say, faith in the conclusion that all can be reasoned. It simply lay in the idea that there is a deeper layer that is not accessible via reason. Now one may then say that it is irrational to even postulate about the existence of a deeper layer if there is no means of directly verifying its existence. But the point here seems to be about man's ability to know the real world.

/peace


JCE
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jive turkey wrote: Since

jive turkey wrote:

Since I'm now branded with the Theist label (I'm told this is so that you won't get confused…really)

 

I did not apply the label, but if you have not already read this it might help:

I am unashamed of my label. It is an accurate representation of who I am.

I am an atheist. My lack of belief in any deity is the only criteria.

Would I feel shame if labelled as an atheist on the religious forums? No.

Should I be labelled as an atheist on the religious forums? Yes. If even solely because it eliminates the need for that question to be asked.

This is not a relative or comparative term like fat or skinny, dark or pale, big or small. You either have belief in a deity(in any form) or you don't.

It would be unethical to pretend to be of the opposing ideology. We've already established many times over that dishonesty is something we're not fond of in any situation.

- Darth_Josh

 

At any rate, I would think you would be more upset about your user name, but hey to each his own. LOL


todangst
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jive turkey wrote: Since

jive turkey wrote:

Since I'm now branded with the Theist label (I'm told this is so that you won't get confused…really) I will dutifully go to my side of the net and start hitting ball back over to the other side. I do have some time constraints so this post is not intended to be anything like a complete defense, simply a perspective and a starting point for discussion.

I'm curious about the ultimate point in the Stolen Concept argument referenced, namely that "faith in reason" is a stolen concept. I read the article once and think I follow the argument and I agree that the conclusions are true in that model. Speaking only for myself, when I conceptualize 'faith in reason' I think of believing that reason can provide the complete picture, that nothing is beyond the reach of reason.

But I'm sure you see that this has nothing to do with Nathienal Branden's point. His point has to with a putative 'starting point' to reason.

You're discussing the belief that reason may potentially work everywhere. A different topic.

And I don't think this is a theistic faith anyway... it is an inference based on the past successes of reason, making it, at most, a contingent faith - a falsifiable presumption. 

 

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Or, more fundamentally, that reality is indeed ultimate reality.

I'm not even sure how to comment here. 

 

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Let me introduce a model that helps me manipulate these concepts:

I'm writing this post on Windows XP SP2. The windows kernel's job is to provide a framework in which other processes can 'exist' and perform functions. To do this, the kernel directly interfaces with the hardware resources like the RAM and CPU and allocates them to other processes. However, in my case, XP is not sitting directly on top of the hardware, it is running as a virtual machine on top of a virtual OS. Now, XP 'thinks' it is sitting directly on top of the hardware (it is a 'real' instance of XP) and everything works precisely like it would if XP were interfacing the hardware directly, but in fact, it is not. It is still the job of the kernel to know what resources it has and allocate them to other processes and it still does this job just as well as an installation of XP that really does sit on top of the hardware. However, there is a deeper layer that XP has no means of accessing.

This is where I see faith in reason, or perhaps I should say, faith in the conclusion that all can be reasoned. It simply lay in the idea that there is a deeper layer that is not accessible via reason. Now one may then say that it is irrational to even postulate about the existence of a deeper layer if there is no means of directly verifying its existence. But the point here seems to be about man's ability to know the real world.

/peace

It sounds like you're trying to invoke a deeper substratum of 'existence' upon which 'existence' depends.... sounds too mystical to me to comment on...

Nice talking to you, and if you don't like the label, I'll ask them to remove it. I for one can't fathom why we use it. 

Those who know the good, do the good. - Socrates

Books on atheism.


cheezues
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I'm nearing the end of my

I'm nearing the end of my patience here, because it's becoming repetative and you're still offering no counter arguements or perspectives, only attempting to make my own reasoning lookin internally inconsistant. the only means you're employing in your posts is of misquoting me and then stating plainly what you've misinterpreted me to have said.

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However, you said that these axioms are supposed to provide a basis and foundation for other beliefs, but earlier you admited that they are not sufficient to infer language.

What kind of fuzzy language is "infer" ? Why even use that word in this context? Existence doesn't directly infer specifics like language, it makes them possible. That is to say, the line of logic stating -Existence Exists therefor Language Exists- is not even close to flowing logic. However -Language Exists, I understand it, Understanding it Implies consciousness, consciousness implies my exists, therefor I exist- Does flow.

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If they can't infer the most basic things then they clearly aren't sufficient as foundations.

Do foundations necessarily imply specifics on top of them? No.

Last Example I'm giving:

Ask a similiar question like this, but you need to make an assumption so that it's logically comparable. Assume that, without a foundation, a house could not be made of bricks and that only by the existence of foundations is the existence of bricks even possible. Bricks here are a metaphore the abstract concept of "Possibility."

Does the foundation of a house necessarily determine which bricks out of all the possible bricks in the world will be used in the construction of it's walls? No.

If we were to base a philosophy for it to be valid, would need to directly reference the foundation of the house, not one of it's bricks.

Language is only important insofar as human beings are concerned, because basing a theory on knowledge entails forming a relationship between human consciousness and existence, something exclusive to humans will NOT give you a philosophy that is founded in reality.

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A simple 'first order' knowledge, like where their nest is. Philosophy requires more complex knowledge, a 'second order' knowledge about knowledge and this second order knowledge is impossible without language. That's why philosophy is impossible without language.

Is the realm of philosophy restricted to second order concepts? No.

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We need to exist, be conscious and exist as something before we can do philosophy. That doesn't make them relevent to the foundations of philosophy though.

"Doing philosophy" isn't the main reason I "do philosophy." "Why we do philosophy" isn't the most fundamental question when we're "doing philosophy."

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They are early results of philosophy, justified by rational precedents, rather than the foundations from which justification stems.

Languauge is just a means not a foundation, and language has it's own foundation.

You say: Without language we couldnt "do philosophy"

I Say: Without existing we couldnt "do language"

Unless you live in a bubble vaccum where "doing philosophy" for the sake of doing philosophy is the norm.

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Perhaps I've misunderstood you. Perhaps you believe that these three axioms are rational precendents as well as causal precedents?

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the rational explanation is why we should believe X.

"the rational explanation" is inapplicable because you can't actually believe anything differently, you can say it and invent reasons that you ought to or ought not, but you can't act on any resulting non-belief in them.

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'Language implies' is to say that language is the premise upon which the truth of your axioms rests. I've brought up two points:

And bastardized the meaning of the word "implies" to make your point by making it sound as if it carried a before/after causal meaning with ideas it attaches.

Implications do not mean flowing in a single causal direction. Creators imply creations, creations imply creators. It doesn't establish a before/after relationship, it only establishes a relationship.

To say "Language implies consciousness" does make the statement "language is the foundation of consciousness" even intelligible.

"language is the foundation of existence" still doesn't make sense.

"Language is the foundation of identity" More absurdity.

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Epistemology is more than just having knowledge, it requires second order knowledge. First order knowledge is basic enough to precede language. Second order language isn't. Epistemology cannot be prior to language.

Epistemology is a study, it's a subject, about perceptual (first order) and conceptual (second order) knowledge. It includes everything, how we gain it, what we do with it, how it's stored how we categorize it, everything... Limiting it to fit your tiny definition doesn't work, and evidence that you have to resort to manipulation definitions like "implies" and "epistemology" should be making your inconsistent arguements clear at this point. Epistemology shows us that knowledge is possible before language. Epistemology doesn't have to "be before" language in order to demonstrate that language is not axiomatic, because it demonstrates that human beings have meaningful existence without language, it proves that language comes later in life after some understanding, before most. The illustration wasn't to point out Epistemology is an axiom, it was to point out that Language is NOT an axiomatic concept.

And I'm still not convinced you understand what an axiom is.

It's pretty obvious because you still think that "self-evident absolutes" have to "explain" anything.

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Firstly, there was no reduction as something 'reduced' needs to be completely explained by. Consciousness alone doesn't explain language. It is one necessary condition among many.

Consciousness as an axiom doesn't attempt to explain language. Consciousness only allows for it's developement. No definition of an Axiom ANYWHERE says it has to explain anything. "Providing a basis" upon which subsequent concepts rest does not mean the same thing as "Providing an Explanation" of...

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Your 'exposition' of language was of its causal dependence.

The only reason you're emphasizing some invented difference is becaues you realize you're losing ground.. just give it up.

It's not possible to accept "language" without it depending upon causally and rationally a "consciousness."

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Validation is a question of rational dependence.

Proof, not validation, is a question of evidence.. If you're having trouble understading the relationship I outlined revisit previous posts. Why we ought to believe X is not a request for something to be valid, it's a request for proof. Necessarily Valid axioms like my 3 are beyond "ought" and "why" because they are self-evident truths.

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When you justify a belief do you justify it with what caused you to believe or do you show that it is validated by rational method?

Wouldn't the "rational method" be "what caused" me to believe? both aspects of your causal vs rational FALSE dichotomy are important in philosophy.

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That's fine. I accept first order knowledge precedes language. It's just that first order knowledge is not sufficient for concepts such as validation, etc...

Conceptual awareness is not the only kind of knowledge, validation (necessary and unavoidable acceptance) is the implicit concept (accepted without understanding or definition) that you hold when operating on the perceptual level. So grasping the concept of validation is superfluous at the perceptual level. How would a philosophy based on the "axiomatic concept of language" explain pre-language or perceptual experience since it reduces to nothing?

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These are still founded on reason.
Even when they are centered around faith, they try to use reason to justify this. They are still using reason, even if it is bad reason.

Barking mad! Religions are based on the supernatural, mysticism, or the belief in a deity. NON of which are reasonable claims to make. You pay them a credit they don't deserve and haven't earned when you say "they are still using reason."

Reason is the "faculty that perceives, identifies, and integrates the material provided by man’s senses." The antithesis of reason is faith, "the acceptance of something as true without sensory evidence or logical demonstration." They are polar opposites and no god has ever been percieved, identified and is always explained as imaterial.

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Once you understand the concepts of consciousness and existence, the fact that you exist consciously is undeniable. However, philosophy does not rest on this understanding.

If we were talking about them being essential in all philosophies you would have a point BUT WE'RE NOT. We ARE talking about Axiomatic concepts upon WHICH philosophies can be based. BY DEFINITION AND BY WHAT IT LACKS LANGUAGE IS NOT AN AXIOMATIC CONCEPT.

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It is conceptually possible for someone to philosophise without these concepts.

How?

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We understand existence by the contrast of non-existence.

Show me some non-existence please.

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We hear a story and are given the distinction between real and pretend.

Fiction Stories and Imaginations exist, these are not "non-existence."

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But imagine that someone never came across this distinction, that they never came across a story so the distinction between existence and non-existence was one they never had to learn.

It took Consciousness to understand Existence, not Non-Existence. It was "I THINK therefor I am!" not "I recognize non-existence, therefor I am!"

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They could still philosophise on subjects that didn't involve existence/non-existence, like morality.

How?

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We can use logic to establish causal dependencies, but the interest in logic is rational dependence, because rational dependence is at the root of knowledge.

Define these concepts.

"causal dependencies" is redundant

Logic isn't an interest, it's something we all use to a degree because it's an extension of the law of identity to our consciousness.

"Rational Dependence" needs demonstration. How does a Theist depend on his rational faculty to continue believing in god, since he's so dependant on said Rational and it's at the root of this "knowledge" of god.

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Philosophy, the study of knowledge, is more interested in how we justify our knowledge.

Philosophy is more broad than "the study of knowledge." Epistemology, a branch of philosophy, is "the study of knowledge" and it's not actively interested in any particular area of it, because it's an area of study not a person with interests. Epistemologists are often neurobiologists like Sam Harris and Dan Dennet because the causal justification of what to base conclusions on is just as important as rational justifications. You are narrowing the scope of these studies to suit YOUR definition of what an axiom is.

...And you still don't even understand what one is!

I'm probably not going to post in this thead again with the same effort I have up to this point.


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So I apparently

So I apparently misunderstood your post and I can see right now that you didn't understand a word of mine. Seems like our posts are tangled up in pre-suppositions. We should try and clarify a couple of concepts.

Foundations of Philosophy
The discussion at hand is about the foundations of philosophy.
We seem to agree that the foundations is what our further knowledge should be based, and see Descartes' Meditations as a good example of an attempt to establish such foundations.
So when I say 'infer' I mean justify further knowledge from the foundations. So justify my linguistic capability from the three axioms and I will be refuted on the "axioms can't infer language" point.
Incidently, your justifications of your axioms implicitly assumed linguistic capability.

What's curious is that you seem to think that these foundations need to be facts about the world. Although I think that "Language is as I understand it" is an axiom (Self evident truth, right? How could this sentence not be self evident?) I don't think that axioms form the foundations of philosophy. Philosophy isn't a body of facts.

The very foundations of philosophy would be the skills required for basic philosophy. From there, we could posit the necessary conditions for these skills as axioms, but these axioms would be first results rather than foundations.
"I have linguistic capability" is a more foundational axiom than consciousness because we can infer our consciousness and existence from it, but we can't infer our linguistic capability from our existence and consciousness.

This is why I made the distinction between rational dependence and causal dependence. A good way to illustrate the difference between them is as follows:
"The puddles here were caused by the rain, so 'it rained' is justified by my seeing the puddles"
"My linguistic capabilities require consciousness, so 'I am conscious' is justified by the fact I have linguistic capabilities."
Although the fact that we are conscious causally precedes our linguistic capability, our linguistic capability rationally precedes our understanding of consciousness. That's why linguistic capability precedes any other axiom.

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And bastardized the meaning of the word "implies" to make your point by making it sound as if it carried a before/after causal meaning with ideas it attaches.

Implications do not mean flowing in a single causal direction. Creators imply creations, creations imply creators. It doesn't establish a before/after relationship, it only establishes a relationship.

To say "Language implies consciousness" does make the statement "language is the foundation of consciousness" even intelligible.

"language is the foundation of existence" still doesn't make sense.

"Language is the foundation of identity" More absurdity.


Once again, if we are looking for causal foundations then consciousness precedes language. That something exists and that something has identity precedes language (but not the concepts of consciousness and existence and not the truth of the axiom of identity)
But we aren't.

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How would a philosophy based on the "axiomatic concept of language" explain pre-language or perceptual experience since it reduces to nothing?

If we understand what pre-language experience is then we can work out what conditions it implies. Ofcourse, we cannot do such an investigation until we have linguistic capability.

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If we were talking about them being essential in all philosophies you would have a point BUT WE'RE NOT. We ARE talking about Axiomatic concepts upon WHICH philosophies can be based. BY DEFINITION AND BY WHAT IT LACKS LANGUAGE IS NOT AN AXIOMATIC CONCEPT.

I thought that the whole point of objectivism was to be um, objective. Anyway, I've already denied that philosophy is based on axioms. Philosophy is rooted in skills and practices that are summed up by language. Everything necessary for our grasp of language as it is is what it necessary for philosophy.
So 'I am linguistically capable' is the axiom that all the others (like my existence and consciousness) follow from. That existence and consciousness are necessary conditions for linguistic capability follows naturally from our understanding of 'consciousness' and 'existence' which is against justified by our linguistic capability.

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Show me some non-existence please.

Santa clause. Darth Vader. Bilbo Baggins.
"But these exist as stories."
Now you're abstracting the word from it's normal use.
The point of the word existence is to distinguish from non-existence, otherwise it is meaningless. The only reason to to say something exists as a story is to distinguish from something that doesn't.

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It took Consciousness to understand Existence, not Non-Existence. It was "I THINK therefor I am!" not "I recognize non-existence, therefor I am!"

"I recognise non-existence, therefore when I use the word existence it actually means something!"

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Define these concepts.

"causal dependencies" is redundant


Sure. Conscious is a necessary condition for language so language causally depends upon consciousness. Slipping over might be caused by a banana skin but might not, so slipping over isn't causally dependent on banana skins.

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"Rational Dependence" needs demonstration. How does a Theist depend on his rational faculty to continue believing in god, since he's so dependant on said Rational and it's at the root of this "knowledge" of god.

That's why we can objectively say that the theist is wrong.
A good example of rational dependence is how a conclusion depends upon its premises.

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Barking mad! Religions are based on the supernatural, mysticism, or the belief in a deity. NON of which are reasonable claims to make. You pay them a credit they don't deserve and haven't earned when you say "they are still using reason."

They are still using reason to a degree. They don't believe that all knowledge should be mystical and supernatural. Do the communicate their ideas through telepathy or do they communicate linguistically like the rest of us?
They give reasons why people should have faith. Not good ones but crap reasoning is still reasoning.

Whether you bother to reply is up to you, but if you give up now then you miss out on learning something new. Your call.


cheezues
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Quote: Foundations of

Quote:
Foundations of Philosophy
The discussion at hand is about the foundations of philosophy.

 I stopped readying when I got this far in.

This thread began about the fallacy of the stolen concept, and I was demonstrating it with reference to Nathanial Branden, to be absolutely true.  Then I went on further to explain axiomatic concepts.

You've only retreated your arguement from "language is axiomatic period!" to "language is axiomatic when philosophizing" because you have no points to present, and you can't present them without commiting the fallacy of the stolen concept. 


Strafio
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You can't deny language

You can't deny language without stealing the concept either.
Axiom is a philosophic concept so it only applies when philosophising anyway!
You're right, I misunderstood what you meant about axioms at first, but if that's all your topic was here to address then it was all over a strawman because no one once denied the self evidence of Rand's axioms. All people were denying were their importance and their exclusivity as axioms.

You started off by defending them as the foundation of philosophy and the basis of what's to follow. Now you seem to have dropped that subject as unimportant.


cheezues
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Strafio wrote:

Strafio wrote:
You can't deny language without stealing the concept either.

No one is denying language, I'm simply showing you that it's not fundamental or irreducable when considered from a more foundational aspect of philosophy. Specifically it's basis.

How do you form a cohesive theory of Metaphysics using the philisophical foundation of "language?" It's insufficient.  The usage and dependance upon language isnt expansive enough to cover it.

Same goes for epistemology, ethics, and politics.  How would language explain human epistemology?  That we use language doesn't explain how our conceptual fabric is derived, what process a person goes through in forming a concept.. that we use language isn't sufficient to show us how we ought to act if we want to achieve certain things in ethics, and it won't tell us how or why any political system is better than any other.  We will use language to express it, but the principles upon which things like "individual rights" "freedom" are not idealogically reducable to "language." 

We rely on language, but it's not a self-evident basis from which all human existence flows. Consciousness is, that is what language directly reduces down to, because even before we learn language, we possess consciousness, and we use it in various ways... We're not even getting into WHY these things are the basis of philosophy because you're so hung up on THAT they aren't.

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Axiom is a philosophic concept so it only applies when philosophising anyway!

Even in normal everyday existence, you can't escape any of the primary three.

You're kinda making this out to be like philosophy is just abstract ideas that aren't supposed to map back onto reality or be applicable in everyday life.

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You're right, I misunderstood what you meant about axioms at first, but if that's all your topic was here to address then it was all over a strawman because no one once denied the self evidence of Rand's axioms.

But your trying to show that "language" is axiomatic, and I've demonstrated that by explaining what Axioms are, and how language is reducable.

"A self-evident or universally recognized truth; a maxim:"

An axiom is any starting assumption from which other statements are logically derived. It can be a sentence, a proposition, a statement or a rule that forms the basis of a formal system. What formal philisophical system can flow from "language." It's just a tool, not a principle. Unlike theorems, axioms cannot be derived by principles of deduction nor demonstrable by formal proofs—simply because they are starting assumptions—there is nothing else they logically follow from (otherwise they would be called theorems).

And in revealing language to be an "extension of", rather than the "starting assumption" I've shown you over and over again why it's not axiomatic in terms of forming any comprehensive system of philosophy on it. It's completely demolished by asking a simple question... What does Language require?

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You started off by defending them as the foundation of philosophy and the basis of what's to follow.

I have, and still am.

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Now you seem to have dropped that subject as unimportant.

Because we've been on this super-tangeant about this crazy notion of language as axiomatic.


Strafio
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cheezues wrote:

cheezues wrote:
How do you form a cohesive theory of Metaphysics using the philisophical foundation of "language?" It's insufficient. The usage and dependance upon language isnt expansive enough to cover it.

Really? We've already established that from the statement "I have linguistic capability" that the axioms of existence and consciousness, provided that we understand them, are implied through causal dependence. The axiom of identity is basically understanding the word 'is'.

When we consider what is implied by our language use, it contains everything we need to start philosophizing. In having concepts about the world with the structure that they have, metaphysics is the analysis of such concepts. Having concepts of knowledge and validation is the start of epistemology. Have concepts of good and bad actions is the root of practical reason and ethics. And having a concept is implied by understanding the word connected with it.

Even if I am wrong about us develloping our concepts through linguistic use, it is still true that if we are linguistically capable then we have mastered the concepts of the words we understand. So given my language use, all these things have been entailed.

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That we use language doesn't explain how our conceptual fabric is derived, what process a person goes through in forming a concept..

While I think that linguistic capability is a necessary part of the causal process that leads to the concepts required for philosophy, it's all besides the point as this would be another example of causal dependence. When we look for a foundation of philosophy, causal dependence is not what we are looking for.

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that we use language isn't sufficient to show us how we ought to act if we want to achieve certain things in ethics, and it won't tell us how or why any political system is better than any other. We will use language to express it, but the principles upon which things like "individual rights" "freedom" are not idealogically reducable to "language."

You're right that more complex questions can't be directly answered by a linguistic analysis, especially ones that involve empirical claims. However, the methods we use to go about tackling such questions are all rooted in the foundations of philosophy that are summed up by our linguistic capabilities.

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We rely on language, but it's not a self-evident basis from which all human existence flows. Consciousness is, that is what language directly reduces down to, because even before we learn language, we possess consciousness, and we use it in various ways... We're not even getting into WHY these things are the basis of philosophy because you're so hung up on THAT they aren't.

I've been listening to your arguments and I know why you find consciousness more fundamental than language. It's because language causally depends on consciousness. But consciousness rationally depends on language and the root of Philosophy is the root of rational dependence rather than causal - otherwise I could just point to the biological condition physically necessary for consciousness and declare that consciousness reduces to them.

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But your trying to show that "language" is axiomatic, and I've demonstrated that by explaining what Axioms are, and how language is reducable.

Causally reducible, yes. Rationally reducible, no.
Infact, it would seem that I deny that Rand's three are axioms then, because although their denial would invoke the stolen concept fallacy, they are still reducible to deeper foundations.
To assess each of these axioms as 'true' you have to understand them, you have to understand the notions of 'true' and 'false' and all these conditions require linguistic capability.

"How do I know that I'm really conscious?"
"If you're saying that then you clearly
don't understand what consciousness is!"  
To know what consciousness is, that it is a necessary condition of language, to know what a necessary condition is and how to judge whether something really is a necessary condition, it requires an understanding of these concepts.

"You say that language is necessary for us to understand the axioms in the same way that consciousness is necessary for language. So why does language rationally imply consciousness?"

My reason is as follows: Language implies everything that is necessary for understanding the axioms. Consciousness doesn't. My cat is conscious but wouldn't comprehend the axioms. So language it the concept the sums up the foundations by implying all the conditions that are causally necessary for it. If we had a conjunction of all the conditions necessary for language then we could replace "I am linguistically capable" with this conjunction. But that would just be playing with synonyms!


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I've shown you over and over again why it's not axiomatic in terms of forming any comprehensive system of philosophy on it. It's completely demolished by asking a simple question... What does Language require?

Incase you haven't noticed, my argument depends on you being right on what language requires. If you want to refute me then you need to show me that the root of philosophy is causal dependence rather than rational dependence.

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You started off by defending them as the foundation of philosophy and the basis of what's to follow.

I have, and still am.


So I was right that the foundation of philosophy was at the center of our debate. As you can imagine, I was rather baffled when this happened: Tongue out
cheezues wrote:
Quote:
Foundations of Philosophy

The discussion at hand is about the foundations of philosophy.

I stopped readying when I got this far in.


If you did stop reading it there then you might want to go back and look at it again as I answered many of your points there. In particular, I gave a clearer explanation to my distinction between rational dependence and causal dependence. That's especially worth looking over as that distinction is the key to my argument.
If you understand and agree with the distinction then everything else I've said will suddenly make perfect sense. If you prove to me that the distinction is incoherent then I will have to scrap everything and start from scratch. However, before you can even begin to prove that it is incoherent you'll need to atleast understand what I mean by it.


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Questions: RRS and Objectivism

Aha, excuse me as the new guy but in reading this (original) post I'm starting to understand that it's not my imagination that the posters with philosophy background on the RRS board are heavily inclined toward Objectivism.  Is that a fair characterization?

My background is in rhetoric and semiotics rather than philosophy, so Branden's characterization of the structure of knowledge reads to me like Derrida's "violent hierarchies."   I'm not sure, but I think this is where Strafio's objections to Branden's article,  with the examination of the fundamental nature of language and binary oppositions, are also coming from.  Correct me if I'm wrong.

So how do you guys respond to the schools of thought that criticize/reject Objectivism? (Not sure what they're called in philosophy--Relativism?  We call it "post-modernism" usually.)

I see the value of Objectivism as a consistent philosophical basis for rejecting a bunch of theist arguments, particularly the "Omni-god" and "first cause" arguments.  There can be no disputing that, given the, um, axiomatic nature of the three axioms, the only possible path of reason leads inevitably to these conclusions by consistent and demonstrable logic.

But as a rhetorician I have to question whether the Objectivist argument against the existence of god is accomplishing its desired purpose on the intended audience.

It appears to me, as a newcomer/outsider, that your typical theist posting here does not even understand the logical positivist argument against a supernatural god.  Whether they understand it or not, they appear pretty universally to reject it. They reject it in illogical, contradictory and verifiably fallacious ways, but they don't seem understand enough about the logic to see that.

Am I imagining this?

"After Jesus was born, the Old Testament basically became a way for Bible publishers to keep their word count up." -Stephen Colbert


Strafio
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Textom wrote: Aha, excuse

Textom wrote:
Aha, excuse me as the new guy but in reading this (original) post I'm starting to understand that it's not my imagination that the posters with philosophy background on the RRS board are heavily inclined toward Objectivism. Is that a fair characterization?

I hadn't really noticed...
While most of us are familiar with the stolen concept fallacy, I always assumed that this fallacy had made it successfully outside Randian circles. Objectivism is the name given to Rand's philosophy and it's not the only philosophy of objectivity. So I'd agree that the RRS Philosophers are aligned to objectivity, but probably not objectivism.


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My background is in rhetoric and semiotics rather than philosophy, so Branden's characterization of the structure of knowledge reads to me like Derrida's "violent hierarchies." I'm not sure, but I think this is where Strafio's objections to Branden's article, with the examination of the fundamental nature of language and binary oppositions, are also coming from. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Incidently, I actually agree with Branden's argument.
I just think it is founded on a linguistic base rather than a Philosophy built on Rand's axioms. I don't think his formation of the stolen concept fallacy relied on Objectivism. My linguistic arguments are mostly inspired from Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations rather than rhetoric, but it might be that there's a strong connection - I'm not familiar with rhetoric as a discipline but probably have a lot to do with it implicitly.

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So how do you guys respond to the schools of thought that criticize/reject Objectivism? (Not sure what they're called in philosophy--Relativism? We call it "post-modernism" usually.)

With language as my base, I try to give conclusions that stem from the very language that my opponent speaks. Even a relativist communicates in English and will be bound by the rules and assumptions that involves. This is the source of my claim to objectivity.

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I see the value of Objectivism as a consistent philosophical basis for rejecting a bunch of theist arguments, particularly the "Omni-god" and "first cause" arguments. There can be no disputing that, given the, um, axiomatic nature of the three axioms, the only possible path of reason leads inevitably to these conclusions by consistent and demonstrable logic.

I like the arguments, but I don't see why they should depend on Randian objectivism. What's more, these arguments for God have seen just as much criticism outside Rand's system. Smith's book mentions Rand but I don't remembering his argument relying on her Axioms at all. The most attention he paid to her philosophy was regarding normative ethics, and even then he seemed to only use her as a an example. I should probably read the book again. Smiling

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It appears to me, as a newcomer/outsider, that your typical theist posting here does not even understand the logical positivist argument against a supernatural god. Whether they understand it or not, they appear pretty universally to reject it. They reject it in illogical, contradictory and verifiably fallacious ways, but they don't seem understand enough about the logic to see that.

Am I imagining this?


Nope. Half the effort here is teaching them basics in logic and mastering how to present our arguments in the easiest to understand layman terms as possible. The first thing I try to do is use unicorns as an examples of something we have no evidence for but we atleast know what the word means. I then try and show problems with the traditional conception of God and then if their definition of God is different I challenge them to define it to me.
I basically try to give them the basic idea of non-cognitivism/agnosticism, so they atleast understand that a proof against God's existence is posssible.

Todangst has a similar approach but uses the word 'ontology'.
Usually I'd avoid words like that like plague but it seems that everyone he's challenged has gone onto look up the word and has attempted to answer properly. I guess if you only introduce one or two new words/concepts then it gives a nice balance between giving them something new to learn without going completely over their head.


cheezues
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Textom wrote: Aha, excuse

Textom wrote:

Aha, excuse me as the new guy but in reading this (original) post I'm starting to understand that it's not my imagination that the posters with philosophy background on the RRS board are heavily inclined toward Objectivism. Is that a fair characterization?

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For a lot of people, here and everywhere else, consistency within interconnected fields of philosophy is something they are unable to achieve becuase they do not explicitly try to integrate them.  Some people will have some "objectivist" tendencies in ethics or politics but be complete antithetical to the objectivist epistemology or metaphysics.  So it's really just scattered I think.  Objectivism shares a lot of viewpoints with a lot of already circulating secular ideas, so finding people that agree with Objectivism in part isn't difficult at all.  To call yourself an Objectivist or to even hint at an inclination I think wouldn't apply to but very few on this forum.  Even in the thread about "Ayn Rand's Objectivism" it's only me talking about it in a positive light.

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My background is in rhetoric and semiotics rather than philosophy, so Branden's characterization of the structure of knowledge reads to me like Derrida's "violent hierarchies." I'm not sure, but I think this is where Strafio's objections to Branden's article, with the examination of the fundamental nature of language and binary oppositions, are also coming from. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Maybe, I'm unfamiliar with them. 

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So how do you guys respond to the schools of thought that criticize/reject Objectivism? (Not sure what they're called in philosophy--Relativism? We call it "post-modernism" usually.)

I haven't gotten into many of the other aspects of Objectivism, although I would love to expand on its ethics on this forum.  So far this thread has been focused on Axiomatic concepts, and the "Ayn Rands Objectivism" thread has been mostly about politics. 

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I see the value of Objectivism as a consistent philosophical basis for rejecting a bunch of theist arguments, particularly the "Omni-god" and "first cause" arguments. There can be no disputing that, given the, um, axiomatic nature of the three axioms, the only possible path of reason leads inevitably to these conclusions by consistent and demonstrable logic.

I'm glad we agree. 

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But as a rhetorician I have to question whether the Objectivist argument against the existence of god is accomplishing its desired purpose on the intended audience.

Objectivism itself is growing really well throughout America at this point, but it's still relatively small.  A lot more people understand and accept it only in part, than people totally reject it.  The answer is that Objectivism isn't trying to disprove god, Objectivism begins with a metaphysics that defines the possibility of a supernatural being out of the realm of possibilities.  So, you're looking for a selling point that Objectivists pitch to theists, and there isn't one.

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It appears to me, as a newcomer/outsider, that your typical theist posting here does not even understand the logical positivist argument against a supernatural god.

Getting around to this is something that Sam Harris and Dawkins really hits home for me, but I think more discussions on ethics should be taking place on this forum than currently are.  I would certainly be more interested in them than dwelling on something strafio hasn't and can't refute, but is unwilling to accept.

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Whether they understand it or not, they appear pretty universally to reject it. They reject it in illogical, contradictory and verifiably fallacious ways, but they don't seem understand enough about the logic to see that.

Am I imagining this?

No you're exactly right, welcome to the boards. 


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Quote: Really? We've

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Really? We've already established that from the statement "I have linguistic capability" that the axioms of existence and consciousness, provided that we understand them, are implied through causal dependence.

It doesn't matter if you understand them or not, they are necessarily true.  Thats the point you're not getting, or choosing not to get.  the ability to speak aobut Philosophy has nothing to do with it.  They exist, without our comprehension.  Even if no human beings existed, that includes no language, these things would still exist as axiomatic absolutes. 

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The axiom of identity is basically understanding the word 'is'.

The axiom of identity is basic, but it applies to everything, even language.  If language is to mean anything the system must be something specific and not be anything else, if it wax's and wanes constantly intelligibility suffers, if not it is destroyed.  Objserve the slang communication taking place in the black community where words are stripped of their meaning and given connotative meaning.  Infidelguy goes into a lot of detail about it here.

Language itself, and indeed everything, is directly dependant upon identity for coherance, existence for it to even BE anything, and consciousness for anyone to actually invent or comprehend it. 

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Having concepts of knowledge and validation is the start of epistemology.

Epistemology begins with an attempt to understand the nature of the human brain and it's very directly tied in at this point in history with neuroscience.  when changes occur at this fundamental level, it has the potential to invalidate or verify all other proceeding ideas within the field.

 

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While I think that linguistic capability is a necessary part of the causal process that leads to the concepts required for philosophy, it's all besides the point as this would be another example of causal dependence. When we look for a foundation of philosophy, causal dependence is not what we are looking for.

All you've said is that philosophy has nothing to do with living.  Living is "beside the point" lets philosophize!   Get real please.

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You're right that more complex questions can't be directly answered by a linguistic analysis, especially ones that involve empirical claims.

Empirical claims being an entire branch of philosophy.  Proving that you're "axiom" isn't primary and it IS reducable and must be reduced if we are to base any knowledge off of it.

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But consciousness rationally depends on language

No it doesn't and you can't present me with arguement other than "we use it" to support it, and "we use it" isnt supporting your argument because you're ignoring the definition and function of what axiomatic concepts are for.  Consciousness will exist whether or not we rationally grasp it, no matter what language we use or even if we use no language at all.  Same applies for existence and identity. 

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and the root of Philosophy is the root of rational dependence rather than causal

Funny since Empiricism is actually a kind of philosophy.  Put em together, and causality matters.  Determinism is another philosophical perspective that is made up of "absolute causation" and ignores volition.

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otherwise I could just point to the biological condition physically necessary for consciousness and declare that consciousness reduces to them.

The axiomatic concepts are interdependant.  Consciousness requires existence and identity.  A consciousness conscious of nothing is a contradiction, as well as a consciousness without existence.  A consciousness without identity would be more and less than itself at the same time in every respect at the same time, and cannot exist.  Consciousness is interdependant on the other two axioms, not reducable to them.

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To assess each of these axioms as 'true' you have to understand them, you have to understand the notions of 'true' and 'false' and all these conditions require linguistic capability.

Even If you don't assess them they will still be true.  Even if you're unable to assess them, via language, they will STILL be true.  Comprehension is irrelevant.  This is where you completely bail out and lose your mind.  Human consciousness doesn't have to exist for these to be true, if these were true then comprehension would dictate reality, instead of the other way around, expression is only conveying what is but you've really began dictating with consciousness, instead of percieving.

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If you want to refute me then you need to show me that the root of philosophy is causal dependence rather than rational dependence.

Not really, because the basis of philosophy must be capable of extending into and explaining both the causal and rational.  Objectivism makes no distinction between the two.

Sam Harris has this to say when takling about this type of pragmatism:

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The Fact that language  is the medium in which our knowledge is represented and communicated says nothing at all about the possibilities of unmediated knowledge per se.  pg. 181

 That is to say, nothing about undiscovered knowledge that we are unfamiliar with and don't speak about.  Language and it's use doesn't dictate the depths of our understanding, because even intuition, as Harris also points out, digs us further than we can currently express or form into words because our understanding hasn't yet grasped what we're on the verge of.

Also, you keep talking about the base of philosophy, and you seem to disconnect that basis from being something outside of human beings.  I think that if the basis of philosophy is something exclusive to humanity then it's hardly objective nor comprehensive.

 So I guess the most important point that I can make is that your comprehension of an axiomatic concept isn't what makes it true and necessary in philosophy, your ability to articulate about it doesn't make it true or necessary or possible.

You are simply unwilling to conceed your conception about axioms is inaccurate, even though you conceed your tautology is insufficient to accomplish what an axiom must.  You can't justify this dichotomization between the rational and the causal without disconnecting philosophy from it's purpose, and you don't try, you just say that it is and that it must be and then attempt to gain ground using this obscure definition and approach.  So as far as this pounding my thread goes, pounding my head against a brick wall is over.


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cheezues wrote:

cheezues wrote:
Strawman wrote:
You're right that more complex questions can't be directly answered by a linguistic analysis, especially ones that involve empirical claims.

Empirical claims being an entire branch of philosophy. Proving that you're "axiom" isn't primary and it IS reducable and must be reduced if we are to base any knowledge off of it.


Duuuuuude... I cannot believe what you did here...
Would you like to see the whole quote including the bit you cut out?
Strafio wrote:
You're right that more complex questions can't be directly answered by a linguistic analysis, especially ones that involve empirical claims. However, the methods we use to go about tackling such questions are all rooted in the foundations of philosophy that are summed up by our linguistic capabilities.

What I conceded was that empirical claims don't follow a priori from my foundations. It's not a big concession because empirical claims aren't supposed to follow a priori from philosophical foundations. What do follow a priori from philosophical foundations are the methods on how to go about dealing with and organizing empirical experience. Now, unless you think that our empirical truths should follow a priori from our foundations then I don't think we have a problem here.

cheezues wrote:
All you've said is that philosophy has nothing to do with living. Living is "beside the point" lets philosophize! Get real please.

Also, you keep talking about the base of philosophy, and you seem to disconnect that basis from being something outside of human beings. I think that if the basis of philosophy is something exclusive to humanity then it's hardly objective nor comprehensive.


You've completely misunderstood me but seeing as my attempts to lay out my philosophy were brief, it's perhaps not your fault. I'm sure you're familiar with Descartes Meditations where he came out with the 'Cogito Ergo Sum' statement, where he was looking for a foundation to his philosophy, the ultimate standard by which his other beliefs could be measured. The foundations that he could infer his other beliefs from. This is what we're both doing here.

I don't know how you manage to get a Philosophy out of your axioms as you've already admitted that you can't infer language from them, but I'll let you lay out your system in full later. Here I'll explain how I start with "Language is as I understand it" and build the rest of philosophy from it.

"Language is as I understand it" - necessarily true else this sentence wouldn't be possible. So what can be infered from it? We can infer all the conditions necessary for language. That includes that I'm a conscious being with these linguistic capabilities and that I exist. What's more, it implies a grasp of all the concepts I have a linguistic grasp of because without these things, the necessarily true statement above wouldn't be true.

It is analysing these concepts that grounds the other areas of philosophy.

Logic and Mathematical Methods
To understand a word is to know the rules of its use.
When you know how to correctly apply the word 'not' & 'and', the law of non-contradiction follows. The law of identity is basically the rules of using the word 'is'.
Mathematics is more of the same.
Once you know the rules of counting and addition, 2+2=4 is a clear result of those rules. So from the fact that Language is as I understand it my grasp of the basic rules of my language give me Logic and Mathematical Methods

Metaphysics and Epistemology
My ability to describe the world around me implies that I have grasped its basic structure. I know what causes, properties, laws of nature are and can investigate my understanding of these concepts and that is my study of metaphysics. Note that such investigations will alter my understanding of the words, but this will be a matter of fine-tuning, rather than radical change.
With our grasp of the nature of existence, we can apply methods to dealing with and organizing our experience. It determines what the contingent possibilities are, allowing us to use thought experiments and mathematical methods to organise and evaluate experience we get.

Ethics and Practical Reason
I also have concepts involving my actions, whether they're good, bad, clever, right, dumb, wrong...
Once again the fact that I understand these words imply that I've grasped the concepts involved. The philosophy starts with an investigation into these concepts... etc...

Perhaps the fundamental point that disagrees with you is that philosophy is rooted in facts about technique rather than facts about the world. We need to understand our correct techniques on how to evaluate facts before we can determine what they are. This is why language will be more fundamental than the truth facts like "I am conscious", because the way we evaluate such facts depends upon our methods.

cheezues wrote:
Not really, because the basis of philosophy must be capable of extending into and explaining both the causal and rational. Objectivism makes no distinction between the two.

Um... I never said my basis wasn't capable of extending into causal explanation, just that the root was rational and this root justified the causal. Making no distinction is a failure of clarity and leads to equivocations in words like 'because' and 'is necessary for'.

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You can't justify this dichotomization between the rational and the causal without disconnecting philosophy from it's purpose, and you don't try, you just say that it is and that it must be and then attempt to gain ground using this obscure definition and approach.

I've given you my philosophical foundations now.
You will notice that knowledge of causes is justified by linguistic beginnings. I will once again try and explain to you the difference between causal and rational dependence. This time, using examples. (that way it'll seem less abstract and more down to earth)

Example 1
"I know it rained last because I can see the puddles."
Did the rain cause the puddles? Yes.
Does the speakers knowledge of the rain justify his knowledge of the puddles? No.
His belief that it rained is rationally justified by the puddles, because the puddles implied that they were caused by rain.

Example 2
"I know a dog passed by here because it left a mess."
Did the dog cause the mess? Yes.
Does the speaker's knowledge of the dog justify his knowledge of the mess? Nope. Other way around.
It's his true belief of the mess that allowed to him to infer knowledge of the dog that must've caused it. The dog comes first in the causal chain of events but the mess comes first in the chain of rational justification.

Example 3
"I know I am conscious because I am using language."
Is consciousness necessary for language? Yes.
Does the speakers knowledge of his consciousness justify his belief that he is linguistically capable? No. Once again it is the other way around.
His belief that he is conscious is rationally justified by the his linguistic capability, because such an ability implies that he must be conscious.

(not that you have to infer consciousness through linguistic capability, but it's that language implies consciousness that makes a denial of consciousness a case of stealing the concept.)

However, you didn't seem to accept this...
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It doesn't matter if you understand them or not, they are necessarily true. Thats the point you're not getting, or choosing not to get. the ability to speak aobut Philosophy has nothing to do with it. They exist, without our comprehension. Even if no human beings existed, that includes no language, these things would still exist as axiomatic absolutes.

If this is the case then you need to give a full ontological account of your axioms. Propositions exist within the linguistic structure of human thought. What's more, you can't even give them an empirical ontology as they are supposed to be a priori true rather than based on experience. Sounds like you're proposing a supernaturalistic account of the foundations of Philosophy...
And I thought you said that objectivism would be the end to all such mystical nonsense...

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The axiom of identity is basic, but it applies to everything, even language. If language is to mean anything the system must be something specific and not be anything else, if it wax's and wanes constantly intelligibility suffers, if not it is destroyed.

Well, our starting assumption is that language is as we understand it.
My philosophy is objective to all those who I can communicate with. (that includes you boyo! And anyone who tried to persuade me of some kind of relativism/post-modernism)

Clearly, other people's philosophy would be impossible to understand if I didn't understand their language...

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Epistemology begins with an attempt to understand the nature of the human brain and it's very directly tied in at this point in history with neuroscience. when changes occur at this fundamental level, it has the potential to invalidate or verify all other proceeding ideas within the field.

Oh come on! Surprised Have you studied contemporary philosophy at all?
Have you studied any epistemology at all?
Epistemology begins with our understanding of what knowledge is and our methods of justification, because those are the basics that knowledge about the nature of the human brain depend upon!
I don't know where you got this stuff about neuroscience from!

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You are simply unwilling to conceed your conception about axioms is inaccurate

Ofcourse... If you can't understand me then it must be that I'm just being subborn...

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even though you conceed your tautology is insufficient to accomplish what an axiom must.

Is this referring to my system's failure to determine the truth of empirical statements a priori?

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So as far as this pounding my thread goes, pounding my head against a brick wall is over.

Oh you'll be back, the masochist you are! Tongue out
Just be sure to read this one more carefully.
Even though I'm sure it was an accident, strawmanning me like that atleast showed you hadn't read it properly the first time around. That's not good form.


Strafio
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I've decided that this part

I've decided that this part of your reply needs a more thorough treatment:

cheezues wrote:
It doesn't matter if you understand them or not, they are necessarily true. Thats the point you're not getting, or choosing not to get. the ability to speak aobut Philosophy has nothing to do with it. They exist, without our comprehension. Even if no human beings existed, that includes no language, these things would still exist as axiomatic absolutes.

In a giant turn of irony, you have gone and committed the Stolen Concept Fallacy.

You say that the 'axioms' are necessarily true with or without our understanding them. Remember Brandon's example of "All property is theft"? He pointed out that the concept of theft requires the concept of property in order to make sense. In the same way, the concept of truth requires the concept of evaluation to mean anything, and evaluation of a proposition requires understanding the proposition in question. So as these 'axioms' are conceptually dependent on understanding, if they are to exist then somewhere out there atleast ONE 'thinker' has to understand them, and this thinker will understand and evaluate them as true by the rules of their language.