William W. Kaufmann

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About William W. Kaufmann

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  1. Language Use in Western Philosophy

    First, my thanks to forum member, EWV, for the suggestion of Mr. Peikoff's two lecture series' on the history of western philosophy. My modest awareness of the philosophers covered is much enhanced after studying these lectures. I also tried (again, because I had made unsuccessful attempts in my youth) to read a few of the more famous primary sources of Hume, Kant, Peirce, Russell and others. I was discouraged by the esoteric use of language in these writings and wanted to present my thoughts to see if there was any agreement with my conclusions among the people who read this forum. In retirement I have re-studied Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. I think it reads with a clear and precise use of language. I can't read it casually, but I think that anyone with even a modest education, and the right motivation, should be able to understand Miss Rand's analysis and arguments. I cannot compliment the other philosophers I listed above for the clarity of their work. I have lots of trouble reading the majority of original philosophical works. The process usually goes like this: I read a section and think, this seems important, but I'm not certain I understand what this guy is saying. So I fall back and read a commentary or two, study some more, (must have a dictionary too) and at some point the light bulb appears and usually I think two things. First, he can't really mean that, and then I could have explained that same idea in plain language so that most people could understand it. Forget for now the irony of the problem that, once you think you have figured out what the guy meant, now you wonder if you're still mistaken in your study because what you think he's saying is so bizarre. (This was my assessment of Kant's Phenomenal vs. Noumenal world. I had to keep studying because I figured he couldn't just be going back to Plato.) Why do these guys use language in such a way as to make it so difficult to understand? I'm not talking only about translational or historic-cultural differences, I'm talking about using the language badly and in more modern, peer-reviewed works, the editors must not think the use of language is that bad, so what does that say. I raised this objection in a post on a more general philosophy forum. I ended the post with the opinion that if a reasonably motivated and modestly educated person couldn't understand what, say, C.S. Peirce had to say about epistemology, then what good was the truth or falsehood of his conclusions? I received many responses and every one was of the same type. They all questioned my intellectual capacity, education, or motivation. One guy responded with this metaphor (I paraphrase); it seems like you're complaining about the steepness of the mountain you want to climb. Using Miss Rand's analysis of the Metaphysical vs. the Man-Made - I responded that the mountain he was using in his metaphor was not a feature created by geological forces, but by men, and I wondered about their purpose in making the mountain harder to climb than seemed necessary to me - I got no further responses. In grad school, studying biology, we read style manuals and had classes in proper language form for peer-reviewed publication. Brevity and clarity were the goals. So my question to you. Am I just being lazy in my complaints about philosophy writing? Surely Miss Rand and Mr. Peikoff cannot be the only ones who prize common language skills? And what would you say to the idea that philosophers (given the nature of their subject) should be even more motivated than natural scientists, to make their ideas accessible to people outside their profession? Thanks, Jack I understand what you are saying. The problem is philosophy is the study of thinking. How to think. As such it requires the student to think beyond just accepting what he is being taught. He needs to not only follow the reasoning, including checking the premises, but criticise with his own reasoning. Now the other side of this is that philosophers may SEEM cryptic but only because the reader or student doesnt get what the problem is the philosopher us trying to solve. Kant for example can be understood as trying to redeem philosophy from empiricist skepticism. His solution was brilliant. And wrong. You need to get ahold of the history of philosophy to get his philosophy. It is cryptic but a convoluted way of saying something quite interesting from his context. The problem is like trying to read and understand an article on warm vs coldblooded animals when you are still trying to learn the concepts being used and why they are important That being said many philosophers ARE vague. Some are intentionally so. I would say. Others are unclear since they pose questions and di so in such a way they cannot be answered . As in the poorly defined problem of free will. They cant answer it becsuse they presuppose a method and premises that make it impossible William W Kaufmann
  2. Free will--another axiom?

    There is nothing cryptic or rationalistic about this. Will, volition, freedom are all presupposed in the questions about them. Yet I am not satisfied with that answer. It is incomplete. What do these words or conceots mean. Well: Volition is defined ostensively. It cannot be reduced to other concepts. Where you got the concept is ostensive. When you argue against it you presuppose it . So, where did you get the concept? And what would the standard be to determine if the concept is axiomatic? The question was asked and I pointed the way. Need I provide the whole answer all by myself. Or , hey, maybe I just did. But no one understands anything merely upon reading a canned answer. William W Kaufmann
  3. Induction

    Do you mean formal steps on concept formation? There are many kinds of induction. Concept formation is just one. Induction by enumeration us another. Scientific induction directly proceed from concept formation but it maybe similar. The purpose of this post/thread is to get intelligent input. As i said, causation is extremely important on s ientific induction. Note it is part of concept formation. I am not interested in being told that AR said it cant be done or its not relevant to concepts. IF she said it what were her reasons? And the writer should cite to the text That being said what kind of example? We know from conceot formation that all men are mortal. The definition if man is rstionsl animal. Animality includes all the characteristics belonging to the concept. Animality is a set of characteristics of living things. All livin things die But thus approach tho correct is DEductive and deprnds on the validity of the concepts. So we ate back to formalizing the inductive orocess which AR did not do. Nor did she say it us not possibke to do so. She did give any number if indications. Scientific induction involve the formation of universal laws by isolating a context SIMILARLY to concept formation. Hence back to looking for a formally exact account of it. Take the classic billiard ball question. How do you know what will happen the next time the balls collide! That redts on a certain view of concepts and their formation PLUS knowing how to cirrectly state the problem ! It isnt just hypothesis first. It is observation, isolation and grasp of the causal aspects if formation of concepts. Ie induction. Only then are you on track to formulate a law. . Sorry I went so far afield but the answer is to work our formal induction in concept formation first. . . William W. Kaufmann
  4. Induction

    Concept formation sets the stage. Propositions are made up of concepts. Universals cannot necessarily be drawn out of concepts alone. But definitions are universals I am considering the formal process of concept formation. . If then you add a few other steps you will have a formal process of of forming universal propositions. Scientific induction is another step yet. Harriman's book doesn't come close to dealing with any of this. And if this had been discussed already it surely hasn't the way I am doing so. Someone's claim about concepts as evolutionary means nothing to me, nor is the claim relevant (or even understandable since you don't explain it ) Nor can I reply to your implication that you have all the answers but didn't have time to post them. When you post them I will consider them on their merits. I offered the discussion. Since you feel the topic is settled to your satisfaction, why waste your time with it. Write a definitive analysis why it is impossible. Prove the negative. Meantime I will prove it is. . . William W Kaufmann
  5. Induction

    You say: "Ayn Rand discussed the problem of induction at the workshops on epistemology, where she explained that concept formation is an inductive process, but is not the same inductive process as formulating and validating general propositions. She emphatically rejected the idea that her theory of concept formation solves the 'problem of induction' for general propositions, heading off a fallacy that arose decades ago and which has resurfaced several times since, including as an element in Leonard Peikoff's claimed solution to the problem of induction a few year ago and re-published in David Harriman's The Logical Leap (which despite that and some other problems, is a valuable work)." Me: I have read all that. It has nothing to do with what I haven't even said yet. Consider first. : whether and how to create a formal method of concept formation That she said is an inductive process. So did I. I then said i think you can form a formal method of induction in science as well There are two inductive processes. Concept formation from which some additional ste You: "This topic has been discussed extensively in previous threads on the Forum, although there is more to say. (In my case I didn't have the time to complete and submit every post I began working on, partly because of diversions over alternate theories such as claims by one Forum member that concepts are evolutionary, in contrast to Ayn Rand's epistemology.)" And this says simply
  6. Induction

    You did not read what I said. The narrower primitive concept does not contradict the appropriate conclusion of other referents. Eg white ones. What may I ask implies in the concept that the entity in question can fly by flapping his arms. The evidence is contrary and the burden of proof on he who asserts it should be included, since in the "primitive" observers context, only winged beings fly. I really dont care to have a lecture on what I have known for decades. And why do you claim I say the meaning of a concept is its definition. Read what I said. I said "definition" to simplify the issue. Would you understand better if I said the individual's concept of man was only those characteristics plus speech and thinking and a few other things? The meaning of a concept is a potential. It consists of an infinite number of entities with an infinite number of characteristics. William W Kaufmann
  7. Induction

    Missing line: the problem is a logical error. A trap. The problem of induction is solved in concept formation. Even scientific induction. The real problem us in the minor premise, not the major u iversal one
  8. Induction

    Quite right. But the cause you need to prove the universal induction has to be universally found in every concrete. That is, here, every crow . So the problem is pushed back to : how do you know every crow has the causal factor that you need to prove the next one wlll be black? Is it that the blackness can only be caused by such a factor? If you can show that scientifically, why then the white crow just can't have that causal factor. Right? Nice question begging in that case Now what? You actually almost have the answer. At least as far as i have it. For a hint look at IOE on essential characteristics and omitted measurement. Another hint is: the question as posed is a l The problemis solvable based on IOE but partly only b y Aristotle. William W Kaufmann. .
  9. Corporations

    A corporation is an entity in the sense that it is a business formed by agreement between the owners thereof who then sell some of its shares to others. The idea behind limited liability is that it is unjust to make a mere investing shareholder liable past his investment for corporate torts or contract breaches. When you do business with a corporation, you accept the limited liability. This statement is prior to law recognizing the above economic arrangement. That the directors and managing parties are equally shielded from liability is philosophically wrong and legally incorrect. Their liability can be established legally It is called "piercing the corporate veil" Nor are corp officers , nor yet shareholders at any level, free of liability for their own criminal or wilfully tortious actions. There is more to say on this too. William W Kaufmann (attorney, professor)
  10. Free will--another axiom?

    The answer is the same as the answer to the following question: Where did you get the concept "free will"? Does it have a referent? William W. Kaufmann
  11. Induction

    What I mean is exactly what I said: a formal method. Syllogism is formal. The various forms devised by Aristotle are indeed forms. Hence: formal. Application of syllogism requires induction. The art of logic is always contextual. Did I suggest it was not? Concept formation to be correct is contextual. A concept valid in a narrower context than "all human knowledge" is still valid within its context AND if properly formed will NOT contradict the full context of human knowledge. That is dependent in forming a proper definition, setting the concept in a correct heirarchical position (genus: animal; ccd: "mobile conscious life" or "mammal" if you mean the general usage of the term;) Hence: man is that animal which conceptualises/reasons. But in reasoning one might conceptualize "man" as "black two legged two armed animal" in the narrower context. From that alone you may induce that man cannot flap his arms and fly. Your definition correctly includes limbs but not wings. Just some hints. Showing beginnings of how you get to formal inductive reasoning and how that depends on a formal method if concept formation. For the record, calling induction "generalization" may be true, but the kind of induction I am talking about is how we get to the major premise of a syllogism: All A is B. the problem of induction claims that is impossible. "How do you claim all crows are black? What do you do if the next crow you see is white? This is a strawman argument. Universals are propositions directly taken from concept formation. William Kaufmann (this formulation is copyrighted by me 2012)
  12. Should the government pay for criminal defense?

    The kind of defense and all the rest is already set up, and provided by Public Defenders and Court Appointed Attorneys An attorney is assigned an attorney properly qualified for his case. Under the law the defendant may at any time hire his own attorney, represent himself, or continue with the appointed one. If he is found able to pay for counsel, he doesn't get an appointed one. At the end of the case, win or lose, the defendant may be assessed for repayment of costs of his defense. It is usually far lower than paying for private counsel up front. As far as paying for the costs of prosecution, it better come from honest gain. Not likely in most cases. And of course you can make the same case for paying the costs of the punishment too. Fat chance. William W. Kaufmann
  13. Fundamentals of Politics

    The original question raises Ayn Rand's supposed failure to ask why man needs politics. She certainly did raise the question without just "jumping right in". The correct question which she fully addressed is: what is government and why do men need it? Political philosophy or Political Science or Political Economy are the science of government. In that connection, by the way, I don't think we need quibble whether it would be proper to call a state of anarchy of any sort part of "politics". It is pre-government or non-govenment. The question whether anarchy is proper or right, or the argument against government as such, is addressed in the first question" What is government and why do we need it?" William W. Kaufmann ho)
  14. Every Loneliness Is a Pinnacle

    There is no question in my mind that Ayn Rand meant that the independent mind is lonely. That is, it works alone. And in our culture, loneliness is inevitable for a creative mind. Loneliness implies one is different from the herd. Toohey is saying that. He knows it. However, it is poetic. The hermit may be lonely, and that can be a pinnacle. But the loneliness and self imposed isolation of the Unibomber is hardly a pinnacle. Of course, one could claim he wasnt really lonely. Just crazy. William W. Kaufmann
  15. Induction

    I am interested in the question whether a formal system of induction is possible. Aristotle devised a formal deductive system, in which syllogism is the foundation of all deductive logic. What is the parallel system, if any, for induction? Putting it more succinctly, what IS "inductive logic", and how does one systematically make precise inductive inferences? One hint here is that concept formation is inductive. Hence, do we have to have a formal system of concept formation first? I have a number of answers, but would like to hear from knowledgeable students and professionals. William W. Kaufmann (I am a semi-retired Professor of Law, Lawyer, and Pro tem judge. I plan a book on legal philosophy, in which I intend to address the issues of induction and causation in the social sciences. and the fact that there is no science, including law, without precise induction).