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The Logical Leap and criticism

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You are right in the sense that it is not mere hairsplitting for one to insist that science in its epistemological journey must in any way conform to Platonic Forms or Aristotelean Essences, and that any theory not conforming the perfect concept [sic] ab initio is ipso facto wrong and/or over-simplifying. Moreover, simplifying Newton's journey from impetus to intertia to a hybrid as holding to a "bad concept" is not mere hairsplitting but wrong and misses the point of inductive discovery and keeps at least one foot in the grave of the discredited notion of the hypothesis of the axiomatic truth to which all conclusions must conform.

What are you trying to communicate? Excessively wordy, eloquent sentences are pretty on the eyes, but not efficient at conveying ideas.

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Could you define what you mean by a "malformed concept?" As far as I know, Ayn Rand never used that term. In fact, it seems like a contradiction because, if a concept is not properly-formed, it isn't really a concept.

It would be what she called an invalid concept.

"Malformed" appears to be being used to mean a mistaken, invalid concept, but one in a process that is on the "right track" towards the valid concept, as opposed to an inherently invalid concept that is a complete mistake and going nowhere (like in religion or bad politics).

You can have all the knowledge required to a form a concept, and be able to think in terms of that knowledge, without having the concept (and perhaps having some confusions or 'malformed' concepts along the way) as you try to sort it all out. There may also be different stages of knowledge as implicit concepts or valid or nearly valid use of qualified instances along the way. Even if you have correct facts (no spurious, incorrect data), you may not have figured out the proper classifications and may or may not need more data before you can.

It sounds like what you are referring to is what Ayn Rand called an implicit concept or an unformed or partly-formed concept. "Mal" is a prefix that means "bad" and there's nothing necessarily bad or invalid about an implicit or partly-formed concept. In fact, such concepts are good things because they are a necessary step in forming valid concepts.

Carlos has since confirmed what he meant, which agrees with what I wrote. He is referring to an incorrect version of the potential correct concept not yet attained; the qualification "mal" is on that concept and not concepts in general in saying it is "malformed", which is what you describe. It may not be the best terminology but it is a good distinction.

It may be a decent tentative classification based on incomplete knowledge you have at the time, but which will require subsequent revision. Such revision would be part of a process of discovery and is distinct from expanding a definition for a valid concept you already hold as you learn more about what it embraces.

It's not an implicit concept because that means you have all the material necessary but have not yet completed the integration. In this case you have completed a mis-integration and mistakenly believe you have the right concept integrated under a word. So you are past the level of implicit concept by taking a wrong turn in error. And you may not yet possess "all the material required" for the integration.

This is not to say that any kind of "malformed" concepts are recommended. It's still an error, and any kind of misintegration leads to chaos if allowed to remain uncorrected. But operating tentatively in the face of uncertainty is not something we have a choice about when in the frontiers of knowledge. Objectivity requires keeping firmly in mind the nature of the new ideas you are experimenting with, trying to develop, or confirm or disconfirm.

This appears to be the kind of knowledge that John McCaskey was referring to as part of the "spiral process" that recurs during the thinking towards attaining scientific conclusions. Not all the concepts and principles are recognized as explicit until the "end" -- except that there is no "end", only different degrees of new progress because there is always more to be discovered and integrated into wider abstractions. There is a base of explicit scientific knowledge underlying work in the frontiers, but always some confusion and problems to be solved. This is not "stumbling around in the dark" as it as been mischaracterized as a false alternative to having completely formed concepts.

I agree. I think it is an error to assume that a thinker or scientist must start with fully-formed concepts or generalizations before he can experiment, investigate reality, or make discoveries. That's backwards. He observes and investigates reality and, depending on what he discovers, properly forms concepts and generalizations only in accordance with the evidence he actually has.

If he has insufficient evidence, he may use partly-formed concepts with place-holders (like "something") for the causal characteristics ("Something is making the pendulum swing this way.") or an hypothesis instead of a generalization ("Maybe a ball rolls because of its shape.")

Yes there are a lot of possibilities at that stage other than a so-called "malformed" concept with errors.

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Science requires excruciating precision, both for understanding old theories and developing new ones. From this standpoint, these repeated urgings for us to drop our worries about these "hairs" that we are "splitting" is bewildering; one doesn't promote an understanding of science to the general public by "simplifying" to the point of making statements that are literally false.

You are right in the sense that it is not mere hairsplitting for one to insist that science in its epistemological journey must in any way conform to Platonic Forms or Aristotelean Essences, and that any theory not conforming the perfect concept [sic] ab initio is ipso facto wrong and/or over-simplifying. Moreover, simplifying Newton's journey from impetus to intertia to a hybrid as holding to a "bad concept" is not mere hairsplitting but wrong and misses the point of inductive discovery and keeps at least one foot in the grave of the discredited notion of the hypothesis of the axiomatic truth to which all conclusions must conform.

What are you trying to communicate? Excessively wordy, eloquent sentences are pretty on the eyes, but not efficient at conveying ideas.

It is not just "flowery", and to my eye and brain such prose is painful, not "pretty". Its incomprehensible generalities are unresponsive to what anyone has said.

No one has advocated Platonic forms or metaphysical essences in concepts, or standing in "graves" or inductive principles of physics conforming with alleged "axiomatic truths" other than the most basic ideas of existence and identity. Galileo is famous for leading the way in rejecting rationalistic elements of the earlier physics and no one has objected to that.

None of the dismissive flowery prose above has anything to do with our or John McCaskey's discussions of Galileo or the progression of ideas in early Newtonian physics over a couple of generations in Newton's time before it took the form of what we know it to be today. None of that is "hairsplitting" for those who want to understand how the inductive generalizations were in fact formulated and validated as opposed to a fictionalized account.

"Essentializing" can be good for certain purposes of exposition, but it does not mean ignoring relevant facts in misunderstanding the history of scientific ideas while dismissing objections as mere tedious facts and "hairsplitting". Facts and explanations based on them matter. We are not rationalists.

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I believe Harriman is not claiming Galileo, or anyone, arrived at the correct use of friction as in some Platonic Form or Aristotelean universal but rather as in the context of the infomation avaliable to him. If one criticizes "a primitive, incorrect [sic] understanding that equated air resistance with fluid-buoyancy" then one criticizes contextual epistemology.

What on earth do you mean? I'm not criticizing anything, and I'm not even talking about philosophy. Galileo, in the analysis of his experiments, apparently equated fluid-buoyancy with air-friction; this is a primitive (relative to modern knowledge), incorrect (it's not correct) first attempt at understanding the forces of resistance against an object traveling through media.

"a primitive, incorrect [sic] understanding that equated air resistance with fluid-buoyancy"

What is the [sic] for?

I wonder if people who make such assertions actually understand what Galileo did in regard to resistance to a falling object in different media, why he did it, and what was wrong with it -- or are those facts also to be regarded as "tedious history" that as mere facts may be impatiently and therefore safely ignored without looking at or assessing their relevance?

The facts of the matter in terms of physics and Galileo's own statements were analyzed in detail earlier in this thread.

Galileo no doubt understood, from accumulated, more informal experience than the formal buoyancy measurements he presented as crucial to his argument, that the resistance to an object moving through the various media was least for air. He could see that just by feeling the resistance to motion caused with his own hand. In that, his chain of reasoning was correct, and to the extent that he thought in such terms, so was his overall argument.

But in confusing resistance to free fall with buoyancy and presenting the results of measuring buoyancy as essential to his analysis the way he did he was simply wrong. He got the right answer from the buoyancy measurements for the wrong reason. He got the right answer because of the dependency of resistance to free fall on fluid density under the circumstances of his experiment and his measurements of buoyancy forces implicitly measured the relative fluid density. The buoyancy force itself is not relevant to the resistance. The error canceled itself out for reasons he did not and could not possibly have known.

The mistake doesn't mean he had "feet of clay"; the innocent error was in his head, not his feet, and he certainly was not a man with brains in his feet. Nor does it mean he was "stumbling around in the dark". His reported reasoning as he wrote it was wrong, and that may or may not have been the way he actually thought of it during the process in the context of other experiences he had but which he did not express or emphasize in his written account. But it is certainly relevant to what he thought was the validation as it had to be presented to be convincing.

Assessing this error and its role in Galileo's inductive reasoning process is not a matter of brushing it off as "limited information available to him" and neither does it have anything to do with clashing with Platonic Forms or Aristotelian essences. Part of his analysis was factually wrong.

The direct choice to measure buoyancy force and Galileo's description of its relevance was wrong based on an incorrect supposition, not just limited knowledge of aerodynamics he could not have possessed. He was not measuring what he thought he was. Identifying an error in reasoning is not "criticizing contextual epistemology". The "contextual nature of knowledge" principle is not a get out of jail free card for mistakes. The circumstances of experiments must be carefully analyzed as part of the reasoning and false assumptions avoided.

It is also incorrect to present what he did as a "careful analysis of friction" as if it were correct and without mentioning what really happened. "Essentializing" is not sweeping contradictions under the rug, and doing so does not allow for an objective history or help to explain what is really required in scientific generalizations and the historical successes on which the principles of induction are based.

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Harriman published his reasoning on why he selected what data to present about Galileo on his site.

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Harriman published his reasoning on why he selected what data to present about Galileo on his site.

This offers little or nothing in way of answering his "critics". Most of this is irrelevant fluff, such as

Strangely, this has led some of my critics to charge me with “historical inaccuracy.” In fact, it is simply one example of how I condensed and essentialized the material. I wanted to keep the emphasis on what is revolutionary about Galileo’s physics—and that is his brilliant quantitative experiments that led to mathematical laws.

My presentation of Galileo’s investigation of free fall is consistent with that of Stillman Drake, who gives little emphasis to the experiments on bodies falling through liquids. I suspect that Drake made this choice for the same reason I did.

which merely restates what he has already said multiple times.

This excerpt

Of course, people also knew that a cannonball falls faster than a straw hat. One must appreciate the effects of air resistance in order to reach Galileo’s broad principle that all bodies accelerate at the same rate in free fall (“free” means “in the absence of friction”). I emphasized this point in my book, but I did so without citing the specific observations that contributed to Galileo’s appreciation of friction (for example, the experiments in which he dropped bodies through fluids).
doubles down on the confusion, as he is mixing together discussion of air resistance, friction, and fluid buoyancy, while still never clarifying or answering to the fact that apparently Galileo was performing his experiments with a confused physical understanding of all three.

What would be much more productive to the advancement of induction is understanding how Galileo, with complete certainty, arrived at the correct conclusion based on crucially incorrect assumptions in his reasoning. Harriman's vague restating of "I think Galileo knew correctly what he knew about friction", with little or no historical evidence to back up the claim, is useless.

What I especially don't like are statements such as

Strangely, this has led some of my critics to charge me with “historical inaccuracy.”
which repeatedly turn this into some issue of polemics between enemies rather than honest people sorting out an understanding of historical science together.

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What I especially don't like are statements such as
Strangely, this has led some of my critics to charge me with “historical inaccuracy.”
which repeatedly turn this into some issue of polemics between enemies rather than honest people sorting out an understanding of historical science together.

This is very discouraging. Ordinarily, when addressing scholarly criticism one states what the criticism is and then addresses the particulars. Here we have something presented as a rebuttal in which the first half is a chatty account of food and wine, straw hats, a common phenomenon that Galileo did not discover, and irrelevant name-dropping of other people who also knew it.

Then he writes:

Of course, people also knew that a cannonball falls faster than a straw hat. One must appreciate the effects of air resistance in order to reach Galileo’s broad principle that all bodies accelerate at the same rate in free fall (“free” means “in the absence of friction”). I emphasized this point in my book, but I did so without citing the specific observations that contributed to Galileo’s appreciation of friction (for example, the experiments in which he dropped bodies through fluids). Strangely, this has led some of my critics to charge me with “historical inaccuracy.” In fact, it is simply one example of how I condensed and essentialized the material. I wanted to keep the emphasis on what is revolutionary about Galileo’s physics—and that is his brilliant quantitative experiments that led to mathematical laws.

He says that LL emphasized that the role of air resistance was crucial for Galileo's 'free fall' conclusion, but that LL did not "cite the specific observations that contributed to Galileo’s appreciation of friction (for example, the experiments in which he dropped bodies through fluids). Strangely, this has led some of my critics to charge me with 'historical inaccuracy.'"

Omitting the details of the experiments that "contributed to Galileo's appreciation of friction" would have been fine if LL objectively said what it was doing, but omitting "citing specific observations" is not what the "charges", which he did not describe, have been about. This is a straw man argument against an unacknowledged content of the actual criticism by John McCaskey and others.

  1. Citing historical inaccuracy is not so "strange" when you observe that LL referred to the unmentioned experiments as "a careful analysis of friction" when the analysis in fact consisted of experiments and comparisons measuring buoyancy. Contrary to Galileo's intent these were not measurements of resistance to the motion of objects falling in a fluid and have nothing to do with "friction". If he is referring to analysis other than what Galileo is commonly known to have written then he should specify what it is.
  2. The unacknowledged critical comments are also not so strange when you further observe that LL said that Galileo based his results on objects falling in air and had he done his experiments on a fluid like water instead of air, they would not have yielded anything of importance.
    The supposed rebuttal refers to "experiments in which he dropped bodies through fluids", still without mentioning their nature, and without acknowledging that LL had not mentioned them at all. In fact LL bases its analysis only on Galileo's experiments dropping objects through air, and rejects what it refers to only as "imagined" experiments using water, which it characterized as irrelevant and potentially misleading.
    Perhaps Dave Harriman had in mind using only water instead of air, but LL did not say that, and in fact Galileo used multiple mediums both in his experiments and in his reasoning, and explicitly compared the effects of multiple media in drawing his conclusions. Galileo himself regarded the comparisons as critical (not realizing that he was not measuring what he thought he was).

The rebuttal concludes with a haughty:

My presentation of Galileo’s investigation of free fall is consistent with that of Stillman Drake, who gives little emphasis to the experiments on bodies falling through liquids. I suspect that Drake made this choice for the same reason I did.

Not mentioned is that John McCaskey also referred to the historian Drake -- and to Galileo's own writing. Where are the details citing what Drake is insinuated to have said which refute John McCaskey's detailed, scholarly comments and supports LL?

Dave Harriman characterizes these non-answers to the content of criticisms as "simply one example of how I condensed and essentialized the material. I wanted to keep the emphasis on what is revolutionary about Galileo’s physics—and that is his brilliant quantitative experiments that led to mathematical laws." Such dramatic PR may play well to an uncritical and unknowledgeable fan base misled through evasive generalities insinuating that critics have been rebutted, but for those serious about content, if this is supposed to be an example of only one instance of what is called "essentializing" employed throughout the book, it further undermines the credibility of claims to accuracy and objectivity in the entire book, undermining all that is good about the book.

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I believe Harriman is not claiming Galileo, or anyone, arrived at the correct use of friction as in some Platonic Form or Aristotelean universal but rather as in the context of the infomation avaliable to him. If one criticizes "a primitive, incorrect [sic] understanding that equated air resistance with fluid-buoyancy" then one criticizes contextual epistemology.

What on earth do you mean? I'm not criticizing anything, and I'm not even talking about philosophy. Galileo, in the analysis of his experiments, apparently equated fluid-buoyancy with air-friction; this is a primitive (relative to modern knowledge), incorrect (it's not correct) first attempt at understanding the forces of resistance against an object traveling through media.

"a primitive, incorrect [sic] understanding that equated air resistance with fluid-buoyancy"

What is the [sic] for?

I wonder if people who make such assertions actually understand what Galileo did in regard to resistance to a falling object in different media, why he did it, and what was wrong with it -- or are those facts also to be regarded as "tedious history" that as mere facts may be impatiently and therefore safely ignored without looking at or assessing their relevance?

Harriman was clear about this. The concept of "friction" is a difficult one of nonlinear dissipative forces that is not fully fleshed out today, and yet Galileo was able to make correct general conclusions through induction. That was the point of the book.

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Science requires excruciating precision, both for understanding old theories and developing new ones. From this standpoint, these repeated urgings for us to drop our worries about these "hairs" that we are "splitting" is bewildering; one doesn't promote an understanding of science to the general public by "simplifying" to the point of making statements that are literally false.

You are right in the sense that it is not mere hairsplitting for one to insist that science in its epistemological journey must in any way conform to Platonic Forms or Aristotelean Essences, and that any theory not conforming the perfect concept [sic] ab initio is ipso facto wrong and/or over-simplifying. Moreover, simplifying Newton's journey from impetus to intertia to a hybrid as holding to a "bad concept" is not mere hairsplitting but wrong and misses the point of inductive discovery and keeps at least one foot in the grave of the discredited notion of the hypothesis of the axiomatic truth to which all conclusions must conform.

What are you trying to communicate? Excessively wordy, eloquent sentences are pretty on the eyes, but not efficient at conveying ideas.

No one has advocated Platonic forms or metaphysical essences in concepts, or standing in "graves" or inductive principles of physics conforming with alleged "axiomatic truths" other than the most basic ideas of existence and identity. Galileo is famous for leading the way in rejecting rationalistic elements of the earlier physics and no one has objected to that.

No one has advocated Platonic Forms or metaphysical essences? How did Galileo reject "rationalistic elements"? The answer is to be found in Harriman's book and no where else and is based on a rejection of notion of the idee fixe (from the notion of the universal) in which it is not possible to reach a valid conclusion without a fixed concept of friction that must correspond to truth contained in the universal, but rather that first-(or lower-)level conceptualizations are sufficient to reach valid first-(or lower-)level inductive conclusions. It is clearly argued for in Harriman's book. No re-telling of the history on Galileo's discovery can change that there is no such thing as a concept that corresponds to a universal and thus is the one and only rightful concept to reach a valid generalization.

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I'm sincerely sorry that I replied to the post on the instant topic.

Constructive discussions and criticism are of interest to me, and I didn't find that. What I find in the replies to my posts are writings that seem to have the purpose of confounding the reader. For example, paraphrasings of scientific concepts, ...

I don't know what an "instant topic" is or which of his replies he is referring to (the one removed?), but his assertion that my explanations of the physics are written for "the purpose of confounding the reader" is pure psychologizing and is false and baseless. His own statements have been quoted in full, not "paraphrased", and have in fact been answered with "constructive criticism" explaining the physics. If inventor is "confounded" it is because, as his posts indicate, he does not understand the subject matter and the terminology. These matters must be understood in terms of legitimate science, not mental pictures based on speculation.

..., e.g., that Galileo used the term, "friction", when apparently he did not, and that Harriman did. Or that rebuttals to what I have said are are cast in terms that simply deny what I said, e.g., that in fluid flow thare is no friction between the object and fluid, which is not true.

Inventor's posts misrepresented the resistance to the object in free fall as "viscosity" and misquoted Galileo. It is important to understand that:

  • Viscosity is a property of the fluid (like air) alone, not a force on a solid object moving through it.
  • Viscosity is not the sole source of the resistance to the moving object. Pressure drag is not friction drag. Drag depends on density of the fluid and other factors except at very low speeds of small objects in a fluid with relatively high viscosity. Think of the difference between the extreme cases of a small speck of dust moving slowly through the air (or higher viscosity fluid) versus a canon ball falling rapidly through air (not mercury). In the first case, viscosity dominates the source of the resistance, in the second the density of the fluid dominates the resistance in comparison with viscosity. In both cases, energy is dissipated, but by different mechanisms.
  • There is no "additional friction" force, beyond the internal viscous friction within the air. A solid object does not slide against the air with additional friction, as incorrectly asserted. A layer of air 'sticks' to the object and moves with it. The viscous shear force is entirely within the air and is the source and meaning of "skin friction".

This has been explained in more detail previously, in the context of assertions to the contrary which mislead those not familiar with the science. My explanations have not been "cast in terms that simply deny what [inventor] said". His speculations have no basis and contradict well known basic knowledge in the science of fluid dynamics, which can be verified by consulting any reputable introductory text on the subject.

Understanding the nature of resistance in Galileo's inductive process is important because it was central to Galileo's own argument. He analyzed what he thought was the resistance, which he did not call friction, with a comparison of resistance due to different fluids: air, water and mercury. He did this to identify, through quantitative measurement, the least resistive medium, air. He did not simply repeat the experiment in different media and pick the least resistive for his results: He sought to establish a trend because he established a law pertaining to what happens when resistance is not a factor at all, as what is now called a "limiting case". He knew (and said) that objects do not fall at the same rate in air, but that the differences are smaller and that his law pertains to what would happen in a complete absence of resistance.

There are several epistemological assumptions and aspects to this procedure that could be discussed (in addition to the role of what we know today versus what was possible for Galileo to know), but the glaring problem in Galileo's inductive process, which John McCaskey pointed out, was that Galileo's comparative analysis did not measure what he thought he was measuring because he conflated buoyancy with resistance to a falling body. He did not carefully analyze friction, as has been claimed, or the actual resistive forces at all. The kind of "resistance" he measured and discussed was the upward force of buoyancy, which is a different and irrelevant kind of "resistance". It does not have the same effect as aerodynamic resistance that is due to motion (regardless of the role of viscosity). The buoyancy reduces the effective density -- or effective weight -- of the falling object, which is irrelevant to its rate of fall because all objects experience the same gravitational acceleration regardless of their density. Galileo's comparative analysis based on buoyancy indirectly measured comparative density of the fluids, which is relevant to resistance, but he didn't know that.

Galileo got the right answer for partially the wrong reasons, which ought to be pertinent to any analysis of his inductive process, especially when trying to use historical accounts to illustrate the validity of induction. The context of Galileo's knowledge was not just "limited", as it had to be. An essential part of his knowledge was wrong -- the concept of resistance Galileo employed and tried to use in measurements was (as he described it) at least partially incorrect -- in addition to his necessarily employing more primitively defined concepts than the scope and depth of understanding we have today. This cannot be glossed over in a theory that grounds inductive generalization on concepts, and it cannot be discussed at all using replacements misrepresenting Galileo's work with rationalistic speculation in place of legitimate science -- along with bogus excuses claiming that explanations of the science are really written for "the purpose of confounding the reader". Careful understanding of the science may be inconvenient for some, but it is essential that it be correct, even if limited. The importance of valid, first-hand understanding of science through proper means based on fact, not rationalization or authority, is one of Dave Harriman's central themes.

Thank you for this awesome and epic post. I think it is almost worth thanking inventor for spurring you to go so far in your brilliant explanation.

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I believe Harriman is not claiming Galileo, or anyone, arrived at the correct use of friction as in some Platonic Form or Aristotelean universal but rather as in the context of the infomation avaliable to him. If one criticizes "a primitive, incorrect [sic] understanding that equated air resistance with fluid-buoyancy" then one criticizes contextual epistemology.

What on earth do you mean? I'm not criticizing anything, and I'm not even talking about philosophy. Galileo, in the analysis of his experiments, apparently equated fluid-buoyancy with air-friction; this is a primitive (relative to modern knowledge), incorrect (it's not correct) first attempt at understanding the forces of resistance against an object traveling through media.

"a primitive, incorrect [sic] understanding that equated air resistance with fluid-buoyancy"

What is the [sic] for?

I wonder if people who make such assertions actually understand what Galileo did in regard to resistance to a falling object in different media, why he did it, and what was wrong with it -- or are those facts also to be regarded as "tedious history" that as mere facts may be impatiently and therefore safely ignored without looking at or assessing their relevance?

Harriman was clear about this. The concept of "friction" is a difficult one of nonlinear dissipative forces that is not fully fleshed out today, and yet Galileo was able to make correct general conclusions through induction. That was the point of the book.

Once again, CBell provides no answer. The question was, "What is the [sic] for?" in his deriding Carlos' observation that "equat[ing] air resistance with fluid-buoyancy" is incorrect. It is in fact incorrect. They are not the same force and do not play the same causal role.

LL was not "clear about this" and CBell has not addressed the reasons given for why it was not. Contrary to his "sic" insinuation, "A primitive, incorrect understanding that equated air resistance with fluid-buoyancy" is incorrect -- not "incorrect sic", not "contextually correct" -- but flat out wrong, and that matters in analyzing media resistive to free fall.

CBell has again ignored all that has been written here about the nature of Galileo's experiment, resistance to an object falling in air, Galileo's confusion in analyzing buoyancy instead of that resistance, and the erroneous account in LL. He also ignores what is written in LL concerning this controversy.

This matter has nothing to do with the fact that Galileo did not have a "full" understanding "flushing out" resistance -- whatever that is supposed to mean: All validated, correct knowledge is "full" knowledge of what it is about, but there is always more to understand. To call knowledge perpetually not "full" is a useless and invalid comparison with omniscience as a standard.

The nature and cause of resistance to free fall is in fact well understood today, though perhaps not to CBell, but that doesn't matter for this discussion, and it doesn't matter that Galileo did not and could not have that knowledge in his time. Galileo knew what resistance was in terms of a force opposing the free fall, but he did not measure that in his analysis. He measured something else. He held an invalid concept of the resistance, evidently inadvertently "package-dealing" the resistance to free fall with the resistive buoyancy force when pushing down on a submerged object, which is a different kind of force.

Galileo measured the wrong force, mistakenly believing he was doing comparative measurements and analysis of the resistance to free fall. The reasoning he gave for using air instead of other media to minimize the resistance was flat out wrong. LL correctly emphasized the importance of the role of resistance but did not acknowledge what Galileo mistakenly did, and misstated Galileo's own account of his own analysis in what LL erroneously called a "careful analysis of friction" -- it was "careful" but not an analysis of what he thought it was, which made his reasoning wrong in the published accounts he gave of it.

(Galileo also did not use the term "friction" and in today's context of knowledge "friction", which is viscosity, in the air only partially accounts for the cause of resistance to a falling object, due to pressure differences arising in the flow patterns, and to call the resistance "friction" is a loose and imprecise use of terminology. Buoyancy is not "friction" either, but these are matters of misused terminology not essential to an account of Galileo's relatively simple but historical free fall experiment and analysis factoring out the role of resistance.)

To observe these facts is not, contrary to CBell, to "criticize contextual epistemology". A mistake is a mistake. "Contextual knowledge" is not a get out of jail free card. Neither is an "impatience" for the facts of the nature of an experiment and its analysis.

I had raised the question, "I wonder if people who make such assertions actually understand what Galileo did in regard to resistance to a falling object in different media, why he did it, and what was wrong with it -- or are those facts also to be regarded as 'tedious history' that as mere facts may be impatiently and therefore safely ignored without looking at or assessing their relevance?"

CBell previously acknowledged emphatically that he has "no patience" for the historical facts, which he said he finds "tedious" and "hairsplitting". He wrote that he "found the history tedious and overdrawn" even as presented in LL. He erroneously wrote that the book's "purpose" is: "discovering induction in scientific discovery by first understanding induction via Objectivism". That is rationalism and is most certainly not the purpose stated by either Leonard Peikoff or Dave Harriman.

Whatever the various criticisms of what they actually accomplished in their reasoning or formulation, Leonard Peikoff and Dave Harriman sought to use their understanding of Objectivist epistemology in order to induce and properly formulate the philosophical principles of scientific induction by examining and analyzing indisputably successful instances of it, and what it relied on, in the history of physics.

CBell continues to ignore what is being said in the discussions here and the facts on which they are based, presenting his posts as if he were responding but only repeating misapplied generalities showing no understanding of what is being discussed or why. Given the history of these exchanges I do not expect him to understand this, but it is important that others do. He is not providing objective arguments and is not employing Ayn Rand's epistemology. Whatever you think of LL it does not need "defenses" of that kind.

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Science requires excruciating precision, both for understanding old theories and developing new ones. From this standpoint, these repeated urgings for us to drop our worries about these "hairs" that we are "splitting" is bewildering; one doesn't promote an understanding of science to the general public by "simplifying" to the point of making statements that are literally false.

You are right in the sense that it is not mere hairsplitting for one to insist that science in its epistemological journey must in any way conform to Platonic Forms or Aristotelean Essences, and that any theory not conforming the perfect concept [sic] ab initio is ipso facto wrong and/or over-simplifying. Moreover, simplifying Newton's journey from impetus to intertia to a hybrid as holding to a "bad concept" is not mere hairsplitting but wrong and misses the point of inductive discovery and keeps at least one foot in the grave of the discredited notion of the hypothesis of the axiomatic truth to which all conclusions must conform.

What are you trying to communicate? Excessively wordy, eloquent sentences are pretty on the eyes, but not efficient at conveying ideas.

It is not just "flowery", and to my eye and brain such prose is painful, not "pretty". Its incomprehensible generalities are unresponsive to what anyone has said.

No one has advocated Platonic forms or metaphysical essences in concepts, or standing in "graves" or inductive principles of physics conforming with alleged "axiomatic truths" other than the most basic ideas of existence and identity. Galileo is famous for leading the way in rejecting rationalistic elements of the earlier physics and no one has objected to that.

None of the dismissive flowery prose above has anything to do with our or John McCaskey's discussions of Galileo or the progression of ideas in early Newtonian physics over a couple of generations in Newton's time before it took the form of what we know it to be today. None of that is "hairsplitting" for those who want to understand how the inductive generalizations were in fact formulated and validated as opposed to a fictionalized account.

"Essentializing" can be good for certain purposes of exposition, but it does not mean ignoring relevant facts in misunderstanding the history of scientific ideas while dismissing objections as mere tedious facts and "hairsplitting". Facts and explanations based on them matter. We are not rationalists.

No one has advocated Platonic Forms or metaphysical essences? How did Galileo reject "rationalistic elements"? The answer is to be found in Harriman's book and no where else and is based on a rejection of notion of the idee fixe (from the notion of the universal) in which it is not possible to reach a valid conclusion without a fixed concept of friction that must correspond to truth contained in the universal, but rather that first-(or lower-)level conceptualizations are sufficient to reach valid first-(or lower-)level inductive conclusions. It is clearly argued for in Harriman's book. No re-telling of the history on Galileo's discovery can change that there is no such thing as a concept that corresponds to a universal and thus is the one and only rightful concept to reach a valid generalization.

No, no one has been advocating medieval scholastic rationalism. The flowery obscurantism with its incomprehensible generalities, which Carlos and I cited above, are unresponsive to what anyone here has said, aside from being incomprehensible. As I previously wrote, "Galileo is famous for leading the way in rejecting rationalistic elements of the earlier physics and no one has objected to that." Galileo has been known for centuries for his controlled, quantitative experimental approach systematically looking out at the world to find out how it works, breaking with the rationalist tradition. We did not need LL to tell us that and I doubt that Dave Harriman would say otherwise. LL is intended to identify and formulate the epistemological principles by which Galileo and other successful physicists reached the generalizations which they based on their systematic looking out at the world.

Observing that Galileo's own description of his measurements of buoyancy that he thought were forces resisting free fall but which were in fact another kind of force, and that he measured the wrong thing in his comparative analysis, has absolutely nothing to do with a supposed a perfect sic friction idee fixe ab initio is ipso facto universal essence in the grave. It was the wrong force. Objectively. The wrong force.

Whatever one thinks of the formulation or idea of first-level generalizations in the book, LL did not restrict itself to what it calls first-level generalizations. It describes a hierarchy of ever wider abstractions in generalizations that are based on the first level and ultimately reducible to them. Galileo's free fall conclusion abstracting out the role of resistance to descent under gravity is not a "first-level generalization" and cannot be understood in terms of first-level concepts alone, let alone concepts with no words and "private languages".

There is no such thing as "lower level conceptualizations" or "lower level inductive conclusions" below the "first level"; they start at 1 and go up, not down. 1, 2, 3, ..., not 1, 0, -1, -2,..., subtracting the ability to use words on the way down to minus private infinity :-)

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I believe Harriman is not claiming Galileo, or anyone, arrived at the correct use of friction as in some Platonic Form or Aristotelean universal but rather as in the context of the infomation avaliable to him. If one criticizes "a primitive, incorrect [sic] understanding that equated air resistance with fluid-buoyancy" then one criticizes contextual epistemology.

What on earth do you mean? I'm not criticizing anything, and I'm not even talking about philosophy. Galileo, in the analysis of his experiments, apparently equated fluid-buoyancy with air-friction; this is a primitive (relative to modern knowledge), incorrect (it's not correct) first attempt at understanding the forces of resistance against an object traveling through media.

"a primitive, incorrect [sic] understanding that equated air resistance with fluid-buoyancy"

What is the [sic] for?

I wonder if people who make such assertions actually understand what Galileo did in regard to resistance to a falling object in different media, why he did it, and what was wrong with it -- or are those facts also to be regarded as "tedious history" that as mere facts may be impatiently and therefore safely ignored without looking at or assessing their relevance?

Harriman was clear about this. The concept of "friction" is a difficult one of nonlinear dissipative forces that is not fully fleshed out today, and yet Galileo was able to make correct general conclusions through induction. That was the point of the book.

Once again, CBell provides no answer. The question was, "What is the [sic] for?" in his deriding Carlos' observation that "equat[ing] air resistance with fluid-buoyancy" is incorrect. It is in fact incorrect. They are not the same force and do not play the same causal role.

LL was not "clear about this" and CBell has not addressed the reasons given for why it was not. Contrary to his "sic" insinuation, "A primitive, incorrect understanding that equated air resistance with fluid-buoyancy" is incorrect -- not "incorrect sic", not "contextually correct" -- but flat out wrong, and that matters in analyzing media resistive to free fall.

CBell has again ignored all that has been written here about the nature of Galileo's experiment, resistance to an object falling in air, Galileo's confusion in analyzing buoyancy instead of that resistance, and the erroneous account in LL. He also ignores what is written in LL concerning this controversy.

This matter has nothing to do with the fact that Galileo did not have a "full" understanding "flushing out" resistance -- whatever that is supposed to mean: All validated, correct knowledge is "full" knowledge of what it is about, but there is always more to understand. To call knowledge perpetually not "full" is a useless and invalid comparison with omniscience as a standard.

The nature and cause of resistance to free fall is in fact well understood today, though perhaps not to CBell, but that doesn't matter for this discussion, and it doesn't matter that Galileo did not and could not have that knowledge in his time. Galileo knew what resistance was in terms of a force opposing the free fall, but he did not measure that in his analysis. He measured something else. He held an invalid concept of the resistance, evidently inadvertently "package-dealing" the resistance to free fall with the resistive buoyancy force when pushing down on a submerged object, which is a different kind of force.

Galileo measured the wrong force, mistakenly believing he was doing comparative measurements and analysis of the resistance to free fall. The reasoning he gave for using air instead of other media to minimize the resistance was flat out wrong. LL correctly emphasized the importance of the role of resistance but did not acknowledge what Galileo mistakenly did, and misstated Galileo's own account of his own analysis in what LL erroneously called a "careful analysis of friction" -- it was "careful" but not an analysis of what he thought it was, which made his reasoning wrong in the published accounts he gave of it.

(Galileo also did not use the term "friction" and in today's context of knowledge "friction", which is viscosity, in the air only partially accounts for the cause of resistance to a falling object, due to pressure differences arising in the flow patterns, and to call the resistance "friction" is a loose and imprecise use of terminology. Buoyancy is not "friction" either, but these are matters of misused terminology not essential to an account of Galileo's relatively simple but historical free fall experiment and analysis factoring out the role of resistance.)

To observe these facts is not, contrary to CBell, to "criticize contextual epistemology". A mistake is a mistake. "Contextual knowledge" is not a get out of jail free card. Neither is an "impatience" for the facts of the nature of an experiment and its analysis.

I had raised the question, "I wonder if people who make such assertions actually understand what Galileo did in regard to resistance to a falling object in different media, why he did it, and what was wrong with it -- or are those facts also to be regarded as 'tedious history' that as mere facts may be impatiently and therefore safely ignored without looking at or assessing their relevance?"

CBell previously acknowledged emphatically that he has "no patience" for the historical facts, which he said he finds "tedious" and "hairsplitting". He wrote that he "found the history tedious and overdrawn" even as presented in LL. He erroneously wrote that the book's "purpose" is: "discovering induction in scientific discovery by first understanding induction via Objectivism". That is rationalism and is most certainly not the purpose stated by either Leonard Peikoff or Dave Harriman.

Whatever the various criticisms of what they actually accomplished in their reasoning or formulation, Leonard Peikoff and Dave Harriman sought to use their understanding of Objectivist epistemology in order to induce and properly formulate the philosophical principles of scientific induction by examining and analyzing indisputably successful instances of it, and what it relied on, in the history of physics.

CBell continues to ignore what is being said in the discussions here and the facts on which they are based, presenting his posts as if he were responding but only repeating misapplied generalities showing no understanding of what is being discussed or why. Given the history of these exchanges I do not expect him to understand this, but it is important that others do. He is not providing objective arguments and is not employing Ayn Rand's epistemology. Whatever you think of LL it does not need "defenses" of that kind.

Assertions that are false and need correction:

CBell has again ignored all that has been written here about the nature of Galileo's experiment,

Cbell has not ignore all that has been written here about the nature of Galileo's experiment.

This matter has nothing to do with the fact that Galileo did not have a "full" understanding "flushing out" resistance

This matter (re: lower-level concepts and their nature and origin) has much to do with the fact that Galileo . . .

The nature and cause of resistance to free fall is in fact well understood today

The nature and cause of nonlinear dissipative forces like friction are not well understood today and are the subject of controversy as to what is or is not a physically deterministic event. [see, of course, the work of Prigogine]

CBell previously acknowledged emphatically that he has "no patience" for the historical facts

Cbell has never acknowledge emphatically that he has "no patience" for the historical facts.

Galileo measured the wrong force, mistakenly believing he was doing comparative measurements and analysis of the resistance to free fall . . .

As one who has read the book, Logical Leap, Cbell understands that Galileo, having measured the "wrong force", came to a lower-order but nevertheless valid generalization, thus demonstrating the thesis of the book and showing the nature of lower-order concepts and their function in inductive logic. One who has not read the book might be unduly influenced by critical reviews emphasizing issues that have little bearing on the subject matter.

CBell continues to ignore what is being said in the discussions here

Cbell has a keen interest in good criticisms of the book from those who read the book and have a deep understanding of Objectivist epistemology.

[Cbell] is not providing objective arguments and is not employing Ayn Rand's epistemology.

Cbell is providing valid arguments for a thesis presenting a theory on induction and its manifestation within modern history of Enlightenment science both in contrast to the science that went before and some contemporaneous science such as a-gwt in the Global Warming Hoax, and Cbell also understands that much of the opposition to the GW Hoax was weak and ineffective from scientists who never learnt the principles of inductive logic from their Enlightenment forefathers and left the Hoax to be exposed by only two things: a criminal act as happened in the "climate-gate" email exposure and a persistent change in the weather.

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Science requires excruciating precision, both for understanding old theories and developing new ones. From this standpoint, these repeated urgings for us to drop our worries about these "hairs" that we are "splitting" is bewildering; one doesn't promote an understanding of science to the general public by "simplifying" to the point of making statements that are literally false.

You are right in the sense that it is not mere hairsplitting for one to insist that science in its epistemological journey must in any way conform to Platonic Forms or Aristotelean Essences, and that any theory not conforming the perfect concept [sic] ab initio is ipso facto wrong and/or over-simplifying. Moreover, simplifying Newton's journey from impetus to intertia to a hybrid as holding to a "bad concept" is not mere hairsplitting but wrong and misses the point of inductive discovery and keeps at least one foot in the grave of the discredited notion of the hypothesis of the axiomatic truth to which all conclusions must conform.

What are you trying to communicate? Excessively wordy, eloquent sentences are pretty on the eyes, but not efficient at conveying ideas.

It is not just "flowery", and to my eye and brain such prose is painful, not "pretty". Its incomprehensible generalities are unresponsive to what anyone has said.

No one has advocated Platonic forms or metaphysical essences in concepts, or standing in "graves" or inductive principles of physics conforming with alleged "axiomatic truths" other than the most basic ideas of existence and identity. Galileo is famous for leading the way in rejecting rationalistic elements of the earlier physics and no one has objected to that.

None of the dismissive flowery prose above has anything to do with our or John McCaskey's discussions of Galileo or the progression of ideas in early Newtonian physics over a couple of generations in Newton's time before it took the form of what we know it to be today. None of that is "hairsplitting" for those who want to understand how the inductive generalizations were in fact formulated and validated as opposed to a fictionalized account.

"Essentializing" can be good for certain purposes of exposition, but it does not mean ignoring relevant facts in misunderstanding the history of scientific ideas while dismissing objections as mere tedious facts and "hairsplitting". Facts and explanations based on them matter. We are not rationalists.

No one has advocated Platonic Forms or metaphysical essences? How did Galileo reject "rationalistic elements"? The answer is to be found in Harriman's book and no where else and is based on a rejection of notion of the idee fixe (from the notion of the universal) in which it is not possible to reach a valid conclusion without a fixed concept of friction that must correspond to truth contained in the universal, but rather that first-(or lower-)level conceptualizations are sufficient to reach valid first-(or lower-)level inductive conclusions. It is clearly argued for in Harriman's book. No re-telling of the history on Galileo's discovery can change that there is no such thing as a concept that corresponds to a universal and thus is the one and only rightful concept to reach a valid generalization.

No, no one has been advocating medieval scholastic rationalism. The flowery obscurantism with its incomprehensible generalities, which Carlos and I cited above, are unresponsive to what anyone here has said, aside from being incomprehensible. As I previously wrote, "Galileo is famous for leading the way in rejecting rationalistic elements of the earlier physics and no one has objected to that." Galileo has been known for centuries for his controlled, quantitative experimental approach systematically looking out at the world to find out how it works, breaking with the rationalist tradition. We did not need LL to tell us that and I doubt that Dave Harriman would say otherwise. LL is intended to identify and formulate the epistemological principles by which Galileo and other successful physicists reached the generalizations which they based on their systematic looking out at the world.

Observing that Galileo's own description of his measurements of buoyancy that he thought were forces resisting free fall but which were in fact another kind of force, and that he measured the wrong thing in his comparative analysis, has absolutely nothing to do with a supposed a perfect sic friction idee fixe ab initio is ipso facto universal essence in the grave. It was the wrong force. Objectively. The wrong force.

Whatever one thinks of the formulation or idea of first-level generalizations in the book, LL did not restrict itself to what it calls first-level generalizations. It describes a hierarchy of ever wider abstractions in generalizations that are based on the first level and ultimately reducible to them. Galileo's free fall conclusion abstracting out the role of resistance to descent under gravity is not a "first-level generalization" and cannot be understood in terms of first-level concepts alone, let alone concepts with no words and "private languages".

There is no such thing as "lower level conceptualizations" or "lower level inductive conclusions" below the "first level"; they start at 1 and go up, not down. 1, 2, 3, ..., not 1, 0, -1, -2,..., subtracting the ability to use words on the way down to minus private infinity :-)

Whatever one thinks of the formulation or idea of first-level generalizations in the book, LL did not restrict itself to what it calls first-level generalizations.

No one here ever said that it did. However, Cbell has pointed out serious errors in others' interpretation of Objectivist epistemology of just what is a first-order concept, and without such understanding there can be no valid understanding of any hierarchy of concepts. That a first-order concept as grapsed by a child who has no knowledge of words is any way dependent on a spoken language is (1) self-contradictary and (2) obviously not only not anything Rand wrote but clearly and specifically against which Rand wrote in ITOE 2. paragraph 7ff:

Let us now examine the process of forming the simplest concept, the concept of a single attribute (chronologically, this is not the first concept that a child would grasp; but it is the simplest one epistemologically)—for instance, the concept "length." If a child considers a match, a pencil and a stick, he observes that length is the attribute they have in common, but their specific lengths differ. The difference is one of measurement. In order to form the concept "length," the child's mind retains the attribute and omits its particular measurements. Or, more precisely, if the process were identified in words, it would consist of the following: "Length must exist in some quantity, but may exist in any quantity. I shall identify as 'length' that attribute of any existent possessing it which can be quantitatively related to a unit of length, without specifying the quantity."

The child does not think in such words (he has, as yet, no knowledge of words), but that is the nature of the process which his mind performs wordlessly. And that is the principle which his mind follows, when, having grasped the concept "length" by observing the three objects, he uses it to identify the attribute of length in a piece of string, a ribbon, a belt, a corridor or a street.

The same principle directs the process of forming concepts of entities—for instance, the concept "table." The child's mind isolates two or more tables from other objects, by focusing on their distinctive characteristic: their shape. He observes that their shapes vary, but have one characteristic in common: a flat, level surface and support(s). He forms the concept "table" by retaining that characteristic and omitting all particular measurements, not only the measurements of the shape, but of all the other characteristics of tables (many of which he is not aware of at the time).

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...
...

All I have seen Cbell present here are more assertions without any evidence or, as in the case of Ayn Rand's stated necessity of designating every concept with a word, evidence to the contrary. Repeating already refuted assertions and out of context citations, irrelevant, non-specific appeals to Harriman's book (which I have read) and bringing up global warming out of the blue do not help.

I will not be approving any of Cbell's further posts until and unless he directly addresses the specific criticisms of his assertions already made by other posters and backs up his assertions with new, relevant evidence.

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Thank you, ewv, for your highly focused clarity throughout this thread.

Seconded.

Thirded.

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David Harriman has recently responded (Dec 1) to criticism of the book's misuse of Ayn Rand's idea of a first-level concept. For my critique of what the book got wrong on first-level concepts, see my Amazon review of The Logical Leap here:

http://tinyurl.com/29e3g9u

Harriman's reply is here:

http://www.thelogicalleap.com/archives/124

And this is my response:

David Harriman's statement is remarkable. He seems to have forgotten that the source of Ayn Rand's theory of concepts is not Dr. Peikoff: it is, unsurprisingly, Ayn Rand.

Miss Rand held that first-level concepts are restricted to those that can be formed without prior concepts. She was explicit that these do not include concepts of actions or attributes. If you read the entirety of ITOE including her detailed discussions of first-level concepts in the Appendix pages 204-215 you will be left in no doubt that in her view, first-level concepts are restricted to those of perceptible entities like "chair" or "cat"-- or, if you prefer Mr. Harriman's own examples on page 12 of The Logical Leap, "table" or "dog". In my review above I provide adequate evidence for her rejection of action concepts like "hammering" or "roll" as first-level.

Rather than meet Miss Rand's criteria of what constitutes a first-level concept, Mr. Harriman has been reduced to an extraordinary defense of Dr. Peikoff's error. He writes of the conviction that Ayn Rand's definition of a first-level concept should be taken seriously: "I think this view derives from a failure to grasp what is meant by "level" in Objectivist epistemology. The concept "level" pertains to the hierarchical nature of knowledge."

This is misdirection. The question is not what the concept "level" pertains to. It is what the concept "first" means when combined with "level" and "concept". And the answer is: it means a concept that can be formed without prior concepts, i.e., a concept of a perceptible entity.

Mr. Harriman compounds his error. He quotes Dr. Peikoff writing in OPAR:

"A hierarchy of knowledge means a body of concepts and conclusions ranked in order of logical dependence, one upon another, according to each item's distance from the base of the structure. The base is the perceptual data with which cognition begins."

This is perfectly true, but now comes the distortion. Mr. Harriman writes:

"This base obviously includes the data integrated by concepts of attributes and actions that are directly perceived. If we classify such concepts as "first-level," then the idea serves an important function: we can talk about the reduction of higher-level knowledge to the first-level. But if we made the error of restricting the first-level to concepts of perceived entities, what function would this idea serve? The first-level would be so impoverished that nothing could be reduced to it. This restricted idea is a definition by inessentials."

As a classic piece of wishful thinking this is hard to beat. Note the attempt to pre-empt argument by the term "obviously". And note the collectivism in, "If we classify such concepts as "first-level," then the idea serves an important function: we can talk about the reduction of higher-level knowledge to the first-level." But "we" don't classify concepts on pragmatic grounds. As a genius, Ayn Rand did it on only one basis: what are the facts? Are concepts of attributes and actions first-level or not? Miss Rand specifically commented on concepts of attributes and actions. On page 15 of ITOE she wrote:

"In the process of forming concepts of entities, a child's mind has to focus on a distinguishing characteristic-i.e., on an attribute-in order to isolate one group of entities from all others. He is, therefore, aware of attributes while forming his first concepts, but he is aware of them perceptually, not conceptually. It is only after he has grasped a number of concepts of entities that he can advance to the stage of abstracting attributes from entities and forming separate concepts of attributes. The same is true of concepts of motion: a child is aware of motion perceptually, but cannot conceptualize "motion" until he has formed some concepts of that which moves, i.e., of entities."

So Mr Harriman's position reduces to: "How convenient it would be if Ayn Rand had defined first-level concepts more broadly. Therefore I will proceed to do so. I will include those categories of concepts she specifically excluded." But reality is not malleable. Ayn Rand wrote what she wrote. And Mr Harriman does not seem to grasp the profound reason for her position. Here is what she said, again on page 15 of ITOE:

"The first concepts man forms are concepts of entities-since entities are the only primary existents. (Attributes cannot exist by themselves, they are merely the characteristics of entities; motions are motions of entities; relationships are relationships among entities.)"

So her refusal to classify concepts of attributes and actions as first-level is to emphasize the primacy of entities. This is as profound a metaphysical and epistemological point as you can make. It is no small matter to undercut it. For what? To provide a "watertight" argument that a theory of induction has been achieved when it hasn't. This is unworthy.

The basic flaw in The Logical Leap is the attempt to escape from the law of identity as it applies to the conceptual realm. In Ayn Rand's correct view everything at the conceptual level is volitional and therefore fallible. It is man's glory that he can still produce objective knowledge by following a correct method. But there is no shortcut whereby conceptual knowledge becomes automatic and infallible as it is at the perceptual level. Yet that is precisely what Mr. Harriman attempts to claim by distorting the meaning of "first-level concept". On page 28 of The Logical Leap he writes :

"When a first-level inducer identifies his concrete experience of cause and effect in terms of words, his perceptual grasp of the causal relationship becomes thereby a conceptual grasp of it, i.e., a generalization. And since the application of first-level concepts is automatic and self-evident, the two aspects of a first-level generalization-the perceptual and the conceptual-are each, to a human mind, self-evident."

No application at the conceptual level is "automatic and self-evident". Every step requires choice and the risk of error. It is man's unique achievement that he can master the conceptual level. But he doesn't do it by re-writing reality to make first-level concepts anything he wants them to be and certainly not by claiming "automatic" correctness in their application.

The Logical Leap is an assault on the fundamentals of Ayn Rand's philosophy.

(To read the above in context go to comment 10 at my Amazon review:

http://tinyurl.com/29e3g9u

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Harriman responds to some criticisms.

Of course, people also knew that a cannonball falls faster than a straw hat. One must appreciate the effects of air resistance in order to reach Galileo’s broad principle that all bodies accelerate at the same rate in free fall (“free” means “in the absence of friction”). I emphasized this point in my book, but I did so without citing the specific observations that contributed to Galileo’s appreciation of friction (for example, the experiments in which he dropped bodies through fluids). Strangely, this has led some of my critics to charge me with “historical inaccuracy.” In fact, it is simply one example of how I condensed and essentialized the material. I wanted to keep the emphasis on what is revolutionary about Galileo’s physics—and that is his brilliant quantitative experiments that led to mathematical laws.

Free Falling with Galileo

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Harriman responds to some criticisms.
Of course, people also knew that a cannonball falls faster than a straw hat. One must appreciate the effects of air resistance in order to reach Galileo’s broad principle that all bodies accelerate at the same rate in free fall (“free” means “in the absence of friction”). I emphasized this point in my book, but I did so without citing the specific observations that contributed to Galileo’s appreciation of friction (for example, the experiments in which he dropped bodies through fluids). Strangely, this has led some of my critics to charge me with “historical inaccuracy.” In fact, it is simply one example of how I condensed and essentialized the material. I wanted to keep the emphasis on what is revolutionary about Galileo’s physics—and that is his brilliant quantitative experiments that led to mathematical laws.

Free Falling with Galileo

This was already discussed in these prior posts:

http://forums.4aynrandfans.com/index.php?s...st&p=109746

http://forums.4aynrandfans.com/index.php?s...st&p=109754

http://forums.4aynrandfans.com/index.php?s...st&p=109778

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David Harriman has recently responded (Dec 1) to criticism of the book's misuse of Ayn Rand's idea of a first-level concept. For my critique of what the book got wrong on first-level concepts, see my Amazon review of The Logical Leap here:

http://tinyurl.com/29e3g9u

Harriman's reply is here:

http://www.thelogicalleap.com/archives/124

And this is my response:

David Harriman's statement is remarkable. He seems to have forgotten that the source of Ayn Rand's theory of concepts is not Dr. Peikoff: it is, unsurprisingly, Ayn Rand.

Miss Rand held that first-level concepts are restricted to those that can be formed without prior concepts. She was explicit that these do not include concepts of actions or attributes. If you read the entirety of ITOE including her detailed discussions of first-level concepts in the Appendix pages 204-215 you will be left in no doubt that in her view, first-level concepts are restricted to those of perceptible entities like "chair" or "cat"-- or, if you prefer Mr. Harriman's own examples on page 12 of The Logical Leap, "table" or "dog". In my review above I provide adequate evidence for her rejection of action concepts like "hammering" or "roll" as first-level.

First of all, let's be historically accurate. Miss Rand does not even use the terminology of "first-level concepts" in her written version of ITOE. Her first use of a similar term, which is not discussed in any detail, is in Chapter 7:

"This includes such categories as (a) the perceptual concretes with which men deal daily, preresented by the first level of abstractions..."

and in Chapter 8:

"Above first-level abstraction of perceptual concretes, most people hold concepts as loose approximations..." and

"The result is a mentality that treats the first-level abstractions, the concepts of physical existents, as if they were percepts..."

Concepts of physical existents are first-level abstractions.

An abstraction is "a selective mental focus that takes out or separates a certain aspect of reality from all others (e.g., isolates a certain attribute from the entities possessing it, or a certain action from the entities performing it, etc.)"

Where in Rand's written and published works does she use the terminology "first level concepts"?

In the 2nd edition of ITOE, the following is noted.

The questions generally dealt with highly technical subjects, which demand rigorous precision. Ayn Rand's answers were completely extemporaneous. She said as much or as little on a given point as the company required for its own clarity. Miss Rand did not speak with an eye to publication or consider the needs of a future audience.

No one, not even Ayn Rand, can speak extemporaneously with the precision and economy possible in written work. If she had decided to publish the workshops, Miss Rand would have edited the material extensively, weighing every word choice. The substance of her position on the issues would not have changed in such a case, but she would have undoubtedly have decided to make many revision in wording.

In OPAR, Dr. Peikoff mentions

(... many concepts of consciousness may correctly be described as "first level" since they are formed diretly from one's observation of the mental state involved, with no previous concepts of consciousness being required.)

I submit that your demand that Objectivist literature restricts the use of the term "first level" to only the way you mean is unfounded. Running and rolling certainly are first level abstractions: abstractions of certain attributes of perceptual level existents: their actions, which are directly perceivable.

-----------

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