Betsy Speicher

Do concepts change?

207 posts in this topic

Tom, you seem to have ignored ewv's (Apr 2) response to Betsy, as in your own response (Apr 3) to Betsy, and elsewhere, you nevertheless went on to repeat the very same contradiction which ewv had identified in your argument. Perhaps illumination from a slightly different angle will reveal aspects of the problem you have not yet considered.

The contradiction stems from your chronic misusage of certain words, particularly egregious being your reference to an invalid concept as a "variant" or "version" of a valid concept, as though they are in some respect on par with each other. That error is only compounded with your use and preference of the term "corrupted concept", which implies change and therefore (conveniently) presupposes your main argument. I will use only 'invalid concept'. To be clear, no concept has yet been shown by you or anyone else to have been changed, never mind corrupted.

Keep in mind that "valid concept" is a redundancy, the 'valid' being there only for emphasis. An invalid concept is a contradiction in terms. As such, it cannot exist. An invalid concept, under objective rules of conceptualization, is actually an invalid integration of existents. Such an integration can never rise to the level of 'concept'. Therefore, an invalid concept (= non-concept = that which does not exist) cannot logically be construed in any sense as a variant or version of a valid concept (= that which does exist).

A nonexistent is not a variant or version of an existent.

Your quoting out of context an instance of (at worst) imprecise word usage by Ayn Rand does not change that fact. Nor does it constitute "evidence" or reason to infer either that concepts can be changed or that Ayn Rand thought they could be changed.

Your persistence in misusing the words mentioned above serves only to corrupt them and invite their destruction. In order to attack a concept it has always been the word that is corrupted (by persistent misusage), not the concept itself. Why? Because you can no more corrupt or invalidate a valid concept than you can invalidate that aspect of reality to which the concept refers. Whether it was Aryan "logic", tax "donations", or "scientific" Creationism, it is the word that had to be dealt with. That is how the rotten game is played, and it is played that way out of necessity and for one reason: Concepts do not change.

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The Letters and Replies section of the current issue of The Objective Standard has a discussion involving this issue. The letter writer comments about the different meanings of 'toleration.' Biddle's response is right on target demonstrating how the concept contains a package deal and that it is the actual meaning (the referents) of the concept that determine its usage.

Like it or not, the meaning of a word (not a concept, but a word) can change.
Several examples follow that make it clear that concepts do not change.

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I hope to have some new material up at my website over the next day or so:

http://www.conceptvariation.com/

The new material is now up. I have also provided a glossary of the terms used in my theory plus an examination of whether a valid concept can be changed for the better using an example of a concept-modification by Ayn Rand. Links are provided on the Home page.

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There is nothing new there. It has all been discussed and rejected here previously, which remains unacknowledged in the ongoing promotions. This "theory" has nothing to do with Objectivism and to continue to claim otherwise, including exploiting the Forum, is misleading.

It is highly inappropriate to promote that "theory" as an extension of Ayn Rand's epistemology, such as claiming it is based on Ayn Rand's "premises" and other out of context statements as an implied endorsement, and it is highly inappropriate to use the Forum to continue promoting that website as if nothing had been said here in rejecting it. If someone wants to pursue his own "epistemology" in contrast to IOE he should do it on his own without using Ayn Rand's name and the Forum to promote it.

The advertisements here and elsewhere do not acknowledge the numerous posts that provide explanation in great detail addressing the fallacies and misrepresentations of Objectivism, and the consequent overwhelming rejection of the "theory" and it's alleged connection to Objectivism -- as if none of this exists and as if unreferenced objections are only one-liner "myths". Honest scholarship acknowledges objections in the terms in which they are expressed, and it references them; it doesn't ignore and smear them as "myth" in a polemical promotional campaign with no recognition of or reference to what has actually been written, and with no acknowledgment of arguments and explanation that have been provided.

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Tom, in constructing your "theory", you have in effect insinuated certain of your own ideas into Any Rand's epistemology, while disregarding the contradictions which result.

Conceptual subdivision involves isolating certain referents of a concept from all the others subsumed by that (wider) concept, and integrating the referents isolated into a subordinate (narrower) concept. Contrary to your "theory", this does not entail change. Focusing more closely on something does not change it. Isolating conceptually the things you have focused on does not change them. The wider concept has not changed. The new, narrower concept has not changed. Indeed, there is no concept which has undergone a change of any sort anywhere to be seen. A theory requires the presentation of real evidence. You have merely alluded to "evidence" (Apr 3), which apparently no one but you has been able to perceive.

In conceptualization, the words 'subdivision' and 'integration', though they imply process, do not imply change. In an effort nevertheless to force 'concepts' into an evolutionary context (one in which they do not belong), it is necessary to impose words which do imply change. In this case, you have replaced Ayn Rand's 'subdivision' with "variant" (indicating 'a deviation from') and "version" (indicating 'a modification of'). However, just as 'subdivision' entails no change, 'variant' (in the sense you are intending) and 'version' entail no subdivision. Partly obscuring this fact is that the word 'variant' is often used as well as a synonym of 'subclass' or 'variety' (Ayn Rand used it this way herself on at least one occasion), but that is not at all how you are using the word in your argument. Ignoring all this has led you to describe conceptual subdivision in contradictory terms.

Consider the relation between a concept and one of its subdivisions in terms of, respectively, genus and species. Logically, a species (i.e., narrower concept) is not and cannot be a departure from its own genus (i.e., wider concept). A genus, in the sense relevant here, is the immediate context within which certain referents can be isolated from other referents and integrated into a species. Conceptually, that context is part of the meaning of the species. The concept 'bird', for instance, which refers to animals having feathers, has no meaning as simply feathers, that is, as feathers apart from the fact that birds are also 'animals'. A species cannot constitute a deviation from (= variant) nor modification (= version) of its own context, that is, of any part of its own meaning (i.e., of its own identity). The alternative is a self-contradiction.

For example, the subdivision 'crow' (qua species) is neither a variant nor version of 'bird' (qua genus). The concept 'bird' refers to animals having feathers. Crows have feathers. The meaning of 'bird' includes crows. Logically, therefore, crows cannot be deviations from or modifications of birds. Crows are birds. That is, the meaning of 'crow' cannot deviate from, nor be a modification of, the contextual component upon which the meaning of 'crow' itself depends, namely 'bird'. Crows cannot be in any respect a variant or version of themselves = of that which they are = of any aspect of their own nature, such as being a bird.

Your "theory", on the other hand, involves dropping this context. Hence the contradictions.

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