Jim A.

Free will--another axiom?

13 posts in this topic

I've been wondering for awhile about the position of the fact of volition in the hierarchy of ideas.

The three basic axioms in a consistently rational philosophy, according to Dr. Leonard Peikoff in Objectivism: the Philosophy of Ayn Rand (which I last read years ago), are: existence, identity and consciousness. But what about volition? I've searched through Dr. Peikoff's book, but I cannot find anything stating that free will is an axiom. Is it? It seems to me it would be as basic and necessary to cognition that one would not be able to think properly without holding the idea of volition, either consiously or implicitly.

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As I recall, early Leonard Peikoff lectures presented what he called a proof of the validity of free will, but later lectures subsequently presented it as an axiom and used the same basic arguments to prove that it is an axiom (with no discussion or acknowledgment of the change). Volition, which is observed in the process of thought, is presupposed by the concept of proof: the combination of fallibility and determinism would make impossible the distinction between true and false, the discovery of error, and proof.

The 1999 Glossary of Objectivist Definitions edited by Allison Kunze and Jean Moroney presents volition and free will as the same "axiomatic concept". It cites Ayn Rand's article "The Metaphysical Versus the Man-Made" for the meaning, but that article does not discuss the axiomatic status. "Axiomatic concepts" are discussed in Ayn Rand's IOE, focusing on only the three basic axioms of existence, consciousness and identity, which are regarded as fundamental and the first required, but not all inclusive.

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Identity and existence cannot be denied by any individual. Free will, I think, is a function specifically of consciousness and therefore not axiomatic.

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Not being a "function of consciousness" is not the criterion for an axiomatic concept.

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Free Will, I think, IS a function of consciousness, and is therefore NOT axiomatic because it is derivative of consciousness. Free will can be differentiated, so to speak, and one finds it assumes, "has to have", consciousness as a root.

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Not being a "function of consciousness" is not the criterion for an axiomatic concept.

Correct. For X to qualify as an axiom the very denial of X has to assume the truth of X.

Such X's are rare but they exist.

ruveyn

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Free Will, I think, IS a function of consciousness, and is therefore NOT axiomatic because it is derivative of consciousness. Free will can be differentiated, so to speak, and one finds it assumes, "has to have", consciousness as a root.

Again, not being a "function of consciousness" is not the criterion for an axiomatic concept. To repeat that free will is an attribute of consciousness does not make it a non-axiomatic concept. It is presupposed by the concept of proof. To deny volition is to deny the concept of proof.

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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. Kau

If you have a consciousness, and you conceive it, it is true? If you have will, it must be free, by definition and the identity of awareness? Come on, we're talking about axioms, don't be so cryptic. I've read your posts and I'm interested in your exposed view as much as your attempt to post a teaching tool.

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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

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Dr. Binswanger has a great lecture on Free Will where he covers the ostensive evidence for how we form the concept and why it is an axiomatic concept. It is a very interesting lecture, I particularly enjoyed the last quarter as it basically summarized all the previous material and dealt with some polemic arguments in a very amusing fashion. It's available at the ayn Rand e-store for a small fee. Here is the link.

https://estore.aynrand.org/p/353/free-will-mp3-download

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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.

The previous discussion was not a "canned" answer, and neither did your post add anything new.

The question was answered and discussed, with reference to previous explanations, before your post, so no you don't have "provide the whole answer" and no one asked for that.

jacassidy2 didn't say the topic is "cryptic or rationalistic"; he was referring to your previous post.

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Dr. Binswanger has a great lecture on Free Will where he covers the ostensive evidence for how we form the concept and why it is an axiomatic concept. It is a very interesting lecture, I particularly enjoyed the last quarter as it basically summarized all the previous material and dealt with some polemic arguments in a very amusing fashion. It's available at the ayn Rand e-store for a small fee. Here is the link.

https://estore.aynrand.org/p/353/free-will-mp3-download

Thanks for the reference. It's good that someone is exploring and elaborating on these topics beyond the basics of this position first presented and explained by Ayn Rand and Leonard Peikoff.

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