RohinGupta

ANNOUNCING STUDY GROUP ON INDUCTIVE METHOD OF THINKING, ITS FOUNDATION

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Burgess' statement, repeated by RohinGupta, claimed that with Ayn Rand's theory of universals as objective concepts "one could -- given genius and time -- recreate Objectivism even if all of Ayn Rand's other writings were lost". It is not true for the reasons explained, and has nothing to do with respect for Burgess' studies of Aristotle, which is not the topic. It makes no more sense than claiming that Ayn Rand's philosophy could be "recreated" from "A is A", or that all of physics could be "recreated" from any one principle of logic. Trying to personalize this with a deflection into "condemnation" of alleged "disrespect" doesn't change that.

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Burgess' statement, repeated by RohinGupta, claimed that with Ayn Rand's theory of universals as objective concepts "one could -- given genius and time -- recreate Objectivism even if all of Ayn Rand's other writings were lost". It is not true for the reasons explained, and has nothing to do with respect for Burgess' studies of Aristotle, which is not the topic. It makes no more sense than claiming that Ayn Rand's philosophy could be "recreated" from "A is A", or that all of physics could be "recreated" from any one principle of logic. Trying to personalize this with a deflection into "condemnation" of alleged "disrespect" doesn't change that.

This was the statement made in post #23 "Burgess can study Aristotle until the cows come home (which he apparently has), but knowing Ayn Rand's theory of universals won't recreate the rest of her philosophy."

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This response is sufficient for main thread.

"

I think anybody who reads through both the posts can infer who is being objective, and who is being rationalist.

"

The response to disrespect was my attempt to protect legacy of people I value highly.

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Sharing answers of couple of questions from the list I shared before.

Q8. For concepts that are wider or narrower than particular concept (for table narrower concept is dining table and wider concept is furniture), how does units subsumed and their essential characteristics differ from corresponding first level concept(like table)?

[i realized this question is necessary later. You may have to read chapter 3, "Abstractions from abstractions" to answer this]

Ans: The units subsumed by concept table at the end of unit stage are - {T1, T2, T3....T10}
[before I was referring to concretes indirectly by specifying percepts. But specifying concretes directly is easier. However, the fact remains that concretes are connected to concepts via percepts. Plus if one has perceived same object multiple times, one tends to consider any one percept of the existent, unless one is closely involved with the study of the existent.].

A. Dining Table: Whenever child first perceives existent that he will later classify as dining table, we can say that existent stage of dining table is reached.

Lets say T3, T5, and T7 refer to dining tables, and rest refer to some other types of tables. Thus the grouping of concretes subsumed by table in unit stage is equivalent to identity stage for concept "dining table".
[The identity stage of concept table was something like {T1, C1, B1, T2, C2, T3, B2...}]

Once unit stage for dining table is reached, the units subsumed by dining table can be grouped together in adjacent locations as follows
{T3,T5,T7}
Further, the units subsumed at unit stage for concept table can be optimized as follows
{T1,T2,dining tables, T4,T6,T8,T10}
The specification and CCD of dining table in the context that distinguishes its referrants from other types of tables will be
{Its height is more than drawing room and living room tables - essential characteristic, Mostly people eat here, It has mostly food items and cutlery pieces kept here - PROPERTIES OTHER THAN ESSENTIAL CHARACTERISTIC}.
This essential characteristic and properties would again be mostly in the form of images for child.

B. Furniture: For wider concept like furniture, lets assume that concepts Table, Chair, and Bed have reached unit stage. At that point the list of objects in some location of mind can be as follows
{E1, E2, Toys, Bowls, Chairs, Table, Windows, Table, Bed, Doors, E3, E4 ...}
[E1, E2 etc. being the entities other than those already conceptualized as units.
I think once concept like table is formed by keeping chair as foil, soon concept of chair will also be formed with table as foil. And after that concepts of bowl, bed etc. That is items that are spatially near units of concepts already formed. Which is why I am not mixing particulars like E1, E2 with universals like "Table", "Chair" etc.].

Concretes subsumed by concept chair
{C1, C2, C3}
Specification of concept chair {image of shape chair - essential characteristic, Image of person sitting - Characteristic other than essential characteristic, since person may not be sitting on it always}

Concretes subsumed by concept Bed
{B1,B2}
Specification of concept Bed = { shape of Bed - essential characteristic, Imagery of person sleeping or relaxing - Characteristic other than essential characteristic}

Concretes subsumed by concept table
{T1, T2, T3}
Specification of concept table = {imagery of shape of table - Essential characteristic; Imagery of cups, food, mobile etc on it - Characteristics Other than essential characteristic}

Coming to what can be considered as the existent stage of concept furniture. For concept table, existent stage was reached as soon as its first unit was perceived. Since units of "furniture" are first level concepts, so as soon as any one of the concept of "Table", "Chair", or "Bed" etc. reaches unit stage, existent stage of "Furniture" is partially completed. Further, I think, generalization like "Table is movable, equivalent to human size, and serves human function" should also be reached for existent stage of furniture. This generalization should be in the form of new elements added to the specification of table. {Similar to Human size, serves human function} added to {Table shape image} being the form of specification.

To move to identity stage, two or more concepts of its units need to be formed. Further, if one goes by same method as formation of first level concepts, they should be in locations of memory that also have foils like toys, windows and bowls[which should also be conceptualized]. And so the identity stage of furniture should be something like(this is what I thought intutively)
In one location of mind child should have following objects
{Bowls, Chairs, Toys, Table, Bed, Doors, windows}
But on second thoughts, I don't think this qualifies as identity stage of concept furniture....

Unlike percepts, first level concepts are heavier. That is unlike percept which epistemologically is self-contained, first level concepts refer to percepts, attributes(which also further refer to percepts), and few actions[attributes and actions are formed as charateristics for concept of entity]. So being in same locations should be more than just having symbols of "first level concepts" together. Infact, relevant specifications of these concepts, represented as generalizations should be together.

So for identity stage of furniture, to enable concept of furniture to reach unit stage, identity stage will be following set of generalizations

{Table can support humans, and is equivalent to their size; Chair can support humans, and is equivalent to their size; Bed can support humans, and is equivalent to their size}
These generalizations I think need not be in the form of sentences, atleast not for child. It can be in the form of "symbol of human" sitting on "symbol of chair", or "has hands on" "symbol of table" etc.

Like

PICTORIAL REPRESENTATION OF GENERALIZATION "CHAIR CAN SUPPORT HUMANS, AND IS EQUIVALENT TO THEIR SIZE"
O
| | Person Sitting on chair
| |_
__ |
| ||
Chair

At the unit stage, the concretes subsumed by concept furniture will be
{Table, Chairs, Bed}
And the essential characteristic of furniture will be {Can support Humans , Size equivalent to the size of humans(which eliminates bowls and toys), Movable items(unlike doors and windows) - might be added to the specifications during expansion of concept }

Q6. What does it mean to say - "only alternatives would be for an entity to act apart from its nature or against it; both of these are impossible".

Ans: From OPAR - "A thing cannot act apart from its nature or against it; both of these are impossible, because existence is identity; apart from its nature, a thing is nothing. A thing cannot act against its nature, i.e, in contradiction to its identity, because A is A and contradictions are impossible. In any given set of circumstances, therefore, there is only one action possible to an entity, the action expressive of its identity. This is the action it will take, the action that is caused and necessitated by its nature.

MY FURTHER ANALYSIS:

In this section two validations of "Law of Causality" are given. One explicit validation quoted in previous para(from OPAR), and one implicit validation which included rattle, pillow, rolling of ball etc(also there in answer to Q3). I will try to connect these two here.

The first question that comes to mind is what exactly is the nature of entity. There are two aspects to it, first is what entity actually is. Second is what we know about entity, which if valid is the subset of what entity actually is. While collecting information to acquire knowledge of entity, various actions of the entity can be included in its list of characteristics, though not necessarily as essentials of entity. Like rolling can be the property of ball, though rounded shape will be a more fundamental characteristic.

So nature of entity can be summed up as the collection of all attributes of the entity and actions the entity performs. When we say that an entity cannot act in contradiction to its nature, it implies that particular action being studied may also be part of the nature of entity. But what we are interested in is the fact whether this action is consistent with other attributes and actions of the entity. That is, other attributes and actions are consistent with the different units of the action observed. So rolling is the part of nature of ball, but when we establish that rolling is in the nature of rounded shape when pushed, then we establish the causal relationship between one characteristic(shape) and another characteristic (rolling, a concept of action). At later point we might see that spherical magnet does not roll on magnetic surface. What this establishes(after few more experiments on different materials) is that attraction and therefore impeding of other direction motion is in the nature of attracting magnets. And beyond certain quantity it can override the nature of spherical and solid shape to roll when pushed.

So to sum up, implicit knowledge of causality requires collecting data(attributes and actions) about characteristics of various entities, and connecting that data. The explicit grasp of causality is itself a concept. The concretes subsumed by that concept are various events we observed in the implicit grasp. And in simpler terms, essence of "concept cause" is the fact that in none of these events the attributes and characteristics are inconsistent.

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Today I posted following questions from Introduction by Dr. Peikoff of "The Logical Leap - Induction in Physics"

Q1. Why physics is the most universal of sciences?

Q2. "If" and "How can" physics be used to communicate rational philosphy?

Q3. How has science and physics been used to communicate irrational philosophy?

Q4. What relationship is established here between concept formation and induction?

Q5. Based on the Introduction, what is the purpose and style of TLL?

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Today I posted "Answers to Questions from Introduction by Dr. Peokioff to THE LOGICAL LEAP - INDUCTION IN PHYSICS"

Sharing sample answer for wider audience.

Q4. What relationship is established here between concept formation and induction?
Ans:
From TLL
A theory of generalizations presupposes a theory of concepts. One must grasp how the constituent concepts of a generalization are related to reality before one can grasp how the generalization itself is related to reality.

...[For inductive generalization] although she[Ayn Rand] did not provide the solution, she did provide the key to it. Mr. Harriman shows that valid concepts, in her definition of concepts, not only make possible but also guide our search for true generalizations.... Every major aspect of the Objectivist view of concepts - including the role of similarities and differences, of integration, of hierarchy, of context - has a counterpart in the theory of generalizations. Indeed, generalization, Mr. Harriman explains, "is nothing more(or less) than an essential form of the method of concept formation."

[italics in above TLL text are mine]

MY FURTHER ANALYSIS
In seeking inductive generalizations, we seek causal connections in abstract form. I can see essentially two types of causal connections. One that we seek between entity and action, more specifically between relevant characteristics of entity that make the action possible. This type I think covers a broad range of generalizations that involve gravity, chemical reaction or Political revolution. The second is seeking connection between essential characteristic of the entity identified, and other attribute(property to be exact) identified in the entity. Like for example checking "All swans are white". Here white is not an action, but we seek connection between an entity and attribute. Likewise, there might be middle case, where particular characteristic is treated like an attribute, but it is action. Like in "Man speaks language", while for all practical(mostly syllogistic) purposes we can consider speaking language as an attribute. Strictly speaking it is action that is caused by the rational nature of man.

So in generalization, as in concept formation, we have to first observe various concretes subsumed by the generalization. Like for generalization "Ball rolls on pushing", observing instance or instances of various balls rolling on being pushed. While in concept formation we abstract essential characteristic(s) after grouping units that are subsumed, in forming an inductive generalization there is psychologically similar step where we need to identify concepts that subsume entities involved in the actions we observe(that is, as in abstraction, here we selectively focus on the percept of generalization. We selectively focus to infer entities and attributes involved in action).

So any inductive generalization I think can be specified as follows.

Symbol - Sentence like "Pushing rolls ball" or Picture of man sitting on chair for early form of generalization "Chair can support man".
Concepts - {Ball, rolling, pushing}
(Not just the symbols of these concepts, but indirectly also the units these concepts subsume and their characteristics ).
units of generalization - {Percepts involving ball rolling on being pushed in bowling, in tennis court, in cricket match etc.}
For generalization also there can be CCD. Like for "pushing rolls the ball", CCD can be "man causing motion" which includes foils like "ball not rolling when not pushed" and "ball rolling further when pushed harder".

Further, it might be possible to subsume same existent perceived for generalization into different concepts. For e.g. percept of particular soccer-ball can be subsumed by soccer-ball, spherical ball or solid movable object. As in concept formation, what concept subsumes percept in mind is determined by the purpose or CCD of inducing generalization. If the purpose like Galileo is to reduce friction in experiment, then the ball can be subsumed under the concept spherical ball. And if the purpose is for soccer player to perfect passing technique, percept of same ball can be subsumed under the concept soccer ball.
(Though Galileo uses metal balls to reduce friction, he would have to first observe regular play balls to conceive the idea of reducing friction using metal balls).

Further, while forming inductive generalization also there can be existent, identity and unit stages.
For generalization "Ball rolls on pushing" existent stage might be same as existent stage for concept of action rolling. That is pushing rolling the ball.(the existent stage will be different if first time rolling observed is "rolling of rocks in valley due to natural forces"). However, while identity stage for rolling will include percepts of rolling, sliding, walking etc. The identity stage of generalization can have more elaborate each element and a more delimited set. It will be percepts of "ball not rolling on not being pushed", "ball rolling on being pushed", "ball rolling more distance on being pushed harder". And unit stage of generalization, as described before, will involve Symbol, Concepts and "units subsumed".
Why conceptual framework is necessary for formulating generalizations, and exact steps leading to this and higher generalizations will be described later. But briefly, if there were no concepts, identity stage of inductive generalization would have to include many more perceptual instances. Like sliding, walking, rolling of cubicle blocks, kicking, pushing, rolling due to invisible actor, rotation only, etc. But most of these percepts are omitted while formulating concepts of rolling, ball, or pushing. Thus a smaller set during identity stage of induction(due to conceptual framework) enables better focus on induction.

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Today I posted following questions from the Preface of THE LOGICAL LEAP - INDUCTION IN PHYSICS

Q1. What were questions that created the need for this book?

Q2. What are cultural challenges that make this book difficult and necessary?

Q3. What are the scientific and philosophic elements in the book?

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Today I posted Answers to Questions on Preface of THE LOGICAL LEAP - INDUCTION IN PHYSICS

Sharing sample answer for wider audience

Q1. What were questions that created the need for this book?

Ans: From TLL

Dr. Peikoff became interested in problem of induction, i.e., the epistemological question of how we can know the truth of inductive generalizations. Realizing that he needed to know more about the scientific discovery process in order to tackle this question, he hired me as his private tutor. Over the next year, we covered the history of physical science from Ancient Greece through nineteenth century.

After Dr. Peikoff had digested this material and integrated it with his knowledge of philosophy, what emerged was a new theory of induction that he discussed in a lecture course titled "Induction in physics and epistemology". I was excited by his breakthrough discoveries in a field that had been left for dead by contemporary philosophers, which is a full presentation of his theory as it applies to physical science.

MY FURTHER ANALYSIS

Knowing truth of inductive generalizations I think covers four parts :

1. Forming the inductive generalization that is unknown. Newton's discovery of gravity will fall in this category.

2. Validating the inductive generalization one has himself formulated, but through new concretes. Newton using gravity to explain high and low tides will come in this category.

3. Validating inductive generalization somebody else has formulated, but with different concretes. Hailey exactly predicting time and path of comet using law of gravitation falls under this category.

4. Validating inductive generalization by retracing the steps. Newton or Galileo revising their theories, or we studying their theories will fall under this category.

Inductive method in structured form mainly started with Galileo, Kepler and Newton. And even today, with the degradation in post enlightenment science, it is their discoveries that can re-enable us to develop inductive reasoning. In another field, while methods of founding fathers were also inductive, understanding induction using a social science would be more difficult, because of larger number of variables involved(though a good follow up as in DIM). And unlike literature of Hugo and Dostovesky, given greater and longer consistency of scientists, induction is best understood using science.

Like Deductive reasoning required some development in Geometry to be explicitly formulated, so some subject must be developed implicitly using induction before rules of inductive reasoning are formulated. So science in general, and physics in particular acts like an ante-room to the theory of induction.

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I am very sorry to say that Burgess Laughlin, the owner of study-group web site, has passed away. Please find his obituary message on his main website:

http://www.reasonversusmysticism.com/

If you would like to make a comment, please do so at his blog:

http://aristotleadventure.blogspot.com/

Burgess was my best friend, a guide, a mentor, even though we had never met. Separated by thousands of miles, I took to his blogs, personal correspondance and then the books of Burgess, when my professional life was in crisis.

As a mark of respect, I will be mourning Burgess for 1 week. All my studies remain suspended during this period. As a consequence, the schedule of this study-group will go ahead by 1 week.

We have updated the schedule in order to have a one week delay now, in memory of Burgess.

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Resuming study-group

Today I complete one week mourning in the memory of Burgess. I spent this time re-reading few parts from both the books by Burgess.

Burgess always looked for clarity in all issues, and dedicated latter part of his life in highlighting heroic elements within influential intellectuals. Not only did he discover this heroism in the lives of rational intellectuals like Aristotle, Ayn Rand, and Locke. But also within Kant, Augustine, and Porphyry. Sometime next year, probably aligned to his birthday 4th of July, I plan to start a study-group from one of his book. I am thinking of the chapter on Ayn Rand.

For now, I think best tribute that we can pay to Burgess is giving our best in this study-group. Looking for heroic elements within us, that Burgess saw all around and presented magnificiently. So let our own Aristotle like Adventure resume[1], even as we seek power of intellect[2] to achieve glory in its pursuit[3].

P.S:

[1] Its the story of transmission and dissemination of rational ideas.

[2]How Burgess defined power?
Ability to make changes in one's world despite opposing views held by others.
Pg. 192 of THE POWER AND THE GLORY

[3]How Burgess defined Glory?
Glory is the state of mind that arises from aligning, in action, one's highest personal values with philosophical values, that is, ideas all individuals should value. Like happiness, glory is not an emotion, which is fleeting, but a state of mind, which is slow to chan

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Correcting incomplete part in previous post

[3]How Burgess defined Glory?
Glory is the state of mind that arises from aligning, in action, one's highest personal values with philosophical values, that is, ideas all individuals should value. Like happiness, glory is not an emotion, which is fleeting, but a state of mind, which is slow to change.
Pg. 256 of THE POWER AND THE GLORY

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Just posted related text in SGO, from the works of Burgess. Posting one part

Induction in POWER AND GLORY

Q. How Burgess inductively presented concept faith?
Ans:
The units subsumed by concept faith just prior to Jesus were

1. Metaphysical unit : A belief that God exists.
2. Epistemological unit : Assent to what God says as truth.
3. Ethical unit : Personal commitment to follow God's instructions for how to act.
4. Psychological unit : This element was taken from Judaism, while previous 3 were of greek origin. It was steadfast trust. That is trust in god that never changed.

Symbols were "pistis" in greek and "emunah" in Hebrew.

The "Conceptual Common Denominator" for the above concept is "fundamental ideas". The foil for Burgess being reason, another fundamental idea. Jesus however contrasted faith from doubt, considering steadfast as the primary unit of faith. Actually however, metaphysical unit is the starting point for other units of faith.

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How Burgess defined reason?

I think previous post will be incomplete unless we know how Burgess defined reason.
Here is the definition from page 3 of POWER AND GLORY.

Reason is the ability of the mind to
1. Integrate ideas - concepts, principles, and theories - from a multitude of discrete sense-perceptions of reality.
2. Use various techniques of double-checking those ideas to make sure the mind has formed them logically.
3. Apply those ideas to understanding and solving problems of life, whether they are narrow technical problems or universal ethical issues.

He then gives application of reason, where person uses it to understand his sickness by integrating symptoms to medical and scientific knowledge.

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One week from now main phase of the study group will start.

So today I requested participants to take some time to define their purpose of joining the study-group. Identifying this I think can lead to better focus while formulating the content, and also help others to collaborate better with the person.

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Here is an important quote on this text by Burgess Laughlin from prior study group... The main point here is that concepts are objective, that is, they are drawn logically from sense-perceptible facts of reality. This is the core concept in Objectivism, and it is the concept that gives the philosophy its name. With this discovery, one could-- given genius and time -- recreate Objectivism even if all of Ayn Rand's other writings were lost."

Ayn Rand's philosophy is not rationalistically derived from a theory of universals and the philosophy cannot be recreated from it. All of her philosophy requires the facts within the particular relevant subject matter. Most of her philosophy was presented long before IOE, and the observations and explanations she provided in her essays were not expressed in terms of it.

The significance of her theory of concepts was specifically as a theory of concepts for epistemology, and as a validation of reason, on which her whole philosophy is based as a method and a requirement for man's survival.

The terminology "objective", as opposed to the intrinsic and subjective, has specific meaning within all the branches of her philosophy. "Objective ethics", "objective art", etc. does not mean objective universals, and that in turn, does not by itself give the philosophy its name. See, for example, OPAR and the lectures on Objectivism at the end of the history of western philosophy series for the meaning and significance of "objective" in Ayn Rand's philosophy.

Also, Ayn Rand's epistemology cannot be formulated in terms reduced to the language of computer programming and sets, which she rejected. She admired the precision of mathematics but rejected modern philosophy of mathematics as abysmal. This has been discussed on the Forum previously.

The above statement is based on long study by Burgess of evolution of ideas of Aristotle. How various discoveries in science and politics in Enlightenment were the result of epistemological ideas of Organon becoming dominant in culture in various forms during enlightenment.

While each subject has its own scope of facts, real challenge lies in organizing these facts to form terms and principles of the subject. And as is shown in DIM hypothesis, its epistemology that governs this organization. So while "Objective Ethics" and "Objective Arts" have different content, method of organizing them is "essentially same". For e.g. facts available to writers of American Constitution, Magna Carta, and Communist Manifesto were same. Its how they interpreted and organized these facts that made the difference.

Burgess can study Aristotle until the cows come home (which he apparently has), but knowing Ayn Rand's theory of universals won't recreate the rest of her philosophy. That isn't the way she did it and is not the way she presented it for others to understand.

An emphasis on the importance of her epistemology of concept formation is good, but it concerns method, not the content of the rest of her principles and philosophy. The statement that with Ayn Rand's theory of universals as objective concepts "one could-- given genius and time -- recreate Objectivism even if all of Ayn Rand's other writings were lost" is not true and is no better than trying to "recreate" her philosophy from "A is A" or any other principle. It would take a lot more than that. Claiming otherwise is very misleading in implying a rationalist approach.

I think anybody who reads through both the posts can infer who is being objective, and who is being rationalist.

I strongly condemn the disrespect to Burgess in previous posts. He has taken big strides in highlighting the heroic elements in intellectuals of present and past. And his contributions can go a long way in creating a cultural atmosphere where rational ideas flourish.

Burgess' statement, repeated by RohinGupta, claimed that with Ayn Rand's theory of universals as objective concepts "one could -- given genius and time -- recreate Objectivism even if all of Ayn Rand's other writings were lost". It is not true for the reasons explained, and has nothing to do with respect for Burgess' studies of Aristotle, which is not the topic. It makes no more sense than claiming that Ayn Rand's philosophy could be "recreated" from "A is A", or that all of physics could be "recreated" from any one principle of logic. Trying to personalize this with a deflection into "condemnation" of alleged "disrespect" doesn't change that.

This was the statement made in post #23 "Burgess can study Aristotle until the cows come home (which he apparently has), but knowing Ayn Rand's theory of universals won't recreate the rest of her philosophy."

Apparently this is not your first language and you do not understand ordinary idiomatic English. The statement does not disrespect either Burgess or cows. It means that it doesn't matter how long Burgess studied Aristotle as a defense of the false claim that Ayn Rand's philosophy can be recreated from her theory of universals.

But this is worse than emotional reaction to an idiom invoking slow-moving cows. You began by deflecting the subject into a personalization by claiming to justify the falsehood as "based on long study by Burgess of evolution of ideas of Aristotle". The statement remains false and you have not addressed the responses to it. The length of time Burgess personally studied Aristotle's Organom[/i is not relevant. We are talking about Ayn Rand's philosophy and Objectivist justification of epistemological claims.

This response is sufficient for main thread.

"

I think anybody who reads through both the posts can infer who is being objective, and who is being rationalist."

Yes, they can.

The response to disrespect was my attempt to protect legacy of people I value highly.

Burgess's legacy does not need protection from us, but you are not helping it by appealing to him as an authority in avoiding defending a false statement, and then insisting in the name of personal values that explanations rejecting it it are to be ignored as "disrespect" presumably not worth answering. Ayn Rand's philosophy cannot be recreated from her theory of universals. One part of that philosophy is rejection of obsequious appeals to authority.

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Today I posted "Answers to Questions from Introduction by Dr. Peokioff to THE LOGICAL LEAP - INDUCTION IN PHYSICS"

Sharing sample answer for wider audience.

Q4. What relationship is established here between concept formation and induction?

Ans: From TLL

A theory of generalizations presupposes a theory of concepts. One must grasp how the constituent concepts of a generalization are related to reality before one can grasp how the generalization itself is related to reality.

...[For inductive generalization] although she[Ayn Rand] did not provide the solution, she did provide the key to it. Mr. Harriman shows that valid concepts, in her definition of concepts, not only make possible but also guide our search for true generalizations.... Every major aspect of the Objectivist view of concepts - including the role of similarities and differences, of integration, of hierarchy, of context - has a counterpart in the theory of generalizations. Indeed, generalization, Mr. Harriman explains, "is nothing more(or less) than an essential form of the method of concept formation."

[italics in above TLL text are mine]

Again, it's important that the 'general audience' realize that at the epistemology workshops Ayn Rand explicitly denied that the process of these generalizations is the same as the method of generalization in concept formation, which she regarded as a different form of induction. She did of course agree that understanding concept formation is a prerequisite

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Here are some of my motivations in joining this study group

For me, main motivations are as follows :

1. The need for a more systematic thinking method arose when I was writing the following set of posts on "Software Engineering".

http://forums.4aynrandfans.com/index.php?showtopic=12227#entry107444

2. As a cultural activist, I think lack of "abstract thinking connected to reality" is a major reason for many of the problems we see today. I plan to promote a culture where individuals think in terms of Principles derived from facts, and act purposefully after thinking through.

I realized the gravity of situation after reading about the following activist, who contributed to the devaluing of Epistemology in Western culture.

http://reasonversusmysticism.blogspot.in/2012/04/richard-rorty-postmodernist-mystic.html

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Burgess's legacy does not need protection from us, but you are not helping it by appealing to him as an authority in avoiding defending a false statement, and then insisting in the name of personal values that explanations rejecting it it are to be ignored as "disrespect" presumably not worth answering. Ayn Rand's philosophy cannot be recreated from her theory of universals. One part of that philosophy is rejection of obsequious appeals to authority.

When the statement of authority is used as the "ultimate argument" to defend one's own argument, this reasoning commits the fallacy of "appeal to authority". But this should not be confused with the process of citing the experts of subject in the argument.

So if you go through my post, you will find that the reference to Burgess is followed by reasoning that applies his ideas.

http://forums.4aynrandfans.com/index.php?showtopic=14183#entry122057

--------------------------------clip------------------------------------------------

The above statement is based on long study by Burgess of evolution of ideas of Aristotle. How various discoveries in science and politics in Enlightenment were the result of epistemological ideas of Organon becoming dominant in culture in various forms during enlightenment.

While each subject has its own scope of facts, real challenge lies in organizing these facts to form terms and principles of the subject. And as is shown in DIM hypothesis, its epistemology that governs this organization. So while "Objective Ethics" and "Objective Arts" have different content, method of organizing them is "essentially same". For e.g. facts available to writers of American Constitution, Magna Carta, and Communist Manifesto were same. Its how they interpreted and organized these facts that made the difference.

I will consider your criticism of my "set theory" based approach only if you provide me reasons that Ayn Rand gave for her rejection, and / or relevant steps used in other discussion to reach the conclusion. If concepts and concretes can be compared to folders and files in Objectivism, I don't see what is wrong in using different sets to represent units and CCDs. Symbolism has simplified Mathematics, Science, and even deduction. Why should induction be any different.

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In fact, in last paragraph I had made statements that questioned your previous argument. But you never refuted that statement. Unless the miss was genuine error on your part, I can validly accuse you of making a statement that heavily appeals to Ayn Rand as authority.

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While your posts on some aspects of software engineering "Objectivism applied to software engineering" didn't say how or why it was trying to be an application of Ayn Rand's philosophy, experience trying to understand and organize any kind of science or engineering is enough to motivate anyone who is at all intellectual and philosophically minded into broader questions of epistemology, not just systematic thinking.

The gravity of the decline of our culture you refer to, due in part to rationalism and lack of ability to think in abstractions (i.e., abstractions connected to reality), can be seen almost everywhere.

The problem becomes more acute in higher level abstractions beyond the first level, i.e., beyond integrations of perceptual concretes, leading, especially among intellectuals, to all kinds of rationalism in the form of what Ayn Rand identified as the fallacies of floating abstractions, frozen abstractions, and stolen concepts among the sea of invalid concepts in general. Ayn Rand emphasizes the failure to employ higher level abstractions in "Consciousness and Identity", chapter 8 of IOE.

Above the first-level abstractions of perceptual concretes, most people hold concepts as loose approximations, without firm definitions, clear meanings or specific referents; and the greater a concept's distance from the perceptual level, the vaguer its content. Starting from the mental habit of learning words without grasping their meanings, people find it impossible to grasp higher abstractions, and their conceptual development consists of condensing fog into fog into thicker fog—until the hierarchical structure of concepts breaks down in their minds, losing all ties to reality; and, as they lose the capacity to understand, their education becomes a process of memorizing and imitating. This process is encouraged and, at times, demanded by many modern teachers who purvey snatches of random, out-of-context information in undefined, unintelligible, contradictory terms.

The result is a mentality that treats the first-level abstractions, the concepts of physical existents, as if they were percepts, and is unable to rise much further, unable to integrate new knowledge or to identify its own experience—a mentality that has not discovered the process of conceptualization in conscious terms, has not learned to adopt it as an active, continuous, self-initiated policy, and is left arrested on a concrete-bound level, dealing only with the given, with the concerns of the immediate moment, day or year, anxiously sensing an abyss of the unknowable on all sides.

To such mentalities, higher concepts are indeterminate splinters flickering in the abyss...


She related this to the decline to modern philosophy especially since Kant's attack on the identity of consciousness and the relation between consciousness and the world of which it is conscious. Discovering our proper method of thinking depends on both the nature of reality and the identity -- the specific nature -- of our consciousness. Ayn Rand concluded in the summary of chapter 8:

The motive of all the attacks on man's rational faculty, is a single basic premise: the desire to exempt consciousness from the law of identity. The implicit, but unadmitted premise of modern philosophy is the notion that "true" knowledge must be acquired without any means of cognition, and that identity is the disqualifying element of consciousness. This is the essence of Kant's doctrine, which represents the negation of any consciousness, of consciousness as such. Objectivity begins with the realization that man (including his consciousness) is an entity of a specific nature who must act accordingly; that there is no escape from the law of identity; that there is no room for the arbitrary in any activity of man, least of all in his method of cognition—and that he must be guided by objective criteria in forming his tools of cognition: his concepts. Just as man's physical existence was liberated when he grasped that "nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed," so his consciousness will be liberated when he grasps that nature, to be apprehended, must be obeyed—that the rules of cognition must be derived from the nature of existence and the nature, the identity, of his cognitive faculty.


Rorty is only one example of the attack, promoting his acknowledged undermining of epistemology, and attack on the mind as aware of the world, in the name of philosophy. But to call Rorty a "mystic" and reacting against him with a horror in isolation misses the historical point. Rorty is only one example of a long line, especially in this country, of Pragmatists who have dominated intellectuals in America for well over a century. Their affect is everywhere and it has come right out of and is part of the Kantian tradition Ayn Rand identified.

If you want to see hoards of Rorty horrors and their direct descendency from Kant, borrowing the skepticism of Hume 'empiricists' along the way, look at the Pragmatist movement in America. Read the history of its origins in Kuklick, The Rise of American Philosophy: Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1860-1930, and of its widespread influence in Menand, The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America, both discussed in the thread on the Forum Living in two 160 sq ft shipping containers extolled as viro utopia. But be sure to review and listen first to Leonard Peikoff's excellent lecture series from the 1970s on the history of western philosophy, particularly in this context, the lecture on Pragmatism. It is now very inexpensive to download the whole original recorded series if you don't already have it

Founders of Western Philosophy: Thales to Hume

Modern Philosophy: Kant to the Present

and there is now a free course version in progress at the ARI campus series History of Philosophy.

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Burgess's legacy does not need protection from us, but you are not helping it by appealing to him as an authority in avoiding defending a false statement, and then insisting in the name of personal values that explanations rejecting it it are to be ignored as "disrespect" presumably not worth answering. Ayn Rand's philosophy cannot be recreated from her theory of universals. One part of that philosophy is rejection of obsequious appeals to authority.

When the statement of authority is used as the "ultimate argument" to defend one's own argument, this reasoning commits the fallacy of "appeal to authority". But this should not be confused with the process of citing the experts of subject in the argument.

So if you go through my post, you will find that the reference to Burgess is followed by reasoning that applies his ideas.

http://forums.4aynrandfans.com/index.php?showtopic=14183#entry122057

Stating that someone engaged in a "long study of evolution of ideas of Aristotle" in "organizing" facts and refusing to address all the arguments made against it under claims of "disrespect" does not answer what I wrote, and you still haven't answered it. Citing someone you claim to be an "expert" in irrelevant reference to Aristotle and without explanation, then refusing in the name of "respect", is in fact an argument from authority.

You cannot "recreate Objectivism" from Ayn Rand's theory of universals. She didn't do it that way herself and never presented it that way either. You can't do it.

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Today main phase of the study-group has started.

I posted following questions for - Introductory content "prior" to section on "The Nature of concepts"

Q1. Elaborate on the statement - "As our knowledge of the physical world has advanced, our understanding of knowledge itself has lagged behind."?

Q2. Why does this situation[described on Q1] persists in universities around the world? How did we arrive at this bizzare contradiction - with scientists developing technology that exploits our detailed knowledge of atomic structure, while philosophers revel in the alleged impotence of reason to grasp even relatively simple facts?

Q3. What is Induction? How can it be contrasted from Deduction?

Q4. What are "particular instances" and generalizations that induction deals with?

Q5. How is Induction related to the Nature of man?

Q6. Define generalization ? What are the implications of their correctness and falsehood?

Q7. What is meant by the statement - "The problem is to identify the method of induction, not to seek its justification".

Q8. What are the problems that one may encounter if formulating of generalizations is not started from particulars?

Q9. What is simple enumeration? Why can't induction be just simple enumeration?

Q10. If not simple enumeration, what approach can be used in induction to provide certainity?

Q11. What are the prerequisites for the "theory of induction"?

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Today I answered questions from Introductory content "prior" to section on "The Nature of concepts"

Sharing sample answers for wider audience

Q3. What is Induction? How can it be contrasted from Deduction?

Ans: From TLL
Induction is the process of inferring generalizations from particular instances. The complementary process of inferring[existing] generalizations to new instances is deduction. The theory of deductive reasoning was developed by Aristotle more than two millenia ago. This crucial achievement was a start toward understanding and validating knowledge, but it was only a start. Deduction presuposes induction; one cannot apply what one does not know or cannot conceive. The primary process of gaining knowledge that goes beyond perceptual data is induction. Generalization - the inference from some members of a class to all - is the essence of Human cognition.

MY FURTHER ANALYSIS

While the TLL text in answer covers the scope of question, there are two things I would like to go deeper into.

1. If induction is going from particulars to universals, does this include concept formation or not. While the text, taken in isolation, may indicate that concept formation is part of induction. But if we study rest of the book, we can conclude that induction is separate from concept formation. Concept formation involves organizing various entities, attributes, actions, lower level concepts, and as we saw in the example of furniture that higher level concept can also subsume lower level generalizations etc. by grouping their similar types. Wheras induction involves seeking relationship between various characteristics of entities.[1]

For e.g. the law of gravitation gives an inductive inference that (initially) describes relationship of "Force between different entities like Planets, sun" and "distance between these entities". Distance between planets and sun was calculated by Kepler or Copernicus(not sure if it was somebody else also), and it was the extension of concept length applied to very long distances. And concept Force, as described by Newton, involves change of state of rest or uniform motion of the entity.
What we are interested here is to get the difference between inductive generalization and concept. So concepts of "Planetary Force" and "Planetary distances" will be formed prior to the inductive generalization that establishes their relationship. Concept of "distances between planet and sun"(Planetary distance) will include characteristics like "locus of distances between planets and sun form elliptical orbits, Kepler's law that line connecting sun and Planets sweep equal areas in equal time periods, or Newton's observation that any body moving with constant speed will sweep equal area etc.". Or concept of Force will have essential characteristic that it is directly proportional to the change in velocity before and after applying it.
After the inductive generalization described by "law of gravitation" is established, the fact that "force on planet" is inversely propotional to the "square of distance with sun" will be added to the characteristic of concept "Gravitational Force". And the fact that "gravitational force on planets" depends on it will be added to characteristics of "Planetary distance with sun".

In short, while concept formation and induction are different, they are also closely related by being complementary. Concept formation is a pre-condition to inductive generalization, as we also saw in the prep section of OPAR. And as we saw here, once inductive generalization is reached, it can increase the characteristics of corresponding concepts involved.

One more thing that needs elaboration is that once we have started induction, it does not mean that concept formation has stopped. Some concepts require and even subsume lower level generalizations. For e.g. we already saw example furniture. Further, law of inertia, a generalization, which states that body continues to be in state of rest or uniform motion unless compelled by external agency to change, is precondition for concept "Gravitational Force".

[1] While in our discussions we will use induction for referring to relationships between entity and action, or between various attributes in entity. There is another valid, more general reference to induction. This reference includes concept formation along with forming and validating generalizations. This is what Aristotle refers to when he says induction is the process of forming universals. Or what Ayn Rand refers to at the end of chapter "Abstraction of Abstractions" in ITOE. Here the context differentiates induction from deduction. In later discussions however, induction is contrasted from concept formation.
This digression on induction also leads to another property of concept. That is same word can serve as a symbol for different concepts. The similarity can range from just linguistic as in "axes - the plural of ax or axe/the plural of axis". Or metaphorical, where there is some overlapping between two concepts the word refers to. Mostly between some characteristics of respective concepts. As in "key to the door" and "key to the solution". Common characteristic here being "small but important thing to gain entry". Similarity of symbol "induction" here is metaphorical. In fact, our usage of induction is the subset of Aristotle's usage of induction.

2. Another thing that needs to be elaborated is that induction also involves moving from universals to particulars. While it is true that starting point of induction are particulars, and end point is a generalization, it does not mean that induction is unidirectional or even unidimensional[explained later].

By not being unidirectional I mean that we also have to move from generalizations to particulars during induction. The process is called reduction. Once we reach a final or intermediate generalization, we need to validate if the chain of steps used to reach the state is valid. That is at critical milestones we retrace steps where we a) Recall what percepts, first level generalizations, concepts, and lower level generalizations we have integrated. That is what we had to know to reach the current state. B) Check that there are no contradictions among terms and sentences identified in (a.). c) Integrate new percepts, first level generalizations, etc. if the connection of generalization to facts is found lacking. For e.g. Galileo did inclined plane experiments after pendulum experiments to confirm the hypothesis that horizontal motion is unacclerated.

By not being unidimensional I mean that we don't consider just percepts, concepts and first level generalizations that will eventually be subsumed by the generalization. We consider related percepts, concepts and generalizations also. For e.g. in lectures on "Objectivism through Induction", Dr. Peikoff while demonstrating forming of generalizations that lead to the concept of "Rational Egoism", also considers generalizations that are claimed to be subsumed by concept altruism. This is known as Genus method. Generalizations like "One's own life is the standard of values" vs "Sacrifice is the standard of moral code" etc. This consideration can be compared to identity stage in concept formation, where for percepts or for lower level concepts, similar existents and their foils are grouped. Like percept of chair in identity stage of concept table.

3. Dr. Peikoff in his lectures on "Objectivism through Induction" also clarifies that while Deduction requires Induction, Induction itself is self-sufficient. What I infer from this is that "reduction", while moving from universals to particulars need not be deductive. Here we recall(if we are validating our own generalizations) AND chronologically list(particularly for other person's path to generalization) the relevant steps in the formation of generalization. And reorganize the chronological order obtained, if we realize(from experience and history) some more intermediate steps are needed to complete the chain. The example that comes to mind is that while validating generalization "Reason is man's means of survival", we might infer in retrospect just by looking at hunting using man made stone weapons and farming. But when we look at history, we will realize that it required Industrial Revolution[for Ayn Rand] to really validate how reason without any element of initiation of force against other men can ensure survival and prosperity throughout life. (Greeks did not regard reason as means for practical ends, but an end in itself).

What I need to further investigate is if "Genus method" can "efficiently replace" or complement deductive reasoning in enabling new concretes to be subsumed by existing concept or generalization. One more thing that can be further investigated, and can help in complementing is if the Deductive reasoning can be subsumed under the Genus of "Genus Method". In Genus method, after reaching a generalization we can apply that generalization to the lower levels of component concepts, and then extend it to their variants. For e.g. in the method which I used previously(in prep section of OPAR) for establishing that "causality is the corollary of identity" was a Genus method. I first understood concept of "corollary" from an example in geometry, and then applied same concept to philosophy.

Q4. What are particular instances and generalizations that induction deals with?

Ans: From TLL
When we reason from "Men in my experience are mortal" to "All men are mortal"; or from "These fires burn me when touched" to "Fire by its nature burns"; or from "This apple and the moon obey the law of Gravity" to "Every physical object in the universe obeys the law", in all such cases we are passing from one realm to another. From observed to unobserved; from the past behavior of nature to its future behavior; from what we discover in a narrow corner of a vast cosmos to what is true everywhere in that cosmos.

MY FURTHER ANALYSIS

The passage introduces one problem that I am not very clear about. What is the starting point of induction? For a time being if we consider induction a variation of concept formation, that is a more complex form of concept formation done at later stage. With that outlook starting point of induction are percepts like rolling of various objects to reach generalization "among all objects spherical balls roll longest distance[weight, material and surface being same]". But given the complexity of inductive reasoning, I think its better to consider induction separate from concept formation. Treating concept formation as a preliminary rather than a part of induction. So induction for the generalization will begin once concepts like ball, solid objects, rolling, ground, distance are formed; and then only observations which will be later subsumed under the generalization be useful. With this context "particular sentences" like "Men in my experience are mortal" OR "These fires burn me when touched" are particular instances of generalizations. And "All men are mortal" or "Fire by its nature burns" are universals of induction, just as men and tables are universals of concept formation.

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Today I posted questions from section on "The Nature of Concepts" from "Chapter 1 - The Foundation"

Here are questions

Q1. Why is discussing Nature of concepts necessary? What aspects of the nature of concepts are discussed here?

Q2. Explain the role of measurement omission in forming the concept pendulum?

Q3. How does the chapter explain concept?

Q4. How does chapter explain similarities between "mathematics" and "concept formation"?

Q5. What does term "first level concept" refer to?

Q6. What are the similarities and differences between higher level concepts and first level concepts?

Q7. How does the chapter explain the role of definitions? Why are definitions necessary for conceptual level consciousness?

Q8. Why is it necessary to emphasize the cognitive role of definitions?

Q9. In this chapter, generalizations are identified as true and false, while concepts are identified as valid and invalid. What is the difference between true-false assesment and valid-invalid assesment?

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