# Deduction (at best) is the Handmaiden of Induction

## 42 posts in this topic

Actually, this is a very good question worth asking.  Why do you think it is backwards?

A characteristic of an object is most certainly not what the object is not.  Knowledge is knowledge of what things are.

I had to approach it backwards because I ran into a problem when I approached it from the front (ie. id'ing what an object is). How else would we determine what an object's defining characteristics are, if not in examining where it differs from ther things?

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Thus, there is no qualification needed to our knowledge about the sun or the earth if a "big alien" stops the earth from rotating (and thus the sun from "rising").  That big alien is not invalidating our knowledge, since it is presumably just exerting enough counteracting force on the earth to stop the rotation, with its giant oven mitt.   Our knowledge about terrestrial motion would only require qualification if we discovered there was a way to stop the earth's rotation without, say, exerting any force on the earth.

I see. I used a bad example then; because an alien stopping the rotation of the Earth would be an application of the original concept, not a deviation. Like you said, if there was a way to stop the Earth's rotation, then a qualifier would need to be added.

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I see. I used a bad example then; because an alien stopping the rotation of the Earth would be an application of the original concept, not a deviation. Like you said, if there was a way to stop the Earth's rotation, then a qualifier would need to be added.

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Sorry, that is poorly worded. I meant to say "logical consequence of the original concept".

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Does the rest of my logic follow though? I am rather fond of the "identifying the fundamental characteristics of an existent "  .

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I take it you are referring to this passage:

1) The way we determine the "essential characteristics" of an existent is sort of a backwards question. "Characteristics" is really a negative concept - it describes what an object IS NOT. It describes the differences between all the finite numbers of object of which we are aware AND their relation to a existent. The more objects/existents we are aware of, the more specific our language is. The Thus, a concept is NECESSARILY defined by its context - context in this respect meaning the sum total of our knowledge [of existents]. A concept is not the existent itself, but our way of representing it.

In honesty, although your ideas are clearly getting more organized, there is still a lot of flailing around. For instance, your description of "characteristic" here is way off the mark. Later, you speak of "logical consequence of the original concept" although we are not talking about concepts, but principles. Similar word mischoices ran throughout your earlier posts. Just as no man can be bigger than his money, no man's thoughts can be more precise than his concepts.

I wonder, have you read OPAR (the sections on epistemology) or ITOE? Although they're not light reading, they would clear up a lot of your confusion. I'm glad you are trying to express yourself in your own words rather than blindly quoting Ayn Rand as gospel as so many newcomers do, but a little study at the masters' feet will go a long way. They certainly explain everything far better than I can.

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I had to approach it backwards because I ran into a problem when I approached it from the front (ie. id'ing what an object is). How else would we determine what an object's defining characteristics are, if not in examining where it differs from ther things?

I suggest reading (or re-reading more carefully) ITOE. Pay attention to the roles of differentiation and integration in concept formation: we need to identify both the group of existents that most closely resemble the group of existents in question, and then differentiate between them. For example, men are animals (genus) whose defining characteristic is reason (differentia). Thus the definition of the concept "man": rational animal.

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I suggest reading (or re-reading more carefully) ITOE.  Pay attention to the roles of differentiation and integration in concept formation: we need to identify both the group of existents that most closely resemble the group of existents in question, and then differentiate between them.  For example, men are animals (genus) whose defining characteristic is reason (differentia).  Thus the definition of the concept "man": rational animal.

Okay.

I am sure if I read ITOE or OPAR I would be able to answer "the problem of induction" (and any other questions I have about concepts), but I just want to reach those conclusions on my own. On the other hand though, I know that is would be a waste of my time to try and re induce the concepts that took AR and/or LP the bulk of their lives to formulate anyway.

Do either of you see my dilemna?

I sense that my ideas are becoming a bit wierd, but this is the best stuff that I am able to come up with.

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I am sure if I read ITOE or OPAR I would be able to answer "the problem of induction" (and any other questions I have about concepts), but I just want to reach those conclusions on my own. On the other hand though, I know that is would be a waste of my time to try and re induce the concepts that took AR and/or LP the bulk of their lives to formulate anyway.

Do either of you see my dilemna?

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One horn of the dilemma: I want to form key concepts on my own.

Second horn of the dilemma: I don't want to waste time recreating concepts formed by a philosopher I have come to expect to be right (always subject to further investigation, of course).

Is that an accurate summary of your dilemma? If so, then I would question the first horn: I would ask myself why I would want to develop these concepts on my own. Even if my central purpose in life were to be a philosopher, I would still not spend time recreating concepts that I suspected have already been properly formed.

Why not recreate those concepts? Division of labor. Even if my CPL were to be a philosopher, I would try to learn what I can from the earlier work of others so that I could apply their gains to new problems, problems that need attention and that could greatly affect my world for the better. An example is developing a theory of theories. (Ayn Rand has introduced a theory of concepts, but what about higher levels of integration -- as in a theory of propositions and a theory of theories?)

And if my CPL is not to be a philosopher, then I would have even more incentive for selfishly gaining from the work of others so that I could focus full-time on my own CPL. Why? Because I love my CPL, whatever it might be. It is the core of my life, making all other work secondary or even lower on my scale of priorities.

For those reasons, I would reject the dilemma. There is no dilemma in that context.

If your purpose is to better understand concept-formation, then a more productive approach would be to practice developing a new concept in the field of your own central purpose in life, if new concepts are needed. (Ayn Rand explains in ITOE how to decide whether to form a new concept.)

P. S. -- ITOE is Ayn Rand's single most important philosophical work. It describes a theory which she used to develop all the rest of her philosophy. No one can understand Ayn Rand's philosophy without having studied ITOE's basic ideas.

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I am sure if I read ITOE or OPAR I would be able to answer "the problem of induction" (and any other questions I have about concepts), but I just want to reach those conclusions on my own.

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Why? The only thing that matters is whether or not you understand those conclusions on your own--that is, whether or not you can validate them independently. Worrying about the fact that you didn't originate them is second-handed.

You're not doing yourself any favors by ignoring every genius who precedes you, and trying to recapitulate Western thought all on your own.

I sense that my ideas are becoming a bit wierd, but this is the best stuff that I am able to come up with.

This is my point exactly.You'll be able to come up with much better stuff after you've really studied Objectivist epistemology.

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I had to approach it backwards because I ran into a problem when I approached it from the front (ie. id'ing what an object is). How else would we determine what an object's defining characteristics are, if not in examining where it differs from other things?

You determine what an object's characteristics are -- all of them -- using your senses. When you integrate entities into concepts, the defining characteristics are those characteristics that separate units of the concept from everything else you know (your context) that isn't a unit of the concept.

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You determine what an object's characteristics are -- all of them -- using your senses.  When you integrate entities into concepts, the defining characteristics are those characteristics that  separate units of the concept from everything else you know (your context) that isn't a unit of the concept.

That is exactly what I was trying to say . Thanks!

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One horn of the dilemma: I want to form key concepts on my own.

Second horn of the dilemma: I don't want to waste time recreating concepts formed by a philosopher I have come to expect to be right (always subject to further investigation, of course).

[...]

Yes, that is a fair assessment

Let me see if I understand what you are saying. If the formation of a concept isn't directly to whatever my CPL is, then it really IS a waste of time. It may be nice to understand how they derived such a theory, but in the end it really wouldn't matter. As in math, we use formulas all the time of which we didn't (necessarily) prove (ie. provide a proof for), but we take their validity for granted.

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Let me see if I understand what you are saying.

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First, your method of restating something you have learned in your own words is an excellent practice. In this case, it shows a misunderstanding, but it still requires you to tie a principle back to reality through concrete instances of it.

If the formation of a concept isn't directly [sic] to whatever my CPL is, then it really IS a waste of time. It may be nice to understand how they derived such a theory, but in the end it really wouldn't matter. As in math, we use formulas all the time of which we didn't (necessarily) prove (ie. provide a proof for), but we take their validity for granted.

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Without speaking for Burgess, I don't think this is an accurate summary of his position. He said that it is a waste of time to "recreate" a concept, which I take to mean (given the context of your original question) creating it without learning what it is from anyone else first. Thus I understand him as distinguishing between concepts you originate, versus concepts you are taught.

On the other hand, your example in math distinguishes between what we prove, versus what we simply take for granted. That is not the same. For instance, I could never have come up with the method of calculus--I am no Newton. If I took your approach, I wouldn't get very far. If I took Burgess' approach, I could learn from those who have gone before me, and come to understand why it is true entirely on my own. However, if I took your new summary's approach, I would just take its validity for granted.

Does that make the difference between the three clear?

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Without speaking for Burgess, I don't think this is an accurate summary of his position.  He said that it is a waste of time to "recreate" a concept, which I take to mean (given the context of your original question) creating it without learning what it is from anyone else first.  Thus I understand him as distinguishing between concepts you originate, versus concepts you are taught.

Again, this is what I MEANT to say . In essence, knowledge is based "on the shoulders of giants".

On the other hand, your example in math distinguishes between what we prove, versus what we simply take for granted.  That is not the same.  For instance, I could never have come up with the method of calculus--I am no Newton.  If I took your approach, I wouldn't get very far.  If I took Burgess' approach, I could learn from those who have gone before me, and come to understand why it is true entirely on my own. However, if I took your new summary's approach, I would just take its validity for granted.

Does that make the difference between the three clear?

I think so. So, to take this example and apply it to my ITOE problem, it's advised just to read the book and understand her reasoning (and at the same time making sure it is logical) - ie. understand the problem, then understand her answer. This way, I save myself the trouble of doing what I HAVE been doing (coming up with a bunch of really wierd answers to the problem, then having them shot down ) If her answer is satisfactory, I needn't dwell on the issue any longer. I can instead focus on expanding the field (if it is my CPL). If it isn't, either I find another theory, mend hers, or admit the problem is in fact a problem. So in answering all my questions, you in fact testing out her theory. Correct?

Ahhhh.....certainty feels great.....

(at least, I hope it is certainty!) ( )

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I love this FORUM.

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So, to take this example and apply it to my ITOE problem, it's advised just to read the book and understand her reasoning (and at the same time making sure it is logical) - ie. understand the problem, then understand her answer. This way, I save myself the trouble of doing what I HAVE been doing (coming up with a bunch of really wierd answers to the problem, then having them shot down  ) If her answer is satisfactory, I needn't dwell on the issue any longer. I can instead focus on expanding the field (if it is my CPL). If it isn't, either I find another theory, mend hers, or admit the problem is in fact a problem. So in answering all my questions, you in fact testing out her theory. Correct?

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Sounds right to me. Good luck with your studies!

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Sounds right to me.  Good luck with your studies!

Thanks!

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Could you try and address some of my "problems"?

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Your quote: "Deduction is setup such that it is impossible for both the premises to be true and the conclusion false (if a connection exists between them)"

A sheep is an animal

Man is an animal

Man is a sheep