Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Order of the Objectivist Metaphysics

Previous: The Metaphysically Given as Absolute

With the final principle of the Objectivist metaphysics articulated, we can now see the structure of this branch of philosophy.

The Basic Axioms, and Their Corollaries

We begin with the metaphysical axiomatic concepts and axioms, which I’ve already discussed in my essay on the axioms (the others will be discussed in the following essays on sense-perception and free will):

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Metaphysically Given as Absolute

Previous: The Primacy of Existence

The Objectivist view of metaphysics ends with the principle that alternatives to facts of reality are impossible and unimaginable.  These facts, which Ayn Rand called the “metaphysically given,” necessarily exist.  Man-made facts, on the other hand, are conditional, not necessary.  Due to this, metaphysically given facts are absolute.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Primacy of Existence

Previous: The Law of Causality (Cause and Effect)

Objectivism is named for one of its key concepts that it emphasizes and upholds—the concept of “objectivity.”  Ayn Rand said this about objectivity in part: “It pertains to the relationship of consciousness to existence. Metaphysically [by the nature of reality—my comment], it is the recognition of the fact that reality exists independent of any perceiver’s consciousness.”[1] In general philosophy, this “recognition” is a position called “metaphysical objectivity”; in Objectivism, it is known as the “Primacy of Existence.” 

Like the law of causality, it is a law inherent in existence, and it describes the precise role of consciousness in relation to existence.  It is the most important principle in Metaphysics, and is a further corollary of the axioms and the law of causality.  I will describe how one could reach the primacy of existence from experience.  Then I will explain the opposition to this view, the primacy of consciousness.  Afterwards, I’ll explain a process for reaching generalized knowledge like the axioms without using strict induction, using the process of Aristotle’s that has been named “intuitive induction.”  Lastly, I’ll answer an objection about the mind’s control over the body in light of the primacy of existence.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Law of Causality (Cause-and-Effect)

Previous: On Axiomatic Concepts and Axioms

Causality is something inherent in reality; it is an inescapable law of existence. In Objectivism, it is the first principle of Metaphysics after the identification of the basic axioms. I will give an inductive investigation of sorts into how this law can be formed. Afterwards, I will show why it can’t be an induction strictly speaking, and is rather a self-evident corollary of the Law of Identity.

Inducing Cause-and-Effect

Causality, or cause-and-effect, is the view that the world is lawful, orderly, or uniform in its operations. To understand what this means, we’ll have to revisit a number of concepts I discussed previously in my essay on axiomatic concepts and axioms.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

On Axiomatic Concepts and Axioms

Reaching the Axioms

All topics and all fields of research have a beginning or starting point. Philosophy may be the most abstract field that we study, but it is no different. Whether they admit to them or deny them, all philosophies rest on a set of axioms, or starting points. Axioms are self-evident propositions that indicate the bases of all knowledge and are at the base of all statements and claims. Philosophical axioms must be accepted in order to make any statement or claim to knowledge of any subject, because philosophy is the backdrop for all other areas of study. Aristotle was perhaps the first individual to discuss the importance of axioms, and Objectivism is the most recent philosophy to emphasize their role in knowledge.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Short Induction of "Man's Life as the Standard of Moral Value"

I’ve shown what I think needs to be shown for the principle that “life is the standard of value.”  That applies to all living things as such.  But humans are special, and it’s their special nature that brings in the necessity of morality.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Short Induction of "Life is the Standard of Value"

After reading chapter 1 of Peikoff's "Understanding Objectivism," I decided to give my own induction as to why and how life serves as the standard of value.

The principle that “life is the standard of value” is not a deductive conclusion in the philosophy of Objectivism: it is inductive.  It is an induction that arises from an analysis of value, of life, and of a standard, and observations of living organisms.  If someone doesn’t understand that, then they do not really understand what Rand meant when she wrote that “life is the standard of value.”

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Research Materials for Inducing Individual Rights (Founding Fathers)

I've decided to include a list of sites and books that helped me really understand and flesh out the theory of individual rights as the Founding Fathers understood it.

  1. The Jeffersonian Cyclopedia.  The quotes on the topic of "rights" were really helpful in quoting Jefferson in support of the points I made in this paper.
  2. Freedom Key's section, "About Rights." It has a good collection of quotes about rights, especially a few gems in particular by Jefferson, John Adams, and William Blackstone.

  3. The Founder's Constitution is the online version of a five-volume text on the historical context of the U.S.Constitution.  It has primary materials from the Founding Fathers, including letters sent amongst themselves, records of debates or meetings, and contemporary law cases.  I especially relied on the materials found in the sections, "Rights," "Republican Government,""Right of Revolution,""Popular Basis of Political Authority," "Equality," "Property," and "Epilogue: Securing the Republic."

  4. "Objectivism: the Philosophy of Ayn Rand," by Leonard Peikoff.  Despite having read Ayn Rand's books before reading this, I never considered the point that rights are inseparable and form a unity until I read Dr. Peikoff's discussion of them in chapter ten of the book, "Government."  The book is also my original source for the Samuel Adams quote about the rights of man being branches of "the duty of self-preservation."

  5. "John Adams," by Anne Husted Burleigh.  A republication of the biography Mrs. Burleigh wrote 40 years earlier, it is a very well-written work on the life of John Adams, and really gives you a sense of astonishment at the political victories this man accomplished in his life.  I'm still in the middle of finishing it, but I used the pages relevant to rights and the government to inform my essay.

  6. "The Leadership Assumptions of the American Statesmen During the Federal Convention and Ratification Debates, 1787-1789," the dissertation of Dr. Darin Layton Gerdes.  Chapter four features the assumptions and the conclusions of the Founders and others who participated in the Federal debates to ratify the U.S. Constitution.  These assumptions and conclusions centered around their ideas of "the nature of man," "the nature of power," "the nature of government," "the nature of people," and "the nature of society."  That chapter alone is great material for inducing many of the Founders' political principles from their personal context, such as inducing the corrupt nature of political power by examining cases where unchecked power led to needless violations of rights, destruction, and death.
Those were my sources for the essay.  I expect to use even more for my next essay, on republican government.

I may delve into this topic more deeply when I get the chance, so if anyone knows any works that would be really relevant, please let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Induction of the Principle of Individual Rights (Founding Fathers)

Induction of the Principle of Individual Rights (Founding Fathers)

The Founding Fathers studied history, philosophy, economics, political science, and law, among other subjects.  They were all thinkers, and men of action.  In their own ways, they discovered the elements of two literally revolutionary ideas that they intended to finalize and put into practice for the first time on Earth: the principles of individual rights combined with a republican government.  With those two overarching principles in mind, they intended to change history, in a phenomenal way that has never been matched since.  I will focus on the principles and facts underlying the idea of individual rights, from the perspectives of American legends George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, Thomas Paine, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison, as well as lesser known Founders James Wilson and William Gladstone.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Induction of Aristotle’s Theory of Four Causes

The aim of this essay is to retrace the steps Aristotle had to reach in order to induce his revolutionary theory of causality, second only to his theory of logic in philosophical importance. In presenting these steps, we’ll also see several philosophical problems he solved in the process of reaching his theory of four causes.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Reduction of Aristotle's Theory of Four Causes

Let’s start with the definition of “causality”: “the principle that agents bring something about; a person or thing that gives rise to an action, phenomenon, or condition.”

In Aristotle’s mature view, there were four ways for something to be a cause, to be an explanation of a fact: the material, formal, efficient, and final. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Advances in Baconian Induction: John Herschel (Part 3 of 3)

(Previous posts:
Advances in Baconian Induction: John Herschel (Part 1 of 3)

Advances in Baconian Induction: John Herschel (Part 2 of 3))

John Herschel’s theory of induction is a kind of empiricist epistemology rooted in analogies, from which we can generalize to hypotheses, theories, and the laws which are the foundations for theories. This essay will present Herschel’s views on the higher-stage inductions he believes comprises true scientific theorizing.