virus: Re: The saga continues!

D.H.Rosdeitcher (
Sat, 13 Sep 1997 21:45:41 -0400

The Nateman wrote:
>One does not need a dictionary to give a word meaning. Common useage
>alone is sufficient.

So, through "common usage" we grasp what words mean by their context, since
in common usage we don't define words.

>> Context, not defiitions,
>> determine meaning. Does 'church' in Church of Virus abide by any common
>> definitions of a church?

>No. But just because you can find A word that is context dependent does
>not mean ALL words are context dependent.

Can you show me A case in which a word is not context dependent?

>The results of an experiment which can be repeated is proof.

Proof of what? A theory, of course, but theories can't be proven just not

>Newtons laws were theories. Not an experiment. The results of
>experiments are the absolute not the explaination of them.

You assume that the data is more than a mental construct.

>His experiment with prisms for example is just as good today as it was
>As for being found wrong his theories are just as good now as they were
>when he proposed them. We just have a better theory is all.

You seem to place a high value on the fact that you can repeat experiments
and get similar results. And not much value on the fact that a better
theory explains more. It's like the notion that A is A is more important
than a meaningful theory.

>> What I'm saying is that in Objectivism there's this abnormally high
>> emphasis on the notion of "reality" or "existence"--meaning "all that
>> a notion which doesn't seem needed for scientific progress, since most
>> scientists do not use those *notions*. Could the perceived value of the
>> emphasis on "all that is" be connected with fighting a counter idea that
>> "all that is doesn't exist"?.

> The perception of reality begin objective is not necessary for an
>experiment to be conducted or conclusions reached. However an objective
>universe independent of any such thoughts is a necessity. How can one
>find out something about whats "out there" if there is no "out there" to

I'm not arguing with whether or not there's an external objective reality.
I agree with you that there is. I'm referring to the *value* of the
axiomatic concept of "existence" or "reality" as emphasized in objectivism.
I'll put it this way: Would these axiomatic concepts be valuable if you
didn't have to defend against a virus which makes people think that
reality is not objective? Let's say a guy sold you a medicine to fight a
virus he said existed. The value of the medicine depends on whether or not
the virus actually exists..

>> Another question: Plato had an idea that a higher unknowable world--the
>> world of the Forms--existed from which all things in this world are just
>> reflections. How is Rand's "reality" or "existence" different from
>> Forms.

>There is no "Higher world", whatever that means. There is only what is.

"What is" or "all of reality" is unknowable--like Plato's forms.

> But in Objectivism, when you consider information as "valid", you rely on
> the senses, but you implicitly mean your senses as well as your memory
> processing.

>Only if the information can logically be traced back to the senses is it

But,all sensory evidence gets subjectively processed and could be
misleading, so just because you declare something "valid" doesn't mean it's

> One of the flaws in Objectivism is the idea that you increase knowledge
> through a process of induction and integration--that you take pieces of
> knowledge and integrate them and the "hypotheses" must explain this
> integrated whole. But, theories work differently. One theory can
> replace another instead of being built on another. And the theory can be
> wild speculation which you throw out without having any reasonable
> justification.

>The induction and integration are based on the results of experiments,
>not necessarily previous theories.

Which comes first--the theory or the experiment. Aren't experiments for
testing a theory? Science works by a top down process in which you first
see a big picture--a very right brain phenomenon--which is the theory, then
the experiment to test it follows and if the theory gets falsified, you
come up with another one.. Bottom up processes are the idea that you take
bits of data and through induction create a theory.

>>>That's because objectivism deals with the whole ball of wax whereas
>>>science only deals with some of the parts. But before you work on the
>>>parts you have to know "parts is parts".

>> The "whole ball of wax" is so big that assumptions about it are

>Mighty big assumption your making here. Must be meaningless then.

It's not meaningless since you can falsify it by showing an example of
something you can say about "all of reality".

> The question had to do with success of RANDIAN Objectivists--people whose
> philosophy has been majorly influenced by Rand.

>I answered this in another post.

Let's say you feed a group of athletes different diets and you study the
effect of each diet. You could get information on which diets are best for
the athletes by studying their performance on these diets. The same kind of
test can be done with idea systems--see if people using certain idea
systems have a better effect on people's performance than others. From the
point of view of an objectivist, it would make sense that on
average,Objectivists would be higher achievers than non-Objectivists. Such
a thing could be tested.

>>> That is the nature of the beast, how can one make a falsifiable
>>>statement about an objective truth. Is something false because it cannot
>>>be proven false?

>> Not false, just meaningless and useless.

>Science happens because of people. If they believed the motive of thier
>actions was pointless who would do the work? They strive to find
>something because they believe that there is something to find! An
>objective universe and the belief the the universe is objective give
>meaning to the scientists life. As for usefullness the computer you are
>using to respond to me is the proof of that scientific effort.

The question you asked, was, "Is something false, because it cannot be
proven false?".I said it is not false, it's just meaningless. But the
problem of meanngless tautologies does not seem to get identified in
Objectivism as if the Objectivists are trying to hide something.

>> In this case I actually came across a better epistemology before making
>> accusatation that Rand attacked people in order to spread her
>> In selfish meme terms, her philosophy attacked competing alleles--other
>> rational philosophies. Examples are the works of Popper, Wittgenstein,
>> Hegel, the Logical Positivists, and from what I can tell, Kant.

>If they are all rational why are they competeing?

You'd think rational philosophers wouldn't care about beating out the
other philosophers, so much as clearing up philosophical problems. But, I
think that even if we have consciousness and free-will as Objectivism
assumes, we have could have layers of unconscious programming which we
might not be aware of and sometimes ideas choose us, instead of us choosing
ideas. Looking at this situation from a memetic standpoint, phiosophies
which say they promote reason, compete with each other for people's belief
space. Even rational people are not free of blind spots in their thinking.

>Given a
>non-contradictory universe if all those philosophies can be traced back
>logically to the evidence of the senses, (the essense of a rational
>philosphy), then they should all be in agreement.

The role of the senses can differ, according to various reasons. In
science, the senses are for testing hypotheses but are not taken as sources
of truth. In Objctivism the validity of the senses gets taken as a given.
And the use of the senses also implies the subjective processing of info,
so it doesn't follow that you'd reach the same conclusion.

>> The particles in and around my body don't affect me? If we could learn
>> about these things we'd have a lot better control over them. And you
>> know how much far off galaxy affect Earth or whether some day we could
>> move through a bend in space to arrive at a foreign galaxy. And even of
>> things I see in the everyday macro world, I have a model of it, but
>> sometimes it's wrong--the concept of existence cannot model the
>> of existence in as meaningful a way as concepts that model finite

> Well if they do effect you then the orignal statement that started this
line of thought >applies then dos'nt it, that is, natural law is self

If you know nothing about the effects of these natural laws, how useful is
that statement?

2+2=4. That's a basic assumption. Can that be wrong?

Mathematical truths, like tautological truths, I agree cannot be wrong, as
far as I can tell. But any assumption about the metaphysical nature of the
world can be wrong--they can get falsified.

>> First of all, science and Objectivism are not the same since in science
>> you reach conclusions by starting with *falsifiable* statements. And the
>> conclusions are not actually the same, although they are similar.
>> Capitalism doesn't necessarily follow from the foundations of
>> (explained later). But in Rand's time, since the industrial revolution
>> already had an impact, one could make a good guess that capitalism works
>> better than other systems. But, capitalism as described in Objectivism,
>> might not be the best system--there might be a better way to
>> the relationships between individuals and society.

>As creatures that live by thinking how do you propose to do a better job
>than that of allowing them to think? Capitalism is based on free trade.
>Free trade is based on the freedom to think. If nothing else Capitalism
>passes the experimental test.

. What I said was that the relationship between individuals and society
might be different than as implied in Objectivism. Heroes in Rand's novels
like John Galt and Howard Roark seem to be these "great men" who achieve
things all by themselves, as if they're not connected to a culture. It
could be that we are part of a complex system, in which our achievements
count but they are part of complex interaction.

>>The objectivist axioms like "existence exists" are tautologica
>> truths and tell you absolutely nothing useful about existence-

> The other choice is existance dos'nt exist or reality is subjective. A
>illogical propositon but one which has many followers. Followers who
>write our laws or even fight and die for thier silly beliefs. Far from
>being useless this is literally a matter of life and death!

Can you show me how "existence exists" makes subjective reality impossible?
Existence exists could also be in agreement with an existence in which
Jesus got resurected and that in my past life I was the Dalai Lama.

>> Rand's philosophical system is based on tautologies which get
>> connected with conclusions about reality by non-sequiturs. For instance,
>> the statements "existence exists" and "I am conscious" lead to "I am
>> conscious of existence" which somehow leads to "my consciousness is
>> which via another non-sequitur leads to "my senses are valid", which
>> gets used to justify the absurd statement, "I can know reality."

>Just because you claim its non-sequitur does not make it so.

I didn't just claim something was a non-sequitur. Can you demonstrate a
logical connection between axioms and the degree to which you can
understand reality?

>> Unlike say, Christianity, which took unfounded arbitrary assumptions as
>> foundation, Objectivism takes meaningless statements as foundations. The
>> seemingly flawless connection between the tautological axioms and the
>> of the philosophy is an illusion.

>To counter this argument I'd have to rewrite her whole philosophy and
>then expand on it.
>Not today I'm afraid.

To counter the argument, just show a connection between a tautlogical
statement and a useful piece of information from which to say something
about the world. In a way you would have to rewrite her whole phiosophy.

>> Some thinkers
>> acknowledged that situation and developed a different philosophy in
>> you don't deduce anything from axioms, you simply take guesses at things
>> and determine which guesses seem to correspond to reality or are useful
>> testing and criticizing the guess.

>So take her conclusions as guesses if you consider her arguments as
>invalid. They work pretty good from my experiance. Thats why I find her
>chain of logic easy to accept.

As far as her ideas are concerned I'd say some things make sense, while
others may only apply to an imaginary world of her novels. .

>>In other words, we admit we're a bunch
>> of dingbats, in the sense that we're infinitely ignorant and that we can
>> only guess at things,

>Whats your guess of 2x= 1+7? If you got x=4 you are only finitely
>ignorant cause you got it right!

There's always an infinite amount that we don't know. And I don't consider
these math problems "guesses".

> but the process of criticizing and testing, not only
> weeds out bad hypotheses, but makes us better guessers, since we make
> guesses, increasing our chances of making hypotheses which turn out to be
> "winners".

>How do you evaluate a guess if you have NOTHING certain in which to
>judge it?

By criticizing the guess to see if it holds up under fire, instead of
justifying it by seeing if it agrees with some "rock solid" foundation like
the "senses".

--David R.