North Texas Objectivist Society (NTOS) Message Board › Q&A from 1st OPAR Session: Existence, Consciousness and Identity as the

Q&A from 1st OPAR Session: Existence, Consciousness and Identity as the Basic Axioms

Sherry
SherryTX
Plano, TX
Post #: 147
I enjoyed the first session, and thought it was a nice turn out.

One of the things I had really benefitted from in the OPAR group I previously attended was that people there was from various walks of life: married with kids, not married, no kids, etc., and they were applying the philosophy, so I got to hear how it effected their different lives. It just goes to show that this isn't a philosophy that one can apply only in a certain period of life, but is applicable to any reasonable person. I believe that is the case here as well, and look forward to hearing others discuss the material.

It was a nice to finally meet some of the members in person that I have only "read" on the board.

I did have a question though, regarding follow up questions? So that we avoid cluttering up the discussion board, how would you like questions posted for the opar group?
I know for a lot that attend the group this material, especially the early chapters might be old hat, but I think it would be pretty helpful, especially to us noobs.

Edited title only. DC


I further edited the title to be more descriptive for putting this discussion thread in the Table of Contents.
-- Todd
A former member
Post #: 25
I'd very much like to read Q&A about OPAR right here. This is where I come to read interesting stuff. Just post. smile
Dan
dbclawyer
Allen, TX
Post #: 49
Sherry,

Like Gad said, fire away right here. If you think it is helpful, you can edit the title of this thread to something like "Q&A from 1st OPAR" Session or something like that. Regardless of the title, your questions will hardly 'clutter' the board.

Dan
Sherry
SherryTX
Plano, TX
Post #: 149
k thanks...I will be getting back to you soon. Just trying to put my questions together coherently.
Thanks.
Sherry
SherryTX
Plano, TX
Post #: 151
I would like some further clarification of question number 2 under the subheading Existence, Consciousness and Identity as the Basic Axioms in the study guide (page 1). I have the definition of consciousness down, but the 2nd part of the question asks how the axiom of consciousness is validated.

The first clarification I want is this regarding axioms in general and validation of them, not specifically consciousness.

Regarding axioms: these are things that are basic, self evident, not susceptible of proof or disproof. (Generic simple definition.)

The following statement is what I took from the discussion: I want to see if I understood it correctly:

Validating the axioms, or anything, that is self evident would be done through our senses since they are perceived (especially since "they are obvious"), and since they are perceived how else would we be aware of them? Would that be correct?

So, when we say that axioms are irreducible, and cannot not be not susceptible of proof or disproof, that almost seems incorrect. Why isn't validation not the same thing as proof?

This may seem kind of a nit picky, especially since I am totally okay with the three axioms in general. But, since this the foundation of the philosophy I think it is important to get the concept down right.
A former member
Post #: 1
Great question. (This whole chapter is a bit tricky, isn't it?) Here's what I am thinking:

In the context that Peikoff is using the term "validated", I believe he is referring us to the idea that the very use of the the three axioms validates them. They are validated purely by the senses. We later apply concepts to them in order to be able to talk about them. But in truth, the very fact that you are here talking about them is itself the validation. Whether or not you grasp the concepts or not doesn't matter; the fact that you exist and can grasp anything is itself the validation.

Existence - IT is
Concioussness - I know that IT is
Identity - IT is WHAT it is; it is something; it has identity (regardless of what I think)

To even speak or write at all validates that the above must be true.

I think that a "proof" requires that a concept has been constructed by the integration of two or more other concepts. The process of "proving" a concept is one of reducing it to its irreducable primaries. In other words - deconstructing the conceptual integrations.

What makes this confusing, I think, is that we have to separate the 3 axioms as what they are from the concepts we are using to hold them in our mind and/or communicate about them. We can prove our concepts of "Existence", "Concioussness", and "Identity", but the concretes they represent are themelves the real axioms.

So, in summary - we are shown that the very use of the terms validates them because to even speak at all is to validate them; regardless of wether or not we can conceptualize them. Of course, to speak about them, means that we have conceptualized them. But we musn't confuse the concepts from the concretes. The things themselves are the axioms, not the concepts.

Perhaps this speaks to the question we had about derivatives? Is a concept that represents an axiom a derivative? Meaning - the axiom is the concrete - the thing itself. The derivative is the concept we use for it.
Chuck
SmithChuck
Mesquite, TX
Post #: 27
Validating the axioms, or anything, that is self evident would be done through our senses since they are perceived (especially since "they are obvious"), and since they are perceived how else would we be aware of them? Would that be correct?

So, when we say that axioms are irreducible, and cannot not be not susceptible of proof or disproof, that almost seems incorrect. Why isn't validation not the same thing as proof?

This may seem kind of a nit picky, especially since I am totally okay with the three axioms in general. But, since this the foundation of the philosophy I think it is important to get the concept down right.



'Proof' is only one species of the genus 'validation'. Axiomatic concepts are and must be validated at the cognitive echelon at which they reside. I cannot prove the axioms through logical inference without circularity, but I can validate them by focusing your attention on the facts that make them true. These facts are:

1. The axioms are fundamental to any act of knowledge. Therefore any attempt to deny the axiomatic nature of the concepts must entail circular argument, or 'begging the question'. This is because the axioms themselves are implicitly and necessarily present in any hypothesis, proposition, or conclusion. For the same reason, any attempt to prove them would also be circular.

2. The axioms are self-evident. They are obvious in any act of perception, including introspection. So while I can't give you my perception, I can implore you to take an honest look at how your own mind operates, and in doing so you will witness evidence of the axioms for yourself.

The 'self-evidence' validation of the axioms rests on accepting the perceptual level of consciousness as the epistemological 'given'. Sensationists regard the axioms as subjective human constructs, since they think there are no self-evident percepts, only sensations that are subjectively bundled into percepts by the mind.
A former member
Post #: 46
Validating the axioms, or anything, that is self evident would be done through our senses since they are perceived (especially since "they are obvious"), and since they are perceived how else would we be aware of them? Would that be correct?

So, when we say that axioms are irreducible, and cannot not be not susceptible of proof or disproof, that almost seems incorrect. Why isn't validation not the same thing as proof?

This may seem kind of a nit picky, especially since I am totally okay with the three axioms in general. But, since this the foundation of the philosophy I think it is important to get the concept down right.



'Proof' is only one species of the genus 'validation'. Axiomatic concepts are and must be validated at the cognitive echelon at which they reside. I cannot prove the axioms through logical inference without circularity, but I can validate them by focusing your attention on the facts that make them true. These facts are:

1. The axioms are fundamental to any act of knowledge. Therefore any attempt to deny the axiomatic nature of the concepts must entail circular argument, or 'begging the question'. This is because the axioms themselves are implicitly and necessarily present in any hypothesis, proposition, or conclusion. For the same reason, any attempt to prove them would also be circular.

2. The axioms are self-evident. They are obvious in any act of perception, including introspection. So while I can't give you my perception, I can implore you to take an honest look at how your own mind operates, and in doing so you will witness evidence of the axioms for yourself.

The 'self-evidence' validation of the axioms rests on accepting the perceptual level of consciousness as the epistemological 'given'. Sensationists regard the axioms as subjective human constructs, since they think there are no self-evident percepts, only sensations that are subjectively bundled into percepts by the mind.
Wow...that explains a conversation I had with someone about a month ago. I was trying to explain Objectivism and I kept getting circular arguments. They had background in philosophy and pointed out to me that I was being circular. I couldn't answer them because I didn't fully understand axioms.

Between reading The Ayn Rand Lexicon and this post, I'm better equipped to justify my values going into the future.
A former member
Post #: 26
Why is validation not the same thing as proof?

Here is an old example of PROOF:

Premise1: Man is mortal.
Premise2: Socrates is a man.
===================
Therefore(, on the basis of these two assumptions, we know with full certainty something NEW that was NOT said above):
Conclusion1: Socrates is mortal.

As you see from this example, a proof, to be a (valid) proof, presupposes that we are not saying anything among the premises that is said in the conclusion. That would constitute circularity which invalidates ANY proof. The whole PROFIT of a proof is that it makes us know something ELSE beside what we ALREADY know (the premises).

As you can also see from this example, a proof, to be a (valid) proof, presupposes that we are capable of formulating (valid) propositions, such as the two premises above. Since these propositions are made of concepts, a proof, to be a (valid) proof, also presupposes that we are capable of formulating (valid) concepts.

But Rand, to validate reason, wants to establish that we can (validly) get from reality the stuff that would go into (validly) building (valid) concepts, propositions and proofs. As she goes through this validation she readily acknowledges that she cannot avoid circularity.

Rand cannot prove the axioms. But she writes to a tough, scrutinizing crowd that wants her to discharge intellectual accountability. So she tries to show why she is right, justify her statements, and this is what validation means in the context of her attempt to earn your credence regarding the axioms.

To validate here means to establish, justify, or show. It does NOT mean proof, arm waving, appeal to her authority or prestige, dismissal of the need for some intellectual accountability, or fabricating a super-real-all-powerful-being that creates and validates all axioms by his sheer superiority.
Hammad H.
user 2469690
San Marcos, TX
Post #: 16
The claim that proof is a species of validation is correct. It should be noted that Dr. Peikoff explicitly states in OPAR that he takes "validation" to be a broader concept than "proof." (OPAR, hardcover, p. 8) His definition of validation is "ANY process of establishing an idea's relationship to reality..." (p. 8, emphasis added) "Proof" is more specific; it refers to a type of validation which consists of logically REDUCING a conclusion to the perceptually (and introspectively) self-evident. (Proof is explained in more detail in Ch. 4.) All proof requires one or more inferences and rests on the philosophic axioms; the attempt to prove any of them would be viciously circular. This, however, doesn't alter the fact that the axioms can and should be validated by direct perception (or, in the case of some axioms, like that of volition [see OPAR Ch. 2], direct introspection).

My concern here is Chuck's statements above about validating axioms. He wrote:

"I cannot prove the axioms through logical inference without circularity, but I can validate them by focusing your attention on the facts that make them true. These facts are:

1. The axioms are fundamental to any act of knowledge. Therefore any attempt to deny the axiomatic nature of the concepts must entail circular argument, or 'begging the question'. This is because the axioms themselves are implicitly and necessarily present in any hypothesis, proposition, or conclusion. For the same reason, any attempt to prove them would also be circular.

2. The axioms are self-evident. They are obvious in any act of perception, including introspection. So while I can't give you my perception, I can implore you to take an honest look at how your own mind operates, and in doing so you will witness evidence of the axioms for yourself."



Item 1 refers (in part) to the process of showing the fundamentality of an axiom by showing that any attempt deny it must itself presuppose the axiom. (This process is known as "reaffirmation via denial.")

The process of reaffirmation via denial, however, is not part of the process of validating an axiom. "Validation," again, is "[a]ny process of establishing an idea's relationship to reality." Reaffirmation via denial establishes an axiom's fundamentality, i.e. its relation to all other knowledge and ideas (including those which deny the axiom), not its relation to reality. The axioms' fundamentality is not one of "the facts which make them true." It is the fact which makes them philosophic axioms. Reaffirmation of an axiom via denial does not prove or validate the axiom, but validates (and proves) THAT it is an axiom, i.e. that it underlies all further knowledge. Taking reaffirmation of an axiom via denial as a validation of it would be viciously circular; the process of reaffirmation via denial presupposes all of the philosophic axioms.

The positive validation of a philosophic axiom is direct perception (or, for some axioms, direct introspection). THAT'S IT. An axiomatic fact is ever-present and always available to direct awareness. A person who is completely unconvinced by an ever-present fact always available to direct awareness has rejected reason; he is not going to be convinced by any kind of inferences ultimately based on the fact. (Dr. Peikoff discusses this at the end of the section on the basic axioms in Ch. 1, i.e. pp. 11-12 in the hardcover printing.)

(It should be noted that sometimes, some "negative" processes, in addition to the positive process of direct perception, may be required to fully validate an axiom in a given person's mind. For example, the reliability of the senses is an axiom [see Ch. 2], but through some philosophic errors [such as the view that sense organs distort], a rational person might be unable to FULLY accept the reliability of the senses. In this case, in addition to the positive validating process of direct perception, some "negative processes," i.e. those which consist of refuting arguments against the reliability of the senses, would be needed. These "negative" processes would not constitute, partly or wholly, a proof of the reliability of the senses, but a disproof of certain claims against the reliability of the senses, a disproof which itself rests on that reliability and all other axioms. Dr. Peikoff provides both the positive and some negative validation processes for the reliability of the senses in Ch. 2.)

[Continued on the next post.]
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