North Texas Objectivist Society (NTOS) Message Board › Epistemology #5: The building block of man's knowledge

Epistemology #5: The building block of man's knowledge

Old T.
Group Organizer
Dallas, TX

The building-block of man's knowledge is the concept of an "existent"—of something that exists, be it a thing, an attribute or an action. Since it is a concept, man cannot grasp it explicitly until he has reached the conceptual stage. But it is implicit in every percept (to perceive a thing is to perceive that it exists) and man grasps it implicitly on the perceptual level—i.e., he grasps the constituents of the concept "existent," the data which are later to be integrated by that concept. It is this implicit knowledge that permits his consciousness to develop further.

(It may be supposed that the concept "existent" is implicit even on the level of sensations—if and to the extent that a consciousness is able to discriminate on that level. A sensation is a sensation of something, as distinguished from the nothing of the preceding and succeeding moments. A sensation does not tell man what exists, but only that it exists.)

--Ayn Rand, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, 1. Cognition and Measurement
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