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North Texas Objectivist Society (NTOS) Message Board › Metaphysics: Condensed Summary

Metaphysics: Condensed Summary

Old T.
OldToad
Group Organizer
Dallas, TX
Existence exists.


Consciousness is the faculty of perceiving that which exists.


The law of identity:
A is A. A thing is itself. Existence is Identity. Consciousness is Identification.


The law of causality:
The law of identity applied to action. All actions are caused by entities. The nature of an action is caused and determined by the nature of the entities that act; a thing cannot act in contradiction to its nature.
. . .
The law of identity does not permit you to have your cake and eat it, too. The law of causality does not permit you to eat your cake before you have it.
—Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, "This is John Galt Speaking" (original emphasis).


The primacy of existence:
The primacy of existence (of reality) is the axiom that existence exists, i.e., that the universe exists independent of consciousness (of any consciousness), that things are what they are, that they possess a specific nature, an identity. The epistemological corollary is the axiom that consciousness is the faculty of perceiving that which exists—and that man gains knowledge of reality by looking outward.
—Ayn Rand, The Ayn Rand Letter, Vol. II, No. 12 March 12, 1973, "The Metaphysical Versus The Man-Made" (Original emphasis)


Nothing and Infinity:
It is very important to grasp that "nothing" cannot be a primary concept. You cannot start with it in the absence of, or prior to, the existence of some object. . . . There is no such concept as "nothing," except as a relational concept denoting the absence of some things. . . .
. . .
"Infinity" in the metaphysical sense, as something existing in reality, is another invalid concept. The concept "infinity," in that sense, means something without identity, something not limited by anything, not definable.
—Ayn Rand, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Appendix—Abstraction as Measurement-Omission


The metaphysically given:
To grasp the axiom that existence exists, means to grasp the fact that nature, i.e., the universe as a whole, cannot be created or annihilated, that it cannot come into or go out of existence. . . . Nature is the metaphysically given—i.e., the nature of nature is outside the power of any volition.

Man's volition is an attribute of his consciousness (of his rational faculty) and consists in the choice to perceive existence or to evade it. To perceive existence, to discover the characteristics or properties (the identities) of the things that exist, means to discover and accept the metaphysically given. Only on the basis of this knowledge is man able to learn how the things given in nature can be rearranged to serve his needs (which is his method of survival).
—Ayn Rand, The Ayn Rand Letter, Vol. II, No. 12 March 12, 1973, The Metaphysical Versus The Man-Made (original emphasis).


Reality is absolute:
Reality is an absolute, existence is an absolute, a speck of dust is an absolute and so is a human life. Whether you live or die is an absolute. Whether you have a piece of bread or not, is an absolute. Whether you eat your break or see it vanish into a looter's stomach, is an absolute.
—Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, "This is John Galt Speaking"
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