|Fred, you wrote:|
"Although it was probably a slip of the pen (keyboard), notice that you wrote “any TIME anyone is aware of something” as leading to your conclusion that time is not axiomatic. I would say any time you are aware presupposes time and makes time at least as fundamental as awareness or consciousness. You even admit “that time and space are necessary conditions of awareness” but doesn’t that make time and space even more fundamental than awareness?? Oxygen is a necessary condition for fire and that implies that you can have oxygen even when you don’t have fire. Likewise with time vis-à-vis consciousness. This would make consciousness non-axiomatic, or at least, less axiomatic than consciousness—a very unRand like conclusion."
I meant exactly what I said. "Time and space are necessary conditions of awareness." In other words, time and space are more fundamental than awareness existentially or causally. Temporal duration and spatial extension exist in the universe, even when consciousness does not exist. But they are specific attributes of entities, and are thus not fundamental in relation to entities. As both Aristotle and Rand affirm, entities/substances are ontologically primary.
Taken together, entities, attributes (including spatiality and temporality), actions, and relations (including spatial and temporal relations) are all types of existents -- and these types of existence are what we may call Rand's ontological categories, in contrast with Aristotle's Categories (for instance), which included substance (entity), quality, quantity, time, place, action, passion (and I forget the rest). And note that Rand does not give consciousness pride of place among her categories (consciousness being an attribute of certain living beings -- though some would say it is a relation between certain living beings and some aspect of reality).
This alone is enough to make it clear that Rand's ontological Categories are not the same as her Objectivist axioms: Existence, Identity, and Consciousness -- and that we should be very careful in how we go about making assertions about the fundamentality of either consciousness or time or space. We must, above all, identify the context in which one or the other is fundamental. In the context of Rand's ontological categories, time and space (place) are clearly more general (and thus more fundamental) than consciousness (which is but one kind of attribute and/or relation) -- though even there, time and space are less fundamental or primary than entities. However, in the context of Rand's axioms, you cannot get more fundamental than existence, identity, and consciousness.
Go back and check Peikoff's lectures from the 1970s on history of philosophy and Objectivism (carefully monitored by Rand, so presumed to be her views, too), as well as OPAR, in which he takes great care to lay out the inductive source of the axioms. He always starts within some state of awareness, in which he says we always find three fundamental elements: Existence, Identity, and Consciousness.
Peikoff also clearly states that Existence and Identity are eternal, while Consciousness is not. This alone brings into question any claim that these three are axioms of metaphysics. Instead, it is clear that they are axioms of experience, i.e., of awareness of reality -- not axioms of reality or existence. This is why I previously wrote: "Objectivism is not talking about the universe or reality as the arena of axioms. The axioms are axioms of experience or awareness.”
Fred: "If Objectivism is not talking about reality, what is it talking about. When Rand states that “Existence is identity” surely she means extra-mental existence. If existence is identity only in our experience, doesn’t that make Objectivism into some kind of subjectivism, or at least, a phenomenology. Maybe what you meant to say is the axioms are axioms of experience because they are axioms of reality."
When Objectivism says that the irreducible, inescapable facts of every state of awareness are that (1) the things that exist do exist, (2) the things that exist are what they are, and (3) awareness is awareness that things exist and are what they are, it is making basic claims about experience. Call this "phenomenology", if you like, though I'm leery of using terminology derived from philosophical traditions about which I know very little. But it certainly isn't "subjectivism." Subjectivism is the doctrine that awareness creates reality, in contrast to objectivism, which is the doctrine that awareness is aware of reality. The preferred terminology, though, is that "consciousness is metaphysically passive," which is another way of stating the Primacy of Existence -- as against "consciousness is metaphysically active," which is the Primacy of Consciousness. (This frees up "subjective" and "objective" for other purposes Rand et al find more important, such as the trichotomy.)
Now, you have probably seen Rand's journals, in which she said that metaphysics was basically the Law of Identity and its implications. She very deliberately did not include consciousness as part of metaphysics (which means that attempts to make Validity of the Senses or Volitional Consciousness part of the Objectivist metaphysics are misguided; they are axioms of epistemology). But she did not include space and time in metaphysics either. It is only in her scanty discussion of the ontological categories that she touched on more specific things than existence and identity -- and even there, she did not mention categories as specific as space and time. And when she and Peikoff later discussed consciousness in the context of metaphysics, it was not to make consciousness into something of great metaphysical significance, but in order to affirm the Primacy of Existence by underscoring the nature of consciousness as metaphysically passive.
Also, when Rand said "Existence is Identity," she was talking about "extra-mental existence," but she was also talking about mental existence. Everything that exists, is what it is -- and that includes consciousness. She underscores this latter point by stating that "consciousness is conscious of reality." However, this statement about consciousness is not an axiom of extra-mental existence
Quoting me again, “It is true that no one can be aware without being aware someplace [sic.] of something that exists someplace (or at some time),” Fred asks: "But if you cannot escape space and time, doesn’t that make them axiomatic?"
Fred, you have a "sic" sense of humor. :-) I cannot escape the fact that I am the biological product of two human beings, but that doesn't make them axiomatic. I cannot escape the fact that I need oxygen in order to survive, but that doesn't make oxygen axiomatic. Being the son of two human beings and needing to breathe oxygen are necessary conditions of my being aware of anything, but that doesn't make them axioms. Just because I cannot "escape" something doesn't make it an axiom. Again, you have to identify the context of the "escape."
But let me try to clarify what I previously said: while every state of awareness I have must be awareness of something that exists at some place and time, it is not true that it must be awareness of that thing as existing at some place and time. This is in contrast to the fact that: not only must every state of awareness I have be awareness of something of a specific nature, but also it must be awareness of that thing as existing, as being what it is, and as being something I am aware of.
This is why existence, identity, and consciousness are axioms of experience, while time and space are not. I cannot escape time and space as causal conditions of my experience, but I can and do sometimes escape them as elements within my experience. The latter is what Rand means by the inescapability of axioms.
Roger Bissell, Post-Randian musician/writer