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Post 60

Sunday, August 14, 2005 - 4:36amSanction this postReply
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Let me see if I can try this, if not I forever hold my peace, I don't have time for multiple posts.

In every thing we do we are using the three axioms, even if we don't acknowledge it.  That does not prove them, but it shows that they are the foundation of proof and that they are axioms. Proof itself must be identified and seperated from nonsense.Whatever means used to prove them would have to be something that exists. From the moment we come into the world we are identifying and judging ( making value distinctions), we cannot do otherwise. Life and value cannot be seperated.

When we utter a statement that we want to be taken seriously as truth or proof, does it mean the opposite of what we say? Did we not have to seperate it from untruth? Where do we acquire the knowledge to utter the statement, and what acquired the knowledge? What's the difference between knowledge and nonsense, did we identify it, how?   

Existence is identity. You (consciousness) cannot look into existence without identifying, you cannot make a statement that is without separation and distinction. Existence is everything, consciousness is dependant on existence, not independent of it, existence is not dependent on consciousness. Identity comes about from consciousness in collaboration of the whole of existence.

Rand basically said at the heart of all knowledge there is a. existence, b. conciousness, c. identity.   In order to prove something, whatever it is I use to prove it, it must exist, second of all, in order for me and you to understand it, reject it or except it, it must be something specific, it can't be true and false at the same time, (a is a). Is this the conscious human mind doing this? Doesn't proof itself, needs existence, identity and consciousness, and if so, aren't they the foundation of all knowledge and all proof?

Best,

Shane





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Post 61

Sunday, August 14, 2005 - 5:07amSanction this postReply
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Laj wrote,

I'm fairly surprised that you, Jordan, think that Existence Exists, with its implicit refusal to address problems related to illusions, dreams, perception (direct/indirect) and cognitive errors,  constitutes a significant improvement on Descartes.



How were you able to tell  what all of those are? Did you not get them from existence, did you not identify them as illusions dreams etc. as seperate and distinct from the non illusions and non dreams, and where does that come from? Did you not acquire the information and seperate it in your consciousness?  The info you use to classify those words, did it not come from existence/ identity?

What's a cognitive error? Seperate from a  cognitive non-error?



Shane





Post 62

Sunday, August 14, 2005 - 7:10amSanction this postReply
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Hi Laj,
Notice that implicit in your discussion is a materialist view of existence.  Are you comfortable with that?

I'm not sure where that bias crept in. Care to point it out? I did try to be sensitive to that by pointinng out that lots of Objectivists accept nonphysical existence. Where did I blow it?

And "existence exists" accepts that if dreams, illusions, etc. exist, then they exist. If I haven't mentioned it before, I accept Hume's view that I don't think we can get to external reality without cheating (i.e., using some reasoning that's not logically necessary). I accept Rand's axioms because I find them more useful than the alternatives, not because I find them logically necessary. I laid out the 5 options in my last post for Brendan to pick from in hopes that he'd show me a more useful alternative. To persuade me that an idea's grass ain't so green isn't enough to make me abandon it; one must point out that another idea's grass is greener.

And I accept that Rand beat Descartes in the sense that she yoked more conclusions from the cogito.

Brendan,

The argument you laid out wasn't Rand's. It was one you imputed to her. No sense in it. If there's time, I'll try to clarify her argument again.
As for your question regarding existence and consciousness, Iím not entirely sure what you mean by ďexistence trumps consciousnessĒ. If you mean that: if we discover that an idea we hold is inconsistent with the way the external world can be shown to work, that we should therefore modify our idea -- sure, Iíll agree with that.
"Existence trumps consciousness" accepts that existence can exist without consciousness, but conciousness cannot exist without existence.

Jordan





 




Post 63

Sunday, August 14, 2005 - 7:23amSanction this postReply
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Ed,

On the contrary, he was and did. Here's his own words on the matter:
In one respect, you are certainly right - all rationalists/foundationalists who search for the kind of certainty they admire in mathematics are pursuing the axiomatic project in their own way.

In another respect, you are wrong.  Descartes always knew he was appealing to specific audiences and tailored his work to those audiences, usually men of high intelligence, and was more conscious of the limitations of his writings than some of his popular works let on.  Moreover, his work was pioneering in philosophy and mathematics and to a lesser degree, science - I don't think that his statement should be given a narrow interpretation because Descartes did have to reject quite a bit of his received knowledge to make discoveries in the fields that he did. Aristotleian scholasticism was dominant at that time.

But how does he come to 'reason' out this (disputable) reliability? Answer: by still postulating further -- on into the supernatural -- to a benevolent God that 'just wouldn't ever' deceive us ...

 
Unless one has a knee-jerk negative reaction to anything smacking of theism, I think that there is nothing Descartes said that cannot be given an equally valid secular interpretation. Every explanation for the reliability of the senses/cognitive faculties must end at something like what Descartes said.Of course, empirical improvement on Descartes is possible.

Cheers,

Laj.




Post 64

Sunday, August 14, 2005 - 8:06amSanction this postReply
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Shane,

How were you able to tell  what all of those are? Did you not get them from existence, did you not identify them as illusions dreams etc. as seperate and distinct from the non illusions and non dreams, and where does that come from? Did you not acquire the information and seperate it in your consciousness?  The info you use to classify those words, did it not come from existence/ identity?

What's a cognitive error? Seperate from a  cognitive non-error?
Sigh.  Your argument sounds to me like that of a theist in other contexts.  I tell a theist that theism doesn't constitute a significant improvement on materialist science in explaining experimental causation and the theist tells me, "well, you need God to make sense of it." and from there, the theist accuses me of nihilism  and rejecting science.

Am I rejecting the idea that there are things independent of consciousness?  Of course not.  I'm not even saying that if I grant you your far-ranging interpretation of the axioms, that you are wrong.  What I'm saying is that the axioms are not what they are all cranked up to be - they don't make a smart man smarter, nor do the axioms tell you what is and what isn't an illusion.

By the way, a cognitive error is an error in judgment.  There are other kinds of errors you know - not all mistakes are fundamentally cognitive in source or importance. Moreover, redundant emphasis is not always a crime, even if I was guilty of that in this case, which I'm not.

Anywho, I'm happy that you present another example of the grandiose delusions of the narrow Foundationalist who believes that anyone who doubts the efficacy of the project of the Foundationalist's project is a raving relativist.

Cheers,

Laj.




Post 65

Sunday, August 14, 2005 - 9:17amSanction this postReply
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Jordan,

OK, I see that you aren't as materialist as I thought you were after re-reading your posts.  I just get a few squirms when I read about "perceiving existence".
And "existence exists" accepts that if dreams, illusions, etc. exist, then they exist. If I haven't mentioned it before, I accept Hume's view that I don't think we can get to external reality without cheating (i.e., using some reasoning that's not logically necessary). I accept Rand's axioms because I find them more useful than the alternatives, not because I find them logically necessary. I laid out the 5 options in my last post for Brendan to pick from in hopes that he'd show me a more useful alternative. To persuade me that an idea's grass ain't so green isn't enough to make me abandon it; one must point out that another idea's grass is greener.
Of course.  But I think that in this case, how green the idea is depends on how widely you want to interprete it.

And I accept that Rand beat Descartes in the sense that she yoked more conclusions from the cogito.
But that's the problem - I think it is dishonest to claim that those conclusions came from cogito, when you need lots of other facts to get there.  You admit that Rand cheated, but it seems unfair to me that Descartes, whose flaw is that he didn't cheat in his axioms, but decided to discuss the empirical problems in cognition directly and talk about the facts of illusions etc. is the one who got beaten in your books.

A final comment related to something you stated to Brendan - Descartes was more concerned with epistemology than metaphysics.  I doubt that he would have disputed the primacy of existence - he would have been more concerned with how he could assert its truthfulness indubitably, and how far he could get after doing so.  In fact, reading his work gives me the impression that existence wasn't as big an issue for him as judgement.  Why does that count against him?

Cheers,

Laj.




Post 66

Sunday, August 14, 2005 - 9:31amSanction this postReply
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Some posters think "existence exists" is fine as a first axiom, and others do not. For the latter, "existence exists" has been described as a non-starter, tautological, and charged with some other shortcomings. I'm inclined to agree with the latter.

In post #50 Jordan gave 5 options about existence and consciousness. But (unless I've overlooked it) nobody has proposed an alternative for a better first axiom, at least for themselves. Here is my proposal: Reality is my benchmark.

This is not equivalent to Jordan's first option, "existence trumps consciousness," in my view. In post #62 Jordan wrote:

"Existence trumps consciousness" accepts that existence can exist without consciousness, but conciousness cannot exist without existence.
I agree with the part after "that".




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Post 67

Sunday, August 14, 2005 - 10:56amSanction this postReply
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   Of course 'Existence exists' is a "non-starter"...for those ingrained with Mathematical Logic's view (as contrasted to how Rand views the worth, and use) of psycho-logical 'axioms.' We're not talking the mere symbolic-rules of Euclid's postulates (or Russel&Whitehead's Principia Mathematica) to set up criterial rules to 'derive' repititious tautologies from. The 'axioms' are end-point limits to pay attention to (to avoid going past) when we try to "start" anywhere else we wish. Their inherent implicitness in dealing with ideas about reality establishes that they simply cannot be avoided when dealing with reality; not that we can "start" from them and 'derive' all the facts of the universe. Methinks there's a cross-wavelength for most in talking about Rand's 'axioms.'

LLAP
J-D




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Post 68

Sunday, August 14, 2005 - 11:24amSanction this postReply
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John Dailey says it all, but I guess I'd like to reiterate what some ossified skulls apparently have to take in by trepanning: existence is simply THE fact--the fact that there are facts. It is not a statement, except that we must put it in that form to bring it to the conscious level (the Next Level--does anyone catch my drift here?). One who cannot grasp the meaning of the axiom of existence cannot claim to be an intellectual, no matter how many Stone-Age definitions he can quote from the images of philosophical cave-writing in his mind that he keeps referring to as a substitute for looking at reality first-hand.

)(*)(




Post 69

Sunday, August 14, 2005 - 1:38pmSanction this postReply
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John Dailey writes:
>Of course 'Existence exists' is a "non-starter"...for those ingrained with Mathematical Logic's view...

Hi John

Neither of the criticisms of "Existence exists" etc I've noted on this thread are from the view of mathematical logic.

To restate, my view is that it is simply a harmless formulation, that can be used to prove just about anything due to the vagueness of terms like "existence" and "consciousness".

I.N. Rand writes:
>John Dailey says it all...existence is simply THE fact--the fact that there are facts.

To borrow a line from the Brandens - "Who Is I.N. Rand?"

- Daniel



Post 70

Sunday, August 14, 2005 - 4:46pmSanction this postReply
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Daniel:
    You...restate...that your view of the statement "Existence exists" is that it
      1) is a harmless formulation --- I take that to mean as irrelevent to any thing worth calling
                                                      'knowledge,' much less useful-'knowledge.' Ok; that's
                                                      your evaluational-view. Far be it from me to try to change
                                                       it.
       2) can be used to prove just about anything due to vagueness of terms like "existence"
           and "consciousness."
            --- I wasn't aware that there were so many things that could be 'proved' with the
            contested statement!
                  Could you give an example of how some used it (with the term "consciousness")
            to 'prove' *any*thing (Presumably a 'non'-sensical statement)? If anything, this
            accusation seems to fit Mathematical Logic more than Aristotelian. (You know, pick
            arbitrary conjunctions and 'prove' one via denial of the other's truth, given the right
             'hypothetical.')
                   Indeed, I thought Rand had always talked in terms of 'validate,' rather than 'prove,'
            statements as to their content of truth/fact referencing...especially in the territory of
            her 'axioms,' and argued that the very idea of 'proof' rested on 'validation' from such.
            I may be wrong, though. Could you clarify your...ideas/interpretation therewith as to
            where I am?
    Overall, you say "Neither of the criticisms of 'Existence exists' etc I've noted on this thread are from the view of mathematical logic." (I gather you're commenting on my previous post.) Well, you assert this, but with your referencings above to the term 'prove' I certainly can't see any difference without a logical argument establishing the bona-fideness of this assertion (not to mention a clarification of the implied distinction). As things stand, maybe you don't intend such, but such...objectively upon any rational analysis...still obviously applies. (Ie: I disagree.)
    Maybe my questions and concerns are a bit premature. I daresay that you aren't really too clear on her distinction re 'validate' and 'prove.' Besides, you say that you find her basic terms "existence" and "consciousness" too vague for useability (in 'proofs' anyway), in which case, I see little reason to try to converse about them. I mean, if one doesn't understand what those terms mean, what point 'discussing' any of what's considered derivatives (as you have on other threads) that the 'axioms' supposedly 'prove'?.--- I was ready to deal with your Coherent Rationalism in other threads, but methinks that we're really talking in different languages, using the same terms in radically different ways. Such does not seem a harbinger of worthwhile continuing. Unfortunate. I think you really might have some solid arguments in the other threads, on some points (but, not on  basics such as 'existence,' 'consciousness,' or 'axioms', [much less 'proof' or 'validate]), as well as Jordan and Nathan.
    Anyhoo, ergo, I shan't be debating you on anything herewith. We just ain't talkin' the same talk. C'est la vie.

LLAP
J-D

(Edited by John Dailey on 8/14, 4:53pm)




Post 71

Sunday, August 14, 2005 - 5:05pmSanction this postReply
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John;
>I was ready to deal with your Coherent Rationalism in other threads,

Hi John

I am not a "Coherent Rationalist", but a Critical Rationalist, following the school of thought of Karl Popper.

(Hopefully this doesn't mean that I am an incoherent rationalist...at least not early in the evening.....;-))

I am not an advocate of the Coherency Theory of Truth either, if that is what you are referring to. I am a Correspondence Theory kinda guy.

>...but methinks that we're really talking in different languages, using the same terms in radically different ways.

I am happy to use terms in any way you choose in debate, so long as it is clear what you mean by them.

>Such does not seem a harbinger of worthwhile continuing.Unfortunate. I think you really might have some solid arguments in the other threads, on some points...

Thank you. For my part, you seem to both well informed and reasonable.

>Ergo, I shan't be debating you on anything herewith...C'est la vie.

Indeed.

- Daniel




Post 72

Sunday, August 14, 2005 - 5:29pmSanction this postReply
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Daniel:
     Ok, mis-spoke.
     I didn't mean my 'last communication' with you...on ANYthing; merely on O'ism/Rand.
     Herewith my apologies re referring to your ideas as "Coherent Rationalism." Moi's 'Big
Mistahk.' I did mean your "Critical Rationalism," which, in these threads centered around
critiques on O'ism/Rand.
      Sorry about the misnomenclature.

LLAP
J-D




Post 73

Sunday, August 14, 2005 - 5:59pmSanction this postReply
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John:
>Sorry about the misnomenclature

No problemo

regards
Daniel

PS feel free to criticise Criticial Rationalism any time..;-)
(Edited by Daniel Barnes
on 8/14, 6:01pm)




Post 74

Monday, August 15, 2005 - 7:30amSanction this postReply
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In Post #66, Merlin Jetton proposes a delightful first axiom "Reality is my benchmark," which he suggests is better than Rand's first axiom "Existence exists." I'm gonna stick with Rand's choice for first axiom. Here is one of my reasons.

The proposition that reality is my benchmark is not entirely different than the proposition that my consciousness is identification of existence. The main difference is that the former proposition is expressly normative, whereas the latter is only descriptive. When Rand asserts that consciousness is identification of existence, I think she means to report the most fundamental and important form of consciousness. That form of consciousness is what is called success-consciousness in contemporary philosophy of mind.

In the contexts in which Rand talks about her axioms, she allows that we can improve our consciousness by self-consciously directing it to reality. It does it by itself to some extent, but it does it better with our outright direction of it to apprehension of reality.

It seems to me that the metaphysical axioms in ones's philosophy should be descriptive. Then one should bring forth the normative surround. The moments should be in the order Rand used in her metaphysics and epistemology. First facts, then norms. An example would be her contention that logic rests on the axiom that existence exists (and presumably on the understanding that existence is identity). Obviously, the same sequence is followed in Rand's ethical theory as in her metaphysical-epistemological theory. Normativity in both comes in the second moment.

I agree with John Dailey's posts #67 and #70. Russell once remarked to Bradley that the proposition "Existence exists" is a fully general proposition that is nonetheless meaningful. Bradley responded that the proposition was agreeable not only to the realist, but to the idealist. He could not imagine anyone objecting to it, but he thought it was utterly useless. That was about 1909, so this debate has been going on for a while.

Rand tells us some of the meaning she intended by the statement "Existence exists." As we have discussed in this thread, she says in 1957 that grasping this assertion implies two further truths: (i) Something exists which one perceives. (ii) One exists and possesses consciousness of existing things.

But there is more she intends by "Existence exists." In her 1973 essay "The Metaphysical v. The Man-Made," she says this axiom (at least when it is also understood that existence is identity) tells us we have made a mistake if we conclude that the universe as a whole has come into or will go out of existence.

Stephen





Post 75

Monday, August 15, 2005 - 9:22amSanction this postReply
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Thanks for your comments, Stephen.

You wrote:

The proposition that reality is my benchmark is not entirely different than the proposition that my consciousness is identification of existence. The main difference is that the former proposition is expressly normative, whereas the latter is only descriptive.
I hadn't thought of it in terms of normative vs descriptive, but it is a good point. Another difference is, and part of my motive was, to get consciousness into the first axiom w/o "using the back door." While consciousness is part of existence, existence doesn't strictly imply consciousness. We can easily imagine existence w/o consciousness (or life).
Russell once remarked to Bradley that the proposition "Existence exists" is a fully general proposition that is nonetheless meaningful. Bradley responded that the proposition was agreeable not only to the realist, but to the idealist. He could not imagine anyone objecting to it, but he thought it was utterly useless.

My other motive was to try to set apart a Rand-like axiom from the many alternatives. "Existence exists" is only verbally different from "what is, is", attributed to Parmenides in the 5th century B.C. Moreover, I agree with Bradley, except I'd prefer "largely" to "utterly." Lastly, "existence exists" sounds so bland, and Rand was far from bland. :-)
But there is more she intends by "Existence exists." In her 1973 essay "The Metaphysical v. The Man-Made," she says this axiom (at least when it is also understood that existence is identity) tells us we have made a mistake if we conclude that the universe as a whole has come into or will go out of existence.
But it wouldn't be a mistake to imagine existence w/o consciousness (or life).

(Edited by Merlin Jetton on 8/15, 9:39am)




Post 76

Monday, August 15, 2005 - 10:46amSanction this postReply
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Laj,

Recognizing that existence, identity, and consciousness are present in the cogito is not cheating. Descartes recognized just one of those, while Rand recognized three, so Rand beat Descartes here. However, claiming that consciousness necessarily entails an existence external to consciousness and that such consciousness obtains (i.e., is the case) is cheating (at least in terms of logic). Both Rand and Descartes cheated.
I doubt that [Descartes] would have disputed the primacy of existence - he would have been more concerned with how he could assert its truthfulness indubitably, and how far he could get after doing so. In fact, reading his work gives me the impression that existence wasn't as big an issue for him as judgement. 
Agreed. It doesn't count against him. My comparison between Rand and Descartes is quite narrow. My oh so narrow and easy to accept point is that Rand drew more valid conclusions from the cogito than Descartes did.

Merlin,
Here is my proposal: Reality is my benchmark.

This is not equivalent to Jordan's first option, "existence trumps consciousness," in my view.
Care to elab a little more than you did in your response to Stephen?

John,
Such does not seem a harbinger of worthwhile continuing. Unfortunate. I think you really might have some solid arguments in the other threads, on some points (but, not on  basics such as 'existence,' 'consciousness,' or 'axioms', [much less 'proof' or 'validate]), as well as Jordan and Nathan.
Why am I included here?

Jordan




Post 77

Monday, August 15, 2005 - 1:02pmSanction this postReply
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Me:
Here is my proposal: Reality is my benchmark.
This is not equivalent to Jordan's first option, "existence trumps consciousness," in my view.

Jordan:
Care to elab a little more than you did in your response to Stephen?
"Trumps" fits sometimes, but not generally. It's appropriate that facts trump bad or false ideas, but not good or true ones. Also, for an imagined future reality my benchmark may be provisional. Think good inventions or hypotheses before they are proven to be worthy.

If you meant "primacy of existence" over "primacy of consciousness", that's okay and I'm inclined to think that relooking at your post #50. But it struck me as an odd way of saying it. Now that I think of it, "reality is my benchmark" sort of says I choose "primacy of existence" over "primacy of consciousness."




Post 78

Monday, August 15, 2005 - 1:31pmSanction this postReply
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Jordan,

Recognizing that existence, identity, and consciousness are present in the cogito is not cheating. Descartes recognized just one of those, while Rand recognized three, so Rand beat Descartes here. However, claiming that consciousness necessarily entails an existence external to consciousness and that such consciousness obtains (i.e., is the case) is cheating (at least in terms of logic). Both Rand and Descartes cheated.

Given the existence of illusions, dreams etc., Descartes didn't just recognize one aspect of the cogito: he recognized the empirically and logically indubitable one - his status as a thinking being.  The status of this or that particular existent as being external to consciousness or having veridically-apprehended properties depends on many considerations (note that Descartes dealt with illusions early)  and this is not present in the cogito for that reason.

Rand's axioms are parasitic upon basic Aristotleian Logic - whatever value the axioms have apart from Logic, it has little to do with anything that would make one man smarter than another. "Existence exists" tells you nothing about what exists, "existence has identity"or "existence is identity" tells you nothing about what the particular nature of an existent is, and "consciousness is the faculty that perceives existence" at best tells you that existence is apprehended, not created, but this relies upon considerations that are fairly complex.  That Descartes is being pilloried for not stressing differences that don't matter is a bit sad.

Cheers,

Laj.

(Edited by Abolaji Ogunshola on 8/15, 1:37pm)




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Post 79

Monday, August 15, 2005 - 7:01pmSanction this postReply
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Merlin writes:
>Now that I think of it, "reality is my benchmark" sort of says I choose "primacy of existence" over "primacy of consciousness."

I think that thinking in terms of "primacy" theories is probably better than trying to construct 'inescapable' axioms - which, in their efforts to become 'inescapable' become, as Bradley points out (thanks Stephen), innocuous to the same degree.

Let me propose to ignore the usual philosophic categories for a moment, and try a different perspective.

We can, very crudely, stand back and see 3 competing types of "primacy" theories, which we can roughly summarise as follows:

1) "Primacy of physical existence" theories. That is, there is a physical world out there of trees, rocks, food and Bon Jovi records which we cannot avoid or wish away. Held by: Rand, Popper, many other philosophers, many human beings.

2) "Primacy of consciousness" theories. There is no actual physical world, merely our perceptions of it. Held by, oh, solipsists, radical subjectivists, Berkeley I suppose, and a few others, and very few non-philosophers.

3) "Primacy of non-physical existence". There are abstract, eternal things that precede the physical world, and the physical world is a mere imitation of. Held by: Plato, natch, and most world religions.

Of course, most thinkers fall in between and round about these categories rather than firmly in them. But what's interesting to me is not how true or false they are, but that they seem to be attempts that date from very ancient times to describe *distinctly different types of human experience*, to explain them, and to put them in some kind of cosmological order.

In parallel with this attempt at ordering, there is a natural tendency towards *reduction*: to try to reduce all 3 to two, or to one, and while but this reductionist approach has taught us a lot on the way, it hass not met with anything like final success to my mind. These categories stubbornly, and roughly, refuse to submit, creating problems for the reductionist from whichever way she should approach it. The reductionist usually resorts to solutions that are either *verbalist* - playing with words to make it look as tho the reduction has been successfully achieved - or simply cheerfully ignoring that type of experience which does not fit the reductionist's particular starting point.

This leads, I think to much wasted time trying to pretend that the physical world doesn't really exist, or that consciousness doesn't exist, or that abstractions don't exist etc etc etc.

My attitude is: *all three* of these types of experiences seem to be real, and there are good arguments that suggest they are not illusions of one sort or another. And if it don't fit, don't force it.

- Daniel



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