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Post 80

Tuesday, August 16, 2005 - 9:50amSanction this postReply
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Laj,
Descartes didn't just recognize one aspect of the cogito: he recognized the empirically and logically indubitable one - his status as a thinking being.
He didn't break this down. He basically accepted his conciousness but failed to explicate that his consciousness had identity and existence.
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.
I agree. But still, Descartes failed to explicate that his consciousness had existence and identity.
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.
Applying Rand's 3 axioms is certainly no more futile than applying Descartes' 1. If Rand's axioms don't matter, Descartes doesn't either.

Jordan




Post 81

Thursday, August 25, 2005 - 4:15amSanction this postReply
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Jordan: “"Existence trumps consciousness" accepts that existence can exist without consciousness, but consciousness cannot exist without existence.”

Hi Jordan. Granted, minds cannot exist without the physical world. But it’s also true that the concept “existence” is mind-dependent, and therefore cannot exist without consciousness. I’m sure you will readily appreciate this distinction.

And that raises an interesting issue: does the concept of existence necessarily include the concept of consciousness? Presumably it does, since the Objectivism 101 tutor on this site tells us that existence is “all that which exists”, and “all” surely includes consciousness.

At the same time, it is also claimed that existence has primacy over consciousness. But both cannot be true. If consciousness is subsumed into existence, it cannot treat existence as an object of consciousness. But if consciousness exists apart from existence, existence cannot be “all that which exists”.

Do you have any thoughts as to how this conundrum might be resolved?

Brendan




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Post 82

Thursday, August 25, 2005 - 6:03amSanction this postReply
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Brendan,

If I may, I just stumbled across this.

I see the same confusion as before, the confusion of mixing up a fact and the awareness of it.

You stated: Granted, minds cannot exist without the physical world.

Whew! Wonderful. That's a great start.

Then you continue: "But it’s also true that the concept “existence” is mind-dependent, and therefore cannot exist without consciousness."

That is also correct. The concept cannot exist without a consciousness to integrate and handle it. However the fact on which the concept is based can and does.

Then you ask whether the concept of existence includes the concept of consciousness. Yes it does. The concept has to, since a consciousness is needed for such a concept to exist. Do things exist independently of a consciousness? Yes they do. Do concepts exist independently of a consciousness? No they don't. Our consciousness exists to identify and handle that which exists and are a part of all that.

Then here comes the confusion: At the same time, it is also claimed that existence has primacy over consciousness. But both cannot be true.

Once again, the fact of this is true. Where did the word "concept" go all of a sudden? The axiomatic concepts of existence and consciousness are so interrelated and intertwined as to be dependent on each other. That is because a consciousness is processing the information, including existence itself. Still, the facts of existence and consciousness follow the primacy hierarchy of existence first.

You have treated a fact and the concept of such fact as one and the same thing. That is why you can state, "but both cannot be true." Being different things, both can be true and are. Each has its own nature and attributes.

Basically it hurts to know that things are going to be around long after we are not, but that's the way it is.

Michael





Post 83

Thursday, August 25, 2005 - 6:13amSanction this postReply
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MSK beat me to it. I just want to point out, though, that I was surprised by this:
Brendan: Granted, minds cannot exist without the physical world.
I agree with it, but I don't think the axioms get us there.

Jordan




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Post 84

Thursday, August 25, 2005 - 8:12amSanction this postReply
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Jordan,

Of course axioms don't get us there. Axioms are concepts. Facts get us there.

Michael




Post 85

Thursday, August 25, 2005 - 8:31pmSanction this postReply
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Daayyyaaaammm, Michael! What truly excellent responses!

Ed




Post 86

Thursday, August 25, 2005 - 8:44pmSanction this postReply
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Ed,

As always, coming from you (whom I respect greatly), that kind of compliment resonates very pleasantly in places inside me that most others do not have access to.

Thank you.

Michael




Post 87

Friday, August 26, 2005 - 12:16amSanction this postReply
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Michael: “Where did the word "concept" go all of a sudden?”

One of the difficulties of dealing with Rand is that it’s not always clear when she is referring to the concept, and when she is referring to the referents of the concept. So to make it clear what I'm referring to, I will capitalise the concept, and leave the referents in lower case. Thus, in what follows, the term “Existence” denotes the concept, the term “existence” denotes the referents of the concept. Fair?

“The axiomatic concepts of existence and consciousness are so interrelated and intertwined as to be dependent on each other.”

I think the meaning of this sentence can be accurately captured in the following propositions:

1. Existence depends on Consciousness

2. Consciousness depends on Existence.

Now, if Rand’s axioms give us an accurate portrayal of reality, as she claims they do, the following two propositions should follow from the above:

3. existence depends on consciousness

4. consciousness depends on existence.

Of these four propositions, I am sure you would agree with (1), (2) and (4), but would probably deny (3). If so, you would need to show why it is true that Existence depends on Consciousness, but false that existence depends on consciousness, keeping in mind that Existence refers to all the concretes of existence.

Brendan




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Post 88

Friday, August 26, 2005 - 1:52amSanction this postReply
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=================
So to make it clear what I'm referring to, I will capitalise the concept, and leave the referents in lower case. Thus, in what follows, the term “Existence” denotes the concept, the term “existence” denotes the referents of the concept. Fair?
=================

Jeezuz, Brendan -- why not go all out and add the qualifier: "the concept of"?


=================
“The axiomatic concepts of existence and consciousness are so interrelated and intertwined as to be dependent on each other.”

I think the meaning of this sentence can be accurately captured in the following propositions:

1. Existence depends on Consciousness

2. Consciousness depends on Existence.
=================

And now, reformulated with my -- more clearly -- revealing method:

1. The concept of existence depends on the concept of consciousness.

2. The concept of consciousness depends on the concept of existence.

Straight away, we can see your thinking error in #1: The concept of existence depends on the "fact" of consciousness (not the concept of consciousness).

=================
Now, if Rand’s axioms give us an accurate portrayal of reality, as she claims they do, the following two propositions should follow from the above:

3. existence depends on consciousness

4. consciousness depends on existence.
=================

And now, reformulated with my -- more clearly -- revealing method:

3. The referents of existence depend on the referents of consciousness

4. The referents of consciousness depend on the referents of existence

Straight away, we can see your thinking error in #3: The referents of existence do not, in principle, depend on ANY particular consciousness (consciousness is awareness of existents -- not creation of existents).

=================
Of these four propositions, I am sure you would agree with (1), (2) and (4), but would probably deny (3).
=================

Brendan, no one -- who happens to think straight -- would agree with (3).


=================
If so, you would need to show why it is true that Existence depends on Consciousness, but false that existence depends on consciousness, keeping in mind that Existence refers to all the concretes of existence.
=================

And now, reformulated with my -- more clearly -- revealing method:

If so, you would need to show why it is true that the concept of existence depends on the concept of consciousness, but false that the referents of existence depends on the referents of consciousness, keeping in mind that the concept of existence refers to all the concretes of existence.

To cut you short (and as is stated above): The concept of existence depends on the "fact" of consciousness (not the concept of consciousness).

Nice try, Brendan.

Suggestion: review the difference between thought and things -- before bringing this up again (if self-confidence is something that is important to you).

Ed




(Edited by Ed Thompson
on 8/26, 2:27am)




Post 89

Friday, August 26, 2005 - 7:58amSanction this postReply
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Brendan,

Ed said it better than I could. I also am one who really likes clear language. There is one addition I wish to make, however.

You keep insisting that an axiom must be proved by the scientific method. That ain't ever going to happen. The scientific method is based on axioms, not the other way around.

We identify existence as an absolute, but cannot prove it by one particular omniscient consciousness experiencing everything that exists. That is because we belong to existence. Existence of everything does not fall under us. We fall under it.

We are smaller than all of existence and our consciousness is limited to what we can perceive and integrate. Nothing more. Identifying that fact does not negate it. On the contrary, it identifies it.

Michael




Post 90

Friday, August 26, 2005 - 12:55pmSanction this postReply
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Ed: “Straight away, we can see your thinking error in #1: The concept of existence depends on the "fact" of consciousness (not the concept of consciousness).”

Sorry, Ed, that’s not what Michael is claiming. He explicitly referred to the “axiomatic concepts of existence and consciousness” as being “so interrelated and intertwined as to be dependent on each other”. In that case, (2) is also interrelated with (1). You don't want to imply that the “fact” of consciousness is dependent on the concept Existence, do you?

“Straight away, we can see your thinking error in #3: The referents of existence do not, in principle, depend on ANY particular consciousness (consciousness is awareness of existents -- not creation of existents).”

Really? So your statement above is not a part of existence and was not created by your mind? Well, that would explain a lot. But as I have already said, “minds cannot exist without the physical world” -- I am spelling out the implications of Rand’s thoughts, not explaining my own views.

“Suggestion: review the difference between thought and things…”

Thank you, Ed, for your kind suggestion. In fact, thinking about those primary axioms, I notice that Existence subsumes thought and things, Identity subsumes thought and things, while Consciousness subsumes just thought.

But not one of the primary axioms subsumes just things. Rand hasn’t thought to create a foundational concept that recognises the distinction between thought and things. Isn’t that odd? I know this can’t have escaped your attention, so you must have given some thought to this omission. What do you make of it?

Brendan




Post 91

Friday, August 26, 2005 - 1:04pmSanction this postReply
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Sorry, Ed, that’s not what Michael is claiming.
You still got it wrong Brendan.

I will state it clearer then. The axiomatic concept of existence and the axiomatic concept consciousness are so interrelated and intertwined as to be dependent on each other.

I fully agree with Ed when he says: "The concept of existence depends on the "fact" of consciousness (not the concept of consciousness)."

Without an existing consciousness (a fact), no concept could exist. Not even a concept of existence. Not even a concept of consciousness.

The rest is word games.

Michael



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Post 92

Friday, August 26, 2005 - 4:30pmSanction this postReply
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Michael: “I will state it clearer then. The axiomatic concept of existence and the axiomatic concept consciousness are so interrelated and intertwined as to be dependent on each other.”

I appreciate your efforts to clarify your philosophical statements, Michael. Clear expression is an invaluable aid to clear thinking. Since you agree that these two concepts are dependent on each other, I am sure you will also agree with the following:

1. Existence depends on Consciousness, where Existence denotes the axiomatic concept of existence, and Consciousness denotes the axiomatic concept consciousness.

2. The concepts Existence and Consciousness mean their referents in reality. Existence means “all existents”, or more succinctly, “existence”; while Consciousness means “all existents possessing consciousness”, more succinctly “consciousness”.

3 (a) “Existence depends on Consciousness” is a true statement; but (b) “existence depends on consciousness” is a false statement.

But if Existence means “existence”, and Consciousness mean “consciousness”, both statements 3 (a) and (b) should be true, because the respective terms have the same meaning.

So you might like to tell me why the first statement is true, but the second false, without divorcing the concepts from their referents.

Brendan 




Post 93

Friday, August 26, 2005 - 5:06pmSanction this postReply
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MSK wrote:
The axiomatic concept of existence and the axiomatic concept consciousness are so interrelated and intertwined as to be dependent on each other.
I don't buy it. I believe that as a young child I had concepts of existents -- entities and attributes -- and hence a rudimentary concept of existence (CE) before I had a concept of consciousness (CC). Later I formed a CC and probably later yet decided that my CC is a part of my CE, like consciousness is part of existence. "Dependency" between CC and CE doesn't seem like the correct word.




Post 94

Friday, August 26, 2005 - 5:42pmSanction this postReply
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Merlin,

I don't mind changing the term. Intertwined suits me just fine. The point is that concepts cannot exist without a consciousness. And there is no consciousness without existence. There is existence without a consciousness. And there is awareness without concepts.

You are probably right that the awareness of the concept of existence develops in a child sooner than the awareness of the concept of consciousness.

On an adult level, however, the interconnection of axiomatic concepts is pretty evident. Like I stated on another thread, they are like facets of the same stone than like different stones.

Brendan,

You still confuse the referent with the tag you put on it to identify it (concept).

On a tangent, think about this. The number of things (including variety, place, time, etc.) is a standard of measurement. If you eliminate the measurement, but include all things everywhere for all time, you get the concept "existence."

Michael




Post 95

Friday, August 26, 2005 - 6:22pmSanction this postReply
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Michael: “You still confuse the referent with the tag you put on it to identify it (concept).”

In fact, I have been very careful to distinguish the concept from the referents. Here is the concept: “Existence”. Here is the referent: “existence”. I’m not sure how I can make the distinction clearer.

Perhaps you have a way of identifying the concept that clearly distinguishes it from the referents. Why not share your knowledge for our benefit?

More to the point, you have failed to address the following:

a) “Existence depends on Consciousness” is a true statement. Yes or no?

b) “existence depends on consciousness” is a false statement. Yes or no? 

Brendan




Post 96

Friday, August 26, 2005 - 6:40pmSanction this postReply
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Brendan,

3 (a) “Existence depends on Consciousness” is a true statement; but (b) “existence depends on consciousness” is a false statement.  

Why is (a) a true statement? I don't think it's accepted in Objectivist circles that the concept of existence depends on the concept of consciousness. I think Ed clarified this already. We don't need a concept of consciousness to have a concept of existence. Rand said as much in her Intro to Objectivist Epistemology. IIRC, she asserted that we don't develop a concept of consciousness till much later after we've already developed a concept of existence.

But if Existence means “existence”, and Consciousness mean “consciousness”, both statements 3 (a) and (b) should be true, because the respective terms have the same meaning.

First, (a) is making an epistemic claim. (b) is making a metaphysical claim. When we talk concepts we're usually focusing on epistemology. When we talk existents, we're usually focusing on metaphysics. So the contexts are different.

 

Second, it's been said before, but a concept is not its referrent. Just as the concept "red" is not itself red, the concept conciousness is not the same as the existent consciousness. The former refers to the latter, but is not itself the latter. This is how the quoted statements in (a) and (b) can both false. To be sure, you might've caused confusion by saying "the respective terms have the same meaning." (emphasis mine). In your scheme, "Consciousness" is a term, but "consciousness" is not a term; it is the thing to which the term "Consciousness" refers. They are not the same.

 

I think MSK clarified this already, but if it helps, I think Objectivists agree with the following:

 

1. The existence of concepts (any concept) depends on the existence of consciousness.

2a. Therefore, the concept existence depends on the existence of consciousness.

2b. Therefore, the concept of consciousness depends on the existence of consciousness.

3. the existence of consciousness depends on the existence of existence.

4. Therefore, the concept existence depends on the existence of existence.

  

Jordan 

 

Edited for spacing, which I can't seem to fix.

 

(Edited by Jordan on 8/26, 7:07pm)




Post 97

Friday, August 26, 2005 - 6:46pmSanction this postReply
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Brendan,

I'll bite.

The concept of existence depends on the concept of consciousness, which depends on the concept of existence, both of which depend on the concept of identity, which also depends on them. [my statement] I could go further. But that is closer to a true statement than just the part of it you wish to examine. Also, as Merlin prompted, we must limit this to discussing an adult conceptual consciousness, not a child's development.

Existence (fact) depends on consciousness (fact) is a false statement. [my parentheses] That is correct. Facts merely are.

And please remember that "consciousness" in these equations is merely one consciousness at a time, but there are many that exist.

Michael


Edit - Jordan, we crossed posts, but I agree with you. One clarification, though. You wrote: "We don't need a concept of consciousness to have a concept of existence." True, but once a concept of consciousness is integrated, it becomes intertwined on a fundamental level with the concept of existence and vice-versa. That is the nature of the basic axiomatic concepts.

(Edited by Michael Stuart Kelly on 8/26, 6:53pm)




Post 98

Friday, August 26, 2005 - 7:17pmSanction this postReply
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Hey MSK,
True, but once a concept of consciousness is integrated, it becomes intertwined on a fundamental level with the concept of existence and vice-versa. That is the nature of the basic axiomatic concepts.
Would you explain how the concepts of existence and consciousness eventually intertwine? See, I agree with you that the axioms are better thought of as aspects of the same stone rather than of differernt stones. But just as "brown" and "10 pounds" could be aspects of the same stone, I don't see how those aspects intertwine.

Jordan




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Post 99

Friday, August 26, 2005 - 11:22pmSanction this postReply
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Simple, Jordan. It has been said over and over and over. Ayn Rand sure said it enough. Her own words from Atlas Shrugged:
Existence exists - and the act of grasping that statement implies two corollary axioms: that something exists which one perceives and that one exists possessing consciousness, consciousness being the faculty of perceiving that which exists.
Michael




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