|Michael: “Then it occurred to me that maybe you have a conception of consciousness as a disembodied awareness floating around in the universe, sort of like God or a spirit.”|
You can rest easy, Michael. I also believe that consciousness requires an organic brain. More to the point, since Existence Exists doesn’t say anything about what sort of things exist, it doesn’t tell us whether existence includes brains or consciousnesses, nor how many of these there may be. So it seems that this concept serves very little purpose.
“An axiom provides the foundation on which to build a conceptual scientific system.”
Are you sure that Existence Exists is a foundation? Rand’s theory of concepts proposes that there is a conceptual hierarchy -- beginning with perceptual, first-level concepts integrating a limited set of particulars – that proceeds “upwards” towards wider and wider integrations.
For example, take the concept Table. This is formed by observing two actual tables, say a dining table and a coffee table, ignoring the differences – or as Rand would say, “omitting the measurements” – and then abstracting or “integrating” the similarities to form a concept.
One can also perform a similar procedure to form Chair. One can then integrate the concepts Table and Chair to form the wider abstraction Furniture. Thus, the beginnings of a hierarchy of concepts. The process can then be repeated up the hierarchical chain until we reach the “highest” and widest abstraction, which is Existence, which subsumes all the lower level concepts.
So staying with architectural metaphor, Existence seems to be as much a “roof” as a foundation. The foundations should surely be made up of the perceptual, first-level concepts. What do you think?
“You claim that the "existence exists" axiom does not. So let's do it. What would you replace it with?”
If you feel a really burning need for a fundamental idea, how about “some things exist”. It says pretty much what Existence Exists does. But why replace it with anything? You can quite easily discard Existence Exists with no loss of rationality. You should try it some time, just for a few minutes. Nothing will happen. Honest.