Here at Dust Bunny U, it's required that we convincingly argue out pov's with which we disagree. Rest assured, however, that upon graduation all that will stop, immediately. Consistent with Real World custom, on 8 June, the only opinions I well ever express are that of my own: Bordel! Tabernac'! Mange la marde! 'Suiz libre, alorz!
Re Armstrong, then, I'll try not to paste in a Deleuzian gloss--insofar as he has much in common with Rand. So while both Rand and Deleuze feel that 'concept' is central to metaphysics (albiet for different reasons!), Armstrong does not.
Rather, for him, 'concept' is just a word.
Please rember that Realists such as Armstrong accept universals, while Nominalsts do not. In this sense, what's remarkable about Armstrong's metaphysics is his rejection of Aristotelian Universals in favor of the universality of defined sets of behavior. This obviouly plays into the ZFC / Godel stuff--quite another story.
In this scenario, gravitational events form a universal set of all acts therein. "Gravity' is what we call it, but how about the Peyton List rendition, called 'gravy', which has made its way through every middle school in America? More to the point, gravatational events existed long before The Newt padoodled up some barely-comprehensible equations. Moreover, what we call it doesn't explain how it works--because nothing does!
Now from this you can easily tell that he's taken the brew from the wicked witch Nancy Cartwright. Physical laws are lies. Moreover, giving these words the special status of 'concept' simply hides what's really happening: we're tryiing to say more than we really know by endowing a set of observed events with a special title.
So again, what's important with Armstrong is his outright rejection of 'concept'. For him, to offer a Realistc metaphysic is to clearly distinguish both particular event and their distinguished universal set from all abstractions. For him, there is no magic path that would indicate which abstraction is 'true' and which is 'false' For example, Mercury.
All proposed laws and theories, then, are nominalist accounts. We privelege those which we think are true by labeling them 'concepts', then say, 'Oops, sorry', when they're proven false. Pardon the pun, but only a truly 'Objectuivist' account of science, in which progress is linear, would make for concepts.
Likewise, Deleuze gets nailed for using concept as 'meaning'. Although his historical retrieval is impeccable--tracing 'concept- as -meaning' back to Duns, as well, Armstrong emphasizes the fluidity by which we attach meaning to events.
Now I can reply on Deleuze's behalf. After all, he's one of the three classes I took at the Sorbonne last summer--the other two being Scholastics and Lacan,btw.
*'Concept study, for him, is simply what Philosophy does. Philosophy studies meaning.
*We derive Science as function by virtue of our empirical contact with the world-- including ourselves, both as a group and individually.
*We derive Art as a jostling of sensory data, which provokes thought...thereby concept and function.
That's it: Philosophy, Art , Science.
The world we live in is 'actual', and our thoughts of this world are 'doxa' or received wisdom. The world of the imagination is the 'virtual', which exists just beyond the cognative horizon of doxa, and the 'actual'.
So a Deleuzian response would be that, of course concepts are just words, becaue that's all philosophy is! In the true Spinozan tradition (him again) special word-status is ascribed to what words do, specially speaking.
Judging form the previous posts, a Randian response for 'concept'seems trapped in a muddle halway between Bacon and Aristotle. Given, that 'concept' means more or less an 'abstraction', based upon available information, do we induce an 'abstraction of 'fish' as all sea creatures that we observe? Or rather, per Aristotle, do we bring into the picture an adequate knowledge of what particulars are: the universal 'fish' is confirmed by the fact that fins are necessary for movement in the ocean.
In other words how do we either induce or assume sea mammals/
In other words, abstractiing may or may not describe learning. Moreover, there's no indication that an abstraction may be just a heuristic, not a general truth.
These are the philosophical minnows that Armstrong sharks feed upon: it's a polemical world out there! How Objectivists would justify the metaphysical status of 'concept' is beyond my means, although I'd be interested....
(Edited by Matthews on 2/21, 9:20pm)