|Regi: “Even for the animals, who are never going to develop a concept of existence (or anything else), existence is implied in all they perceive.”|
Yes, but this implication is derived by a human mind. It doesn’t exist “out there” in the animals’ perception.
Rodney: “By implication, [the baby] understands the idea of existence. That's what seeing is, the apprehension of an object's existence.”
In that case, perception involves at least the concept of ‘object’.
Rodney: “It is a "concept" forced upon any conscious being if it wishes to use its consciousness at all. There is no question but that such a being must recognize the fact of existence in some form (but not as a concept).”
Rodney, this is what in my country we might call a “Clayton’s Concept”, the concept you have when you’re not really having a concept. If you mean that existence, which in this context seems to mean something like ‘the external world’, impacts unmistakably on any conscious being, I agree. But that’s a quite different understanding to the axiomatic concept ‘existence exists’, where existence includes consciousness.
Where I think some of the difficulty arises is in Rand’s sharp distinction between the passive, automatic nature of perception, and the active, volitional nature of concept formation. It’s clear enough why she does this, in order that perceptions arrive clear and undistorted into the mind. But in deriving at least her basic concepts she unavoidably brings concepts back into perception, as you show: “…the implicit concept of existence is …part of the very nature of any specific act of observing”.
When I say that Rand’s concept of existence is "logically prior" to observation, I don’t mean temporally prior, that one has to have the concept in mind before one can observe. What I mean is that the act of observing logically pre-supposes the concept ‘existence’. I think we’re pretty close in our understanding, and the main difference is the terminology.