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Post 40

Friday, May 29, 2009 - 10:06pmSanction this postReply
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Hi Ed,

In a way, you're lending weight to my suggestion that who counts as an Objectivist is inextricably tied to Rand.

Oh, and there's an apt quote from David Kelley in his Art of Reasoning (p 51, hardback): "[W]e cannot demand that a definition have sharper boundaries than the concept it defines. . ."

Jordan
(Edited by Jordan on 5/29, 10:08pm)




Post 41

Friday, May 29, 2009 - 10:33pmSanction this postReply
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Jordan,

I don't know how that quote ends, but I know how I'd be tempted to end it...

"[W]e cannot demand that a definition have sharper boundaries than the concept it defines, nor should we tolerate definitions fuzzier than need be."

More important... we should not tolerate definitions by non-essentials.



Post 42

Saturday, May 30, 2009 - 9:17amSanction this postReply
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What Steve said.

:-)

Ed




Post 43

Saturday, May 30, 2009 - 11:00amSanction this postReply
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Steve, good ending of that sentence. It actually fits Kelley's context, too. It's a little off topic, but I'll elaborate on Kelley's bit.

Kelley was demonstrating for the reader the technique of forming a definition, specifically for the concept "game," kind of as a challenge to Wittgenstein who said the concept "game" is impossible to define. With a bunch of examples, Kelley sorted through genus and differentia to come up with the definition of "game" as: "a form of recreation constituted by a set of rules that specify an object to be attained and the permissible means of attaining it."

Wittgenstein has asked whether a child throwing a ball against a wall and catching it should fall within the concept "game." Kelley pointed out that there isn't much of a rule there, and that it isn't much of a game either:

"It is not clear whether the child's activity satisfies our definition, but it's equally unclear whether the activity should be considered a game. What we have here is a borderline case, and as we have seen, we cannot demand that a definition have sharper boundaries than the concept it defines (unless we need to turn the concept into a technical one). All we can ask is that the definition include everything that is clearly a member of the concept, exclude everything that is clearly not a member, and leave the same set of borderline cases uncertain."

Jordan



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Post 44

Saturday, May 30, 2009 - 1:14pmSanction this postReply
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Thanks, Jordan.

The information given about the child isn't enough to determine if he is just doing a repetitive action out of boredom, or a recreational activity with actions that follow rules and aim at attaining some goal. So, it becomes a borderline case. But, the point I take from this example, is that the problem isn't with the definition, but with our lack of information about the particular subject that we are trying to fit to a definition.

For this thread, that hasn't been our problem (yet). We agree that the genus is philosophy (include all members) but we need the differentia that excludes everything else (not Objectivism).

For the differentia, we need to have essential characteristics as opposed to accidental or unimportant characteristics.

The best approach is to look at the defining characteristics of philosophy. If we don't have a 'good enough' definition of philosophy then we are attempting to build upon shaky ground.

The elements that distinguish philosophy from other bodies of knowledge are going to be what is essential to philosophy (rather than accidental or unimportant) and those become the areas within which we look for those differences between Objectivism and all other philosophies.

This is a powerful concept because when we integrate our knowledge as layers of fundamentality - as a hierarchy - we are maintaining a logical connection, an essential thread between layers. If we said Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand, we lose that essential tie to philosophy, to knowledge, etc. We have not kept what is essential to philosophy in our definition of Objectivism. Ayn Rand is important to Objectivism, and she is unique to Objectivism, but she isn't taken from what is essential to philosophy that is part of the thread that came from knowledge. Philosophy is that body of knowledge that is concerned with metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, and aesthetics.

Staying with what is essential to philosophy (knowledge of metaphysics, etc.) but different for Objectivism (primacy of existence, etc.) is how we get to a list of elements like those Ed was listing, or the more elaborate description of the differences provided by Kelley. With the definition of a game, there were two differentia needed to get the job done (rules and a goal or object) - Objectivism is more complex and requires more than two items - Ed said 7, might be more or less, but the principle is that each is essential, is part of the hierarchy's thread and is needed to separate Objectivism from any other philosophy.



Post 45

Saturday, May 30, 2009 - 10:13pmSanction this postReply
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Great response, Steve.


Jordan,

Allan Gotthelf said, in the booklet, On Ayn Rand, that there are two key, distinguishing themes of Objectivism:

1) man-worship (man as a hero)
2) the benevolent universe premise

I tried to capture those two themes in my: 'The Seven Tenets of Objectivism' list.

The first 3 tenets are the Big 3 Axioms -- which everyone attempting to call themselves an Objectivist must, to avoid contradiction, acknowledge. Tenets 4 and 5 deal with man as a hero, entitled to selfishness and happiness. Tenets 6 and 7 deal with the universe as a benevolent environment to achieve our goals -- by building up our own character and our wealth or resources and trading with, and investing in, others who do the same.

Ed




Post 46

Saturday, May 30, 2009 - 10:23pmSanction this postReply
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Hi Steve,

I agree with everything you said. But you are talking more about "Objectivism" while I am talking more about "Objectivists."

Jordan



Post 47

Saturday, May 30, 2009 - 10:27pmSanction this postReply
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Also, Jordan, and I say this half-jokingly (or maybe less than that): I would say that anyone who didn't pass my revised Objectivist quiz isn't "really" an Objectivist -- even if they "deeply admire" Ayn Rand. The tricky, sticky issue is where to draw the line. Is 70% a passing grade (I would prefer a cut-off at 90%)?

What makes the cut-off a tricky, sticky issue is that you could totally have the potential to be or become an Objectivist -- but you still have some cobwebs in your head to clear, or some maturity to develop, or whatever. As a former wild-eyed Christian, it took me months to accept the logic on abortion and atheism ... months. What if some folks take years? Do we then consider them "Objectivists-in-training?" Objectivist "hopefuls?" What?

What do you call someone who is only 70% "on board" (a ship or a philosophy)?

:-)

Ed





Post 48

Sunday, May 31, 2009 - 9:53pmSanction this postReply
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Hi Ed,

To explore a bit with 3 questions: 1. Would you say they are Objectivists if they detest Rand? 2. What if they accept those 7 factors, but their reason in so doing is tenuous? 3. What if they accept those factors, but they have never even heard of Rand and are completely unfamiliar with her works?

Jordan




Post 49

Monday, June 1, 2009 - 8:12pmSanction this postReply
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Jordan,

To explore a bit with 3 questions: 1. Would you say they are Objectivists if they detest Rand? 2. What if they accept those 7 factors, but their reason in so doing is tenuous? 3. What if they accept those factors, but they have never even heard of Rand and are completely unfamiliar with her works?
Here's my reply:
********************************
(1) It's not "logically" impossible to both be an Objectivist and to detest Rand -- at one and the same time. That's because Objectivism isn't anything about Rand-worship. Even Rand said that. However, it'd be kinda' weird to detest the one who discovered and popularized your worldview. It'd kinda' be like the lear-jet or limousine liberals, who detest the capitalists who gave them their fancy means of travel.

(2) If their reason is tenuous, then they don't pass as an Objectivist (this was an oversight on my part). It's not necessarily about the "answers" -- it's about the truly (or uniquely) human way to even arrive at answers (to deep questions) in the first place. If you follow the human way -- i.e., noncontradictory reasoning checked against sensory evidence -- then you get to the same answers. The answers don't even need to be in the equation, really. That's what Rand meant when she said this:

I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism, but of egoism; and I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason. If one recognizes the supremacy of reason and applies it consistently, all the rest follows.

Thisóthe supremacy of reasonówas, is and will be the primary concern of my work, and the essence of Objectivism. ...

From:
http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/reason.html

The upshot -- using the language I injected -- is that Objectivism is the only truly-human philosophy.

(3) They'd be Objectivists (but they wouldn't yet know it).
************************

Good questions, Jordan.

Ed

(Edited by Ed Thompson on 6/01, 8:15pm)




Post 50

Tuesday, June 2, 2009 - 10:13amSanction this postReply
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Hi Ed,

Fair enough!

Jordan



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Post 51

Sunday, October 4, 2009 - 1:27amSanction this postReply
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Hi All... This is my first post.

And with the hope to understand better who may be kind to reply me, I tried to put some questions and comments on the '7 things' of the OP.

(1) existence exists (independently of consciousness)

Does this mean that it is natural for someone to agree on the existing of things (in the universe for example) which he cannot perceive 'in any way' yet?
In other words, what could one gains in believing (much like agreeing on) in anything beyond his personal limits of perception?

(2) existence IS identity (anything is something, and not other things)

Does this include the existence in persons too?
In other words, does this imply that the existence in me is identity hence not like of any other persons? Therefore I would need to be subjective in finding MY truth?

(3) consciousness (by way of the absolutism of Reason), is the IDENTIFICATION of reality

Does this mean that the consciousness of many persons will (or will have to) identify the same reality?
In other words, does the word 'reality' here define a sort of a common (absolute) reality to all humans?

(4) every man is an end in himself (which entails rational self-interest)

Hmmm... This is exactly what I am :)

(5) happiness is our moral purpose [which entails Aristotle's notion of the 'Good Life' (eudaimonism)]

May I add that I have discovered (or noticed, if you like) that 'happiness' is indeed the end purpose I am created for. In fact and to me in least, this is not even a choice. It is just the goal of all the complex logic/being I am given and made of. (But this is not the end of the story :) )

(6) productive achievement is our noblest activity [through which we attain necessary human values]

Does this mean that one has to fight (or act against) those who deprive others to be productive?
In other words, if, in situations when being productive may hurt some others, should one go on to the end while challenging them?
 
(7) capitalism is ideal for man on earth

Sorry, I am not sure how capitalism could be important here.
To me in the least, it gives a way on how people should be hired and fired to let them work for the progress of a society (socialism is another way but totally different).

Finally, when I started discovering the real world, I saw it just one set of coherent/interrelated facts while each fact cannot be good or bad and wrong or right, by itself. Only how a fact may affect MY being, these opposite notions may have a 'real' meaning 'to me'.
 
Kerim





Post 52

Sunday, October 4, 2009 - 8:04amSanction this postReply
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1. I would start like this: Something currently exists and is going through a process of changes. The collection of everything that currently exists and it's processes is existence. Your questions don't really make sense to me, I'll just say that there is no reason to think that things go in and out of existence as you perceive them and stop perceiving them. In fact, thinking that things go out of existence when you stop perceiving them contradicts a logical induction conclusion of the "scientific" law of conservation of momentum.

The scientific method is a learning process you can use to induct what reality/existence is and how it works. This combined with logical reasoning are the only two valid ways to gain information that is consistent with reality (true).

2. Your question doesn't make sense to me.

3. We are a part of the same reality/existence. Reality = existence.

6. In real life situations, it is practically never the case where being productive for oneself results in hurting others. You could give "stealing something without being caught" as an example, but in real life one day you do get caught, and you loose overall. That's about as far as I will go on discussing this without you describing more of a scenario that you have in mind.

7. Capitalism vs Communism... haha you are not sure how this could be important :). I am not trying to insult you, just, know that this is one of the most important things to me. These are political/economic systems that describe how force should be used in society.

Should individuals have full control over the use of their own property and be protected from undesired use of their property by others? If yes, this is Capitalism, where force is only used to protect the property of innocent citizens and respected aliens.

Should an individual who has more dire needs be given the property of a more wealthy person, even if this transfer of property is against the desire of the more wealthy person? If yes, this is Communism, where force is used to transfer wealth to the needy.

In Capitalism, the amount of wealth an individual gains is directly equal to the amount of wealth the individual creates. In Communism, the amount of wealth an individual gains is independent of the amount of wealth the individual creates. Which do you prefer?



Post 53

Sunday, October 4, 2009 - 11:55amSanction this postReply
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Welcome, Kerim -

"(3) consciousness (by way of the absolutism of Reason), is the IDENTIFICATION of reality

Does this mean that the consciousness of many persons will (or will have to) identify the same reality?"

Yes, because there is only one reality.  All experience is dependent on the same reality. 

"In other words, does the word 'reality' here define a sort of a common (absolute) reality to all humans?"

Yes. Same reason as above.

"(6) productive achievement is our noblest activity [through which we attain necessary human values]

Does this mean that one has to fight (or act against) those who deprive others to be productive?"


Possibly. This is hard to answer without a specific context.

"In other words, if, in situations when being productive may hurt some others, should one go on to the end while challenging them?"

Can you offer an example? 

 "(7) capitalism is ideal for man on earth
 
Sorry, I am not sure how capitalism could be important here."

How people should deal with one another isn't important?  :) 

"To me in the least, it gives a way on how people should be hired and fired to let them work for the progress of a society (socialism is another way but totally different)."

Oh, but Capitalism speaks to so much more than that!  It speaks to how one should live if one wishes to continue living.




Post 54

Sunday, October 4, 2009 - 4:21pmSanction this postReply
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Hi Teresa and Dean,

Dean,

1. I don't see anything wrong in what you said.
But on the other hand, a person born blind cannot live the existence of light, for example, exactly as those who can see it. While at the same time he will have no reason not to believe in what 'trusted' people refer to as the spectrum of light, for example. So at most, he can live that existence only according to some other's experiences but never on his own which are likely confined by some other sort of dimensions lived just by him. In brief, in real life, existence (of anything) exists only in the way it is perceived by an observer and since in general an observer likes to think that all other observers are (or should be) made exactly like him then he has no way but to see his 'relative' existence as a universal (absolute) one too. But I have to add that at least in theory, existence does exist in all its aspects to a perfect observer (who has no limits)... surely not me or anyone I knew so far :)
Of course, in my turn (as our fellow blind), I have no reason not to agree that 'existence exists (independently of consciousness)' since after all it won't imply or teach us any practical (determined) path to be followed in real life... unless I still miss something :)

2. Here, I tried to understand to which things the word 'existence' refers. For example , do I exist? If yes, which part of me lets my existence to exist? That is why I said the existence 'in' me (or in persons) to avoid referring to any part of my being (or theirs). In any case, and since you couldn't understand my question, it seems that 'existence IS identity (anything is something, and not other things)' excludes the existence of the observers who are supposed by many, as far as I noticed, to be rather identical, at least in their interraction with the other existing things.

3. Yes you are right, each of us is indeed a part of the same reality/existence of all others. But are we given the same tools/limits to live it? For example should I blame my fellow blind who likes to enjoy listening some music instead of going with me to watch a movie? or my deaf friend who would likely prefer just the opposite? And while it is easy to understand these two obvious cases, perceiving the deep inner differences among people is very far from being as easy. So only when I was rather young (now 60) I believed for too many years that humans are created of the same nature. Only when I discovered for sure that I was wrong, my life started to be balanced hence stable. Because since then, I was no more surprised by any kind of person. Naturally I also didn't see people as good or bad persons... just different beings who are made to be attracted by different needs/things in life hence each looking for his right/true path to reach a sort of self satisfaction if not happiness. And they are all parts in the same global existence that myself I am part of.

6. You are totally right to ask what was in my mind when I wrote about a rather weird situation. I will be glad to return to it someday later since it is a big/vaste topic to talk about now. On the other hand, I am glad to hear that if anytime you work hard to be real productive, all people you live with (and in your surroundings) have no reason to oppose you in a way or another.

7. First, all you have said about Capitalism and Communism, is right in theory in the least :) Because actually no one of the two is followed the way one expects. Second, in general, men usually prefer the way of life they used to. Of course there are always exeptions in any part of the world. But the international propaganda has to focus on some of them more than others.
In my opinion systems, like Capitalism and Communism, are created by some men to let their people work as hard as possible. And when some parts of a system fail to reach this goal, they will be replaced by some new alternatives (in form of new laws), while keeping the big title intact. Is the Capitalism in US for example, the same... 60 years ago and now. Obviously, the same can be said about Russia. After all, politics is one of the oldest professions which is inhirited from generation to generation since the very early era of the evolution of humankind. It is the art of driving people as sheep with a smile (as possible :) )


Theresa

(3) I think 'Reality', the way it is presented here, is all what could be perceived, imagined and whatever else...
 But what would you say if someone, living in this 'absolute' reality, prefers, for example, to give his life by not opposing in any way an enemy and another who naturally kills his enemy to save his life.
What could be the possible reason that both of them couldn't take the same decision in front of the same experience?
Simply because the limit of their subjective realities are different.
Yes, I am as the first one in this example while I do expect that the other one will likely behave differently. Are there two realities? Of course not... but the limit that a person is given to live this ultimate reality or existence is different from one another. And all are fully content to live... up to their limit only... that is based on their nature they are created of.
Obviously who have given a lower limit to perceive, find hard to imagine some upper ones so they would likely call them illusions (because they are indeed illusions to them). That is why I don't use to argue with people about right and wrong... because I already know they are always right the way they are.

(6) Now, I know at least it is not a point that you would worry about in your life. But what I can add is that... it is not the case for all people living on our dear planet, Earth. I will return to this in the future :)

(7) If you see Capitalism is the ultimate solution for all times in all parts of the world ... so be it.
To me in the least, Capitalism and others act much like religions. Indeed, one may see in each of them some great guidelines leading to some wonderful goals/hopes. Then when anytime things go wrong, some speeches, which are already prepared, will be addressed to the masses saying like: "We (denoting the people and not the men on power or the religious leaders) deserve to have such a serious crisis, because most of you and since long time have ignored the basic and great laws that our system (or religion) is based on. So the solution is simple... just let us work again together, hand by hand, as our fathers did to see and live in the near future the goals we have always dreamed of". Very simple but it works :)

Kerim





Post 55

Sunday, October 4, 2009 - 5:46pmSanction this postReply
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Hi again, Kerim -

(3) I think 'Reality', the way it is presented here, is all what could be perceived, imagined and whatever else...
 But what would you say if someone, living in this 'absolute' reality, prefers, for example, to give his life by not opposing in any way an enemy and another who naturally kills his enemy to save his life.


There's only one reality, and it's always "absolute," regardless of any conscious ability to perceive, grasp, or understand it. Reality and existence are the same thing.

Without more to go on, I'd have to ask why death is preferable to life for this individual?   You're mixing a whole lot of concepts here, and it's a confusing effort sorting them out. You aren't making the connection from metaphysics (existence and reality) to morality (actions required to further life), yet you're hoping we either confirm, or refute these disconnected ideas. 

What could be the possible reason that both of them couldn't take the same decision in front of the same experience?

Because people value themselves and the world differently. Why, you may ask? Because ideas about the world aren't relative. The reasons we value anything aren't equal. Philosophy is always behind the disparity.  

Simply because the limit of their subjective realities are different.

No. Knowledge takes conscious effort. Some people simply refuse to engage in that effort.

And all are fully content to live... up to their limit only... that is based on their nature they are created of.

Not only do I disagree with this, I submit that this is an extremely dangerous view of human nature, one that has enabled more misery, death and destruction than a species should have to endure. Slavery, mass murder, subjugation, extortion, and all manner of crime are the result of this view through history.

Obviously who have given a lower limit to perceive, find hard to imagine some upper ones so they would likely call them illusions (because they are indeed illusions to them).

"Illusions" only to the extent that they've been brainwashed, or forced into ignorance. Everyone, even people with lower intelligence, can grasp the idea and difference between reality and fantasy. 

That is why I don't use to argue with people about right and wrong... because I already know they are always right the way they are.

So you subscribe to moral relativism?

(7) If you see Capitalism is the ultimate solution for all times in all parts of the world ... so be it.

Indeed, how could I expect anything more from a moral relativist?

To me in the least, Capitalism and others act much like religions. Indeed, one may see in each of them some great guidelines leading to some wonderful goals/hopes. Then when anytime things go wrong, some speeches, which are already prepared, will be addressed to the masses saying like: "We (denoting the people and not the men on power or the religious leaders) deserve to have such a serious crisis, because most of you and since long time have ignored the basic and great laws that our system (or religion) is based on. So the solution is simple... just let us work again together, hand by hand, as our fathers did to see and live in the near future the goals we have always dreamed of". Very simple but it works :)
You haven't read any Ayn Rand at all, have you?   Kerim, I really don't have time to waste on empty assertions, crazy claims, hokum, and garbage.

Make some relevant arguments, and I'll continue posting your ideas. Any more of this junk, and I'll reject everything you submit for the dishonest crap it is.  No value, no trade. It's called "Capitalism."




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Post 56

Sunday, October 4, 2009 - 8:15pmSanction this postReply
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"Here, I tried to understand to which things the word 'existence' refers. For example , do I exist? If yes, which part of me lets my existence to exist?"

Existence isn't a "something else" added on, it isn't a type of power or a superpower. Some things exist as entities. Some as ideas. Whatever is anything, is. The statement existence is identity could also be restated as everything is something.

Objectivist metaphysics is an affirmation of common sense. Four-year-olds know the difference between what is real and what is make believe. Try talking to one. Only people who work really hard at it get confused.



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Post 57

Sunday, October 4, 2009 - 11:02pmSanction this postReply
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Hi Kerim,

Steve and I said this:

To be an Objectivist requires, at least, the following things: Knowing [not merely justifiedly believing] that ...

1) existence exists (independently of consciousness)

2) existence IS identity (anything is something, and not other things)

3) consciousness (by way of the absolutism of Reason), is the IDENTIFICATION of reality

4) every man is an end in himself (which entails rational self-interest) and his life requires the making of moral choices (volition)

5) happiness is our moral purpose [which entails Aristotle's notion of the 'Good Life' (eudaimonism)]

6) productive achievement is our noblest activity [through which we attain necessary human values]

7) [laissez-faire] capitalism is ideal for man on earth and requires a minarchist government based upon individual rights
Now, you questioned each one and have already gotten some answers.

In regard to (1), you brought up the subjective reality of a blind man. There are 3 modes of reality: internal, external, and intentional.

When folks say "reality" they are usually talking about external reality, which is objective (the same for everyone). When folks talk about feelings, then that's subjective and different for each of us. When folks talk about concepts, then that's intentional reality which is, in principle, objective and the same for each of us. It is the objectivity of concepts which allows us to meaningfully speak to one another as human beings.

Internal realities like a blind man's desires to listen to music are subjective, but do not affect the objective validity of external reality. Just because a blind man can't see a hoodlum about to rob him by clunking him over the head with a billy club -- does not mean that his head will not hurt afterward. Some young children may believe that if they don't see something, then it isn't real, but they don't believe that way for long. That's because external reality doesn't bend to individual whims or wishes or thinking mistakes.

The personal feelings of the blind man have no bearing on objective validity of external reality. But there still is a one-way relationship, at least  -- external reality will have bearing on what one subjectively feels.

In regard to (2), you tried to differentiate the existence of the subject (the observer) from the existence of the object (the observed), but both exist and this can be known, rather than merely justifiedly believed in.

In regard to (3), Teresa answered your questions in post 55.

In regard to (6), items (4) and (5) prove it to be correct; they entail item (6).

In regard to (7), items (4), (5), and (6) prove or entail item (7).


Let me know if you don't see why or how this is know-ably true.

Ed

(Edited by Ed Thompson on 10/04, 11:08pm)




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