Thursday, June 20, 2013

Useful notes on Objectivism*

*From: TVtropes          

A philosophy inseparably connected to the name of its creator (and namer), Russian-American writer Ayn Rand.
Plato divided philosophy into four primary branches; Metaphysics, Epistemology, Ethics and Politics. Objectivism has positions in each of these areas:


Metaphysics is the study of existence (also known as Ontology) as well as the basic 'substances' which make it up (also known as Cosmology). Rand argued, following Aristotle, that Ontology was the proper area of Metaphysics and that Cosmology should be reserved for the physical sciences. Thus, Objectivist metaphysics is confined to an Ontology.
What is Ontology? Ontology is the study of what it means to exist. This is probably the most mind screwy it gets, because 'that which exists' is a broad category. However, the basic questions of Ontology can be summarized as follows: Is there something? and If there is something, does it exist independently of my consciousness?
When you were a child and you thought that by closing your eyes, you could make something you dislike go away - well, that was your younger self hoping that the thing you didn't like existed in a way that depended on your consciousness.
Objectivism argues that: 1) There is something. 2) That it exists independently of your consciousness and you can't simply think it into non-existence. Philip K. Dick, no Objectivist himself, nevertheless articulated a definition of reality that many Objectivists can agree with: "Reality is that which, if you stop believing in it, does not go away."
You may ask "how can I know this? How can you know this? How can Ayn Rand know this?" The problem with asking that, according to Objectivists, is in order to know something, that something must exist in the first place.
Objectivist metaphysics thus stiplulates three axioms, i.e. undeniable, irreducible facts, describe how reality works:
  1. Existence exists (there is something)
  2. Every thing that exists has a specific nature or identity ('A is A' or 'a thing is what it is'). A thing must be something, otherwise it is nothing.
  3. You exist, and you exist possessing consciousness, which is the faculty of perceiving that which exists.

The theory suggests that these facts are "undeniable" because to deny them requires them to be true. If you deny that existence exists, you have to exist (because only entities can perform an action like denying something). Additionally, this denial assumes you have a consciousness which allows you to think and perceive and process more here.

Kant & Subjectivism

Kant's subjectivist philosophy*

"On the contrary, Subjectivism is the antithesis to Objectivism. Subjectivism was effectively established -but not explicitly stated- by German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). One of Subjectivism’s central tenets is that external reality is completely dependent on the internal reality of the perceiver; that reality as an individual perceives it (or in extreme cases as a collective perceives it) is a construct of the desires of the perceiver, or whims, wishes, hopes, or fears. 

Subjectivism holds that the universe is not absolute, in fact it asserts that no absolutes exist whatsoever- which is a contradiction, and contradictions do not exist- henceforth Objectivism is right because its tenets/axioms do not contradict themselves. “Subjectivists believe that feelings are the creator of facts, and therefore a man’s (collective in some cases) primary tool of cognition. If men feel it, declares the subjectivist, that makes it so,” a famous critique by Ayn Rand."

*Quote from William Nauenburg at Opinion