Sunday, May 26, 2019
Objectivist Epistemology and Ayn Rand Essay
The starting point of Objectivist Epistemology is the principle, presented by Rand as a direct consequence of the metaphysical apothegm that Existence is Identity, that Knowledge is Identification. Objectivist epistemology9 studies how one good deal translate perception, i. e. , awareness acquired through the senses, into valid impressions that actually happen upon the facts of reality. Objectivism states that by the method of reason man can gain knowledge (identification of the facts of reality) and rejects philosophical skepticism.Objectivism also rejects faith and feeling as means of attaining knowledge. Although Rand acknowledged the importance of perception in humans, she maintained that the existence of emotion was part of our reality, non a separate means of achieving awareness of reality. Rand was neither a classical empiricist (like Hume or the logical positivists) nor a classical rationalist (like Plato, Descartes, or Frege). She disagreed with the empiricists mainly in that she considered perception to be simply sensation extended over time, limiting the scope of perception to automatic, pre-cognitive awareness.Thus, she categorized so-called perceptual illusions as errors in cognitive interpretation due to complexity of perceptual data. She held that objective identification of the values of attributes of existents is obtained by measurement, broadly defined as procedures whose perceptual component, the analogy of the attributes value to a standard, is so simple that an error in the resulting identification is not possible given a focused mind.Therefore, harmonise to Rand, knowledge obtained by measurement (the fact that an entity has the measured attribute, and the value of this attribute relative to the standard) is contextually certain. Ayn Rands most distinctive contribution in epistemology is her theory that concepts are properly formed by measurement omission. Objectivism distinguishes valid concepts from poorly formed concepts, whic h Rand calls anti-concepts. While we can know that something exists by perception, we can only identify what exists by measurement and logic, which are necessary to turn percepts into valid concepts.Procedural logic (defined by Rand as the art of non-contradictory identification) specifies that a valid concept is formed by omitting the variable measurements of the values of corresponding attributes of a set of instances or units, but keeping the list of shared attributes a template with measurements omitted as the criterion of membership in the conceptual class. When the fact that a unit has all the attributes on this list has been verified by measurement, then that unit is know with contextual certainty to be a unit of the given concept.9 Because a concept is only known to be valid within the range of the measurements by which it was validated, it is an error to assume that a concept is valid international this range, which is its (contextual) scope. It is also an error to assu me that a proposition is known to be valid outside the scope of its concepts, or that the conclusion of a syllogism is known to be valid outside the scope of its premises. Rand ascribed scope violation errors in logic to epistemological intrinsicism. 94Rand did not consider the analytic-synthetic distinction, including the view that there are truths in uprightness of meaning, or that necessary truths and mathematical truths are best understood as truths in virtue of meaning, to have merit. She similarly denied the existence of a priori knowledge. Rand also considered her ideas distinct from foundationalism, naive realism about perception like Aristotle, or representationalism (i. e. , an indirect realist who believes in a veil of ideas) like Descartes or Locke.Objectivist epistemology, like most other philosophical branches of Objectivism, was first presented by Rand in Atlas Shrugged. 5 It is more fully developed in Rands 1967 Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. 9 Rand consi dered her epistemology and its basis in reason so central to her philosophy that she remarked, I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism, but of vanity 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.