Principle Of Reason.A theistic argument?
#1
Recently I had an interaction with some of my FB friends about Ayn Rand,her novels & her philosophy.The Principle of Reason that crops up in following discussion is,for a philosophy novice like me,a ruse for propagating theistic world view.
For me,Russel's philosophy of `The world IS,it simply exists,no reason is required for it's existence' is satisfactory enough.
As to the `why' question,physics is on it's way to answer it,as precisely as humanly possible,one of the prime candidates being the Superstring Theory.
Your opinions,views are needed friends.

Vinayak Joshi:-[/b]
I have some strong objections to Randian philosophy & the theme of her novels,one of them being that her philosophy has been reduced to a cult,the very antithesis of her argument for reason & individualism.A cult primarily destroys your individuality,makes you blind to reason.And Rand had the misfortune of seeing the `cultification' in her lifetime.In sixties,the `Collective' that formed around her,& venerated her to the status of a leader had the potential of giving rise to a fascist movement.
Her philosophy of Objectivism is fallacious.The fallacy lies in the belief that absolute knowledge & absolute truth are achievable through reason.Once achieved,they are a means to telling absolute moral from absolute immoral & so on.So once `absolute knowledge ' is discovered through reason,it is unchallengiable & whoever dares so,is stamped with a flawed reasoning & excommunicated,giving rise to cult.
Objectivism does not stand the scrutiny of rationality.Reason is basically a human activity,& by definition it is therefore a flawed,biased concept.There is no way human endevour is going to touch absolute truth,the reality of nature.With this knowledge in mind,you are tolerant of the flawed concepts around you.with Objectivism,anyone not confirming with your idea of absolute truth is flawed,giving rise to intolerance.
Moreover her fascination for Capitalism is not acceptable to me.Of course it is an individual preference.
Sunday at 1:31pm · Like · 2 people
Renukadas Balkrishna Deshpande @Vinayak Joshi--Nicely put. Although at one time I was also fascinated by Ayn Rand's too powerful narrative which carried her message across with a bang, over time many of her premises are being proved as not universal truths. But you'll agree this is bound to happen with every philosophy. And as for the deification of a human figure, or the elevation of any philosophy to fundamentalism, is human creed, because it is human need. Remember there were temples to the 'Goddess of Reason' in post-revolution France, defeating the very purpose of the Revolution and the Philosophes. The only statement of yours I object to is the one about reason being inherently a flawed concept because a human activity. All theology, logic and most of the philosophy is based on the abstract PRINCIPLE of reason, which is manifest through all Creation and is not merely a human activity. I'd be delighted to discuss this further, but Shubhuji has to allow the digression. Further, even though anything absolute is not achievable and all that can be achieved is but an approximation to the absolute, yet the absolute exists abstractly, as Plato's Theory of Ideas proves.

Subhu Khaire:-You are right, VJ.. she has many a times played around with words and one notion seems to be in quite a contrast with another. What I liked though, perversely, is the idea of taking free will to the extreme.. and destroy oneself in intellect as well as personal life. I never though quite understood why she had to have an affair with Howard Roark (Thanks for correcting me, RDji..re the character name..) when she has defined Pride as she has done:as more than just a feeling. To her, it was a fundamentally positive estimate of oneself... and she started the affair b4 she even KNEW Roark..


Shubhu Khaire u can go ahead, RDji.. w/o worrying about digression: Digression is what makes threads all the more interesting, isnt it ..?
Sunday at 5:10pm · Like · 1 person
Renukadas Balkrishna Deshpande:- Ayn Rand designated her individualism as the ONLY source of all her emotions and her pains and pleasures.The rest existed only for the sake of that all-consuming individualism. Reflect, and you'll find that she did not need to KNOW Roark or anyone else because she was merely gratifying herself. In a way, she has consummated what Jane Austen began in her Pride and Prejudice, and the Bronte Sisters carried through through their Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.. and carried it beyond its logical extreme.


Vinayak Joshi :-REASON manifest in all creation?Please elaborate.
All theology,logic & philosophy ARE human activities!Unless one argues that theology is handiwork of some supernatural force!
Reason has to be a human activity,cannot exist independent of human existence.
I also would like to know how absolute exists abstractly.


Renukadas Balkrishna Deshpande:-@Vinayak Joshi- Thanks for reverting.I'll try to answer your questions as follows. 1. You see, there are two aspects of everything, per se,that is, on account of itself, and its perception through the senses. Kant maintained in his theory of knowledge the doctrine of extreme empiricism. For him, things existed only in mind and had no existence of their own. As such, every perception is necessarily limited to the mind which must have the limits of individuality. As such, the very idea of objectivity becomes absurd. As, for example, air has two aspects of existence, one, as it exists and flows and touches the skin and enters into our nostrils, and second, the feel of air that our minds experience. Would you say that air does not exist for a sleeping/unconscious person for he does not feel it? So, the perception of reason is a human activity, and as such, is ridden with the limits of human mind. But I was talking about the Principle of reason, manifest in the answer of the eternal question "Why?" about the whole of the creation, for which a Creator or a Will is posited in lieu of an answer which so far eludes empiricism. Therefore, reason as a tool of deduction is a far different concept than the principle of reason which keeps the subnuclear particles in an atom together in spite of the forces of mutual repulsion of like charges, and in general, keeps things 'going'. 2. I won't argue that theology is a divine creation because that would be the too obvious mistake of putting the cart before the horse, the grammar before language. Theology is a completely human handiwork, and much imperfect at that, as all the bloody history bears witness, but the awe and human curiosity which begot theology in the first place is based on the principle of reason. St. Augustine has elaborated on this. (For a short version read Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy). Further, logic is a human activity but you must agree that unless there is an underlying system, two plus two would not be four in the first place. That which makes mathematics certain, I call Reason. In fact, the medieval English writings defending the institution of kingship like Locke, Austen, and later even Rousseau all had strong appeal to this principle of reason. 3. Plato had come up with the idea that every single manifestation is but an approximation to an abstraction, which can exist only in mind. Such as every bed a carpenter made is not the perfect bed, the perfect bed is an idea existing in the mind of the carpenter alone. This is a very valid theory. In medicine, unless you formulate an ABSTRACT idea of health and a healthy body in the preclinical years, you cannot have a reference point in relation to which to define diseases. Further, an absolute zero kelvin temperature does not exist in nature, but mathematically, it does. So the idea of the absolute exists in the divine mind, that is, the possibility that in ideal circumstances all parameters should so coordinate themselves that the absolute becomes a reality, hence it is said that the absolute exists in abstraction. Hope I have clarified. If not, I will have wasted your time.
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#2
I see two meanings in which the principle of reason is used in Renukadas's comments - one is as a proxy for reality. Human reasoning is flawed, but our reasoning can be validated against reality. So reason based on reality isn't inherently flawed. I don't find this view objectionable.

The other usage is equating principle of reason with our ideas of perfection which exist in our minds. I do find this objectionable in that it is incompatible with the first view. Because in the first case, we have means of arriving at an agreement when there are conflicting ideas. Reality exists independently and that is the common ground for resolving conflicts. In the second case, how are we going to define perfection and on what reason should I agree to someone's idea of perfection, when I have a my own idea of perfection which is different to that of others?
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#3
(15-Apr-2011, 01:07 PM)vvjoshi Wrote: Recently I had an interaction with some of my FB friends about Ayn Rand,her novels & her philosophy.The Principle of Reason that crops up in following discussion is,for a philosophy novice like me,a ruse for propagating theistic world view.
For me,Russel's philosophy of `The world IS,it simply exists,no reason is required for it's existence' is satisfactory enough.
As to the `why' question,physics is on it's way to answer it,as precisely as humanly possible,one of the prime candidates being the Superstring Theory.
Your opinions,views are needed friends.

This is a good discussion and I'll toss in my two paisa. To begin with, here is my take on Rand from a 2008 article I wrote. Also, I agree with everything that Vinayak wrote about how reason is inherently a subjective human activity.

Quote:Vinayak Joshi:-[/b]
I have some strong objections to Randian philosophy & the theme of her novels,one of them being that her philosophy has been reduced to a cult,the very antithesis of her argument for reason & individualism.A cult primarily destroys your individuality,makes you blind to reason.And Rand had the misfortune of seeing the `cultification' in her lifetime.In sixties,the `Collective' that formed around her,& venerated her to the status of a leader had the potential of giving rise to a fascist movement.

I've read Michael Shermer's description of Objectivism as a cult, and I agree with it.

Quote:Her philosophy of Objectivism is fallacious.The fallacy lies in the belief that absolute knowledge & absolute truth are achievable through reason.

This is also one of the reasons Shermer quotes. I tend to think that it is true, but the more salient point is that there was plenty of literature on this subject at that time during the 20th century. Like all people selling a flawed ideology in popular culture, Rand ignored what the philosophers were actually discussing in the academic and scholarly circles.

Quote:Renukadas Balkrishna Deshpande @Vinayak Joshi--The only statement of yours I object to is the one about reason being inherently a flawed concept because a human activity. All theology, logic and most of the philosophy is based on the abstract PRINCIPLE of reason, which is manifest through all Creation and is not merely a human activity.

So, theology, logic and philosophy are not human activities? This seems like using circular reasoning to avoid the fact that reason is inherently a subjective enterprise. But as we will see further down, this is not the meaning of "Reason" that is being implied here. Reality and natural phenomena are being attributed the quality of reason. To be fair many philosophers have done the same thing, but the object of this is to introduce language that ends up confusing the conversation. Just keep this in mind- the misappropriation of the word "Reason", and its use in the context of the natural world devoid of sentient subjective observation, comes in handy when you want to do a bait and switch.

Quote:Further, even though anything absolute is not achievable and all that can be achieved is but an approximation to the absolute, yet the absolute exists abstractly, as Plato's Theory of Ideas proves.

Plato's theory of Forms proves nothing to me. I for one think that the phrase "the absolute exists abstractly" is an oxymoron. Its like saying "the absolute exists subjectively and relativistically", which is strange because then it would not be absolute. The type of abstract subjective process that Plato refers to can only exist relative to each subjective frame of reference. We may believe that we all have the same abstract idea about something, but without an external, objective frame of reference to ground that abstract idea in objective reality, all we have is intersubjective abstraction. And that's a long way from absolute abstraction. It remains a subjective, relativistic abstraction.

Interestingly, we don't have to come all the way through the centuries to Kant's Critique of Pure Reason to challenge Plato's Theory of Forms (also known as Theory of Ideas). Plato's own student, Aristotle, in order to solve some pretty clear contradictions in his teacher's theories, discarded the idea that the world of ideas is objectively true. Purely abstract ideas are not absolute, but relative.

Quote:Vinayak Joshi :-REASON manifest in all creation?Please elaborate.
All theology,logic & philosophy ARE human activities!Unless one argues that theology is handiwork of some supernatural force!
Reason has to be a human activity,cannot exist independent of human existence.
I also would like to know how absolute exists abstractly.

Ditto. I can see we're on the same page here.

Quote:Renukadas Balkrishna Deshpande:-@Vinayak Joshi-
Kant maintained in his theory of knowledge the doctrine of extreme empiricism. For him, things existed only in mind and had no existence of their own.

This is not true. Kant was a phenomenologist only in an epistemological sense. He subscribed to "epistemological phenomenalism". That is, he claimed that the only things we can know about the universe are knowable through sensory experience. Knowledge is limited to phenomena. But he refused to accept that things stopped existing outside the mind. This is a very important fact, because it is what separates Kant from many previous philosophers such as Hume and Berkeley. His position is being blatantly misrepresented here.

Quote:As such, every perception is necessarily limited to the mind which must have the limits of individuality. As such, the very idea of objectivity becomes absurd.

No, it does not. It becomes a challenge, one that science has risen up to very well, but it certainly does not become absurd. Perception may be limited to the mind, but those things that are being perceived (and a whole lot of things that are not perceived by our limited senses) are not. There are many things today that are accepted as objective facts about nature, contrary to our subjective perceptions (or lack thereof) about them, because science has helped discard subjective biases.

Quote:But I was talking about the Principle of reason, manifest in the answer of the eternal question "Why?" about the whole of the creation, for which a Creator or a Will is posited in lieu of an answer which so far eludes empiricism.

What "Creator or Will"? This is a case of proposing something for which there is no evidence and justifying the dismissal of empirical science because it doesn't explain that imaginary proposition. Anthropocentric wistfulness.

Quote:Therefore, reason as a tool of deduction is a far different concept than the principle of reason which keeps the subnuclear particles in an atom together in spite of the forces of mutual repulsion of like charges, and in general, keeps things 'going'.

This is the oldest trick in the theological arsenal. Just because things have physical properties, they must be magic. The idea is this- all those particles must have something making them do what they do, so if we claim some unfalsifiable and completely useless proposition and call it the "principle of reason", we can use it to club science to death.
There is no principle of reason in the objective universe. To simply state that there is such a thing, as an apriori, is to essentially declare as true that which needs to be determined.

Quote:I won't argue that theology is a divine creation because that would be the too obvious mistake of putting the cart before the horse, the grammar before language.

No kidding. That is exactly what the arguments presented before this have done.

Quote:Theology is a completely human handiwork, and much imperfect at that, as all the bloody history bears witness, but the awe and human curiosity which begot theology in the first place is based on the principle of reason.

That horse must be getting mighty tired by now, following that damn cart.

Quote:Further, logic is a human activity but you must agree that unless there is an underlying system, two plus two would not be four in the first place.

There is no underlying "system" other than objective reality.

Quote:That which makes mathematics certain, I call Reason.


Why? Why not call it what it really is- objective reality? Reason is the opposite- a subjective reality.

Quote:Plato had come up with the idea that every single manifestation is but an approximation to an abstraction, which can exist only in mind.

Its reasonable that all ideas only exist in the mind. Of course, they are by definition then relative to that subjective frame of reference, and not absolute.

Quote:Such as every bed a carpenter made is not the perfect bed, the perfect bed is an idea existing in the mind of the carpenter alone.


Sure, and that would be a "perfect bed" relative to the carpenter's subjective idea that only exists in his mind as an abstraction. Nothing absolute about this.

Quote:In medicine, unless you formulate an ABSTRACT idea of health and a healthy body in the preclinical years, you cannot have a reference point in relation to which to define diseases.

This abstraction is again an intersubjective and therefore relative idea. Not an objective and absolute one.

Quote:Further, an absolute zero kelvin temperature does not exist in nature, but mathematically, it does.


The mathematics of the universe that we re-create using our capacity for reason is only representative of objective reality in so far as we are accurate in representing it. Just as we can think up in invisible friends, we can also think up impossible numbers. I'm failing to see how any of this establishes that abstract ideas can be absolute. All I see are abstract ideas that are claimed to be absolute by individuals (god falls in this category) but are in fact subjective and relative. If an idea is absolute, then it is by definition not abstract, but something that exists in physical form outside of human sentience.

Quote:So the idea of the absolute exists in the divine mind, that is, the possibility that in ideal circumstances all parameters should so coordinate themselves that the absolute becomes a reality, hence it is said that the absolute exists in abstraction.


The annoying and useless metaphors of the "divine mind" aside, the whole argument from start to finish is circular and flawed because of its false premises. There never was an absolute abstraction idea to begin with. It is an oxymoron. Ideas not grounded on objective reality are by definition relative, not absolute. Furthermore, there is no need or reason to propose that the natural world requires some "principle of reason", in order to make our own subjective perception of reality coherent. Indeed, such a proposition is redundant, since the objective world IS the seemingly-elusive principle that is being proposed to explain its coherence.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#4
Thanks Ajita for the superb dissection of the Principle of Reason argument.
It is gratifying to know that my suspicion that the Principle Of Reason is not a valid argument of philosophy was not incongruous.
A lesson for me as to how to take an invalid argument down,and an inspiration to learn philosophy!
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#5
Ajita you read Ayn Rand at age 14? Respect. Sweatdrop I was reading Tintin at that age !
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence
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