The Objectivism Book Study is meeting through 2022 to study Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, by Leonard Peikoff.
This week, the reading was:
Ch. 3 – Concept-formation as a mathematical process 81-90
Ch. 3 – Concepts of consciousness as involving measurement-omission 91-95
What are you doing when you form a concept? Can you know (and can you show) that your ideas match reality, and thus can you have actual knowledge? And can you have moral certainty?
Ayn Rand was once asked how she arrived at her theory of concepts. Her answer was to analyze what is meant by calling two things fundamentally similar.
She asked herself: What is similarity? If you can offer a theory of what is meant by similarity, then you are of the part way to having a theory for how concepts work.
Rand observed that the mind compares objects to one another and to other related objects, and then omits particular measurements of each of the objects in order to arrive at the conclusion that two objects are, for human cognitive purposes, best treated as similar to one another, as compared with a third thing.
It takes a bit more explanation to show how Rand’s account of similarity and concept formation works. We cover this in our episode.
What is the significance of this theory? It means Rand has offered an account of what we are doing when we claim to have knowledge about things. Our account of what knowledge is (and what concepts are) does not need to be vague or incomplete.
This theory, in conjunction with other epistemological principles, allows us to give a technical and robust rebuttal to those who claim objectivity is impossible to man.
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Why Christians Should Reconsider Ayn Rand
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