Identifying the proper genus leads one to ask the right questions,
such as: what distinguishes inflation from deflation? The answer to that question involves the general price level, and the genus of “price” is:
an amount of money (differentia: money paid per unit in purchase of a good or service). Since a price is thus a ratio of dollars to a set of goods
purchased, the obvious conclusion is that the general price level is an increase in the general ratio—i.e., total of all money exchanged for all the goods and
services sold. A rise in the general price level is then due to an increase in that ratio—which then focuses attention on the factors that can make that ratio increase (notably, an increase in the money supply). Deflation is a decrease in the money/goods ratio. (More investigation would be required to get a proper definition of and understanding of inflation, but this should be sufficient to illustrate the cognitive efficacy afforded by knowing the proper genus of each of one’s concepts.)
Identifying the proper genus leads one to ask the right questions—here: “What distinguishes inflation from deflation?” On a common-sense level, inflation is marked by a rise in the general level of prices, deflation by a fall. And that raises a new question: “What is the general price-level?” The genus of “general price-level” is “price.” The genus of “price” is: an amount of money (the differentia is: “paid per unit in purchase of a good”). A price is thus a ratio (money spent per good), and the general price-level is the equivalent aggregate ratio: the economy-wide spending divided by the total quantity of goods sold. A rise in the general price-level is an increase in that ratio, a fact drawing our attention to the two things that can make that ratio increase: an expansion of the money supply or a diminished supply of goods. (More investigation would be required to get a proper understanding of inflation, but the foregoing should be sufficient to illustrate the cognitive efficacy afforded by knowing the proper genus of each of one’s concepts.)
1 turn now
I turn now
Edition 1.1 Revisions
(The premium color printing of Edition 1.0 already incorporates some of the changes listed below.)
quest under his conscious control
quest under one's conscious control
re-affirm the grass' greenness
re-affirm its greenness
man or animal, that is conscious
man or animal that is conscious
The primacy of existence is implicit in grasping the concept of “consciousness”—i.e., grasping that awareness is awareness of something.
To form the concept of “consciousness,” one has to distinguish between the object and one's awareness of it; the only means of doing that is by grasping what changes and what is unchanged in varying conditions of perception
(e.g., most simply, by closing and opening one's eyes).
One must (implicitly) accept the primacy of existence in order to grasp
any concept of consciousness—e.g., “seeing,” or “thinking.” Such concepts
require distinguishing between one's awareness and the object of which one is
aware—e.g., between the act of seeing and what is seen—and the only means
of doing so is to notice what depends on us and what exists independently
(e.g., by observing what happens on closing and re-opening one's eyes).
Page 33 fn. 12
12 The introspected object, e.g., a thought, must have had its own object. A thought must be a thought of something. (Even when thinking about a dream, the dream must be of something, something ultimately derived from perception of reality.) No matter how many levels of “consciousness of consciousness of . . .” one adds, the final “of” requires an object.
12 The introspected object, e.g., a thought, must have had its own object. A thought must be a thought of something. (The object of thought does not have to be an external existent: one can think about a dream one had; but any dream is of something, and its content is ultimately derived from perception of reality.) No matter how many levels of “consciousness of consciousness of . . .” one adds, the final “of” requires an object.
it at such
it as such
Philosophers standardly ignore the biological function of consciousness. They consider only consciousness' latest evolutionary development—thought—while ignoring the entire, eons-long evolutionary development, of which thought is the most complex form. Thinking just is, they assume. And then they wonder if computers can think. My answer is that before a computer can think, it must be able to understand ideas (concepts); before it can grasp ideas it must be able to perceive the world, feel emotions such as joy and suffering, desire and fear, pleasure and pain; before it can feel emotions, it must be alive—which entails being able to act to sustain itself. We can dismiss questions of whether or not a computer can think until one is built that is alive. Only then it wouldn't be a computer, but a living organism, a man-made one.
The failure to adopt this biological perspective has crippled philosophy, preventing man from properly understanding his most vital organ: his mind. Philosophers have spun out theories that treat the mind as a self-contained, phenomenon, ignoring its roots in and dependence on perception, emotion, and action in the world. The disasters that stem from ignoring the biological role of reason will become apparent as this book proceeds. The nonbiological perspective stands markedly revealed in the common question: is it possible to develop a computer that can think? My answer is: before a computer could think, it would have to be able to understand ideas (concepts); before it could understand ideas, it would have to be able to perceive the world and to feel emotions, such as pleasure and pain, desire and fear; before it could perceive and feel emotions, it would have to be alive—i.e., be engaged in action to sustain itself. We can dismiss notions about a thinking computer until one is built that is alive—and then it wouldn’t be a computer but a living organism, a man-made one.
is itself is a
is itself a
a few exceptions, would not help
a few exceptions would not help
results in him having
results in his having
began, and remains, a single whole.
began as, and remains, a single whole.
ability to pickup
ability to detect
In approaching the table, at no point does the edge-pattern become, say, elliptical.
In approaching the table, at no point does one find the edge-pattern becoming, say, elliptical.
In this so-called “illusion,” what we see is the way a straight stick looks when semi-submerged in water. The image on this page, after all, is a photograph—the camera did not “mis-photograph” and the eyes do not “mis-see.”
In the bent-stick “illusion,” what we see is the way a straight stick looks when semi-submerged in water. The image on the left is, after all, a photograph. The camera does not lie, and neither do the eyes.
Next, consider an example that switches sense modalities. If you push
on the lower outside corner of your bottom eyelid, the pressure stimulates
some of the receptors in your retina. If done properly, you will see a circle
of light appear in the opposite part of your visual field (by your nose and
near the top of your visual field).
Next, consider an example that switches sense modalities. If you push on
the lower outside corner of your bottom eyelid, the pressure should stimulate
some of the receptors in your retina. If done properly, a circle of light
will appear in the opposite part of your visual field (by your nose and near
the top of your visual field).
Page 91, fn. 40
an argument rife with many arbitrary assumptions.
an argument riddled with arbitrary assumptions.
The first express uncertainty
The first expresses uncertainty
130, fn. 57
57 The primary source is “On the Intelligence of the Dog>,” Nature, vol. 33 (Nov. 12, 1885),
p. 45: “In fine, it was found necessary to send five or six men to the watch-house to put
[the crow] out in her calculation. The crow, thinking that this number of men had passed
by, lost no time in returning.”
57 This story's source is an 18th-century work, The Intelligence and Perfectibility of Animals,
by C. G. Leroy. His almost identical account concludes: “In fine, it was found necessary to
send five or six men to the watch-house to put [the crow] out in her calculation. The crow,
thinking that this number of men had passed by, lost no time in returning.” [Leroy, 126]
If counted, the quantity of the 42 peas is easily retained as one unit (“42”) and that quantity is easily distinguished from any
other enumerated quantity.58 An average person would begin to run into
difficulty in trying to perceptually distinguish six peas from seven, and almost
certainly could not reliably distinguish nine peas from ten (without counting
or forming subgroups).
Counting the peas enables their quantity to be easily held
as one unit (“42”) and that quantity is easily distinguished from any other
enumerated quantity.58 An average person would begin to run into difficulty
in trying to distinguish six peas from seven by sheer perception, and almost
certainly could not reliably distinguish ten peas from eleven (without counting
or forming subgroups).
Page 150, fn. 71
--or fudge it
Going from an adjective
Going from a verb
(as an adjective).
(as, e.g., an adjective).
In looking at a round, white table, its color and its shape are now self-evidently characteristics of the table. But they were not self-evidently so before performing, in early childhood, the process of isolating those attributes from the entities that possess them.
As adults, when we look at a white, round table, it is self-evident to us that the table has the color and the shape as characteristics; but that was not self-evident in early childhood, before we had ever performed the process of isolating those attributes from the entities that possess them.
The second-order differentiation (the Method of Agreement) prevents one from using attribute-differences to subdivide entities. The shirt, the lake,
the berry are clearly disparate—incommensurable—and subdivision requires
a common denominator (a CCD), so the young child is not led to form a subdivision within an entity-concept. Consider the different axes along which these
concretes vary: the shirt is small, the lake is big; the shirt is solid, the lake is liquid, the shirt is near, the lake is far away; the berry is sweet, the others are not—and so on. All the attributes—except color—vary. Thus, among the characteristics that are differing, the child’s attention is drawn to the one that does not differ: the blue color.
There is a further reason why entity-concepts must precede concepts of attributes (and of all other types of characteristic). Attributes are attributes of entities. To conceptualize an attribute one must grasp that it is an attribute—i.e., something that characterizes an entity. To grasp “blue” is to grasp that it is something that entities can be. If a child has not yet learned that “blue” implies a blue thing, then whatever sounds he may utter, he does not yet have the concept “blue.”
The second-order differentiation (the Method of Agreement) prevents one from using attribute-differences to subdivide entities, as when a child uses blue to subdivide berries into blueberries vs. others. Subdivision requires a Conceptual Common Denominator (CCD), but the shirt, the lake, and the berry are disparate things, which lack any obvious CCD. Consider the different axes along which these concretes vary: the berry is small, the lake is big; the lake is liquid, the berry and shirt are solid; the shirt is for wearing, the others are not, and so on. All the salient attributes—except color—vary. Thus, among the characteristics that are differing, the child’s attention is drawn to the one that does not differ: the blue color.
There is a further reason why entity-concepts must precede concepts of attributes, and of the other kinds of characteristics. To be a characteristic is to be something that characterizes an entity. Attributes are attributes of entities, actions are actions of entities, relationships are relationships among entities, etc. To grasp “blue” is to grasp it as something that entities can be. If a child has not yet learned that “blue” implies a blue thing, then whatever sounds he may utter, he does not yet have the concept “blue.”
Whenever something exists, it exists, and is what it is. Whenever one is
conscious of it, one is conscious of it.82
For instance, one's awareness of a table occurs at some particular time, but the table exists across time, independent of one's consciousness of it. This is the primacy of existence (see Chapter 1). Consciousness perceives what exists; it does not create its objects. (The same is true of consciousness itself: introspection does not create the mental activities that one is introspecting; self-consciousness does not create consciousness.)82
In retaining what Rand calls “psychological time-measurements” axiomatic concepts are able to serve an important function:
In omitting what Rand calls “psychological time-measurements,” axiomatic concepts serve an important function:
Page 170 [Blank line in block quote removed]
Page177, fn. 90
stage of knowledge
stage of knowledge,
and Kennedy being shot in Dallas.
and Kennedy's having been shot in Dallas.
“The Fallacy of Accident.
“The Fallacy of Accident.”
Page 205, fn. 110
must use the knowledge
one must use the knowledge
20th century philosopher
the Earth revolves on its axis
the Earth rotates on its axis
the sun is revolving
the sun is rotating
Page 220 [Removed the asterisks that surrounded the last line of the page]
But “socialization” and “externalities” I would charge with a subtler misuse of concepts, to which I now turn.
But "socialization" and "externalities"are terms commiting a much subtler type of error: the misclassification of units.
is confusing, misleading, or is otherwise anti-cognitive.
is confusing, misleading, or otherwise anti-cognitive.
17th century man
[in any act of pure self-reference]
[an act of pure self-reference]
Page 262 [fixed missing hyphen and changed line breaks]
in the re
in the reverse order
the sun, too, revolves
the sun, too, rotates
There are three possible ways of making a cognitive error—i.e., of believing, whether warrantedly or not, that one has reached knowledge when one in fact has erred.
Cognitive errors result from a defect in the thought process or in its input material. More concretely, cognitive errors result from one of three causes: 1) illogic, 2) false premises, or 3) incomplete information.
and an epistemological component. To know something, it must be a fact, and one must have a mental grasp of that fact. “Fact” is a purely metaphysical term:
and an epistemological component: to know something, the thing known must exist (must be a fact) and one must have a mental grasp of it. “Fact,” in contrast, is a purely metaphysical term:
Here is how the exchange went.
Here is the exchange, as reprinted in the Appendix to ITOE:
Page 292 [Citation added for the “more than two eyes” parody.]
In forming and using concepts, nothing forces us to proceed logically
In our formation and use of concepts, nothing forces us to proceed logically
A theme running throughout this book is that knowledge is not an end in itself, but a means to acting successfully in the world.
At the same time, I have warned against Pragmatism, a philosophy which claims to champion practical success while rejecting absolutes, objectivity, certainty, and—above all—principles. In politics today, calling someone a “pragmatist” is considered to be complimenting him, and term “ideologue” is used to smear anyone who adheres to principles. Yet, principles offer the only guide to practical success. The quintessential pragmatist, by general acclaim, was Richard Nixon. The lesson of his downfall is: nothing is as impractical as the attempt to function without principles.
A theme running throughout this book is that knowledge is not an end in itself, but a means of acting successfully in the world.
At the same time, however, I have warned against Pragmatism, a philosophy holding that practical success requires rejecting absolutes, certainty, and, above all, principles.
Today, to describe someone as a “pragmatist” is considered to be paying him a compliment. Anyone who adheres to principles is attacked as being an “ideologue.” But, in fact, principles offer the only guide to practical success. Consider one striking data-point: the fate of Richard Nixon. Nixon was, by general acclaim, a virtuoso of pragmatism. The lesson of his downfall is clear: nothing is as impractical as the attempt to function without principles.
Page 303, fn. 159
The inclusion of relativistic effects, as with the precession
of the perihelion of Mercury, does not change the point: a determined
geocentrist could handle them by adding further ad hoc devices, similar to
“epicycles” and “deferents.” The issue still comes down to the fact that the
rotation of A around B is the same phenomena as the rotation of B
around A—i.e., the fact is that A and B are in relative
The inclusion of relativistic effects, such as the precession
of the perihelion of Mercury, does not change the point:
a stubborn geocentrist could handle the precession by simply adding further
ad hoc devices, similar to “epicycles” and “deferents.” In reality,
the motion of A around B is the very same phenomenon as the motion of B around
A—i.e., the fact is that A and B are moving relative to each other.
Page 322, fn. 173
the same idea.
the same idea [Quaestiones III, 13].
But sovereign control over one's mind is a presupposition of epistemology, of logic, and of conceptual knowledge itself. An unfree mind, a mind in thrall to any external or internal factor, could not distinguish between the valid and the invalid, the logical vs. the illogical, the objective vs. the subjective. Note that these distinctions do not apply to sensory perception precisely because perception is automatic, necessitated, deterministic. There is no such thing as seeing invalidly, hearing falsely, or smelling subjectively (see Chapter 2). But conceptual cognition, as volitional, makes normative terms possible and necessary.
But if a man's mind were in thrall to some factor that forced ideas upon him, he could not validate his conclusions objectively, and thus he could not distinguish knowledge from mistaken belief. Objectivity requires guiding one's thinking by logic (see Chapter 6); the operations of a deterministic mind would be ruled not by logic but by some necessitating factor—genes, social “conditioning,” brain structures, “confirmation bias,” etc. A deterministic mind would only emit outputs, like a computer; it could not make objective judgments, distinguish the logical from the illogical, or separate truth from falsehood. As I show later in this chapter, if conceptual processes were deterministic, they would be like perceptual processes: metaphysically given and incapable of error . But denying the existence of error lands one in a contradiction: “The belief that error exists is an error.”
In deciding how to act as in deciding how to think, one's state of focus remains the fundamental, controlling factor.
In deciding how to act, as in deciding how to think, the state of focus remains the fundamental, controlling factor.
Page 332 [hyphen changed to en-dash]
Page 334 [moved the blank line to its proper place]
Page 350, fn. 194
194 A material object is the sum of its parts, and what a material object does is also describable as the sum of what each of its parts does. Thus, the object's causal properties reduce to the causal properties of those parts. For it to act in any way other than it does act would, ultimately, contradict the identity of its constituents.
But consciousness is not a sum of parts; there are no atoms of consciousness. Consciousness is an organic whole, and the causal properties of consciousness are not reducible to the properties of constituents (it has no constituents). Moreover, though consciousness is a whole, it has aspects or attributes. Unlike the ultimate constituents of matter, consciousness is a unity having a rich “internal” identity.
194 Why is free will possible to consciousness but not to matter? I suspect that the difference is due to the fact that consciousness is an organic whole, without parts but with a rich “internal” identity. Material objects are ultimately collections of “atoms”—using this term broadly for whatever are the ultimate constituents of material things. These ultimate “atoms” of matter, having no parts, can have no internal structure. If so, then they can have no unactualized potentialities and can only go on doing that which they have always done. Material objects, being nothing but arrangements of these “atoms,” could not, then, act differently in the same circumstances. But consciousness is not a compound of parts; it is an organic whole having a complex identity, with many unactualized potentialities.
Page 350, fn. 196 [deleted to make room for footnote 197]
what he chooses, can differ
what he chooses can differ
Page 351, fn. 197 [added in lieu of fn. 196, keeping numbering the same]
197 I am indebted to Lee Pierson for pressing me on this issue.
And it is radically opposed ideas about the nature of concepts that form the battleground for the millennia-long clash
And radically opposed theories about the nature of concepts have created the battleground for the millennia-long clash
Page 369, fn. 200 [Italicized the book title]
must come down
must come down.
It is the “top-down” view that creates the problem Plato raises in the Meno:
The “top-down” view also creates the problem Plato raises in the Meno:
Page 387 [italics removed from “use” and “objectivity”]
but: "What is the proper conclusion to draw given all the facts available now?" Because epistemic standards are for the purpose of guidance, they are not retrospective but prospective.
but: "what is the proper conclusion to draw given all the facts available now?" Epistemic standards are prospective, not retrospective.
Note: Changes to the Bibliography and Index are not recorded here.