“Do I accept the same axioms as you? I would say that on the whole I do.
Again, however, I know the reason for my belief that existence is real, that
there is consciousness, and the law of identity. I do not see that they are
necessary apart from the existence of God.”
Tell us what “god” is and identify the means by which you are aware of its
Also, please explain to us what the Bible has to say about axioms, axiomatic
concepts, the means by which they are formed, how they are validated, what
exactly is their reference, and by what means is aware of what they name. If
you cannot tell us anything about these things without reference to the
Bible, then I would have to assume that you are borrowing more ideas from
non-biblical philosophies and hijacking them in order to give your
god-beliefs more credibility.
“Put it this way: we are arguing from two different standing places, both of
which refer to a common point (which is why you keep accusing me of stealing
I accuse you of committing stolen concepts because your arguments and
inferences do not honor the hierarchical nature of conceptual knowledge on
which those arguments themselves must depend. Do you understand what is you
are doing when you commit the fallacy of the stolen concept?
“You have your starting point that you know what is real and that it has
existence and so forth. This is "undeniable" in your mind, and as such,
because things are real we will end up with the three axioms you have named:
existence, identity, and consciousness. I start from the concept that God
exists and is real (existence, identity and consciousness right there, mind
you), and that all that He has created is real.”
If ‘god’ exists, then it must have identity. But Christians routinely tell
me that “God is infinite.” This contradicts the law of identity. To be
something is to be something specific. The concept ‘infinite’ does not mean
“really big” but essentially greater than anything specific. Its only
validity is in assessing potentials, not naming actualities, and even this
is arguable. But I have encountered some Christians who claim that god is
finite. If that’s what you think, Peter, then please identify what it is you
have in mind when you say “god”.
Also, please identify the nature of the means by which you are supposedly
aware of this being. Try to distinguish the means of validating your claim
that a god exists from your emotions and feelings. If you “start from the
concept that God exists and is real,” it sounds like you are taking this to
be your axiom, and this is not one of the axioms which I have identified.
Again, I smell more stolen concepts.
“Ultimately, since we both agree that existence is real, our axioms will end
up being the same.”
They will? How do you know this? They cannot be the same if you commit
yourself to stolen concepts, for the axioms which I have identified do
neither allow now support them.
“This does not mean that there is any stealing of concepts--the argument
isn't over what is in the realm beneath the axioms, but what is over them.”
Actually, that’s not exactly true. I see this as an argument about the
proper relationship of the axioms, specifically the relationship of
consciousness to existence. This problem is essentially confined at the
axiomatic level so far as I see it, and Peter's errors are dealt with
summarily on a proper view of reality (which he rejects because of his
acceptance of stolen concepts at the base of his thought). The problems
which Peter has “above” the axiomatic level are simply a fallout of his
acceptance of stolen concepts at the axiomatic level.
“In short, we agree on part (the thee axioms are valid because reality is
We already know that this is perversely dubious. You have not identified the
means by which you are aware of the axioms, and in previous posts you denied
the validity of the senses. But the senses are indispensable on this matter.
So, if you still deny the validity of your senses, then any axioms which you
claim as the foundation of your view are not the same axioms which I
identify as the basis of mine. The axioms which you claim are "stolen"
because you deny the validity of the means by which they come to be known.
“I simply say that reality is valid because God exists.”
You can say this, but that alone does not make it true. Muslims say that
reality is valid because Allah exists. And their repetition of this
statement does not make it true. At best, the Christian is on a match with
other theists. Besides, the concept ‘validity’ does not apply to reality as
such, but to the means by which reality is identified and understood. One
does not say that reality is "valid"; there's no such thing as an "invalid
reality." Furthermore, after you’ve corrected this last part to read
something a little more valid itself, you are invited to tell the group what
this god part supposedly does to make reality whatever it is. I would
suggest you answer some of the questions I ask above in order to give more
information here, otherwise I do not see how I can consider what you claim
as even a candidate for knowledge.
For extra credit, please tell the group where in the Bible it speaks of
validity and the nature of validation. I think we'd all like to see this, if
these points are addressed there. Please watch the borrowing from
“You can only say reality is valid”
Again, I do not say that reality is “valid.” I don’t think the term applies
to reality. I say that existence exists, and that reality is the realm of
existence. There is no such thing as "invalid existence," and there is no
need to validate that which exists. Existence simply exists, and that's all.
“because it is so (unless you have some other philosophical reason to
believe it--I have never heard of one other than what I just stated)”
Existence does not exist *because* something prior to it makes it exist.
Existence simply exists. Reality is not real *because* something prior to it
makes it real. Reality is simply real.
“There is nothing causing reality to be valid, it is just the nature of
reality to be as it is.”
Again, I do not apply the term ‘valid’ to reality, as mentioned above.
Furthermore, asserting causality prior to existence commits the fallacy of
the stolen concept, for whatever supposedly does the causing must itself
also exist. So such tactics are rejected as invalid (as are all questions
which basically ask "why does existence exist?" which many theists have
asked me). And thus, I agree with the last portion of your statement,
“[reality] is just the nature of reality to be as it is,” or, as Objectivism
puts it, existence exists. This puts all gods out of a job.
<<<Peter, can you describe a reality in which the axioms do not apply? Can
you describe a reality in which existence does not exist? Can you describe a
reality in which that which exists is not itself? Can you describe a reality
in which one can be conscious of something, but that the concept
'consciousness' is invalid?>>>
“What I deny is not that these axioms exist, but that you can deduce any
knowledge from those axioms (which, in turn, makes me deny that you have any
reason to hold to them--see below for a detailed explanation). Suppose I
imagine something to be real, even though it is not. Yes, the axioms are in
place: I exist (something must exist to have the illusion), and since I
exist then the law of identity exists ("I yam what I yam"--Popeye), and
finally consciousness exists (for I perceive the illusion and think about
Do you perceive the illusion, or imagine it?
“However--the illusion itself does not exist,”
Then how can you say you perceive it?
“therefore I cannot use the illusion in any manner to make logical
deductions about anything.”
Sure, you could. People do this all the time. What do you think a religion
is? Look at all those many doctrines which theists “deduce” from their
god-beliefs. These are examples of “logical deductions” from their belief
that a god exists.
“In short, simply because I hallucinate seeing a pink unicorn does not mean
that I can say, "I have observed a pink unicorn."
If you are aware that you are hallucinating, then of course, you would not
say that you’ve perceived something in reality. You’d recognize that what
you think you saw was a hallucination. So?
“On the same token, there is no way for you to be sure that what you are
perceiving now is valid.”
Is that the case for you, Peter? Whenever you start getting onto the topic
of questioning the validity of the senses, you always frame your statements
in the accusative. But to be truly consistent (and avoid apparent
disingenuousness), you should only make these comments about yourself, not
about others. For if it’s true that one’s senses are at best questionable or
that one is incapable of achieving certainty on the basis of what he
perceives by means of his senses, then he would not even know this (how
would he know that his senses are "deceiving" him? - that's a stolen
concept, btw), and he surely could not assert this about others as a
certainty. Don’t you see your own stolen concept here? Remember the
questions which I asked you in an earlier post in regard to this issue? Why
did we not see any answers to my questions? I think we didn’t receive any
answers from you because you could not answer those questions and still
preserve the spirit of your reasoning.
“You can only say that you exist”
If I can know that I exist, then I surely must know that existence exists
and that I am conscious. And if I can make the identification “I” and
distinguish it from “illusions” which you seem to be suffering, then already
I have grasped the concept of identity. Certain corollaries follow
immediately. If I act, then I am engaged in action, and I will know that
action exists. If action exists, then it to, by virtue of the fact that it
exists, must also have identity. This is the law of causality: identity
applied to action. And so on.
“(and I cannot know that you actually exist since you could be part of my
If you remain consistent to your own scenarios, then of course this would be
the case, as I pointed out above. It all rests on a stolen concept, which
should be clear to you by now if you've been reading my posts.
“and you have a limited knowledge of what you are (a being that is
conscious, for example).”
Having a limited knowledge of what I am is not sufficient to undermine the
certainty of the axioms. Indeed, even to question the axioms, I must assume
them. Besides, all knowledge is limited to itself. I.e., knowledge is
finite, just as existence is finite. These are not problems for the
Objectivist view whatsoever, Peter.
“This is why the following statement is flawed:
“Reality, the external world, exists independent of man’s consciousness,
independent of any observer’s knowledge, beliefs, feelings, desires or
fears. This means that A is A, that facts are facts, that things are what
they are — and that the task of man’s consciousness is to perceive reality,
not to create or invent it.” Thus Objectivism rejects any belief in the
supernatural — and any claim that individuals or groups create their own
(Taken from http://www.aynrand.org/objectivism/essentials.html). The reason
it is flawed is simple. That reality exists, A is A, and so forth does not
mean that the supernatural cannot exist, unless you are defining the
supernatural as being that which is outside of reality (which Christians do
not do--God is real).”
Ah, Peter’s doing a little homework I see! I’m very pleased to see this.
However, he still holds onto his stolen concepts, as indicated earlier.
Now, Peter says “That reality exists, A is A, and so forth does not mean
that the supernatural cannot exist.” But even Peter comments that this
conclusion depends on how one defines the notion ‘supernatural’. So, I leave
it to those who claim that there is a such thing as a “supernatural” being
to define the term and argue for its merits. Peter has not done this, so the
truth value of his conclusion here (“That reality exists… does not mean that
the supernatural cannot exist…”) cannot be assessed. Kindly tell us, what is
“the supernatural,” how is it distinguished from that which is natural, and
how do you know? Can it be proven by reason?
Additionally, I've known many Christians who do claim that god "created
reality," thus putting their god outside of reality as such. There is
certainly no unaninimity on issues within the domain of Christianity among
Christians. One can argue virtually anything from the Bible if one is clever
enough. It is a collection of writings which are so vaguely written that
it's no surprise that the 2001 edition of the _World Christian Encyclopedia_
states that there are 33,800 Christian denominations around the world, many
of which claim that other versions of Christianity are heretical or
anti-Christian, and that they are the exclusive bearers of "the truth." I
think people caught up in these things simply make life harder for
“Man’s reason is fully competent to know the facts of reality. Reason, the
conceptual faculty, is the faculty that identifies and integrates the
material provided by man’s senses. Reason is man’s only means of acquiring
knowledge.” Thus Objectivism rejects mysticism (any acceptance of faith or
feeling as a means of knowledge), and it rejects skepticism (the claim that
certainty or knowledge is impossible).
“(Ibid). Again, it does not follow that just because the law of identity is
valid that "Man's reason is fully competent to know the facts of reality."”
I think you’re dropping context here. The law of identity is a principle
which guides valid thinking. But the means of that thinking process is
called reason. And it does follow that since man can perceive that which
exists and that he can employ a means of knowledge in the effort to identify
it according to reality’s own terms, that he can achieve knowledge of
reality. Of what else is there to achieve knowledge? Of non-reality? Any
argument against this must itself assume itself on a basis of knowledge of
something. Does that something exist? More stolen concepts.
“This simply is not true (in fact, you disagree right now with my reasons
for disagreeing with you).”
Sure, since you drop context in order to smuggle in more stolen concepts.
Why would I agree with that? Besides, if these things are true for me, then
why aren’t they true for you? If they are true for you, then it would not be
possible for you to say with certainty that they are true for me, because on
your own argument you are indulging in the same skeptical ruses that other
philosophers have used to negate their own minds and the minds of their
students. You are not even behaving consistently to the very principles
which you expect others to accept.
“The Law of Identity is valid even if the only thing that is real is the
person who in turn is merely perceiving an illusion”
Here’s that phrase again, “perceiving an illusion.” I am not convinced that
this assumption is valid itself, yet it is clear that it is important to
Peter’s argument. Indeed, he has not shown that it is valid. Illusion as
opposed to what? (That’s where you’ll find one of your stolen concepts.)
“--he knows nothing about himself (outside of what he can imply about his
will and consciousness), for all he knows is itself illusion.”
How do you know this? Again, illusion as opposed to what? If you say
“illusion as opposed to reality” then how did you form the concept ‘reality’
in the first place? Are you starting to see yet? I don’t suppose I’ll hold
“As a matter of fact, this statement about epistimology is nothing but
"acceptance of faith or feeling as a means of knowledge" which is supposed
to be rejected by Objectivism.”
Not if the axioms are true. This again is simply another stolen concept,
Peter. But obviously you do not see it, or refuse to acknowledge it.
“You must demonstrate the link between the axioms that you have accepted and
the statement that man's reason is fully competent to know the facts of
reality (and that statement means nothing unless it is a universal statement
about all of reality).”
To whom must such a link be demonstrated, to those who reject reason? Why?
They are unwilling to learn anything already. I have no obligation to do
anything for those who reject reason.
“The ultimate flaw comes from the statements that “Reality...exists
independent of man’s consciousness..." and yet "“Man’s reason is fully
competent to know the facts of reality."”
I’m still waiting for you to point out a flaw which is not actually based on
your own misunderstandings and stolen concepts. So far, you’ve not been able
to show that there is a legitimate flaw.
“Here's what we have:
1) Reality exists independent of man's consciousness, knowledge, beliefs,
feelings, or fears.
2) Knowledge of reality comes through reason.
3) "Reason...is the faculty that identifies and integrates the material
provided by man’s senses."
4) Reason, being "the faculty that identifies and integrates" empirical data
is therefore part of man's consciousness.
5) Knoweldge of reality, therefore, comes through consciousness (reason).
6) Reality is independent of man's knowledge (1), and therefore reason (5)
7) Therefore, nothing can actually be known about reality since reality is
independent of reason (thus refuting 2).”
Peter’s disconnect here is his misunderstanding of what Objectivism means
when it is said that reality exists independent of consciousness. This does
not mean that one cannot be conscious of reality or that one cannot perceive
that which exists. Indeed, to be conscious is to be conscious of something.
When Objectivism states that existence (reality) exists independent of
consciousness, this simply means that what exists does not depend on a
consciousness in order to exist. It’s really quite simple, and Peter assumes
this truth all the time, albeit unwittingly and implicitly, but he surely
takes it for granted whenever he asserts a truth claim about reality.
Peter’s “detection” skills surely need a tune-up here, for this is very
basic stuff, and it seems that either one must be extremely confused about
how his own mind works, or he must intentionally be misrepresenting a view
in order to come to the conclusions he presents here.
“In short, what is put forth by Objectivism is: reality exists independent
of man's knowledge, and yet man's knowledge is how we know what is real.”
There is no contradiction or incompatibility here. Existence does not depend
on consciousness, but consciousness is consciousness of objects (i.e., of
existents, things which exist). To be conscious is to be conscious of
something. While existence exists independent of consciousness,
consciousness is dependent on existence. Man’s knowledge is a form of
consciousness which is made possible by conceptualization. Man forms his
concepts on the basis of what he perceives.
“On the one hand, you (and I can say "you" since you are an Objectivist, and
this is straight from the Ayn Rand Institute) say that reality exists
despite what we know, but on the other you say that reality is what we know.
A fundamental contradiction.”
No contradiction whatsoever. Reality is the object of our consciousness. But
when our conscious activity ceases (e.g., when we go to sleep or die, etc.),
existence still exists. Again, Peter has not shown any contradiction here;
rather, he’s only exposed his own poor understanding of the issues involved.