घररैंड और निष्पक्षताशिक्षाएटलस विश्वविद्यालय
कोई आइटम नहीं मिला.
रैंड और निष्पक्षता

रैंड और निष्पक्षता

5 mins
June 22, 2010

Originally published in Reason Papers 23 (Fall 1998): 83-86.

Ayn Rand was an unusually creative philosopher. In every major branch of philosophy, from metaphysics to aesthetics, she had original insights and integrations that contributed to the field. But I would say that her most important contribution was the one that gave her philosophy its name: her analysis of objectivity. Its importance lies in the fundamentality of the issue. If we cannot establish the basic objectivity of our knowledge, then all other conclusions in philosophy are in trouble.

In the history of philosophical thought about knowledge, one encounters over and over again a single problem: How can the products of the mind—percepts, concepts, statements, theories, and so forth-be objective, that is, true to reality, given that they are products of the mind, that is, given that they are the results of definite processes shaped by the nature of the mind and the activity of the knower? For example:

Rand's insight allows us to develop a rational conception of objectivity as a standard for cognition.

A long line of thinkers, going back to the Sophists, have argued that our perceptual experience of the world cannot be trusted or regarded as veridical because the way things appear to us depends on the nature of our sensory faculties and the way they interact with the physical environment. There is the stick that looks bent in water, the penny that looks elliptical from an angle, the railroad tracks that seem to converge, and so on. (See my Evidence of the Senses, chapters 3-4, for many examples of this argument.) Most philosophers have concluded that it is not the objects themselves-the stick, the penny, the tracks-that we perceive, but an inner representation of them.

A long line of thinkers, going back to Plato, have wondered how a concept like "man" could have an objective referent. After all, the concept does not stand for any particular existing man but is universal; and its content does not include the determinate features of any existing human, such as hair color or height, but is abstract. There does not appear to be anything in reality that is universal or abstract in itself, that is, apart from human cognitive operations. Some philosophers, like Plato, argued that there must be an objective referent-a "man as such"-somewhere in existence, even if it does not exist in the perceptible, spatio-temporal world. Others have argued that since there is no such referent in reality, our concepts are merely human constructs that are not constrained by the world.

Rand challenged the basic assumption that objectivity requires a diaphanous correspondence between mind and reality.

Again, many thinkers, especially in this century, have wrestled with the problem of truth. How are we to understand the truth of a statement as correspondence to a fact when the world does not appear to come already broken up into facts, any more than it comes already grouped into categories that correspond with our concepts? Snow exists, and so does its color, but there is nothing over and above these existents that could be called the fact that snow is white. In parallel with the problem of concepts and universals, this dilemma has driven some philosophers to invent a recondite ontology of facts, while other philosophers have abandoned the notion of truth as correspondence and held that the truth of a statement is determined solely by its relationship with other statements. (See Richard Rorty's Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989], pp. 4-5, 20)

There is a common pattern in these issues, a pattern found in numerous other specific issues. We start with the assumption that objectivity requires some sort of correspondence between the mind and reality, a correspondence in which the mind passively mirrors the object it purports to grasp. I have called this assumption the diaphanous model of cognition, because it likens conscious awareness to a diaphanous medium in which objects are revealed without any "distorting" coloration from the medium itself. But when we examine the case, we find that the mind is not passive after all; it actively combines, divides, abstracts from, or selects among the data at its disposal. In response, some thinkers posit a higher-order form of correspondence in order to preserve objectivity. Others, claiming that no such correspondence can plausibly be maintained, conclude that objectivity is not possible, or else redefine objectivity as intersubjectivity. (For a fuller description of this pattern, see Evidence of the Senses, pp. 36-43.)

Ayn Rand cut through all these problems by challenging the basic assumption that objectivity requires a diaphanous correspondence between mind and reality. Our cognitive faculties operate, she argued, in the same way as our faculties for digestion, respiration, and the like: they interact with the environment in various ways that are determined by their own nature. The fact that the stomach mixes its own acids with the food we ingest from outside does not invalidate nutrition. Nor is our knowledge invalidated by the fact that cognitive products such as concepts and statements reflect the cognitive processes from which they emerge. (See Ayn Rand , Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, 2d expanded edition [New York: NAL Books, 1990], chapter 8.)

This insight applies quite generally to all forms of cognition. It is an implication of the even more general law of causality. The nature of an entity's action is determined by the nature of the entity itself as well as by the conditions in which it acts, so the nature of cognition must be determined by our own nature as knowers as well as by the objects we come to know in the external environment. In perceptual awareness, for example, we may distinguish the perceived object and its attributes from the variable forms in which we perceive them. The penny is actually round, and we are perceptually aware of its actual shape, but because of the way our visual system responds to light, we are aware of the penny's shape in a specific form that depends on the angle from which we view it. (For a discussion of form and object in perception see Evidence of the Senses, chapters 3 and 5.)

In perception, despite the variable form in which we perceive an object, there is still a one-to-one correspondence between the perceptual awareness and the object of which we are aware; the object of perception is always a concrete, particular thing or action. At the conceptual level, however, there is no such correspondence. Rand describes the referents of a concept as "units"-a technical term she uses for things regarded as members of a class of similar objects. We are able to form and employ concepts designating open-ended categories of units only because we have the capacity to disregard the specific measurements that differ from one unit to another, and to retain the common dimension of measurement. As a result, the concept "man" designates "a man"-not any particular man in the full specificity of his nature, but every man regarded as differing from other men in a merely quantitative as opposed to qualitative way. (Rand's theory is presented in her Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. See also my analysis of her theory: "A Theory of Abstraction" [Poughkeepsie, N.Y. The Objectivist Center, 1995].)

There is no passive mirroring of nature here. The ability to form such a conception involves a specific process of integration and differentiation, a process that, as far as we know, only a human brain can perform. Does this mean that concepts are human constructs, that we can validly group things together in any way we wish, that we can define terms according to our subjective wishes? No, say Rand. For one thing, concepts are based on our awareness of relationships of similarity and difference in the things themselves; those relationships exist apart from us and constrain us in forming concepts. We are also constrained by the nature of our conceptual capacities, which work in certain definite ways and not in others. In accordance with her basic insight that the mind functions in a definite way as the result of its own nature, she holds that the constraints imposed by our faculties are an aspect of objectivity, not a refutation of it.

Rand's insight allows us to develop a rational conception of objectivity as a standard for cognition, a standard that takes account of the process of thought and the constraints set by our faculties rather than wishing them away. There is a great deal of work still to be done in extending the Objectivist theory to other issues in epistemology, such as the nature of propositions and their truth-conditions, the standards for rational certainty, and the problems of induction. But Rand's insight gives us a basic principle to follow and her theory of concepts gives us an example of how the principle applies to a specific form of cognition.

डेविड केली

लेखक के बारे में:

डेविड केली

डेविड केली एटलस सोसाइटी के संस्थापक हैं। एक पेशेवर दार्शनिक, शिक्षक और सबसे अधिक बिकने वाले लेखक, वह 25 से अधिक वर्षों के लिए ऑब्जेक्टिविज्म के अग्रणी प्रस्तावक रहे हैं।

David Kelley Ph.D
About the author:
David Kelley Ph.D

David Kelley founded The Atlas Society (TAS) in 1990 and served as Executive Director through 2016. In addition, as Chief Intellectual Officer, he was responsible for overseeing the content produced by the organization: articles, videos, talks at conferences, etc.. Retired from TAS in 2018, he remains active in TAS projects and continues to serve on the Board of Trustees.

केली एक पेशेवर दार्शनिक, शिक्षक और लेखक हैं। 1975 में प्रिंसटन विश्वविद्यालय से दर्शनशास्त्र में पीएचडी अर्जित करने के बाद, वह वासर कॉलेज के दर्शनशास्त्र विभाग में शामिल हो गए, जहां उन्होंने सभी स्तरों पर विभिन्न प्रकार के पाठ्यक्रम पढ़ाए। उन्होंने ब्रैंडिस विश्वविद्यालय में दर्शनशास्त्र भी पढ़ाया है और अन्य परिसरों में अक्सर व्याख्यान दिया है।

केली के दार्शनिक लेखन में नैतिकता, महामारी विज्ञान और राजनीति में मूल कार्य शामिल हैं, उनमें से कई नई गहराई और नई दिशाओं में वस्तुवादी विचारों को विकसित कर रहे हैं। वह द एविडेंस ऑफ द सेंसेज के लेखक हैं, जो महामारी विज्ञान में एक ग्रंथ है; ऑब्जेक्टिविस्ट आंदोलन के मुद्दों पर, ऑब्जेक्टिविज्म में सच्चाई और सहनशीलता; अनगढ़ व्यक्तिवाद: परोपकार का स्वार्थी आधार; और द आर्ट ऑफ रीजनिंग, परिचयात्मक तर्क के लिए व्यापक रूप से इस्तेमाल की जाने वाली पाठ्यपुस्तक, अब अपने 5 वें संस्करण में है।

केली ने राजनीतिक और सांस्कृतिक विषयों की एक विस्तृत श्रृंखला पर व्याख्यान और प्रकाशन किया है। सामाजिक मुद्दों और सार्वजनिक नीति पर उनके लेख हार्पर्स, द साइंसेज, रीजन, हार्वर्ड बिजनेस रिव्यू, द फ्रीमैन, ऑन प्रिंसिपल और अन्य जगहों पर दिखाई दिए हैं। 1980 के दशक के दौरान, उन्होंने समतावाद, आव्रजन, न्यूनतम मजदूरी कानून और सामाजिक सुरक्षा जैसे मुद्दों पर बैरोन्स फाइनेंशियल एंड बिजनेस पत्रिका के लिए अक्सर लिखा।

उनकी पुस्तक ए लाइफ ऑफ वन्स ओन: इंडिविजुअल राइट्स एंड द वेलफेयर स्टेट कल्याणकारी राज्य के नैतिक परिसर और निजी विकल्पों की रक्षा की आलोचना है जो व्यक्तिगत स्वायत्तता, जिम्मेदारी और गरिमा को संरक्षित करते हैं। 1998 में जॉन स्टोसेल के एबीसी / टीवी विशेष "लालच" में उनकी उपस्थिति ने पूंजीवाद की नैतिकता पर एक राष्ट्रीय बहस छेड़ दी।

ऑब्जेक्टिविज्म पर एक अंतरराष्ट्रीय स्तर पर मान्यता प्राप्त विशेषज्ञ, उन्होंने ऐन रैंड, उनके विचारों और उनके कार्यों पर व्यापक रूप से व्याख्यान दिया है। वह एटलस श्रग्ड के फिल्म रूपांतरण के सलाहकार थे, और एटलस श्रग्ड: द नॉवेल, द फिल्म्स, द फिलॉसफी के संपादक थे


प्रमुख कार्य (चयनित):

"अवधारणाएं और प्रकृति: यथार्थवादी मोड़ पर एक टिप्पणी (डगलस बी रासमुसेन और डगलस जे डेन यूयल द्वारा)," रीजन पेपर 42, नंबर 1, (समर 2021); हाल की एक पुस्तक की इस समीक्षा में अवधारणाओं के ऑन्कोलॉजी और महामारी विज्ञान में एक गहरी गोता शामिल है।

ज्ञान की नींव। ऑब्जेक्टिविस्ट एपिस्टेमोलॉजी पर छह व्याख्यान।

"अस्तित्व की प्रधानता" और "धारणा की महामारी विज्ञान," जेफरसन स्कूल, सैन डिएगो, जुलाई 1985

"यूनिवर्सल्स एंड इंडक्शन," जीकेआरएच सम्मेलनों में दो व्याख्यान, डलास और एन आर्बर, मार्च 1989

"संदेह," यॉर्क विश्वविद्यालय, टोरंटो, 1987

"फ्री विल की प्रकृति," पोर्टलैंड इंस्टीट्यूट में दो व्याख्यान, अक्टूबर 1986

"आधुनिकता की पार्टी," कैटो नीति रिपोर्ट, मई / जून 2003; और नेविगेटर, नवंबर 2003; पूर्व-आधुनिक, आधुनिक (प्रबुद्धता) और उत्तर आधुनिक विचारों के बीच सांस्कृतिक विभाजन पर एक व्यापक रूप से उद्धृत लेख।

"मुझे नहीं करना है" (आईओएस जर्नल, वॉल्यूम 6, नंबर 1, अप्रैल 1996) और "मैं कर सकता हूं और मैं करूंगा" (द न्यू इंडिविजुअलिस्ट, फॉल / विंटर 2011); व्यक्तियों के रूप में हमारे जीवन पर हमारे नियंत्रण को वास्तविक बनाने पर साथी टुकड़े।