Monday, March 17, 2008

For Rand, perception of color and length are only in the subject

This is for you non-believing Randroids I have conversed with who
refuse to accept the idea I've put forth here that color doesn't exist
outside of perception.

The context is a question about the primary-secondary quality

"We perceive light vibrations as color. Therefore you would say the
color is not in the object. The object absorbs certain parts of the
spectrum and reflects the others, and we perceive that fact of reality
by means of the structure of the eye. But then ask yourself: don't we
perceive all attributes by our means of perception - including length?
Everything we perceive is the result of our processing, which is not
arbitrary or subjective." (ITOE2, Appendix, 279)

("Processing"?... as in "I am HAL, pleased to meet you Commander
Data"? Are humans thinking machines? What would be the purpose in
nature evolving a thinking machine...)

First, I would like to get out of the way Rand's comment about
perception not being arbitrary or subjective. Fine. Whatever. It's
never been relevant to any of my points anyway. I am simply interested
in what *is*, not whether it is objective, arbitrary, or subjective.
Those labels are all just ideological blather, used in place of a chip
on one's shoulders in daring some arbitrary, subjectivist skeptic, who
doesn't even exist, to come knock it off. Nothing works like inventing
enemies in order to make one's position seem stronger, even

But it is not necessary to work on Objectivism via ideological
conflict, that is the illusion she wanted to portray. It is necessary
merely to analyze Rand's writings for factual consistency, accuracy,
or just plain good old-fashioned internal logic (e.g., is it
self-contradictory?). And internal logic is not objective, it is not
anything ontological; neither is it "non-objective" because it
abstracts from all (objective, subjective, arbitrary) content of an
argument and judges only its formal presentation, that is, the formal
manner in which it is presented.

So with regard to the material quoted from the Appendix to ITOE, I
want to highlight the following for examination:

"...don't we perceive all attributes by our means of perception -
including length? Everything we perceive is the result of our

The question boils down to asking, "but don't we perceive by means
of perception?" I know, you're thinking that the context is qualities,
or attributes, so I should not have dropped the word "attributes." But
is it relevant?

Not at all. Rand is talking past her interlocutor in her answer.
Because he (known only as "prof. c") specified only qualities such
as color, not attributes such as length. So Rand's example of length
is not relevant to the question, and this question doesn't all boil
down simply to the tautology regarding perception of that which is
perceived, qualities and attributes being held up as equals and not
distinguishable as either primary or secondary. Both are merely the
result of processed sense-data.

In this way, Rand reduced the question to her formula, A is A. And as
a result, implied that, just as color is not in the object, therefore
neither is length. This is why it was necessary for Rand to keep to
the example of color which is a quality and avoid reducing every such
example to perception.

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