Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Rand's Universal Mistake

Whether or not concepts are Universals, even if they are formed the
same way as concepts - through differentiation and integration - the
problem of Universals remains the same. The problem is whether or not
those generalities, often in the form of -ness (manness, squareness,
etc.) then refer back to particulars in external reality.

Rand has confused the manner in which they are allegedly formed in the
mind with the *actual* problem which is relating them back to

So where is the manness in men? We formed it as a generality, yet in
man the particular it cannot be found. In individual men, the quality
of being rational (the Universal of "rationality") comes and goes, it
is relative, and it differs from individual to individual.

And where is the 2-ness in two objects? However the number 2 was
derived, its Universal form is nowhere to be found in those two


rtaylortitle said...

If you fail to see the quality of man-ness by observing a man/woman or the quality of 2-ness by observing to objects/ideas, etc., then how can you use the term "where" or "nowhere" without understanding the quality and acknowledgegment of where-ness or nowhere-ness? Me thinketh that you are attempting to create a problem where none exists and via context-dropping.

Cavewight said...

I don't fail to see the man-ness so much as I don't take for granted its location. Is it metaphysical, physical, or epistemological (in the mind)?

For more on this question, see the page at http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/universals-medieval/

Colin said...

The peopleness of people is simply in their shared characteristics, with (according to Rand) being a rational animal as the defining characteristic.
Note that rationality may occur to any degree within some "range". So it would be physical (assuming that our psychological traits are physical).
As for twoness, it applies to pairs of objects, not the members of the pair.

Cavewight said...

To say "man is a rational animal" is not to declare all men to be rational. Obviously some of them are not rational.So the question remains: where is the man-ness in men?

Colin said...

Pat Robertson might not be rational in the sense of thinking about stuff, but is he not rational in the sense that he could change himself and start thinking. Perhaps he has negative rationality.

This does not deal with the case of people with brain damage.

The man-ness of a particular man is where the man is.

Let me say that a generalized attribute such as man-ness might not have a location, but that our awareness of it is in our brains, so it could be taken both as physical and epistemological.

Cavewight said...

So you're saying that "man-ness" is generalized, an attribute, physical, and epistemological.

You are also saying that our awareness of it is in our brains. Yes, awareness is mental anyway.

Well, thank you for your thoughts, Colin. I just don't see where they are leading to.