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Re: [ontolog-forum] Maxwell's Equations for Knowledge

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 10 Apr 2014 15:42:29 -0400
Message-id: <5346F425.5080209@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Dick,    (01)

I believe that Ayn Rand was a better than average thinker.  The
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has a long, sympathetic review
of her philosophy by two professors at Auburn and George Mason U.    (02)

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ayn-rand/    (03)

I agree with the reviewers that her basic views are respectable,
but many points are unclear, fragmentary, debatable, and possibly
contradictory (depending on how they might be clarified).    (04)

> I like the way she thinks.  You don't.    (05)

Two points:    (06)

  1. That is a purely subjective claim.  It is not suitable for anything
     that might be called *objecivist*.    (07)

  2. And for that matter, I actually like the way she thinks.  What I
     am questioning is her knowledge of the subject she is making claims
     about.  That point can be tested *objectively* by comparing what
     she said to current research in cognitive science.    (08)

> However, most of the "evidence" in epistemology comes from introspection.    (09)

No.  Please study epistemology.  You can start with the SEP article:    (010)

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/epistemology/    (011)

You might also look at the references in my article on epistemic logic:    (012)

    http://www.jfsowa.com/pubs/5qelogic.pdf    (013)

For knowledge about the world and other people, introspection is of
ZERO help.  Even for what is going on inside one's brain, conscious
thought is a tiny fraction of the internal processing.    (014)

The issues about how perception and consciousness are related to
knowledge, language, etc., are not a matter for introspection. They
can be stated as hypotheses, tested by experiment, and revised on
the basis of the experimental results.  That's science!    (015)

For recent *science* on the subject, I recommend:    (016)

    Dehaene, Stanislas (2014) Consciousness and the Brain, New York:
    Viking.    (017)

There are other good books by Damasio and others.  But if you read one
or two of those books, I guarantee that there is no way you could take
Ayn Rand's claims as a serious starting point for ontology.    (018)

A huge amount about the workings of the human brain is still unknown.
But what neuroscientists know today goes far beyond anything she said.    (019)

John    (020)

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