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Condemning the essence-accident dichotomy as implicitly arbitrary, they institute an explicitly arbitrary equivalent. The moderns are playing with the same deck; their contribution is to play it deuces wild, besides. Kant’s dichotomy between the world apparent to us and some unknowable more really real world beyond is based on and buttressed by his peculiar theory of logic. No fact can ever cast doubt upon them, they are immune from future correction — because they are immune from reality. 4) The fact/value distinction also depends on the analytic/synthetic distinction, and the notion that this distinction encompasses all possible types of statements. What is required in this context is the distinction between the “metaphysical” and the “man-made.”. An image of ice sinking in water does not alter the nature of ice; it does not constitute evidence that it is possible for ice to sink in water. If one merely specifies the definitions of the relevant concepts in any of these propositions, and then applies the laws of logic, one can see that the truth of the proposition follows directly, and that to deny it would be to endorse a logical contradiction. The former stress the role of logic in man’s acquisitions of knowledge, while minimizing the role of experience; the latter claim that experience is the source of man’s knowledge, while minimizing the role of logic. They differ merely in their subject matter, but then so do the propositions of astronomy and immunology. What about tomorrow? For the nominalists, it represents a subjective human decree, independent of the facts of reality. It is not a disembodied, Platonic universal. Nominalists do not say that a concept designates only an entity’s “essence,” excluding its “accidents.” Their secularized version is: A concept is only a shorthand tag for the characteristics stated in its definition; a concept and its definition are interchangeable; a concept means only its definition. Of course, there is something. the history of the analytic-synthetic dichotomy Like the latter, it is. If it is man’s mode of thought (independent of reality) that creates “necessary” truths, they argued, then these are not fixed or absolute; men have a choice in regard to their modes of thought; what the mind giveth; the mind taketh away. But it is deadly. In the sense in which a concept means its referents (its extensional meaning), it does not mean or refer to their characteristics (its intensional meaning), and vice versa. In classifying what you see as ‘red,’ you are implicitly declaring that it is similar in color to certain of your past experiences — and how do you know that you have remembered these latter correctly? Choice, however, is not chance. The relationship between the two viewpoints is similar to the relationship between Platonists and nominalists on the issue of essences. Ethics has been virtually banished from the province of philosophy: some groups have claimed that ethical statements are neither analytic nor synthetic, but are mere “emotive ejaculations” — and other groups have consigned ethics to the province of the man in the street, claiming that philosophers may analyze the language of ethical statements, but are not competent to prescribe ethical norms. Leonard Peikoff, “The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy”. If it is demonstrated by logical argument, it represents a subjective convention; if it asserts argument, it represents a subjective convention; if it asserts a fact, logic cannot establish it. A “synthetic” proposition is defined as one which cannot be validated merely by an analysis of the meanings or definitions of its constituent concepts. This is true on all levels of consciousness, but it is particularly obvious on the conceptual level. It is only because of this fact that the same concept can receive varying definitions in varying cognitive contexts. Each of its characteristics has the same metaphysical status: each constitutes a part of the entity’s identity. When philosophers accept such a doctrine, the same consequences may be expected — with only this difference: the province of philosophy embraces the total of human knowledge. “Are some statements true by virtue of their meaning, while some aren’t?” That’s a question that has to do with the nature of knowledge. If mathematicians were to accept this doctrine, the destruction of mathematics would follow. Leave logic aside now; be serious and consider the actual empirical facts on this matter.”. There is no basis whatever — neither metaphysical nor epistemological, neither in the nature of reality nor of a conceptual consciousness — for a division of the characteristics of a concept’s units into two groups, one of which is excluded from the concept’s meaning. It is accepted, in some form, by virtually every influential contemporary philosopher — pragmatist, logical positivist, analyst and existentialist alike. The Reception of Russell’s Paradox in Early Phenomenology and the School of Brentano: The Case of … Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2002. While there is more investigation to be done around how to manage these constraints to flow across the intellectual boundaries of the business, new ways of working have already emerged to help us. This method is logic — “the art of non-contradictory identification.” (Atlas Shrugged.) Denying that concepts have an objective basis in the facts of reality, nominalists declare that the source of concepts is a subjective human decision: men arbitrarily select certain characteristics to serve as the basis (the “essentials”) for a classification; thereafter, they agree to apply the same term to any concretes that happen to exhibit these “essentials,” no matter how diverse these concretes are in other respects. Kant substituted the “innate structure of the human mind” for God, as the source and creator of “necessary” truths (which thus became independent of the facts of reality). The answer given is: “No. The dichotomy among propositions follows directly. Its carriers are many, its forms subtly diverse, its basic causes complex and hidden — and its early symptoms prosaic and seemingly benign. What has changed and grown is the knowledge of these entities.”. Without a theory of concepts as a foundation, one cannot, in reason, adopt any theory about the nature or kinds of propositions; propositions are only combinations of concepts. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Any theory that propounds an opposition between the logical and the empirical, represents a failure to grasp the nature of logic and its role in human cognition. The penalty for this failure is that the process of definition, in the hands of the nominalists, achieves the exact opposite of its actual purpose. The analytic/synthetic dichotomy is grounded on the distinction between the noumenal and the phenomenal, not vice versa. Copyright © 1985 – 2020 The Ayn Rand® Institute (ARI). The “necessary-contingent” terminology serves only to introduce confusion, and should be abandoned. The proposition follows simply from an analysis of definitions. Man’s knowledge is not acquired by logic apart from experience or by experience apart from logic, but by the application of logic to experience. Hence, these are also called “logical truths,” meaning that they can be validated merely by correctly applying the laws of logic. Thus, essences are not intrinsic to entities, in the Platonic (or Aristotelian) manner; they are epistemological, not metaphysical. A definition in terms of essential characteristics “is a device of man’s method of cognition — a means of classifying, condensing and integrating an ever-growing body of knowledge.”. Contemporary advocates of the theory of “contingent facts” hold, in essence, the same metaphysics. Since a word is a symbol for a concept, it has no meaning apart from the content of the concept it symbolizes. The critical question is: What is included in “the meaning of a concept”? The view that facts are contingent — that the way things actually are is only one among a number of alternative possibilities, that things could have been different metaphysically — represents a failure to grasp the Law of Identity. Close. Whether the fact in question is metaphysical or man-made, the fact determines the truth: if the fact exists, there is no alternative in regard to what is true. Don't want progress tracking and user-only features? . Hence, the analytic/synthetic dichotomy forces its proponents to the conclusion that value judgments have no place among truths at all. In its dominant contemporary form, the theory states that there is a fundamental cleavage in human knowledge, which divides propositions or truths into mutually exclusive (and jointly exhaustive) types. (Supernaturalism — in its avowed or secularized form — is not an objective basis for anything.) The extension, on the other hand, simply refers us to the set of objects to which the definition applies. (Today, this is commonly called the “conventional” intension; the distinction among various types of intension, however, merely compounds the errors of the theory, and is irrelevant in this context.) The initial similarities, on the basis of which certain concretes were isolated and conceptually integrated, were grasped by a process of observation; all subsequently discovered characteristics of these concretes are discovered by the same method (no matter how complex the inductive procedures involved may become). . Archived. Objectivism offers the foregoing account as the solution of the problem of universals. This argument confuses Walt Disney with metaphysics. This paper concerns the three great modal dichotomies: (i) the necessary/contingent dichotomy; (ii) the a priori/empirical dichotomy; and (iii) the analytic/synthetic dichotomy. Divorced from logic, the arbitrary exercise of the human imagination systematically undercuts the “empirical”; and divorced from the facts of experience, the same imagination arbitrarily creates the “logical.”. In the present issue, the basic error of both schools is the view that facts, some or all, are contingent. In the latter case, the truth of the proposition is immune to any imaginable change in experience and, therefore, is independent of experience, i.e., is a priori. This, it is claimed, is what accounts for the characteristics of analytic truths. In the former case, it is said, one can specify experiences which, if they occurred, would invalidate the proposition; in the latter, one cannot. Leonard Peikoff, “The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy,” Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology , 113 Any theory that propounds an opposition between the logical and the empirical, represents a failure to grasp the nature of logic and its role in human cognition. The moderns represent a logical, consistent development from Kant’s premises. Concerns the analytic-synthetic sentence classification dichotomy. There is nothing to justify this mode of speech, and I shall not adhere to it in discussing their views.). A visitor from an alien planet might relate many unexpected marvels, but his claims would be rejected out-of-hand if he announced that in his world, ice was a gas, man was a postage stamp, and 2 plus 2 equaled 7.3. But what one can project by means of ignorance or evasion, is philosophically irrelevant. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in is! The set of circumstances, dictates what it is claimed, is meant the... The characteristics of these alleged types of error: one epistemological, not vice versa alternative doing. Viewpoints is similar to the set of the analytic-synthetic dichotomy, dictates what it will do of.! Dichotomy forces its proponents to the Ayn Rand Institute more deeply about to! 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