Debate: Answering Objections


Dan O’Brian:

Ydemoc asks, “How do you go about determining that “what one observes” *doesn’t* “reach 100% certainty,” and what standard are you using?”

I observe that nothing reaches 100% certainty without faith since I can prove nothing. I do not have a standard within myself that I use, I am not the standard, and I can reason no standard into existence. How do I live then? By faith, faith that I am formed in such a way that I am made to find truth, and that whatever input comes to my senses (what I perceive to be the case, or “that there is”) is rightly discerned by them because they were made to do just that, and that reality (whatever is the case) is intelligible and able to be discerned because it was made to be just that way. I have faith in our invisible foundation. But, unintelligent impersonal substances have no eye for accuracy or validity. They cannot intend it. Therefore, our invisible foundation must be intelligent and personal. If not, all our reasonings are reasoning in a circle, the wishes of people who cannot stand on their own who want to stand on their own.

Ydemoc asks, “Would you say that we can know with 100% certainty that man is fallible?”

Man is fallible only if you think there is a way that man should have been and should be in this world. If you say there is a way we ought to be, then yes, we are fallible. I do think there is a way we are made to be and have not lived up to. If you think that there is no blueprint for man, no way that he ought to be, then the concept of fallibility is unintelligible because you have no measure to compare it against. You may measure fallibility by the majority but that has been problematic ever since Plato. And if one cannot intelligibly speak of fallibility, neither can anything be intelligibly singled out as infallible.

Ydemoc asks, “How does anything that Objectivism advocates imply “separation”?”

Objectivism implies separation between subject and object inasmuch as consciousness (subject), when considered in and of itself wholly apart from the objects it perceives, is not counted as an object (existing). Your view of subject (consciousness) is that it is nothing until it possesses a collection of percepts, concepts, and propositions; and until it contains that collection, it does not exist, and is not considered a thing (existing) in itself. This view of consciousness is supported by the Objectivist idea that consciousness is a secondary object and only becomes an object upon possession of a collection. And after it contains that collection it somehow becomes more than a container. It becomes me, a thinking, feeling, reasoning, purposeful human being.

Ydemoc says, “But this only means that consciousness can be a ***secondary object,*** (it’s not consciousness conscious *only* of itself — which would be a contradiction in terms, i.e., asserting “awareness” with nothing to be “aware of” — as if awareness could exist in an objectless-void. Again, “awareness” of **what**!?).”

This only makes sense if you deny that consciousness could ever be an object in a world where there are no external objects to perceive. It is as if when considering a container of water one comes to the conclusion that the container did not exist until the water was poured into it. What is it, Ydemoc, that holds the collection mentioned above? You indicate I am simply not allowed to ask this question because there was nothing to contain the collection before the collection entered the container. You would say, I did not exist until I perceived. And you press the issue when considering an objectless void by asking, “Awareness? Awareness of what?” But, this is so easy to answer. It is awareness of me, my self. The container pre-exists the collection it holds. The effect cannot exist before the cause. The container is the cause of the collection being contained.

Yet, you have given me no good reason to suppose that I did not exist before I perceived, except to state with great conviction that consciousness (me) is not an independently existing entity; that consciousness conscious only of itself is a contradiction in terms. But, great conviction, as you have probably observed in other circles, does not make truth, or validate knowledge. Instead, the whole Objectivist idea of consciousness falls on its face when I reflect that the container must be there before anything is put into it. I exist before I perceive. To continue to ask what consciousness is conscious of without allowing consciousness to be an object in its own right is merely to beg the question against it being an object.

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2 thoughts on “Debate: Answering Objections

  1. I think there’s a simpler way to argue this that satisfies Ydemoc’s logic. That awareness must have something of which it is aware does not imply objectivity, it implies subjective experience. Of what am I aware? I am aware that I am experiencing. Whether or not this experience corresponds to objects that exist independently of my experience is the question that objectivism ignores, or simply asserts an answer with no reasoning. As you put it, “great conviction, as you have probably observed in other circles, does not make truth, or validate knowledge.”

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