Epistemology of Ayn Rand

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Epistemology of Ayn Rand

  • Dave Burns

    I have a vague notion about Rand’s view on epistemology, I am hoping someone will comment or start another discussion or write an article so I can see how close I am to the mark. I know she was a realist, and I think she didn’t have much patience for skeptics who wanted to speculate about brains in a vat or stuff like that. I’ve no idea what she thought of Mises’ praxeology, or statistics, or cognitive biases. She was not too concerned about optical illusions or other sensory anomalies, I think.
    Correct me, expand on me.

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  • Dave Burns

    I am very concerned about cognitive biases. Would Rand have lumped me in with the nihilists who want to deny reality? I don’t deny that reality is out there, and I am not too concerned about the efficacy of my senses, though they are not perfect. But my brain is the result of evolution in an environment where rationality and dispassionate consideration of evidence might get you killed. I am not convinced that we can compensate fully for the software bugs in our minds. This pushes me toward a skeptical attitude toward ideas that are hard to test. Unfortunately, that includes most of the interesting ones.
    My impression is that this opposes me to and allies me with Rand. She was not so concerned with testing all her ideas, as a brilliant argument seemed sufficiently convincing to her. But my take on things might explain better the reaction of ordinary people to Rands ideas.

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      David Veksler

      > She was not so concerned with testing all her ideas, as a brilliant argument seemed sufficiently convincing to her.

      That’s not correct.  Objectivist epistemology holds that all of man’s knowledge comes from the sensory evidence.   See http://wiki.objectivismonline.com/Epistemology

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      Dave Burns

      That page no longer exists. The internet wayback machine has a copy from May of 2013 available. That version does not mention testing, and mentions empiricism only in comparing objectivism to classical empiricism, and does not eliminate my concern.

      Objectivist epistemology holds that all of man’s knowledge comes from the sensory evidence.

      This does not necessarily contradict what I wrote. At the extreme, we can imagine someone who respects sensory evidence using it to establish axioms and premises, then using logic to arrive at conclusions, and stopping at that point. My concern is that even persons who wish to remain objective and use language with care can find that their argument is flawed when they test it.

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    starrychloe

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VSBGu7-1rU

    In 1962, in answer to the question “Will you tell us briefly, what is Objectivism?” Ayn Rand recorded a short, 8-minute introduction to her philosophy. In this video, which is based on that audio recording, you will learn Ayn Rand’s position on the nature of reality, the efficacy of human reason, the nature of man, and the ideal political system for man. This video is an excellent way to get acquainted with Ayn Rand’s ideas.

     

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