I’ve just picked up Ayn Rand’s An Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. For the uninitiated, Objectivism is Ayn Rand’s unique “life philosophy” that affirms the ego, and embraces capitalism and individual spirit over greater good, FOR the greater good…
And epistemology would be the study of knowledge; how do we know what we know?

Even in the foreword, she kicks off asking the reader that the validity of the senses should not be in question. I respect that, it is her axiom. But I don’t agree. I’ll elaborate later. Anyway her core tenet is: Existence exists. And in that one statement, it must be inferred that another may need to exist to perceive the existence of the one, and quite simple, to exist to be conscious, which also means to be able to perceive.
What I understand from this is like a Descartes’ affirmation applied to not just one person. When he [Descartes] says, “I think, therefore I am [exist]”, he does not speak for anyone else. Ayn Rand comes along and says “Existence exists,” and as such, by the mere perception that existence exists, you also exist, and subsequently existence exists. Strange loops huh? If there are only two things in the universe, and one doesn’t know the other exists, then the one doesn’t exist for all intents and purposes. Beautiful.

She goes on to argue that since all of man’s knowledge is contained in conceptual form, only by ascertaining once and for all what these concepts are and what they point to in reality, can we be capable of using them in the truest way. Are these concepts grounded in reality, ideal or otherwise? Or are they arbitrary constructs, figments, or just approximations?

Haven’t gone into the deeper arguments, but right off the bat, I don’t like to blindly assume the validity of our senses. If anything, I’m willing to assume the senses lie outright, especially since the senses aren’t under our direct control. Impulses enter the mind and who knows what happens in the mind. Approaching the problem the other way round, reality is absolute, and perceived reality is censored. The brain is a mighty fine trickster; anyone who’s ever had a dream of falling or dying can tell you that.


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