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This is what Kant says in his book chapter Antinomy, "Third Conflict of The Transcendental Ideas".

Thesis: Causality in accordance with laws of nature is not the only causality from which the appearances of the world can one and all be derived. To explain these appearances it is necessary to assume that there is also another causality, that of freedom.

He then goes on to prove this with what seems a valid logical argument. Then, he also states the Anti-Thesis:

Antithesis: There is no freedom; everything in the world takes place solely in accordance with laws of nature.

He proceeds to prove the Antithesis as well. For brevity, I will not provide the full arguments here, I refer you to:

http://staffweb.hkbu.edu.hk/ppp/cpr/antin.html (search in text for uppercase "THIRD CONFLICT")

Note: The reason that the referred text is in the odd column format is because in the printed book, the thesis and anti-thesis are contrasted in a two column page format.

My question is as follows. Ayn Rand created the idea of "focus" to answer Kant on this regard. However, it is not a direct rebuttal of the argument. It would be interesting to answer Kand directly on this point. Just to tell you what I mean, in other antinomies Kant discusses paradoxes of "part" and "whole" relationship, which have been adequately answered by Dr. Pat Corini's lecture on "Achiless and Tortoise". Is there a merciless detail dissection of Kant's arguments from Objectivist perspective?

An earlier question on this forum asked about "What makes us focus". It is related to this discussion. My puzzlement is how to distinguish something that is alive from dead. Does everything that is alive have volition ? Is a cell alive ? Is E-Coli one cell organism alive ? Does focus (or volition) constitue a first cause, in chain of cause and effect, like Kant says ?

Finally, is this issue an ongoing debate in Objectivist community, or is it settled ?

asked Nov 01 '12 at 14:56

rarden's gravatar image

rarden
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edited Nov 02 '12 at 02:09

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦
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You might check out Harry Binswanger's presentation on Free Will

(Nov 02 '12 at 20:25) dream_weaver ♦ dream_weaver's gravatar image

So a man and maybe to some extend some animals have volition. What does that say about the metaphysics of our world? Are we some kind of magical, god-like creatures, able to start our own chains of cause and effect out of nothing?

(Nov 07 '12 at 14:36) rarden rarden's gravatar image

Does everything that is alive have volition?

No. Volition pertains to consciousness, and specifically human consciousness. Plants have no free will; plants aren't even conscious. Non-human animals are conscious on a sensory-perceptual level, but they have no conceptual capacity. Volition is an attribute of the conceptual faculty, found only in man.

Ayn Rand created the idea of "focus" to answer Kant on this regard.

There is absolutely no authority whatsoever that I know of in the literature of Objectivism for this assertion. Ayn Rand looked at reality and at man and conceptualized what she observed. A is A. Man is man.

Is there a merciless detail dissection of Kant's arguments from Objectivist perspective?

Those who are interested in an Objectivist perspective on Kant can find an extensive selection of excerpts in The Ayn Rand Lexicon under the topic of "Kant, Immanuel." Objectivism does not exist to refute Kant, however, but to present an entire, fully integrated, reality-based philosophical system that can stand on its own. It is Kant and his intellectual descendants who strive to tear apart (dis-integrate) other philosophies. Objectivism is fundamentally an achievement in system-building, derived from reality.

...how to distinguish something that is alive from dead... Is a cell alive ? Is E-Coli one cell organism alive ?

In ITOE, Ayn Rand lists the essential characteristics of living organisms as internally generated, self-sustaining action, growth through metabolism, and reproduction. These characteristics differentiate living entities from non-living entities. The concept of "death" refers to formerly living entities that have stopped living.

When considering individual living cells, it is important to distinguish between cells that are an integral part of the living tissue of a larger living entity, or standalone single-cell organisms. Cells that are part of a larger organism are not independent entities.

Does everything that is alive have volition ? ... Does focus (or volition) constitue a first cause, in chain of cause and effect... is this issue an ongoing debate in Objectivist community, or is it settled ?

See previous comments above regarding what kinds of living entities have volition. This is well stated in the literature of Objectivism. It is not an ongoing debate in the Objectivist philosophy.

Regarding volition (i.e., focus) as a first cause in a chain of cause and effect, Objectivism holds that focusing is the most fundamental choice and action that man makes, but technically the cause of that action is man. All actions are actions of entities, and the entity that causes focusing is man. It is, however, a free choice by man, not necessitated by antecedent causal factors.

The question also needs a clear definition of what and who the "Objectivist community" is. Objectivism is a philosophy (originated by Ayn Rand), not a community.

answered Nov 03 '12 at 21:10

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦
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"First of all, there is a question of whether animals have some form of free will. It's a debatable question, but animals give some evidence of a primitive form of making choices." - Leonard Peikoff, Episode 16, 5/26/2008, 12:35

I don't believe that's the only time he's said that, either. I seem to remember him saying it in a different form in another podcast.

(Nov 03 '12 at 22:23) anthony anthony's gravatar image

you have as much freedom as you want.

(Nov 16 '12 at 03:37) savedandfavored savedandfavored's gravatar image

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Asked: Nov 01 '12 at 14:56

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Last updated: Nov 16 '12 at 03:37