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Ayn Rand argued that Existence Exists is fundamental. It is thought by some antagonists that for Rand, it didn't appeal to any other thought. Not Syntax, not Mathematics, not Logic, nor Metaphysics.

The problem is, from there, that both words are ontological rich, and semantically loaded terms, the meaning of which, people can easily disagree on. Which would mean the phrase and what it ontologically refers to, is not fundamental, since it is very dependent on many other assumptions and how they're defined, and that would mean the very foundation of Objectivism is unsound and false.

How would you address this concern?

asked Jul 22 '14 at 08:39

KineticPhilosophy's gravatar image


edited Jul 23 '14 at 01:10

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

Peikoff addresses this issue in chapter one of OPAR.

The {P}rotagonist argues that people easily disagree on supposedly ontologically and semantically rich terminology. Peikoff starts with the following:

This argument starts by accepting the concept of "disagreement," which it uses to challenge the objectivity of any axioms, including existence, consciousness, and identity. The following condensed dialogue suggests one strategy by which to reveal the argument's contradictions. The strategy begins with A, the defender of axioms, purporting to reject outright the concept of "disagreement."

Continuing he purports the following, using A as the (A)dvocate:

A. "Your objection to the self-evident has no validity. There is no such thing as disagreement. People agree about everything."

P. "That's absurd. People disagree constantly, about all kinds of things."

A. "How can they? There's nothing to disagree about, no subject matter. After all, nothing exists."

P. "Nonsense. All kinds of things exist. You know that as well as I do."

A. "That's one. You must accept the existence axiom even to utter the term 'disagreement.'

This technique is essentially Aristotle's "Reaffirmation through denial."

Since the argument relies on an ability to recognize a contradiction, it is not effective with those who do not. Later in this passage, Peikoff points out:

[O}ne might ask, how does one answer an opponent who says: "You've demonstrated that I must accept your axioms if I am to be consistent. But that demonstration rests on your axioms, which I don't choose to accept. Tell me why I should. Why can't I contradict myself?"

Peikoff sums up with the final assessment regarding this issue:

There is only one answer to this: stop the discussion. Axioms are self-evident; no argument can coerce a person who chooses to evade them.

answered Jul 23 '14 at 00:28

dream_weaver's gravatar image

dream_weaver ♦

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Asked: Jul 22 '14 at 08:39

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Last updated: Jul 23 '14 at 01:10