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This published, academic statement, "[Science] will be intersensible because we need no longer regard taste, sound and colour as incommensurable data; they can now all be read as physical changes, differing only in measurable ways," seems consistent with Rand's "measurement-omission." Is it, or not, and in what way?

asked Nov 09 '10 at 20:01

Mindy%20Newton's gravatar image

Mindy Newton ♦

edited Nov 10 '10 at 19:01

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

What is wrong with this question?

(Nov 10 '10 at 15:11) Mindy Newton ♦ Mindy%20Newton's gravatar image

I didn't vote it down, but I think that the question could use a little more background.

(Nov 10 '10 at 15:14) Andrew Dalton ♦ Andrew%20Dalton's gravatar image

Well, I think that I know that the author is saying, but it would be nice to have the name and citation to check. (I'm pretty sure that he is making a scientific statement, not an epistemological statement about sense perception and concept formation.)

(Nov 10 '10 at 15:55) Andrew Dalton ♦ Andrew%20Dalton's gravatar image

It is a statement in a highly reputable work on reason, a defense of reason, in fact. The author is respected in Objectivism. (Though that shouldn't matter.) What clarification of the question itself is needed?

(Nov 10 '10 at 15:57) Mindy Newton ♦ Mindy%20Newton's gravatar image
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To make the question a little clearer, the essence appears to be the following: Is the quoted statement consistent with Ayn Rand's "measurement-omission"? If so, in what way?

What does "consistent with" mean here? The apparent intent is that "measurement-omission" is a principle of some kind, and the question is asking if the quoted statement complies with that principle.

But what is the context of Ayn Rand's principle of measurement-omission? The context is concept-formation. Ayn Rand discusses measurement-omission in the context of forming concepts.

So, does the quoted statement pertain to forming new concepts? If so, what kind of concepts? I do not know (and the question doesn't explain) the context from which the quoted statment was taken, but I can surmise that the statement apparently pertains to forming concepts of the physiological-neurological processes and mechanisms by which man and other animals experience sensations. To this extent, it certainly seems to be a perfectly valid scientific process, perfectly consistent with the principle of measurement-omission in concept-formation.

One possible caveat, however. The quoted statement also mentions that "we need no longer regard taste, sound and colour as incommensurable data...." Objectivism does not regard the different sensory forms as incommensurable, either. For one thing, they are all classifiable as sensations. That would not be possible if they were incommensurable. I do not know what theory of "incommensurable data" the quoted statement is referring to. I also have no remotely foggy idea what is meant by "intersensible" in the formulation that science "will be intersensible."

I wonder if perhaps the actual intent of the question is to ask if there is a glimmer of valid epistemology lurking within an otherwise nearly unintelligible string of gibberish.

For those looking for a general introduction to the topics of measurement, measurement-omission, concepts, and concept-formation, refer to The Ayn Rand Lexicon entries on "Measurement," "Concepts," and "Concept-Formation."

answered Nov 10 '10 at 16:19

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

The context, as stated, is science. That means new concepts as discoveries require, and integrations of data across the whole spectrum of scientific investigation. I'm not sure if your answer is a yes or a no...?

(Nov 10 '10 at 16:36) Mindy Newton ♦ Mindy%20Newton's gravatar image

Your original statement appears to come from Brand Blanshard's "Reason and Analysis" vol. 2 page 214 - in context of discussing linguistic analysis for validation of concepts such as 'general will' or 'id'. While 'sweet, bitter, sour', 'loud, soft, discordent', 'red, blue, green' may be specifics within the different data of sense - distinguishing 'red' objects from that which is 'loud' or 'sour' does not resonate as being commenserable between and amoung themselves.

Carnap mentions that taste, sound and color (to which I might add shape, and divide sound into volume and pitch or tone) have measurable attributes. Abstracting these under 'physical changes' is dropping attributes within the CCD and not so much a process of measurement omission as we see within first-level concepts per se.

answered Jan 16 '11 at 14:07

dream_weaver's gravatar image

dream_weaver ♦

edited Jan 17 '11 at 18:03

Blanshard is not the author of the quote. Doesn't the importance of the author's identity imply ad hominem?

(Jan 16 '11 at 23:11) Mindy Newton ♦ Mindy%20Newton's gravatar image

I know less of Carnap, whom Blanshard is quoting. Rand is actually an admirer of Blanshard. My analyis above is from looking at the quote within the cited work, and my current understanding of commenserable and incommenserable. The bigger ad hominem might be 'linguistic analysis' - to which I might ask, within its context, is not the process described of 'reduction' a form of analysing language? Good question on my comment. Thanks for helping to keep me honest.

(Jan 17 '11 at 17:53) dream_weaver ♦ dream_weaver's gravatar image

Hurray for you, dream_weaver! Incommensurability is explained, by some figures in Objectivism, as being a "non-problem" because one can achieve whatever level of accuracy is desired. That is true, but not a philosophically adequate answer. Even within the realm of measurement specifically (that is, as distinct from counting) there are commensurable and incommensurable existing, ontologically related quantities. All measurements bear that issue of degree of precision. Even commensurable measurements bear that feature. So it can't be the solution to incommensurables.

(Jan 17 '11 at 19:32) Mindy Newton ♦ Mindy%20Newton's gravatar image

Mindy writes: "Incommensurability is explained, by some figures in Objectivism, as being a 'non-problem' because one can achieve whatever level of accuracy is desired." I don't quite follow that. Does it mean that one allegedly can reduce any comparison to a measurement of a characteristic in common? I.e., a claim that one can always find a commensurable characteristic of some kind between existents that would otherwise have to be regarded as incommensurable? How would such a claim work if one were comparing long objects to red objects? What would "longness" have in common with "redness" that would allow them to be measured using the same unit of measurement?

(Jan 20 '11 at 16:02) Ideas for Life ♦ Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Harry Binswanger, for example, says that the incommensurability of certain lengths is not philosophically significant, and thus does not contradict Rand's statements, because one can ESTIMATE the measurement of, say, a diameter and the circumference it is related to, as closely as desired. That is, you can take the number pi out to as many decimal places as you wish, dictated by whatever you purpose is in measuring them both.

(Jan 22 '11 at 16:04) Mindy Newton ♦ Mindy%20Newton's gravatar image
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Asked: Nov 09 '10 at 20:01

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Last updated: Jan 22 '11 at 16:04