login about faq

Rand's integrative approach to cognition seems to have worked in the old observable scientific view when it was easy to both demonstrate physical and chemical phenomena empirically and rationally (thus the integrative methodology). But now in the world of subatomic science we have to place more emphasis on equations and mathematics to prove theory, not experiment.

This was brought up in the DIM Hypothesis and the author seems to reject modern physics in this sense; therefore, should objecitivst attempt to clarify or change Rand's theory of the integrative approach? It seems to me the field of objectivist epistemology must change in the face of science.

So does objectivism need to change?

asked Mar 24 '13 at 02:02

TheBucket's gravatar image


edited Mar 24 '13 at 03:36

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

Two points.

1) Objectivism is the theory of Ayn Rand, and Ayn Rand is dead, so Objectivism can't change.

2) The DIM Hypothesis is a work by Leonard Peikoff, not Ayn Rand. Peikoff himself only guessed there was an 80-85% chance Rand would agree with it.

And one comment: I have found nothing incompatible with modern physics and Objectivism, and I have studied both much more than the average person (though not either to the level of an expert). If there actually is an incompatibility, it will take much more than the above speculation (or the YouTubes of Mr. Harriman) to convince me.

(Mar 26 '13 at 07:22) anthony anthony's gravatar image

Conclusion: If Objectivism is fundamentally incompatible with modern physics, then one or both of them are fundamentally wrong. There is tremendous evidence that both of them are substantially correct. And there is, so far as I can tell, little to no evidence that they are fundamentally incompatible.

In fact, Einstein's work on relativity in many ways destroys Kant's analytic-synthetic dichotomy by providing counter-examples to his so-called synthetic propositions. (The shortest path between two points is always a straight line, the sum of the angles of a triangle are always 180 degrees, etc)

(Mar 26 '13 at 07:34) anthony anthony's gravatar image

If modern physics isn't based on a rational epistemology, then the physicists will need to explain what their epistemology is. No science, including physics, can arise without a philosophical foundation of some kind. The DIM Hypothesis provides an excellent survey of the three major philosophies and their corresponding modes of cognitive integration, which have fueled various approaches to physics (and other aspects of human culture) over the centuries. It is philosophy that shapes and conditions physics, not vice versa, and the strong influence of non-rational philosophy is abundantly evident in modern physics. One key point that Dr. Peikoff developes in the book is that the philosophy very explicitly preceded the physics. The science of physics did not somehow pop into existence first and then condition the historical development of philosophy. Here are some summarized highlights from The DIM Hypothesis, from the section on Quantum Mechanics (QM):

  • Page 124 provides an excerpt by a historian of physics describing Bohr's "obviously Kantian view" that the process of observation creates what the observer observes (not just because the measuring instrument may disrupt the action being measured). This includes the view of QM physicists that until we measure something, it has no definite state, which is an obvious expression of Kant's view that "the world we perceive is created by our mental apparatus operating on the unknowable," the view that concepts come before percepts and create them, and of science as independent of empirical data.

  • Page 125: laws of science as mere recipes for empirical predictions, with no concern to explain why some recipes work and others don't.

  • Page 126: mere symbols in equations, with no underlying meaning (apart from rules of prediction). This amounts to an expression of Plato's cave, with no means of escape.

It must be emphasized again that the DIM Hypothesis is primarily an integration of history and philosophy, not some alternative version of the special sciences. No philosophy can replace special sciences such as physics. Philosophy only provides the background that drives cultural products of all kinds, including the special sciences.

answered Mar 25 '13 at 23:02

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

Follow this question

By Email:

Once you sign in you will be able to subscribe for any updates here



Answers and Comments

Share This Page:



Asked: Mar 24 '13 at 02:02

Seen: 1,423 times

Last updated: Mar 26 '13 at 07:50