There are no contradictions...

There are no contradictions, check first your premises.

I read Atlas Shrugged last year and out of that long winded tomb the above quote (probably not word for word) seems to have stuck above all else.

Having thought about it, it seems to hold up the circumstances I have thought to apply it too. Any debate on how philosophically sound it is.

I just want to make sure I didn’t miss anything before I start dragging it out in public.:slight_smile:

Care to explain what it means to those of us who don’t know.

The trouble is that the is archaic in word usage and without context. It could mean ‘If you find that there are no contradictions, the first course of action should be to your premises beacuse there should be contradictions in all theorems.’

It could mean exactly the opposite: If you do find a contradiction your fist action should be to check your premises, since there are no contradictions in the real world.

Either one seems equally flawed.

Or there are several other interpretations.

You really do need to expand on this.

It’s actually “By the essence and nature of existence contradictions cannot exist. If you find one, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.”

Logically I’ve always liked it; emotionally I find it lacking. The older I get, the more ambivalent I become.

Blake

Care to explain what it means to those of us who don’t know.

I’ll do my best but I no longer have the book in front of me to get the exact context. The word usage shouldn’t be too archaic, as it was written by Ayn Rand in the 1950s, IIRC.

It could mean exactly the opposite: If you do find a contradiction your fist action should be to check your premises, since there are no contradictions in the real world.

This seems to be the one. Again going on memory, when a character in the book would come up with what seemed to be a contradiction about whatever; the philosophy professor (another character) would state the above quote, implying that once the flawed premise was discovered the contradiction would disappear.

Seems to me that in order to be true it would need to be tautological: If it’s a contradiction it can’t be referring to a natural or existing state, and if it’s a natural and existing state then it can not hold contradictions.

If we define a natural or existing state as one that can hold contradictions then obviously the maxim is wrong.

If we define a contradiction as something that can apply to a natural or existing state, then the maxim is wrong.

In reality there are potentially many contradictions in the real world. Quantum theory would seem to contradict the concept of free will. Now you can of course argue that any of the premises is wrong. My problem with that is that it makes the maxim self-referential/ tautological as described above.

If you only want to say that two mutually contradictory statements can not both be logically valid, then why not say so, rather than aggrandising it with flowery implications of attachment to some undefined, ethereal ‘essence of nature’?

This is an untestable assertion, which thus renders the whole thing meaningless.

Ayn Rand? ‘Nuff said. ‘Phrases like ‘check first’ rather than ‘first check’ are archaic by 1920 standards, but standard for Ayn Rand.
It’s true that many contradictions can be resolved by expanding on the knowledge used as the premises for the conclusions. The trouble is that in many cases this simply produces more contradictions. Eventually we get down to quantum physics scales where apparent contradictions seem to be resolved by saying they are ‘inherent’.

There is reliable no basis I can see for concluding that there are no contradictions. Our brains are wired to work in the macroscopic world, and usually any contradictions are based on faulty premises, but I would have to say that suggesting this is always the case is impossible to establish. A premise for one line of reasoning can be perfectly valid in its own right, and the conclusion reached can be completely contradictory to another.

I personally support jailing criminals. That s based largely on a premise of free will and an ability of people to modify their actions. This is in direct contradiction to the conclusion I draw from my understanding of physics. The thing is that both premises are perfectly sound in their own right for the purpose for which they are being used.

IMO in order for the maxim to be applicable it would require there to be only one starting point for every premise for every possible conclusion we ever need to reach. If we allow different starting points for different conclusions then they can be perfectly accurate in their own domain, and yet the conclusions contradictory.

I think it would only work if we ha a grand unified theory that we could use as the starting point for everything. Until we have such a theory we are going to get repeats of the ‘free will’ debates forever.

Now perhaps you can argue that the absence of a GUT is a flawed premise in itself, but there are hose who believe that such a theory is not possible using the human brain. If this is so then the maxim is clearly unresolvable and untestable.

And now I see that AndrewT has said in a dozen words what it took me 300 to say.

Blake:

In reality there are potentially many contradictions in the real world.

That would seem to me, to be the acid test to see if the statement can be falsified by showing an honest to goodness contradiction, based on premises that we are beyond a reasonable doubt sure of.

Quantum theory would seem to contradict the concept of free will. Now you can of course argue that any of the premises is wrong.

Yeah, that is where I would go here, stating that the premise of free will is likely flawed, though that’s another topic. I would agree that there are lots of potential contradictions out there but as stated all the examples I can think of seem highly likely to be based on at least one false premise.

If you only want to say that two mutually contradictory statements can not both be logically valid, then why not say so, rather than aggrandising it with flowery implications of attachment to some undefined, ethereal ‘essence of nature’?

Perhaps I subconsciously agree with you and as such remembered the quote without the flowery “essence of nature” stuff, though still a little more poetic than what you wrote above.:slight_smile:

In the same sense that the laws of thermodynamics are useless ? The empirical evidence is not on your side here.

Blake:

It’s true that many contradictions can be resolved by expanding on the knowledge used as the premises for the conclusions. The trouble is that in many cases this simply produces more contradictions. Eventually we get down to quantum physics scales where apparent contradictions seem to be resolved by saying they are ‘inherent’.

One could argue here (though I’m not very well practiced in this area), that the remaining contradictions only illustrate our continued lack of answers and that further expansion of knowledge would eradicate them. We could find this reasonable prediction and testable hypothesis based on the experience of past contradictions disappearing as knowledge increased.

There is reliable no basis I can see for concluding that there are no contradictions. Our brains are wired to work in the macroscopic world, and usually any contradictions are based on faulty premises, but I would have to say that suggesting this is always the case is impossible to establish.

If I remember my Karl Popper correctly one would have to state their theory “no contradictions, really just mistaken premises” and then set out to disprove it “find a contradiction in which the premises are reasonably certain.” There would always be some uncertainty but the more times the theory held up the more likely it would be true. Though there would always remain a degree of uncertainty as with any other scientific theory.

I personally support jailing criminals. That s based largely on a premise of free will and an ability of people to modify their actions. This is in direct contradiction to the conclusion I draw from my understanding of physics. The thing is that both premises are perfectly sound in their own right for the purpose for which they are being used.

I don’t agree with this particular contradiction, though I don’t want to hijack my own thread. I disagree with the premise of free will, in favor of causality, which does not contradict with what we both probably understand of physics. I still support jailing criminals, not for the sake of punishment but rather deterrence of future crimes and if lucky (ok really lucky) perhaps some rehabilitation. I wouldn’t necessarily call the jailing of them fair, just the best idea our society has come up with so far.

AndrewT:

quote:

By the essence and nature of existence contradictions cannot exist

This is an untestable assertion, which thus renders the whole thing meaningless.

Suppose we left out that part.

For there to be tests, there must be untestable assertions.

Having ploughed through various works of Ayn Rand in order to understand how proponents of law-of-the-jungle economics think that it might actually make the world a better place, I must admit that this quote did not jump out at me particularly strongly.

However, without reference to its context, it certainly seems to refer to the idea that we happen to live in a universe wherein things do not simply behave arbitrarily, obeying a rule or law for a time and then defying analysis or classification the next.

Of course, physical objects and systems might very well not obey the same laws as human beings and sociological interactions. It is perhaps this point that is being underscored.

Well, other than the fact that she apparently felt she had unified metaphysics and politics, they really are seperate beasts.

I think the quote is more or less indicative of what you say, the world is a place we can understand; for this to be so, there are no contradictions. If you’ve found one, then you’ve made a mistake in reason. It doesn’t seem to be a particularly stunning thing to say, seeing as it is the foundation for pretty much all human activity that deals with the pursuit of knowledge.

Rand had a sort of existentialist streak in her in the notion that man could become something, that there was a way man should be but it took work and dedication and if he did or didn’t make it there he had only himself to praise or blame respectively. But her stress on reason was incredible. She was a hodge-podge of rationalism and materialism, and was morally quite dogmatic. I think she’s a powerful personality and is well worth investigation, but many disagree with me.

Begin with Septimus Severus. Read the Tropes, or as many as can be found in the modern era.

It appears, as far as I can tell, given my limited resources and the limited time to which I have devoted myself on such questions (if “devoted” is even a correct term), that, inasmuch as one mind can appear to perceive, I have yet to discover any premise that has not been apparently reduced to self-contradiction via application of the Tropes, although I could be in error.