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They are non-empirical — because they say nothing about the world of experience. . Man’s knowledge is not acquired by logic apart from experience or by experience apart from logic, but by the application of logic to experience. According to this variant, certain propositions (the analytic ones) are validated independently of experience, simply by an analysis of the definitions of their constituent concepts; these propositions are “a priori.” Others (the synthetic ones) are dependent upon existence for their validation; they are “a posteriori.”. A is A; existents are what they are, independent of the state of human knowledge; and a concept means the existents which it integrates. The theory was originated, by implication, in the ancient world, with the views of Pythagoras and Plato, but it achieved real prominence and enduring influence only after its advocacy by such modern philosophers as Hobbes, Leibniz, Hume and Kant. A major step in that direction is the elimination of the death carrier known as the analytic-synthetic dichotomy. As we have seen, definitions represent condensations of a wealth of observations, i.e., a wealth of “empirical” knowledge; definitions can be arrived at and validated only on the basis of experience. If the proposition that a give phenomenon exists is not self-contradictory, then that phenomenon, it is claimed, is “logically” possible; if the proposition is self-contradictory, then the phenomenon is “logically” impossible. When a man reaches a certain level of conceptual complexity, he needs to discover a method of organizing and interrelating his concepts; he needs a method that will enable him to keep each of his concepts clearly distinguished from all the others, each connected to a specific group of existents clearly distinguished from the other existents he knows. Thus, a concept subsumes and includes all the characteristics of its referents, known and not-yet-known. They represent Kant plus choice — a voluntaristic Kantianism, a whim-worshipping Kantianism. In the religious tradition, “necessary” truths were commonly held to be consequences of God’s mode of thought. This knowledge determines which characteristic(s) is objectively essential — and, therefore, which definition is objectively correct — in a given cognitive context. The existence of human volition cannot be used to justify the theory that there is a dichotomy of propositions or of truths. 2 years ago. Leonard Peikoff, “The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy,” Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology , 113 Any theory that propounds an opposition between the logical and the empirical, represents a failure to grasp the nature of logic and its role in human cognition. Conceptualization is a method of acquiring and retaining knowledge of that which exists, on a scale inaccessible to the perceptual level of consciousness. Neither school provides an objective basis for the distinction between an entity’s “essential” and “non-essential” characteristics. Synthetic truths, on the other hand, are said to be dependent upon experience for their validation; they are “empirical” or “a posteriori.” Since they are “factual,” one can discover their truth initially only by observing the appropriate facts directly or indirectly; and since they are “contingent,” one can find out whether yesterday’s synthetic truths are still holding today, only by scrutinizing the latest empirical data. The latter viewpoint is fundamental to every version of the analytic-synthetic dichotomy. The epistemological basis of this dichotomy is the view that a concept consists only of its definition. For both schools, whatever their terminological or other differences, a concept means only the essential (or defining) characteristic of its units. The theory that a concept means its definition, is not improved when it is combined with the view that, in another sense, a concept means its “extension.” Two errors do not make a truth. It means: A certain type of entity, including all its characteristics, is, in the present context of knowledge, most fundamentally distinguished from all other entities by the fact that it is a rational animal. Propositions about metaphysical facts and propositions about man-made facts do not have different characteristics qua propositions. . u/Jamesshrugged. A plague attacks man’s body, not his conceptual faculty. Man can rearrange the materials that exist in reality, but he cannot violate their identity; he cannot escape the laws of nature. The analytic-synthetic dichotomy holds that a “necessarily” true proposition cannot be factual, while a factual proposition cannot be “necessarily” true. Traditional solutions to the problem divide generally into r… Objectivist Conferences (OCON) and the Ayn Rand Institute eStore are operated by ARI. Essential characteristics are determined contextually. Nominalists do not say that a concept designates only an entity’s “essence,” excluding its “accidents.” Their secularized version is: A concept is only a shorthand tag for the characteristics stated in its definition; a concept and its definition are interchangeable; a concept means only its definition. I shall summarize the theory of the analytic-synthetic dichotomy as it would be expounded by its contemporary advocates, and then answer it point by point. Nor can the concept of an existent mean its characteristics (some or all), apart from the existent. A violation of the laws of nature would require that an entity act in contradiction to its identity; i.e., it would require the existence of a contradiction. Only ignorance or evasion can enable a man to attempt to project such an alternative. Existence is Identity (Atlas Shrugged). . It is the view of a concept’s meaning that keeps man’s concepts anchored to reality. If it is man’s mode of thought (independent of reality) that creates “necessary” truths, they argued, then these are not fixed or absolute; men have a choice in regard to their modes of thought; what the mind giveth; the mind taketh away. Each of its characteristics has the same metaphysical status: each constitutes a part of the entity’s identity. Certain phenomena, however, although logically possible, are contrary to the “contingent” laws of nature that men discover by experience; these phenomena are “empirically” — but not “logically” — impossible. Observe the inversion propounded by this argument: a proposition can qualify as a factual empirical truth only if man is able to evade the facts of experience and arbitrarily to invent a set of impossible circumstances that contradict these facts; but a truth whose opposite is beyond man’s power of invention, is regarded as independent of and irrelevant to the nature of reality, i.e., as an arbitrary product of human “convention.”. Condemning Plato’s “intuitive” selection of essences as a disguised subjectivism, they spurn the disguise and adopt subjectivism as their official theory — as though a concealed vice were heinous, but a brazenly flaunted one, rational. But the proposition “Cats are animals” is not “empirically falsifiable” because “cat” is defined as a species of animal. Thus proof is made the disqualifying element of knowledge, and knowledge is made a function of human ignorance. In fact, neither of these alleged types of meaning is metaphysically or epistemologically possible. When “rational animal” is selected as the definition of “man,” this does not mean that the concept “man” becomes a shorthand tag for “anything whatever that has rationality and animality.” It does not mean that the concept “man” is interchangeable with the phrase “rational animal,” and that all of man’s other characteristics are excluded from the concept. The ultimate result of the theory of the analytic-synthetic dichotomy is the following verdict pronounced on human cognition: if the denial of a proposition is inconceivable, if there is no possibility that any fact of reality can contradict it, i.e. What we are witnessing is the self-liquidation of philosophy. Of course, there is something. In regard to any man-made fact, it is valid to claim that man has chosen thus, but it was not inherent in the nature of existence for him to have done so; he could have chosen otherwise. Since a concept is an integration of units, it has no content or meaning apart from its units. The analytic–synthetic distinction (also called the analytic–synthetic dichotomy) is a conceptual distinction, used primarily in philosophy to distinguish propositions (in particular, statements that are affirmative subject–predicate judgments) into two types: analytic propositions and synthetic propositions. Only thus can he withstand the onslaught and remain epistemologically untouched. And further: On a rational view of definitions, a definition organizes and condenses — and thus helps one to retain — a wealth of knowledge about the characteristics of a concept’s units. If one merely specifies the definitions of the relevant concepts in any of these propositions, and then applies the laws of logic, one can see that the truth of the proposition follows directly, and that to deny it would be to endorse a logical contradiction. If a proposition links the “included” characteristics with the concept it can be validated merely by an “analysis” of the concept; if it links the “excluded” characteristics with the concept, it represents an act of “synthesis.”. ), To grasp the nature of their epistemological procedure, consider a mathematician who would claim that there is a dichotomy between two types of truth in the manner of adding columns of figures: truths which state the actual sum of a given column versus truths which are reached by adherence to the laws of addition — the “summational truths” vs. the “additive truths.” The former represent the actual sums — which, however, are unfortunately unprovable and unknowable, since they cannot be arrived at by the methods of addition; the latter, which are perfectly certain and necessary, are unfortunately a subjective fantasy-creation, with no relationship to actual sums in the actual world. 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