Rand’s Misunderstanding of Philosophy Post-Kant

In rand on 21/06/2011 at 3:28 am


Dykes begins his next ‘assault’ on CR with

If it is true that our senses are pre-programmed; if it is true that ‘there is no sense organ in which anticipatory theories are not genetically incorporated’; then what flows into our minds is determined and what flows out of them is subjective. … Since it is ultimately the product of the pre-programmed interpretation of the data which entered Popper’s mind, CR is a theory which can only be applied to Popper. According to his own view of his contact with reality, he would not be able to verify the relevance of CR to anybody else (§3,¶3).

Yes, if Kant is correct in making a distinction between the phenomenal and noumenal, then there could be no such thing as direct and unmediated communication, utterly free creation of theories, and so on. What of it? Does that make CR, or any other post-Kantian stance for that matter, incorrect?

Dykes does not take the time to explain how direct and unmediated communication or the utterly free creation of theories occur, or could possibly occur, or how mediated or somehow limited creation of theories would make them illegitimate. Does that make CR, along with anything post-Kant, difficult to communicate? Of course! Plenty of propositions are undeniably lost in translation. One need only try to ask for the location of the nearest bathroom when speaking with someone that does not speak your language. In fact, Dykes’s own misreading of CR is a perfect example of completely missing the point. The very problem of communication should signal that Dykes is demanding a system that itself does not match the human condition, expecting far more than anyone can supply.

Yet, while it is at times impractical or exceedingly difficult to communicate, that does not make it entirely impossible to communicate with others. Would that refute any stance or program post-Kant? Not at all. I am simply befuddled how Dykes intends this to be a criticism of anything.

Now, I now turn the criticism back against Dykes and anyone else that denies that we have genetic or past knowledge (who would say such a thing? Very few serious people would, which makes me feel as if I am strawmanning Dykes’s position in some way): assume that we do not have familiarity with a problem situation, be it acquired genetically or within a single lifetime. If we do not have any past knowledge at our disposal, how are we to address any problems, or for that matter even be aware of any problems?

This is now where I begin to worry about Dykes’s familiarity with CR:

Rather, again following Kant perhaps, he [Popper] thought the basis for objectivity lay elsewhere: ‘the objectivity of scientific statements lies in the fact that they can be inter-subjectively tested.’ … if Popper’s Kantian premise were true … then senses would not cease to be prejudiced merely by being multiplied.” (¶8)

Dykes is, I conjecture, far too immersed in the Objectivist literature to give any competing system a fair reading. According to CR, objectivity does not arise through multiplying the available senses, but through the multiplication of the available criticisms of theories and our behavior towards the theories being criticized. It is notoriously difficult to criticize one’s own theories, while it comes naturally to criticize theories held by others. ‘Objectivity,’ then, is not the ability to strip away all our subjective prejudices until the universe is passively received as it was, and not as we perceive it to be; ‘objectivity’ is the ability for a group of people to distance themselves long enough from their pet theories. Once someone gives up on their attachment to theories, they are able to reject these theories when encountering criticism from others that cannot be legitimately answered. Once the theory is riven from the individual mind and communicated to others, it no longer resides solely within the mind, but within an objective realm where others can try to find fault.

As Dykes concludes in this section,

“it is plain – even after only a very brief treatment – that Popper’s Kantian premise, far from providing CR with a secure footing, leads instead to insuperable problems.” (¶9)

No, it does no such thing. While certain complexities may arise from any program post-Kant, the alternative is barren, simply because it says little that actually describes the human condition, the findings of modern science, and the problems inherent in observation. CR too does not seek any ‘secure footing,’ and to object to CR by claiming that it does not satisfy a criterion it rejects as impossible is idiocy.


  1. “If our knowledge is impregnated with subjective prejudices then we’ll interpret the message in a way that won’t retain the original meaning intended by the sender”- that’s the summary of Dyke’s contention. The sender will formulate the message that will reflect the prejudices in his/her mind & the receiver will receive & interpret it influenced by his/her prejudices. So there won’t be anything pure in anybodies understanding, just a mess of observation contents & subjective biases, that all. Furthermore, has any scientist been able to prove that humans actually carry gene that is pre-programmed by anticipatory theories as Popper suggested? I haven’t find anything like that, where did he find that? I don’t know. Surely theory dependence of observation is an issue, but we should drive it to absurd extreme. But need I remind you, those theories are not genetically pre-programmed, but determined by human choice.

    • “has any scientist been able to prove that humans actually carry gene that is pre-programmed by anticipatory theories as Popper suggested? I haven’t find anything like that, where did he find that? I don’t know.”

      First, requiring proof is impossible within science.

      Second, I point to the work done by Lorenz and Tinbergen: fixed action patterns should be sufficient.

  2. The 3 line from the last of the post-“but we should drive it to absurd extreme” is wrong, it should be read as “but we should not drive it to absurd extreme”

  3. Tha is an excellent photo; where did you get it?

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