The Argument from the Fact of Existence

Presented as a Formal Syllogism

by Anton Thorn

* * * * *

Thanks to the metaphysical principles of Objectivism as established by Ayn Rand, there exists a simple, streamlined argument which demonstrates the invalidity of god-belief and the falsehood of god-belief claims in a single stroke. This argument does not busy itself with the lofty abstractions pertaining to moral issues, exposing contradictions in holy books, or deconstructing apologetic arsenals in order to detect their flaws. Instead, this argument and its formal derivatives strike at the very root of god-belief by exposing its dependence on a false view of metaphysics.

Primary Form of the Argument from the Fact of Existence:

The primary form of the Argument from the Fact of Existence ("AFE" for short) has a simple structure:

Premise 1: If the primacy of consciousness is invalid, then the claim that God exists is false.

Premise 2: The primacy of consciousness is invalid.

Conclusion: Therefore, the claim that God exists is false.

Immediately at first glance, we can see that this argument is valid. It conforms saliently to the mixed hypothetical syllogism known as modus ponens, which is a valid argument form represented by the following model:

Premise 1: If P, then Q.
Premise 2: P.
Conclusion: Therefore Q.

This form of hypothetical syllogism is called mixed because it is an inference to a non-hypothetical conclusion from two premises, one of which is hypothetical in nature (i.e., if..., then...). In the case of AFE, P corresponds to the clause "the primacy of consciousness is invalid," and Q corresponds to the statement "the claim that God exists is false." That the primary form of the argument is valid is undeniable.

The obvious question then becomes, are the premises true? If the truth of the premises of an argument which is shown to be valid can be established, then its conclusion is necessarily true and follows logically. The fundamental burden of AFE is to show a necessary dependence of god-belief claims, including the claim or assumption that God exists, on the primacy of consciousness metaphysics. If this dependence on the primacy of consciousness metaphysics, an invalid view of reality, can be shown, then AFE succeeds in meeting its burden and its conclusion must be accepted as true.

AFE essentially argues that god-belief claims rest on the implicit assumption that the primacy of consciousness metaphysics is valid. Thus, AFE is an argument stemming specifically from Objectivist principles as identified by Ayn Rand. The principles relevant to this project are defined and validated in my essay The Issue of Metaphysical Primacy, with which readers should familiarize themselves before attempting to digest AFE, unless of course they are already familiar with the foundations of Objectivism. Readers may review my paper on Important Terms if they are unfamiliar with them. In addition to these resources, I have also prepared a summary of and rebuttal to what I consider to be the more Common Objections to AFE.

Expanded form of the Argument from the Fact of Existence:

Since the syllogism above may appear rather thin on substance, I have developed an expanded form of AFE which fills in many of the primary version's apparent blanks with subarguments and supporting details, including citations of theistic attributions justifying certain inferences and propositions. Readers will note that citations and evidences provided to support the expanded version's premises assume particular relevance to the Christian God. However, since other forms of god-belief share the same basic essentials - namely the notion that a form of consciousness holds metaphysical primacy over existence, the same argument can be applied to other religious philosophies which posit a supernatural conscious entity.

Premise 1: If the primacy of consciousness is invalid, then the claim that God exists is false.

  1. If the claim that God exists assumes the validity of the primacy of consciousness metaphysics, then the primacy of consciousness metaphysics must be valid in order for the claim that God exists to be true. See Note 1.I
  2. The claim that God exists assumes the validity of the primacy of consciousness metaphysics.
    1. If the characterizations of God assume that a form of consciousness holds metaphysical primacy over existence in some capacity, then the idea of God necessarily implies dependence on the primacy of consciousness view of reality.
    2. The characterizations of God assume that a form of consciousness holds metaphysical primacy over existence in some capacity.
    1. God is described in terms of consciousness. See Note 1.II.B.1.
    1. God is a spirit. See Note 1.II.B.1.a
    2. God is a 'personal being'. See Note 1.II.B.1.b
    3. God has no body. See Note 1.II.B.1.c
    4. God has a mind. See Note 1.II.B.1.d
    5. God has unlimited awareness. See Note 1.II.B.1.e
    6. God has a will. See Note 1.II.B.1.f
    7. God has thoughts. See Note 1.II.B.1.g
    8. God authors judgments. See Note 1.II.B.1.h
    9. God is a moral being. See Note 1.II.B.1.i
    10. God plans the future. See Note 1.II.B.1.j
    11. God can love. See Note 1.II.B.1.k
    12. God can be angry. See Note 1.II.B.1.l
    13. God experiences pleasure and emotion. See Note 1.II.B.1.m
    1. The tasks ascribed to God assume the dependence of existence on a form of consciousness.
    1. If the tasks ascribed to God are actions of a form of consciousness which create existence and manipulate the identity of entities, then existence is thought to be dependent upon a form of consciousness - which means consciousness holds primacy over existence.
    2. The tasks ascribed to God are actions of a form of consciousness which create existence and manipulate the identity of entities.
    1. God is said to have created the universe (i.e., existence) through an act of will. See Note 1.II.B.2.b.i
    2. God can change A into non-A (i.e., alter the identity of entities) through an act of will. See Note 1.II.B.2.b.ii
    3. God can make A perform the action of non-A (i.e., alter the causal nature of entities) through an act of will. See Note 1.II.B.2.b.iii
    4. A personal will (i.e., volition) is a form of consciousness. (Axiom of consciousness) See Note 1.II.B.2.b.iv
    1. Therefore, existence is thought to be dependent on a form of consciousness ("God's will") - which means consciousness holds primacy over existence.
    1. The characterizations of God make the idea of God incompatible with the primacy of existence metaphysics.
    1. If the characterizations of God describe God as a form of consciousness which holds metaphysical primacy over existence, then they are incompatible with the primacy of existence metaphysics.
    2. The characterizations of God describe God as a form of consciousness (from 1.II.B.1) which holds metaphysical primacy over existence (from 1.II.B.2).
    3. According to the primacy of existence, existence exists independent of consciousness. (Objectivism: Rand, Peikoff, et al.) See Note 1.II.B.3.c.
    4. These characterizations of God do not hold that existence exists independent of consciousness, but that existence is dependent on a form of consciousness. (Inference from 1.II.B.3.b and 1.II.B.3.c.) See Note 1.II.B.3.d.
    5. Therefore, these characterizations are incompatible with the primacy of existence metaphysics.
    1. Therefore, the idea of God necessarily implies dependence on the primacy of consciousness view of reality.
  1. Therefore, the primacy of consciousness must be valid in order for the claim that God exists to be true.
  2. Therefore, if the primacy of consciousness is invalid, then the claim that God exists is not true. (Hypothetical obverse of Conclusion 1.III)

Premise 2: The primacy of consciousness is invalid. (The primacy of existence is valid.)

  1. If the primacy of existence is valid, then the primacy of consciousness is invalid. See Note 2.I.

    1. If the primacy of existence and the primacy of consciousness constitute exhaustive metaphysics and are contradictory to each other, then the primacy of consciousness is invalid if the primacy of existence is valid.

    2. The primacy of existence and the primacy of consciousness constitute exhaustive metaphysics.

    1. There are two fundamentals which a proper metaphysic must identify and distinguish in the foundation of a rational philosophy: that which exists (existence), and that by which one is aware of that which exists (consciousness). See Note 2.I.B.1.
    2. There is no third alternative to this distinction. (Axioms of existence and consciousness) See Note 2.I.B.2.

    3. The issue of metaphysical primacy states that, in any idea, doctrine or philosophy, one or the other (existence or consciousness) will hold metaphysical primacy over the other. See Note 2.I.B.3.

    4. Therefore, the primacy of existence and the primacy of consciousness constitute exhaustive metaphysics.

    1. The primacy of existence and the primacy of consciousness are in contradiction to each other.

      1. The primacy of existence holds that existence exists independent of consciousness. See Note 2.I.C.1.

      2. The primacy of consciousness holds that existence in some way is dependent on an act or form of consciousness. See Note 2.I.C.2.

      3. Therefore, the primacy of existence is in contradiction to the primacy of consciousness.

    1. Therefore, if the primacy of existence is valid, then the primacy of consciousness is invalid.

  1. The primacy of existence is valid.

    1. If existence holds metaphysical primacy, then the primacy of existence is valid. (Peikoff)

    2. Existence holds metaphysical primacy.

      1. If existence exists, existence holds metaphysical primacy. See Note 2.II.B.1.

      2. Existence exists. See Note 2.II.B.2.

      3. Therefore, existence holds metaphysical primacy.

    1. Therefore, the primacy of existence is valid.

  1. Therefore, the primacy of consciousness is invalid.

Conclusion: Therefore, the claim that God exists is false.

Alternate Forms of AFE:

Because of the fundamental nature of the principles informing AFE, a number of related arguments can be generated from the model I am presenting here. The following model, for instance, presents the argument without hypothetical premises:

Premise: Any claim which rests on an invalid metaphysical view is false.
Premise: The claim that God exists is a claim rests on an invalid metaphysical view.

Subpremise: The claim that God exists rests on the primacy of consciousness metaphysics.
Subpremise: The primacy of consciousness is an invalid metaphysical view.
Subconclusion: Therefore, the claim that God exists rests on an invalid metaphysical view.
Conclusion: Therefore, the claim that God exists is false.

The above argument demonstrates that the claim "God exists" is false because of its inclusion in a false set of claims resting on a false metaphysical view. Another form can be used to demonstrate why god-belief in general (i.e., all god-belief) is irrational:

Premise: Any view which dispenses with or rejects the metaphysical primacy of existence is irrational.
Premise: God-belief is a view which dispenses with or rejects the metaphysical primacy of existence.
Conclusion: Therefore, god-belief is irrational.

The same form of argument can be reformed to show why a particular religious philosophy is invalid:

Premise: Any view which dispenses with or rejects the metaphysical primacy of existence is invalid.
Premise: Christianity is a view which dispenses with or rejects the metaphysical primacy of existence.
Conclusion: Therefore, Christianity is invalid.

These arguments are sound for the same reasons as we found in the expanded version of AFE. The sub-arguments which I provide in the Expanded version are easily applied to supporting the premises of variations of AFE such as these. The key to comprehending and presenting an argument from metaphysical primacy is grasping the facts that theism assumes an invalid view of reality, which is the metaphysical primacy of consciousness, and that a proper metaphysics, the primacy of existence, is philosophically incompatible with any form of theism.

Essentially, if one accepts the primacy of existence as a valid principle, and a particular claim or idea can be shown to imply or depend upon the primacy of consciousness view, that claim or idea must be dismissed as false or arbitrary. In particular, if one accepts the primacy of existence, he must reject all forms of god-belief or supernaturalism, since both rest on the primacy of consciousness view of reality. Otherwise, he compromises the primacy of existence, the only sound basis of objectivity and rationality, and cannot stand on it.

NOTES:

Note 1.I: The validity of Premise 1.I is due to the principle of hierarchical dependence. Since knowledge is hierarchical in nature, the general principles which come logically prior to a truth in question must themselves be valid in order for that which is hierarchically dependent on them to be true. The very task of an argument is to demonstrate a conclusion's hierarchical dependence upon prior truths. Premise 1.I poses that the general truth of the primacy of consciousness metaphysics would have to be valid in order for the particular claim that a ruling consciousness entity (i.e., "God") exists to have any potential truth value. Thus, if the notion of God is hierarchically dependent upon the assumption of the primacy of consciousness metaphysics, then the primacy of consciousness metaphysics would have to be valid in order for the claim that God exists to be accepted as true of reality.

Note 1.II.B.1: Many of these details are discussed in my essay The Ruling Consciousness which demonstrates on the basis of characterizations of God that God is thought of essentially as a form of consciousness. It should be obvious to readers that most of the characterizations under this point (e.g., 'spirit', 'personal being', 'mind', etc.) imply or assume the concept 'consciousness'.

Note 1.II.B.1.a: John 4:24 states that "God is a Spirit." One online Catholic tract claims that this verse "means God has no body, because a spirit is, by nature, an incorporeal being. As Jesus tells us elsewhere, 'a spirit has not flesh and bones' (Luke 24:39)." (Quoted from the article Does God Have a Body? at the Catholic Answers homepage.) It is usually taken for granted that a spirit is a conscious being. Some sources (e.g., Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion, by William L. Reese [Amherst, NY: Humanity Books, 1999] sv. 'spirit'; et al.) define 'spirit' as a principle. The concept 'principle' is epistemological in nature, not metaphysical, and thereby necessarily presupposes consciousness.

Note 1.II.B.1.b: In his debate against naturalist Jeffery J. Lowder, Christian apologist Phil Fernandez characterizes the Christian God as "the eternal uncaused cause of all else that exists. This being is personal, i.e., a moral and intelligent being, and unlimited in all its attributes" (emphasis added). Characterizations of this nature are commonly encountered. Each of these concepts - 'personal', 'moral' and 'intelligent' - necessarily presuppose consciousness. Neither can be asserted in connection with obviously non-conscious entities, such as a rock or a drop of water.

Note 1.II.B.1.c: The late Christian apologist Greg Bahnsen, in his The Great Debate (link requires RealPlayer) with secularist Gordon Stein, claims that God is an "immaterial entity." The New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, in its article on the Simplicity of God claims that "God is a simple being or substance excluding every kind of composition, physical or metaphysical." Thus, we have the combined claim that God is an "immaterial substance." In addition to these, Jesus himself is recorded to have said that "a spirit hath not flesh and bones" (Luke 24:39). If we attempt to integrate the claims under points a., b., and c., we have the claim that God is a "spirit," a "personal being," and an "immaterial entity" or "immaterial substance." Both "spirit" and "personal being" presuppose consciousness. Given these descriptors, God is consciousness without a body.

Note 1.II.B.1.d: Cf. Acts 20:19; Rom. 11:34; I Cor. 2:16; Philip. 2:5, et al.

Note 1.II.B.1.e: Cf. Ps. 33:13-15, 139:1-24; Prov. 15:3; Acts 15:18; Heb. 4:13; I John 3:20, et al.

Note 1.II.B.1.f: Cf. Matt. 6:10; 26:39, 42; Luke 11:2; Rom. 12:2; Heb. 10:9, et al.

Note 1.II.B.1.g: Cf. Ps. 40:5, 92:5, 139:17; Is. 55:8-9; Mic. 4:12, et al.

Note 1.II.B.1.h: Cf. Gen. 1:2, 6, 9, 11, 14, etc., 21:2; Deut. 1:17; Ps. 50:1, 108:7; Rom. 11:33, et al.

Note 1.II.B.1.i: This is a common apologetic claim which Christian theists frequently assert, even though it has numerous problems of its own. See for instance my essay Why an Immortal God Cannot Value.

Note 1.II.B.1.j: Cf. Rom. 8:29-30; Eph. 1:4-5, 11; et al.; doctrine of prophecy.

Note 1.II.B.1.k: Cf. John 3:16, 5:42; Rom. 5:8, 8:39; II Cor. 13:11; Eph. 2:4; I John 4:8-11, 16, et al.

Note 1.II.B.1.l: Cf. Num. 22:22; Ex. 32:2; Ezra 8:22; Rom. 1:18, 9:22; Eph. 5:6; Rev. 14:10, 19, et al.

Note 1.II.B.1.m: Cf. Gen. 33:10; Ps. 115:3; Is. 46:10; Matt. 3:17; I Cor. 12:18; Heb. 13:16, et al.

Note 1.II.B.2.b.i: Cf. Genesis 1:1; John 1:3; Hebrews 11:3. The Genesis tale of creation holds explicitly that the existence of the universe ("the earth and the heaven" - Gen. 1:1) was the result of a divine act. Christians infer from this and from several New Testament passages (e.g., Ephesians 1:11, Hebrews 11:3, etc.) that this divine act was an act of will. Furthermore, since Christianity holds that God is omnipotent and that His divine will is sovereign, the believer can agree that God could have chosen not to create the universe, that nothing compelled God against His own volition to do so. Thus, on this view, the existence of the universe is the product of volition, i.e., of consciousness. Since 'universe' is properly defined as "the sum total of existence," this necessarily assumes that consciousness holds metaphysical primacy over existence.

Note 1.II.B.2.b.ii: Cf. doctrine of miracles; e.g., Jesus turns water into wine - John 2:1-11, et al. These things supposedly happen the way they do because God, the ruling consciousness, desires that they happen this way. Since God is said to be sovereign over everything, those things would not happen unless the ruling consciousness authorized or approved that they should happen. This goes for the nature of the objects which God has created, as well as the actions and interactions in which they partake. In other words, identity is dependent on God's will. Again, this position can only be held if one assumes that consciousness holds metaphysical primacy over existence.

Note 1.II.B.2.b.iii: Cf. doctrine of miracles. The pericope of Jesus walking on water (Matt 14:22-33, et al.) is a good example of what I mean here. It is not in the nature of man to walk on unfrozen water (due to man's physical density, an attribute of his identity). But, it is in the nature of an inflated beach ball to float on water. Presumably by an act of consciousness (i.e., by willing it), the identity of a man can be fundamentally changed, according to the doctrine of miracles, such that a man can walk on water just as a beach ball can float on water; in other words, A (in this case, a man) performs the action of non-A (for example, an inflated beach ball).

Note 1.II.B.2.b.iv: Volition (or will) is the power to choose between alternatives, and necessarily presupposes awareness of alternatives, and is both a form and a function of consciousness. Volition or will is a form of consciousness in the same general sense that perception, memory, and introspective thought are forms of consciousness. Neither can be asserted without necessarily implying or presupposing the concept 'consciousness'. Consciousness is an axiomatic concept; see Ayn Rand, "Axiomatic Concepts," Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Expanded 2nd Edition, (New York: Meridian, 1990), pp. 55-61.

Note 1.II.B.3.c: See Ayn Rand, "The Metaphysically Given Versus the Man-Made," Philosophy: Who Needs It, (New York: Signet, 1982), pp. 23-34; Leonard Peikoff, Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, (New York: Meridian, 1993), pp. 17-23, et al. See also David Kelley, "The Primacy of Existence," Part 1 (The Objectivist Forum, October, 1981, pp. 1-6) and Part 2 (The Objectivist Forum, December, 1981, pp. 1-6). Readers are also recommended to review David Kelley's audio lecture, "The Primacy of Existence," (1985), and chapter 1 "The Primacy of Existence" of his book, The Evidence of the Senses (Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana University Press, 1986), available at Principle Source. Online see Eric Johnson's review OPAR, Chapter One: Reality of the first chapter ("Reality") of Leonard Peikoff's Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand; Michael Huemer's Objectivism and the Primacy of Existence; and my The Issue of Metaphysical Primacy.

Note 1.II.B.3.d: If a) the existence of the universe is the result of God's will (cf. Genesis 1 & 2), and b) the specific identity of the entities which God creates in His creative acts are the product of His choices, then it is vitally apparent that the characterizations typically assigned to the God of Christianity do not hold that existence exists independent of God's conscious acts, but that existence is explicitly dependent on those conscious actions which Christianity ascribes to God. God's will, as a form of consciousness, holds metaphysical primacy over the objects which God has created. And since anything that can be said to be distinct from God is said to have ultimately been created by God, everything distinct from God is therefore subordinate to the conscious activity of God. This is essentially and precisely what Christian theism holds in its metaphysical doctrines.

Note 2.I: It is very important to recognize that the argument I present here (2.I, 2.II, and 2.III) is not the only way in which to demonstrate the invalidity of the primacy of consciousness metaphysics. The argument which I present here essentially argues that the primacy of consciousness is invalid because it contradicts the primacy of existence, which is a valid means of demonstrating this truth. However, one can also fortify Premise 2 by demonstrating the fact that the primacy of consciousness is invalid because it commits the fallacy of the stolen concept. The fallacy of the stolen concept is the assertion of a concept while denying its hierarchical or conceptual roots (see my essay on Common Fallacies and my list of Important Terms for more detailed definitions of this fallacy). A simple example would be the assertion that one could master algebra without ever grasping the principle why 2+2=4. Since the mastery of algebra would naturally require one to grasp the principle why 2+2=4, the concept 'algebra' in such a case is "stolen" from its objectively hierarchical context. It is the attempt to assert the concept 'algebra' without a proper, objective basis, and is thus invalid.

In the case of the primacy of consciousness metaphysics, the concept 'consciousness' is asserted as a phenomenon "prior to" the fact of existence. This is nowhere so clear as in the idea that the universe (i.e., the sum total of existence) was "created" by an act of consciousness. The assertion that the universe (i.e., existence) was created by some kind of supernatural will is the assertion of consciousness "prior to" the fact of existence. Such an assertion commits the fallacy of the stolen concept in precisely the same way as the assertion that algebra can be mastered without grasping the principle why 2+2=4 does, since the concept 'consciousness' hierarchically presupposes the concept 'existence'. Asserting the concept 'consciousness' "prior to" existence denies the conceptual root of the concept 'consciousness', thus "stealing" it from its proper hierarchical context. A graphic illustration of this fallacy would be someone trying to lift a tall bar stool over his head while sitting on it. This is impossible to do so because all of one's weight is on the stool itself and his feet are not even touching the ground. This is precisely what is attempted, in terms of concepts, when one commits the fallacy of the stolen concept.

Thus, an alternative argument supporting Premise 2 could proceed as follows:

  1. If the primacy of consciousness commits the fallacy of the stolen concept, then the primacy of consciousness is invalid.

  2. The primacy of consciousness commits the fallacy of the stolen concept.

  1. Any view which asserts a concept while denying its hierarchical roots is a view which commits the fallacy of the stolen concept.

  2. The primacy of consciousness is a view which asserts a concept while denying its hierarchical roots.

  1. If the primacy of consciousness asserts consciousness as "prior to" existence, then the primacy of consciousness is a view which asserts a concept while denying its hierarchical roots.

  1. If consciousness is consciousness of existence, then existence is hierarchically prior to consciousness.

  2. Consciousness is consciousness of existence. (Axiom of consciousness.)

  3. Therefore, existence is hierarchically prior to consciousness.

  1. The primacy of consciousness asserts consciousness as "prior to" existence.

  1. If the primacy of consciousness holds that existence is in some way dependent upon a form of consciousness, then the primacy of consciousness asserts consciousness as "prior to" existence.

  2. The primacy of consciousness holds that existence is in some way dependent upon a form of consciousness.

Examples: The doctrine of creation (existence finds its source in a form of consciousness), the doctrine of miracles (existence is amenable to a form of consciousness), etc.

  1. Therefore, the primacy of consciousness asserts consciousness as "prior to" existence.

  1. Therefore, the primacy of consciousness asserts a concept while denying its hierarchical roots.

  1. Therefore, the primacy of consciousness commits the fallacy of the stolen concept.

  1. Therefore, the primacy of consciousness is invalid.

A non-hypothetical variation of the fundamental premises of this argument would be:

  1. Any view which commits the fallacy of the stolen concept is invalid.

  2. The primacy of consciousness view commits the fallacy of the stolen concept.

  3. Therefore, the primacy of consciousness view is invalid.

The same supports as I provide in the preceding hypothetical version can be employed to support this version's premises as well. Both versions are validly constructed and have true premises, and can easily supplant the argument provided above in support of Premise 2. Consequently, AFE would proceed to conclude as follows: since the claim that God exists assumes the primacy of consciousness, a view which commits the fallacy of the stolen concept and is therefore invalid, it is false.

Note 2.I.B.1: This distinction is self-evident, and is present in all cognition. The distinction between the things that exist and the faculty of perceiving that which exists is the basis of the concept 'objectivity' and gives rise to the objective, hierarchical nature of knowledge. That we can identify the fact that knowledge is hierarchical in nature confirms the far-reaching relevance of the distinction between existence and consciousness. (See especially Peikoff, Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, pp. 129-141.)

Note 2.I.B.2: Of course, existence as such can be contrasted against non-existence. But it would be absurd to posit the primacy of non-existence (though I wouldn't put it past many philosophers, since this assumption is implicit in many theistic arguments). For if one begins with non-existence, how does he get to the undeniable fact that existence exists? To posit any means of causality is to presuppose the fact of existence by implication: something (i.e., something which exists) must be the cause of the action asserted as the means of causality. What does that leave us with?

In my survey of False Primacies I review a number of supposed candidates of metaphysical primacy which are implied in many irrational forms of philosophy.

Note 2.I.B.3: See, among others, Are the Primacy of Existence and the Primacy of Consciousness Exhaustive Metaphysics? and The Issue of Metaphysical Primacy.

Note 2.I.C.1: The metaphysical primacy of existence as a fundamental principle is derived from the Objectivist axioms and their hierarchical relationship to each other. The primacy of existence principle is explained and validated in The Issue of Metaphysical Primacy.

Note 2.I.C.2: See The Issue of Metaphysical Primacy.

Note 2.II.B.1: Peikoff points out, "The primacy of existence is not an independent principle. It is an elaboration, a further corollary, of the basic axioms. Existence precedes consciousness, because consciousness is consciousness of an object. Nor can consciousness create or suspend the laws governing its objects, because every entity is something [i.e., A is A] and acts accordingly. Consciousness, therefore, is only a faculty of awareness. It is the power to grasp, to find out, to discover that which is. It is not a power to alter or control the nature of its objects." (Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, p. 19.) The primacy of existence is implicitly assumed every time one asserts a truth claim about reality. See my articles How the Theist Checkmates Himself and A Lesson on the Issue of Metaphysical Primacy.

Note 2.II.B.2: The fundamental axiom of Objectivism is: Existence exists. The fact that existence exists is perceptually self-evident, and is the foundation and starting point of all certainty. It must be assumed even if one intends to question it, dispute it or reject it. To be conscious is to be conscious of something, i.e., of existence. For man, to be conscious entails the implicit recognition that existence exists. For some relevant discussion of this axiom, see the following posts in The Tindrbox Files:

Post 49: Existence Exists Absolutely
Post 50: Re: Response to Tindrbox
Post 51: Existence Still Exists
Post 71: Checkmate
Post 75: Public Response to BKNewton, Pt. I*

*This last post contains my first trial at forming the Argument from the Fact of Existence. I hope my readers will agree that this argument has come a long way.

See also Letter 7: Correcting Common Errors from my Letters to a Young Atheologist to see why the question "why is there something rather than nothing?" (which essentially asks "why does existence exist?") is invalid.

Copyright by Anton Thorn 2001. All rights reserved.

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