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  2. Yes. Aesthetics properly includes the study of how aesthetic experiences are at all possible in the first place. And aesthetic experiences can apply to all experiences. As a demonstration, many have probably heard of synesthesia. I tend to believe that synesthesia should be subsumed under the broader concept ideasthesia. If you were asked to name the two figures below either 'Bouba' or 'Kiki', we would probably all name them the same way. This is a fascinating example of the cross-modal blending of senses and concepts, and this cognitive capacity lies at the root of aesthetic experiences. It includes visual, tactile, kinesthesia, audio - even how words are formed by the lips, etc. The sounds 'Ki" and 'Bou' are 'sharp' and 'rounded' respectively.
  3. Today
  4. Now I can't shake the images of the athletes/r.s. tv actors 'dancing' on the field/tv screen.
  5. Four Things 1. If you want to see the solar eclipse -- but avoid the hurricane evacuation-like commute -- fly Southwest:At the moment, Southwest hasn't created more flights for the sole purpose of viewing the eclipse, but perhaps if there's a market for it, they'll find a way to make it happen.Brilliant marketing idea. Since the article lists only five flights, I hope they can follow the above suggestion. 2. Of all things, there's a battle royale over control of Snopes:On Monday, the editorial staff of Snopes.com wrote a short plea for help. The post said that the site needed money to fund its operations because another company that Snopes had contracted with "continues to essentially hold the Snopes.com web site hostage." "Our legal team is fighting hard for us, but, having been cut off from all revenue, we are facing the prospect of having no financial means to continue operating the site and paying our staff (not to mention covering our legal fees) in the meanwhile," the note continued. [link omitted]If you value having a ready-made salvo of facts and common sense at your disposal whenever the credulous, the misinformed, or the young come a-knocking, you might consider donating. 3. Quote of the Week:When Did It Become offensive to expect people to earn? -- Yaron BrookThe full context comes from a video segment of a Q&A on Equal Is Unfair that was blogged by PJ Media. This comes in answer to a question, "Don't Western companies hurt poor workers in developing nations by paying them too little?" raised by someone who, from the looks of it, doesn't really give a damn about the answer. That's okay, because almost anyone else who hears this will learn something. Watch it for catharsis, sure. But also keep it in mind when someone who really does wonder about that issue asks a similar question. (via HBL) 4. Carrie-Ann Biondi, a philosophy professor, has written one of the most benevolent pieces about Ayn Rand I have ever seen in popular media. She starts by asking, "Mocked by philosophers, adored by readers -- what is the enduring allure of Ayn Rand?" And she finishes as follows:Whether one agrees with Rand's provocative views or not, it's valuable for philosophers to take them seriously and study them carefully. Her theory provides a systematic alternative to other schools of thought and challenges the academy's conventional wisdom to keep us on our intellectual toes. She reframes traditional philosophical questions in ways that cut through what she considers to be false dichotomies: mind/body, reason/emotion, moral/practical, duty/utility, intrinsic/subjective, nature/nurture. This leaves conceptual space to offer and defend a "third way" on a range of significant philosophical issues. Rand offers Objectivism as a philosophy for living, not just contemplating, not just existing and getting by. We have minds equipped to deal with the world, a world where we can be efficacious. So long as there are individuals committed to their own happiness, voluntary cooperation, reaching for the best within themselves, and creating the social and political institutions needed for achieving these values in a free and responsible way, Rand's work will continue to speak to countless numbers of people in all walks of life. But don't take my -- or anyone else's -- word for it. Exercise the virtue of independence and read Rand's work for yourself. You'll see firsthand what the enduring appeal is all about.This isn't even the most enjoyable part, but I like the general overview. (via Randex) -- CAV Link to Original
  6. To make my point short, I have to say that each of us has one brain, not two or three. And each brain does one and only one thing: it thinks. It thinks in whatever form: whether of understanding, judging, or whatever. Each of these ways of thinking doesn't justify having different brains or different subparts of brains that answer to these functions. I believe that neurological evidence shows that our brain employs more complex nonlinear phenomena than if it had separate functions à la Kant.
  7. Don't want to take the discussion away from sport, but Reality TV might be more Romanticism than many other average TV shows. If you take someones real life, and select only those times when they are consciously pursuing some value, or trying to deal with some situation/problem that has arisen, then you see people as volitional actors...not as pawns of reality. This aspect: humans as volitional beings, is the crucial razor in Rand's concept of Romanticism. Reality TV puts this on steroids. Even if we might pooh-pooh the particular values being pursued, we are seeing volitional beings pursuing values. Not always, and not all the "actors"... but that variety of good and bad is also an element of good drama. I suspect that is why reality-TV is so popular: because it is a sneak Romanticism genre that upended more boring manufactured narratives. Rather than art, I would relate it to dance. Here's Rand, on dance, which Rand says "... presents a stylized version of man's body in action". Rand ("Romantic Manifesto, Ch-4, Art and Cognition): "Every strong emotion has a kinesthetic element, experienced as an impulse to leap or cringe or stamp one's foot, etc. Just as a man's sense of life is part of all his emotions, so it is part of all his movements and determines his manner of using his body: his posture, his gestures, his way of walking, etc. We can observe a different sense of life in a man who characteristically stands straight, walks fast, gestures decisively—and in a man who characteristically slumps, shuffles heavily, gestures limply. This particular element—the overall manner of moving-constitutes the material, the special province of the dance. The dance stylizes it into a system of motion expressing a metaphysical view of man." Sport is pretty similar. Traditionally it has been male and could be thought of as symbolic physical battles, reenacting the essence of an aspect of physically-manifested heroism that was an important value for centuries. While retaining that element, some forms -- like beach volleyball -- stress human beauty too. And, as one gets to Gymnastics or Synchronized Swimming or could even debate if those are on the borderline between the two sub-genres of art: sport and dance.
  8. I think art is better because it's a product of the mind. While sport has a strategic element, it's mostly genetically gifted specimens flexing physical abilities—that has a place, but it's below art.
  9. I suspect that some of the ambivalence I'm detecting in this thread comes from Rand's seeming equation of aesthetics (or esthetics) with art: "The fifth and last branch of philosophy is esthetics, the study of art..." I don't believe that sports can be properly considered "art," but they certainly have aesthetic value. A wider conception of aesthetics which encompasses more than art (including design, photography, "natural" beauty, etc.) allows for sports to be considered in this light without having to stretch the definition of art to meet it. I enjoy both art and sports in their turn and I feel no reason to make apology for either; to answer the question posed in the thread's title, neither art is better than sports nor sports better than art, as such, but they can be better or worse than one another in specific context, for a specific purpose. There's a time for da Vinci and a time for LeBron. They both have value to offer.
  10. The initial reaction to reality TV is that it would be naturalism rather than romanticism, save for what editing and selective influences go on behind the scenes to what does finally get presented as the final product. Sports may be a little more cut and dried. The selective recreation of reality comes from the rules of the game, and the training of the athletes to hone their skills. Yet, all the games of baseball, football, hockey, or soccer, etc., would be akin to going to the art gallery to just gaze at all the landscape paintings (baseball), or all of the bowl of fruit paintings (football), or if you insist on smears of paint on canvas that may titillate the senses with a cacophony of colors and arbitrary shapes perusing the abstract gallery (hockey). — (parenthetical groupings are not intended to imply correlation, rather just along an axis of categorical similarity.) The merit may be in looking for the aesthetic value within the seeing the competence of the artisans at their trade, but does this warrant the logical leap to identifying sport as art? Where would the contradiction be that would arise from not accepting sport as art?
  11. Yesterday
  12. I've been a bit busy and haven't had much time for thinking. Will respond when I have thoughts worth sharing.
  13. Look Szalapski, I get that you might be in that quite awkward stage, one in which you have grasped and KNOW something, can see the truth of something and yet some part of you rejects it, and you feel like you cannot accept it... it is very difficult, and I acknowledge that. Believe me, given the cultural, societal, and religious norms children are subjected to in our society over the past century, almost EVERYONE on this board was there at one point in time. (Sons and daughters of Objectivists excluded...) Using your reason, you will see and understand some things for quite a long time before you will fully accept it emotionally. Keep an open mind. It happened to most of us.
  14. [Crickets chirping] Any response Kaladin? I am very curious about what you think.
  15. Give me an example of moderating the message. Pretend I'm one of those half rational half altruistic pragmatists and you want to persuade me of the virtue of selfishness. What would you say to me? I'll start the dialogue: me: Why should I be selfish in principle? Won't this hurt others?
  16. A few more questions to add: What is philosophy? Why would anyone want to adopt a philosophy? Do you believe philosophy is some sort of "social" endeavor rather than a completely personal affair?
  17. I can't tell if you are 1) suggesting a method of persuasion, or if you are 2) suggesting abandoning principles, or if you are 3) proposing convincing people to use one moral code while you use another. 1 isn't a matter of the facts per se. That's not a criticism of the philosophy, only the particular methods some people use to persuade. 2 would not be actually superior or lead anywhere good. The system I'd get isn't one I'd like in the first place. If I'm as right as I think I am, watering down my beliefs isn't going to help me reach my goal. But if you mean going slow and convincing people one small idea at a time in terms they are able to understand, that's not turning moderate. 3 is saying that some people lack any potential to become their best, so you resign yourself to say some people are too stupid to "get it". For them, reason is impotent. If you truly thought that, well, you would think Objectivism is fundamentally wrong about human nature. That's rejecting Objectivism, not turning moderate.
  18. Regarding the claim that 20% of Objectivism be removed, wouldn't that completely gut Objectivism if carried out consistently? For example, if Objectivism made some allowance for forcible taxation in order to help the poor, we would have to give up the non-initiation of force principle and the trader principle. Further, the non-initiation of force principle and the trader principle are based on the Objectivist ethics, so we would have to give up the Objectivist ethics. Rand regarded Objectivism as an integrated system. It is not a bunch of independent parts with no connection to each other that you can freely tinker with.
  19. Well now there is nothing to buy... here. Morality according to any philosophy has some standard (even if its irrational or subjective) which one uses within that philosophy to determine whether an action is moral or not. If your question is about "the good", "right" and "wrong", "ethics", i.e. morality according to Objectivism, then you must remember that according to that philosophy, "life" (in a full robust flourishing sense) of the individual actor is the standard of morality. The moral actor is the proper beneficiary of his adopted code. IF you reject that standard, that would be one thing, that would be asserting Objectivist ethics is simply wrong. IF you are talking about what is "immoral" according to Objectivism, it is not possible for you not to "buy" that according to Objectivism self-DESCTRUCTIVE actions are "by definition" immoral. Unless, that is, you have a different meaning for "self" and/or "destructive". This is absolutely central to Objectivist ethics. As you can gauge from the discussion so far determining just what IS self-destructive in the context of the particular person and situation can be complicated and nuanced. Do not be tempted to make ethical judgment without a lot of thought, over simplification leads to error. e.g. it is morally good to take water into your system when you are thirsty, it would be morally wrong for you to do so, if you are in the process of drowning in a lake reaching for a life preserver... "drinking water" as such is neither universally "good" nor universally "bad" I get a nice psychological reward, mental and spiritual (pertaining to the mind) fuel when I eat a donut one in a while, in my context it IS morally good to my flourishing, which is why I do it. Eating 1000 donuts a week... in my context would surely be disastrous.
  20. "By definition" is not quite how I would phrase what I'm trying to convey... but continued pondering can only be for the good. I look forward to your further questions and arguments. While you ponder, I would suggest/request that you look seriously at the roots of our discussion. When we're discussing morality, what are we talking about? What is morality or ethics? I would argue that it is a guide to action. We are attempting to discern what choices we should make, what actions we should perform, in a variety of circumstances. (Or abstracted principles such that we can determine what choice to make, what action to perform, in some fresh circumstance via application.) Well, okay (if you agree). But why? To what possible end? Why should you or I or anyone else care what choices we make? What's the point to it all?
  21. Are you suggesting that there are no absolutes? As for the concept of individuals taking responsibility for their own lives, I suppose that couldn't possibly be taken seriously? Don't you suppose it's the responsibility of the individual as to whether or not they choose to poison themselves with heroin or meth? But again, these are straw-men and the real problem is how to convince others as to just what is meant by rational self-interest. Fifty years ago, people would never have taken you seriously if you advocated homosexual marriages or an African-American president.
  22. So self-destructive actions are by definition immoral, not because of some other philosophical principle? I will ponder that; not sure if I can buy it.
  23. A headline at Hacker News, "How Is Your Standing Desk Working for You?" has reminded me that I've been using a standing desk in my home office for a little over a year. At the end of a product review for the newly-assembled desk, I gave my initial impression: As for standing while writing? It's okay. So far, my ankles like it about as much as my posterior likes sitting, but I am just starting the experiment.That has held up, and throughout this time, I have used my standing desk much like others in the thread who alternate between sitting and standing, and probably most closely to one person who threw in reclining. I don't recline, but do I have a reading chair in my office, which affords a third working position. Throughout the day, I find that I alternate among:Sitting to work on my desktop at my original desk, a roll-top; Standing to work with my laptop on the standing desk, which is right behind where I sit for the desktop; and Sitting in my reading chair to read or work with the laptop. I've outfitted both computers with the same software (with one exception) and use Dropbox for active projects, so switching is painless. (The exception is that only the desktop has VMWare, which means that if I have to "do Windows," I have to sit -- or kneel, when that gets uncomfortable -- but I very rarely have to use anything like Word long enough that I need to change anything.) I am satisfied overall with switching around, and it fits well with the twenty-five minutes of work/five minutes of rest routine I typically use. Probably the biggest drawback is space. Should we move, I may have to get rid of a desk, but I think a stool alongside the standing desk would likely work for that, based on how I work when I go to a Starbucks with bar stools. -- CAV Link to Original
  24. I guess they're a bit like reality TV stars in some sense (to the extent we take reality TV at face value, and if we consider the "positive" genres like "Shark Tank" or perhaps even "Bachelorette"). In the sense that, at some level, for the actors themselves, this is not like the typical actor playing a role... it is actually their life. Yet, for the audience, it is art.
  25. I don't think that what we're discussing is much different than how most of us proceed normally through our lives -- and actually, donuts are a fine way of approaching this in at least a basic sense. I don't know about you, but I do eat donuts occasionally. Yet when I do, I don't eat large amounts... and I don't eat them regularly in any event. When I have donuts, why do I stop at one (or perhaps two)? Why not eat the box clean? Well, it has to do with understanding myself, and knowing how I would feel after the initial pleasure of consumption passes. Though I may not always consider them directly and consciously, I'm also aware of potential long-term consequences. In short, I know that if I eat too many donuts, I will suffer for it -- and this suffering will greatly outweigh whatever pleasures the donuts provide. Yet if I were to refrain from eating donuts altogether in the name of "healthy living" or some such, well, that would be a kind of suffering, too. Now, normally I wouldn't think in terms of "morality" when I'm deciding whether to have a donut or not... yet what I'm describing is a process of ethical reasoning, and it depends upon one's value system. This is not fundamentally different from other choices, up to and including theft. As I have said, it is not "irrational self-interest," which -- from an Objectivist point-of-view -- is a contradiction in terms. If you do something that harms your life overall, you have not acted in your self-interest. Because it will lead to your personal suffering. And that's what we (each, with respect to ourselves) should look to avoid. Again: you might need to look past conventional understandings of morality a bit to be able to see what I'm saying. In Objectivism, saying that something is "immoral" is akin to saying that it is self-destructive. The reason why we would say that an action is "unwise" is because it will hurt you in the long run; that is also why we would say that you "should not" do it -- because it will hurt you; and it is accounting to this self-destructive harm that we would describe such a thing as "immoral." When Objectivists discuss morality, what we're looking for is a code of conduct (in very broad strokes, and then also in specific, context-dependent application) that will allow us to live lives that are characterized by health, pleasure, happiness, etc. (i.e. "flourishing") and not sickness, pain and sorrow. That's what we mean when we say that something is moral (it leads to such flourishing) or immoral (it leads away from it).
  26. Both. What we're talking about is still mostly governments. Athenian society and so much of Europe too was absorbed by Rome. And we can argue which naturally transitioned well into Roman society as an improvement, or which collapsed but thankfully the Romans replaced. If you have evidence that stagnating societies are sustainable, show me, but I'm not aware of any. The examples you gave are short range and don't engage the main question: are mixed economies sustainable? History suggest moving towards laissez faire is better than not. Italian societies are great examples of chaos and frequent collapse. Italy was fragmented for centuries with frequent war and political intrigue. It didn't become a country for a long time. Then it turned Fascist. Then it wasn't. It only seems to get any better thanks to the EU and trending to be more capitalist than not. Same with Germany.
  27. Ah then, so you agree that the donut scenario might be immoral. Now we're getting somewhere. If so, and if I were really in this situation, then we could take the next step and identify under what context--which particular scenarios might be immoral. Currently, I am content to leave that as details that could be argued in a different thread. For the rest of this, let us assume I "cross the threshold" and I make the decision to engage in donut-eating to the extent it is immoral, as it harms my life overall. This is, to a degree, an "irrational self-interest" decision on my part. So back to my original question. It is immoral because I am choosing to act in accordance with a lower value over a higher one? This is how Rand defined "sacrifice" and labeled it evil. So, why is it immoral to choose a lower value over a higher one? I think I understand that one shouldn't, that it is unwise, that it is choosing to live with something of a contradiction--but that makes it an immoral act? Why?
  28. I think it's valid to have two concepts (per Rand's Razor that concepts are not to be multiplied beyond necessity): Art and Athletics. But I agree with your point that there are similarities. From the Lexicon entry ART: By a selective re-creation, art isolates and integrates those aspects of reality which represent man’s fundamental view of himself and of existence. Out of the countless number of concretes—of single, disorganized and (seemingly) contradictory attributes, actions and entities—an artist isolates the things which he regards as metaphysically essential and integrates them into a single new concrete that represents an embodied abstraction. For instance, consider two statues of man: one as a Greek god, the other as a deformed medieval monstrosity. Both are metaphysical estimates of man; both are projections of the artist’s view of man’s nature; both are concretized representations of the philosophy of their respective cultures. Watching a great athlete selectively hone certain physical skills to an extraordinary degree - as does a ballet dancer - is something that we can enjoy aesthetically. It's no accident that the Greeks often sculpted athletes.
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