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  2. Shadow Banking

    Shadow banking is a topic I haven't heard discussed much, if at all, by Objectivists. Maybe I don't read enough Objectivist blogs or forums or listen to enough Objectivist podcasts. Anyway, I used the search function on this site and entered "shadow banking" but got no results. In a nutshell, there supposedly exists a vast "shadow banking system" that is mostly untouched by regulators. Investopedia defines it as follows: Then there's this from Investing Answers: And it goes on like this wherever you search on the subject. Every supposedly legitimate source treats this so-called "shadow banking system" that is allegedly shielded from regulations as a reality. Economist Paul McCulley is credited with coining the term in 2007, but supposedly this system has existed for decades without being threatened by lawmakers in any meaningful way. As the story goes, the shadow banking system played an important part in causing, or least exacerbating, the 2008 financial crisis. Wikipedia puts it thus: And: Variations on this narrative have been repeated by politicians, regulators and news analysts ever since the crisis, but it wasn't until a few years ago that the term "shadow banking" started to become mainstream (at least, that has been my observation). The term connotes a sinister conspiracy, and yet analysts and politicians in the know have apparently been well aware of these practices for a long time, going back to well before the subprime crisis. Leftist politicians like Bernie Sanders decry the SBS, but they don't actually do anything to regulate it in any meaningful way. Supposedly even Dodd-Frank did very little to address SBS practices. I have heard Objectivists argue that it's ridiculous to say the financial crisis was caused by lack of regulations, after all there were a ton of banking regulations in effect and basically it was the government's fault for creating a moral hazard after decades of repeated bank bailouts that only encouraged more risky lending. While these are reasonable arguments, they don't directly address the allegations that investment banks, at least prior to the meltdown, were not as heavily regulated as traditional depository banks, and so they were able to conceal their activities in the SBS until everything imploded (this is a deliberate oversimplification of the allegations, I am not heavily versed in lending jargon). Now, I'm sure that politicians and the media have exaggerated at least some facts about SBS practices, and probably have exaggerated the size and scope of the SBS, all in order to make the public scared of a rogue banking system that could easily run wild and cause a repeat of 2008. Nevertheless, I'm very interested to know just exactly how true their claims are. Is all of it B.S., or just some of it?
  3. Today
  4. The excellent Captain Awkward, in reply to someone dumped when she thought an engagement might be in the offing, gives her advice on recovering and on how to maintain poise in the meantime. This comes with the following memorable passage on dealing with what I think of as "emotional lag": Image courtesy of Pixabay.It's okay to still be in love. Love is -- as this hideous wedding-cake topper excruciatingly reminds us -- patient, it is kind, it believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. So there you are, all shaggy and embarrassing bounding toward your person wagging your tail and doing that adorable thing you do where you pretend that you're not going to hand over the ball you're carrying in your mouth and your person doesn't even want your stupid ball and then the leash of reality yanks you back. That part of you is the purest and best and truest part of you, and you can't really turn it off. It's just going to love for a while. I say this because it's really fucking frustrating to try to talk yourself out of having a feeling or beat yourself up for having a feeling at the same time you're having the feeling. So just have the feeling. Just be the Golden Retriever of Love. You're not stupid for feeling it, you're not a bad person, you didn't do anything wrong. You just feel what you feel, and you'll feel until one day you stop, and you can't decide when that is, so don't even try. [bold in original]This is an excellent illustration of the nature of emotions, as identified by Ayn Rand: Your subconscious is like a computer -- more complex a computer than men can build -- and its main function is the integration of your ideas. Who programs it? Your conscious mind. If you default, if you don't reach any firm convictions, your subconscious is programmed by chance -- and you deliver yourself into the power of ideas you do not know you have accepted. But one way or the other, your computer gives you print-outs, daily and hourly, in the form of emotions -- which are lightning-like estimates of the things around you, calculated according to your values. [bold added]In abstract terms, the letter-writer, who was mistaken about the man she loved, valued him highly and had woven him into her life and hopes. This happened over time, and correcting the mistake will also take time. The resulting emotions will take time to catch up with the intellect, simply by the nature of how they work: Lots of subconscious associations are still there to be altered or supplanted by new ones. I note this not as some attempt to improve on Captain Awkward's advice to her writer. She said exactly the right thing, and in just the right way. Rather, I go to the level of the abstract because it can help show the advice to be more generally applicable. False hopes of marriage are hardly the only way to meet visceral, disorienting levels of emotional pain, and it can be comforting to know this. Why? Because the mechanism of recovery will be the same. One can do similar types of things to aid that recovery. And one can know that despite an unpredictable time course, there can be certainty of a recovery. -- CAV Link to Original
  5. Standard of Value - Life, Posterity, Legacy

    Now that the meaning is sorted out, I have a question: what are the implications of the distinction? Is it possible that what is good -- in principle and always -- for each and every individual, is actually not good for me? If yes, could you provide an example. If not, are there additional things that are good for me, but not always good for each and every individual? I doubt this is possible as long as one expresses the latter abstractly enough, like "take the specific medicine related to your specific disease" , or even something more abstract like "take appropriate medicine when appropriate" For additional clarity, it might help to focus on some sub-set of human endeavor: say car maintenance. Is it possible that "good car maintenance" is at odds with "the maintenance that my particular car -- with all its idiosyncrasies -- needs"?
  6. Yesterday
  7. Thank you, SoftwareNerd. And to dream-weaver for raising this issue to an abstractive and metaphysical level. My meaning is that one HAS one's own standards and values his life - but one cannot BE one's own "standard of value". This is an epistemological impossibility, I believe. It effectively states: whatever I choose must be of value because I am my measure of value. As I say, I find that non-objective. For what really counts though, what did Rand mean? ""That which is required for the survival of man qua man" is an abstract principle that applies to every individual man". And: "...by the standard of that which is proper to man..." These and other passages, I think indisputably, explain Rand's application of "the standard of value" to "man's life" -- in the abstract. While one's own life is one's supreme value, the gauge by which to evaluate one's choices and actions is what "is proper to man's life". Not in the concrete 'other men's lives' - for those suspecting altruism! And this is not simple physical "survival", Objectivists know. The context of one's individual life has to be conceptually connected to that high principle, man's life. The abstraction needs plenty of unpacking. Going back to her core statement on O'ist ethics, if it's read carefully, Rand specified "man's life", as the standard of value -- and then she directly and distinctly goes on to address the individual "and *his own life*" in the latter part of the statement. I don't know how she could be clearer. "Man's life", I think acknowledges implicitly the identity of man's consciousness: reasoning, volitional and autonomous - and explicitly, the objective value of existence - from which one can derive "the end in himself", who is every man, and 'the end in itself", which his is life. My thinking is that grounding rational egoism in the objective nature of "man" and that which is "proper" to man, and in the supreme value an individual (owning the ~capacity~ to value, and being the ~source~ of value) places in his life, is precisely what makes this ethics a radical departure from all other forms of "ethical egoism" (as it's generally called). For this morality has objective standards and an objective justification, based in reality, as Rand shows. Conversely, in the several dismissive accounts we see leveled against egoism, critics often avoid metaphysics and "identity", demean "value", and consider the ethics to be an arbitrary selection by the 'immorally selfish' and predatory.
  8. Truth

    That definition can work but any valid definition of truth will be rejected by someone who is irrational. In other words, the OP would be correct to say that "it is impossible to define accurately" to someone who is irrational. Truth is the recognition of reality; reason, man’s only means of knowledge, is his only standard of truth.
  9. You should choose to live

    I was expecting someone to ask "What about a life that is in fact not worth living?" I believe I saw a lecture by Journo from ARI where he seemed to emphasize that well-being was the focus and not just life. It is simpler to apply the idea that "my well-being" is the goal, rather than simply "my existing". One has a more motivational effect than the other. But from a broad view, the fundamental choice is to exist or not to. Non-existence is a concept that can't be experienced. It is only a concept. A person who wants to commit suicide is after "relief", from pain, looking for a sleep that has no dreaming involved. I doubt if anyone would choose a purposeless absence of pleasure. Wouldn't that be immoral?
  10. Image courtesy of Pixabay.Conservative Andrew Klavan makes some astute observations about what he calls the "surreal blessings of Donald Trump." Although I think Klavan errs in seeing conservatism as a viable alternative to leftism, I think he is right to note the following items of cultural good news resulting from the Trump presidency. First, the rabid hatred of Trump coming from the left is causing many decent people to start questioning the opinions they had been defaulting to thanks to the cultural dominance of the left: [T]he riots, the seething Facebook posts and, of course, the slavering fake news of the mainstream media -- has revealed the left's true, nasty and oppressive nature to the liberal middle. YouTube suddenly abounds with stories of "red pill" moments in which liberals, experiencing the wickedness of the left, suddenly realized that conservatives are now actually the liberal ones. I think this is the beginning of a groundswell that will have a profound and beneficial effect on the culture... [link in original]A bit later on (and somewhat contradictory to his next two paragraphs), Klavan notes something even more interesting: ... Trump has so divided conservatives that we are now arguing fervently among ourselves -- that is, we're not just crushing idiot leftists, we're actually engaging with other smart conservatives over essential differences! I have hopes that these arguments will lead to a new, stronger and more modern conservatism. Trump blew every candidate away in the primaries. That alone should tell us that the Republican Party needs reform, and it ought to begin with a reformed conservatism, a conservatism that can win. [bold added]I don't completely agree with this: I'd say Trump has made fault lines within the conservative movement more evident. I strongly agree that those differences urgently demand not just acknowledgement, but exploration. Perhaps Donald Trump hasn't merely -- by single-handedly making himself their presidential nominee -- shown the GOP to be pushovers. Perhaps this revelation and others that have come up during his young presidency will also help people see the need for a better alternative to the left than Trump, the GOP, or the conservative movement can offer. -- CAV Link to Original
  11. Last week
  12. False concept

    Nothingness is like zero, the end result of the process of repeated subtraction. Start with something, such as money, and spend it on necessities and frivolities without corresponding income. Eventually the sum dwindles to very little and then no money at all. Generalizing the idea of "no money" and "no cattle" and "no girlfriend" to "no thing" gets you to the idea of nothing. Reifiying "nothing" is an error because it treats "nothing" as a primary that has a direct correspondence with something rather than an idea derived from a process based on collections of actual existing concretes. There must be light before there can be darkness, presence before absence, and something before nothing. "John Galt" has the conceptual status of a man you've never met. In fact most people that actually exist you will never meet. That is the space where fiction writers work, making up more people that you will never meet. This last bit about triangles, this depends on how much you know and how seriously you take geometry as a method of thinking. Triangular things exist, but triangles do not exist. There is no distinction between a triangle and a perfect triangle; either a three sided figure is a triangle or it is not. All triangles are equally perfect in the eyes of Euclid because they all only exist on the imaginary flat Euclidean plane where nothing can interfere with their perfection. Geometry is all concepts of method.
  13. False concept

    I understand it for many of the cases I see but not for the word "nothing" or "nothingness". I don't think one can eventually reduce that to a concrete. I was also wondering about artistic concepts. LIke "John Galt" for instance. That is a concept that we are familiar and use all the time. I suppose we can make the case the abstraction is regarding a man, and man has concrete examples. I was in a discussion group where I was told that the "perfect triangle" does not exist. But because the concrete "triangle" exists, I can see that this abstraction can be an abstraction of another abstraction.
  14. Over at his blog, Grasping Reality With Both Hands, Bradford DeLong considers what it would take to emulate the latest iPhone with technology available in 1957. I'm inclined to agree with the commenter who thinks doing so at speed would have been impossible, but I think what DeLong comes up with is well worth considering: Image courtesy of Unsplash.The transistors in an iPhoneX would, back in the late 1950s, implemented in vacuum tubes, have: cost 150 trillion of today's dollars, which is: one and a half times today's global annual product, more than seven times today's U.S. annual national product forty times 1957's U.S. national product fourteen times 1957's global annual product taken up 100 billion square meters of floor space that is (with a three-meter ceiling height per floor): a hundred-story square building 300 meters high, and 3 kilometers long and wide drawn 150 terawatts of power -- 30 times the world's current generating capacity the world produces 50,000 TWh/year -- that is: 5 TWh/hour = 5 TW of capacity (cf.: the 50,000 vacuum tubes of the "AN/FSQ-7 computer https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AN/FSQ-7_Combat_Direction_Central... occupied 0.5 acres (2,000 m2) of floor space, weighed 275 tons, and used up to three megawatts of power..." http://www.historyofinformation.com/expanded.php?id=964) [minor edits]This reminds me a little of a similar comparison, between the amount of hardware electronic data storage required that I mentioned here a few years ago: In fifty years, the weight of the hardware needed to store 8 GB of data had decreased by a factor of 134 million. (And that figure, I am sure, is giving a pass for how quickly one could access said data.) Such comparisons can serve two apparently contradictory purposes. On the one hand, no matter how clumsily they do so, they help concretize otherwise very abstract kinds of technological progress. (See also photos at my old post.) And on the other, they help us imagine the full meaning of Frédéric Bastiat's parable of the broken window. I am far from finding fault with that simple example. However, it does fail to convey just how disastrous government "planning" and plunder can be, as when thought, effort, and property that could go towards the next near-miracle of innovation are, instead, squandered on the alleged needs of others today. -- CAV Link to Original
  15. Standard of Value - Life, Posterity, Legacy

    I don't think WhyNOT is talking about Mankind's life though. Perhaps he'll clarify.
  16. False concept

    These are categorized as concepts of consciousness as described in Rand's Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology chapter 4. These in particular are concepts of method, and mathematics as a whole is a collection of concepts of method. Concepts formed from other concepts don't have direct concrete correspondences, but they are reducible to concretes through the concepts from which they were derived. From ITOE 2nd ed starting page 35
  17. False concept

    I have a question about certain types of concepts that must have a category but I don't see it. I have seen "floating concept", "false concept", "anti-concept" but there is a type of concept that is useful yet does not exist, not real, like infinity, omniscience, infallibility, omnipotence, nothing, zero, an imaginary number. Where do concepts like these belong? They are valid in a sense yet there is no concrete that corresponds to them. I was going to add selfless but it does not fit. selfless (this is in a different category as it is a contradiction but useful to some people)
  18. Standard of Value - Life, Posterity, Legacy

    Apply the law of identity. It is man's life, that is being identified. The identity for a class is the same across the board. "There is a morality of reason, a morality proper to man, and Man's Life is its standard of value."1 Morality is about what is proper to man to live. Any man in particular, all men in general, either of his own identification of the moral tenants, or via those who make life possible, even to those who may default on their responsibility. "All that which is proper to the life of a rational being is the good; all that which destroys it is the evil."1 Again, the good and evil are assessed as being proper to the life of any particular rational being, or all rational beings in general. "Man's life, as required by his nature, is not the life of a mindless brute, of a looting thug or a mooching mystic, but the life of a thinking being—not life by means of force or fraud, but life by means of achievement—not survival at any price, since there's only one price that pays for man's survival: reason."1 Reason is the one price that pays for man's survival, whether paid for by the particular man, or by some other man at large. "Man's life is the standard of morality, but your own life is its purpose."1 The standard of morality is identified by the nature or identity of the general type or class, while the purposes are chosen by the individual particulars. So if any particular individual has an allergy to seafood, just as any general individual may have such an allergy, in general, those individuals should avoid seafood as part of their particular diets. 1. Atlas Shrugged, pg. 932; For The New Intellectual, pg. 122; Philosophy" Who Needs It?, pg. 74.
  19. Standard of Value - Life, Posterity, Legacy

    I'm sorry but this seems nonsensical and prone to context dropping. Surely a man's moral standard cannot be Man's life, as in Mankind's life, that isn't practicable or even possible even if one could make sense of it. Certainly understanding general principles of human exercise and diet etc are useful in determining right and wrong from the standpoint of activity and eating but only as a rough first approximation. One must act in the context of ones own particular life but one's own person, taking his joint condition or seafood allergies into account to determine what is beneficial to his life and what is inimical to it.
  20. Uh, no. Please re-read "Yours is the ultimate value", and rethink your claim of altruism. Then take another look in VoS, from: "The Objectivist ethics holds man's life as the ~standard~ of value -- and ~his own life~ as the ethical ~purpose~ of every individual man". Do you see the distinction? Don't you think that this most precise writer in the English language, would have instead phrased that: "... holds *a* man's life as..." if she meant that each and every man, the individual, is his own standard of value? But she did not. You will notice she goes on to painstakingly define "standard" - i.e. "an abstract principle", "a gauge" - as well as "purpose" - leading up to: "Man must choose his actions, values and goals, by the standard of that which is proper to man--in order to achieve, maintain, fulfill and enjoy that ultimate value...which is his own life". Thus, the abstraction "man's life qua man" is the standard of value for each individual. "By the standard of that which is proper to man" - yes? That then is an *objective* standard, the alternate rendition is self-referencing, circular and subjective. edit: at best, non-objective.
  21. Standard of Value - Life, Posterity, Legacy

    I assume WhyNOT means it, just not in the sense you think. Perhaps he'll clarify with an example.
  22. You don't mean this. I would expect someone who believes in altruism to say that. It sounds like "everyone's life is important, don't think yours is".
  23. I must dispute this, as I think there's an important distinction. "Man's life is the standard of value" - not one's own. You can't be your own "standard", in short. Yours is your ultimate value. "Man's life" is an abstraction; one's own, the concrete.
  24. What Is Subjectivism?

    I would appreciate more examples. I thought an example of subjectivism is a someone who says, you have your reality and I have mine. That we can disagree because there is no one reality. And therefore that there are many truths, not just one.
  25. With objectivity, we give our self the best chance of knowing the absolute truth. One cannot delve deep into every area of reality. Some things are and will be accepted at face value by each one of us. Even if we are committed to being objective, we have to stop delving and confirming at some point. When one is committing to being objective and open to examining every area, it is finite, within reason. Many things are accepted uncritically. We can't know everything to the point of infallibility. We won't put much effort in certain areas but walk away with superficial facts. It is, in fact, the best choice. You can't read every book in the library. You have to live with some of your cursory assumptions in certain areas. With objectivity, we only give our self the best chance of obtaining the truth. But the knowledge we have is limited, fallible. Which means it is different from absolute reality. Which means it is different from each other.
  26. It's crucial to keep in mind that Rand's conception of life as the ultimate end is not a "thin" conception of life as just bare bones survival. It is her formulation ("man qua man") of the Greek conception of living a truly flourishing and self-perfected life. To make the most of your life, in short. To have such a full or "thick" conception of flourishing life may well include concern for posterity and leaving a legacy. Maybe even at the expense of, say, less important values to you, such as certain aspects of physical health. For example, in the movie The Wrestler, the main character pursued his happiness through his chosen career field and even though he had numerous health concerns such as a blown out knee or bad back, he thought it all worth it at the end and wouldn't have taken any of it back (except, tragically, to focus more on his family, etc.) For others, such a career field would be nonsense. The thing about living a fully expressed life of value pursuit is that it can't include a laundry list of values. It's not "X, Y, Z are henceforce decalre Official Objective Values!" Values are agent-relative and specific to your life and context. Of course there are generalized values such as reason, purpose, self-esteem, and food, shelter, relationships, etc. abstracted from general aspects of human nature, but there is no definitive list of ALL "official objective values." Rand's egoism is an individualist egoism. So things like posterity and so for certainly can be values to you, but must be integrated into the totality of living a self-perfected life. It wouldn't make sense to sacrifice your life, or your other needs and interests for one value. (For example, when Mickey Rourkes character pursued his career to the detriment of personal relationships and later regretted it.) The Greeks had a conception of the "unity of virtue" that you couldn't fully have all the virtues of you were deficient in one virtue. Life will of course involve making trade-offs, but the point is to develop an all around well being within the context of your life.
  27. If you are referring to her fundamental philosophical views, she didn't modify them. If you are talking about non-essentials, it doesn't matter. I'm not interesed in her personal decisions or tastes. I'm only interested in her philosophy. If one agrees 100% with her philosophy they cannot also disagree with anything that philosophy teaches. I believe that includes whenever she was speaking as a philosopher and expressing her views. I disagree with many things Rand said as a philosopher. I'm not an Objectivist (or any other kind of, "-ist." Ironically, I usually side with Rand against those who call themselves Objectivists but contradict what she wrote. That's my view. It doesn't have to be yours. Randy
  28. In the introduction to "The Romantic Manifesto" Rand does say: “Anyone who fights for the future, lives in it today.” But what if you can live Posterity now?
  29. Why Objectivism is so unpopular

    Mostly it's feel good emptiness. Nothing like a philosophical serious approach.
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