Welcome to Objectivism Online Forum

Welcome to Objectivism Online, a forum for discussing the philosophy of Ayn Rand. For full access, register via Facebook or email.

All Activity

Showing all content.

This stream auto-updates   

  1. Today
  2. Is this your own view, or are you claiming that it is the Objectivist view? Because, to me it seems that the Objectivist view is consistent with JTB. Rand says that "knowledge is the mental grasp of a fact of reality." Which means that it must be true. Consider Peikoff's discussion of "certainty" (from a lecture, per the Lexicon): This discussion, and the last paragraph especially, seems to me to accord with Eiuol's description of "true as far as I know."
  3. The thing about Ayn Rand is that she's a bloody genius. And the people who try to relay her ideas, even when they are intelligent themselves, and sympathetic to her ends, do not tend to reach Rand's level, in my opinion. (I put myself squarely in this camp.) Are there important subtleties lost in Rand's writing, when someone of "lesser skill" (or more shallow understanding) attempts to communicate them? While I have no specific example to point to, such is always my fear. So with Rand, I do counsel "getting it from the horse's mouth." (And as a bonus, Rand is an incredible non-fiction writer.) As to specific recommendations, I can say that I regard The Virtue of Selfishness and ITOE as being Rand's most central and crucial non-fiction works, although ITOE is not where I would first direct someone "new to abstraction." It is possible, if you're really a "beginner," that the best place to start is not with Rand's ideas at all. Someone else recommended studying logic first, which is a good idea. Applied logic, such as Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World or Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson may be fun and informative ways to exercise the muscles you'll need to truly tackle Rand. Above all, what I recommend is: go slowly. Think things through, one step at a time. Take nothing for granted and nothing on authority, and chew, chew, chew.
  4. Three Things 1. The number of our year is prime. To mark the occasion, someone with a mathematical bent came up with a list of fun facts about 2017 titled, "2017 Is Not Just Another Prime Number." Among other things, T.J. Wei notes the following: The prime number before 2017 is 2017+(2-0-1-7), which makes it a sexy prime, and the prime after 2017 is 2017+(2+0+1+7). 2017 itself is of course equal to 2017+(2*0*1*7).All I can add is the following observation regarding the last two digits of the year: In American mm-dd-yy notation, 11-13-17 will be the last date featuring three consecutive primes until February 3, 2105. 2. The bad news is that ransomware attacks are on the upswing. The good news is that there is now a place to turn to for help: t is sometimes possible to help infected users to regain access to their encrypted files or locked systems, without having to pay. We have created a repository of keys and applications that can decrypt data locked by different types of ransomware. See the bottom of the page for a list of decrypted ransomware threats. 3. Permit me a bit of Inauguration Day humor. Let's hope Donald Trump's jawboning -- or ideas on trade and currency -- doesn't ultimately result in any of the old jobs in this gallery making a comeback. A couple would be illegal today, but the rest disappeared due to improved technology. The unseen part of that story is that technology freed up labor for other things and created even more jobs than were eliminated. Similar points can be made regarding free trade. Weekend Reading "Stealth humor is perfect for anyone who is too spineless to criticize openly and stand behind his opinions." -- Michael Hurd, in "Toxic Humor" at The Delaware Wave "There are no morally wrong or 'bad' feelings." -- Michael Hurd, in "To Thine Own Self..." at The Delaware Coast Press -- CAV Link to Original
  5. You can start out with a false premise, and arrive at a true statement, by introducing vagueness. For instance, if your premise is that "all vikings were seven foot tall", from that you can conclude that "all vikings were taller than a rabbit". To me, that's all Gettier seems to have done. He just made the examples a little more complicated. I don't get how that's supposed to disprove the JTB definition of knowledge. The fact that inference isn't equivalence is a pretty obvious property of Logic, and it in no way makes Logic, when used CORRECTLY, invalid.
  6. Is this your own view, or are you claiming that it is the Objectivist view? Because, to me it seems that the Objectivist view is consistent with JTB. Rand says that "knowledge is the mental grasp of a fact of reality." Which means that it must be true.
  7. Rand's stuff is the best, but if you really want to dive deeper, Tara Smith is my favorite. Peikoff is good as far as talking about epistemology and talking about how Objectivism does philosophy, but I don't like him much for the rest.
  8. I honestly wish I could explain more, Eiuol, but the extent of this conversation already pushes at my (admittedly narrow) boundaries. If we were discussing bacteria, which I would stipulate are vastly simpler creatures than man, even there I could only say so much as to how they operate. I don't know where, as we regard creatures great and small, "pleasure" and "pain" can be said to begin. But there are some stimuli which draw and some which repel, of their nature -- or perhaps somewhat more precisely, according to their relationship with our nature. Such is the world as I find it. I know what it is to experience both pleasure and pain, and I can talk about their being "charged" positive and negative (which is a rough, yet apt, analogy), and I can trace their relationship to value, as I am attempting to do in another thread, but I don't know how thoroughly I can describe pleasure and pain in themselves, or how they operate. (In a somewhat similar fashion, I can discuss various things about gravity, in terms of my experience of it, and memorize equations to work out its force, and so forth, but I could not give you a full accounting of how gravity operates). In "The Objectivist Ethics," Rand wrote: Here Rand makes no claim as to how pleasure or pain work, so far as I can tell (either in infancy or adulthood), but she goes on to describe what she takes as their purpose: Well, how does this function in an infant? The infant has no conscious understanding that pleasure indicates that he is pursuing the right course of action; nor that pain means that he is pursuing the wrong course of action. All that the infant is privy to is pleasure and pain itself (in that he experiences them; not even that one is "pleasure" and the other "pain"). So if these physical mechanisms are to do their job as "automatic guardian," then the responses that pleasure and pain generate must be automatic as well: pleasure draws the infant on, pain repels, according to the biological mechanisms that the infant's nature supplies (e.g. crying). Infants do not remain infants. Men can make choices. You can have conscious awareness of alternatives and select from among them. But this is an ability that an infant does not possess. Consider that dogs, as infants, experience pleasure and pain -- and that pleasure and pain work as "automatic guardians" of the dog's life, just as with the infant. Yet an adult dog does not have the kind of volition that an adult human does, and therein lies the difference. But even so, as we trace back to earlier stages of man's development, to adolescence, to childhood, to infancy, to fetal stages and embryonic, we find states of Homo sapiens that do not have the same ability as an adult human. I agree that focus is where "choice" starts, and cognition, and volition, yet even so an infant is limited. (I couldn't tell you what all is involved in "the choice to focus," which remains to me one of the most occult of Objectivist ideas; yet I fully anticipate that it's not some light switch that is thrown on some day of prenatal development, or at birth. I expect that learning how to focus is an ability that the infant develops over time.) But again, there's no "choice to live" hidden here, waiting to be unearthed. I may as well say that there's also a "choice to eat Big Macs" entailed in the "choice to focus." If you were to object that an infant doesn't even have a conception of what a "Big Mac" is, so how is he meant to "choose" it, I would be forced to agree... but then, neither does an infant have any conception of what "life" is. You cannot choose that which you cannot conceive.
  9. Basically, knowledge should be seen as a means of seeking the truth about reality. So, it must be based on what an agent is able to do. I don't see -why- knowledge must be true to really be knowledge. Truth is a fine concept for something being true. "It is true as far as I know" is plenty fine to think about knowledge. It makes the focus of knowledge finding truth as opposed to having truth. I hope that makes more sense. If not, well, this is a similar idea: http://www.iep.utm.edu/virtueep/
  10. I would stay away from OPAR if what you want to study is Rand's Objectivism rather than Peikoff's. The best you can get from Rand's Objectivism is ITOE and Galt's speech. My problem with Peikoff is that he's a closeted rationalist (and a really bad one to boot), and I don't make that accusation lightly.
  11. Actually, I explicitly assume that knowledge must be true to qualify as knowledge. I don't understand the rest of your post at all.
  12. Sure, that is true, but it's not related to what the agent knows or their beliefs. You seem to implicitly assume knowledge must be -true-? Anyway, it's still a Gettier problem, albeit holding a true belief without knowing it is true. We can know if a belief is true, only we you qualify it as "the agent's context and the agent employs a sufficiently rational method". Other people seem to throw out "agent's context" and then end up ignoring human capacities. Perhaps you'd make some theory with a really constrained notion of knowledge. Perhaps you would be right as far as measuring accuracy of a claim (or how specific the claim is. A detailed mathematical theory must meet different levels of detail than say, Santa isn't real, to qualify as knowledge). But it would be a barrier to knowledge in general where we seek knowledge for one's benefit.
  13. Explain more, please. What would it mean to be designed to want pleasure? How is it different to say I am designed to reduce discomfort, therefore I am going to react to any displeasure in that exact way? I'd be just a victim of circumstance, as all choice would reduce to pleasure-seeking, or there is a pre-set choice for all action. It gets confusing - I don't see when choice enters in here in your view. For me, the choice to focus is simultaneous with the choice to live, so this is where choice starts - and where cognition starts.
  14. The Wright Brother's "proved" that flight was possible. However, an understanding of the of the mechanics of flight lay decades in the future, and was well beyond their abilities as engineers. Science - and all knowledge for that matter - advances when an observation is made that cannot be explained by current theory. Knowledge does not advance by the syntactic manipulation of symbols. As my tag line says: "You can say of (an idea) either that 'it is useful because it is true' or that 'it is true because it is useful.' Both of these phrases mean exactly the same thing." - William James
  15. These are delicate topics. I would say that because there is a great deal of truth in Objectivism, I care for it -- but only to that extent. If I ever found Objectivism and truth in conflict, surely I would love truth more. Frankly, I don't expect to find any Objectivist (worthy of the title) who would feel any other way, including Leonard Peikoff. This sounds tongue-in-cheek...? But just to clarify, and speaking only for myself, I don't consider my attractions to be arbitrary, and neither would I reduce the kinds of "pleasures" I'm talking about (or intend to talk about, at least) to sex, or etc. Though I mean to argue that they are sourced in physical pleasure, eventually there are many kinds of pleasure, including (most importantly) happiness. (Neither do I mean to discount sex, but that topic is a whole can of worms.) This forum typically exercises a fair degree of latitude for posting style, in my experience. There is something, at times, a bit obnoxious about finding someone posting three, four, five, six posts in a row (some consisting of a single sentence or etc.), but lots of people do that occasionally. I tend to favor long and thorough posts myself, though I'm sure others find that obnoxious, too. Ultimately, use your best judgement about what seems appropriate, given the culture as you find it (it may take a bit of time to adjust). I'd advise taking Eiuol's request into serious consideration, and if it turns out that you drown the forum in an endless series of posts -- you know -- then we'll have to take further action to correct for that. But I'd bet things never reach such a point.
  16. The (maybe not so) obvious point would be that then it would be a JTB that a JTB cannot be true.
  17. Yesterday
  18. I'm saying that there is no such choice to make initially. (Nor the means to make one.) Later on, you (accurately) identify the unique role pleasure and pain have as motivators (note for the sake of our other conversation how this is different from red and purple, and meaningfully so). A baby does not "choose" to be motivated into some response by pain and pleasure; that pleasure and pain serve this function -- just as they do for many "lower" lifeforms -- isn't a matter of "choice," but a matter of nature. "One's teleology is activated" when sperm fertilizes egg, when cells divide, when physical and mental faculties are created, and when stimulus is introduced. Initially there is some automatic reaction to that stimulus, just as one kicks when the doctor strikes the patellar tendon with a rubber hammer. At such a level, such choice is neither necessary nor possible. All right. So you're positing a "choice," but one that is "non-conceptual," and a baby "participates" in its choosing (choosing what? to experience pleasure as pleasure; pain as pain? does the baby "choose" to have its heart beat?), but... "perhaps no baby will ever choose not to live"? That's like a dictator getting 100% of the vote! It rather calls into question the legitimacy of the vote itself. But, in fairness, the baby -- even before birth -- is certainly doing something of its own accord. Can we relate that something to "choice"? Perhaps in a sense -- in the sense that Rand intends by talking about the root of volition being "the choice to focus," which is another sense in which I would not say that it is "choice" in the way we otherwise mean. If we were talking about early experiments in cognition (coming into focus, focusing on various sensations), or flexing muscles, receiving feedback, then I could agree that the baby is participatory -- though I would still disagree that the baby is "choosing" anything in particular. And this is still far from any sensible way in which we could say "the baby is choosing to live." Or at least, it makes zero sense to me. I agree that "pleasure is nice" (or has a positive charge, of man's nature) and a newborn accordingly acts for the sake of more of that pleasure (when it achieves awareness such to link its own actions to the pleasures it receives) -- but that's exactly what's happening. There's no need for an additional layer of "choosing to live" on top of it, and thou shalt not multiply entities beyond necessity. We could in some sense say that the baby is "choosing" pleasure and "choosing" to avoid pain, if you'd like, but even there I'm not satisfied that this represents any actual choice. A baby is designed (via natural selection) to want pleasure and to react towards it in that exact way. This is why, when we have conceptual thought and can make actual choices, we can also evaluate things to be good (i.e. in the manner of pleasure) or evil (in the manner of pain). Do you know what kind of baby would not "choose" to seek pleasure, or to avoid pain? The kind of baby that is physically damaged such that it cannot experience pleasure and/or pain. But I would suppose that perhaps these are the children that you would say "do not choose life"? What a choice! Eiuol, I think we are closest when you describe a baby as "participatory" in its actions -- which I agree with. And I further agree that there are mental states involved (though as to the exact nature of such mental states in early development, I cannot speculate; the brain is yet developing, and I would not necessarily expect the mental capacity of a newborn, or prenatal infant, to allow for mental states such as we experience, identify, and remember). But choices, lest we use the concept where it doesn't actually apply, are for people with conceptual thought and conscious volition. Compare them without retaining the particulars which make them dissimilar, in context? No. But abstract similarities from otherwise dissimilar cases for the purpose of conceptualization and analysis? Yes -- I would do that, whatever John Galt might think of it. (And if he is as smart as reputed, I expect he would approve.) A person who doesn't expect to live much longer, in reason, is a person who doesn't expect to live much longer, in reason; if that has implication for ethics, then it does. But I continue to believe that ethics remains about pursuing happiness to the extent possible, given one's context, whether one has a clean bill of health, at twenty or ninety, or is dying of cancer, at twenty or ninety, or is trapped on a cliff face by a tiger. Rather than "ethics" depending upon certain conditions, I would say that the possibility of happiness depends upon certain conditions (and the state of one's body and mind certainly play a large factor here). This is precisely why, in the event that such conditions do not permit for happiness (and rather promise that which is ethical to avoid -- pain and suffering), I would say that it is moral to commit suicide.
  19. What non-fiction ones have you read?
  20. Thanks, that is contextual. Upthread you mentioned something I agree with, "I personally agree with Peikoff that ethics is not for the dying." My thoughts are that ethics are normative and are a tool for living, so figuring if it is moral to commit suicide seems contradictory. But I think there certain contexts where man could maintain his life as his ultimate value and still end it, for example having a terminal illness that is causing him tremendous pain. The concept of man's life as the standard of value or happiness as the ultimate purpose isn't possible anymore. He would value his life enough, ie. living it, enough to know that it isn't possible and choose to end it. (Checking OPAR, I'm seeing some of this on p247-248.)
  21. Two basic precursors to learning are your own personal interests (for picking what to learn about) and your approach to new ideas. For maximum brain flow, go with what interests you most. For maximum brain saturation, question everything honestly until the answer becomes part of you (and even then, question from time to time). My biggest personal setbacks to learning were/are rationalism and becoming emotionally charged about potential errors in my thinking or conclusions.
  22. Both you and Eiuol have expressed this view now in that other thread. This looks like a good place to discuss it. You have both raised the objection to the JTB that beliefs can only be judged as true from an "omniscient perspective". Since this perspective does not exist (granted), then it is impossible to really know whether any belief is true, and therefore it is impossible to decide wether or not a given justified belief qualifies as knowledge. Hence, JTB cannot be true. But your argument confuses the extension of knowledge with its intension. One cannot infer from "we cannot decide in every case whether p is an isntance of q using conditions C" that "there is a p which is not an instance of q but which meets conditions C". In short, it is possible to know something without knowing that you know it.
  23. I love this parable, it's one of my favorite stories to tell. I would not (Galt forbid) compare somebody sentenced to death to somebody of old age, or to somebody who does not expect his own death. Unless the first man has incredible strenght, or is a practicing Buddhist, such a blow can render him immune to any kind of happiness whatsoever, no matter what methods or 'ethics' he tries. Ethics depends on certain conditions, such as the possibility of happiness and a body/mind that does not rapidly crumble with each passing day. This one was also posted (I think by Nerian). I think it's an exhaustive look at the issue discussed in this thread.
  24. I was going to add something like this too. Germany (going back to at least Bismark and Kaiser Wilhelm II) was anything but a primitive or uneducated society. They were leaders in science, mathematics, industry, engineering, music, the arts, etc. But they did place the State (as personified by the leader) above everything.
  25. Hell yes. I care not for Objectivism. I care for truth. In my estimation, there's a great deal of truth in Objectivism. I can hear Peikoff yelling in the distance, "if you reject any part, you must reject the whole for it is an integrated system!!!" lol I wanted to say this because it's the most salient thing that jumped out at me, but I want to go to the gym very soon, so that I may pursue the value of an aesthetic physique, so I may attract the women that I arbitrarily find sexually attractive due to my monkey brain wiring, so that I may satisfy my arbitrary monkey drives, and thereby experience pleasure, which is the only reason to live, but I was told to reply to everything in one post, rather than making several consecutive posts, but maybe moderators can understand that to do that I would have to type up everything all at once, read everything, formulate all my responses to everything into one large post, and then post it, or else I'm not allowed to respond to that which I have not responded yet, and I don't have the patience nor the stretches of time to sit here and respond to everything all at once. Is there any way I can get a pass for responding in dribs and drabs? Pleeeeeeaaaase. Or shall I just construct a gigantic response in a word document over a period of time and dump it all at once? Is this the fate to which I am cast? Grand overlords?
  26. Grames gave a fantastic response. A lot of people think of knowledge as needing to BE true to be knowledge. The only thing I'd add to Grames is that knowledge needs to (at least) strive to be true to count as knowledge. If you aim at knowledge by guessing for example, well, you will fail to find a way to consistently/reliably get to the truth. It wouldn't be striving for truth.
  27. Realizing there are other connecting threads to this one, I'm not sure if this has been posted:
  1. Load more activity