Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

All Activity

Showing all content posted in for the last 365 days.

This stream auto-updates     

  1. Today
  2. The DIM Hypothesis - by Leonard Peikoff

    Perhaps this is an even better demarcation of the term energy: Material energy Kinetic energy Potential energy Real energy Vacuum energy Binding energy Ideal energy Dark matter Dark energy
  3. The DIM Hypothesis - by Leonard Peikoff

    As another side note: What has been historically known as kinetic and potential energy (since Leibniz, iirc) is the same as matter and not the only energy known today. Hence I prefer to associate kinetic and potential energies with matter (as is done by physicists today), but associate the real energy (that isn't matter) with vacuum, binding, and dark energies. This way I think is more logical and better comprehended, since real energy isn't what we use for fuel (that's material particles like electrons) but the very form of nature, that which moves nature like its inner fire and keeps it together as well. Also this distinction between matter (kinetic and potential energy) and energy (vacuum, binding, and dark) supports the crucial distinction of man-made and natural that seems to have been erased in our highly technical and materialistic society. I guess another way to distinguish the energies is by calling them material (kinetic and potential) and real (vacuum, binding, dark). Therefore my use of the term "potential" is more fundamental than what's called "potential" energy that should be called material one.
  4. The DIM Hypothesis - by Leonard Peikoff

    I must qualify this statement: I connect it to my heuristic of electromagnetic fields. The issue here is that it is counterintuitive and hard to understand that, for example, H2O has less energy than the sum of energies of the individual atoms, and hence a question arises concerning the source of this "new" energy that supposedly "holds" these atoms together. Intuitively we know that something is gained by the atoms of hydrogen and oxygen when they form the molecule of water. What's really happening is that their atomic energy decreases is lower because of the stability of the molecular bond in which they've gotten themselves involved. Hence even though they lose use less energy, they actually gain stability from the bond. The strength of the bond is what keeps them together, not "energy" per se. However, it is easier to associate energy with stability than otherwise, so what these atoms gain is something they didn't have before, that is -- the molecular form.
  5. How near are we to socialized medicine?

    Unless a principled right rises in popularity and power, it is inevitable. I hope the unprincipled right's broken promise to those who rebelled against the left and big government, and the bitter pill of what they had to vote for, will bear fruit and give rise to something .. something better than Gary Johnson. Socialized medicine will look exactly like the various universal systems throughout the world (e.g. Canada). Second rate and backward. You will count on taxes raising by another 33 to 50 percent ending up to a quarter to a third of your tax dollars going to support it. Doctors will be even less free from regulations to do medicine as they see best, in fact because they are beholden to the government system they will become (essentially) government workers, part of the "public sector". As medical salaries dwindle (controlled by government), medical services will suffer. R&D will not be value driven but forced. It's spirit dead, cutting edge medicine will disappear. U.S. citizens will look to escape from the US medical system to get treatment in freer countries (New Zealand?) the same way Canadians rely upon US innovations and come to the US as and when needed. Waiting times for diagnostics and seeing specialists will become unreasonable to the point that lives will be risked due to delays, and emergency room deaths will sky rocket due to the unavailability of beds. Soon after the medical system is decimated, the pharmaceutical industry will be nationalized in the name of keeping prices "in control". Drug development will stagnate as the fires of profit is put out in favor of the dull inept motivation of force ... i.e. public funding. Truly egalitarian, everyone will be barred from good health care in equal measure. Individuals will languish and die... for the "good of the people" and in the name of "equality".
  6. Standard of Value - Life, Posterity, Legacy

    This is an excellent observation regarding confusions of some Objectivists. [Are you familiar with Tara Smith's work on the subject of Objectivist values and ethics?] Going the other way, however, how would you describe the distinction between the claim that the standard of morality is objective and the claim that the standard of morality is universal? Do you see any error in equating objectivity with universality?
  7. Notable Commentary "The [Patent Trial & Appeal Board] was supposed to address the problem of low-quality patents; it now threatens all patents, undermining the foundation of the American innovation economy." -- Adam Mossoff, in "Patent Unfairness" at RealClear Politics. "f there is no difference between words and action -- if communicating certain 'wrong' ideas is subject to punishment -- there is a corollary: the actual use of force can be exonerated if done in the name of the 'right' ideas." -- Peter Schwartz, in "The Ideology of Violence" at The Huffington Post. "Bitcoin's unstable price makes it unusable as money." -- Keith Weiner, in "Bitcoin: Tragedy of the Speculations" at SNB & CHF. "[The TC Heartland decision] significantly multiplies the costs to all patent owners in securing their property rights in court" -- Adam Mossoff, in "'Examining the Supreme Court's TC Heartland Decision': Testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Courts, IP, and the Internet" (PDF, 11 pages, June), George Mason Law and Economics Research Papers, no. 17-29. "[Conservative commentator Star] Parker should embrace the one idea in Christianity that is the most secular – the importance of the individual. She should oppose secular collectivism and support secular individualism." -- Robert Stubblefield, in "Letter: Keep Religion Out of Government" at The Aiken Standard. From the Blogs ICouldAndDid wraps up his three-part critique of Sam Harris's Free Will over at You Can and Did Build It, and summarizes the whole as follows: How Sam Harris wants you to see yourself. (Image courtesy of Pixabay.) ... The first part of this review identified the arbitrary underlying premise behind Harris' view that past brain states necessitate all future actions. He simply ignores, without any argument, the possibility that a being could possess capabilities that are enabled by and emerge from the brain yet are not completely necessitated in every detail by the brain's neurology. The second part of this review analyzed the gimmick that gives plausibility to the argument, namely focusing only on a straw man (the last split second of the process of choice) rather than the true nature of free will (the entire sequence of mental events and choices from the primary choice to focus and leading up to a final, higher-level choice). Finally, the present post identified the conceptual inversion involved in denying the validity of free will while depending on it for an argument. This vast collection of fallacies -- arbitrariness, use of straw-man tactics and hierarchy violations -- are the means used by the neurological determinist to deny the universal experience of free will. Any one of those transgressions alone would be sufficient reason to reject Harris' arguments, and to accept what one grasps from personal experience rather than deny it as a delusion. The combination of all three logical insults should make one recoil from the poisonous free-will-denier's doctrine. [bold added] Earlier in the post, ICouldAndDid notes a similarity between what Ayn Rand called the "stolen concept fallacy" and the denial of free will by Sam Harris and his ilk. -- CAV Link to Original
  8. In the news

    Folk living near Boulder, CO can go check out "The John Galt Line" http://www.lhvc.com/news/train-to-run-this-weekend-in-niwot/article_b123a3bc-9ef2-11e7-b91a-b31bda5e6f54.html
  9. The DIM Hypothesis - by Leonard Peikoff

    Well, the primary unquantifiable form is the form of the immediate reality in which something exists. For example, our form or reality is our environment, where you exist at the moment or can exist. It can be a room, including what you see out of the window or a car with the surroundings as far as you can see on the horizontal plane. If one ignores this form, then one necessarily doesn't follow a distinction between objects and their individual forms. A form of an object is not just its shape, outline, or surface, but it's the kind of energy that holds all of its matter together. To me forms of objects are represented by electromagnetic fields, but in philosophy this is merely a heuristic in order to understand where essences come from. In quantum physics, since we rejected the idea of a medium in which light travels (i.e. ether), we started thinking of particles such as photons as independent of context, and this thinking precipitated in the quantum/cosmic split. However, we all know that humans don't exist in a quantum reality nor in the cosmic one (idealists think otherwise, of course). Instead only quantum particles exist in the quantum reality. Matter and Energy equivalence makes physicists think that matter is its own context and thus its own form, but this is not the case. Quantum electrodynamics and interpretations of quantum theory such as the De Broglie–Bohm provide evidence and theorization of the energetic context of quantum particles, namely the vacuum energy that is not reducible to kinetic or potential energies but rather structures them (i.e. forms them). Vacuum energy is also called potential photons, as we know though the Casimir effect, which describes how photons actualize from this potential field. So this is what I mean that reality is the potential and every physical object comes from (or is actualized in our minds) this potency. This, of course, goes against the mainstream picture propagated by philosophers like Kant and physicists like Bohr that everything starts from matter and ends up in it too.
  10. Could it very likely be only a few years away? The thought is frightening. And what will it look like? Will there be a new tax on everyone to fund it?
  11. Moral anomalies?

    I'm coming into this late, but... Moral action doesn't require legal permission, and in most cases one's legal jeopardy would depend more on the morality of one's peers than the letter of the law when put on trial. So what might appear to be morally anomalous in a legal context is in fact what a proper government relies on to prove the law (or to check the premise). I believe it's in the rational self-interest of a moral witness to intervene, even when not immediately effected by the immoral action of another, because immoral behavior of the kind described undermines the security of individual rights upon which one depends. Appropriate intervention depends on the circumstance and may amount to simply making ones presence and disapproval known, however I recognize there's no compulsion to act because it remains a mater of individual choice (liberty).
  12. Yesterday
  13. The DIM Hypothesis - by Leonard Peikoff

    Could you expand on this little? My understanding is that now that we moderns have atomic physics and even quantum mechanics to help understand the shapes of atoms and molecules that there is no real distinction to be made between form and matter unless you are describing a macroscopic object such as a sculpture of a something made of clay or plastic that is molded. And what would be an example of a form that cannot be quantified?
  14. The implications of this distinction make for a fine line of enquiry. I think we recognize the same abstraction in slightly differing forms - your "each and every individual" - and mine, "of all men for all time". Certainly, when it comes to chosen values, my choices of career, friends, leisure, art and so on, that I found for my good, according to my experience, interests and wants - are not (necessarily, or at all) the identical 'objective good' for the large majority of others. Here is when some will say these are 'subjective values', anyhow, misinterpreting the meaning of objectivity. You must have had several of those debates disputing "objective" value. As I see it, one should apply abstractions to abstractions first. To begin with: the concept, "man's life". For example, do the following abstractions promote and advance, or undermine and destroy 'man and his existence' (at random): capitalism, productive work, romantic love, freedom of speech, slavery, socialism, property rights, health ...etc.? We perceive and identify each concept, then evaluate from among them their value or disvalue, what is good and which is bad. On what basis? What one feels in the moment, what we are told by authorities, what everybody else accepts, or what -somehow- has value (intrinsically and mystically) in itself? Definitely, by the standard of man and his life. (Good? - for whom, and for what end?) By "thinking in principles" and having established his conclusions, each rational individual can and should implement the abstract values -- in his own life -- and in concrete form. Employing his virtues to find, create and sustain his own specific and chosen values in actions - work, love etc, etc. - for his specific "purpose", which is the total value of a happy and thriving life . So of course, specific and concrete values for any particular person differ enormously from all others, as you point out. (As I sometimes put it: you love Esmeralda, I love Jacqueline ;). But the value category is shared by us both). I believe every rational goal, activity or 'thing' can be traced back to the abstraction "man's life, the standard of value". Even if in a sub-sub-set of the principle, it holds up in the final analysis. We have in Objectivism the axiomatic principle that existence (reality) is ~the standard~ of man's knowledge/truth. (If I may inject "standard" this way). As I see it, since fact and value, and life and value are inseparable - correspondingly in the sphere of morality, evaluation and assessing the good for each individual and for man, Rand posed also the objective principle - Man's life is the standard of value. The implications you ask for I'm sure I haven't exhausted.
  15. Group Theory and Physics

    . Neutrino-nuclei scattering now observed after theoretical prediction 43 years ago. Small Detector, Big Result Experiment Paper The 1974 Prediction
  16. The DIM Hypothesis - by Leonard Peikoff

    What's worse is that Rand parallels Kant in the mathematization of philosophy, which necessarily removes the reality of forms that cannot be quantified. And yet reality is not merely objects that it contains. Reality is also the form, the context. I find that most people fail to grasp this, namely the fact that reality is more complex than reason itself. Reality is the potential, not necessarily the mentally actual.
  17. The DIM Hypothesis - by Leonard Peikoff

    I am starting to sense this too while reading Kant's pre-critical works, and particularly his mathematico-linguistic side shines through. While Aristotle's project was to connect the philosophy of the ontologically real to the language of the essentially and mentally actual, Kant's project, as can be seen from his Attempt to Introduce the Concept of Negative Magnitudes into Philosophy (1763), was to connect the language of philosophy to the mathematics of the real. Hence Kant's logic allowed coexistence of opposites that he saw as non-contraries, such as -1 and +1 with 0 as a real possibility, and hence he switched the context, supporting the idea that Aristotle's logic was analytical and, having nothing to do with reality, meaningless. Meaning for Kant was only in what's real, and what's real for him is mathematically quantifiable, matter rather than form. Aristotle, of course, shunned mathematics, as it wasn't in his primary interests. So this is the way the moderns were able to supersede Aristotle.
  18. Shadow Banking

    Insulted = insulated*
  19. Shadow Banking

    Isn't a financial institution that makes risky loans that is subject to loss and failure being "regulated" in a sense? Does it make sense that when a company is insulted from responsibility for its own actions that this is called "regulated" whereas one that is held accountable is "unregulated"? Unless you clarify what you mean by regulation, this isn't helpful. What ultimately matters is what kind of regulation should prevail and what are its effects.
  20. In a recent column, Walter Williams questions the idea that the problems faced by black Americans are a "legacy of slavery," while at the same time raising another possibility that too many miss or ignore: According to the 1938 Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, that year 11 percent of black children were born to unwed mothers. Today about 75 percent of black children are born to unwed mothers. LBJ signing the Poverty Act.Is that supposed to be a delayed response to the legacy of slavery? The bottom line is that the black family was stronger the first 100 years after slavery than during what will be the second 100 years. At one time, almost all black families were poor, regardless of whether one or both parents were present. Today roughly 30 percent of blacks are poor. However, two-parent black families are rarely poor. Only 8 percent of black married-couple families live in poverty. Among black families in which both the husband and wife work full time, the poverty rate is under 5 percent. Poverty in black families headed by single women is 37 percent. The undeniable truth is that neither slavery nor Jim Crow nor the harshest racism has decimated the black family the way the welfare state has. The black family structure is not the only retrogression suffered by blacks in the age of racial enlightenment. In every census from 1890 to 1954, blacks were either just as active as or more so than whites in the labor market. During that earlier period, black teen unemployment was roughly equal to or less than white teen unemployment. As early as 1900, the duration of black unemployment was 15 percent shorter than that of whites; today it's about 30 percent longer. Would anyone suggest that during earlier periods, there was less racial discrimination? What goes a long way toward an explanation of yesteryear and today are the various labor laws and regulations promoted by liberals and their union allies that cut off the bottom rungs of the economic ladder and encourage racial discrimination. [bold added, format edits]Williams goes on to note that most black politicians support the government programs that thwart initiative or enable idleness. I leave it to the reader to consider whether those politicians see this as a bug or a feature. -- CAV Link to Original
  21. Shadow Banking

    I'm trying to connect this with the idea of shadow banking. So the government takes on the risk of lenders, including non-bank lenders. The non-bank lenders are still subject to lending regulations when they make loans, but what about when they buy and sell loans? Treating loans as financial instruments, that's shadow banking, right? So that's not subject to banking regulations, but is it subject to any regulations? Isn't the whole idea of shadow banking to keep all these trillions of dollars in transactions off the books and away from the eyes of regulators? So when the sh*t hit the fan in the shadow banking system in 2008 and all these "banks" had to be bailed out, the government was essentially caught off-guard and had no idea how deep a hole these companies had dug themselves into. Proponents of more regulations would then argue that there needs to be stricter oversight of financial transactions, effectively doing away with shadow banking and off-the-books transactions. In this hypothetical revamped financial system, the government would be able to see when too much risk has been accumulated and step in before a crisis can happen. Now obviously the question of how the government would be able to know everything the companies are doing all the time without morphing into an Orwellian (or Kafka-esque) bureaucracy is conveniently sidestepped by regulations proponents. Nor will they listen to the argument that what we need to do is outlaw bailouts altogether so that we don't create moral hazards in the system. They dismiss that as being "too idealistic" and "impractical". "We don't need to go to extremes," they say. "We're never going back to the days when companies were completely on their own, so we must accept a compromise that allows bailouts but at the same time enables the government to contain risk."
  22. True, False, Arbitrary

    In Objectivism all knowledge at the level of principles is inter-related. What makes a statement of a principle arbitrary is that it does not connect to the rest of human knowledge. Proving a statement is arbitrary would require the review of all human knowledge, which is indeed a type of 'proving a negative' problem. Far easier is to shift the burden of proof and require the person asserting the statement to connect it back to more common shared knowledge. What makes all knowledge valid ultimately is its being reduced hierarchically to the evidence of the senses, as dream_weaver stated above. Regarding the assertion of the existence of a concrete (knowledge which is not a principle), that can only be validated by perceiving it or perceiving enough indirect evidence for its existence to support a deductive conclusion. However, requiring proof of every concrete reported to you would be tedious, so things such as traffic reports or weather reports, history books, etc. generally work on the basis of trust in the source based on methods used and track record. A proposition that is not proven and not contradicted by any other knowledge simply cannot be evaluated, which is where the third state comes in. The "other knowledge" is human knowledge not God's omniscient perspective. For God everything would be clearly true or false with no unknown status possible. Human knowledge is limited; even "the sum of all human knowledge" is a finite context.
  23. Shadow Banking

    So there is "duration mismatch" and "duration risk". A "duration balance" would be where the borrower and the lender have a contractual agreement and the lender rides out the duration of the terms of the loan, where the lender's only risk is default, and the borrower is bound by the original agreement penalties. A "duration mismatch" is where the borrower and the lender have a contractual agreement, and the lender "sells" out the duration of the terms of the loan to a third party. In essence, the "duration risk" is sold to a third party for an agreed upon, or contractual agreement transferring the "default risk" of the lender to a third party. If this is being assessed correctly, shadow banking amounts to little more than peddling the "duration risk", a.k.a. "default risk", while potentially transferring the onus of responsibility for the repayment of the original loan (and consequences of default) from the original borrower to one of the intermediate "risk takers", In a slightly different scenario, an apartment is subleased. The original lease holder, is still responsible for any damages that may arise on the property. In subleasing the property, the "responsibility" of the rent and/or damage liability is passed on to the sub-leaser. If I am reading this cogently, In the case of an apartment, if damage is done by a sub-lessor of the property, the manager's recourse is limited to the original lessor. In the case of a loan, the default risk is passed on via any "agreed upon price" for the remainder of the loan. The original borrower is still bound the the terms of the original contract.
  24. Shadow Banking

    Since you say you don't have much of a background on the topic, let's start with a really trivial example: you, as an individual could lend money to another individual, and you would not be regulated as a bank. If the borrower does not pay you back, you will suffer a loss. If a lot of people lend money this way, and the economy turns down, many borrowers may not be able to pay back their loans, and a lot of such lenders will suffer losses. Lending: Now, one small step up: imagine you do not know anyone worth lending to, but you have a friend who has a lot of family/friends, who run some type of businesses (gas stations, corner stores, restaurants, etc.). You -- and many like you who trust him -- lend him money, and he figures out whom he trusts and how much, and he lends the money to them. When they pay interest or return the principal, ... that's when he returns it to you. Once again, if a higher than average number of borrowers turn out to be duds, then the lenders ultimately suffer. Next, imagine the middleman is personally wealthy. So, he tells you that he will pay you from his pocket, if the actual borrowers don't. This provides some degree of buffer. Now, to make it more realistic, imagine a billion-dollar company that borrows money for various investors and lends it to borrowers. None of these examples are quite completely "banking" in the sense meant by McCulley; rather, they're "lending". Lending has its own regulations, but they're not banking regulations. Folk like McCulley would not include any of the above as being shadow banking. Banking: Now, imagine the middle man says that you do not have to wait for the original borrowers to repay their loans. If you suddenly need your cash, he will pay you back out of his own money, because he's confident that others will be depositing more money anyway, and he also has other ways of getting additional cash. This is where things become "banking" in the sense meant by the term "shadow banking". This is where some new benefits and risks come in. The key difference in such a system is that the original borrower has been given a certain amount of time to pay, but the original lender has been told he can have his funds back sooner. This is called a "duration mismatch". The middleman keeps a reserve of money from which he pays folk who want to withdraw. As they withdraw, others make deposits. If people withdraw from one bank and deposit in another, one bank can then borrow back the funds from the other bank. The system works pretty well most of the time. This system is called a "Fractional Reserve System" since the bank does not keep all the cash on hand that depositors may theoretically withdraw; it only keeps enough to meet the normal range of activities. The danger arises if lots of depositors demand their money back because they fear they will not get it if they leave it in. The bank does not have the money and isn't going to get it quickly. That's the "run on the bank". It becomes particularly problematic if there is a run not just on one or two banks, but on banks as such. That's when it becomes a banking panic. [Aside: Some libertarians say that it should be illegal for bankers to promise to pay out "on demand" if they do not hold 100% of the possible cash that might be withdrawn.] Panics and response: There have been repeated panics across history. Over decades, people (aka the market) figured out various ways to address the issue of duration-mismatch and thus bank-runs. But, a full and robust solution had not yet evolved. In parallel, the government also started to build systems that would take on some of the risk. When the government takes on risk, the market sees no need to plan for that risk. So, this undercut the private systems that were evolving. Also, when the government takes on risk, it cannot do so willy-nilly. It has to specify rules that the lenders should follow, in order to get government protection. Shadow banking: Finance is pretty sophisticated these days, with some very complex instruments available. Companies that are not banks can buy and sell combinations of instruments that leave them with huge "duration risk". Yet, when they do not do so in the normal way of having deposit accounts etc. they don't have to follow the rules that apply there. That's shadow banking.
  25. Last week
  26. True, False, Arbitrary

    The arbitrary, is most notably covered in Leonard Peikoff's Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, but not specifically addressed by Miss Rand as a stand alone topic. Her usage of "the arbitrary" throughout her writings tend to support it though. The arbitrary is often put forth as a statement of fact without any corroborating evidence. The fact that a conclusion may be true glosses over corroborative absence. Objectivity is a process of acquiring knowledge, and recognizing that in order to be true, it can be reduced hierarchically to the evidence of the senses. Exploring the basis of a claim provides insight to the evidentiary procedure used to reach it. The lack of any evidentiary procedure is indicative where the discussion is wont to go. While the claim may be true, if the procedure used to arrive at it is flawed, then the arbitrary claim is just an arbitrary claim with no real purchase in the mind of the holder. To evaluate an arbitrary claim as true or false relies on the evaluators' understanding of the evidence involved, not the maker of the arbitrary assertion's grasp thereof.
  27. We usually treat arbitrary as false. If someone told me there is a green man in your car in the garage, and I asked him why do you say that and he says "No reason, I just imagined it", I would assess that as being arbitrary. But I would treat it as false, not neither true or false. In other words, by ignoring it, I would be affirming that it is not true. There are no three states, true, false, or arbitrary. If on the other hand, I got an anonymous call saying there is a green man in my car, I may go an check. By default, I am treating that as true. The source of the information has a lot of bearing on if it has evidence or not. A credible source is evidence, isn't it? Although, in this case, credibility is indeterminable. "According to Objectivism, such a claim is not to be regarded as true or as false". "it is simply to be dismissed as though it hadn’t come up". I notice people will say "that is arbitrary" and engage in disproving the claim. Similar to how I behave (which I am questioning). But isn't the answer to the question of if something arbitrary exists "I have no way of knowing it right now?" Unless ignoring it means ignore it in your own thought process. An arbitrary fact would be one obtained without any method of identification or classification according to the attributes which a consciousness observes in reality. Does that mean that to prove that something was arbitrary, one must prove a negative? That one must go through all possible methods of identification or classification and show that none were used? How else can it be proved?
  28. Shadow Banking

    Not what you're asking (I can't really answer your actual question), but, just in case there's any confusion about this: Objectivism is opposed to regulation, but it is in favor of contract enforcement and the protection of individual rights in general. More importantly, it is in favor of a market ruled by objective laws. This market, like all black markets, doesn't just lack regulation, it also lacks the other things (for the most part...I guess off shore jurisdictions can in theory provide them...they just don't always do so reliably). Black markets are also under threat from powerful nation states, so they tend to attract unscrupulous, incompetent, and even violent participants. So black markets are not capitalist, free markets. They are not the kind of markets Objectivism, or most free market advocates, call for. Far from it. That's probably why you don't see notable Objectivists try and defend them. P.S. The shadow banking system also serves to hide the wealth of dictators, corrupt politicians and oligarchs, and organized crime syndicates. In fact, it probably caters more to that category of clients than the western private sector.
  1. Load more activity