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    . The Status of the Law of Contradiction in Classical Logical Ontologism Leonard Peikoff – Ph.D. Dissertation (NYU 1964) Leonard Peikoff first met Ayn Rand when he was seventeen. That was in 1951. His cousin Barbara Wiedman (later Branden) had become a friend of Rand’s in the preceding year. The young friends of Rand had read and been greatly moved by her novel The Fountainhead, and they were greatly impressed with Rand and her philosophical ideas as conveyed to them in conversation with her. In 1953 Peikoff moved to New York from his native Canada (where he had completed a pre-med program) and entered New York University to study philosophy, which was his passion. He was able to read Atlas Shrugged in manuscript form prior to its publication and to converse with its author. He continued at NYU for his Ph.D. in Philosophy, which he completed in 1964. That was the year Allan Gotthelf entered graduate school in Philosophy. Ayn Rand and her distinctive ideas on metaphysics and logic, as published in 1957 in Atlas Shrugged, do not appear in Peikoff’s dissertation. Except for one modest point, his treatment of his topic is consistent with Rand’s views on metaphysics and logic, as well as with her thought on universals (ITOE 1966–67) and her broad-brush arc of the history of philosophy. His dissertation is worthy of study, certainly by me, for what have been many of the positions and arguments concerning the ontological status and epistemological origin of the Principle of Noncontradiction (PNC) in Western philosophy from Plato to mid-twentieth century. It is valuable as well for a picture of what Peikoff could bring to the discussions with Rand and her close circle, as well as to their recorded lectures and published essays (including his own “Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy” published by Rand as an immediate follow-on to her ITOE) in the ten years or so after 1957. A speculative sidebar: Beyond Rand’s philosophy, I doubt that Leonard Peikoff ever had anything to learn from Nathaniel Branden in philosophy. The flow of learning in philosophy not Objectivism was likely entirely the other way. That goes for the flow of reliable information in that domain as well between Peikoff and Rand. By the late ‘60’s, Peikoff, and Rand too, could of course learn from the studies of Gotthelf in Greek philosophy. I’ll sketch and comment on the course of the intellectual adventure that is Peikoff’s dissertation in a separate thread in Books to Mind. I’ll do that shortly. In the present thread, I want to just state his broad thesis (i–viii, 239–49), then turn (i) to the Kant resources Peikoff had available and relied upon in his story and (ii) to setting out from my own available resources, these decades later, what were Kant’s views and teachings on logic, what was always available in German, and what now in English. Under the term classical in his title, Peikoff includes not only the ancient, but the medieval and early modern. By logical ontologism, he means the view that laws of logic and other necessary truths are expressive of facts, expressive of relationships existing in Being as such. Peikoff delineates the alternative ways in which that general view of PNC has been elaborated in various classical accounts of how one can come to know PNC as a necessary truth and what the various positions on that issue imply in an affirmation that PNC is a law issuing from reality. The alternative positions within the ontology-based logical tradition stand on alternative views on how we can come to know self-evident truths and on the relation of PNC to the empirical world, which latter implicates alternative views on the status of essences and universals. Opposed to the classical logical ontologists are contemporary conventionalist approaches to logical truth. Peikoff argues that infirmities in all the varieties of classical logical ontologism open the option of conventionalism. He mentions that his own sympathies are with logical ontologism. Alas, repair of its failures lies beyond the inquiry of his dissertation.
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    Look, I agree there are injustices. Even Epist does. But it's blown out of proportion. See below. Oppression isn't the same as all injustice. It starts to look like hyperbole when there are substantially worse injustices. Sorta like this (it's a joke, don't read into it): Historical note: The Tea Act was a bailout of the British East India Company. The tea was made cheaper than normal for the colonists. More or less, the British were saying "look guys, cheap tea!" The colonists responded as "thanks, but we don't want the tea anyway". Not taking well to this, the British said "well, we're sending it, and you'll buy it". So the tea was sent on 4 ships to different ports. 2 ports sent the ships back. One port didn't let the British unload the tea. Boston totally trashed the tea. That's when it all went downhill. Taxation was always a negotiable issue, as unjust as some tax policies were. Those tax laws were worse than today, except for income tax. There are substantial rights violations that wholly deny your life, and rights violations which impede your life yet still be ironed out and smoothed over. All laws - taxation laws included - are part of a wider system of laws. That is, the law is the means in which to protect your life and property. As a system, they work together. Some parts are unjust, so those are amended later on. It isn't always a sacrifice to follow an unjust law, especially if it is negotiable and able to be improved by existing mechanisms within the system. Or if your life isn't -immediately- threatened. This is the rule of law. Errors occur, yet we don't throw it out and break the law piecemeal as it suits us. Breaking the law, if it's rational, presumes a significant and wide area of the law failing to tend towards protecting rights. Many civil rights protests showed major violations in the law. Taxation isn't at that stage. When an ENTIRE system tends to rights violations on a major scale (USSR), then that suggests no actual -objective- rule of law, so breaking those "laws" becomes respect for -objective- law.
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    I mentioned it to point out that you are at least able to freely leave, while in Soviet Russia you'd be shot at the Berlin Wall. It'd be foolish to consider that taxation in the US is as unjust as being sent to the gulag, or as unjust as eminent domain in the US. It doesn't mean I'm okay with it if I say there is a pretty good degree of freedom regarding taxes despite some real injustices. They lacked representation in Parliament, and the taxes that were at issue was on tea they did not want, and a number pf oppressive laws that built up over time. Taxation in the colonies was done without any benefit of citizenship.
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    ATLAS SHRUGGED: a First Time Reader’s Thoughts. WARNING – CONTAINS SPOILERS! I joined this forum in late 2015, having become intrigued by Ayn Rand from what I read on the internet, and then reading “The Voice of Reason” and “The Romantic Manifesto”. I then tackled “Atlas Shrugged”, and with all the other things in my life it took nearly a year to read it. To clarify my perspective: I am not your typical “Atlas Shrugged” reader. I am an Englishman in my late 50s; I work for the National Health Service [NHS], the ultimate in socialised medicine, and for much of my life I have been a Christian and a socialist. The socialism started to crumble in my 30s when I realised that I valued individualism and heroic achievement too much, but altruism and politically correct liberalism are more deeply entrenched. My Christianity crumbled over the last fifteen years, primarily over the issue of human suffering vis-à-vis a supposedly all-loving and all-powerful God. So Objectivism offered an intriguing new perspective that in some ways struck a chord with me (remember that Ayn Rand is hardly known this side of the Atlantic, so it really was new to me). The first thing to say is that Ayn Rand’s descriptions, of people, of nature, and of cities, are evocative and often lyrical and a masterful use of language. This is remarkable considering that English was not her first language, and that from what we see in film clips of her speaking, her speech was not as articulate as her writing. Her writing is a little less assured when it comes to dialogue and to action sequences (such as the last chapter where the main characters turn into something like the Three Musketeers and D’Artagnan). There is frequent and valid criticism that she should have allowed more editing; she makes the same points many times, and there are long discourses that interrupt the narrative. The tramp Jeff Allen launches into a ten-page account of the demise of the Twentieth-Century Motor Corporation having just been at death’s door from starvation. It is scarcely conceivable that President Thompson and his team, let alone the rest of the nation, would have sat through more than the first few minutes of John Galt’s speech, let alone going from seeing him as their enemy to trying to force him to be their ruler. Would they have really have been dense enough not to see the contradiction there, and desperate enough to give up their own power? But none of this need detract from the book’s message. I treated those passages like the songs in a musical; you suspend notions of reality during the songs and return to the plot when they finish. Rand’s choice of technology as a plot driver is interesting. In the 1950’s when the book was written, airlines rather than railroads were seen as the future. During that decade the USA had the most comprehensive system of domestic feeder-airlines that has any country has ever had or probably ever will have. Their story would have fitted in well with her themes: small entrepreneurs struggling to keep their airlines independent, but finding it impossible without government subsidy and then having to accept Federal regulations to stay in business. But AR is clearly not confident with aviation; her references to aircraft are usually somewhat vague, though her evocative description of the view during Dagny’s night flight suggests she may have flown as a passenger at night. In reality, Dagny wouldn’t have had time to learn to fly during the busiest period of her life, or survived an unintentional spin close to the ground in poor visibility (I have some experience as a pilot but have only experienced intentional spins). But Ayn Rand writes about what she knows and she is clearly inspired by railroads; she describes their workings in convincing detail and uses the locomotive as a metaphor for something with power and purpose. Her description of Dagny’s journey in the cab of the Taggart Comet is a superb piece of writing with plenty of detail, especially of the cab itself, and I wonder if AR had managed to have a journey in a diesel engine cab as part of her research. Her description of Hank Reardon’s steelworks is sufficiently atmospheric to suggest that she has visited one. The heart of the book is her Objectivist political and moral philosophy. Does she overstate her case? She certainly repeats it many times. In the UK we think of the 1950s as the decade of the American Dream, of individualism rather than statism. Perhaps Americans have a different view. Certainly it was also the decade of McCarthyism. But there was a Republican Administration, under Eisenhower. Were things that bad? Was there ever anything at the time she was writing in the real world comparable to the “anti-dog-eat-dog” legislation? Even before America’s downfall in the book, the rest of the world are already People’s Republics. This sounds ridiculous, but in reality, Britain in the late 1940s was as near to being a Socialist state as it has ever been, though not of course a republic. Every major industry was nationalised. Medical care was nationalised as the NHS (which sounds socialist to Americans but we are still rather attached to it). And we gave the design of the most advanced jet engine in the world, the Rolls-Royce Nene, to the Russians: the Americans were less than happy when they found out, especially when it was used to power the MiG-15 that opposed them in Korea. Jeff Allen’s description of the way in which people turned on each other like animals after the workers were given control of the Starnesville factory appears exaggerated, especially if what is being described is merely a social democratic, liberal society as most of Europe now is. It really isn’t that bad! On the other hand, the press in the UK occasionally carries stories of how delinquent children have allegedly been taken on foreign holidays at the taxpayers expense, or pregnant teenagers are automatically given their own flats. But the fact that these headlines are critical should give us hope. If, however AR is describing a Marxist utopia, then perhaps it would be as bad as she described; as for instance the Cultural Revolution in Maoist China. Certainly in the book, the imposition of Directive 10-289 sounds like a full-blown totalitarian take-over, but Fascist rather than Communist, given the alliance of business with government. But when we meet the dictator, Mr Thompson, he seems disappointingly colourless and indecisive (but then, how often have we met managers who make us wonder how they got their jobs?). Has the tide is turned away from the socialism that AR feared? Under Reagan and Thatcher, there came about a greater degree of freedom for business. In the UK, the nationalised industries were sold off to private enterprise. The left has never accepted this and the debate continues, e.g. about whether the railways provided a better service when nationalised than now that they are privatised. The issue of a state health service is viewed very differently in the UK than the USA. Here, no government would survive taking away our free health service. This is the main area where I would compromise Objectivist principles: I do not believe that in a civilised society people should die from not being able to afford healthcare. In Atlas Shrugged, there is a passage dealing with the supposed evils of state controlled medication; the fear is that Doctors will be forced by the government to decide which patients die and which live; there is a similar chapter by Leonard Peikoff in The Voice of Reason. All I can say is that I work with Doctors in the NHS and they don’t seem particularly oppressed and powerless to me. The issue of funding the NHS is another matter. It isn’t really free of course; it is funded by taxpayers, whether they like it or not. But its debt is increasing and its service provision is decreasing unsustainably. There are howls of protest from the Left at any suggestion of wholesale privatisation. Certainly the government is increasingly selling certain functions to the private sector which then provides the care under government contract. I am prepared to apply Reason here, and say that if we do believe in a Health Service funded by the taxpayer rather than paid for by the directly by consumer, does it matter if some of it is provided by private health companies under contract to the government, rather than directly by the state-run service? There is a valid debate about which model is the most efficient. But the Left will not even consider more privatisation of the Health Service and this is clearly ideologically driven rather than derived from Reason. AR’s attitude to violence has given many readers cause for concern. The most controversial passage is when Hank Rearden, normally portrayed as entirely honourable, threatens to hit his wife during their row when he leaves her. If the reader is expected to disapprove, this is not made clear. AR appears to be saying that Hank’s threat was acceptable because he was morally superior to Lilian. Even allowing for the difference between 1950s social attitudes and 21st century ones, it is hard to make excuses for this. (And yet, we are supposed to believe that Hank did not get in the least angry with Dagny when she left him for John Galt!). Some of this is an example of AR’s very black and white views of people that she either approves of or disapproves of. In the last chapter, Dagny shoots a terrified man in the back when she could have tied him up; the only justification being that he was a snivelling wimp. And every single passenger who died in the tunnel accident apparently deserved it, including the children. (It makes me feel the way I used to when I was a Christian and had to justify the genocide when Joshua’s Israelite army sacked Jericho). On the other hand, the language that AR uses when describing the horror of the sound-ray gun, the ultimate weapon, is reminiscent of the language used by CND about nuclear weapons. I wonder what AR thought about nuclear weapons? The military is never spoken of positively in Atlas Shrugged. (Incidentally: Ragnar Danneskjold – where was the US Navy?). The concept of all the independently minded geniuses and wealth-creators removing themselves from the economy was an original thought at the time. But leaving their responsibilities raises many questions. It foresees the “turn-on, tune-in and drop-out” of Timothy Leary’s hippy culture but predates it by over ten years. In some ways the values of Woodstock and the values of Galt’s Gulch are diametrically opposed, but if we see the hippies as irresponsible, then how are Ellis Wyatt, Francisco D’Anconia et al also not irresponsible? The Objectivist answer would be about not allowing their talents to be exploited by Government, though what the hippies would have said would have been not dissimilar. But did they need to also destroy the means of producing their commodities – Wyatt’s Torch? I understand that AR herself described the whole concept as a plot device, so maybe we are not meant to scrutinise the plot, as distinct from the philosophy, too closely. It certainly makes the point that wealth is not created by labour alone. But the community in Colorado seems a little too cosy to be true. One wonders how they would have coped with dissent between their members, especially considering how badly the Objectivist movement coped with it from the 60’s onwards. So what difference has the book made to my life and am I an Objectivist? I don’t know how many total sceptics have read the book and been converted. When I decided to read it, I was at least sympathetic to its ideals of reason, freedom and human achievement. Several times at work since, I have pulled back from using phrases such as “perhaps we should….”, or “I wonder if…” in emails, and used the kind of more assertive phrase that Dagny would have approved of. And I am less likely to have a negative or cynical reaction when I see someone in a very expensive car; I am now more likely to assume that are entitled to it because they work hard and take financial risks. I was annoyed when BBC Radio broadcast a series on Andrew Carnegie, JD Rockefeller etc titled “The Robber Barons”. I didn’t have time to listen to the programmes but the title didn’t bode well for their impartiality. But I cannot go as far as AR would on state medicine and social care. A civilised society cannot let people die in the streets, even if that means taxing some people against their will. If you are going to apply Reason to an argument, you have to define your framework, and what is Reasonable must be informed by human decency and compassion. AR was not an anarchist. On the other hand, as I observed above, the country cannot afford to fund all the demands on the NHS, any more than the US could afford Obamacare. I hope that medicine can continue to be free at the point of use, but I am more open than most of my colleagues to at least consider funding private companies to provide the care. I disagree with the premise that there is always a right and a wrong and the middle-ground is always evil. For instance, if the two extremes are of dictatorship and anarchy, then the middle ground is more nearly right. I try to be more open-minded about Donald Trump than most of my compatriots, though I read that even Alan Greenspan has said that he did not vote for either presidential candidate. Is Trump an Objectivist? He appears to be far too interventionist. Perhaps he is an Orren Boyle rather than a Hank Rearden. It is a weakness of the book that Hank is the only industrialist to have started off poor and so illustrate the book’s premise that anyone can get rich by hard work and using their brain: Dagny and Francisco had inherited wealth. Those in our time who are closer to AR’s vision are such as Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Jimmy Wales, Richard Branson. John Galt says in his speech that the vilest form of self-abasement is to subordinate your mind to the mind of another. I followed world-views unthinkingly in the past and am not going to do so again. As soon as I say “I am an Objectivist, and that means I agree with all that Ayn Rand, Leonard Peikoff etc say without criticsm”, I stop being an Objectivist because I have surrendered my critical faculties once again. But if asked am I sympathetic to Objectivism and its ideals, and has it informed my thinking to a considerable degree, then my answer is yes. Adrian Roberts February 2017
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    Yaron Brook is holding an AMA on Reddit tomorrow at 12pm EST. The thread will be linked here when it is posted:
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    “Discussions are always better than arguments, because an argument is to find out WHO is right and a discussion is to find out WHAT is right.” I don’t know who said this. But it’s more profoundly true than you may know! The issue here involves objective truth — and reason. Rational people seek to find out what’s true using reason. Reason, logic and facts are the way we discover and discern what’s true. Granted, it’s not always obvious what’s true. In complex areas, it can be debatable. Sometimes there are mere options and preferences. But it’s the methodology that counts here. When you’re disagreeing, either you do so in a rational way, using reason, or you let it degenerate into name-calling, hostility or personal attacks. Reason and logic often get a bad name. “It’s cold to reason. What about emotions?” But it’s a false choice. You can be rational and still have emotions. The difference is that when using reason, your emotions don’t run the show. You utilize facts, reason and logic to guide your emotions. You don’t accept something as true just because you feel it, or someone else feels it. More than feelings are needed. When an argument or debate collapses into name-calling, fact-evading, threats of violence or other forms of irrationality, it’s a symptom. It’s a symptom that somewhere along the way, the reasonable method and tone have been lost. When you find yourself dealing with someone irrational, then you have one of two choices: (1) take a break and walk away; or (2) use reason. It’s hard to use reason when things have become so emotional. Take it from a therapist: This is often a good time to ask questions. For example, “Help me understand what you mean? What’s important to you here? Where do you disagree with me? I’m trying to understand what you have to say, and I’m just going to listen.” And mean it. WHAT is right matters more than WHO is right. When you focus on WHO is right, then it becomes personal. But think about it. If someone proves you wrong, they have not offended or insulted you. They’ve shown you something you didn’t previously know. If it’s better to know than not to know, isn’t this a good thing? In personal or marital relationships, the biggest problem is treating your partner as an adversary when he or she is not. Your loved one is not an adversary. More than any other relationship in life, your romantic partner or spouse is the one you choose. You don’t choose your parents, your siblings and even if you choose to have children and raise them a certain way, you don’t choose the kind of people they become. And you don’t have a choice about the fact they remain your children. But your spouse or romantic partner is the one you choose to be with, and with whom to remain for as long as you both choose. They’re not the enemy. If you take the simple step of not treating your friends or loved ones — chosen friends and loved ones — as enemies, the door is open to reasoning through any difficulty. That’s how you get to finding out WHAT’s right rather than WHO is right. If anyone is worth knowing or having in your life, it’s the only way to go. In the end, we find out what’s true using reason. Something is never true because of WHO says it. Something is true or valid only because there’s a fact-based, convincing and rational case to back it up. If your goal in life is to be right, you’re set up for a constant series of battles based on an adversarial premise. If your goal in life is to know what’s true, the act and art of using your mind is one of the most beautiful things imaginable. Others, in this quest, are your potential friends, not your adversaries. It’s a benevolent universe, because we’re capable of knowing what’s true and becoming better and better all the time for it. It’s only when people ignore this fact that things get ugly. Follow Dr. Hurd on Facebook. Search under “Michael Hurd” (Rehoboth Beach DE). Get up-to-the-minute postings, recommended articles and links, and engage in back-and-forth discussion with Dr. Hurd on topics of interest. Also follow Dr. Hurd on Twitter at @MichaelJHurd1 Check out Dr. Hurd’s latest Newsmax Insider column here! Dr. Hurd’s writings read on the air by Rush Limbaugh! Read more HERE. The post WHO’s Right or WHAT’s Right? appeared first on Michael J. Hurd, Ph.D. | Living Resources Center. View the full article @ www.DrHurd.com
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    Hi everyone. I haven't been an active poster on this forum since I was younger, but I thought that I could tell everyone about my Objectivist oriented immigration FB page. I started this page because I think that the uniquely Objectivist viewpoint of individualism is missing from immigration discussion. To use some typical examples, the Left talks about some mushy notion of "love" as though it's a winning immigration argument, while the Right talks about "American Jobs" and deterministic qualities like voting demographics and I.Q. tests. If you agree with me that the individual needs more consideration check out my page, thank you https://www.facebook.com/IndividualistsForImmigration/
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    Dustin, I wasn't asking if any of your questions/objections in this thread alone you considered to be answered/resolved, I was asking about if you considered that to be the case of *any* of your questions/objections you have raised on this forum in general. Also, you have in your post there stated your position, but you have not addressed anything any of us have already said to you here about why we contend such a position is incorrect. You didn't answer my question either about what sources, aside from this forum, you have on Objectivism, or even point me to a place where you already answered that question (which also would have been perfectly acceptable). When I said, "You've made lots of threads here based on questions/objections to Objectivism " - I didn't mean that as an accusation, like it was an inherently bad thing that just should not be done. I was stating it because it was relevant to my later question, asking what, if any, sources you had aside from this forum on Objectivism. Asking this many questions isn't a bad thing necessarily, but it does makes me suspect that you may be attempting to approach learning about or "challenging" this philosophy very badly. You may be jumping into the middle of this philosophy and going about it all higgledy piggledy, not looking into the well made primary or even secondary sources on it that answer the whats and whys pretty thoroughly and systematically. You may instead be asking people to not just reinvent the wheel for you, but reinvent the rocket ship, knowing almost nothing about rockets already yourself, and that they do so random piece by piece with you showing little interest in actually seeing how the pieces fit together and why, or maybe even seeing all the pieces, just seeing how these individual parts aren't making sense to you at first glance and on their own and then saying "This makes no sense! It's all bullshit! No way this thing gets off the ground." This seems like a bad way for you to learn about Objectivism and an even worse way to try to convince anybody who knows Objectivism well that it is incorrect. It's also hugely inefficient on time involved doing it the messy way versus going to the primary or even secondary sources. As for "echo chambers" and "safe spaces" -- you realize, don't you, that with Objectivists being such a teeny, tiny percentage of the population, we all spend our lives immersed constantly in people and products of contrary beliefs, right? This forum is just one of the few places where we come together with people that DO share our support of this philosophy so that we can actually get some where furthering our discussions of the subject beyond constantly just going over the basics with people who think the philosophy is flat out incorrect, just endlessly rehashing the same basic issues over and over that are already old hat to us, never touching any further or new material. We don't need to have this forum bombarded with people who disagree with us in order to be exposed to other beliefs and the possibility that we are wrong because we already inevitably face those things all the time everywhere else we go pretty much. Our goal here on this forum isn't to *never* be exposed to contrary ideas(something the forum couldn't possibly achieve anyway), its to just have somewhere that actually is about our ideas in the midst of aaaaaaaaaaaaaall the rest that we are exposed to which isn't. And we already do believe in reexaming our own beliefs if ever we come across something which seems to flout them anyway. Having this forum to discuss Objectivism with mostly people who support it is like having a forum for fans of bag pipe music in a world where pretty much everybody hates bag pipe music.
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    I've watched you wax eloquent on the subject for some time, but this sticks (one must choose to live, before one embraces morality) in my craw. We eat, yes. as babies, we cry when we are hungry. But volition begins with the first syllogism. We learn language, starting with first level concepts, moving toward being able to coalesce our thoughts cogently. Mom/Dad put food on the table, we eat—because we are hungry. At 2 . . . have we learned what something as abstract as "life" is?, much less recognizing that a code of morality extends from the recognition that existence exists—and in a single choice: to live? I respect the fact that to you, life is a value. Haven't you, then, already made the choice to live (explicitly or implicitly)? There may be many compelling reasons to offer someone else for living. Conceptually, the question boils down to what does the concept of morality presuppose? If it presupposes the choice to live, then how does that choice qualify as moral?
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    Louie, I'm thinking about the interaction between the conscious mind and the automatic functions of the subconscious. I'm thinking about the subconscious as an integrating mechanism. I was specifically thinking of how propositions help maintain focus and attention, but I didn't want responses to be restricted to only that. Psychology matters to the extent that they are using epistemologically proper methods. Cognitive psychology has a bit to say about "concept learning", i.e. gaining the knowledge of how to apply a particular concept correctly, e.g. knowing what it is to be a triangle to correctly determine whether a particular thing has a qualifying aspect. But I haven't found anything in cognitive psychology on what propositions do for problem-solving, working-memory, and so on. I've only found stuff on "personal epistemology". I didn't bother with linguistics because the cognitive role of grammar is already evident to me. (BTW I recommend Leonard Peikoff's lectures on grammar and an old book entitled Writing and Thinking by Foerster and Steadman) I'm glad about how much Objectivist writings cover. Ayn Rand remarks that a concept can be said to stand for a number of propositions. And she knows that a proposition applies a concept to something particular in a "determinate" way. Harry Binswanger devotes a chapter of How We Know to the nature of propositions.
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    . Normativity of Logic – Kant v. Rand Stephen Boydstun 2009 In the perspective of Immanuel Kant, reasoning in accordance with logic can falter due to various empirical circumstances of the reasoning mind. Knowing those pitfalls and how to avoid them is what Kant would call applied logic. Principles of applied logic are partly from empirical principles. As for the principles of pure logic itself, logic apart from such applications, “it has no empirical principles” (B78 A54). The principles of logic are not principles of empirical psychology, and their ultimate authority stems from something deeper than empirical necessities of thought. Logic for Kant was Aristotelian logic. [Or so Kant thought. Stoic logic had been mixed into what he took for simply logic and credited to Aristotle.] He thought this discipline to have been set out completely by Aristotle, and he thought such finality of the discipline was due to the distinctive character of the discipline that is logic. “Logic is a science that provides nothing but a comprehensive exposition and strict proof of the formal rules of all thought” (Bxiii). The office of logic is “to abstract from all objects of cognition and their differences; hence in logic the understanding deals with nothing more than itself and its form” (Bix; B170 A131). Logic is “vestibule” of the sciences in which we acquire knowledge. Logic is presupposed in all judgments constituting knowledge (Bix). Knowledge requires the joint operation of a receptivity of the mind and a spontaneity of the mind. In our receptivity, sensible objects are given to us. In our spontaneity of conceptualization and judgment, those objects are thought (B29 A15). Sensory presentations are givens. The spontaneity of cognition is the ability to produce presentations ourselves. Kant calls understanding the faculty for bringing given sensible objects under concepts and therewith thinking those objects (B74–75 A50–51). Logic is “the science of the rules of the understanding as such” (B76 A52). These are “the absolutely necessary rules of thought without which the understanding cannot be used at all” (B76 A52). Kant distinguishes the faculty of understanding from its superintendent, the faculty of reason. The understanding can arrive at universal propositions by induction. Correct syllogistic inferences among propositions are from reason (B169 A130; B359–60 A303–4). By its formal principles, reason provides unity to the rules of understanding (B359 A302). I should mention that it is not the role of reason (or of understanding) in logic that Kant tries to curb in his Critique of Pure Reason (B=1787 A=1781). This role Kant takes as within the proper jurisdiction of reason. Kant regards logic as “a canon of understanding and of reason” (B77 A53; B170 A131). A canon is a standard or rule to be followed. How can rules of logic be rules to be followed by the understanding if they are the rules that characterize what is the form of all thought? How can the rules prescribe for X if they are descriptive of what X is? Let X be alternatively the faculty of understanding or the faculty of reason, the question arises. Kant calls such logic general logic, and this he takes as abstracting away “from all reference of cognition to its object” (B79 A55). This conception of logic is significantly different from that of Rand: Logic is an art of identification, regimented by and towards the fact of existence and the fact that existence is identity. Over a period of forty years, Kant taught logic at least thirty-two times. Syllogistic inference and non-contradiction were the rules for formal logic. Kant took these rules to concern some of the requirements for truth. They do not amount to all of the requirements for truth, “for even if a cognition accorded completely with logical form, i.e., even if it did not contradict itself, it could still contradict its object” (B84 A59). That much is correct, and Kant is correct too in saying that “whatever contradicts these rules is false” (B84 A59). Why? “Because the understanding is then in conflict with its own universal rules of thought, and hence with itself” (B84 A59). How can the normativity of logic be accounted for if its principles are taken for correct independently of any relations they might have to existence and any of the most general structure of existence? Kant needs to explain how general logical norms for our thinking can be norms without taking their standard from the world and how such norms can be rules restricting what is possibly true in the world. Might the source of norms for the construction of concepts be the source of norms for inferences when concepts are working in judgments? Can the normativity of forms of inference among judgments be tied to normativity in forms of judgments and normativity in the general forms of concepts composing those forms of judgment? What requirements must concepts meet if they are to be concepts comprehending particulars in true ways? From the side of the understanding itself, the fundamental forms concepts may take are required to be systematically interconnected to satisfy the circumstance that the understanding “is an absolute unity” (B92 A67). Considered apart from their content, concepts rest on functions. “By function I mean the unity of the act of arranging various presentations under one common presentation” (B93 A68). So far, so good, but then Kant’s account stumbles badly. Concepts are employed in the understanding to make judgments. In judgments, according to Kant, “a concept is never referred directly to an object” (B93 A68). Concepts, when not referring to other concepts, refer to sensory or otherwise given presentations (B177 A138–42). This is part of Kant’s systematic rejection of what he called intellectual intuition. That rejection is not entirely wrongheaded, but this facet of the rejection is one of Kant’s really bad errors. I say as follows: the fact that concepts relate perceptually given particulars does not mean that concepts do not refer directly to the particulars of which we have perceptual experience. It simply does not square with the phenomenology of thought to say that when we are using a concept we are not referring directly to the existents (or the possibility of them) falling under the concept. Kant will have cut himself off from an existential source of normativity in judgment through concepts, thence a possible source of normativity for inferences among judgments, unless that normativity can be gotten through his indirect reference for concepts to existents through given presentations of existents. For Kant, as for most every epistemologist, concepts are unities we contrive among diverse things according to their common characteristics (B39 A25, B377 A320). The problem for Kant is that the diverse things unified are diverse given presentations in consciousness that become objects of consciousness only at the moments of conceptualization and judgment themselves (A103–6, A113–14, A119–23, B519–25 A491–97, B141–46). (Kant’s empirical realism, in A367–77, B274–79, and B232–47 A189–202, is subordinate to his transcendental idealism; but see Abela 2002 and Westphal 2004.) The concept body can be used as a logical subject or in the predicate of a judgment. As subject in “Bodies are divisible,” body refers directly to certain given presentations of objects, but body does not refer to those objects unless in use in a judgment. In use for predicate in “Metals are bodies,” body refers to the subject concept metal, which in turn refers to certain given presentations of objects (B94 A69). “The only use that the understanding can make of . . . concepts is to judge by means of them” (B93 A68). According to Kant, we cannot begin to understand the concept body otherwise than as in judgments. Right understanding of body means only knowledge of its particular right uses as the logical subject or in the logical predicate. Kant observes that judgments, like concepts, are unities. It is the faculty of understanding that supplies those unities by its acts. The logical forms of judgment are not conformed to identity structures in the world or in given sensory presentations. Kant conceived those presentations as having their limitations set by relations of part to whole. He thought they could not also, in their state as givens, have relations of class inclusion (B39 A25, B377 A320). This is a facet of his overly sharp divide between sensibility and understanding. I have long held that relations of class inclusion are not concrete relations, unlike the relations of part-whole, containment, proximity, or perceptual similarity. That does not conflict, however, with the idea that what should be placed in which classes should be actively conformed to particular concrete relations found in the world. Kant thought that our receptivity of given sensory presentation is not cognitive and requires conceptualization in order to become experience (B74–75 A50–51). “All experience, besides containing the senses’ intuition through which something is given, does also contain a concept of an object that is given in intuition, or that appears. Accordingly, concepts of objects as such presumably underlie all experiential cognition as its a priori conditions” (B126 A93). The sensory given presentation contains particular and specific information about the object that can be thought in concepts and judgments concerning the object. But the most general and necessary forms of objects in experience is not information supplied by the sensory given presentations (sensory intuitions), but by the understanding itself for agreement with itself (B114–16, B133n). Without the general form of objects supplied by the understanding, there is no cognitive experience of an object. “Understanding is required for all experience and for its possibility. And the first thing that understanding does for these is not that of making the presentation of objects distinct, but that of making the presentation of an object possible at all” (B244 A199). Kant is concerned to show that there are general patterns of necessity found in experience that are seamless with logical necessities. He errs in supposing that that seamlessness comes about because the general forms for any possible experience of objects logically precedes any actual experience of objects. That a percipient subject must have organization capable of perception if it is to perceive is surely so. Consider, however, that a river needs channels in order to flow, yet that does not rule out the possibility (and actual truth) that the compatibility of a valley and a river was the result of the flow of water. According to Kant, we could have no experience of objects without invoking concepts bearing, independently of experience, certain of the general forms had by any object whatsoever. The unity-act of the understanding that is the conceptual act, which gives a unified content, an object, to given sensory presentations is also the very unity-act that unifies the various concepts in a judgment (B104–5 A78–79). An additional power Kant gives to the understanding is the power of immediate inference. From a single premise, certain conclusions can be rightly drawn. “The proposition All human beings are mortal already contains the propositions that human beings are mortal, that some mortals are human beings, and that nothing that is immortal is a human being” (B360 A303). In these inferences, all of the material concepts, human being and mortal, appearing in conclusions were in the premise. Such inferences can be made out to be the mediate inferences of a syllogism, but only by adding a premise that is a tautology such as Some mortals are mortal (D-W Logic 769; J Logic 115). Mediate inferences require addition of a second judgment, a second premise, in order to bring about the conclusion from a given premise. The proposition All scholars are mortal is not contained in the basic judgment All men are mortal since the concept scholar does not appear in the latter. The intermediate judgment All scholars are men must be introduced to draw the conclusion (B360 A304). The basic judgment—the major premise of the syllogism—is thought by the understanding. This is the thinking of a rule. Under condition of that rule, the minor premise of the syllogism is subsumed, by the power of judgment. Lastly, reason makes determinate cognition by the predicate of the basic rule the new judgment, which is the conclusion (B360–61 A304). “What usually happens is that the conclusion has been assigned as a judgment in order to see whether it does not issue from judgments already given, viz., judgments through which a quite different object is thought. When this is the task set for me, then I locate the assertion of this conclusion in the understanding, in order to see whether it does not occur in it under certain conditions according to a universal rule. If I then find such a condition, and if the object of the conclusion can be subsumed under the given condition, then the conclusion is inferred from the rule which holds also for other objects of cognition. We see from this that reason in making inferences seeks to reduce the great manifoldness of understanding’s cognition to the smallest number of principles (universal conditions) and thereby to bring about the highest unity of this cognition.” (B361 A304–5) The faculty of reason, in contradistinction from understanding, does not deal with given sensory presentations, but with concepts and judgments. “Just as the understanding brings the manifold of intuition under concepts and thereby brings the intuition into connection,” so does reason “bring the understanding into thoroughgoing coherence with itself” (B362 A305–6). Reason provides cognition with logical form a priori, independently of experience. The principles of the understanding may be said to be immanent “because they have as their subject only the possibility of experience” (B365 A309). The principles of reason may be said to be transcendent in regard to all empirical givens. The spontaneity of thought is unifying activity, whether in conceiving, judging, or inferring. Readers here will have probably noticed in Kant the themes of integration and economy, which are major in Rand’s analyses of cognition. However, for Kant the unifying activity of the understanding and of reason is not “an insight into anything like the ‘intelligible’ structure of the world” (Pippin 1982, 93). Kant represents understanding and reason as working together as a purposive system. I maintain, in step with Rand, that all purposive systems are living systems or artifacts of those living systems. We hold that only life is an ultimate end in itself; life is the ultimate setter of all needs. The purposive system that is the human mind is the information-and-control system having its own dynamic needs derivative to serving the needs of the human individual and species for continued existence. Life has rules set by its needs for further life. Life requires not only coherent work among its subsystems, but fitness with its environment. Rules of life pertain to both. Rules of mind pertain to both (cf. Peikoff 1991, 117-19, 147-48). Rules of logic do indeed enable coherent work of the mind, but they also yield effective comprehension of the world. Identity and unity are structure in the world, and, in their organic elaboration, they are structure of the viable organism (cf. ibid., 125–26). The normativity of logic arises from the need of the human being for life in the world as it is. References Abela, P. 2002. Kant’s Empirical Realism. Oxford. Kant, I. 1992. Lectures on Logic. J. M. Young, translator and editor. Cambridge. ——. 1996. Critique of Pure Reason. W. S. Pluhar, translator. Hackett. Peikoff, L. 1991. Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. Dutton. Pippin, R. B. 1982. Kant’s Theory of Form. Yale. Westphal, K. R. 2004. Kant’s Transcendental Proof of Realism. Cambridge.
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    . Over a period of forty years (1756–96), Kant taught logic at least thirty-two times. Lecturers at the University of Konigsberg at that time were required to proceed upon a textbook recognized by the Prussian authorities. For his classes on logic, Kant used George Friedrich Meier’s Excerpt from the Doctrine of Reason (1752). The term excerpt (Auszug) here means that it treats its subject briefly, in contrast to a larger treatment. It does not mean the shorter treatment is a snippet from a larger work. Meier was a leading figure in the German Enlightenment. He had been a student of Christian Wolff and of Alexander Baumgarten. He studied John Locke in depth and helped introduce English philosophy in German lands. He straddled the rationalist and empiricist traditions. Auszug is not a text in formal logic, though it enters what we should be learning in an elementary logic text today by Meier’s bits on concepts, judgments, good definitions, proper inferences, and informal fallacies. Auszug touches on of all sorts of things that make the various types of human knowledge possible and the expression of knowledge excellent. I set down here some sections from Auszug: §§109–11 (which bear on Peikoff’s remarks on p. 185) and §§43, 98, 103 referred to in the 109–11 stretch. The translation is by Aaron Bunch (Bloomsbury 2016). §43. The ignorance of a human being is (1) an absolutely necessary and unavoidable ignorance, which he cannot avoid owing to the bounds of his power of cognition; and (2) a voluntary ignorance, whose contrary cognition he could attain if he wanted to. §98. We must not assume: (1) that a cognition is true, just because we are aware of no internal impossibility in it; (2) that it is false, just because we are aware of no internal possibility in it; (3) that a cognition is true, the groundlessness and false grounds and consequences of which we are unaware; (4) that a cognition is false, of which we cognize no correct grounds and consequences. For we human beings are not all-knowing. §103. Learned cognition can be false in a threefold way: (1) if the cognition of the things is false, although the cognition of the grounds is correct; (2) if the cognition of the grounds is false, although the cognition of the things is correct; (3) if the representation of the connection between the true grounds and consequences is incorrect . . . . Thus, a true learned cognition must be at the same time a correct cognition of the things, of the grounds, and of their connection . . . . §109. Error consists in our taking false cognition to be true, and true cognition to be false. Consequently, (1) every erroneous cognition is false . . . (2) not every false cognition is erroneous, namely if we cognize that it is false; (3) error arises from false cognition. Had we no false cognition at all, we could also have no errors. Error is worse than merely false cognition, for error is a secret poison. Learned cognition can therefore be erroneous in a threefold way §103. §110. Error arises §109 if we break the rules of the 98th paragraph. The first source or all errors is thus ignorance . . . , if it is accompanied by haste, whereby we deny that of which we have no cognition. §111. Error is either avoidable or unavoidable. The former arises from an avoidable ignorance, and the latter from an unavoidable ignorance §43. The former is nothing but a blameworthy disgrace to learned cognition, but the latter cannot and may not be avoided. It’s safe to wake up now. I should make two points concerning §110. The focus on haste in the production of error is likely simply a Cartesian hand-me-down analysis of error: human will outrunning human understanding. The focus on denials concerning things of which we have no cognition (also in §98) is mainly a bowing of the head to religious mysteries. Sealing obeisance to mysticism into theories of rational cognition was not an innovation of Immanuel Kant. Kant lectured for his logic classes, cued from Meier’s Auszug, but Kant was allowed to register and did register objections and to use points in this approved text as springboards to state his own views concerning those points and their neighborhoods. We have a few sets of class notes taken by students in Kant’s logic lectures. One set was taken in the early 1770’s, so that would be after his Inaugural Dissertation (1770) and during the period in which he was turning his thinking around to full vista of his Critical philosophy, as would be brought to press in 1781 in Critique of Pure Reason (KrV). A couple of sets of logic-lectures student notes are from around 1780, when Kant was completing KrV. Another set is from the early 1790’s. We have English translations of all these sets of class notes, issued by Cambridge in 1992. It is interesting to follow the student notes from the Kant lectures corresponding to §§109–11 across those different years of notes. (Any one of them is more interesting than Auszug itself.) One of Kant’s students was Gottlob Benjamin Jäsche. He had courses under Kant in 1791, and by end of the century, he had become a professor at Königsberg and an exponent of Kant’s philosophy. At Kant’s request, Jäsche composed a manual. It was issued in 1800, and it is titled Immanuel Kant’s Logic – A Manual for Lectures. Kant gave his lecture copy of Auszug, with all its margin notes and interleaved papers with notes that Kant had relied on at some time or other across his forty years of teaching logic. Jäsche tried to decipher the notes and include in the manual the notes he estimated to be in the later portion of Kant’s career. Kant never saw or approved the finished product. This manual remained available continuously in its original German to this day. It is given some wary weight by scholars trying to represent Kant’s views on logic. Today, Anglophone scholars know this work as The Jäsche Logic, and it is included with the other sets of student notes of Kant’s logic lectures translated into English in Immanual Kant – Lectures on Logic (Cambridge 1992). In his dissertation, Peikoff had to rely on the portion of The Jäsche Logic that had been translated by T. K. Abbott into English in 1885 under the title Kant’s Introduction to Logic. The contemporary translator for the Cambridge collection mentions that “Abbott’s translation, though not bad, is so loose and so old-fashioned in its terminology that I have not made any use of it.” Peikoff cites the Abbott translation of the Jäsche production as simply Kant, not Jäsche. That seems to have been customary in the era of Peikoff’s dissertation. William and Martha Kneale’s monumental The Development of Logic issued in 1962. They too cite the Jäsche production as Kant, not Jäsche. Incidentally, Peikoff in his dissertation does not mention anything from this book. Perhaps he had not studied it in time. Information in this text sometimes improved on points advanced by Peikoff from his older resources, and I shall mention some of these (not related to Kant) in the next thread. Writings of Kant himself would be the primary source in any representation of his view (which of course does not have any fog of translation for the German reader or scholar). I’d rate the original, German version of Jäsche’s manual as somewhere between a primary and a secondary source, and I’d rate that portion translated by Abbott (“not bad”) still between primary and secondary. It was unfortunate for Peikoff 1964 that Abbott did not include in his translation the Preface to the Jäsche Logic, that Abbott also did not include the logic-proper portion of the Jäsche Logic, and that Peikoff did not have, apparently, the placement of Kant in the history of logic lain out by Kneale and Kneale (1962). Peikoff relied also on a squarely secondary source for Kant’s picture, a source originating in English in 1860. I’ll look at that source in another post on this thread another day, hopefully soon. In my next post today in this thread, I’ll copy from an earlier study of mine, what one can say of Kant’s views on logic drawing simply from KrV. I wrote that piece years before I had gotten hold of Peikoff’s dissertation, and my contrast therein to Kant is not anyone among predecessors of Kant, but to me and to my contemporary Ayn Rand. Peikoff had KrV in hand, in English, back in his dissertation days, but he makes no mention with citation of these elements of KrV in his dissertation. What can be gleaned from KrV should be posted in this thread as part of the orienting preparation for the next thread which will tackle Peikoff’s dissertation and its offspring square on and which will engage many philosophers besides Kant.
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    Might I suggest that the issues of context and hierarchy of values are coming into play possibly? Also, I do believe Tara Smith, who generally seems to be a pretty competent person in her writings, has written some potentially relevant things on the rule of law. Does anybody around here happen to have said stuff she's written on the subject? It may prove helpful here in facilitating the discussion to get some input from a clear writer who has already put a lot of thought and effort into the subject.
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    I think we've reached a stopping point, then, for neither can I explain myself at present any better than I already have. But to this formulation, I will only say this: to whatever degree one's right to life is hindered, it is moral to act in order to remove or avoid said hindrance.
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    That was about "you are relatively free". You are mixing up my arguments. I had a post describing "wide areas of the law", and "entire rule of law", and taxation I explained as neither, as in it is really only a violation for people who really want no part of the government. That is, taxation is best fought (yes, -fought-, not justified) within the law as it is. And do you desire this to continue? Are these possibly reasons you would like to be a citizen? Totally, especially after I said that colonists were really abused after the Tea Party... The Revolution wasn't about taxation any more than the Civil War was about states' rights! Taxation was an issue as a symptom of a worse problem. Taxation, to me, is never a primary issue.
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    From Rand's notes: [Toohey] is the great Nihilist of the spirit. Toohey understands human greatness and the motive-power of human greatness better than any other man in the story. Roark is great, but too unself-conscious to analyze or understand it—for a long time. Keating and Wynand seek greatness blindly. Toohey knows its roots. One other passage I found that comes across as relevant to myself is from OPAR Pg. 170 Of all the variants of emotionalism, nihilism is the ugliest. Working off your title question accordingly: All power-lusters are emotionalists. Some emotionalists are nihilists.
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    Except that it isn't. If life is what you want, you must pay for it, by accepting and practicing a code of rational behavior. Morality, too, is a must—if; it is the price of the choice to live. That choice itself, therefore, is not a moral choice; it precedes morality; it is the decision of consciousness that underlies the need of morality. OPAR Pg. 245 Miss Rand addresses this with the exchange between Dagny Taggart and Hugh Akston in the valley: So long as men desire to live, I cannot lose my battle." "Do they?" said Hugh Akston softly. "Do they desire it?
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    Someone had to say it, I guess, breaking the social rule that you resist giving harsh advice unless the person s paying you for the wake up call Anyone who speaks of making 10 million dollars by following some fairly guaranteed business model is deluded. Worse still, you may be a patsy in a scheme being spun by your "friends". It sounds almost like an Amway opening pitch.
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    There've been a few pekple who tried to secede here and there. They usually figure on the news when the cops surround their homes with military style vehicles and persuade them to come back into their voluntary, consensual citizenship,
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    In the Playboy interview. The question quoted below sparks a lenghty discussion about purpose: I agree with the rest of your post. ------------------ Absolutely. This is one of the biggest selling points of religion. Many religions give people a much-needed purpose, as well as coherence to their activities by tying them to that central purpose. In an article from VoS, the following areas of human values are named: work, sex, art, human relationships and recreation. What's unique about Objectivism is the way it stresses that only productive work can serve as a long-range purpose. A demanding career helps you keep your mind in top shape, it develops your character, it's extremely fulfilling and it acts as an important enabler of your other values. A major theme in Rand's novels is how love, art and recreation are not only stand-alone values, but also intricately connected to your purpose - art serving as emotional fuel, recreation as a celebration of your work, sex as an expression of the pride you take in the character - which you mostly formed through a demanding purpose. A being with limited time, energy and resources can't be purposeful unless he follows a specific method, and Ayn Rand stressed the need of hierarchy and integration. Hierarchy means arranging your values in the order of their importance, in order to help you apportion your time wisely (the #1 spot is always allocated to your productive purpose). Integration means that your values cannot clash. For example, if you really want to be a painter, but your girlfriend is pressing you to go into med school; that's disintegration. A productive purpose is not the only value, but every value in your hierarchy must cooperate like the organs in your body, forming the seamless whole which is your life. Galt in his speech paints the following picture: your body is a machine, your mind is the driver. The destination is your productive purpose. Your other values are travellers you choose to share your journey with, and you can only share it with travelers that go in the same direction by their own power (integration). In closing, here's a great quote from ITOE that sheds more light on Rand's idea of purposefulness.
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    I only have a vague, mostly second-hand idea of Sam Harris; but, I agree that he differs from Objectivists in pretty fundamental ways. Indeed, a decade ago, most Objectivists who point out his good bits would probably have focused on his bad bits. I think the reason is that one picks one's battles: and, I assume more Objectivists who listen to Harris, link to him, etc. would also acknowledge his flaws. Analogously, the defeat of the Soviets in Afghanistan took the west from fighting an enemy whose philosophy was based on explicit naturalism and reason (the commies ) to an enemy with a mystical belief in the "uncreated" nature of an ancient scripture.
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    What if owning the place you sleep at night had a substantial impact on the child prodigy speed at which the world has evolved in the last 200 years? What if rent is dragging us back into the feudalism of the dark ages? Consciousness and existence are corollaries. No consciousness without existence, no existence without consciousness. If you own your self isn't it significant to own your shelter?
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    How do you quantify productivity in purpose? There are countless examples of hard working people who go downhill very quickly in a couple years following retirement, and I would argue that they died from boredom. I listened to an audio book about people who lived to be over a hundred, the book claimed the number one trait they shared was a sense of purpose. I believe it is productive to laugh, to play, to learn. What will you do with your learning? How long can a man who has been productive enough to sustain his life stop himself from doing something, anything... Will you build no bench, will you pull no weed, will you paint no wall, will you pass no jewel of knowledge to a random stranger in a coffee shop? Keep in mind everything Rand said was very personal to her own happiness. I think Rand is giving words to a sense in herself and perhaps yourself that may at times become unsatisfied, speaking to the part of you that is living below his potential. I think living with a chronic sense of dissatisfaction with one's self is painfully wrong. That focus becomes a habit that sometimes blocks a man from seeking solutions. I was recently talking with my grandmother in her eighties. The moments when she feels like her purpose is gone is very painful. She still works her garden and visits the senior center weekly. I remind her she is keeping her friends alive with her quick wit and banter. She does the best she can, to her fullest ability. I think Rand once compared a brain surgeon to a janitor in the same building. The characters she described were equal morally because each was doing his best at the job he was capable of.
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    What is your problem? That was a brilliant article, very well researched and well argued from an Objectivist standpoint. That is not spam at all, jesus you are biased.
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    ARI Watch has a devastating article of the same title: Ayn Rand on Immigration.
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    Consider just this snippet, and let us assume it is true. What makes this person happy? It is not the dividend payments as such. Those are the enablers that allow him to do XYZ, and that XYZ -- in turn -- makes him happy. Can raising kids be a happy pursuit? Ask yourself that before making the leap to "is it moral"? Suppose you answer "yes", it can make on happy to spend one's time raising kids, or plants, or chickens. The next question would be: why? What aspect of it makes you happy? We're not speaking of some occasional laugh you get along the way. Rather: what is it about that pursuit that gives the person that deeper sense of happiness? Very often you'll find yourself answering something very close to: purpose. "Seeing a young person develop", or "helping a young person discover the world". The implication of Rand's ethics is that seeking purpose is an important -- indeed primary -- source of enduring and deep happiness.
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    No. While someone does have the right to wish you dead, they don't have the right to do it using a service that belongs to someone who forbids such behavior. And Twitter does forbid that. You are right to take advantage of their policies, and spare yourself from being subjected to that kind of behavior. As for reporting this to the government (on the grounds of "harassment"), that's a more interesting question. Harassment should indeed be a crime (and it is...in most jurisdictions, it's referred to as "stalking"). But if it happens once, no, it is not "harassment/stalking". Harassment/stalking entails a series of credible threats aimed at terrorizing someone, not just a one time expression of ill will. I like the precedents set by the US judiciary, on what constitutes a threat. They go the farthest towards protecting free speech, out of any country. Check out cases involving the Black Panthers threatening Police, for instance, on wikipedia. They make for an interesting read. It is amazing how far you can take free speech rights in the US...and rightfully so, imo.
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    Thomas Sowell has come out of retirement to express his support for Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. Of all Trump's cabinet picks so far, she has faced the fiercest opposition in the Senate, where there is a 50-50 stalemate. Calling the DeVos nomination both a once-in-a-generation opportunity for educational reform and a major threat to teachers' unions, Sowell elaborates: [DeVos] has, for more than 20 years, been promoting programs, laws and policies that enable parents to choose which schools their children will attend -- whether these are charter schools, voucher schools or parochial schools. Some of these charter schools -- especially those in the chain of the Success Academy schools and the chain of the KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) schools -- operate in low-income, minority neighborhoods in the inner-cities, and turn out graduates who can match the educational performances of students in affluent suburbs. What is even more remarkable, these charter schools are often housed in the very same buildings, in the very same ghettoes, where students in the regular public schools fail to learn even the basics in English or math. You and I may think this is great. But, to the teachers' unions, such charter schools are a major threat to their members' jobs -- and ultimately to the unions' power or existence. If parents have a choice of where to send their children, many of those parents are not likely to send them to failing public schools, when there are alternative schools available that equip those youngsters with an education that can open the way to a far better future for them. [bold added]DeVos might be a dream candidate for this post, if (a) she were a principled advocate of laissez-faire, or (b) she were nominated by such a president, who would make sure her reforms would most likely lead to the abolishment of government schools. Neither is the case and, on top of that, DeVos, who explicitly regardsher activism as as a means to "advance God's Kingdom," wants religious schools to be eligible for vouchers. Plainly, on the grounds of separation of religion and state, these schools shouldn't be eligible, and including them in a voucher program (especially outside the explicit context of privatizing education) reinforces the dangerous precedent of government funding of religious activity set by Bush-Obama's "faith-based initiatives." That said, the mind-killing death grip the unions have on (what should be) education means, in light of Sowell's arguments (and the public not being ready for privatization), that we can't necessarily rule her out on that basis. Many parochial schools produce children better able to think than do the public schools. (And many parents would send their children to them, anyway. Note that this is not the same thing as the government sending their kids to them at the expense of others. The fact that people can misuse their freedom does not in any way justify the government funding or preventing such choices.) I am inclined to favor her nomination with eyes open as a means of reining back the power of the teachers' unions and freeing some young minds in the process. This is not a firm opinion, but DeVos may well be the best selection we can hope for in some time. Regardless, religious conservatives should not be confused with capitalists, and they have repeatedly shown themselves to be just as eager to dine at the trough of government loot as their fellow altruist-collectivistson the left. I would be pleasantly surprised to see her appointment bring us breathing room, but I don't expect much more. And it could well backfire. -- CAV Link to Original
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    What a game! Fatherhood and a greater interest in soccer combined long ago to make me only an very occasional viewer of the NFL. And so it was that I found myself watching Super Bowl LI yesterday -- at my wife's urging. I knew the Super Bowl was coming soon, but it wasn't until my wife asked me to pick up Super Bowl goodies from the store Thursday that I realized it was right on top of us. I expected the Patriots to win and, having lived in Boston, was rooting for them, but I fully expected them to put the game safely out of reach quickly enough for me to retire early. With the opposite apparently happening and not really having dogs in the hunt, I made the mistake of confusing Tom Brady for a mere mortal and went upstairs to get ready to move the kids to their beds. When I returned, there was a football game on, the kind I'd never forgive myself for not watching. Like millions of others, I got to see Tom Brady and Bill Belichick make Super Bowl history against a fearsome opponent. I am happy to pay for that spectacle with the small price of feeling tired this morning. Seeing someone overcome what he did early in the season and for much of the game is something I needed, and it will be good to remember. Brady was on fire. There was a look in his eye that told me he would win or put up a valiant fight. He wasn't there just because he is a professional. But football is just as much a mental game as it is a physical one, and it is worth reading about how the coaches and players engineered this comeback: Undeterred by Jones' brilliant grab, Belichick settled on the double-Julio Jones strategy. And then the Patriots started getting pressure on Ryan, coming up with two huge sacks in the fourth quarter. The first a strip sack that changed the game. The second sack pushed the Falcons out of field goal range. All of Belichick's tinkering had finally paid off. After scoring 28 points over the first 36 minutes of the game, the Falcons were shut out the rest of the way. We've praised Belichick (and rightfully so? [sic] but give credit to both Matt Patricia, who's established himself quite the reputation as a defensive coordinator and should be getting a head job very soon, and the Patriots secondary for playing their part in the turnaround. "We made some adjustments," Patricia said. "[Our defensive backs] do a good job of coming back and giving us feedback. I think those guys understand the game to a level that I don't think anybody really comprehends. They'll come back and say 'Hey, we see this, we think we can do this, maybe let's make this adjustment,' and that's what they did." [bold added]I recall hearing at one point in the first half that Belichick had said that a coach who waits until halftime to make changes is too late. This game proves it, although the payoff didn't become apparent until late in the game, after it seemed to me to be a lost cause. Ignore the complaints about the NFL's tie-breaking procedure (which I admit is flawed) or the idea that the Falcons "choked." They were a worthy opponent, whom it took a coaching genius and one of the game's greatest players to defeat. They are young and, if they are as good as I think they are, this loss will galvanize them in much the same way Deflategate did the Patriots this year. They will have something to prove, and if they persist, I think they will prove it. -- CAV Link to Original
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    Objectivist Ed Powell has written a paper against the open borders immigration position of other Objectivists (Binswanger, Tracinski, Biddle, Bernstein, Duke). This raises the question: Does a foreigner have a right to cross an international border? Powell says no. Powell says the burden of proof that any applicant for entry is not a threat to the freedom or security of the country lies with the applicant. The paper is well written, the position well argued. For reference: Binswanger's essay and Biddle's essay
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    Thank you. On the one hand I am happy that Trump's policies are making immigration big news. Even though I disagree with most of what he's done, immigration has been a dead issue for years. (Remember when Republicans lost some ground in the previous election and for about two weeks immigration reform was sort of being considered?) On the other hand I watch the protests - I see the gross cliche clenched fist symbols being employed, and the usual "love wins" type of crap, and I wish the opportunity weren't being squandered by misguided hippies. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad there is such an outpouring of support for immigrants and refugees, but I just wish it weren't the Occupy types leading the charge. They don't deserve to.
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    One may count using one's fingers, but one's fingers can't count. A computer program, aside from the programmer, is as deterministic as the computer which runs the program. It can only "learn" and "modify" its "behavior" to the extent the programmer understands and exploits his understanding of the finite deterministic aspects of the device.
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    What's the bottom line though? I mean, everything takes labor. However, the labor theory of value says that value of an output is based on the quantity of the labor input. A casual observer would point out that that is false if one uses the terms in a normal way. Most adults know two workers who can take the same amount of time, one producing a lot of value, and the other less than half of the former. To get around this, an economist has to define "labor" in some special way. However, that special way becomes begging the question: the idea itself has no explanatory value if the term is being morphed to fit a previous explanation. And, even with those contortions, a casual observer would kill the theory by pointing out that the value of the very same thing can change over time, with zero additional labor applied to it. To counter this, Adam Smith or Marx (both of whom backed the labor theory of value) have to redefine value to mean something other than value to a valuer. They have to treat value as some intrinsic fact about (say) a horse-whip, with no relationship to the context in which it exists and the purpose it serves.
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    I have no major issue with the rest of your post. I think, though, that an inborn desire or instinct to seek life does not exist. Not even for an animal like a dog. In the first place, a desire implies wanting, a feeling. To want something would require awareness of wanting. I don't see how any of this can happen - is this desire appearing out of nowhere? For sure, pain and pleasure themselves, as raw sensations, are not chosen. These are metaphysically given. But if desires are like that too, no desire can be helped, it's unrelated to thought. If a desire can be helped, even erased, it is related to thought, and arises from those thoughts. I'm saying "thought" as a way to point out all those complex things besides mere reactions. A choice to eat does rest on an implicit choice to live - in conceptual creatures. A dog, for example, I'd argue is in a state of low focus with regard to recognizing alternatives AS alternatives. It has no conceptual aparatus because it lacks a capacity to focus on non-perceptual differences past simple labels. A dog, then, can't choose to live, its choices are simplistic. There is no way for it to choose to live, so there is no implicit choice. Babies have such a capacity though. So, the choice to live makes sense for all people, but never other animals. I am sure it relates to whatever your views are on the details of what volition is and entails. For one, it looks like a choice to you demands understanding of something in reality, so prior to choice, there are only innate drives to live that no one could act against. But then I'm left wondering how anyone comes to understand anything if understanding precedes choice. We've disagreed in the past about volition, so it makes sense we'd disagree on this topic, too.
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    Asking how logic applies to government is a lot like asking how physics applies to government. Governments exist as part of reality. Logic is about how reality functions and therefore applies to reality in general. That's how/why logic applies to government. Government is not some kind of weird floating exception to reality or apart from reality. Everything from there on out is just going to be specific examples of logic used on government. Is that what you really want though? Just a list of examples? From what I've seen, Rand didn't really use the heavily symbol laden "formal" logic much anyway, but to the extent the symbol-based version is still properly formed logic, what I said still applies. You've made lots of threads here based on questions/objections to Objectivism. If you've said so before, sorry for the repeat, but aside from this forum, what are your sources of information on Objectivism? Also, do you yet consider any of your questions/objections to be sufficiently answered/resolved? I don't think I recall you saying before if you thought any of them were before you moved along to another thread and stopped posting in a previous one.
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    This may represent my last contribution to this thread -- for a while, at least. No promises to stay away entirely (which is always difficult for me), but I feel I'm about at my limit to explain myself fully, and usually when I feel this way it's best to take a step back and recharge. So let me try to explain what I believe is actually going on with the "choice to live," at this point in the conversation, as clearly as I can. (And I think it might be close to some of your own beliefs, at this point, though perhaps that's not correct.) I think that this is the general situation man finds himself in: man has choices to make, of his nature. (And this is as an adult, volitional, etc.) Some of these choices produce outcomes we'd roundly describe as preferable, and some that we would not want at all. We'd earlier considered "life" and "milk" and decided (or I decided, at least, though I suspect you concur) that what we want is "life and milk" or even more accurately "a life full of milk." So the question becomes: how does one achieve this in reality? And ethics is the attempt to answer that question. It is the blueprint to achieve "a life full of milk," in reality, given the fact that we have choices to make where some choices will help us to achieve that "life full of milk," and some will not. Okay. So. Given this perspective, a person could ask of himself of any given proposed action/choice -- "will this lead me closer to a life full of milk? Or farther away?" But this "takes for granted" that a man wants "a life full of milk." And so philosophers, being who and what they are, have challenged this ethical perspective by asking, "Well, what if a man doesn't want a life full of milk? What then? Does the whole thing collapse?" I believe that "the choice to live" is an attempt to respond to this question, in asserting that men have an initial ("primary") choice to pursue a life full of milk (which is "the choice to live," where "live" is understood in the more robust "flourishing" sense, rather than mere survival), which is itself amoral. Absent this choice, sure, a man does not need this ethics; but then such a man would need no ethics at all, because what is possibly worth pursuing except for a life full of milk? Here's the (central) problem with this "choice to live": a "choice" is an actual concept, an actual thing, in reality. We talk of "choice," we know "choice," because we (volitional adults) make choices. And I do not believe that actual people, in reality, make this "choice to live" which is, again, an attempt to answer the question of "what if a man doesn't want a life full of milk?" I believe that no such "choice" exists in reality. There are problems which then radiate outward from this central error, which Peikoff in various writings and lectures has attempted to address; but because there is no "choice to live," he can never manage to do so with complete consistency. Some of these problems include the supposedly arbitrary nature of a "choice to live," and the applicability (or lack thereof) of this doctrine to actual, human suicide. Defending this "choice to live" doctrine sews great confusion, to the extent that a person attempts to apply it consistently or even understand it. Some of that confusion results in the Craig Biddle video I'd responded to in the OP, where he attempts to say that it cannot be answered on the one hand, but that everyone "who has a context" can answer it on the other, or others attempting to assert that newborn babies somehow manage to "choose to live," despite a lack of understanding of what "life" even is. "The choice to live" is, in many respects, an ethical "god of the gaps." Yet just as the "god of the gaps," none of it is necessary. "What if a man doesn't want a life full of milk?" I don't know to what extent I'm able to defend this position, at present, but here's what I've come to believe the actual answer is: not that men make an amoral choice, outside of space and time, but that no such man exists or is able to exist. (Men may believe themselves to not want a life full of milk -- and hold an "explicit philosophy" stating as much -- but they are unable to make this true about themselves, or their nature, just as they cannot will themselves to fly to Mars by flapping their arms, even if they believe that they can.) Insofar as we have accurately identified the "good" in life (e.g. "a life full of milk"), it is what men want, according to the nature of man. Those things that comprise the good -- that comprise "a life full of milk" -- being survival, pleasure and happiness -- we do not "choose" to desire, or value. We value them because that is part of our identity, part of our design, just as an actual baby does not "choose" to value the pleasure of his mother's actual milk, but simply does. There is no answer as to "why men value happiness," for instance, except that this is what happiness is. And pleasure (which I believe stands at the root of happiness, though this is also a position I am working on fleshing out--especially in this thread) is good, of its nature; it is, indeed, the root and source of our very conception of the good. (I know you're bound to have objections related to "intrinsicism"; perhaps in the future we can examine those objections.) "A life full of milk," yes? Yes. But this is all within the context of "what's possible." And indeed, there is no particular or necessary measure of "how much life" or "how much milk" is possible to any given man, at any given time. We wish as much milk over as much life as possible, in any given context. Or as Rand said: "Life is the purpose of life. You should enjoy your life. You should be happy in it. Your proper moral obligation is to pursue the highest form of happiness possible to you -- and can explain/prove your choice to yourself, in rational, logical terms." I think this is the most succinct explication of ethics possible. (Possible to me, at least). If one's proper moral obligation is to pursue the highest form of happiness possible to himself, given his context, then it doesn't matter if it's someone sixteen years old and at the beginning of his life, or one hundred and sixteen and at the very end. It is still his proper moral obligation to pursue the highest form of happiness possible to himself, given his particular circumstances. When considering suicide, I think it is necessary to acknowledge the existence of vinegar. Just as we should like "a life full of milk," we wish to avoid "a life full of vinegar." The idea of "justified suicide" is enough to establish that the standard you suggest (where "life would be the result of moral action") is flawed, and in need of improvement (here, that "life" is misunderstood in context). For even in "tragic circumstances," man still encounters the same basic situation which gives rise to ethics in the first place: man has choices to make, of his nature. Some of these choices produce outcomes we'd roundly describe as preferable, and some that we would not want at all. When a man finds himself in a position such that milk is unavailable (or in exceedingly short supply), and all there is to drink is vinegar, there are still certain outcomes which are preferable to others, due to the nature of both milk and vinegar (and man). Ethics remains our tool to assess among these various outcomes, to select the best possible option. Sometimes suicide is the best possible option, given a dire context, which is the sense in which it is both "justified" and moral. A code of ethics is not fundamentally a "third party" affair. And absolutely a man needs a rational code of ethics to avoid pain (whether by "painless death" or "painless last month of life," which might represent the very same decision) -- because man's choices (including seeking relief from pain in various circumstances) are instrumental in determining whether he will or will not experience that pain. For instance, I can direct you to arguments made on this very forum that it is good to experience pain, as such (because all experience is accounted good). That is an ethical argument, but it is deeply, woefully mistaken. Someone taught that by his parents should hope to discover some code of ethics (even via third party) which will allow him to cast it off, lest he suffer more pain than necessary or warranted. And by the way, you should aspire to be in the position to tell someone that what they're doing in committing suicide (in select circumstances) is ethical. Presumably you wouldn't be so wooden in your communication, in context, but if someone asked you (valuing your rationality) whether you thought it was "right" of them to take their own life, given their exceedingly tragic circumstances (perhaps against some moral doctrine they were raised to believe, such as many religions present, where all suicide is considered evil), the proper answer is: yes. There is a central misunderstanding reflected here, one which has the potential to corrupt all ethical understanding. Though I do not expect to participate in further conversation for a while, when I return (rested, rejuvenated), this might be a good place to resume. Ethics can be thought of as being "for the long run" in certain valid senses, but it cannot rightly be thought of as "for the future." Life is nothing but a series of "nows," and each now is an end in itself. What that means is, we do not validate our decisions wholly from the perspective of some future self who looks back and says, "Yes, I picked right" or "No, I did not." If that were the case, then all of this would be moot, because in the long long long run, we will all be dead, and unable to evaluate our earlier choices. Just as someone will not survive his suicide to judge whether he was right or wrong to have experienced some particular measure of pain, none of us will survive our deaths to pass judgement over our earlier choices, even those that may have led to our deaths. What matters is what we experience in the moment that we experience it. The suffering of needless pain is evil, and that evil is not obviated by the fact that -- at some point in the future (near or long-term) -- the agent suffering that needless pain will no longer have the capacity to regret the fact. It is wrong in the moment it is experienced. The happiness that a man feels while alive is not rendered valueless or meaningless accounting to the cessation of death either, not even if his happiness was in his very last moment of life (as the monk who eats the strawberry). His happiness, in each moment it is experienced (including the last), stands eternally as its own justification, an end in itself.
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    That's alright. I should have made this clearer, but the point is only to figure out whether: men have any innate, universal visual preferences - such as health, clear skin, hip-to-waist ratio, facial symetry - that transcend even cultural standards of beauty if visual preferences can be changed by subsequent knowledge, conceptual thinking, culture, connotation (e.g. by knowing about the characters of the two women). If I read correctly, Nicky agrees that a picture of MEG can cause automatic pleasure responses and that a preference for the japanese singer can be manipulated via visual cues such as makeup, clothing, the quality of the photos - he does not, however, endorse the field of Psychology. SoftwareNerd, when you talk about changing your preference, which type are you refering to? Romantic preference, or visual preference? If you showed a picture of MEG to the second woman's husband, and the husband was madly in love with his wife, I think he would still be able to say that the pop singer is visualy superior, even though he romanticaly prefers what he already has. In regard to whether visual preferences can be changed by subsequent knowledge, connotation and extra-visual elements: I doubt it, because of that dreaded "volition-destroying" monster which is Human Psychology.
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    Sexual arousal is part of human psychology, which studies much more than the 'thought-content' of your mind. This is the meaning I was using. Automatic sensations? Careful, lest somebody here calls you a Kantian, then proceeds to lecure you on there being no innate 'instincts' and that all pleasure responses are created by your internalized, chosen value judgements, since man is a conceptual being, and a conceptual being does not automatically know that hot young women are more desirable than older, less fertile ones. It's important to ask a very objective woman, since pictures like these tend to get on their nerves... Precisely. A handful of stylists and professional photographers go a long way to influence our automatic... whoops - our conceptual, personaly chosen value responses which we have subconsciously habituated. I know they have a knack for tickling mine. I might have confused some of you with my nickname. The girl in my avatar and in the comparision photo is a japanese singer that goes by the stage name MEG. She also has great music. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and Fashion Monster are, of course, awesome. In terms of looks, the first one. For me it's also very important that a woman shares some common interests of mine but hey. To each his own. Exactly, Eiuol. I rarely see people use that term to refer to specific thoughts, like Nicky claimed. Saying that this would imply a collective consciousness is like saying that, since people have bodies that are very much alike - eyes, legs, arms, physiological reflexes etc. - the only way to make sense of this is by assuming the existence of a collective human body. Agreed. I was responding to this particular point because a great deal of objectivists tend to be skeptical about the human mind having a nature and innate capacities, such as the one to recognize scarcity, sexual and genetic fitness, beauty and so on. They find this claim to be a fierce attack on free will, because, according to them, this would 'plant' thoughts into their minds without their volition, alla determinism.
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    I have personally not experienced any kind of success convincing another person about the logic behind Objectivism and why the philosophy is The Way, The Truth, and The Light. Maybe it's too wordy for most people when presented that way, maybe there aren't enough social scenarios where people accept deeper conversations, I don't know the reason, but a brick wall is hit every time. During the past couple of years I've given up the "lectures" altogether and replaced them with one-off comments in normal conversation, where I really try to think about everything from as realistic a standpoint as I can and then take a second to sum it up succinctly with a somewhat philosophical-style comment, delivered in my own words/formulation for the conversation only. People have really responded to this method, it feels like magic compared to the old strategy. At the same time, I've focused more on my own life than on an Objectivst agenda (I'm part of a trend, I guess?), with several benefits: a better life, from which to draw examples, and a better understanding of the purpose of philosophy, and why someone would follow principles to begin with, from which I can formulate my summations. I'm beginning to think there is no other way to get people to legitimately change their views. There has to be something to look at in real life for an "aha!" moment to happen. More emphasis should be placed on Rand's life success and enduring influence as support for the validity of her philosophy. More Objectivists should emphasize their own real life benefits following a stellar philosophy.
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    Why would it be an elaborate fallacy of composition? I explain in the paper that the composition isn't really important, and doesn't matter what something is composed of to be an object. I explain that causality matters. If I am wrong, then please argue against my claims or find the error if there is one. The bound of a universe is all that exists, i.e. it is its own boundary. It is still boundless as far as a "hard limit" does not exist, but the universe is exactly as big as all things in totality that exist. However this is NOT sufficient for objecthood. So, I go on to argue that emergent, systematic, and relational combination is sufficient. I think that the universe meets those conditions.
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    Consciousness is a functionality biological mechanisms possess. So, your question boils down to: is it possible to recreate that functionality in a different mechanism? And yes, sure. Why wouldn't it be. Of course, the brain is the most complex thing in nature, and we're still struggling with much simpler kinds of functionality found in living things, so it's going to take a lot of effort. But it's a finite amount of complexity, that will take a finite amount of effort to understand and re-create.