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  1. 3 points

    Why Objectivism is so unpopular

    I think the problem really starts because self-improvement is not the focus. I think you're both right. The outward/political focus versus self-improvement or the pursuit of personal happiness, and also the combative style... though not necessarily so much Rand's (though that's part of the issue), as that of Objectivists who try to ape her style. In my experience, most Objectivists have no idea how to talk to people outside of the Objectivist community, and no apparent desire to try to distinguish those who might be fundamentally open to reason, yet mistaken on one or several points. How to talk to people, to discuss ideas, to persuade -- both within and outside of Objectivism -- is a topic that is not only under-explored, but is regarded with outright suspicion by some. Some people seem content to pass moral judgement and condemn others to hell, rather than the (admittedly more difficult) project of examining their own methods of communication. I have found that many Objectivists have the reputation of being "assholes"; so much so that it's arguably regarded as characteristic. I don't think it's even undeserved. But it doesn't have to be so. I've known many utterly pleasant and polite Objectivists, and I see no reason why someone cannot be both correct and nice. Even our expressions of anger, where merited, can stand critical examination and improvement. Above all, I think that empathy is a vital characteristic (I would not go so far as to say that it is a "virtue," because I am not prepared for the argument -- but I'm not dismissing it either). I've used this analogy before, and I think it still serves: Objectivists have the best product on the market. We have truth. We have reason and reality on our side -- and despite what you may have heard (and despite humanity's checkered history), reason and reality are fairly persuasive forces. They keep all of us alive, every day, and have formed the basis for all of humanity's many achievements. So despite everything we're working against (deeply ingrained cultural forces, including academia, the media, and political institutions), I think Objectivism stands poised to remake the world. What we need -- what any great product needs -- is sales. We need to examine and re-examine (and re-examine again) our means and methods of communicating our ideas to a world which is frankly starving for reason, for peace, for happiness. We must continue to improve upon our approach until we succeed.
  2. 2 points
    Now that the meaning is sorted out, I have a question: what are the implications of the distinction? Is it possible that what is good -- in principle and always -- for each and every individual, is actually not good for me? If yes, could you provide an example. If not, are there additional things that are good for me, but not always good for each and every individual? I doubt this is possible as long as one expresses the latter abstractly enough, like "take the specific medicine related to your specific disease" , or even something more abstract like "take appropriate medicine when appropriate" For additional clarity, it might help to focus on some sub-set of human endeavor: say car maintenance. Is it possible that "good car maintenance" is at odds with "the maintenance that my particular car -- with all its idiosyncrasies -- needs"?
  3. 2 points
    I'm sorry but this seems nonsensical and prone to context dropping. Surely a man's moral standard cannot be Man's life, as in Mankind's life, that isn't practicable or even possible even if one could make sense of it. Certainly understanding general principles of human exercise and diet etc are useful in determining right and wrong from the standpoint of activity and eating but only as a rough first approximation. One must act in the context of ones own particular life but one's own person, taking his joint condition or seafood allergies into account to determine what is beneficial to his life and what is inimical to it.
  4. 2 points
    The answer to that is not simple but multilayered. The abstraction literally exists only in a man's mind, but all of man exists in reality. It has to do with the fact that on the one hand there is a mind which perceives, identifies, thinks about, remembers, things in the real world. Generally the referents of mental activity are real. The contents of mental activity ARE to be distinguished from the things in reality which is why one should be careful about confusing concepts and their referents... they are not the same thing. On the other hand man is a natural system, he is in his entirety made of natural stuff, functioning according to the particular arrangement and state of that part of reality of which he is made. Man is not divorced from reality or separate from it, he is embedded in it... this is also true of his brain and his mind. The abstraction chair (in the context of a man) is a dynamic existing subset/or portion of an incredibly complex process and equally complex system which obtains whenever that man goes through the process of thinking about a chair. The existence of that dynamic existing subset is required for him to introspectively assert he is thinking about chairs and using the process of conceptualization.. i.e. that he holds an abstraction "chair" which refer to "chairs" of reality. It also must exist for him to make any decision based in any way on any consideration involving chairs... without the concept a man would not walk over and sit on it. The fact that chairs are even made rely on the fact of existence in a men's mind the abstraction "chair" otherwise he would not build it. Here is where we come to the central issue. "What" in existence we mean by the "abstraction" chair? Certainly there is no little chair floating around in a man's skull, there is no wood, and no chair backs, or legs. There is no image on a man's frontal lobe in the shape of a chair. There is an unfathomably complex process occurring in a mass of chemicals and cells and electrical impulses... There is an aspect of reality which corresponds to the abstraction in a man's mind of "chair". As I hinted at previously this can be seen or experienced from two perspectives, the internal first person one and the third person one. From the first person perspective the fact of reality which is the abstraction in the man's mind is experienced as a thought of a "chair". From the third person perspective the fact of reality which is the abstraction in the man's mind would be observed and identified as something which looks nothing like a chair and may in fact be unrecognizable without the most sophisticated diagnostic system. The abstraction literally exists only in a man's mind, but all of man exists in reality.
  5. 2 points

    Fallacy of Pure Self reference

    Another sentence Dr. Binswanger used in his example of the fallacy of self reference was: This sentence is true. The problem is that the sentence only refers to itself as true. Here is the example given along with another variation that the good Dr. provided in one of his audio presentations. This sentence has exactly six words. or This sentence is in written in English. True, the latter two sentences refer to themselves, but not purely as self reference. Both name facts that can be verified. An individual can count the words, or recognize the words as belonging to the English language. What about the first sentence can be independently verified as true? What about the first sentence is true? It has no cognitive content. It has no what. He draws a parallel to Miss Rand's identification of "A consciousness conscious of nothing but itself is a contradiction in terms." Again, there is no cognitive content. Welcome to the forum.
  6. 2 points
    I think "sefishness" keeps some people from picking up Rand. It's one part in the vague rumor out there that paints Rand as light-weight and paints Objectivism as a bit looney. On the other hand, there could be some who are thus motivated to pick up Rand. My guess would be that all the buzz by pro and anti commentators is a net positive when it comes to picking up Rand. Once someone picks up Rand, I don't think it matters too much whether she calls it selfishness, vs. toning down the nomenclature and keeping everything else the same. I think the real problem in the marketing of Objectivism was stressing its politics. Instead, the stress should have been on true selfishness: focus on being happy, and let politics, mostly, go to hell.
  7. 1 point
    People have to learn to handle their subconscious premises, and they can make innocent mistakes about it. Thus it doesn't follow that someone with an unbreached rationality will be perfectly integrated in his psychology. Conversely, it doesn't follow that someone who feels an out-of-context desire has been irrational somewhere. The long-term ideal of the rational man is to achieve perfect integration between conscious and subconscious, and this needs to be striven for. But its lack at any given time is not a sure sign of irrationality, and it doesn't defeat the virtue of actions based on explicit moral principle. Ayn Rand agreed with me: http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/psychologizing.html#order_4 In Atlas Shrugged, Rand also had her supremely ideal man, John Galt, relate an instance in which he experienced an out-of-context desire while observing Hank Rearden. That he felt that desire did not make him immoral. A consequence of the view that you ascribe to Rand would be that psychology is an illegitimate profession: It would just be a sanction of irrationality: a cover that allows the irrational to pretend that they're rational. Any rational man would have his psychology completely figured out and integrated, with no conflicts. (The most we might say a psychologist would be useful for would be to hear about the patient's emotional conflicts and then condemn him for his bad premises. The psychologist would merely act as a form of punishment for a perpetrator of irrationality. But then this wouldn't require any specialized training, only philosophical education.)
  8. 1 point
    As a man I can relate the reality of me to what I can learn about the reality of men who have lived and are living. It is easy to accept that objective knowledge gained about these other men (for shorthand ... knowledge about Man) is useful at least in part to my quest to understand myself. As a man choosing to live rationally and with objectivity, how would my life be impacted differently by choosing as my standard of morality "my life" and everything that entails and means, versus choosing, as you deem significant to put it, man's life as the standard?
  9. 1 point
    I hesitate to participate in this thought exercise because immortality is not even possible. How many memory cells do we have in our brain? When will the limit be reached? More importantly, the current nature that we have now will not allow the tolerance of immortality. If you are immortal, you will not be able to kill your self. It may be something you will wish to do. Our current makeup is that we end up with satiation. Like drinking water, you drink so much until you are done. Life also will have a point when you are done with it. If you are forced to drink water when you are not thirsty at all, you will vomit. The mental equivalent state of satiation is called boredom. There may be a specific threshold, let us say 153.3 thousand years. Anything past that threshold will be boring and eternal boredom is a terrible fate. We currently don't have protection against eternal boredom. Eventually, everything will be experienced and it will be abstracted. "Been there done that" will become been at that type of place and experienced it. To be immortal certain modification will have to be made to our Psychology. We will not be human anymore. Philosophically death is part of the definition of life. Psychologically death does give meaning to life. Even if, life just "is".
  10. 1 point
    There are many aspects to "socialized medicine", and while we might be a few years from certain of them, we are not that close to the worst of it. The worst being, that the practice of medicine is completely under the control of the government so that there is no such thing as "private practice", the government determines what level of medical care will be provided, and it is paid for by the government. The resistance to complete socialization of medicine would be enormous if presented as a political goal, so instead, things will change bit by bit. A first step has already been taken, which is that few people now pay for their own medical expenses, instead we pay for insurance and the insurance company pays the expenses. The cost of medical care becomes an abstraction, having no evident effect on one's own life. Facts that reduce medical costs are not rewarded, and those that increase expenses are not penalized. Instead, your personal costs are the net medical costs of Society As A Whole, divided by the size of society. There have been ways to relate individual facts to cost, whereby one could select less vs. more coverage and opt out of coverage for sex-reassignment etc. Or, pay your own expenses as long as it's below some figure like $8,000 (this is for people who know how to save money). Much of that is now illegal. Another first step that has been taken is the changing extent to which medical practitioners have any free choice in what they do. For example, for the past 40+ years, it has been illegal to deny emergency medical treatment to a person who cannot pay. Compare that to the situation that does not yet exist in other economic spheres: it is presently legal to deny a person a house if they can't afford it, it is presently legal to deny a person food if they can't afford it, and so on. Additionally, the cost of all medical care goes up because every cotton-pickin' device or substance is subject to onerous and expensive regulatory scrutiny, and somebody has to pay that cost. I am not at all sanguine about the chances for a roll-back of Obamacare. I doubt very much that it will become legal to charge more for more-expensive patients (analogous to home and car insurance). So the question is, what is likely to be the next step towards medical oblivion? That's hard to predict, but from a political perspective, the most obvious issue is the roughly 10% of uninsured adults. This number can be made near-zero in three ways. First, increase government subsidies to those who can't afford it. Second, stiffen the penalties for the uninsured who can afford it. Third, increase the burden on employers, so that all employers have to provide full medical coverage for any employee. A third possibility, of course, would be to slowly dial back the level of care (thus the cost). This would not be easy to do at present. The government could not just say "you have to limit the number of heart-bypass surgeries that you do in a year": it does not have that power. But the government could easily give itself that power, by passing a law mandating a restriction in the number of heart-bypass surgeries allowed. Obviously, it would not start with anything so politically charged. It would start by identifying kinds of medical treatment where there wouldn't be a huge outcry at rationing. Most people view political questions in terms of how it will affect them personally in the next year or two: "I'm not gay, I don't care about same-sex marriage", "I don't drive, I don't care about outlawing gas engines". Once the underlying statutory mechanism is installed and made general enough, it is relatively easy to expand the rationing list either by administrative fiat or by minor legislative list-changing (in the same way that Congress periodically adds new drugs to the various schedules of controlled substances). A fourth possibility, much more remote, is direct regulation of costs. For example, government-set rates for doctor's pay, government-set rates for pharmaceuticals, government-set rates for the sale of equipment. Price controls have not been popular in the US. Price controls are widespread for "basic rights" such as water, gas, electricity, internet and garbage, but this is because those goods are widely provided by a regulatory monopoly. The obvious way to bring prices under control, then, is to first create a regulatory monopoly: all doctors now work for the National Health Service. I believe that, coupled with some empty rhetoric about making medical care more "fair" and uniform, this is the last step necessary to bring about the total collapse of health care in the US.
  11. 1 point
    Unless a principled right rises in popularity and power, it is inevitable. I hope the unprincipled right's broken promise to those who rebelled against the left and big government, and the bitter pill of what they had to vote for, will bear fruit and give rise to something .. something better than Gary Johnson. Socialized medicine will look exactly like the various universal systems throughout the world (e.g. Canada). Second rate and backward. You will count on taxes raising by another 33 to 50 percent ending up to a quarter to a third of your tax dollars going to support it. Doctors will be even less free from regulations to do medicine as they see best, in fact because they are beholden to the government system they will become (essentially) government workers, part of the "public sector". As medical salaries dwindle (controlled by government), medical services will suffer. R&D will not be value driven but forced. It's spirit dead, cutting edge medicine will disappear. U.S. citizens will look to escape from the US medical system to get treatment in freer countries (New Zealand?) the same way Canadians rely upon US innovations and come to the US as and when needed. Waiting times for diagnostics and seeing specialists will become unreasonable to the point that lives will be risked due to delays, and emergency room deaths will sky rocket due to the unavailability of beds. Soon after the medical system is decimated, the pharmaceutical industry will be nationalized in the name of keeping prices "in control". Drug development will stagnate as the fires of profit is put out in favor of the dull inept motivation of force ... i.e. public funding. Truly egalitarian, everyone will be barred from good health care in equal measure. Individuals will languish and die... for the "good of the people" and in the name of "equality".
  12. 1 point

    Shadow Banking

    Since you say you don't have much of a background on the topic, let's start with a really trivial example: you, as an individual could lend money to another individual, and you would not be regulated as a bank. If the borrower does not pay you back, you will suffer a loss. If a lot of people lend money this way, and the economy turns down, many borrowers may not be able to pay back their loans, and a lot of such lenders will suffer losses. Lending: Now, one small step up: imagine you do not know anyone worth lending to, but you have a friend who has a lot of family/friends, who run some type of businesses (gas stations, corner stores, restaurants, etc.). You -- and many like you who trust him -- lend him money, and he figures out whom he trusts and how much, and he lends the money to them. When they pay interest or return the principal, ... that's when he returns it to you. Once again, if a higher than average number of borrowers turn out to be duds, then the lenders ultimately suffer. Next, imagine the middleman is personally wealthy. So, he tells you that he will pay you from his pocket, if the actual borrowers don't. This provides some degree of buffer. Now, to make it more realistic, imagine a billion-dollar company that borrows money for various investors and lends it to borrowers. None of these examples are quite completely "banking" in the sense meant by McCulley; rather, they're "lending". Lending has its own regulations, but they're not banking regulations. Folk like McCulley would not include any of the above as being shadow banking. Banking: Now, imagine the middle man says that you do not have to wait for the original borrowers to repay their loans. If you suddenly need your cash, he will pay you back out of his own money, because he's confident that others will be depositing more money anyway, and he also has other ways of getting additional cash. This is where things become "banking" in the sense meant by the term "shadow banking". This is where some new benefits and risks come in. The key difference in such a system is that the original borrower has been given a certain amount of time to pay, but the original lender has been told he can have his funds back sooner. This is called a "duration mismatch". The middleman keeps a reserve of money from which he pays folk who want to withdraw. As they withdraw, others make deposits. If people withdraw from one bank and deposit in another, one bank can then borrow back the funds from the other bank. The system works pretty well most of the time. This system is called a "Fractional Reserve System" since the bank does not keep all the cash on hand that depositors may theoretically withdraw; it only keeps enough to meet the normal range of activities. The danger arises if lots of depositors demand their money back because they fear they will not get it if they leave it in. The bank does not have the money and isn't going to get it quickly. That's the "run on the bank". It becomes particularly problematic if there is a run not just on one or two banks, but on banks as such. That's when it becomes a banking panic. [Aside: Some libertarians say that it should be illegal for bankers to promise to pay out "on demand" if they do not hold 100% of the possible cash that might be withdrawn.] Panics and response: There have been repeated panics across history. Over decades, people (aka the market) figured out various ways to address the issue of duration-mismatch and thus bank-runs. But, a full and robust solution had not yet evolved. In parallel, the government also started to build systems that would take on some of the risk. When the government takes on risk, the market sees no need to plan for that risk. So, this undercut the private systems that were evolving. Also, when the government takes on risk, it cannot do so willy-nilly. It has to specify rules that the lenders should follow, in order to get government protection. Shadow banking: Finance is pretty sophisticated these days, with some very complex instruments available. Companies that are not banks can buy and sell combinations of instruments that leave them with huge "duration risk". Yet, when they do not do so in the normal way of having deposit accounts etc. they don't have to follow the rules that apply there. That's shadow banking.
  13. 1 point
    It's crucial to keep in mind that Rand's conception of life as the ultimate end is not a "thin" conception of life as just bare bones survival. It is her formulation ("man qua man") of the Greek conception of living a truly flourishing and self-perfected life. To make the most of your life, in short. To have such a full or "thick" conception of flourishing life may well include concern for posterity and leaving a legacy. Maybe even at the expense of, say, less important values to you, such as certain aspects of physical health. For example, in the movie The Wrestler, the main character pursued his happiness through his chosen career field and even though he had numerous health concerns such as a blown out knee or bad back, he thought it all worth it at the end and wouldn't have taken any of it back (except, tragically, to focus more on his family, etc.) For others, such a career field would be nonsense. The thing about living a fully expressed life of value pursuit is that it can't include a laundry list of values. It's not "X, Y, Z are henceforce decalre Official Objective Values!" Values are agent-relative and specific to your life and context. Of course there are generalized values such as reason, purpose, self-esteem, and food, shelter, relationships, etc. abstracted from general aspects of human nature, but there is no definitive list of ALL "official objective values." Rand's egoism is an individualist egoism. So things like posterity and so for certainly can be values to you, but must be integrated into the totality of living a self-perfected life. It wouldn't make sense to sacrifice your life, or your other needs and interests for one value. (For example, when Mickey Rourkes character pursued his career to the detriment of personal relationships and later regretted it.) The Greeks had a conception of the "unity of virtue" that you couldn't fully have all the virtues of you were deficient in one virtue. Life will of course involve making trade-offs, but the point is to develop an all around well being within the context of your life.
  14. 1 point

    Why Objectivism is so unpopular

    I think the problem really starts because self-improvement is not the focus. It starts with someone reading about Objectivism and thinking: "So much that I've been taught is wrong; yet everyone spouts this wrong stuff". It isn't too surprising that this lowers the reader's empathetic-benevolence to the views of others. E.g. you could love Fountainhead and want to be like Roark, but -- in doing so -- you might conclude: "life is going to be one big struggle, and if I don't get lucky with a good jury I'll end in jail; if I don't get a rich guy who loves my work, I'll end up in a garret" Also, the majority of readers focus on politics. E.g. you might read Atlas Shrugged and end up thinking: "The world is so screwed up that there's really little hope for change". Perhaps you might try to fight for political change in some way, with little success, and end up dejected, and reduced to ranting to other ranting Objectivists. Sure... one can implicate Rand, Peikoff, etc.in this, but in the end Objectivism is about the individual, and the buck stops there. Rand was asked: "How does one live a Rational Life in an irrational World?" and her most fundamental reply was "One must never fail to pronounce moral judgement". At face value, this is flawed at two levels: firstly, the possible premise that the world "is irrational"; and, also in the response. I say "at face value" because the question is being interpreted narrowly. Objectivists need to ask a variation of this question. Something like: "How do I live a Happy life in an imperfect world?" And, the answer needs to be mostly inward-facing: take all the good self-help books, and extract the the good philosophical principles from those. Even from religious teachers like Rick Warren and from Prosperity-Gospel folk. Anyone who is giving people "life hack" ideas of how to succeed in something. Remove the specifics, and extract the philosophical principles, and you'll get the nuggets that are consistent with Objectivism. The primary focus of the individual should be "How to Live a Happy life". The rest is essentially useless if it is does not contribute to that happiness. (Aside: It would be truly ironic if someone agreed and then ended up feeling guilty that he ain't happy enough.) Movements makes mistakes, learn, and evolve. Looking at the Objectivism's history, one sees three or four pretty distinct periods, and it gets better each time. Over the last few years, the student groups have taken that focus, even re-branding themselves "Strive". Some local community groups have done the same. I think the movement needs an intellectual or two who pursues this into "a thing": where they demonstrate how Objectivism is -- first and foremost -- the route to personal happiness; where he integrates this with the best self-help ideas and life-hacks out there; and, hopefully, where they do this so well that they become popular. Not sure is Alex Epstein is heading in that direction.
  15. 1 point
    Ayn Rand made two lists of virtues, one published in The Virtue of Selfishness, the other unpublished in her Journal, in a section called, "The Moral Basis Of Individualism." The published list of virtues includes: Reason, Purpose, Self-Esteem, Rationality, Productiveness, and Pride. The unpublished list of virtues includes: Integrity [which Rand described as, "the first, greatest and noblest of all virtues"], Courage, Honesty, Honor, Self-confidence, Strength, Justice, Wisdom, and Self-respect. The following links pertain to the moral source of virtues. The first directly addresses your question: Integrity: The Virtues Of The Moral Individual Principles Ethical Principles Ayn Rand's Ethics Objective Ethics for Freedom and Happiness (The Is/Ought Fallacy)
  16. 1 point
    That depends on the context. English uses include the things which are involved in a process, those things which were present in their states prior to the process, being the "causes". English also uses "cause" as a term denoting the process itself... the things in their states prior to the process "cause" the process and also the end states and things after the process. The term cause also denotes a temporal relationship of necessity, the things present in their first state caused the process to occur, the processed occurring caused the things in their end states... BUT FOR A, B would not have occurred, i.e. A is in relation to B as its cause. Really cause is just a label for the entities, the actions they take, and relationships they have... in reality A is A and B is B and in the context, A and B interact, and C results. C can be A and B in different states, or a destroyed A or B or something neither A nor B, all of it would be in accordance with the nature of the entities. If your subconscious starts to look for it... there is not cause for causation.
  17. 1 point
    This second method is (hopefully) an attempt to use Mill's methods to find a possible general cause, 'general' in the sense that it is a generalization attributing a new characteristic to a concept; it deals with abstractions. All particular specific events (such as a Jack throwing a ball, which imparts new energy and momemtum to the ball, which subsequently causes a glass window to shatter when the ball's trajectory intersects with the spatial extension of the window) are instances of causality; causality applies to concretes.
  18. 1 point
    Nope. I didn't even hint at such an idea. What I said is that existing is not a type of action; rather, action is a type phenomenon that exists. Things change, move around and interact with each other. Based on this observation, you can form concepts such as movement, interaction etc., and unite them under the concept action. But actions are not platonic entites, they are aspects of a thing's identity. Actions are actions of things that exist. Existing is not an action, it is the precondition of action.
  19. 1 point

    Ayn Rand's official public notice

    I know I've heard or read Piekoff talk about how Rand's group of close friends and acquaintances were deeply disappointed by the general reception of Atlas Shrugged, and that before its publication they had worked themselves up to believe that it would be something like a cultural silver bullet. I don't remember if he'd grouped Rand into that also, or what he said specifically about her reaction.
  20. 1 point
    I assume that the sales of FH and AS was both a vindication and a disappointment. Through introspection, we all know how it feels to grasp a complex subject, and then to explain it to someone in as lucid a way we can, and then feel... what? If the other person's response shows that they completely get it, it feels really good. It gives us psychological visibility of being understood and a confirmation of our competence in putting our point across. And, we feel a kinsmanship that comes with the feeling that all's well if others can get this too... a bit of a "benevolent universe" affirmation". OTOH, when people do not get it, despite our thinking that we were lucid, and when we see them evading our key points and arguing against strawmen, it's just the opposite feeling. Personally, I label a huge conceptual disconnect as a "epistemological chasm". It's the feeling that "I will never reach you" (and it can often be felt by both sides, not just one). That in itself, is a dent in the feeling of visibility and the feeling that world is a great place if others can "get it"! Adding obvious misrepresentation into the mix just makes it more depressing. I expect Rand hoped that many more would see things her way if she really laid it out. After all the focus, integration and effort that went into AS, I expect she would have been disappointed seeing that Objectivism was still somewhat niche even years after publication. Still, she had the affirmation of great sales, and ardent students. So, I assume she would have felt that she'd done things right, and that some people do get it, but fewer than she'd hoped for.
  21. 1 point
    Easy Truth, welcome to Objectivism Online. I liked Aristotle’s bit about truth being in one way hard and in another way easy, “like the proverbial door one cannot avoid bumping into.” Your insight that if existing were itself an action, it would imply that all entities act is right, provided we keep constant the sort of action we are talking about throughout that if-then statement. That kind of action would be something more inert than when, in science or in everyday experience, we say that such-and-such thing acted in such-and-such way. Nevertheless, for those who love not only easy truth, but hard truth, the question of whether existing is itself an action, or activity, is a good one. Aristotle, Leibniz, and Lotze affirmed. Russell denied, arguing against Lotze. The case that Aristotle is an affirmer on this question is made out by Aryeh Kosman in his book The Activity of Being (2013). I’m a denier on the conception of existing as necessarily being a sort of acting. I affirm that all concrete existence is temporal, but for that, it suffices that some concrete part in the whole of concrete existence is acting in our ordinary and scientific types of acting. To be clear, I’m talking about any sort of acting that has been connected in a necessary way with existence per se in the history of philosophic reflection or is thusly connected by us in our philosophic reflection today. What we know from science (e.g. that mass is convertible to energy, that mass-energy has some dynamical relations with spacetime, and that the vacuum has energy) concerns other sorts of activity than the one that has been claimed by philosophers for existence per se, and these activities we learn in the physical sciences were conceived and discovered by means necessarily beyond philosophic reflection.
  22. 1 point
    In your example there is a chain of causation which you can describe in a multitude of ways. You and the switch are not monolithic singularities, you and the switch are complex systems, and together you can be epistemologically seen as a system also. Your brain causes impulses which case muscles in your arm to contract which cause your arm to move in relation to your torso and your finger to move in relation... etc... causing the tip of your finger to rotate a switch about its pivot causing one contact to touch another contact allowing a current to flow through a wire to a light causing the filament to get hot and produce light... You can slice and dice the systems umpteen ways and break down the complex chain of causation in umpteen ways. i.e. describe this in many different ways. What happened, happened it is what it is regardless of how you analyze it... and always going back to what it was can be helpful. So yes, you (broadly speaking) did cause the light to go on. But the light had to be there, it had to be operational (not broken), the power had to be on and ready to be connected by the light switch, the switch had to work, etc. all of these are conditions for the light actually going on. The light switch, and its presence, did not cause you to turn it on... although arguably its presence was a condition precedent to your deciding to do so. In the subquote of Rand "The nature of an action is caused and determined by the nature of the entities that act" it's best that you not focus on the word "caused" but the word "determined", especially of you take it out of context of the rest of the explanation. Entities act, those actions are caused by entities, how they act is determined by the nature of the entities. Causation is not "caused", it is a part of reality. Actions are caused by entities. Also think about what you take to be an action. An action as opposed to a property or a attribute implies some change, a difference of some state of something over time. A thing simply being, i.e. having mass or filling space is not an action. As such simple being does not require a cause, a thing simply is, existence is identity. Why do we have a require a concept of causation? Only because of change, something being different from what it was. Change only presupposes causes. The law of causation simply links the nature and specific types of changes to the nature of the entities which bring them about. The changes are determined by the nature of the things acting.
  23. 1 point
    You suggested Sally has a mental disorder, which isn't stated in the premise, and is not "taking the story as stated." You say verbal consent isn't necessary "as long as everyone is active" - kissing is active. You say a person can change her mind, but that Chris is immoral because he knew prior wishes but then tested for a change of mind. You say "Chris can get Sally more interested, find out what she also is eager to try" non-verbally if "everyone is active," which presumably Sally would be if she is "trying," but then you say that a "prideful way to pursue sex" would be only if Chris communicated verbally. Looks like there are a lot of double standards going against Chris. And of course, robotic sex instructions like "may I please put my hand on your left breast" isn't how any normal person has sex. In addition to giving Sally a mental disorder, you've moved the premise further from reality by insisting on verbal-instruction-only intercourse.
  24. 1 point

    Is this rape? Consent? Something else?

    It is a requirement that force or the threat of force must be present to violate a rights. Bank robberies and muggings are sometimes not actively resisted because of the threat of force. Rape is accomplished by force or the threat of force, usually a much longer and drawn out sequence of pushing around, threatening, disrobing, striking . ... etc than the "surprise sex" of this contrived scenario. Sally is not presented with any threats or employment of force and gives every sign of consent to what happens in the darkness up until the moment that penis is in vagina, and then nothing changes after that moment. Chris doesn't need to use force or even a threat of force. Why does Chris not need to use force or the threat of force? Because Sally is cooperating and participating, and actively consenting in the make-out session up until the moment of penetration. After the moment of penetration nothing changes except in the secret recesses of Sally's thoughts. The consent that was present the moment before penetration is by every outward sign still present after the moment of penetration. And no, that she said she didn't want to have sex hours ago does not mean she did not change her mind. To put the point positively, it is always in Sally's power to decide to have sex. That decision is communicated by actions and words, but in this case actions speak louder than words because Sally decided not to use any words. All her actions said "yes".
  25. 1 point
  26. 1 point

    White Supremacist Protest Violence

    Let me start from the point of view of moral parity. Objectivism holds that the apparatus of legal enforcement obtains its authority based on the rights of self defense of the governed. The government are agents with only delegated rights. They have no special privileges their agents don't have. Consequently, the criterion under which a government official committing a criminal act would apply the same as if the person committing that act were not a government official are the same. Being a government agent, in other words doesn't give you special immunity to commit what would otherwise be crimes, according to Rand. According to this ethics, any palpable threat of overt physical violence can be countered with self defense. There is also the legal conception of conspiracy that would apply if two or more persons made an agreement to commit some violent act in the future: "In criminal law, a conspiracy is an agreement between two or more persons to commit a crime at some time in the future. Criminal law in some countries or for some conspiracies may require that at least one overt act must also have been undertaken in furtherance of that agreement, to constitute an offense."(I get this from Wikipedia.) If we prescribe to the moral parity theory, suppose a group of partisans held, say, that the production of milk should be severely restricted. Suppose a political party promised to enact legislation to bring this about, then they would on objectivist grounds be advocating criminal acts. Mere advocacy would be free speech. But suppose they ran in an election, won parliamentary seats, enacted legislation, brought about executive enforcement, and sent gendarmes to the milk factories to inspect output. Objectivists recognize this as criminal compulsion against business. But then at what point did they go beyond mere talk to criminal conspiracy? When can they be punched? Can the political partisans be punched by objectivists before the election or only after at some point? Only the actual office holders or the voters too? Or just the bureaucrats that enforce the law? Or just the milk inspectors or enforcers? Or nobody? Thoughts? (Administrative note: the foregoing is a thought experiment for the logical consequences of certain ethical postulates and apply only as deductions for the given postulates. I don't advocate punching anyone ever outside of the law.)
  27. 1 point

    White Supremacist Protest Violence

    Trump should have responded to the frantic reporter who asked if he was putting the alt-left and the alt-right (the tiny racist minority therein) on equal moral footing, he should have said "ABSOLUTELY!"... How many more commie idiots are at all these stupid protests waving red flags? How many times have these Marxist clowns been busted faking hate crimes, impersonating Nazi's? How many white supremacist idiots have tenure in american universities? How many Marxist's??? This chimera of "white supremacy" is a farce.
  28. 1 point
    I'm right there with you for focusing on positives, but the thing is, these things are only meaningful with a selfish personal foundation. Human life itself is only meaningful with selfishness as its basis. We could argue that using another word would be beneficial at this point in civilization due to knee-jerk negative reactions from most. But it's certainly not beneficial if the reason we're finding another word is to try to change its meaning and purpose just because most people don't like the idea that human livelihood has to be based on selfishness!
  29. 1 point
    It is a conspiracy without leader or direction, and the random little thugs of the moment; a conspiracy of all those who seek, not to live, but to get away with living, those who seek to cut just one small corner of reality and are drawn, by feeling, to all the others who are busy cutting other corners. (composite quote from Atlas Shrugged) The DIM Hypothesis doesn't articulate it as well, but it does indicate the pattern observed in the history of philosophy oscillating back and forth between subjectivism and skepticism. As to the corners being cut, and the emotional draw acting as a magnet of evasiveness, another warning flag is waved in Atlas Shrugged's Aristocracy of Pull where "the race goes, not to the ablest at production, but to those most ruthless at brutality. When force is the standard, the murderer wins over the pickpocket . . . ." Or consider also Ellsworth Toohey; while funded by multiple sources, he served as a catalyst to multiple organizations that he had spearheaded (funded/organized). The "sewer of the centuries" isn't always as clearly demarcated by 9 feet of raw sewage found in a repair zone developed as a result of a failure of a government project coming to fruition years after the fact. (latest update on a local situation.)
  30. 1 point
    Skeptic: My senses deceive me and cannot be trusted. This stick appears bent in water, but in reality it is straight. Objectivist: How do you know that the stick is not actually bent? Skeptic: [Pulls stick out of water] LOOK!
  31. 1 point
    . I lived in Chicago during this one: http://www.jta.org/2013/06/20/news-opinion/the-telegraph/nazis-marching-through-skokie When I was a young man, I demonstrated quite a bit, particularly against taxes (April 15 at the main post office each year) and against reinstatement of the draft registration. A friend recalls I joined the counter-demonstration against the Nazis linked above. I don't actually recall that particular counter-march, but I do recall that on all such occasions all sorts of other political factions will try to join in and get mileage for their own political cause(s). In my era of demonstrations ('70s and '80s), I witnessed no violence from the pro- or counter-side. The most important thing about the events in Charlottesville this past weekend was that a young man (of a fascist, racist political persuasion) drove his car into a bunch of our citizens who were opposed to his views. And the American President stated no specific condemnation of that mayhem and murder, which was a heinous act an order of magnitude more wicked than any other violence there. The public statues of this sort ARE going to come down when all the legal process has been completed. They are today and since they were erected principally monuments proclaiming white supremacy. I live in Lynchburg, about an hour south of Charlottesville. Around here I encourage people to go over to the Museum of the Confederacy just down the road, over at Appomattox. It was completed pretty recently, it is truly informative, and is accessible to folks of all sorts of educational levels or age. The old statues, such as this one of Lee, are unnecessary for historical education and awareness. .
  32. 1 point
    Putting aside the debate over mind and concsiousness etc. I believe that a claim to the existence of any X where X has no causal interactions no causal consequences in reality is literally unknowable, because it cannot be detected or perceived even indirectly. For that something to cause the kinds of changes on the brain/mind which constitutes memory of it or thinking of it or anything in consequence of it, it first must be causal. Otherwise it would not have any impact on the identity of the mind and one would never know of it. As such, the claim is an arbitrary assertion. Only mystic revelation would explain how one could allegedly gain knowledge of an acausal existent.
  33. 1 point

    False concept

    The principles of structural engineering apply equally to buildings that stand and buildings that fall. Rand's principles of concept formation apply to both concepts that are valid and concepts that are not valid.
  34. 1 point

    Moral anomalies?

    Yes, except for the "person without rights" part. There's no such thing, in Objectivism. Every human being has rights.
  35. 1 point

    Moral anomalies?

    The part of your question that throws a curve into these otherwise obvious answers (obviously, initiating force against a fellow human is always a crime, but self harm or the harm of an animal you own is not a crime per se) is the "you see" part. While animals don't have rights, that doesn't mean that a moral, civilized society should tolerate public acts of barbarism, anymore than it should tolerate public sex, people relieving themselves in public, etc. While a person doesn't have the right to prevent another person from harming himself, or an animal he owns, he does have the right not to be subjected to witnessing those disturbing acts. If a person is hurting an animal or himself on his lawn, in plain view of the neighborhood, that absolutely violates the neighbors' rights, and the government should act to stop him. In fact, the neighbors themselves have the right to use force to stop the person immediately, and even rescue the animal (and never give it back...much like how property damage entitles the victim to monetary compensation, emotional damage entitles them to the emotional satisfaction rescuing the animal brings). What the neighbors and the government don't have the right to, however, is to dictate how he behaves in his own sound proof basement, where the only way you would even know what he's doing is by violating his privacy.
  36. 1 point

    You should choose to live

    A guy named Bob wakes up in the morning. Throughout the day, he makes various choices, including making a to-do list, working on his music album, ordering Chinese food, unwinding with his girlfriend, reading a novel for relaxation. What precedes and motivates those choices? A desire for them, either as ends in themselves (the pleasure they give him) or as a means to another value, or anything in between. Now, why does he desire them? If you answered, "because Man's life is the standard of moral value, and his own life is his moral purpose" you are ipso facto advocating intrinsicism. To paraphrase something I wrote in another thread, you're turning the metaphysicaly given into a god, the way Spinoza did, then giving moral significance to your obedience to the metaphysicaly given. "You exist, therefore: if you want to live, you're moral. If you don't, you're rotten." You can't say "I choose to live because it's moral". You're moral because you choose to live. On the same note, it's wrong to say "I choose to live because of so-and-so metaphysical fact", but you can say "I want to live, and although there's no categorical imperative telling me to live - after all, morality is my servant, not the other way around - my choice is not a whim or arbitrary, but rooted in the fact that I am a living being, i.e. justified by my identity or nature, not by a moral code." This is why Peikoff stresses in his OPAR seminar that this choice is both pre-moral and justified.
  37. 1 point
    After giving you and Nicky a hard time, I figured the least I could do was sort of get back on topic. Death doesn't give life meaning. Life gives life meaning. Death gives life a purpose, though, which is to stay alive--usually. I could be wrong.
  38. 1 point
    This is totally dismissive about the field of psychology! Human psychology refers to the nature of the human mind. One's psychology is a different concept than psychology the nature of human thought. Now, at least value pertains to seeking some end by choice - and it is part of human nature to actively seek those ends by choice. What psychology shows, Kyary, is that people have an innate capacity to recognize scarcity. Scarcity is a major basis to decide value, because it is so easy and notable to recognize. As far as philosophy, this doesn't say -why- life should or does have meaning.
  39. 1 point
    Ayn Rand declared 'Life' to be the standard of value, but I highly doubt her account was survivalist. A key idea in Galt's speech is that a moral man is primarily motivated by the desire to gain values, not by the desire to avoid of suffering, i.e. his ultimate goal is pleasure derived from things that enhance his life, rather than from momentary pleasures that will kill him in the long run. Imagine a fictional world where all things that preserved us - food, sleep, exercise and so on - gave us pain rather than pleasure. Would that be a life worth preserving? I believe Ayn Rand would not hesistate to say that what makes life worth living is happiness, not survival at any price. If the pain-body mechanism was skewed like that, life would cease to be a value. Galt's talk about commiting suicide over losing Dagny strongly suggests that Rand did not regard all life as worth preserving, only a life where happiness is possible. Here's where I agree with Rand: human beings have a vast array or needs, physical and psychological. Some of them are unique to us (art, philosophy, variety, challenge) and some are common in the animal world (food, sunlight). But here's where I disagree: her trying to box-in every human need into either the 'preservation of body' or 'preservation of consciousness' category. My objection springs from a point of view that is not popular with objectivists, namely that human beings, like all animals, are genetically programmed to feel pleasure from things that enhance both survival and reproduction. Sex, romantic love and child rearing are utterly useless for your survival, but produce intense pleasure and spiritual fulfillment within people. Why? Because that's the nature of your body. Does this view contradict Rand? This view denies that all human needs are tied to survival. However, it does not contradict the essence of what Rand is saying, namely that man's moral purpose is happiness. Rand went to great lenghts to point out that life is the standard of value, not happiness, because only a course of life-preserving values will actualy lead to happiness. But the point remains that happiness and pleasure are the stars of the game, and that the entire reason why we pursue life at all, is because life is very fun to live. If happiness requires struggle, then that struggle becomes eclipsed by how amazing happiness is. In other words, if we replace 'Life' as the standard, with 'Happy life' as the standard, we get closer to what Rand herself meant, but her view that reproduction is merely 'a characteristic' of living organisms, and that every single human need serves a survival role, only confuses this part of her ethics.
  40. 1 point
    @epistemologue: Great post, Of course there is a sense where the following is true, and yet the only point and purpose of virtue is to achieve certain outcomes. So, I think this needs a reformulation that does not say "completely" separate. There's a separation, but also a tight relationship. You're also right that it's important to set the right goals. This is something humans have struggled with: you see it in the quarrel between the Epicureans and the Stoics. Should you set goals that are lofty, where you have to struggle to reach them, or should to take life easy setting easy goals that let you coast through life? And, what when you fail at some lofty goal? How do you keep perspective that you made the right choice compared to the guy who is coasting? Particularly, what if such failures are routine: does that mean that you should keep aiming just as high and keep failing, or does it mean you need to aim for more realistic goals? Original Buddhism also struggles with this and concludes -- correctly -- that the source of sadness in life is that we value things, but then lose them or do not get them. So, their original solution is: value less. A counter-argument is that happiness is the other side of sadness. The reason we are happy is that we value things and then gain them. So, cutting off values may reduce sadness, but it also reduces happiness. The link between outcome and happiness is not to be sneered at. It is true that people can be fundamentally happy and yet go through bad patches. However, feelings of depression come from thinking your life is one huge bad patch. And, a further issue is that some people will deflect the source away from themselves and their own choices, and blame the world. e.g. "... because of all those other people out there, my life is going to be one big bad patch". It's not an easy balance: between ambition and acceptance.
  41. 1 point


    For the wrong audience, "failure in practice" carries the implication that it would be "good in theory" if only people were "virtuous enough" or "selfless enough", etc. Thus, the argument sidesteps or (by implication) disavows the simpler truth: Such a founding principle is monstrous in theory. Although it requires a rational inquiry and a rejection of ingrained falsehoods (such as the morality of self-sacrifice), it is clear that the principle is inimical to life, the good of the person and is an evil.
  42. 1 point

    Consciousness = Immaterial?

    PM Perhaps a clearer definition of what you mean by "material" or what you mean by "immaterial" would be helpful. Certainly, as you know, Objectivism rejects the supernatural, hence, whatever "immaterial" you are speaking of, it must be natural, possess identity and behave according to causality etc. You also know that Rand speaks of "life" going out of existence. Literally disappearing when a living organism dies, whereas the matter remains. These may be clues to what you could consider material versus "something else". If you take a person and squish him with a car crusher, you do not have consciousness, nor life, but you do have material. If you consider there not to have been any loss of "material" by virtue of the squishing, i.e. the material that remains is the same material (at least in terms of amount - no more and no less) that was there before, then something other than mere amount of material was operative/present. This leads to the question whether or not you take arrangement, processes, function, etc. of material, to be "immaterial" i.e. are the properties, relationships, attributes, functioning which arise from the collective arrangement of a complex collection of material "immaterial" or are they aspects of the collective material which disappear when the arrangements are destroyed. A car also in a real sense is different in form, arrangement, capacity to function, after it is squished, but its material (in terms of quantity) remains the same, albeit rearranged. Rand held that matter changes forms but does not go out of existence, as does life when a living thing dies. The same obviously goes for consciousness. Although I am unsure that she ever stated this explicitly, the idea that somehow life and equally consciousness are due to the form of the matter is implicit in (or at least consistent with if not logically necessitated by) her claim that death is at once an example of matter merely changing form, and of life going out of existence.
  43. 1 point
    William O

    Persuading People of Objectivism

    I think there's a difference between writing an article for a general audience and having a conversation with a specific person. If you're writing an article for a general audience, you can be passionate without turning people off, because no one will feel targeted. This is one reason why Rand's articles are so effective. However, if you're talking to a specific person, it can be advisable to tone things down a bit so that they don't feel attacked, which will turn them off to your ideas. Another issue is that they may have some argument you haven't heard before, which can be a problem if you've made the conversation really intense and passionate. I find it's better to just calmly put my views forward for consideration. For example, consider this conversation: A: "I believe in God." B: "Believing in God is a childish fantasy that no adult should take seriously." Now, B may be right about all that, but A isn't going to be open to B's arguments from this point on, because A will feel like they are being attacked. A better approach would be to say "Why do you believe in God?" and explore their reasons calmly and civilly, which is the ask and listen method. I'm not saying you have to coddle every ridiculous point of view, of course, but if it is a view they could have arrived at honestly then it's better to try to hear them out.
  44. 1 point
    Of related interest is a remark of Harry Binswanger in his 2014 book: “When one billiard ball collides with another and sets it in motion, the interaction is causally determined by the nature of the entities involved, including their state of motion” (HWK 347–48). By state of motion, he means such things as velocity and spin. It is odd to regard such things as part of the nature of a thing. To be sure, it is part of the nature of a thing to be possible for it to have or not to have such states and, if so, in certain possible ranges of magnitudes of those states (magnitudes of spin, magnitudes of linear velocity). But the actual values of those traits at hand are attributes, and removable ones, not natures of the billiard balls. That is not to say that all actual attributes of entities are not part of what we ordinarily mean by natures of the entities. The elasticity of the balls, an attribute whose magnitude is invariant for ordinary billiard balls, is more aptly called part the balls’ nature in the collision.
  45. 1 point
    SL, what about the case of hot sand at the beach? It seems sensible to say the hotness of the sand burned my feet. I could say the sand burned my feet, but it would be understood that it was heat of the sand that did the burning.
  46. 1 point
    Be very careful analyzing this statement. Rand says, and she is always careful with her use of words in a way which conveys her exact meaning, that in an emergency "situation", "no one" could "prescribe" what action is appropriate. She is not saying that the person in the context cannot or should not act nor that no standard applies. She could have stated that in such emergency situations: 1. "No one can determine what action is appropriate." She DID NOT. 2. "It would be impossible for the person in the situation to determine what action is appropriate." She DID NOT. 3. "the standard of morality no longer serves as any guide for what action is appropriate." She DID NOT Her answer to all lifeboat "questions" ... [[note these are more often than not contextually incomplete, treating the particular person as though he/she were an "any man", as if there were ONE right answer to such a question]]... is that "Moral rules cannot be prescribed for these situations, because only -life- is the basis on which to establish a moral code..." Rand here is speaking in the context of moral principles, like any principle, e.g. scientific etc. is meant to have general application to a large number of contexts. This is why such any particular principle exists. Such achieves, under normal circumstances, a degree of mental economy. A principle as part of a code (a limited number of prescribed - i.e. determined and set down "previously" - rules/principles) enables an actor to assess a common situation as falling within the prevue of the principle so as to apply it without over complicating the decision. Principles are absolute contextually. Principles are useful, in fact indispensable because not every scientific or moral context should be approached de novo, not every problem is a dilemma and need to be strenuously though through from scratch. A man would be brought to his mental knees if he had to proceed without principle and rethink everything in every context all the time... this is why codes and principles are rational and useful. Having principles for general application to common contexts does not however obviate the necessity of rationality and contextual judgment in contexts where the principle is no longer applicable. There still scientific and moral dilemmas, not unanswerable questions but ones for which the answer requires more than simply referring to wrote principle. Note, Rand here does NOT say that it is impossible for a person in the situation to ACT in accordance with rational application of the standard of morality, only that the context does not admit of PRESCRIBED moral principles or codes... whose establishment as mental shorthand is only useful for common general application in common general contexts and in any case would be cripplingly numerous if one were to attempt to write a rule for every situation. This crucial difference between a principle or rule and the contextual application of morality is illustrated well by the discussion in OPAR surrounding the principle or virtue of honesty. It is part of the moral code, i.e. "don't lie" it is a moral rule or principle generally applicable because it supports self-interest in the commonest and most general context of -life-. WE KNOW that one however is not selfishly morally obligated to tell an intruder where the location of one's child is, and in fact we KNOW it is selfishly MORAL to LIE to the intruder to selfishly save a precious value. [[please excuse the redundancy - to be moral is to be selfish]] But "Why?" asks the rationalist is it moral to LIE? If lying "is wrong", continues the rationalist, it is always wrong.. isn't it?... or does this simply mean morality itself does not apply when the man lies? NO it does not. It means the context for application of the general principle of morality simply is not present... principles are absolute but only in context... this is an exceptional context which requires a man to act in ways in accordance with that exceptional context. Morality is NOT an intrinsic duty, it is NOT following rules for the sake of following rules. Morality is contextual and the principles are not to be multiplied ad infinitum to take into account every exceptional context. One cannot literally write out every possible course of action in response to every possible context, determine what serves self-interest and call that a code of morality. It would be a concrete bound crippling mess. The standard of morality does not disappear, and rationality can be used to determine (as best one can in the situation) the moral course of action... this IS a moral dilemma not because there is no answer, but because it is not one which is easily arrived at by simple reference to prescribed rules. The general moral principle of honestly, in the form of "do not lie" does not disappear, it is not applicable in the context. Morality does not disappear either, not for a man who as chosen life and must choose and act in order to live as best he can. Here what is moral is "to lie to the intruder to save the your own and or your children's lives" This is my response to DA and is not to be construed as anything else. I still intend to respond to Louie.
  47. 1 point

    Ideology and the Rule of Law

    How can an unjust law be illegal? There is nothing to enforce a "naturally legal" law let alone stop an "illegal law". It makes no sense to call that law at all, unless we suppose a law exists in the fabric of reality itself, i.e. intrinsic law. A law is enforced by someone, always, and we can call it law because someone is saying they'll be justified to implement force against a lawbreaker. Without an enforcer, a "law" amounts to merely a kind request, and bad laws are mean. Sure, we can call a law unjust, but to declare that a law is illegal because it is forbidden by natural law makes me wonder: Why should I care if I violate natural law if nothing is going to enforce it? If you only mean "there are always consequences" then you've literally equivocated law and morality. Call a bad law immoral, not illegal. You're making the same error as the comrade, that "lawfulness is [always] just" by making law a sanctified thing above, beyond, and separate from the state or any enforcer. A law is a judgment of the state, and I see no issue with that. The issue with Socrates is that his comrade is wrong to call lawfulness just. Lawfulness is not always just, so the comrade's issue is easily fixed. It also means we actually -must- pick the laws we like. Whether or not we make a moral choice is a separate question. But just as law is not equal to morality, whether something is a law has no bearing on moral action except as a pragmatic consideration. Hopefully, a law is proper, though, and only represents a subset of morality, non-initiation of force. Sort of like how Rand said "individual rights are the means of subordinating society to moral law." I find it interesting that you, an anarchist, mentioned a non-anarchist to add some support to your position, while I, a non-anarchist, mentioned a guy who was basically an anarchist. My ultimate point is that obeying and enforcing must be decided by an individual for himself. The question is not "is it wrong to break the law, because the law in itself should be respected?" The better question is "does the law serve my self-interest?" Laws that are just serve our self-interest. Regarding Socrates deciding to stay in Athens instead of escaping, Stirner had another point that applies to what you said. From the same book:
  48. 1 point

    Dream_Weaver's Allusions

    In pursuit of the Identification of Identity. The essence of the law of identity is; that a thing is what it is. In my backyard is nearly 60 tons of rock. Each rock is itself. Each rock has its own shape. Each rock has its own weight. Each rock has its own color. Each rock has its own location. Every property or characteristic that has been discovered about rocks, to date, each rock in my backyard has independently of the others. An average lawn that had 320 blades of grass per square inch would have 46,080 blades of grass in a square foot. Since the ‘average’ American lawn is 8,712 square feet, there would be approximately 401,448,960 blades of grass in the ‘average’ sized American lawn. Each blade of grass is itself. Each blade of grass has its own shape, length, width, thickness, color, location, etc. Every property or characteristic that has been discovered about grass, to date, each blade of grass in my yard has independently of the others. The same conclusion can be drawn of trees, birds, apples, dishes, silverware, glasses, and of each and every other entity that exists. A word is an auditory, visual symbol. A symbol is something that stands for or suggests something else by reason of relationship, association, convention, or accidental resemblance. In the case of a word, it is a symbol for a concept. Each word is itself. Each word has its own letters, definition, etc. Every other property or characteristic that has been discovered about words, to day, each word has independently of the others. The word, “word” has been used six times in this paragraph. Each of the six instances has its own unique instance of the letters that comprise it, its own unique location within the paragraph, and every other property, discovered and undiscovered. Each and every concept has its own properties, known and unknown. The concept rock allows me to refer to each one of the hundreds of rocks in my backyard individually. I could point to indicate a specific rock to mean the specific rock I pointed to. When I indicate the rock that serves as a step off the back porch, it has its own unique shape, weight, color and location. When I refer to the word “rock”, which appears seven times in the first paragraph, each one is its own unique instance with it’s specific properties. When I refer to the “concept of rock” it has its own unique properties. The rock which serves as a step off my back porch, is an instance of one of the percepts I used to “fortify” my concept of rock, As a symbol, I can use the word rock to identify a new percept of a rock and integrate it in with my current concept of rock. As such, rock refers to every rock I’ve ever encountered, every rock that has ever been, and every rock that is, or will be. To state: a thing is what it is, integrates each rock is itself, each blade of grass is itself, each word is itself, each concept is itself, etc., into a single propositional principle: A is A There is just no way, using reason, to get around it. Gregory S. Lewis
  49. 1 point
    That is the fundamental observation here, that Vladimir doesn't take into consideration. A statement of possibility is a positive assertion, because all statements of fact are positive assertions. And all positive assertions must have some fact or piece of evidence to tip the balance to their side (otherwise it couldn't be a positive assertion). An arbitrary statement is outside right or wrong statements; it simply is outside of reality altogether and has no basis on which to even be evaluated. That is the case with the "matrix" scenario -- it is not possible (if it is, show how), but is arbitrary (there is no basis for determining its truth or falsehood, and as such it must be thrown out together with all other infinitely many arbitrary statements). It should be stressed again, that the "matrix" scenario is not wrong, but arbitrary, which are two different things. There is basis on which to consider and evaluate wrong statements; there is none for arbitrary ones.
  50. 1 point
    This thread is in serious need of definitions for the words: "faith," and "arbitrary." "Faith" is a belief held without reason. To say that we accept the evidence of the senses "on faith" is a stolen concept. Faith would be accepting something without evidence. In the case of the evidence of the senses, well, did you happen to notice that word, "evidence" in there?!? "Arbitrary" is the category for claims that have no evidence for being true, but also cannot be proven false. Dr. Peikoff correctly argues that the arbitrary is not to be treated as possible, but to be utterly ignored. The arbitrary is that which could exist, but does not have a shred of evidence to suggest that it does exist. To accept, or even entertain, the arbitrary would be an act of faith, since it would be acting without evidence. Your friend has it completely backwards: he is the one operating on faith, not you. If you operate under the premise of giving thought to the arbitrary, I could think of a million billion arbirtary assertions and keep you eternally occupied. ("There is an invisible dragon on the far side of the moon." "Every time you belch, you give birth to a tiny, undetectable galaxy in an alternate universe.") Are you familiar with the "Flying Sphagetti Monster" argument?