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  1. 5 likes
    It is hard when something is mixed. Sometimes one's immediate feeling toward it comes from whatever side of it you're seeing that day. A couple of years ago, I was in a small mid-western resort town on July 4th and thousands of tourists (mostly from elsewhere in the state) had turned out to see the fireworks. Trucks streamed in from all the nearby little towns and farms. The atmosphere was festive. There was benevolence all around. The red-white-and blue was respected, not as a symbol of something above us on an altar, but as a symbol of who we are. Not on a pedestal to be saluted -- though that too -- but, in casual clothing, in funny head-dress, in flashing lights to be worn for the evening. All around was a feeling of family and of sharing a value. Very few cops in sight, and yet the thousands self-organizing in very orderly ways. If you asked those people, in that moment, if freedom was their top value, if the individual is important, if we should recognize the individual's right to his own life and happiness...you'd probably find lots of agreement. It's all good, but it is mostly emotional. As you peel away and understand the intellectual roots, contradictions appear. I won't say the emotions are unfounded, that there is no "there there". When Hollywood makes a movie of a maverick going up against the world and winning, huge audiences love the theme. It is who they are: sometimes, on some topics, and in some emotional states. Nationalism is dangerous when it goes beyond a general benevolent celebration of sharing good values like freedom and individualism. It usually does, and we have a good person like Robert E. Lee rejecting Lincoln's attempt to get him to lead a Union Army, even though he could "anticipate no greater calamity for the country than dissolution" and thought "secession is nothing but revolution". Why? For "honor" -- which really translates to honoring a convention where you are loyal to your home state. Throw in ideas about the role of government in helping people in all sorts of situations. Thrown in ideas about inequality being caused by oppression. And faulty ideas about economics. And suspicions about bankers running the world. Add back the occasional cheering of the maverick who defies authority; but also add back the desire to control other people's behavior: if they're gay, or marrying someone of another race, or smoking pot, or even having a beer when they're 20 years and 11 months! That is the contradiction that is America. Still, you should feel free to choose what emotions you wish to invest in symbols like the flag. You do not have to salute a flag and think you're saluting a tortured contradiction that is eating itself from the inside out . You can salute it for the right reasons, or for what you think it once stood for.
  2. 5 likes
    Let me start with a fundamental problem with your position: you claim actual knowledge of the effort that Rand put unto understanding various bad philosophies, and moreover you find it to be insufficient. I have an extremely hard time believing that you even met Rand, much less that you have the kind of personal knowledge that led to the development of her philosophy. I don’t know what facts you are relying on as evidence for your claim – not everything about the development of her intellect is summarized in the journals. In fact, I don’t understand what it would even mean to “make a real effort to engage with” the opposition. Let me amplify on what the problem is. Correct me if you can, but you made no real effort to engage with Rand’s philosophy. Your criticism hinges on the presupposition that to understand an idea, you must “visit” the people promulgating the ideas. That of course means that all prior knowledge is truly incomprehensible, thus you yourself cannot comprehend Rand because you cannot visit her, you do not understand Objectivism because you haven’t visited OCON and ARI, you cannot understand Plato, Aristotle, Locke, Kant, Frege because you haven’t visited them (they are dead). Hopefully you see how absurd a position that is. Understanding is about grasping ideas: understanding comes from identifying those ideas, because ideas are not laid out self-evidently in the words of an author. The trivial social act of “visiting” does nothing to clarify those ideas, and does not firm up a person’s grasp of ideas by magically allowing them to see consequences of ideas, and detect contradictions in them. Where you say that “the ‘skeptical’ camp is not making nearly enough of an effort to understand what they are trying to criticize”, I would conclude instead that you have not made nearly enough of an effort to understand that criticism. Now, I do in fact understand “the mystics” sufficiently, so I should by your lights have a privileged position to criticize them. I will claim to have a more nuanced understanding of classical Indian philosophy than Rand did: I don’t have any reason to think that she knows about Cārvāka philosophy, nor do I have any reason to think that she could read Sanskrit. Her “mystic muck” characterization does not mean “every Indian philosopher has been a hopeless mystic”, it is a correct generalization about a particular earlier intellectual export. You might want to investigate exactly what the nature of that export is, because it was influential, in a bad way, in the West for, mercy sake alive, two centuries, and even now we are not free of it. So actually, you don’t have to visit India to understand the muck, you just have to look around you (these days, more in antiquarian bookstores). The fact that she doesn’t burden Galt’s speech with a silly footnote granting some element of rationality to the Cārvāka doesn’t invalidate her characterization of Indian philosophy. Now then. What is necessary is not a visit, what is necessary is a study of the ideas, to see if they bear promise for being correct. Plainly, they do not. They are grounded in false and absurd ideas, such as that being whipped and burned is the same as not being whipped and burned – and that you cannot know if that idea is absurd. If you want to make this be about specific texts in Indian philosophy which you think are in fact compatible with Objectivism (and were not written by Br̩haspati or his followers), then make your case.
  3. 4 likes
    For those whom capitalism is still an unknown ideal, capitalism is the complete seperation of economics and state and that has never existed. This clear, non-foggy, definition of capitalism is the basis for Rand's argument, that Laika just led himself to discover, on the difference between economic and political power.
  4. 3 likes
    . The strings of the harp return to silence. That is so not only for each individual, but for the species, and eventually for all life in the solar system, and eventually farther, for all life-organization and intelligence-organization in the universe. Stardust to stardust. “When we are here, death is not come. When death is come, we are not here.” –Lucretius Taking a third-person perspective on oneself, one can be in advance conscious of one’s death, one’s full stop. In the first-person perspective, full ending of any object of consciousness whatsoever is collapse of both together, conscious process and object. I like better the third-person perspective, which is the only perspective with real interest for one's endpoint. Value is here on this earth beyond one's own life. Look to here and to the tomorrows of here all through one’s own last look at all.
  5. 3 likes
    Changing the conditions of your work in a way that is different from your contract could be construed as an initiation of force/fraud (and a contract is definitely needed in situations like these). And there would be legal issues associated with holding you ransom. You might say that the corporation didn't force you to stay there. But the issue of force is determined by the nature of reality. If somebody locked you in a room only they can open, you would essentially be held as a prisoner. By the nature of reality (i.e., by the constraints placed by the fact that you are physically unable to leave), the situation is very similar and legal issues can be involved. Also another thing: if this is the mentality, I doubt they would be the first to do anything in space. So situation is very unlikely as well.
  6. 3 likes
    Such an obvious, absolute, and undeniably true statement of fact and of Rand's position, will resonate with those who get it. Well said. Unfortunately, lesser minds will quibble, squirm, equivocate, whine, and in the end babble some anti-conceptual, inconsistent, irrelevancy, and I am decidedly not talking about Laika.
  7. 3 likes
    Laika: Your decision to purchase and actually read a work by Rand herself is an impressive display of your intent to learn for yourself and make up your own mind about her philosophy. You are to be commended for it and with that kind of approach nothing will stop you from finding all the answers you need.
  8. 2 likes
    I can't tell if you are 1) suggesting a method of persuasion, or if you are 2) suggesting abandoning principles, or if you are 3) proposing convincing people to use one moral code while you use another. 1 isn't a matter of the facts per se. That's not a criticism of the philosophy, only the particular methods some people use to persuade. 2 would not be actually superior or lead anywhere good. The system I'd get isn't one I'd like in the first place. If I'm as right as I think I am, watering down my beliefs isn't going to help me reach my goal. But if you mean going slow and convincing people one small idea at a time in terms they are able to understand, that's not turning moderate. 3 is saying that some people lack any potential to become their best, so you resign yourself to say some people are too stupid to "get it". For them, reason is impotent. If you truly thought that, well, you would think Objectivism is fundamentally wrong about human nature. That's rejecting Objectivism, not turning moderate.
  9. 2 likes
    Why are you convinced that the approach I've described isn't used "in matters of morality"? Suppose, just for a moment, that the approach I've described is compatible with scenarios such as theft (and that deciding whether or not to eat a donut is equally a "matter of morality"). Where would that leave us? Let's leave "rights" out of it at present, which leads us towards politics; let's stick with ethics for the moment. In terms of ethics, in terms of morality, why should an Objectivist say that a person ought not be a thief? Why say that a person ought not eat a donut, or a dozen in a sitting, or say contrarily that a person can morally eat a donut from time to time? Beyond the specific answer we reach, what's the purpose of asking and answering such questions at all? What's the point? Though there is disagreement among Objectivists about certain matters with regards to the core of the Objectivist Ethics (and you can find copious discussion of the same on this board), broadly speaking the purpose of morality -- and the reason why we should have an ethical code at all -- is so that we can enjoy our lives. So that we can "flourish." Accordingly, when we describe something as being "immoral," it is something like a shorthand for saying that it works against an individual's efforts to flourish. This is important to understand, especially for discussions like the one we're engaged in, and it's sometimes tricky to apply because it runs contrary to what I would say is the world's pervasive understanding of morality. I find that even many Objectivists often have an askew understanding on this point. Sitting and devoting all of one's time to eating donuts is immoral, not because it arbitrarily runs afoul of certain dogma, not because Ayn Rand wouldn't agree, not because some remote or personal deity has pronounced it so, but because there is a reality to the situation: the person who acts in this fashion will not flourish. He will not enjoy his life, but rather will suffer and die. Now perhaps you could posit a person who believes (even sincerely) that devoting all of his time to eating donuts will be for the best. And that's fine. I've no reason to tell such a person not to do so, except for all of the reasons why I would not act likewise: the host of potential health complications, opportunity costs, etc., etc., etc. But ultimately the individual has to assess these matters for himself, weighing evidence, reasoning and so on, and at the end of such a process, if a person truly believes that eating donuts is his path to a flourishing life (or if he rejects a flourishing life as a thing of value, though that's a separate but interesting discussion in its own right), well, then, there's nothing left to say to stop him. Of course, he may be mistaken. He may dive deep into his donut obsession only to find his health failing, his loved ones abandoning him, his bank account depleted, his face covered in maple glaze, and he might regret any number of his choices. But this is always the risk inherent in pursing our ends. Thievery, qua morality, is not different. It is immoral (to the extent that we can agree that it is), not because it violates some strictures or social norms, but because it is destructive to the individual who pursues it. What wealth the thief pursues through his actions is minor, and fleeting, compared to the wealth of fundamental harms he does to himself, in reality. And you might disagree with that: you might believe that a thief can steal and get away with it, not just in terms of avoiding criminal justice, but in a much more profound sense. Yet that's the case Rand made. Objectivists believe that those who survive by preying on others do inestimable harm to themselves, psychologically and otherwise, and that if you want to enjoy your life and flourish you should not steal values, but produce and trade them. Objectivists therefore would not say that such thievery is "an irrational act of self-interest." Rather, we would say that in order to act in one's self-interest, one must first commit himself to reason -- for how else may he reliably determine that which is in his interest? And in reason, actions such as theft (very generally speaking) are not in one's self-interest, but are self-destructive. That's why we call them "immoral."
  10. 2 likes
    Briefly, an organism that is in perfect physical health, but miserable on the emotional level, is not flourishing. Any such inbalance takes its toll on its entire existence. Your concept of flourishing does not reflect reality. Perfect flourishing is not possible because people are confronted with limited time, energy and resources. As a result, they need to make their values play well togheter. For example, you might have to cut your workout time in half so that you have enough time to devote to composing music. It's a question of scale: If you're talking about a 'somewhat longer and healthier life' - 100% health vs 94% health - then it's a reasonable compromise. However, a compromise must be defensible. If your compromise literally makes you sick and miserable, then it is not an objective compromise, but self-immolation. You could argue that you can switch to a Paleo diet, which will not only stop the donut craving, but also allegedly make donuts taste unappealing. But you could equaly argue that donuts are delicious, and that it would be ridiculous to deprive yourself of this experience in the name of pristine (but joyless) health. When you're stealing, you're not sacrificing a lower value to a higher one; you're gaining a value at the price of bringing havoc into your life. Figuring out a flourishing strategy requires that you take in consideration your entire hierarchy of values, your natural abilities, your circumstances and countless other factors. If you can grasp this principle, the answer to your donut question will become obvious.
  11. 2 likes
    And yet, you expend a great deal your creative energy (and time) making a pointless argument. Obviously, you hold metaphysical convictions that conflict with Objectivism. Ayn Rand did not contradict herself. If you watch the Tom Snyder interview to the end, she uses a religious reference in closing: "God bless America." Immediately prior to that statement, she clarifies her use of the term, God, as meaning: all that is good. Clearly, she did not always express herself literally, although she seems to be very conscientious of her choice of words. There is no "perhaps" in regard to Ayn Rand's convictions. As a person of independent thought, you may interpret information, perceptions, sensations, or the random fulfillment of wishes any way you so desire, but that does not make your interpretations matters of fact. Selling a house or making a financial contract may very well be creative, but it is not art. Not by Objectivist definition. You could say that there is an art to installing PVC piping, or landing an airplane, or folding your laundry. You could say that there is an art to picking pockets, or picking up a one-night-stand date, or stacking a deck of cards. The creative process is certainly applied to all of these examples. Some require human intuition. But it's not art. And you can say that it is, just as you could say: A is non-A. But merely saying so doesn't make it a matter of fact. So, in response to your statement: "you do not perceive creating and reality the same way I do," you are certainly correct. Objectivists require facts and evidence to support their interpretations. The distinction between your perception of reality, from the Objectivist understanding of reality, is defined as: the Primacy of Consciousness, versus, the Primacy of Existence. If you have any further interest in the works of Ayn Rand, you may do your own research. But it seems to me that that would be as much a waste of your time, as you have stated that you believe in a multitude of "existences" and that all metaphysical interpretations are mere speculation. Score one for Immanuel Kant.
  12. 2 likes
    What makes life worth living is not living life. Life for its own sake is tedious, boring, dutiful, meaningless. What makes life living is the concrete experiences one enjoys within it. The pleasures one derives from things. Satisfying one's desires. Pre-rational, visceral, gut-level enjoyment. Withouth rhyme or reason, you just like it. And then life has value as a means to those experiences. Life is not the end, it's a means to an end. Strikingly opposite to Objectivist thought. In my direct experience that is the case. All the Objectivist virtue and ethics couldn't make me happy or make me want to live. It's when I started listening to my own desires and pleasures, and enjoying things for their own intrinsic pleasure that life started to have value and happiness seemed possible. When you're depressed, the only thing that matters is how you feel. That life is a value has no power to shake them from their depression, because it's not true for them. Life is only a value if your specific life is a value to you for other things. Many Objectivists will shift gears and agree that's what they meant all along but they are doing a bait and switch with the meaning of the term life, and it contradicts the fine print of the ethics.
  13. 2 likes
    Well the main thing I would point out is that the movie is centered around a personality. That's the point of it: it's not the sci fi plot, it's the sadness of a great intellect, that is portrayed masterfully, and with everything around Amy Adams carefully structured for one and only one purpose: to support her tragic screen presence. The incredible originality of both the plot and the structure of the movie (with the clever lie by omission at the start) are the cherry on top. But what really matters is how Adams' performance makes you feel. How strong and real the admiration and sadness feels as you're watching. Take Jeremy Renner's inconspicuous, almost expressionless acting, for instance: a conscious choice (on the director's part), along with many, many other similar, brilliant choices, to allow Amy Adams to keep the viewer's undivided attention for the full length of the movie...and it was a compelling performance, that made me grateful that I was able to enjoy her soulful presence without distractions. It felt like she was in the room, next to me. P.S. I wasn't an Amy Adams fan, before I saw the movie. Looking through her IMDB, the two movies she's been in that I've seen are Charlie Wilson's War and Catch Me if You Can, but I don't remember her in either. So this isn't fanboy talk, I went into it without any bias. When I went to see Interstellar, I was expecting McConaughey to deliver (and did he ever). With this, I wasn't expecting anything, but what I got was just as great.
  14. 2 likes
    He would be assassinated or overthrown immediately for this. Dictators never rule alone. There's always a powerful oligarchy lurking in the background.
  15. 2 likes
    I've taken a look at everyone else's replies but the answer seems rather simple: the domains of emotion and evaluation are not the sole cause of their correlated physiological responses, e.g., nocturnal erections, tearing from sulfur compounds (onions), circadian clocks, etc. For these examples there are no reasons to attribute lust, sadness, or boredom as cause. With the utter normality in the animal kingdom of infant vocalizations being an invitation for caregiving I see no reason to chalk up to an emotional faculty what can be attributed to evolution.
  16. 2 likes
    To add on to this ... She was a fiction writer, a writer of such scenes as Kira getting shot by Soviet border guards as she tries to flee that country "Howard Roark laughed" Hank Rearden holding the lifeless body of the young man only referred to the "Wet Nurse" Eddie Willers getting stranded on a broken down train in a desert We would have never heard of Ayn Rand or read her nonfiction if not she had not first been able to make powerful emotional fiction first. She came up with her ideas known as Objectivism for the sake of her fiction. One type of persuasion can lead to others.
  17. 2 likes
    yeah, that's more or less what I'm wondering. Marxists and Libertarians agree largely on the problems of the current society of arbitrary government and corporate power but disagree on the causes and the solutions. So I'm trying to think outside my own box and see how some of the issues that really bother me appear from the other end of the political spectrum (and whether that analysis is better or has insights I might have missed). I think the error of the labour theory of value is in postulating a sort of "pure" conception of utility that exists independently of the market as a means of evaluating a resources value. its going to be something I will need to look at. I got a copy of Capitalism: The unknown ideal yesterday (and reached chapter 5 this morning). its refreshingly bold and will make my head spin for a while. its pretty clear just how big the gulf between left and right ways of thinking on these questions are so I will just have to keep going. The section on anti-trust laws more than likely answers my question by arguing that economic and political power are not equivalent because political power rests on force/violence whereas economic power does not. the "bigness" of a company is a sign of its success and the result of accumulated voluntary transactions. I've not heard anyone put it in those terms before and couldn't really argue against it. I guess the issue is who decides that the reason why someone buys something is "stupid" to begin with, as that implies coercion in undermining a person's autonomy. I was more worried about how something like Television can be used to by-pass the rational side of the brain and appeal directly to the emotional part. whether its used for political or commercial reasons, that struck me as very corrosive to free thought. In Randian terms, its an appeal to the subjectivist value of what is "good" as a property of the mind and of emotions. That could be coercive in that what feels good becomes the norm of human behaviour by taking away from the human part and making us more into animals to be herded into Black Friday sales. I guess I'm horrified by how de-humanising it is for people to become a single unthinking collective mass in the name of shopping. In terms of its motivations, its a small step from that to Nuremberg Rallies if you change the symbolism. mobs are pretty scary whatever reason they form.
  18. 2 likes
    It's my own personal example. The FDA prohibits any doctor in the U.S. from administering a legitimately promising treatment derived from my body's own stem cells to treat the arthritis that is gradually robbing me of everything that makes life worth living. Earlier this year I traveled out of the country and paid $33,000 cash plus travel expenses to get this treatment in a jurisdiction that allows it—it's working great, but I only treated 1/3 of the joints that need it, and I need additional treatments in those joints. It took me a year and a half to save enough money to do that much and the reality is I will never be able to afford to get the improvements I need under today's laws. I just paid my self-employment taxes and they took a fifth of everything I was putting toward the next round of treatment to pay my share of Medicare recipients' medical expenses, to say nothing of the $3000+ in premiums I had to pay for a health insurance policy that covers my 33/M self for any medical expenses I might incur related to pregnancy complications and altzheimer's disease, but that the government won't let pay a dime for the only treatment in existence that can make any meaningful difference in my own condition. What a great country.
  19. 2 likes
    Ok, here it is: NONE. There. It's summarized. There's NOTHING mystics have to say that I don't understand. Now it's your turn to contradict that by naming something.
  20. 2 likes
    Why would I do that? You are the one asserting that Objectivists don't understand the views of mystics/subjectivists. You need to prove it.
  21. 2 likes
    No true Scotsman would fail to capitalize Scotland or misspell Scottish. You're cover is blown, Joshua. You'd have us think you hail from the land of the heroic Calcagus, when Epimenides is your true countryman, deny it all you like. In any event, Nicholas Dykes is from Herefordshire, that's pretty close to Scotland. Also, John Galt was Scottish, though I suppose that doesn't count for much.
  22. 2 likes
    The answer, at least partially, can be found in the introduction to "The Night of January 16th". I know that it was mentioned in the journals but I highly recommend reading it in full. The way I understand it is that Hickman was an abstraction. The attraction was not conceptual (and thus details of the case were not relevant) but emotional, on a sense of life level. She used this case for her projection - like one can use a piece of art (even if the artist intended/meant something very different (even opposite) than what you getting out of it - it happens to me a lot). This was about the idea of individualism/independence - about the psychology it requires to be daring in this way. She did not admire this particular man. Her comments are not identifications about this particular case - but rather a hypothetical - conceptual exploration of emotional reaction. Rather than repressing it - she explored it. Sense of life reaction is not conceptual - one may react positively even though the details are horrifying. In my opinion this is a testament in a way to her underlying positive evaluation of herself (deeply rooted conviction "I am good") because I think many would have dismissed the feeling due to the details of the case. It is very likely that the same is true of her journal comments related to society. It could have been her projection in relation to society's reaction to radicalism, toward those who boldly project that they don't need the approval of society, toward those who reject the notion that consensus, the majority of opinion - is a valid standard of truth and value. It could have been an exploration of the reaction of society when it realizes that it lost it's grasp over the individual.
  23. 1 like
    Don't want to take the discussion away from sport, but Reality TV might be more Romanticism than many other average TV shows. If you take someones real life, and select only those times when they are consciously pursuing some value, or trying to deal with some situation/problem that has arisen, then you see people as volitional actors...not as pawns of reality. This aspect: humans as volitional beings, is the crucial razor in Rand's concept of Romanticism. Reality TV puts this on steroids. Even if we might pooh-pooh the particular values being pursued, we are seeing volitional beings pursuing values. Not always, and not all the "actors"... but that variety of good and bad is also an element of good drama. I suspect that is why reality-TV is so popular: because it is a sneak Romanticism genre that upended more boring manufactured narratives. Rather than art, I would relate it to dance. Here's Rand, on dance, which Rand says "... presents a stylized version of man's body in action". Rand ("Romantic Manifesto, Ch-4, Art and Cognition): "Every strong emotion has a kinesthetic element, experienced as an impulse to leap or cringe or stamp one's foot, etc. Just as a man's sense of life is part of all his emotions, so it is part of all his movements and determines his manner of using his body: his posture, his gestures, his way of walking, etc. We can observe a different sense of life in a man who characteristically stands straight, walks fast, gestures decisively—and in a man who characteristically slumps, shuffles heavily, gestures limply. This particular element—the overall manner of moving-constitutes the material, the special province of the dance. The dance stylizes it into a system of motion expressing a metaphysical view of man." Sport is pretty similar. Traditionally it has been male and could be thought of as symbolic physical battles, reenacting the essence of an aspect of physically-manifested heroism that was an important value for centuries. While retaining that element, some forms -- like beach volleyball -- stress human beauty too. And, as one gets to Gymnastics or Synchronized Swimming or could even debate if those are on the borderline between the two sub-genres of art: sport and dance.
  24. 1 like
    Which is better, chocolate or vanilla ice-cream? Within each category of values there is a high degree of optionality. When two choices are interchangeable, you need an objective criteria to pick a winner - and that criteria is precisely your personal taste. Unlike most food preferences, some tastes stem from subconscious convictions or automatized emotional associations. As long as you identify their source, tastes play an important role in choosing values.
  25. 1 like
    . The transcription of Rand’s epistemology seminars (1969–71) included in the second edition of ITOE, contain some deep exchanges between Rand and Gotthelf (Prof. B ) and Peikoff (Prof. E). Outside those, the most sustained dialogues (in the transcription) are the penetrating exchanges between Rand and John O. Nelson (Prof. D).* Prof. Nelson had contributed an article on matters political to Rand’s The Objectivist in 1969. A note listing therewith some glimpse of Nelson’s academic stature included: “Professor Nelson agrees with the basic principles of Objectivism in ethics and politics.” That expresses perhaps too much concord even in those areas, but anyway, that statement rightly indicated that Nelson was of another perspective in areas of theoretical philosophy. Jeff Broome, an acquaintance of John O. Nelson (1917–2005), writes in the Preface to a couple of Nelson studies on Hume: “It wasn’t just Wittgenstein who was impressed by John’s penetrating philosophical mind. Ayn Rand would also become friends with John and Edna, inviting them to her Manhatten apartment for weekend exchanges of philosophical ideas. John was impressed with the depth of Ayn’s intellect, especially her ability to talk in depth about nearly countless topics and ideas. John proved her equal in conversations, a rarity among Rand’s inner circle of close friends.” (2010)
  26. 1 like
    No a theory of quantum gravity must exist. Explaining the physics of black holes would be impossible without it. Way too many explanations pop out of the equations, things like the holographic principle or bouncing branes causing the phase transition that we today see as "The Big Bang", etc., that it is virtually certain that we on the right track with M- theory. I'm an Objectivist and also certain that the various Objectivist intellectuals who attempt to shoot down string theory are always attacking a straw man that they simply don't understand while taking an extremely rationalist view point regarding physics that doesn't jive with reality at high energies.
  27. 1 like
    It shows up on both the Portal and the Forum pages. to both you gentlemen.
  28. 1 like
    The key issue is the integration of login IDs, and then a "single login" that gets you into Chat once you're logged into the forum. If we relax that requirement, there may be some easy options. For instance, ... 1. A completely stand-alone chat that had a link from the forum. A place to chat...but only related in a nebulous way 2. A completely stand-alone chat, but with user-ids granted manually for any forum member requesting it...and everyone else shows up as "Guest". These types of options could probably be hosted somewhere in the cloud, not on the forum. TL;DR: We could try a non-integrated chat
  29. 1 like
    Privatizing a government agency isn't an answer, as I think it'd create worse problems by nature of a mandated relationship of state and government. The transition would itself be decided by the government, with government assets, to some favored company of the state. I would rather a system where there is private control at all levels. Even if a person cannot afford care, in principle, non-profit organizations can help. I know, charitable giving is not itself a solution to all ills, but if there is no other way to get care, you ought to show that you're worth helping. The main idea is that voluntary action is the best means for health care to work. An economist knows the details. Since it is part of our nature to make our own decisions, and to reason out what we do, a system using that as a standard will be the best type of society. In general, this is true, better quality of life and even medicine. Medical treatments get cheaper, as people find it necessary to demonstrate and share an incredible value. Yes, profit is in there, but even on an investor level, getting a return at all requires others getting that value. If a company purposely raises the price so only rich people afford it, so fewer units need to be sold, that may easily create motvation to create alternatives. Part of the issue isn't care per se. It will be things like questionable IP practices and laws, the FDA (or other regulators), and insurance companies that are resistant to providing long-term care so their service sucks. We'd need a model or method to make something like MRI scans cheaper. Too bad most people only answer that with a public system.
  30. 1 like
    Yep. It's absurd. Throw it out. What makes life worth living has nothing to do with conditional state of existence. The idea that an immortal human would have no reason to act totally ignores the reality of human psychology. If I'm immortal, I can still enjoy the same things, so why wouldn't I? I don't enjoy myself to survive, I enjoy myself to enjoy myself.
  31. 1 like
    I had picked up the DVD when it came out. It had been marked on my calender almost from when the release date had been announced. After zeroing in on the hype of the language and the interpretation thereof, I probably created an expectation in my own mind that did not get fulfilled, hence the disappointment. I will put it back in the queue and give it another go, sans expectation.
  32. 1 like
    Agreed, it is at least some information. As you were asking, here is what I'd alter: Familiarity with past leaders needs to have people of similar historical stature, and time period. How does Mao compare to Nixon? To Khrushev? To Jimmy Stewart, to have non-political examples of the 60s? It's a survey, so sticking to leaders between 1940 and 1990 is probably best. Some big names. The questions about Stalin causing death is hard to measure. Do we mean people he sent to the gulag and executed? Do some people count soldiers being sent to war as a death -caused- by a leader? Millions of people died from starvation and other issues during Stalin's regime, but it's not the same as Stalin killing them or the regime killing them indirectly at best. So the survey results about which regime killed the most is not so helpful. It is better to phrase it like "Do you think Communism led to most of the deaths in the USSR during Stalin's leadership?" This captures more about how people -attribute- the deaths, not just "how many died". The questions on how the American economic system is too mixed to be useful. As far as economics, I'd say the system works against me on average. The survey takes this as vaguely anti-capitalist. A better question would be if a person thinks Communism would be superior. And is Communism a problem? I find it low on my list of political problems. That question is not helpful. Problem compared to what? It's not really a pressing issue. White nationalism is the problem that I see. Rather, I'd ask some question about the future of Communism. Do people see it as dying out? Or do respondents mean to say Communism is not a problem because it's good? Anecdotally, there is an uptick in Communism as far as I've seen, but this survey only seems to confirm an uptick vaguely speaking.
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    ...13 years ago. My post is in present tense. I'm not denying that 10-15 years ago Hollywood movies were still the height of American entertainment. But that changed in the past few years. These days, tv shows have mostly surpassed them. These days, you can find dozens of hours worth of good TV for every good movie that gets released. Case and point is this six hour "Mary Kills People" series, which isn't even a show most people know about. It's a tiny joint-Canadian production. And yet, it's better quality (in terms of writing, acting and cinematography) than any American 2017 movie I've seen so far.
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    It's an old essay, but quite thought-provoking. Venture capitalist Paul Graham considers why it is that "nerds" are so unpopular in middle school and high school. The below excerpt, from about midway through, gives an indication of what to expect, but the whole thing deserves a read. Because I didn't fit into this world, I thought that something must be wrong with me. I didn't realize that the reason we nerds didn't fit in was that in some ways we were a step ahead. We were already thinking about the kind of things that matter in the real world, instead of spending all our time playing an exacting but mostly pointless game like the others. We were a bit like an adult would be if he were thrust back into middle school. He wouldn't know the right clothes to wear, the right music to like, the right slang to use. He'd seem to the kids a complete alien. The thing is, he'd know enough not to care what they thought. We had no such confidence. A lot of people seem to think it's good for smart kids to be thrown together with "normal" kids at this stage of their lives. Perhaps. But in at least some cases the reason the nerds don't fit in really is that everyone else is crazy. I remember sitting in the audience at a "pep rally" at my high school, watching as the cheerleaders threw an effigy of an opposing player into the audience to be torn to pieces. I felt like an explorer witnessing some bizarre tribal ritual. [bold added]Much of this will remind anyone familiar with Ayn Rand of her concept of second-handers, and rightfully so. And many of these might be tempted, as I was at first, to indict the state of our culture and government schools for this entirely. (It's not entirely to blame, but as Graham indicates, it deserves the lion's share.) That said, I think some aspects of the phenomenon stem from the transition any child has to make from dependence on his parents to independent adulthood. As a parent, I am glad to have encountered this piece again, and will keep it in mind, now that I am a parent. -- CAV Link to Original
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    There's a great deal of truth to this. Being born into a dictatorship poses a bit of conundrum for everyone under its influence, from the highest to the lowest. Generally, dictatorships lack the institutions of justice and liberty of which we in Western nations take for granted. Corruption is often the norm, institutionalized from the highest to the lowest. Vendettas are common. Machiavellian politics would likely result in usurpers overthrowing any leader appearing weak and sympathetic to liberal reforms. Stability is the primary objective for any nation with a history of violent factional or tribal conflict. What to do if one were an enlightened man born to rule such a nation? If it were me, I would do everything possible to secure my own preservation. A loyal ally among the security forces, one willing to accept the ideological changes, would be absolutely necessary. And it wouldn't hurt to have a backup plan for living in exile. 2. As an sort of philosopher-king, I would need to do a great deal of philosophizing in the language of both the higher and lower economic classes. Routine public addresses would be more effective than one three hour long "I am John Galt" speech, public addresses that relate to conditions specific to the nation. I would also need to allow the freedom for public rebuttal. 3. I would begin with a drastic reform of stripping the oligarchs of their monopolistic powers to privatization. I would need to know just how backward this hypothetical nation is in order to know how to proceed. Perhaps the nation has industrial capability, maybe better than any other nation. If so, it would be easier to liberalize institutions. If it were a nation of primitive savages, the process of allowing market forces to "do their magic" would be hindered by the fact that there would be very little wealth to take to market. Privatization brings enemies from all levels. Many Brits from the coal miners union have never forgiven Margret Thatcher. 4. The most difficult task of transitioning from absolute rule to rule of law is to institutionalize reason, purpose, and self-esteem. It would take generations of educational reform to reverse the effects of a church or state monopolized school system, and it would be made clear that that school system would not be public forever. On this point, there will be the old and unreconstructed who will always tell their children and grandchildren how much better it was under the old regime. I wouldn't expect my "revolution" to be successful beyond my life, but if my works and words survive me in the memories of others, it could be the genesis of something to come. I might be "air-brushed" out of my nation's history books, but I would die satisfied knowing I tried.
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    This question seems good at first, but it is actually simple and straightforward to answer. If a person wants to reason through the world, and even uses logic well, it may seem that a good argument would persuade them. But this only works with like-minded thinkers. A Marxist simply does not reason the way you are I do, thanks to their materialist foundation. Furthermore, it isn't surprising if a Marxist grew into it on emotional grounds, so their whole foundation may rest on how they felt about capitalism. To alter that foundation, you need to engage their emotions enough so that they question their core beliefs. This is non-rational persuasion, not far from how psychology counselors work. A Marxist has a false sense of self-esteem is the point. You can offer a little respect to such a mindset depending on their personal contradictions and their interest to resolve contradictions. All you know is that a dedicated Marxist probably wants real self-esteem. Like a religious person, their dedication is a hole they want to fill. It's not a big deal as far as persuasion is concerned, the big deal is what the Marxist plans to do or their personal issues. If you want to persuade someone, you want them on your side. If you want them on your side, helping them out of their personal suffering is probably the most important step. A lot of the time, yes. This is a misreading of Laika making it clear how Marxism can tear you apart between self and Marxism. Basically, a lot of Laika's quotation marks are ironic uses of words.
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    . On sensation for Kant: KANT'S THEORY OF FORM --Robert Pippin (1984) On sensation and perception: KANT'S INTUITIONISM --Lorne Falkenstein (1995) On sensation, perception, and definition: Follow Index of Werner Pluhar's translation (1996) of CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. On definition, see especially A727-32 B755-60.
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    Is it up to the teachers unions? Unions may be influential among the workers, and hold sway with some producers. Ultimately it is the consumer that chooses the product to purchase in a free market. Montessori and homeschooling options have been trending up. Politically, making these options more difficult pits ~1.5 million union teacher votes to ~1.5 million children's parents votes at this time (per estimations from a few google searches.)
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    Come in my country if you want to meet much marxists!
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    It was both fraud and force. Fraud in the bait-and-switch and then force or the threat of force in the comply-or-else-die aspect. I find fault with your understanding of fraud, contract and force. Changing the subject, dignity is too subjective of an evaluation to define in objective law. Individual elements that may be components of a concept of dignity can be objectively defined as for example to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures of one's person and personal effects, but to just use the term 'dignity' in a written law without establishing context is a legislative disaster and legal nightmare. Dignity like beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
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    This is not an innate idea, that's an innate capacity. Tabula rasa just means, to Rand, no innate concepts or ideas. There is no mechanism to form ideas with genes. An -emotion- goes with some evaluation.
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    Well, SK already clarified that the question is about the law here, not ethics. It has been easily established so far that dignity itself is not relevant to legality. The next issue is what to do about it as an individual who wants to leave. What matters is being free to do what one wishes to lead their own life. Still, self-ownership isn't a principle for Objectivist ethics. We ought to respect people in general as potential traders, while disrespect ignores that potential a lot of the time. Self-ownership is not fundamental anyway - you can't merely "offer your body", as the law ought to only protect and enforce initiation of force. "Offering" yourself is not enforceable, the means to defend that is initiation of force. The reason this asteroid problem may seem tricky is that the company seems to be within legal bounds - people agreed to the contract and agreed to potential sudden changes. But there's no way out without finishing the job and more humiliation! They'd be trapped. But being trapped is the whole issue. SK chose an asteroid exactly because it's extreme entrapment. So it's not wild or weird to answer assuming that the company has entrapped employees. They'd be legally obligated to offer a way out (just as locking people in a factory by saying "lol contract change" would be illegal).
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    You're missing the point Mindborg. Let me put it this way. There has never been a state which has in principle separated economics from interference of the state. Black markets presuppose the state is involved in economics.
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    Seriously? This is the level that you want to bring the discussion to? Is this really a world problem that you want to spend your time solving? There are no more pressing problems for you to think about than a manager in an asteroid company smearing poop in employees face? Pathetic. If these problems are what objectivists are spending their time on, then it's easy to see why more important problems are not being solved.
  45. 1 like
    I'm not who you were addressing but I want to comment anyway. There's no such thing as "common property" and humanity or some collective doesn't "own" the earth. All property should be privately owned. We should only exploit the earth to better our own lives not the lives of future generations, etc. Also the earth has no intrinsic value, it only has value to the humans who exploit it. Animals, fungi, whatever, cannot value but man can. It's human individuals first, not plants, animals, the whole planet, etc. The earth's climate continually changes over time; it is not static. There has been Snowball Earths, there has been time where the earth was much warmer than the present. It shifts as a function of time for many reason. It always has and always will. Even *if* humans were causing the earth to warm (which is far away from scientifically verified despite what the leftist media continually says otherwise) ... who cares? Why can volcanoes and cows spew huge amounts of greenhouse gasses but man can't? The case would be something like, "Well, those are "natural" emissions." But why do they not consider man to be "natural"? Why is it the the environmental socialist sheep consider man to be unnatural and not allowed to disturb the environment, but if the same thing and/or usually worst things happen over time "naturally" then that's okay. These people that spew that man is not allowed to disturb or change the environment are anti-man and anti-life. And the goal of almost all environmentalists is to expand governments and to control industries etc.
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    Hang on, tovarisch. You just placed Ayn Rand on equal epistemological footing with Joseph Stalin on Objectivism Online. What sort of response are you looking for here? Are you asking us to disprove your ridiculous assertion by demonstrating some sort of familiarity with whatever supernatural theories you won't even specify, so that we don't lose you to "the other side"? You sound like you're already there, tovarisch. Try me.
  47. 1 like
    So, the alternative to being poor is to have childish freedom! While the recurrent argument against socialism might be its poverty, that was not Rand's primary argument. Greed is not wealth, and hunger is not food. The idea that people in more capitalistic-leaning countries are relatively unhealthy is not just false, it is ludicrous. The idea that people in such countries are relatively happy is false. Greed is motivation...it is basically synonymous. The idea of increasing people's motivation by reducing their greed is a logical contradiction. Obviously all incentives do not have to be monetary... strawman. Obviously, money is a means to an end... the only reason people want money is to get what money can buy. The incentive is thus not money, but food, and clothes, and housing, and all sorts of other values. You can try doing away with money as an incentive, but only by doing so with such values as an incentive. The idea of doing away with values as a way to gain values is ludicrous. Rand does not mistake reason for disliking. She's the author in that scene, making up her reality. the idea that people always have good reasons for disliking others is false. As an author, Rand is free to describe such a scene. Not sure what gobble-de-gook you're saying about Rand being afraid of losing competence. Selfishness is not blind, unselfishness is blind. Obviously wealth does not have to lead to wealth in an individual case. Don;t use that strawman in addition your false statement that welath leads to unhealthiness On the other hand, it is obvious to even the most casual observer that with growing material values (aka wealth), comes better sanitation, more private space, more medicines, more medical equipment, more knowledge... and -- thence,longer lives People who retire and go on world tours today are a recent phenomenon Do you have any true premises to offer?
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    Being objective is more fundamental. How else can one reach any justified conclusion at all, including whether one should be selfish? The philosophy advocated here is called Objectivism, not selfishism or egoism, which puts the emphasis in the right place. Respecting the rights of others never conflicts with your objective self-interest, because whether or not your own rights are to be respected depends on respecting others.
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    To my understanding, Rand was more interested in the public's reaction to Hickman than the man himself, and seemed to think that the reaction was more due to his taking pride in defying the morals of society than in the crimes he actually committed. This aspect of his situation intrigued her, and provided fuel for a later short story which incorporated a proud man on trial in front of an outraged society, without the serial murder part. With this in mind, the more appropriate Hitler comparison might be admiring or at least acknowledging how successful Hitler was at propagandizing himself and gaining public opinion during his rise to power. Plenty of healthy, moral people have spent countless hours analyzing Hitler's Nazi propaganda and how it was so successful, and have learned valuable things about propaganda, charisma, etc that have nothing to do with the evil things Hitler did.
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    No. Rand's point is that the self, the 'I', stops existing at death. We never actually experience death, because death is the end of all experience. And because of that, one can equally validly look at death as the end of the world -- the end as far as the self is concerned. Rand's view here is essentially the same as the ancient philosopher Epicurus, who famously stated his view as "Where death is not, I am; where death is, I am not." In 1974, interviewer James Day asked Rand "How do you, as an Objectivist, feel about death?" Rand's reply was "It doesn't concern me in the least, because I won't be here to know it. The worst thing about death, and what I regard as the most horrible human tragedy, is to lose someone you love. That is terribly hard. But your own death? If you're finished, you're finished. My purpose is not to worry about death but to live life now, here on earth."