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  1. 4 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. 3 likes
    The fact check site Snopes sets the record straight on an Ayn Rand quote by checking with Onkar Ghate associated with the Ayn Rand Institute. Did Ayn Rand Say 'The Question Isn’t Who Is Going to Let Me; It’s Who Is Going to Stop Me'?
  3. 2 likes
    Welcome to the board. I hope you benefit from your time here. As a lazy answer, I don't think it can be questioned that Rand's experiences in Russia/the USSR had enormous influence on her, just as I expect that any individual is enormously influenced by the circumstances of their upbringing. But to the extent that Objectivism is "atheistic" and "materialistic," I think it would be a mistake to try to find the reason(s) for that in the fact that Rand hailed from a particular country (if that is the proposed project); Rand typically gives incredibly thought-out and painstakingly argued reasons for her positions on sundry topics, and those reasons -- right or wrong -- stand without respect to the origin of author (or reader). That said, I'm certain that Rand's early experiences and education emphasized certain readings or access to specific intellectual strains of thought, or etc., and perhaps that's what you're after, to trace the intellectual history of her ideas. Rand herself chiefly acknowledged Aristotle, though I have heard that she was influenced by Nietzsche early on... But come to that, others here are Rand scholars who can offer much more insight into this question than I. I'm not certain what you mean by "Socialist Objectivism," but let me try to speak to "altruism." Yes, Objectivists use "altruism" in a rather narrow, specific way, which is the idea that actions are considered moral to the extent that they benefit others (in contrast to selfish actions, which benefit the self). Rand on "altruism": "Altruism declares that any action taken for the benefit of others is good, and any action taken for one’s own benefit is evil." Rand on "selfishness": "[T]he exact meaning and dictionary definition of the word 'selfishness' is: concern with one’s own interests. [...] The Objectivist ethics holds that the actor must always be the beneficiary of his action and that man must act for his own rational self-interest. [...] Since selfishness is 'concern with one’s own interests,' the Objectivist ethics uses that concept in its exact and purest sense." This is what Rand (and knowledgeable Objectivists) mean when using those terms. There are yet many actions (which we could roundly describe as "kind" or "benevolent" or even "charitable") which society would sometimes consider "altruistic" that are not contrary to Rand's selfishness -- but are, in fact, quite selfish. Rand writes, for instance, "Do not hide behind such superficialities as whether you should or should not give a dime to a beggar. That is not the issue. The issue is whether you do or do not have the right to exist without giving him that dime." And this is just so. (If you take away from this that an Objectivist could morally give a dime to a beggar, in a given context, I would say that you are correct.) Some people try to point out the supposed hypocrisy of Objectivists by noting, for instance, that the Ayn Rand Institute is "non-profit" (and donates books to schools!), or that one of the Atlas Shrugged movies used Kickstarter as a partial source of funding, or etc. Those people do not understand what Objectivists believe, though this does not appear to give them any pause in their invective. So, good on you for trying! Climate change is a matter for scientists, and while philosophy sets the ground rules for scientific thought, Objectivism qua philosophy does not have a position on whether the climate is changing, or what the cause is, or etc. Accordingly, you will find diverse opinions among Objectivists on those sorts of questions. Personally, I'm not sufficiently educated about climate change to hold forth on it to any great extent, though I am impressed (and distressed) by the seeming scientific consensus. I know there are skeptical challenges to various models, and use of data, and etc., but again, I'm not sufficiently educated on these topics to be able to say much more. I take it for granted that catastrophic climate change is a real possibility for planet Earth, whether man-made or not, because obviously the climate has changed in the past (in ways I would regard as "catastrophic" for human life, if repeated), and I expect it could again. If technological innovation has the potential to help mankind combat such catastrophic outcomes, should they threaten -- and I would suppose that such innovation is our best hope, speaking generally -- then I would want man to be unfettered to think and work and pursue those innovations. This "unfettering" refers to political "liberty," which is what Objectivists mean when referring to "capitalism," which thus primarily refers to a political system and not economics, as such. This said, there are specific scenarios related to the environment which I believe would justify "interventions in the marketplace," by which I mean regulatory laws (or criminal laws, or civil lawsuits). If we were to determine that polluting the ocean (which is a common resource; or at least, I don't know of any proposal to privatize it yet) to whatever extent is bound to exterminate the world's algae, let's say, and thus choke off all of our oxygen, or what-have-you, then yes, we cannot be allowed to pollute the ocean like that (though such a discussion would be heavily nuanced and context-dependent). If this makes me a heretic in the eyes of other Objectivists, so be it, but my policy is to keep breathing. Edited to add: As to the question of whether climate change (real or imagined) could lead to totalitarianism, well yeah. But the power hungry have never wanted for reasons to impose their wills on others, and totalitarianism has seemed to exist in every age. If climate change could spark a resurgence in totalitarianism (and it certainly seems to me to have that potential), the path will have been paved by centuries of philosophical thought which have argued for self-sacrifice (in the interests of the state, or God, or the race, or etc.) and against the rights and happiness of individual human beings. There is no Objectivist dictum like "free markets lead to free societies," so far as I am aware, and I would redirect you to what I've said above, which is that Objectivism is primarily concerned with a moral political system (which we find in protecting individual rights, which we call "liberty"/capitalism) and not economic outcomes, as such. (Though many Objectivists may appeal to various economists who have argued that such liberty does generally result in prosperity, and etc.) That said, a "free market" is not simply an absence of state authority... and in fact, a "free market" is not possible without some state authority to protect people in the use of their individual rights, whether in producing goods, trading them, or consuming them. The market is not "free" (and not truly a "market"), for instance, if you can steal from me with impunity. That's not an example of a free society, either, and such lawlessness is not what Objectivists regard as either moral or desirable. I never would have described myself as Marxist-Communist, or an anarchist, but I was certainly a liberal in my youth. The experiences that led me to shift are probably too numerous to mention, but as a quick reduction I'll say that I read a number of influential books (including Rand, but not exclusively written by her), and I've spent many years applying ideas, testing them out in my own life, reviewing the results, studying history and my own past, and etc. It is a complex process. Throughout my intellectual development (which began when I was a liberal, and many years before discovering Objectivism), and despite the pride of place I now give to "happiness" and "self-esteem," I was led onward in the main by a passion for discovering the truth of things. I watched Wall Street when I was young, and I cannot tell you what impression it made on me (because I do not remember). I imagine that the stereotypical "businessman world-beater" aesthetic did not do much for me at the time, as, quite frankly, it does not do much for me now.
  4. 2 likes
    An acquaintance of mine replied on the circulating video used as part of the case: As I've always said, if your' going to carry or just own a gun, you're obligated to train and practice. One thing you have to consider in carrying is encounters with law enforcement. In states where I don't have to I don't inform the officer I have a gun unless asked.(like AZ) I don't. In states where I'm required to do so (like MI) I do. In either case when I'm pulled over, before the officer is out of his car, I have my license, registration and proof of insurance out and ready. Then if I do have to inform I'm not reaching for my wallet, making the cop uncomfortable. I can tell him I'm reaching for my ID but why should he believe me? I keep both hands in sight at all times. One MI officer requested I keep both hands out the window and visible to him while he went back to the car to run me.. If you didn't get your ID out ahead of time, and have to tell him you have a gun, both hands on the wheel and ask him how he wants you to proceed. That way no one gets carried away. Yes the cop needed better training. Personally when the driver started reaching I'd have warned him while drawing my weapon and aiming at him. I still would have had time to shoot were he to start to bring up a weapon. Mistakes were made by both. Plan ahead folks.
  5. 2 likes
    Sculptures, symphonies, novels and paintings are time consuming to make, just like any other human value. What exactly does an artist choose to sculpt, compose, write or paint? Obviously, there's only one thing you can represent in art: things from reality. But what exactly? Just beautifuly rendered objects, people and events for no reason whatsoever? What separates sculpture, painting and theater from toys, photographs and soap operas? The meaning of fine art is not the objects portrayed in it. It's also not about politics or morals or the weather or the stock market, but something much, much, much more important. In fact it's so important that it needs to be present in your awareness at all times. I'm referring to the reasons and causes of your actions. For example, if you're generaly scared of the world and you don't like to take much space etc. this isn't a causeless fact. It's because you sincerely believe deep down that the universe is a dangerous place to live in, that man is always in grave danger. This is life-and-death information that is essential to remember in the backdrop of all of the irrelevancies of life - as the facts that cause, explain, give meaning to, and tie your disparate, confusing daily experinces into a coherent mechanism (the overall nature of the universe). Is the universe antagonistic or auspicious? Am I good or bad by nature? Am I in control of my inner and outer life? Is this a knowable world, subject to identity and certainty? The answers to this category of questions are called metaphysical value judgements, and for a great deal of people they're arbitrary and implicit, not objective and consciously held. Without seeing perceptual instances of the most important facts of life - of the foundation of everything else - your view of life quickly loses its reality and power of conviction. After all, if you believe that the essential nature of man is a heroic being, but life is filled with cowards and corrupt politicians and irrational people, your worldview can quicky collapse, you can forget what you believe in the first place, and you can become confused. More than that, this crucial, underlying perspective of the whole of reality (not merely contextless bits and pieces) cannot guide people because it can't be held in the mind (crow epistemology). A worldview is made up of endless, scrambled and seemingly disparate metaphysical value judgements - 'it's important to fight for what you want', 'it's important not to stick your neck out' etc. Only condensation into perceptualy available concretes can do the job and show you the conclusion, the payoff, the cashing-in of all of your value judgements, i.e. your worldview at a glance. To see what I'm talking about, compare those two sculptures: one and two. This type of conretization is like language, except instead of condesing concepts into visual-auditory tags (words), you condense a worldview into a concrete in order for it to be operative as a guide. Like metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and government, art is the only other need of man within the province of pure philosophy. Another crucial effect of art is the emotional fuel it provides. The work that goes into achieving your material and spiritual values can sometimes get tough. Seeing the full, immediate reality of your distant goals, experiencing the sense of your completed task, of living in your ideal world (a universe where your values have been successfully achieved) can replentish you spiritualy. The fuel comes not from what you might learn from the artwork, but from experiencing a moment of love for existence. This is why art is ruthlessly selective - not journalistic; integrated - not full of irrelevant elements that compromise the theme; clear - as opposed to the opaque or non-objective. It must have an abstract meaning, pertaining to the nature of the world in relation to man (or the reverse, which is the same thing). An artist selects what he considers to be important in life and integrates it into a mini-universe, a man-made universe. ___________ Sense of Life As soon as you become able to make generalizations about the world, you make them. You have no choice, because they're absolutely crucial for knowing how to act, i.e. for your survival. Based on conscious or randomly formed conclusions about the world and man, your guiding philosophy is formed, and it's usualy implicit until you identify it in conscious, philosophical terms, and correct it if necessary. Emotions are not causeless - they spring from conscious (or automatized, subconscious) evaluations of things. A man with a ghastly worldview might, as a consequence of his basic premises, negatively evaluate a lot of the things that confront him on the street, on the television, at his workplace and so on. A person with a benevolent view might generaly evaluate the exact same things in a completely different manner, a more positive one, and the negatives might not strike him as worth focusing on. The pessimist might get most of his pleasure from safety; the optimist, from seizing life by the horns. Based on everyting the world makes him feel on a daily basis, man forms an all-encompassing emotional generalization about the world. This emotion, called a 'sense of life' by Ayn Rand, is felt as a sort of vibe emanating from the world, one that is involved in everything you do, think and feel. For example, a pessimist walking on the street might pick up tense vibrations from the air; the people walking past him seem to be out to get him, and even the lampposts seem to be looking maliciously at him. He feels as if the world is one giant concentration camp. But the man with a more positive philosophy might get an entirely different vibe from that same exact street and moment. He might feel inspired by the sights of skyscrapers and blooming businesses. Deep down, he feels that life is auspicious to his goals and full of potential joys. Of particular importance is the fact that your sense-of-life can strenghten or blunt your joys and sorrows. A pessimistic man might see ice-cream and sex as pointless distractions in a sea of tears. It's tricky to enjoy anything if you fear for your life, either because the world is hell (malevolent universe premise) or because you think that you're unfit to deal with it (low self-esteem). After all, it probably won't last; so why enjoy it? But an optimistic man might see life's inconveniences as irrelevant in comparision to life's joys; since the world strikes him as an amazing place to be in, he feels a pure, unrestrained pleasure when he enjoys his values, a type of pleasure that the pessimistic man cannot even fathom. In art, your sense-of-life directs not only artistic creation, but also artistic response. Depressed artists don't paint sunny landscapes and happy artists don't particularly enjoy Wagner's Tristan and Isolde. Of course, for most people a sense of life isn't as black-and-white as I described, but you should get the idea. This fundamental emotion conditions a lot of things in a man, including his body language and how passionately driven or apathetic he is. When he falls in love or forms deep friendships, it's on the basis of equivalence in the sense-of-life realm, which is usually first conveyed indirectly through somebody's personality and mannerisms, and later through their actions and professed convictions. Since your evaluations of people can be wrong, true love can only exist if the loved one's conscious convictions match the sense of life he or she appears to have.
  6. 2 likes
    I don't see that. I see how one might say it represents 'tragedy", but I don't see how it shows a tragic sense of life. It really does not show any tragedy though. It shows love and grief. More abstractly, it shows a valuer. With sculpture and painting -- unlike a novel -- one can represent only a very small snapshot of life. It is unfair say a sculpture says "this is life" in a broad sense of "this is the essence of life". It's more appropriate to think of a sculpture or painting as saying "this too is life". Personally, I would not want a sculpture garden filled with just happy sculptures: I could go to Disney for that.
  7. 2 likes
    Based on the presentation A Study of Galt's Speech, by Onkar Ghate, the subject of an ARI e-mail in the ongoing celebration of Atlas Shrugged's sixtieth anniversary. In the introductory talk, near the end, Onkar raises the point that originally Miss Rand had written her first draft to address Objectivism in hierarchal order. This is confirmed in writing elsewhere, as well by an Ayn Rand associate and member of the audience, Harry Binswanger. Onkar offers the suggestion that it was reorganized to follow the theme of the book, the role of man's mind for survival. Per the course outline, (included as a pdf in the purchase), the first 19 paragraphs are considered the introduction. Per the novel, they oscillate between initially perceptually confirmable detail and their more abstract counterparts—from the question on everybody's mind (in the novel) at one time or another: "Who is John Galt?"—to the fact that was becoming increasingly undeniable: Where have the Hank Rearden's and the Ellis Wyatt's seemingly vanished to?
  8. 1 like
    Based on your posts in the past, I don't think you and I differ too much wrt history. I do think that the history of early Christianity and the formation of the Christian Church(s) is far too complex (and too unknown) to sum up as done in the above. The point I made about Calvin's Geneva and Thomas More's Utopia is to agree with you that there have been strains of Socialism in Christianity - but that it is different from Marx's. And I wouldn't just reduce either of them to a desire for "self-sacrifice". That's really ALL that I meant by it being a "lazy" term. Engles has a work called Socialism:  Utopian and Scientific which is interesting.
  9. 1 like
    Leaving out the reference to "early" Christianity, Calvin's Geneva did resemble what was to become Christian Socialism. A quote from a wonderful book, The Western Intellectual Tradition that I think you would love based on your interest in history: The regime Calvin imposed on Geneva was in many ways similar to that in More's Utopia. (p. 94) Both Luther and Calvin opposed not only the new art but the developing science of their time as well. In many ways, they were more fiercely antiscientific in their attitude than was the Church of Rome, and it has often been pointed out that Galileo, although he was badly treated by the Inquisition in Rome, would have suffered more severely if he had been unfortunate enough to live in the Geneva of Calvin's regime. Later, the twists and turns of history were to make the Puritans staunch supporters of the new science; but none of this was intended by Calvin's doctrine and discipline. (p. 95) Predestination was a problem from day-one in both Lutheranism and Calvinism and did get modified pretty quickly. Regarding "self-sacrifice" and the role it plays in Christianity, I think it's a fairly lazy term that can mean pretty much what anyone wants it to mean. Much of the early Church was formed along the lines of Neoplatonism. The line of demarcation between when early Christians "quit" following Greek philosophy and became "Christians" is not so sharp - and in fact, Christian theologically never really did exist independent of it.
  10. 1 like
    "Even when it proclaims itself to be atheist, the socialism of Marx, of Trotsky, of Ernst Bloch, is directly rooted in messianic eschatology. Nothing is more religious, nothing is closer to the ecstatic rage for justice in the prophets, than the socialist vision of the destruction of the bourgeois Gomorrah and the creation of a new, clean city for man." - George Steiner Giving up religion is hard, but keep at it if you ever hope to be sane again.
  11. 1 like
    Laika said: Laika, there are a few things anyone who takes Objectivism seriously would need to know about your context before engaging in this discussion. How old are you? Do you currently consider yourself a Communist? If so, are you saying you are doubting Communism as a philosophy as a result of your awareness of the outcomes of it in practice? You should note that just because you are getting answers from members here doesnt mean they are Objectivist and, or, are presenting Objectivism in their responses. That is why studying Rand for yourself is the best approach to any questions about Oism.
  12. 1 like
    Laika: In answer to your OP I would offer the following as my take on the most important takeaways from Rand's Objectivism re politics. You and your life belong to you and no one else. Likewise you have no rightful claim to anyone else or their lives. Any initiation of force injected into interactions between men is thus immoral. Force is only moral in retaliation and in the protection of individual rights. There is plenty more believe me but as far as important basics these are the ones which stand out to me.
  13. 1 like
    Laika, Welcome to the Forum; I find your statements above particularly interesting. It would not be the first time I have engaged a self-identifying Communist here, but you seem to be questioning your own rationale regarding Marx. You must understand by now that there is no utopian paradise, nor any process of achieving one, at least in the sense intended by Marx. Objectivism does not promise utopia. Rather, it is a philosophy detailing a path to personal fulfillment and possibly the creation of the most just society possible under a purely capitalist system, separating economic activity from government action. We may never arrive at the later, but you have every opportunity to discover more about the former. I am unable to offer any recommendations with regard to your depression, only to say that in my youth, I could only see the bleak outcome of social and political trends, if carried to their extremes, and it frightened me. I knew nothing about Ayn Rand or her Objectivism, only the absurdity of social, political, and cultural norms. I knew about Marx; I always considered him to have been a fraud, as well as an easy target for Right-Wing pundits and common place conversation. But one of the great contributing factors to the problems of our times is that few if any people question their own notions of right and wrong, let alone seek out a philosophical school of thought. It is apparent from your posts that you have put a great deal of thought into your philosophical outlook. As for your list of six questions opening this thread, I will limit my response to only number six: Gordon Gekko is a fictional character, a caricature created by Oliver Stone. If you look at Stone's body of works, you see many films critical of American militarism, capitalism, and Right-Wing points of view in general with no regard for honesty. Objectivism does not support Right-Wing politics any more than it supports Left-Wing politics. Inasmuch as I hope you will keep examining the works of Ayn Rand, I hope you find the honesty lacking in Marx, and possibly even your happiness.
  14. 1 like
    Her philosophy was very much influenced by her exposure to Marxism, both in the Soviet Union and the U.S. It can be seen as primarily a refutation of it. Both are materialist in the sense that there is no appeal to the "supernatural", but a primary difference between the two has to do with epistemology (see Rand's Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology). Marx held an individual's ideas to be formed via a dialectic process between and individual and his class and it's relationship to the material means of production in any given age. Marx also saw history as unfolding to a finished state (Pure Communism). Rand's epistemology, on the other hand, does not posit any type of dialectic process in an individual's formation of knowledge. It is based sensations, percepts, concepts, the formation of abstractions-from-concretes and abstractions-from-abstractions, etc. Too much to explain here in detail. ITOE would be a good place to start if you are interested. The altruism that Rand opposes should not be confused with the "helping your neighbor raise a barn variety." In it's current, modern form, it is the virulent yet historical German idea that one's spirit may be free, but one's body belongs to the State. This can be traced back to at least Martin Luther and the German Prince's using the Protestant Reformation as a rallying cry to oppose not only the Church but also the Holy Roman Emporer. You might say that Hegel led to Hitler, and Marx - who switched the "state" to the "collective" - led to Stalin. I've been following the Global Warming debates for close to 9 years, and I see no evidence that any changes in temperature cannot be explained by natural variations within the limits of precision of measurement and a general warming trend that has been going on for a long while. But this Post would not be a place to debate it. If you want to, let's do it! The role of government is often debated among Objectivist. I think that since Objectivism does not believe that clashes are inevitable among reasonable Men (or "classes") nor is economics a zero-sum game, it is possible to create a fair and equitable government, and that one will always exist. A good government should be seen as a wonderful achievement of rational men. Rand had a great deal of respect for the U.S. Government and the Founding Fathers. I first read Rand around the age of 14 or 15, and in my youth, I was much more anarcho-capitalist than I am now. As I grew older, and began to participate in society and not just observe it, I grew to appreciate the important role that government plays in society. And per No. 4, I think it can be a net positive and not all negative. Others will have different opinions.
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    Your stating things in terms like these makes me want to reply in kind. I am not "pro-cop" at all (though I believe I've encountered many "pro-cop" folks on this board), no more than I am "pro-criminal," "pro-worker" or "pro-businessman." I am pro-individual and pro-individual rights. I believe that no individual has the right to initiate the use of force against any other -- and I extend that to police officers, who I do believe are yet "individuals." Am I pro-law enforcement in principle? No, not as such. There was law enforcement in Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany -- plenty of it -- but I don't consider myself a fan. I am pro-moral law, pro-objective law, and where there is moral and objective law, then I am in favor of enforcement (in an objective, structured, procedural manner). Where the law is immoral and in-objective, I'd rather that law remain unenforced. The system as it exists, within the culture as it exists, makes me wary of all prominent actors. Objectivists remain on the fringe for a reason: our devotion(s) to reason, reality, egoism, and liberty are not widely shared.
  16. 1 like
    I don't think the idea "both people made a mistake" is appropriate here at all. That can describe how certain romantic relationships end, perhaps, or similar, but in this sort of situation there is a gross difference between the role of a police officer and a citizen. The police officer has a responsibility to remain disciplined and act in a procedural fashion in a way that may ideally be true of a given citizen, but cannot rightly be expected. It falls upon the police officer's shoulders to remain calm in trying situations and act appropriately, even when the citizens they deal with do not (and I am not convinced that Castile fell short of reasonable expectations in this case, even if the African American community has otherwise taken to extreme measures of compliance in order to prevent zealous police officers from murdering them). That's what the training is for.
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    What's typical round-trip from the U.S. to Tahiti?
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    Selection is the key. I know such a thing is impossible now, but imagine in a society with a proper government with Military, Police, and Justice systems only... even at a fraction of the taxes paid now, these institutions could select for hire only excellent people, and train them well. Every police officer could be as well trained and as educated as an astronaut or fighter pilot of today. Strict education requirements, psychological as well as physical testing... high pay... only the best kinds of people should be entrusted with instruments of force and its proper use.
  19. 1 like
    So the response here is, "What was the cop supposed to do? Not shoot him!?" Yes, the cop was not supposed to shoot the law-abiding citizen reaching for his driver's license (as instructed). If there's a problem with that -- a problem brought on by the citizen having a permitted weapon (which is supposedly one of our fundamental, Constitutional rights) -- then the entire system needs review. It should not be on citizens, acting wholly within their rights and complying with law-enforcement officers' commands, to stop from accidentally tripping across officers' apparently over-developed zeal for shooting first and asking questions later.
  20. 1 like
    "We come from a line of strong Norse and Celtic mix. We take what is our due." This is a line I read from a father, to a daughter, advising her to demand something she considered her right. It is interesting how people look to their history in this way, because -- in fact -- this is myth. There's no biological transfer of philosophy across that time, and yet people invoke the myth, because it stirs emotion. It works like good heroic literature: it shows us what humans can do. We are inspired. If "these people could do so, so could I". The emotional reality is stronger, if we add "my own ancestors could do this,…" which translates to "people just like me could do this… and, so can I". I was always puzzled by Rand's mention of the TV series "Roots". Though she said the author's idea of tracing his biological ancestors was tribalist, she also praised him for producing "a representative image of black people in America, from an aspect that had not been presented before". Wait! Why would it be tribalist to look for one's biological ancestors, but praiseworthy to look more broadly, at "black ancestry"? Rand's answer is that he portrayed black slaves as moral heroes: as people who never relinquished the idea that they were human beings with equal rights, in whose hearts the desire for freedom would never be extinguished. Like the father in the quote above, the father saying "we can be heroes… because, this is who we are", the Roots series was saying "blacks can be heroes… because, this is who we are". Rationally, logically, factually ... we can be heroes because we are human, not because we are Norse/Celtic or Black. Yet, by narrowing down from "human" to "Norse" or "Black" or anything more specific, we make the picture more concrete, closer to reality, more achievable, and thus more inspiring. This is the role of literature in myth: it makes the abstract concrete. This gives it a reality that is more real, and makes it a more effective motivator of emotion. The point, then, is not to look for family merely to know the nitty gritty, but to look for inspiration. It does not need to be all positive either. We look to myth for strength, but we can spin inspiring tales from negatives too. A jailed swindler in the family, can become a cautionary myth of "people like us can be tempted by short term gain". Or, if the swindler's children were regular folk: "people like us, do not simply ape our parents" (Yes, that's a bit ironic.) Link to Original
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    Unfortunately, through an Orwellian abuse of language and political correctness it's now understood by too many as: Nationalism = bad vs. Multi-Culturalism = good
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    I was reading the introduction to the Kama-Sutra (really the only part of the book worth reading). Since the author is about to present a book about sex, he feels obliged to present a philosophy of sex, and explain why sex is an important value. In doing so, he tackles the mind-body dichotomy and says: reject it Within this introduction was a quote that reminded me of Rand's view of male and female. In a sense, this book is anticipating her by centuries, but of course there have been echoes forever. So, here's the quote, as an interesting, related tid-bit.
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    The part that Rand misses -- probably because of a lack of experience -- is that so many people will adopt Objectivist ideas dogmatically, just as they adopt other ideas dogmatically. And, that most will not be die-hard dogmatists, but a mix. And while one might argue that these people have rejected Objectivism, it does not mean they explicitly reject it. It's likely that they think they still accept it, and think they are right in interpreting it in whatever way they do. nothing stops these people from self-identifying as Objectivists -- since this is how they genuinely think of themselves.
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    Having recently discovered the Playboy Interview with Ayn Rand, the schisms have some light shed on them in this extracted Q/A: PB: Can’t Objectivism, then, be called a dogma? AR: No. A dogma is a set of beliefs accepted on faith; that is, without rational justification or against rational evidence. A dogma is a matter of blind faith. Objectivism is the exact opposite. Objectivism tells you that you must not accept any idea or conviction unless you can demonstrate its truth by means of reason. PB: If widely accepted, couldn’t Objectivism harden into a dogma? AR: No. I have found that Objectivism is its own protection against people who might attempt to use it as a dogma. Since Objectivism requires the use of one’s mind, those who attempt to take broad principles and apply them unthinkingly and indiscriminately to the concretes of their own existence find that it cannot be done. They are then compelled either to reject Objectivism or to apply it. When I say apply, I mean that they have to use their own mind, their own thinking, in order to know how to apply Objectivist principles to the specific problems of their own lives. In regards to building the social architecture to handle the conflicts, this captures the essence of the approach needed: PB: Do you believe that Objectivism as a philosophy will eventually sweep the world? AR: Nobody can answer a question of that kind. Men have free will. There is no guarantee that they will choose to be rational, at any one time or in any one generation. Nor is it necessary for a philosophy to “sweep the world.” If you ask the question in a somewhat different form, if you say, do I think that Objectivism will be the philosophy of the future, I would say yes, but with this qualification: If men turn to reason, if they are not destroyed by dictatorship and precipitated into another Dark Ages, if men remain free long enough to have time to think, then Objectivism is the philosophy they will accept. from The American Flag thread: The usable product aspect comes from Miss Rand in her answer to If widely accepted, couldn’t Objectivism harden into a dogma? It needs to be discovered by those who ultimately turn to reason to live their lives. From an essay written for a martial arts test by a fellow practitioner—paraphrased and modified: {An Objectivist} [A Sensei] is only a signpost. They can point the way, indicating the direction to go. Those seeking the destination have to discover the actual path for themselves.
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    If one wishes to wear a suit and tie to some event, as a matter of convention or custom, then I would agree that -- generally speaking -- there's no further need to justify it. "When in Rome" covers a great deal of action, and saves much time and thought/energy. But this is a far cry from saying that one has some moral (or... aesthetic?) duty to act in conventional manners for the sake of "society's health." If one is sick, it makes great sense to refrain from shaking hands. If one's tie is choking, it makes sense to loosen or remove it. And if one has some qualms about the actions of the United States, or paying homage to the symbols which represent her, then one has no moral requirement to act against one's inclination for the sake of convention, or to preserve the fabric of society, or to spare other peoples' feelings. I will add that convention changes over time, and this is in part due to individual people acting in unconventional or indecorous manners because it suits them, individually, to do so, even against the pearl clutching of conservative minds.
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    I admire your "glass half full" attitude. It would be fun to have my few Objectivist friends live in the same city as I do. However, we each have our own jobs and established lives, and it really isn't an important enough personal value to move. Also, just because someone is Objectivist does not mean I would like them as a friend. I've found that the proportion of self-described Objectivists I like -- as a friend -- is not significantly higher than what I encounter in the general population. Of course, when I like a person and want to be friends with them, it makes it even better if they share much of my philosophy; but the causation doesn't work the other way around. If I ever were to move to a community of self-described Objectivists, it's likely that I'll be in the middle of some schism within a year and that I and my closest friends will either leave or be forced out through some boycott or some such tactic
  27. 1 like
    I read this book and took notes for my own interest. I wanted to read it in order to see the development of American libertarianism (e.g. the kind we see at Cato), as part of my wider goal to see why people conflate Objectivism with libertarianism (besides the obvious similarity of both aligning with laissez-faire capitalism). I still suspect that libertarianism is all essentially anarcho-capitalism, thus always wrong. So I went with a book by Nozick who seems pretty far from an ancap. What I note here is what I find interesting and worth mentioning from his book. Distribution and Justice Nozick explains several ways to think of justice. He focus on distributions after an injustice occurs. It answers why there me be more distribution after it has already happened. Distribution here is about who is entitled to the holdings they possess. Redistribution is proper, then, if people are not entitled to their holdings. For instance, how are you entitled to your TV? And if you aren't entitled, if it were stolen for example, then what? A just distribution would depend on the original acquisition of holdings, and transfer of holdings. Some judge if the distribution is good or bad based purely on now, or as Nozick phrases it, current time-slice principles. In other words, how things used to be or how they started doesn't matter if right now the distribution is unjust. The current distribution has a pattern that unravels in a certain way (e.g., there is a specific distribution of wealth of some sort). A (laissez-faire) capitalist type of distribution has no pattern beyond individuals. In a capitalist society people often transfer holdings in accordance with how much they perceive others benefiting them. Nozick phrases it this way: "From each as they choose, to each as they are chosen." Entitlement to Property Nozick follows Locke when it comes to property: Acquiring the thing Mixing ones labor into something There is enough and as good left over. This problematic for the obvious reason that Nozick doesn't base this on man's needs of life. It's more focused on the actions in a consequentialist way such that distribution is not done improperly. He seems to take the time to mention Rand in a footnote, but waves her off as merely saying "property is that which one uses to live", or as if she begs the question of what property is by saying there is a right to life. (This is on page 179). Either way, he makes no mention of products of the mind, or means of survival. Contra Rawls Nozick later criticizes Rawls: Politics is constructed by Rawls without reference to moral principles. Distribution from a veil of ignorance where no one knows what he is or could be deserved through actions in the past. Imagine we were all in a room, ignorant of our past actions, our strengths, our weaknesses, etc. So, given this starting point, Rawls wants to figure out how distribution should be. (My note: Don't equate this with Communism. This is more like the modern liberal who wants a fair and balanced distribution for all. A Communist would judge your past and take from capitalists that are seen as exploiters. Capitalists care about neither.) When faced with these (developing) principles, the next generation develops a particular sense of psychology and justice, and the next generation, and so on, converging to P at the limit. P would be the ideal distribution, that is, the state of the world would be more just in time. Some may see capitalism as providing a distribution in accordance with natural assets, perhaps in the "Social Darwinism" sense. Nozick says that Hayek argued that under capitalism the principle is not distribution in accordance with natural assets; differences in natural assets will be two differences in holdings according to perceived service to others. Distribution here would be based on value offered to an individual, not being "born" better, or being an heir to a billion dollars. Assets impact what we do, that's as far as they goes. Moral Defense of Capitalism Nozick actually makes no attempt to provide a moral defense. He doesn't try or attempt to say what is morally superior, apparently he only offers good consequences. He doubts the value of unified explanations of all conjunctions. He asks: What would our theories of the world look like if we require unified explanations of all conjunctions? Not merely the conjunction of separate and disparate explanations (which may be compatible), but unification. Nozick rejects a unified theory of moral facts apparently, or just that they can't be applied so widely. There would be no total integration, which he sees as fine. Either way, we'd recognize this as moral grayness, where morality cannot offer an answer to capitalism or any other theory. Inequalities Nozick rejects having to explain inequalities, but in order to make this claim, seems to reject any notion of needing reasons to do something. And he seems to mean this in any moral context, not just on the political level. That is, it is not necessary to explain oneself even to oneself. Perhaps we could, but Nozick doesn't think it matters. Some major points: if people don't deserve their natural assets, then they don't deserve the fruits of their labor if differences are eliminated, then envy might grow more severe because it becomes more apparent that the advantages someone has. On top of that, there will be fewer ways to become better as an individual or in comparison. [My note: If math ability were the single permitted difference, then more people will seek their values this way while needing to ignore others.] A right doesn’t go far as to say someone in prison not hearing your words means your rights for speech are denied. Disruption is no violation in that same sense. (But Nozick barely details the idea except as one to think about) Exploitation to a Marxist always boils down to their solutions becoming capitalist in the long run. Nozick is still arguing by showing the end-state, without regard for moral principles besides homo economicus. It is not true that all people will desire rational ends. All Nozick really has to say regarding moral principles is that we ought to construct a system justified in terms of rational people would do. [My note: Many people seem to think Rand argues for capitalism because rational people operate that way. But her idea is that capitalism is the best system for a good life, for all people.] Utopia A real utopia is a meta-utopia; the environment in which utopia may be tried out; the environment in which people are free to do their own thing; the environment which was to a great extent needed to be realized first for more particular utopian visions to be realized stably He says particular individuals will differ in the best life one can have. Makes no argument as to how these individuals differ or even their impact on a developing society. Where is the consideration of individuals who wish to destroy or harm? I presume the best life for a Nazi is not in a capitalist society. But this means Nozick doesn't care what societies form - as if Nazis don't exist, or as if other societies always want peaceful resolution. Anarchy and the Minimal State Nozick does this part first, but with all the above, his reasoning is like an ancap. He explains various scenarios of private legal or defense entities, then details a rational way to deal with conflicts as any competing agencies might. Then he goes on to say that an agency that operates like a state where one agency is in charge of a region. That it'd come about by invisible hand means, not particular rules. This makes it clear to me that even a libertarian as academic as Nozick is a "dressed up" ancap. So, his legitimate state would be a de facto state as opposed to one established de jure - that is, by fiat or by legal declaration to a geographical area. His best moral argument is that this is one way a state can arise legitimately.
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    From The Worlds of Hume and Kant: [ brackets are my added words ] {.... indicates breaks in text} Just how the capacities of Understanding, Reason and Judgment are involved in the activities of knowing, willing and feeling and in what ways they are related to the realms of Nature and Freedom is exactly what Kant's philosophy is all about. {....} If the world we know is partly a function of our minds [innate structures], then the structures of our experience [in the mind] must reflect the nature of the contributions we make of it. Kant held with the rationalistic tradition that knowledge, to be knowledge, must be certain and beyond doubt. Further, he believed that we possess such certain knowledge in the form of Euclidean geometry and Newtonian physics, sciences that tell us something about the world. {....} It was generally supposed that scientists were able to arrive at such principles because they experimented and observed in order to discover relationships between things. It was, of course, the analysis of David Hume that flatly denied that any amount of observations could ever establish for us matter of fact knowledge of any such relationships at all. While Hume tended to relegate all knowledge of matters of fact to the limbo of custom and habit, Kant read Hume's skepticism as the result of our misunderstanding the nature of experience as the source of knowledge. If Euclidean geometry and Newtonian physics constitutes real knowledge, and if conceiving of experience through perceptual observation alone makes this knowledge impossible [per Hume] to explain, then so much the worse for that conception of experience. If the certainty of our knowledge of the experienced world cannot be found in perception [observations via telescopes, measurements, etc.], then the only other source available is the [innate structures] mind for which it is an experience. Now, in the early 1700's there were a series of correspondences between Newton and Leibniz (via an intermediary, Samuel Clarke) regarding the fact that orbits are not precise, per the inverse square law, as demonstrated in Newton's Principia – and that over time, the instability of the observed orbits would continue to grow until the entire system would fall apart. Newton took the position that God would have to step-in every now and then [providence] and correct the orbits to keep them stable. From Science and Religion in Seventeenth Century England : In a famous jibe the German philosopher Leibniz charged that Newton pictured God as a bumbling watchmaker, so unskillful that His piece had to be cleaned and repaired from time to time. A major point of discussion not just between Newton and Leibniz but among most scientists in the 17th and 18th Century was the role, if any, of God's active, ongoing participation (providence) in maintaining the “Laws of Nature”. The specific differences between Newton and Leibniz regarding causation, mass, vacuum, space and time, force, energy, gravity, etc. are historically interesting (and Leibniz did have an influence on Einstein's Relativity) but they aren't really necessary to understanding what Kant was trying to do by establishing his Categories of Understanding as an a priori, mental structure into which observations were “fitted”. Think of a "round" percept fitting into a "square" hole of a concept. More to follow:
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    . I’m pretty sure when I first learned the word “libertarian.” It was in a current issue of THE PERSONALIST at my university in around 1970. There was a debate in that issue wherein one side argued for government limited in the way I was familiar with from Rand, while the other side argued for anarchocapitalism. John Hospers was then the editor of that journal. I didn’t give the anarchocapitalist theory much thought until Nozick’s ASU came out (1974) and he made his case against that theory (especially those basing their position on individual rights) in consideration of issues of procedural justice. In 1971 Hosper’s book LIBERTARIANISM had been issued. Therein he defined libertarianism, “according to which the function of government should be limited to the protection of individuals against aggression by others or by government” (27). The last chapter of his book is titled “Is Government Necessary?” which I imagine set out the debate between limited-government libertarians and anarchocapitalist libertarians (his own side would have been the former, to be sure). Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, the latter portion of that book including that chapter in my paperback fell off and is lost. In 1972 I was old enough to vote for the first time, and I wrote in the name John Hospers, who was the Presidential candidate of the newly formed Libertarian Party. I was in the Party and worked pretty hard with it until 1984, when I left it. All of our Presidential candidates to that year were limited-government libertarians as I recall. It was at the national convention in New York in 1975 that I spotted and bought Tibor Machan’s HUMAN RIGHTS AND HUMAN LIBERTIES (1975). It was a systematic rights-based defense of limited-government libertarianism by another professional philosopher: “‘Libertarianism’ is the label that has been applied to the theory of society or political philosophy that identifies the initiation of force against others as the one form of human interaction that is impermissible in a human community under all circumstances. I have not used the label thus far because many libertarians base their acceptance of this basic prohibition on something other than a theory of human rights. Some take the principle to be self-evidently true. Others view it as an efficient device for social organization without giving it a foundation based on a moral point of view. But I will henceforth use the term ‘libertarianism’ to indicate the theory of human community proposed in this work” (147). We never thought of our rights-based limited-government libertarianism as some sort of poor stepsister to anarchocapitalist libertarianism. We did not concede the name “libertarianism” to them as most rightly theirs. I did read Murray Rothbard’s FOR A NEW LIBERTY (1974) and THE ETHICS OF LIBERTY (1982). Nice writing, but on his theory of property rights in land and their relations to enforcement institutions, the anarchocapitalist case collapses (again). (This was my comment in the link mentioned by William upstream.) Further, from my 1988 Right, Games, and Self-Realization.
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    I have very little to say about Cato, Nozick, and "ancap," because I know so little about any of them. But here's a brief anecdote about how I initially came to Objectivism: I was dating a woman who was a libertarian -- very much in the negative sense that usually (and I argue unfairly), for Objectivists, comprises the entire meaning: she only cared about political philosophy and thought, essentially, that none of the rest mattered. Through my association with her, I encountered Henry Hazlitt, the Austrian school, and finally Ayn Rand (who did not impress her much, but shook me to my core). As a new Objectivist, I did as most new Objectivists do (in my experience), whereby I instantly tried to divide the world into good and evil; my girlfriend did not survive the cut. She set out to work in libertarian areas, specifically in the fight to change marijuana laws, while I went to work for ARI. Was she/is she an "ally"? It's hard for me to address such a question, as such, especially since there is SO MUCH history and hard feelings within the Objectivist community over issues of "sanction" and libertarians and etc. (And then there is my own personal history with her.) Yet I will say this: all of these years later, marijuana law has generally improved. It is arguable that, in terms of politics alone, she has more to show for her efforts than I have for mine.
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    His Own Truth “While a wise man, as well as a just man and the rest, needs the necessaries of life, when they are sufficiently equipped with things of that sort the just man needs people towards whom and with whom he shall act justly, and the temperate man, the brave man, and each of the others is in the same case, but the wise man, even by himself, can contemplate truth, and the better the wiser he is; he can perhaps do so better if he has fellow-workers, but still he is the most self-sufficient.” (Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1177a28–35, Ross/Urmson translation) By “the brave man” Aristotle had in mind a concept of bravery confined to the realm of social interactions, excluding the portion of our notion of bravery in humans engaged in risks with nature, such as in shooting the rapids. With bravery in his more narrow sense in this text, Aristotle is saying that in our thinking after truth we are more self-sufficient than in our occasions of being just, brave, and so forth. Self-sufficiency is a height. In this passage Aristotle is taking contemplation of truth as truth he conceives as nonpractical. Not that he has anything against practical thought, but here he is puffing up contemplation of truth not manifestly concerned with practical pursuits, contemplation of truth in metaphysics or geometry, for example. We can transfer Aristotle’s point, however, to a wider setting that includes thinking on practical things such as how to trim the shrubs oneself. It remains for this wider realm of thought that acts of thinking after truth are inherently less immediately social than one’s episodes of acting justly, acting independently, or telling the truth. In all of Rand’s novels, a natural human wholeness is prescribed, a way of human life that had been broken up by overblown conceptions of human social nature. Rand was not denying there is an important social goodness naturally in the life of an individual. That affirmation is an understatement, in my own view, which will be set out in my book in progress. Nonetheless Rand was right to contest the overly social conceptions of human being wrecking lives around the world. In this note, I’ll pull together some bits from my writings, which pertain to Rand’s binding of truth to individual agent and binding of beneficiary egoism to agency egoism.* Comrade Sonia says to Andrei Taganov: “I know—we know—what you think. But what I’d like you to answer is why you happen to think that you are entitled to your own thoughts? Against those of the majority of your Collective? Or is the majority’s will sufficient for you, Comrade Taganov? Or is Comrade Taganov turning individualistic?” (1936, 378). Early in the story, when he is courting Kira, the future love of his life, we are given the following picture of Andrei’s seamless character. Kira leads: “I thought that Communists never did anything except what they had to do . . . .” “That’s strange,” he smiled, “I must be a very poor Communist. I’ve always done only what I wanted to do.” “Your revolutionary duty?” “There is no such thing as duty. If you know a thing is right, you want to do it. If you don’t want to do it—it isn’t right. If it’s right and you don’t want to do it—you don’t know what right is—and you’re not a man.” “Haven’t you ever wanted a thing for no reason of right or wrong, for no reason at all, save one: that you wanted it?” “Certainly. That’s always been my only reason. I’ve never wanted things unless they could help my cause. For, you see, it is my cause.” “And your cause is to deny yourself for the sake of millions?” “No. To bring the millions up to where I want them—for my sake.” (92) Late in the novel, Andrei envisions (what is in the author’s view) an even greater seamlessness of character by setting his newly reached beneficiary egoism squarely in his life-long agency egoism. Addressing his Comrades: “You see, there are things in men, in the best of us, which are above all states and all collectives, things too precious, too sacred, things which no outside hand should dare touch. Look into yourself, honestly and fearlessly. Look and don’t tell me, don’t tell anyone, just tell yourself: what are you living for? Aren’t you living for yourself and only for yourself? For a higher truth which is your own? Call it your aim, your love, your cause—isn’t it still your cause? Give your life, die for your ideal—isn’t it still your ideal? Every honest man lives for himself. Every man worth calling a man lives for himself. The one who doesn’t—doesn’t live at all. You cannot change it. You cannot change it because that’s the way man is born, alone, complete, an end in himself.” (501) [1] Rand’s Prometheus declares, “I shall live my own truth” (1938, 140). Rand gives him also these lines: “All things come to my judgment, and I weigh all things, and I seal upon them my ‘Yes’ or my ‘No’. Thus is truth born. Such is the root of all Truth and the leaf, such is the fount of all Truth and the ocean, such is the base of all Truth and the summit. I am the beginning of all Truth. I am its end” (128). There is echo here of the alpha and omega said of God in Revelations. However, Rand’s beginning and end of all truth in Anthem is no maker of all truth and value, as in the extreme voluntarist traditions of theology wherein God freely thinks and what he thinks becomes fact, there being no eternal truths, or any truths, independent of God’s choice. For Rand’s Prometheus, there is all the existence of the earth independent of his verdicts, and his is to find the earth and how to cultivate it. There is fact independent of mind, though there is no truth independent of mind. Rand is also affirming in that Anthem passage that all judgment of truth is individual and that all truth we render from the world is for our own final value. Those lines are preceded by these: “It is my eyes which see, and the sight of my eyes grants beauty to the earth. It is my ears which hear, and the hearing of my ears gives its song to the world” (A 128). Something is seen, and with the subject, it is rendered beautiful. Something is heard, and with the subject, it is rendered song of existence. Something is given, and with its recognition, it is rendered truth. Howard Roark says that a building’s integrity—its esthetic integrity, integral with its site, function, and physical integrity—“is to follow its own truth” (F PK I, 18). The architect Cameron, is said to have, through a succession of works, at last given shape “to the truth he had sought” (PK III, 41). In Fountainhead Rand works with an analogy between character of a building and character of a soul. A right building design has an individual truth and integrity; a right person has an individual truth and integrity. Furthermore, truth of the creator enters into truth of the creation, and responders to the latter truth hold it in ways unique to the unique constitution of their own souls. The concept Rand is forging with her building/soul analogy is integrity. One broad thesis of Fountainhead is that there is a type of egoistic individualism that is good and just; altruistic collectivism is evil and unjust. The argument focuses not so much on what is just as on what is good, purely of humans, purely of earth. Such are independence, reliance on reason (one’s own), honesty, creative achievement, love of one’s work, and courage. A concept of justice will make human life and happiness impossible if the concept ignores the uniqueness of individuals and the unity and self-sufficiency required by the preceding virtues. Integrity is the overarching virtue pronouncing this unity and self-sufficiency. Rand joins one’s integrity to one’s truth. “A building is alive, like a man. Its integrity is to follow its own truth, its one single theme, and to serve its own single purpose” (F PK I, 18). One’s truth in Fountainhead is the constitution of one’s self in the living and making of one’s self. In a creation, the creator had a truth for which he struggled. “His truth was his only motive. His own truth, and his own work to achieve it in his own way” (HR XVIII, 737). His creation was from and, in a fundamental sense, for his self. He lived for himself, for his own truth, for his own work. In Atlas Rand again connects integrity to truth, and both to agency egoism. Integrity entails unity “between body and mind, between acting and thought, between his life and his convictions” (1957, 1019). Integrity entails courage “of being true to existence, of being true to truth,” whatever public opinion and pressure might be. Integrity entails confidence “of being true to one’s consciousness.” Talk of one’s own truth is dropped. Devotion to existence and rationality and end-in-itself life, available alike to all, is the salvation of individual and society. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ [1] Rand’s contention that commitment to agency egoism—thinking for oneself—commits one, by some sort of consistency, to ethical beneficiary egoism continues through all her writings. This early attempt, in 1936, in which agency egoism together with psychological beneficiary egoism and the accepted virtues of honesty and courage yields ethical beneficiary egoism, is replaced by 1957 with denial of psychological beneficiary egoism, but with a constitution of human life set within an alleged basic character of any life, and from this situation Rand tries to pull a norm of ethical beneficiary egoism seamless with the life-goodness of agency egoism.
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    Yes, because an inventor's rights are of limited duration. The very idea of property is founded on possession, but the paradoxical thing about intellectual property is that it must be spread around and traded away to get value out of it. In fairness he who possesses the thing must eventually get fully vested property rights including right to copy. Its just a matter of how long should the original author or inventor continue to have control before the those who actually possess the IP have de facto control due to possession. Even in real estate law there is 'adverse possession', where an absentee owner can lose right and title to land that is occupied, improved and put to use by someone actually on the land doing work. Another relevant legal principle is rule against perpetuities which It is morally and legally justifiable that those long absent should eventually lose a claim to property right. Copy right laws and patent laws simply standardize the practice rather than letting the courts be tangled up in deciding every case individually.
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    My point was about Rand's concept of "Romanticism". Dostoyevski is a Romantic author. Thanks for the link to the transcript. I guess I should add Byron to the example too: since she calls him a Romantic writer while also saying he has a malevolent world view.
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    My understanding is that Objectivism holds that the choice to live is pre-rational. In other words, life versus death is the fundamental alternative, so there can't be a more fundamental reason for choosing it beyond the fact that you want to stay alive. That's the closest thing to a non-rational choice that I'm aware of within Objectivism.
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    But what does this mean? A microcosm of what? a composer's overall sense of life? You are the one who introduced Bach as unhappy and then related to it his capacity to produce a "serene" prelude. And the C major is just one of 48 pieces collected under the title The Well Tempered Clavier. The other 47 pieces are not all "serene". Edit: I would add that to judge a prelude of Bach's by the criteria of how well it conveys any emotion, such as serenity, is to misunderstand music - especially his and the work of his period. Edit 2: Somewhere Rand described the work of Bach as "pre-music" (maybe someone on the forum knows where the quote came from). By this, I take it to mean that Rand believed that programmatic music was the be-all and end-all of music. For the most part, programmatic music bores me. Edit 3: I found the reference to Bach. https://books.google.com/books?id=wBT3a_GXE90C&pg=PA299&lpg=PA299&dq=ayn+rand+bach+pre+music&source=bl&ots=u-_9J9Ls4D&sig=TXpOwF-CCt-l5o81Pbb1KXRS17o&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjBsJne85XUAhVDlVQKHVobDUYQ6AEILzAB#v=onepage&q=ayn rand bach pre music&f=false
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    It depends on your personal interpretation. I can definitely imagine somebody looking at a sculpture and seeing the entire essence of life in it. By itself, an artwork cannot communicate anything beyond what it actually portrays. For example, Bach wasn't a particularly happy man, but he composed things like the very serene C-major prelude. But the fact that he chose to portray a very selective part of life, serenity, in spite of his overall view of life, does not affect the artwork with anything. The C major prelude cannot also convey: 'by the way, serenity is just a small part of life' - because it can't be derived directly from the musical elements. However, as a listener or viewer, you CAN interpret the C major prelude as 'just one part of life', or the Angel of Grief statue as 'not life as it is, just one part of it'.
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    Nicely resolved. Off topic if I might add this might be caused by the all too common conflation ( even when it is very minimal) of "objective" and "universal". What a work means presupposes a mind providing that meaning ... and it is separately objectively (not universally) due to the identity of the work and the identity of the one contemplating it. The above of course intended for those (such as NB and KP) who I think actually understand the difference between "objective" and "universal".
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    I see that I misread your post. I apologize.
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    "What it is like to be a dog" can be imagined partially but never fully known because then the human knower would have to lose his conceptual faculty and no longer be an entity that knows things as humans know them. There was a humorous college poster back in my time which had the ultimate final exam questions on it. One of the entries was "Summarize all of human knowledge. Be brief, concise and specific. Compare and contrast with all other knowledge."
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    How do you know this? I mean, this is a simplification of symbolism, such that you seem to base this on the connotations you've learned. I don't really like sunny landscapes, while I prefer dark landscapes generally. If a person hated life, and painted a sunny landscape, would they actually love life? You would be best off saying that what you choose to paint shows something about a person. What it shows, well, depends on your knowledge of art. I can say I really like this painting: I can attempt to give reasons, but I am not a painter or art historian. I would be making guesses. This isn't to say "there is no reason", only that it's really hard besides some really general ones, like "peculiarity is seen as important". What do the swans suggest, the clouds, the weird trees? I don't know. Delving deeper is beyond my ability. By the way, you'd also need to consider the degree of liking when it comes to one's sense of life. Paraphrased from page 33, "one's sense of life is fully involved only when one feels a profoundly personal emotion page". I understand you are talking in broad strokes, so here is paraphrasing from page 43 to remind you of some ideas: "it must be stressed that the pattern is not so gross and simple as preferring happy music to sad music according to a benevolent or malevolent view of the universe" "it is not merely what particular emotion a composition conveys, but how it conveys the emotion" I want to remind you that Rand didn't say any two people shared the same sense of life, so there will be many variations of even positive senses of life. Sense of life described here is her theory, so it's worth noting this point. There may be a broad category "positive sense of life" with differentia allowing for variations of individuals in their background experiences. Why is this mildly malevolent? Sure, you describe it with these words, but it's hard to say that you aren't missing something or lack the conceptual vocabulary to say the sense of life captured. All you can do is say if you feel good or bad. Rand understood at least in RM how hard it is to judge your own sense of life, and how we can't really judge what sense of life another person has.
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    An artwork is concerned with convincingly illustrating two fundamental facts: what the world is like, and what man is like. The specific themes, subjects, events and characters are merely the vehicles by which the artist 'proves', or concretizes, his view about those two interconnected aspects. He does not need to show all aspects of a man's relationship to reality - only enough points to convincingly show the gist of his view. Every metaphysics has enormous implications for ethics. For example, if the world is auspicious to human goals (knowable to man, and reshapable by him), and if man is efficaceous and free, those basic facts lead to enough metaphysical value-judgements to fill up all of the world's libraries. 'It's important to fight for what I want', 'My life is important' etc. Those metaphysical value judgements are the direct results of your worldview. So when you experience the artwork, you reduce the conveyed metaphysical value judgements back to their roots: the total metaphysics. To show a man's entire metaphysics, there is very little you need to show in terms of concretes. What man needs is to maintain, in his mind, the reasons why he chose his present course of action. 'My course in life is right, right to the core, because the world is so and so, and man is so and so'. Artworks help him hold that enormous context in mind. To summarize, an artwork is about two things: the specific themes and events conveyed, and the entire metaphysics implied by those facts.
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    Does Art necessarily have to represent the entirety or the whole of a metaphysics? Must it be THE summation? It would seem such would imply art cannot be about i.e. depict and explore an "aspect" or "part of life" which is important and profound. (As for the highest form of art.. I suppose some restrictions need to apply) A work such as the fallen angel, although it is sad, might not be about sadness as such. It might be about loss, and by implication, it might actually be about value, and specifically and more importantly about the greatest value one can have in another: Love... by seeing how devastating the loss is, one sees how great the love was and can be, and by seeing how great the love, one perchance sees how wonderful life can be... but with full knowledge and acceptance (not evasion) that neither life nor love lasts forever. Is this a malevolent view? I'm not so sure. Would a sculpture of a woman smiling and dancing in the flowers with a doting husband smiling and watching her conveyed the greatness and the depth of the emotion he had for her and her importance to him? Only so much can be captured in a sculpture of a smile... Set backs are a part of life, and dare I say they are important challenges that test people's character and resilience and provide opportunities to grow and flourish in the face of them. So an artwork which presents a challenge or a disaster or a loss, unless it is clearly shown that there is and can never be recovery (granted another possible interpretation of the fallen angel...) the art can present positive sense of life, one which is psychologically adjusted to the facts of reality which face man but which exalts his ability to adapt and to flourish. I don't think art is limited to the widest presentation of metaphysics. Specific, selected and important aspects of life, of man's relation to reality can be portrayed. A work depicting a freak and tragic accident befalling a man and his triumph over it is NOT about the metaphysics of the randomness of reality (which is a fact), it is about the more important fact (also a fact of reality) of the resilience and strength of man, the potentialities possessed and residing inert within every man which perhaps not even the viewer would have otherwise suspected he himself possessed. A sense of life is NOT about what the universe does to you: Life is not what "happens" to you. A sense of life is about man, about man's place in the universe, his ability to deal with it, no matter what part of it he faces: Life, wherever you find yourself, is what you do.
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    Onkar's talk has run its course, and has been started anew from the beginning in the mobile university. Drawing from Galt's speech, Onkar reiterates to whom the speech is directed, the remnant of rational minds still remaining in the world, asking them to join the strike and hasten the reclamation of a world to be reshaped by moral virtue. Onkar indicated that Galt gave his speech thus, contrasting it with the Declaration of Independence being a public declaration of the causes underscoring them as a rational appeal to the rest of the world citing: When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. By writing Atlas Shrugged, Rand likewise broadcasts Galt's speech to mankind, speaking to any mind that reads it, and reaching any mind that understands it. While not as dramatic as hijacking the radio-waves of the entire world for three hours, equally impressive is that the message is being continuously broadcast via a medium available anytime someone wants to settle down with her novel in the privacy of their own mind. She lays out the incontrovertible demonstration of morality's foundation to and in existence, and in pondering this, consider the incontrovertible demonstrations provided by the ancient Greeks in geometry and mathematics that are universally held today. She shows morality is just, and like justice, can preserve or destroy depending on adherence to it or abandonment of it. Onkar breaks Galt's Speech up as follows: The introduction (as the first 19 paragraphs per For The New Intellectual) The morality of life (paragraphs 20 through 88) The morality of death (paragraphs 89 through 206) Your choice is either the morality of life or the morality of death (paragraphs 207 through 296) The course outline breaks these groupings up further by identifying the paragraphs in accordance with his outline of Galt's Speech provided for the presentation.