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  1. 8 points
    Dante

    Humor and Laughing at Oneself

    So I just finished "Humor in The Fountainhead," from Essays on Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, and its caused me to think some more about humor, a subject I hadn't given too much serious thought to. My purpose here is just to share some thoughts and hopefully hear others' thoughts on the subject. In the essay, Rand is quoted as making the following two statements: Upon first reading these, I found myself disagreeing strongly with both of them. My opinion is and has been that the ability to laugh at oneself demonstrates health and good-naturedness. In thinking about it, and reading through the essay and a few more of Rand's statements on humor, I find that these views are actually very easily reconcilable with my own. Consider this statement by Rand: In the essay, Robert Mayhew distinguishes between benevolent and malicious humor. Benevolent humor is basically humor aimed at objects which deserve scorn and ridicule, while malicious humor is aimed at objects which deserve respect and reverence. Thus, benevolent humor belittles the metaphysical importance of bad things, while malevolent humor belittles the importance of good things. Now, humor which is aimed at one's own achievements, or more generally one's own positive values, is obviously malicious humor. Laughing at oneself in the sense of laughing at these things is indeed bad. However, in thinking about it, that is not at all what I picture when I think of 'the ability to laugh at oneself.' Consider someone who slips and falls, or misspeaks in some absurd way, or makes an obvious error in a presentation. In all of these situations, I am inclined to think of the person who can 'laugh it off' as good-natured. I would contrast this with the image of the person who, when something like this happens, blusters and attempts to 'save face.' Obviously, this second person is primarily concerned with others' impressions of him rather than the actual error or accident. Such second-handedness is clearly not an appropriate attitude. But what is the first individual doing? First of all, he is acknowledging the reality of the accident or mistake. Furthermore, he is (in Rand's characterization) belittling its importance by laughing at it. Self-deprecating humor, in this case, is not aimed at ones values, but rather at one's mistakes. This form of humor is indicative of genuine self-esteem; the person in question is acknowledging the reality of his own thoughts and actions (an essential first step for genuine self-esteem) and is able to casually dismiss errors with a laugh. There is no attempt to pretend for the sake of others' opinions that the error was not made; rather, it is acknowledged and then moved on from. In my experience, the majority of instances of self-deprecating humor fall into this latter category of laughing off a mistake. Thus, while it is true that actually cutting oneself down with humor also undoubtedly occurs, the everyday understanding of 'laughing at oneself,' (at least what I think is the prevalent understanding of it) is a healthy practice, one which should be celebrated.
  2. 8 points
    Dante

    Accepted determinism

    We certainly are governed strictly by the laws of cause and effect, and there are no loopholes in causality. However, accepting this view does not immediately lead to the acceptance of determinism, as is often supposed. The non sequitur is often accepted because many people have an incorrect conception of causality. For many people, determinism is part of the definition of causality; this viewpoint might be termed 'billiard-ball' causality, where all instances of causality are assumed to be instances of objects interacting deterministically like billiard balls. However, Objectivism supports a more general conceptualization of causality, which does not smuggle in determinism. Causality, properly conceptualized, is simply the statement that, "A thing acts in accordance with its nature." This formulation leaves open the question of whether or not that nature is deterministic or (as in the case of human consciousness) some ability of self-determination is part of that nature. Now, I would not dispute the fact that the particles which make up the human brain and form the physical basis for human consciousness act deterministically, but it does not follow from this that the system as a whole acts that way (see fallacy of composition). In fact, to claim that determinism is true is to engage in a contradiction. The existence of knowledge itself presupposes that volition exists; knowledge depends on our ability to volitionally weigh evidence and separate truth from falsehoods. To claim something as true which undercuts the basis for truth is clearly contradictory. For some further threads on determinism, see 1 2 3 4. The rest of your point, however, is well taken (replacing 'acting deterministically' with 'acting causally'). If we pretend that our free will can do more than it actually can, then we will be helpless to face many personal issues. Our minds have a certain, definite nature, and our will is limited in scope. We need to understand this nature and these limits in order to act effectively (this is just another example of "Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed"). The example of kicking an addiction is a good one, where understanding how the human mind works will contribute greatly to one's success. Psychological issues in general depend on a good understanding of the nature of human consciousness. This thread on procrastination and how to beat it using an understanding of human consciousness also comes to mind.
  3. 6 points
    Dante

    Heroic teacher?!

    I find it very unlikely that she simply didn't value or like her life that much, and thought this would be a good opportunity to just throw it away for little or no reason. I find it much more likely that she took her responsibility (her chosen responsibility) as a guardian of these kids very seriously, and was willing to pay the ultimate price to preserve the integrity of that responsibility. I think, particularly if you have kids whose safety you entrust to others every single day, that calling her a hero isn't a misuse of the term at all.
  4. 6 points
    Nicky

    Peikoff on date rape

    Jesus Christ, stop already. Peikoff's comment was a throwaway line on the nature of consent, not the morality of sex. At worst, he's wrong about the Kobe Bryant case. Stop acting like you guys never said anything based on insufficient information. He did not say it's moral to have sex with a woman even if "the parts don't fit", he didn't even say it's moral to have sex with her if she's doesn't like it. He didn't say it was OK to choke her even though she's not into that, he didn't say it was OK to twist her arm behind her back to cause pain, but making sure you leave no physical mark, he didn't say it's OK to anally rape a man. And yet, all those lovely images somehow made it into people's arguments on how he is wrong. I guess what he actually said isn't all that egregious. Why else would you feel the need to spice it up like that? I do not wish to continue this post. I want to stop. Hope that's clear, I want this to be the end of my post. I don't want to write this next part. I don't wanna. No. (this last No. should be read in a forceful tone, please) Anyways: sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. Obviously. If there is no fraud or force involved (which, incidentally, Peikoff made sure to specify), then that person is free to leave at any time. Their declarations really don't mean as much as their actions. The owner of this site has no reason to feel bad about me continuing this post despite my declaration that I don't want to. The declaration was pretty meaningless. They often are. Rape means having sex with a woman against her will, not without her explicit consent. In Peikoff's example (though I have no idea if also in the actual case he cited, because, like I said, I don't keep up with celebrity news), the woman is clearly there by choice, and free to leave at any time. Unless next you guys are planning to also add kidnapping to the list of stuff Peikoff never said but somehow found their way into this thread anyway. The book he wrote suggests he doesn't. You're gonna go with the pointless speculation off of the throwaway line in a podcast though, huh?
  5. 5 points
    JMeganSnow

    Increasing Awareness of Mortality

    So, time to kick off this Advice thing. If you have a question for me--specific and personal are best--throw it out there and I'll answer it as best I can (eventually). I don't pretend to be an expert on anything in particular, so what's the point of this exercise, you may ask? It's really for me to do my best to show *how* I arrive at my notions. Why is this instructive or of any value? Because the hardest part of answering any particular issue about life is in deciding what is and isn't *essential*. You have to go from the particular (your problem) to the abstract (the essential principles involved) to the particular (the application of that principle). This is a process that must be practiced. A lot. It is CRUCIAL to understanding and applying Objectivism because the connection between the particular and the abstract is THE fundamental, defining factor of the philosophy. So the purpose, as I see it, of this advice forum is NOT the value of the SPECIFIC advice (although I do hope that anybody asking a question does at least get SOMETHING out of it), but by trying to illustrate this process of concretization and abstraction as much as possible. So, our first question: Dear Jenni This year I turned 30, and loved it. Every year I feel better about myself and happier to keep on living. Each passing year seems to open up the world in broader ways than the year before -- I learn more, and inevitably recognize more how little I actually know, which has the effect of making the world seem more full of opportunity. But, starting around age 28, my body began making me notice it. Jump off a 3ft.-something, and there's a sharp pain back there, which doesn't go away for four days. Aren't sleeping tonight? Good luck recovering from that in less than a week. Wtf is this splitting pain in my skull? Oh, sure glad that went away as mysteriously as it appeared... six weeks later. Etc. Now I have this conflict and dichotomy where I'm increasingly excited about living, while growing more and more uneasy (legitimately afraid?) about my apparent impending body breakdown. Ironically, I was born with a gimp heart which needed two operations. But, it never impeded my life, so I never thought of myself as deficient -- until The Pains started coming two years ago. Is my fear realistic? Should I accept or even be glad for my uneasiness about it? I don't feel glad about it. I think there's something I'm missing in my view of mortality, or something else? --JASKN So, to start us off, I'm going to summarize this question as essentially asking: "This aging and death thing, how should one feel about it?" In my experience, everyone has awareness of mortality more or less forced on them at some point in their lives. How exactly this happens (heart operations, physical pains, in my case a horrible movie I saw when I was 11) may have some personal importance but isn't really essential to the overall issue at hand, which amounts to a realization that the decay and end of one's existence, while inevitable, isn't exactly something that anyone could realistically anticipate with any enjoyment. This is an interesting question (and, I think, a good one to kick this off) because fear or dread of mortality is something that I have a rich (if that term applies to something so unpleasant) and varied experience with. I'll get to my more poetic expressions that I find the most helpful in dark moments in favor of a more analytical approach at first, in keeping with my ideas for this "Ask Jenni" business. So, the very first thing to do when applying one's analytical powers to a subject should always be to ask, what are the facts of the matter? Which is always a great excuse to produce a list. Note that this is not intended to be an *exhaustive* list, just an *illustrative* one. So, some facts on aging/death (which JASKN has pretty much already supplied): 1. It's inevitable. 2. It diminishes or even completely removes one's capacities for action. 3. Much of one's joie de vivre is dependent upon one's capacity for action. Well, put that way, it sounds kind of grim, but I want to submit a fourth (and, I think, significant) fact for your consideration: 4. Fretting oneself about things one can't change only has the effect of destroying the capacities and enjoyments one still has, making one grumpy, crotchety, miserable, unpleasant, and possibly even hastening said inevitable decay and demise. So, in short, the principle this falls under is basically: "you can't do anything (ultimately) about it, fretting makes it worse, so the only thing to do is to toss it out of your list of things to worry about and get on with your life". So, there's the analytical bit taken care of. Clearly I have fixed everything. Well, no, because an important factor remains that affects one's life but that the analytical bit *doesn't* dispense with, because fretting about something is an *emotional* response, and like all emotional responses cannot simply be turned off--not even if you know they're ridiculous. Maybe even especially if you know they're ridiculous. You can toss it out again and again (getting madder and madder at yourself each time), but until you resolve the underlying conflict it's going to pop right back up again. Of course, this is also where things start getting kind of fuzzy. But here's (some of) my perspective, and I hope it helps: I suspect this kind of anxiety ultimately derives from a subtle mental habit of viewing life and death (or youth and age) as a trade-off, as if they were options on a bargaining table. If you're viewing them (even very slightly) in that way, getting older seems like one heck of a lousy deal. Youth gets all the good stuff, and old age gets maybe that wisdom thing. Unless, of course you go senile. In reality, though, that is *not* the trade that life offers to you. It's not a question of "I can be young and awesome, or I can be old and suck", but between "I can get older and enjoy it as best I can, or I can just die now and miss out on something awesome". Staying young isn't on the table. Not dying at all isn't on the table. To view things with equanimity, whenever that feeling of worry or dread comes up, remember the deal that is *really* on the table, not the one you would *like* to be on the table. It won't fix everything instantly. You may never *entirely* reach some kind of Buddha-like state where the anxiety never impinges on you again, but what happens is that you develop practice at facing the fear head-on, seeing it for what it really is, and letting it go so you can hurry up and get back to the awesome. And, like anything, practice makes it easier.
  6. 5 points
    Dante

    Objectivism doesn't condemn this?!

    Objectivism requires, in a nutshell, that you do not attempt to gain values through dishonesty. This means more than simply ensuring that what you say isn't technically a lie; it requires that you endeavor to appeal to others' reason and intelligence rather than their stupidity and gullibility. In both of your examples cited above, the person is clearly behaving dishonestly, and in both cases it comes in the same form. The person is failing to disclose a fact that they know will be material to the decision of the person that they are tricking. In your original example, the guy clearly knows that he's going to leave this girl as soon as he sleeps with her, and he also knows that she wouldn't sleep with him if she knows this. He's deceiving her by withholding this fact and pretending that he has the intention of dating her. Similarly, the fact that some part will soon go out at great cost is a fact that is material to the buyer's decision to buy. Withholding it is fraud, and clearly dishonest. Objectivism holds that this method for gaining values will not serve your life and happiness in the long term. Relying on dishonesty to gain values requires that you seek out the dumbest and most gullible people to deal with, rather than the most intelligent and perceptive. It institutionalizes a fear of certain facts, namely the facts that will expose your lies, rather than encouraging an attitude of unreservedly confronting all facts of reality, which is the policy that one needs in order to be successful over the long term. Furthermore, relationships founded on dishonesty cannot become the kind of deep relationships that are integral to one's happiness, where another person truly sees and understands you. No short-term gains of one-night stands or car sales are worth this kind of life.
  7. 5 points
    dream_weaver

    Ayn Rand- Absolutes

    One can appreciate Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's opening paragraph on Postmodernism: That postmodernism is indefinable is a truism. However, it can be described as a set of critical, strategic and rhetorical practices employing concepts such as difference, repetition, the trace, the simulacrum, and hyperreality to destabilize other concepts such as presence, identity, historical progress, epistemic certainty, and the univocity of meaning. While apparently indefinable, it is not indescribable. For those having no truck with the reaffirmation through denial, a friend of Miss Rand once said: that today's attitude, paraphrasing the Bible, is; "Forgive me, Father, for I know not what I'm doing - and please don't tell me." The law of causality guaranties the outcome of the rebellion against identity. In the meantime, postmodernism just provides another way to separate those who know A is A, from some others that wish it were not so.
  8. 5 points
    I used to feel this way a lot (still do, sometimes, but not nearly as much). It's a generalization that you're drawing from the only data you have around--the way you feel about your own activities. You're waiting for the activities to give you a feeling of purpose or satisfaction, and when they don't, you conclude that there is no purpose or satisfaction to be had, and it's all pointless. The truth is, activities won't give you purpose or satisfaction, so suggestions on the nature of "go do something!" are, in a sense, futile. However, they do have positive effects in that they can help you find your own purpose and satisfaction in a secondary sort of way. A lot of people, when they try to determine what interests them, do this sort of self-meditation where they wrack their brains trying to find some a priori voice that'll tell them, "I love soccer!" or similar. The thing is, you aren't born with interests that are stuffed somewhere in your brain. You *develop* interests by doing things, enjoying them, doing them again, enjoying them more, etc. Most people generally do all of this while they're still young enough that they aren't consciously aware of the process, so when they get to the questioning stage (late teens early twenties), they already know what they like and what they want to pursue, so it's just a matter of examining their mental contents in an orderly fashion to decide which interest is the top interest. Everyone isn't like that, though. Some people, due to shyness, a compliant personality, whatever, arrive in their late teens early twenties still pretty much unformed. When they start examining themselves, all they find is a void waiting to be filled. They think there's something wrong with them. There's nothing wrong with you, it's just that you hit the self-conscious phase before you had enough material to work with to form interests. So now, instead of having it happen more-or-less automatically as you grew, you're going to have to build them manually for yourself. I found that a helpful first step is to say "my purpose, is to find a purpose". It won't fix things for you right away, but it does help to know that feeling no deep attachment to your few interests isn't some kind of hideous psychological flaw. But this statement that you have a purpose even if it isn't a single directed one can help you straighten yourself out. So, step two is to figure out what will help you find a purpose. Well, clearly if you're going to develop strong interests, you need material to work with. So you need to go and consciously try things. Pursuing more of the interests you already have is good, but don't be afraid to try other things as well. Don't sabotage yourself by over-evaluating and trying to search for some kind of emotional spark WHILE you are doing them, though. You already have a mental habit of suppressing or repressing your emotional connections to people/things. The only thing that will happen if you try to analyze while you're doing is that you will suppress or repress whatever emotional reaction you DO have. So just concentrate on doing it instead of dwelling on how you feel about it. Later, after you've done it a few times, you'll start feeling either that you want to keep doing it, or that you'd prefer to stop. THAT's when you pull out the analysis. But it shouldn't just be a "what am I feeling about this" analysis, you need to ask yourself, "what about this is causing me to feel X"? Maybe you joined a band, you really like playing the music, but you just HATE the bass player so you find you don't want to go to practice any more because that jerk will be there harshing your groove. It's not that you don't "actually" love playing the music--it's that you want a different band. But, if he WASN'T there, you'd totally love to go play your music. Voila, you've discovered your full musical interest! NOW FIND A NEW BAND. So, yes, you do need to make yourself do stuff. Don't ride yourself too much if you find it difficult, and definitely reward yourself for even the tiniest positive steps. Don't listen to people who tell you what you "ought" to be doing--if you don't know, yourself, they sure as hell can't know. And don't hassle yourself for being different or somehow less worthy than people who happened to pick up their interests more or less by accident when they were younger and not self-critical yet. Yeah, that way sure seems like it would have been a lot nicer, but at least this way you get to form your interests consciously. You won't have a mid-life crisis where you suddenly begin to question what the source of your interests really is. In a way, you're sorting out your mid-life crisis NOW. And don't fuss yourself over not having friends or people to connect with. The problem is largely that you are currently lacking the kind of material that forms connections. The friends will come once you build up the material. There may not be many, but they'll be much better than the kind of friends you just fall into in high school. It's also not a sin to withdraw from your family. You're busy. You got stuff to build, and sometimes they try to "help" and don't help at all. So if you find them oppressive, tell them, as respectfully as you can manage, that they need to back off and let you do your buildin'. It'll probably be the nastiest, most awkward conversation EVAR, but they'll appreciate it that you told them what was up with you and you'll feel better about your relationship with them. And they may even back off. (Don't expect an instant fix--stay respectful and polite. Stick to your guns, but don't fire.)
  9. 5 points
    Nicky

    The bad guy won. The fight continues.

    An example of religious totalitarianism is Iran, or the Dark Ages. Calling Romney a religious fascist is much greater hyperbole than even calling the Tea Party socialists. Romney wants religiously motivated government control in a couple of areas (all of which can easily be circumvented by simply traveling out of the state, not even the country - since even the very unlikely overturning of Roe v. Wade would only result in a few states limiting abortion), while Obama wants near-full control of all Americans' work, more than half of all their earnings, full control over their health care, etc. , and he's proven that there's no escape from him anywhere on this planet (by enforcing his fascism all the way into Switzerland). But, I'm sure, logic will fall on deaf ears, and Kate will continue proving the evil ways of everyone but the political Left with her endless stream of fallacious arguments and plain arbitrary assertions, and consider herself the smartest, most modern and open minded person on here, for doing it. She's every freshly brainwashed, liberal college graduate I've ever met.
  10. 5 points
    Gramlich

    Steve Jobs and Cosmic Justice

    Don't worry, Wotan; I have it all covered. I conversed with a rock today that told me Steve Job's soul was currently travelling past the Gligok galaxy, on its way to Valhalla. Now, as is well known, the Gligok galaxy is home to the infamous Kecktox. An evil race known for its proclivity of enslaving souls as they make their cosmic voyage. Me and the rock both agreed something had to be done, so, being a wizard, I cast a spell on Steve Job's soul to hide it from the Kecktox's souldar. With any luck, Steve Job's soul should arrive safely at Valhalla, where he will be at peace slaying Jewish money lenders for all of eternity.
  11. 5 points
    Meta Blog

    Epistemological Anarchy

    Originally posted by Don from NoodleFood, If you have ever debated the issue of limited government versus anarchy with an anarchist, you have undoubtedly run into this argument: "Every government in history has violated individual rights, so what grounds do you have for believing there could be a government that doesn't?" In fact, our own Stephan Kinsella raised this point in his current discussion with Dave Harrison. He said, "All of our experience and history shows all states to ride roughshod over citizens' rights." (Dave's response was perfect: "To some extent or another, depending on the state. And therefore what?") What I want to note is the epistemological error in the anarchist's argument. Specifically, the false view of induction. To take the standard example, suppose I observe a hundred swans, all of which are white. This by itself would not justify concluding that all swans are white. Induction does not work by enumeration. To generalize, you would have to know why all swans must be white -- what in their nature causes them to be white? In the same way, you cannot argue that because all governments have violated individual rights, that all governments must violate rights. You would have to be able to identify something in the nature of government that necessitates the violation of individual rights. Never has an anarchist succeeded at this task. The closest anyone has ever come was Roy Childs, who famously argued that in barring other individuals and organizations from the use of retaliatory force, a government is initiating force. But, as I have argued elsewhere, Childs' argument shares the fatal flaw that plagues almost every anarchist argument: the complete evasion of the requirements of objectivity. In one of her Ford Hall Forum speeches, Ayn Rand read a quote so horrific and illustrative of the point she was making that the audience burst into applause. Rand paused for a moment and explained to the audience that their applause was non-objective, since she had no way of knowing whether they were agreeing with the quote or with Rand. Rand's point is that objectivity imposes requirements, not only in a person's mind, but in how they express themselves in a social context. Each audience member knew why he was applauding, but his applause was non-objective because the person he was trying to communicate with, Ayn Rand, had no means of knowing what his applause was attempting to communicate. The same principle applies to the issue of retaliation. In his open letter to Ayn Rand, Childs disputes Rand's claim that, "The use of physical force -- even its retaliatory use -- cannot be left at the discretion of individual citizens." He writes: Morally, a man has the right to retaliate against those who initiate force. In fact, as Ayn Rand pointed out, assuming he is able to do so, retaliation is a moral imperative. Refusing to retaliate against an aggressor is to sanction his aggression -- and to welcome more of it. Yet, if he is living in a society of other men, it is not enough that an individual determine in his own mind that his use of force is retaliatory. Since whether an act of force is initiatory or retaliatory is not self-evident, and since a man who initiates force is by that fact a threat to society, any man who engages in force that has not been proved by objective means to be retaliatory must be considered a threat. This is the deepest reason why the use of retaliatory force must be delegated to the government: an act of retaliation that isn't first proved to be an act of retaliation is indistinguishable from an act of aggression -- and must be treated as such. What, then, are "objective means"? To determine that an instance of force is retaliatory, men must know what the act of force was, the general standard by which guilt is to be determined, and what evidence was used to meet that standard in a particular case. Every member of society must have access to this information. And, of course, each of these elements must be objective (the laws, standards of evidence, and the evaluation of whether the evidence in question meets that standard). By its nature, then, objectivity in retaliation cannot be achieved without a government (assuming we are speaking here of a society of men and not individuals or isolated tribes). If an individual uses force, by that very fact he is an objective threat to other members of society and may properly be restrained, even if he was responding to another man's aggression. He has no grounds for claiming his rights are being violated. Imagine you are walking down the street and a man walks up and punches the person next to you in the face. The anarchist would argue that if you use force to restrain that person, you are initiating force if it turns out that the man he punched hit him first. Yet that is pure intrinsicism. It is non-objective in the same way that the audience's applause was non-objective. He may be retaliating but you don't know it. Contrary to Childs, the point is not that individuals are unable to make objective determinations of what constitutes retaliatory force -- it's that objectivity demands they prove it to every other member of society. Only a government can provide such a mechanism. (The anarchist would of course dispute this last claim as well, but the point here isn't to make the case for limited government -- merely to demonstrate that government is not inherently aggressive.)
  12. 5 points
    Dante

    Objectivism and homosexuality dont mix

    Except that each person's highest value is his or her own life. Attempting to claim that the highest value is some abstract "life" and therefore homosexuality, because it does not result in children, 'does not value life' is rationalistic, and a confusion of what is meant by valuing life for the Objectivist. Objectivism as an ethical code is always a guide for the individual valuer, who should always be focusing on his particular life. Valuing one's own life and therefore being true to oneself could certainly result for some people in a homosexual lifestyle, and everyone engaging in homosexuality for these reasons is operating on the premise of life: their own individual life, not some nebulous, abstract, 'furtherance of the species' conception of life, which by design refers to no life in particular.
  13. 5 points
    Eiuol

    The Process Of Deliberation

    Aristotle stated in Nicomachean Ethics that no one deliberates about facts. (Well, to be specific, he stated that no one inquires about what they already know. Aristostle thought of deliberation as a type of inquiry). As I’ve observed, this is true. I do not deliberate - reason out thoroughly and carefully- when I state that 2 + 2 is 4. More complex, I do not deliberate that the only way to violate rights is the through the initiation of force. It may take time to determine that both of these statements are facts, but once it is determined they are facts, no more deliberation occurs. Deliberation may occur again when some premise is called into question. If anyone gets to *thinking* about premises, that is deliberation, and the only time when truth is being considered. To deliberate, then, implies uncertainty about a conclusion. Really, it’s the process of induction. Deduction is reasoning with facts, so conclusions contain already known facts. Induction is deliberation, or consideration of new information of some entity. When deliberation stops, a concept has been formed. In a sense, Aristotle’s observation is this, which maybe he did not realize or know: concept formation is a volitional process of deliberation, and is an inductive process. Concepts consist of facts, and any formed concept is the final end of deliberation. Formed and valid concepts are not deliberated about. This further emphasizes how knowledge is contextual: what you know depends upon the facts you know, the objects being deliberated over. A knowledge base is made up of objects of non-deliberation, i.e. facts. When forming the concept “egoism,” it already consists of non-deliberated-over facts, namely that you are yourself, that there is not another entity controlling you. Deliberation occurs when those facts are put together in a way after noticing similarities and differences. If there is no process of integration, deliberation is not happening; you’d have facts and that’s it. And as has been shown, considering facts alone is not deliberation. Deliberation can only happen when some goal is sought after, particularly the formation of a concept. I should also throw in that deliberation might not always be about concept formation, but it still is thinking about facts which can, at that point, be integrated differently, dis-integrated, or even mis-integrated. What I'm thinking here is that this observation about deliberation can be used somehow to persuade people to think about new ideas, and get them to reconsider current ideas they hold. In order to change the minds of many people on particular subjects, already-formed concepts need to be deliberated about. Meaning that the facts which the concept/subject under consideration consists of need to be explained by the other party. That is the only way to get a person to think about what they understand to be a fact: have them re-form the concept. Argumentation might not be the method, but introducing a consideration is the first step in changing a person’s mind. Intellectual dishonesty, then, is not only refusal to acknowledge facts, but also a refusal to deliberate. In any case, destabilizing known “facts” rather than encouraging steadfastness of beliefs, even of one’s own beliefs, may be the best way of getting people to change their mind. However, that should only be done if teaching is the goal. Ideas can kill, so should be used as weapons when a destructive individual/group is involved; I don't mean to imply that all people should get an equal say. Fence-sitters -- even if not explicit ones -- can accept different ideas upon deliberation. But not before the concept in question is deliberated about. I'm going after something that is more than just activism in general, more than just going out and speaking of ideas. I'm thinking about very specific means to get people to unwittingly get to them to reconsider their beliefs. I'm wondering how to get the more resistant people to think about their ideas, not just fence-sitters. One way to lead a person to deliberate is present an argument. That way, they have to integrate their thoughts, present a conclusion. The issue with that is it is basically deduction. It would not be deliberation in the sense previously discussed. If I wanted to persuade others to agree with egoism (or any other concepts related to Objectivism), or any other “deep” concept, it may be better to figure out what facts the other person does not have. If I wanted to get an egalitarian to accept egoism instead, I couldn't talk about what they already knew. I'd have to present a fact that would have to be integrated that never had been previously. As a result, either the person fixes resulting contradictions, or outright evades/dis-integrates/mis-integrates the new fact. Of course, this all to some extent depends on a person being intellectually honest. Simply stating facts may be one way to entice people to think differently about an idea, without a great deal of mental effort on my own end. Or stating the existence of a concept previously unheard of by the other person. I would like to know what other people think about what I said about deliberation here, as well as any other ideas anyone has on how to get people to change their mind about something. And other ways to spread ideas other than activism. I’m personally not a fan of activism, but I do enjoy spreading ideas.
  14. 5 points
    If you believe this then you truly are a fool of the greatest proportions.
  15. 5 points
    Take any group of people of equal numbers. Put them in those situations and you will get a few that behave exactly like this if not worse. It reminds me of the line from "Apocalypse Now" Kurtz: "We train young men to drop fire on people, but their commanders won't allow them to write "fuck" on their airplanes because it's obscene!" By the way would this be the proper time to bring up the Objectivist ideal of total war? Where the deaths of civilians are the responsibility of the people they support even if only tacitly, and that any free nation has the right to invade any slave pen? War is hell, policing up the bodies and body parts is the kind of shit that makes grown men cry, puke and shit their pants so if you don't like the look of it then don't ever claim that you can send a man to war and have it be all pretty and sterile like some sort of 1930's movie where men fall gracefully and intact when they are shot and you don't have to see their skulls come apart. It's time that the civilian population grew up, more than just a little. Get in, get it done and get out with the fewest numbers of our own killed, or maimed. THAT is the job. Not making it all pretty for the fucking camera.
  16. 5 points
    FeatherFall

    Wisconsin Union Protests

    They actually need a 3/5 quorum, which means they need 20 senators. 19 Republicans, one with a donkey on his lapel, will not suffice. A common theme of the union-side is that Gov. Walker is abandoning democracy. Of course I don't need to explain why democracy is bad on this forum, but I still think there is some irony here that shows how confused the term, "democracy," is today. Reducing the power of the teacher's unions is exactly what many of us in Wisconsin elected the Republicans to do. We voted, the unions lost. Sounds democratic to me.
  17. 4 points
    It's your life "job" to be as happy as you can be until you're dead -- Rand says happiness is the "moral purpose of [your] life." People can change and thus society can change, but you can't make them. So, you can view a lot of the wrong around you as unchangeable as any other metaphysical thing over which you lack control. Yes, your life would be better if society were more rational, so maybe it makes sense to try to influence people in a positive way. But while you try, consider: is it making you happier? In your 80 years alive, are you happier spending 50% of your time trying to change minds? 80%? 30%? None? You'll have to decide that for yourself. But logically, it doesn't make sense to try changing society at all if you're going to be less happy trying to do it. You might very well be happiest mostly ignoring society and working on an oil rig (or whatever). If you're happiest also maybe spending some time presenting arguments on the Internet, that only makes sense because you enjoy doing it. And of course, you'll do a better job because you enjoy it. That's why the advice, "Be the best you," makes sense in response to, "How can I change society?"
  18. 4 points
    "In the beginning Man created God; and in the image of Man created he him."-from the liner notes of Jethro Tull's Aqualung. As the JASKN and dream_weaver have responded so well to these charges, I see no reason to address the inference that Objective is competing with a church. I wish to address the suggestion that religion holds a psychological grip on some people. Some have rationalized a "need" to fill that spiritual gap, and I will concur with Devil's Advocate, in that that "need" can be filled no other way for them. I think this is a pity, but it is what it is. While many of these people are highly-functional people, valuable and worthy of all they have earned, they prefer to hold the image of God tightly integrated with their motives, reasons, and morals. Other members of society are not so valuable. Aside from children of the religious, who are not fully cognitive of reality, their are the criminally minded and the substance-abusive types for whom the "powers of a super-invisible-friend" may be necessary to reform them from their weaknesses. I raised this subject of weaker members of society in an earlier post, and wish to clarify that I do not believe religion is the best solution for them, only that some people have had success in its application. I thought it worth mentioning after seeing DA invoke the Serenity Prayer. And the "Like This" option on our post serves as a fine alternative to "Amen," just as this forum provides as fine "meeting hall."
  19. 4 points
    DonAthos

    The Proper Means of Communication

    Till now, I think I've tried to make the case that some means serve conversational ends (such as persuasion) better than others, and that among these means are "tact" (or "diplomacy," or "civility") and, though I did not name it in my last post, I would add "patience." There is more that could be said on these topics -- and I plan on saying more over time -- but for now I just wanted to say that I think that learning how better to hold discourse is not an incidental topic. I think it's an important subject, for those who want to live in a world more characterized by reason. Those who have recently remarked on the size of this forum in particular... I think that these subjects are related. I believe that insufficient attention paid to the context of conversation -- why and how we talk to one another -- has had an effect on the growth of the community. Speaking more broadly, I think this subject speaks to the penetration of Objectivism in the wider world. Objectivism has reason and reality on its side. Of all philosophy and religion, Objectivism has the remarkable advantage of being correct. If I were in business and I had the best product on the market (the only product in its category which actually works, no less), but I was failing to achieve any significant market penetration, I would start to wonder about my marketing and sales efforts. Are we doing a good job in communicating the message? I would ask. Can we do better? I ask the same question of Objectivists, insofar as there is any interest in communication. To be clear, I don't insist that any man has the job of changing the world. But if Ayn Rand had any interest in showing others that there is a better way -- and I would argue that she did -- then I suspect that there are some of us who likewise have a similar interest, and who occasionally take some action to achieve it. When we do take action, can we do better? I say that we can, possibly in a few ways, and through this thread I say that we can do better by looking at how we communicate. I think that incorporating greater tact and patience in discourse will serve our persuasive ends and, speaking broadly, help to make the world a better place for us to live in.
  20. 4 points
    The Atlas Society recently published a blog post about Objectivism and the family, in response to a Salon article that referred to Objectivism as anti-family. The salon article can be found here, and the TAS response here. This prompted me to read the original TAS article that the Salon guy linked to, found here. I found the account of Objectivism and family relations highly unsatisfactory, particularly as applied to sibling relationships, and I decided that I wanted to write up the response below. In her article on family relations and Objectivism, Malini Kochhar attempts to lay out a view of familial relationships based on Ayn Rand's trader principle: "This principle holds that we should interact with people on the basis of the values we can trade with them - values of all sorts, including common interests in art, sports or music, similar philosophical outlooks, political beliefs, sense of life, and more. Trade, in this broad sense, is the only proper basis of any relationship—including relationships with members of our families." However, in her application of the principle, she fails to consider several highly significant sources of value in family relationships. I will focus mainly on critiquing her comments from the perspective of sibling relationships, although many of my comments also apply to the parent-child case. In her article, she states the following: Thus, in her view, it would be extremely unlikely for one to have the same kind of deep relationship with a sibling that one would have with a very close friend. This is because we cannot choose our siblings the way that we can choose our friends, and therefore it would be mere coincidence if we happened to be close. However, this is emphatically not the only possibly application of the trader principle to sibling relationships, and in fact it is highly rationalistic and ignores the most common factors that create strong bonds between siblings. The core of many sibling relationships, including my own, is shared experiences. Growing up in the same household strongly lends itself to a high level of mutual understanding among siblings. I have two sisters, and we all grew up under the same roof. They've seen some of my worst moments, and some of my best. They've seen my growth, all the way from elementary school to the person that I am today. They understand me like almost no one else does. In Objectivist terms, they provide me with a kind of psychological visibility that only they can. Certainly, as we've moved out of the house and away from each other, we are no longer intimately involved in each others' day to day lives, and there are others who know aspects of me and my life much better than they do. However, their particular understanding of me is extremely important to me. And of course, this understanding runs both ways, with me providing this particular kind of understanding to them as well. Thus, the value provided by this sort of understanding is mutual, as per the trader principle. Despite this understanding of one another and our shared experiences of childhood, we have grown up to be very different people. If you were to list our core values explicitly, you would probably conclude that we don't have many in common. Our adult interests are extremely varied, and even as kids we clashed like only siblings can. We each care about very different things, and even have quite different explicit philosophies (leading to some strong political disagreements). In fact, if I were to walk into an Objectivist convention, I could probably randomly pick someone out of the crowd whose explicit list of 'core values' would be closer to mine than those of my sisters. That kind of similarity is simply not what our sibling relationships are based on. Nevertheless, they completely exemplify Rand's trader principle, in every aspect. Unchosen family obligations play no part whatsoever. This is the problem with clinging to 'shared core values' as the one and only indicator of a true and deep relationship between people. It overemphasizes explicit philosophical convictions and interests over other important aspects of relationships, such as mutual understanding and shared experiences. It allows Kochhar to set up a false dichotomy between a relationship based on shared core values (which he describes as a 'rare coincidence' when it happens to occur among siblings) and a relationship based on familial obligation. It is indeed unlikely that two people who didn't choose to be siblings would share the same explicit philosophical convictions or the same list of core values. If this is the sum of one's measure of an appropriate relationship, then one is forced to describe strong sibling relationships as 'coincidence.' If the relationship does not fit this description, it must then be based on a reification of blood relation and familial obligation. But the value that I get from my relationship with my sisters is not simply a coincidence, and neither is it an expression of duty that we feel. It is precisely because we are siblings who grew up together that we have this sort of bond. It was their role in my childhood, and in my life since then, that is the source of the value that I gain from them, and them from me. Now certainly, none of this is a necessary consequence of being siblings. There are numerous situations where siblings will not have this kind of relationship (most notably, when they don't grow up together). However, the factors that lead to such strong sibling relationships are much more common than Kochhar's 'rare coincidence' type of relationship will allow. The trader principle's application in this case is much broader than he paints it to be. It is sad to me to see Rand's trader approach to human relationships, which I believe to be the correct one, artificially limited by the kind of values that can be traded. Doing so excludes some of the most important relationships in life, and gives credence to the viewpoint that Rand's philosophy as a whole doesn't have room to accommodate these relationships. In my view, it does; when these relationships are healthy, they are indeed based on the trader model, where both people get true value from the relationship. The limitation comes simply from an excessively narrow conception of what kinds of values are in play.
  21. 4 points
    I got hired to work for my hero, Peter Schiff.
  22. 4 points
    And there is the confession. Look kid, looting can only be done to people, thus fracking is not looting. Fracking is a method of using property to extract one substance from another. Next, it does not matter, even if you are right, because a person can dispose of their property as they see fit. People can frack, fuck, or frell their property all they want. Your whims are not a substitute for their right to live their life and dispose of their property in the pursuit of living. What is real is if someone violates my property rights. If you are right and the latest and greatest from the Granola Death Cultists is true, and the process somehow does foul my property as a side effect, then I'm already protected under the law and can sue them to repair my property. Plus I’ll likely get more from the damages and get a nice vacation out of the deal. In fact, I hope someone does start fracking next door just so I can take Mrs. Spiral on a trip. Maybe Vegas again. Good times. So I don't need alarmist nonsense. I have common sense which is already in place. Everything else is just a desire to use government force to make people obey you, since you know better than them - I.E. strip them of their moral right to use their property as they see fit. When you realize who is trying to force others to obey them, you quickly discover that the greedy and evil person is the face in the mirror.
  23. 4 points
    Understanding requires more than just reading. Information doesn't merely get absorbed and you get it, with any misunderstanding being evasion. It has to be processed, integrated with existing knowledge; it's a whole big process. Reading anything Rand wrote only means you know what she said, not that you truly understand what she wrote. It's fine to present arguments about the existence of god and ask about an Objectivist-type response. Since ctrl_y is talking about an argument in favor of the existence to god as opposed to merely wondering what an Objectivist response would be, the debate forum is best. The debate forum can be a bit of a hassle if it's supposed to be open for anyone to reply, though. Anyway, if a disclaimer is given about what is intended, other subforums are fine to use. A disclaimer is fine for borderline cases, but cases of "extreme" proselytizing like "Christianity is the One and only True way, and I want to convert you" wouldn't be okay even with a disclaimer. As far as I can tell, ctrl_y primarily wants to know an Objectivist-type response and not much else.
  24. 4 points
    Pyotr

    Osama bin Laden dead

    I watched a few minutes of Obama's speech and couldn't stomach anymore. It was obviously a campaign speech. He was pretending to be pro American and to have supported our efforts in the middle east all along. He even admitted that Al Qaeda was at war with America. He was clearly moving to the center out of desperation over his approval rating. But then Obama started masturbating to Islam and I had to turn off the TV. I am very happy that we got Bin Laden. But it sickens me that a President who has consistently opposed and undermined our weak efforts to protect this country would be taking credit for a victory like this and using it to get himself reelected. It also drives me crazy that he wants us to believe that Islam is not dangerous and getting Osama means we're safe. All of the terrorist attacks that have killed Americans over the last few decades - including Osama's attack - were sanctioned/ordered by Iran. And Iran is still out there and getting more dangerous by the minute.
  25. 4 points
    Those interested in Whewell, and especially the debate he got into with John Stuart Mill over the nature of induction, may find interesting Reforming Philosophy: A Victorian Debate on Science and Society by Laura J. Snyder, the author of the SEP article. I wrote a review of it for The Objective Standard. For your discussion about the relevance of an epistemologist's metaphysical views, see especially the discussion on page 131 regarding Mill's idealism. He considered himself a follower of Berkeley -- "To be is to be perceived" -- and defined matter as "a Permanent Possibility of Sensation." There is now a book that examines the history of the debate over the substance, depth, and breadth of Whewell's Kantianism, Whewell's Critics by John Wettersten. I can't recommend the book generally, but it's a place to turn if you want to study this long-running debate about how Kantian Whewell was and whether it matters. Also, do not overlook that what makes Whewell so interesting in the history of induction is that he was the most mature in a line of thinkers developing Francis Bacon's theory of induction. Do not overlook Bacon's own Novum Organum and other works in the Baconian tradition, especially those by Thomas Reid and John Herschel. It's best to see Whewell as he saw himself, as a Baconian struggling with (what we'd call) axiomatic concepts and how it is that perceptions and not sensations are the foundations of human cognition and how it is that new concepts get formed. You'll understand Whewell better that way than if you read him as a Kantian and then try figuring out whether his deviations from Kant were fruitful or not.
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