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  1. 5 likes
    Like Aristotle, Rand's philosophy will percolate through cultures with free speech until it develops a large enough root system to sustain another golden age of reason. Our job as individual roots in that system must first be to achieve our own happiness and be as great as we can possibly be at whatever we enjoy doing. We need more great Objectivists to figure out great ways to influence others and bring them to our side of the intellectual battle.
  2. 5 likes
    In Objectivism, ethics deals with what's good or bad, and metaphysics deals with what is. Objectivism does not describe reality and natural laws and phenomenons as good or bad, it only describes human choices as good or bad. With that out of the way, within the context of Ethics, Objectivism would consider as bad those deaths which are chosen for irrational reasons, it would consider good those deaths which are chosen for rational reasons, and it would consider amoral (neither good nor bad) those deaths which are inevitable. I'll give some examples for each category: 1. murder, or death that is self inflicted through carelessness, passivity, evasion, or other forms of irrationality (murder is considered bad because violating the rights of a fellow member of a civilized society is considered irrational). 2. death that is chosen for the purpose of avoiding unbearable pain due to terminal illness (euthanasia), or a justified deliberate killing (for instance, Hitler's killing) 3. death due to incurable disease or natural disaster The reason why I gave this answer rather than answer your exact question is because the above is the only rational definition of good and bad that I'm familiar with (I'm also aware of several arbitrary, religious definitions of good or bad, that go along the lines of "the will of God is good, the opposite is bad"...but I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that's not the kind of definition you're operating under). If you wish me to answer your question in the context of metaphysics, without involving religion, I'd be happy too...as soon as you define the terms good and bad in that context.
  3. 5 likes
    This assertion is not backed by facts. The 1929 depression had people up in arms. Their solution was FDR. In the recent "great recession", Bush et al got most of the blame. We got 8 years of Obama. Now, the 8 years of wallowing has turned many people against Obama and they're looking to Trump. Go back in history and you find Germany in severe crisis -- hyperinflation that basically wiped out all debt, the French re-taking parts of Germany between the two wars. People were anxious and turned to Hitler. Assertions like this are baseless unless you can provide counter-examples from history. Without that, it is like saying "if I heat water, maybe it will freeze". The key flaw is thinking that politicians and the "elite" classes are the real problem. In fact, your average voter is the kernel of the problem. He only gets the politicians he deserves.
  4. 4 likes
    Let me start with a fundamental problem with your position: you claim actual knowledge of the effort that Rand put unto understanding various bad philosophies, and moreover you find it to be insufficient. I have an extremely hard time believing that you even met Rand, much less that you have the kind of personal knowledge that led to the development of her philosophy. I don’t know what facts you are relying on as evidence for your claim – not everything about the development of her intellect is summarized in the journals. In fact, I don’t understand what it would even mean to “make a real effort to engage with” the opposition. Let me amplify on what the problem is. Correct me if you can, but you made no real effort to engage with Rand’s philosophy. Your criticism hinges on the presupposition that to understand an idea, you must “visit” the people promulgating the ideas. That of course means that all prior knowledge is truly incomprehensible, thus you yourself cannot comprehend Rand because you cannot visit her, you do not understand Objectivism because you haven’t visited OCON and ARI, you cannot understand Plato, Aristotle, Locke, Kant, Frege because you haven’t visited them (they are dead). Hopefully you see how absurd a position that is. Understanding is about grasping ideas: understanding comes from identifying those ideas, because ideas are not laid out self-evidently in the words of an author. The trivial social act of “visiting” does nothing to clarify those ideas, and does not firm up a person’s grasp of ideas by magically allowing them to see consequences of ideas, and detect contradictions in them. Where you say that “the ‘skeptical’ camp is not making nearly enough of an effort to understand what they are trying to criticize”, I would conclude instead that you have not made nearly enough of an effort to understand that criticism. Now, I do in fact understand “the mystics” sufficiently, so I should by your lights have a privileged position to criticize them. I will claim to have a more nuanced understanding of classical Indian philosophy than Rand did: I don’t have any reason to think that she knows about Cārvāka philosophy, nor do I have any reason to think that she could read Sanskrit. Her “mystic muck” characterization does not mean “every Indian philosopher has been a hopeless mystic”, it is a correct generalization about a particular earlier intellectual export. You might want to investigate exactly what the nature of that export is, because it was influential, in a bad way, in the West for, mercy sake alive, two centuries, and even now we are not free of it. So actually, you don’t have to visit India to understand the muck, you just have to look around you (these days, more in antiquarian bookstores). The fact that she doesn’t burden Galt’s speech with a silly footnote granting some element of rationality to the Cārvāka doesn’t invalidate her characterization of Indian philosophy. Now then. What is necessary is not a visit, what is necessary is a study of the ideas, to see if they bear promise for being correct. Plainly, they do not. They are grounded in false and absurd ideas, such as that being whipped and burned is the same as not being whipped and burned – and that you cannot know if that idea is absurd. If you want to make this be about specific texts in Indian philosophy which you think are in fact compatible with Objectivism (and were not written by Br̩haspati or his followers), then make your case.
  5. 4 likes
    A good starting point would be OPAR ch. 1, which says “Science is systematic knowledge gained by the use of reason based on observation.” Science thus includes “specialized science” and philosophy. It differs from mere observation, which is not systematic. It differs from religion and emotion, which are not based on reason or observation. Philosophy (actual philosophy, not purported philosophy) is a science: again, OPAR ch. 1 “philosophy is a system of ideas. By its nature as an integrating science…”, Peikoff in “The analytic-synthetic dichotomy”: “Epistemology, the theory of knowledge, the science that defines the rules by which man is to acquire knowledge of facts…”. Rand says (“Philosophy: who needs it?”) that “Philosophy studies the fundamental nature of existence, of man, and of man’s relationship to existence. As against the special sciences, which deal only with particular aspects, philosophy deals with those aspects of the universe which pertain to everything that exists. In the realm of cognition, the special sciences are the trees, but philosophy is the soil which makes the forest possible”. In the broader context, “science” refers to systematic knowledge gained by the use of reason based on observation, but in the narrower context where philosophy is distinguished, we would contrast philosophy and special sciences. In the appendix to ITOE, “Philosophic vs. Scientific issues”, Rand begins by noting “Philosophy by its nature has to be based only on that which is available to the knowledge of any man with a normal mental equipment. Philosophy is not dependent on the discoveries of science; the reverse is true”. Philosophy is not “the art of just making crap up”. In this context (which presupposes the distinction between science and philosophy), the simple term “science” is used where elsewhere “special science” might be used. This second sense of “science” as special science, specialized knowledge, is what is ordinarily called “science” especially by people who haven’t read OPAR and ITOE. Philosophy is science, in the broader sense, but not in the narrower sense. “Evidence” is not, as far as I know, defined in Objectivism, but observation of how the word is used shows that it refers to knowledge in relation to a proposition – a fact supports a proposition, or it contradicts a proposition. A bit of knowledge can depend heavily on an immediate observation – “I just saw an eagle!” – or it can depend heavily on applying knowledge to previously gained knowledge (insert your favorite mathematical proof here). When people speak of “empirical evidence”, they mean knowledge that depends heavily on immediate observation. “Empirical evidence” brings us back to the axiomatic, because the distance from the axiomatic to the conclusion is shortened. All knowledge rests on observation, but some knowledge is separated by quite a distance from observation. It is true that some people treat philosophy as non-empirical, which allows patent nonsense to be promulgated as “philosophy”. You have to consider the concept “evidence” from two perspectives as well, depending on whether it has been evaluated. People often look at the observation as being the “evidence”, in which case since you can’t deny the axiomatic, you end up with a very goofy notion of “balancing” evidence, and seeing truth as scalar. Which, b.t.w., is poppycock. This notion that evidence is the raw observation is wrong. An observation has to be logically evaluated and integrated with all of your knowledge, before it becomes “evidence” for or against anything. “Uncontrolled observations” then are not evidence, because there has been no validation of the relation between the observation and the proposition that the observation stands in a supposed evidentiary relation to. How does that observation integrate with other observations (all other observations, not just the ones of interest to the advocate of the position)? The specific form of stupidity that you’ve identified is failing to consider alternative. There are alternative propositions that are consistent with the observation, and those alternatives are arbitrarily rejected. That means that the resulting emotion of “certainty” is achieved at the expense of acquiring knowledge.
  6. 4 likes
    Is this thread a joke? I don't think I've ever seen such a messy hodpodge of personal misunderstandings, clunky symbolism, and arbitrary assertions cobbled together to posture as a "critique".
  7. 4 likes
    People love to hate politicians, and to claim that politicians are some particularly disgusting breed. But consider... a GOP acquaintance of mine was complaining about Obamacare. When I pushed, it turned out he wanted the government to somehow bring down rates, and wanted the government to help the poor who cannot afford healthcare. Yet, this person -- typical of the average voter -- has no clue about how the government should go about this. This voter simply wants stuff.... somehow. It doesn't matter if it is contradictory. Similarly, another acquaintance was talking about how she could not afford to retire. The discussion went to social-security, and it turns out she does not want SS taxes raised, did not want SS benefits curbed, and wanted the budget deficit to be lowered in the bargain. How? Well, that's not her problem... politicians should figure it out. A colleague is very conscientious about recycling, wants coal plants shut down, wants more regulation; but, also wants the economy to grow twice as fast as it is doing. Sorry, the fault, dear Brutus lies not in our politicians, but in ourselves, that we are whining, un-intellectual voters who have no clue about what government ought to be. So, we get the government we deserve. [Of course, by "we", present company -- and other more-intellectual voters -- are excluded. I'm speaking of the average-Joe American voter.]
  8. 4 likes
    Dustin explained issues he has had in another thread: Issues like these are so common they are almost epidemic among Objectivists. See for example what Nathaniel Branden wrote, in 1984: http://web.archive.org/web/20120106060148/http://www.nathanielbranden.com/ayn/ayn03.html An Objectivist popped into the chatroom just the other night discussing their psychological issues with me. They were seeing a therapist because they were overloaded with stress from work, essentially because they were over-valuing material independence, and the therapist was having trouble helping them. What I had to say to this person is this: The virtue of independence doesn't pertain to material independence primarily. Virtues are about how you think and act, not about your material circumstances. It doesn't make sense to describe material independence as a "virtue"; that's a consequence, not an action. Virtues describe principles of action. If you read Rand's description of independence, she's talking entirely about judgment and the mind: "yours is the responsibility of judgment", "no substitute can do your thinking", she rejects "the acceptance of an authority over your brain" - these do not comment on material dependence, or say anything negatively about relying on others, but rather they are focusing in on a particular issue of how you use your own mind. When she talks about independence, she's talking about that virtue of using your mind, acquiring knowledge the best you can, thinking the best you can, and being able to come to judgments based on that thinking and knowledge. In essence, she's focused on how to think and act to the best of your ability. That does not preclude either material dependence, or relying on others in general. Virtues are not negative principles, they aren't there to instruct you what not to do, they are there primarily to talk about what you should do, based on what's possible to you simply by nature. By nature we are all capable of thinking, acquiring knowledge, and forming judgments - and morally, we should. Independence as a virtue is a matter of sound mind and sound action, not a matter of a trade-off of material values. And if material independence were held as high in one's mind as a virtue of character, that could lead one to make bad trade-offs in one's life, such as pursuing material independence at the expense of other values like a good social life. If one holds material independence - the outcome - to the standards of a virtue of one's character - which pertains to one's actions - that could lead to some serious distress and guilt, because one's esteem becomes tied to the material outcomes rather than to one's actual virtue and character. Imagine if Roark took working in the quarry as fault of his integrity; he wouldn't have made it out of there. Virtue needs to be completely separate from outcome. Consider this quote from Peikoff's lecture on "Certainty and Happiness": "Let’s consider here a moral man who has not yet reached professional or romantic fulfillment, an Ayn Rand hero, say Roark or Galt, at a point where he is alone against the world, barred from his work, destitute. Now such a person has certainly not “achieved his values”. On the contrary he is beset by problems and difficulties. Nevertheless, if he is an Ayn Rand hero, he’s confident, at peace with himself, serene. He is a happy person even when living through an unhappy period. He does experience deprivation, frustration, pain. But in a phrase that I think is truly memorable, from the Fountainhead, it’s pain that “goes down only to a certain point”. He has achieved, not success, but the ability to succeed. In other words, the right relationship to reality. So the emotional leitmotif of such a person is a unique and enduring form of pleasure: the pleasure that derives from the sheer fact of a man’s being alive, if he is a man who feels able to live. I’ve described this particular emotion as "metaphysical pleasure". Now metaphysical pleasure depends on one’s own choices and actions. And in that sense virtue does ensure happiness- not the full happiness of having achieved one’s values in reality, but the radiance of knowing that such achievement is possible." I think this quote from Peikoff is helpful because it illustrates what it means to have self-esteem based on your character, independent of where you actually are in life - that is, independent of the outcomes. --- Dustin is by no means alone in the issues he's having. Objectivists have had these issues for decades, and they still do even today. In Understanding Objectivism, Peikoff identifies another cause of this psychological problem in Objectivists: a concrete-bound mentality. As an Objectivist, one might hold themselves to the concrete elements of Rand's heroes instead of to the abstract moral principles the heroes exemplify. Since, objectively, one might not (and need not) value any of the particular concretes that her heroes value, the fact that one's emotions are not in line with such concretes can mistakenly lead one to the idea that one's emotions are out of control and must be repressed, which can lead to a great deal of distress and suffering. Here's an excerpt from lecture ten of Understanding Objectivism describing the issue: There is a similar issue known by the term "Howard Roark Syndrome", essentially the issue of taking Rand's heroes too literally, and thereby holding oneself to an impossible (or even an improper) standard. This was discussed previously on this forum: Another post: The consequences of this kind of problem can be an inability to act appropriately when dealing with other people (in the case of the second quote), or even broken relationships (in the case of the first quote), or in general, an under-valuation of other people, which can be a major factor in these psychological problems common to Objectivists.
  9. 4 likes
    I was going to vote for Trump to keep Hillary out but that was months ago. I can't do that now. I know now what Nicky has known all along. He's a disaster in the making if he's elected. Vote for Johnson if Hillary is unacceptable to you or don't vote.
  10. 4 likes
    In looking back on your quote I came across the following, which I believe clarifies her overall position on maintaining moral principles in the context of dictatorships: "... Nothing but a psycho-epistemological panic can blind such intellectuals to the fact that a dictator, like any thug, runs from the first sign of confident resistance; that he can rise only in a society of precisely such uncertain, compliant, shaking compromisers as they advocate, a society that invites a thug to take over; and that the task of resisting an Attila can be accomplished only by men of intransigent conviction and moral certainty." ~ ARL, Dictator This suggests to me that there is in fact, always a moral choice to be made when faced with adverse, abnormal conditions for survival. And that the choice to live requires an "intransigent conviction" to moral certainties about accepting or rejecting impediments to normal conditions; to "live" (uncertainly) on your knees, or to risk going down swinging.
  11. 4 likes
    happiness, I can really sympathize with your friend in this loss. When we were both 41, my lover died. We had been together since we were 19.* (I’m now 67.) He was everything to me. My situation was different in that it was not a sudden death, I had a couple years in which to take care of him best I could, and to fight the disease, though the case was hopeless. Your friend is likely more with her and with them as their only world that most mattered or can matter. I am unable to fully understand the Facebook aspect. (I’m on Facebook, and it has been personally satisfying.) I think of what he is doing as akin to things we did in grief traditions before this era of electronic social media. Our ways were more private. What he’s doing is a little disturbing, but if he lives a good while, he may come back to value here, explicitly recognizing it and embracing it. From what you have told us of his age, and assuming the possibility of long life, I’d say from my experience that (3) is the wrong choice if it is from this pain alone. Long life, with enough health and memory, is good. That’s what I found. After 5 years, I successfully tried for (1). But that likely will take time, a year, maybe 3. Meanwhile, there is putting one foot in front of the other. Inside, I’m sure she is with him now and that she will never leave him. In time he may have his clear an warm memories of her, without all the pain. The choice (2) will be alright for now I imagine. We remake decisions as we change, and we do change in some organic ways, tied to our past and to the further goodness of which it can be made a part. I hope your companionship can be a help to him and that you will see him someday happy again. Stephen
  12. 4 likes
    Dustin said: That is not a matter of rhetoric but philosophic principle. What you are saying is that Oist are minorities on that issue and should recognize the mob cant be wrong. You don't persuade others to change their premises by pointing out they are an intransigent minority.
  13. 3 likes
    Every time Trump expresses hostility towards Mexico, the peso takes a significant tumble. This has been happening for months, so, surely, even Trump noticed the correlation by now. Whether it's just a negotiating tactic or destabilizing the Mexican economy is his end game, he's clearly trying to hurt Mexico, on purpose. And there are voices on the right cheering it on, as if Mexico's failure would be some kind of victory for the US. So what happens if it works? Clearly, Mexico is at the United States' mercy. Just the threat of a trade war has caused the peso to drop 12% over the last three months, with experts predicting a 50% drop if the rhetoric escalates. What happens if Trump blows up NAFTA, starts a trade war, Mexico devolves into hyperinflation, and the already unpopular government is overthrown or replaced by populists or radical socialists like in Venezuela? Or worse, a civil war between a weakened government and the cartels? Could the US end up with a failed state, like Syria or Venezuela, on its doorstep, with tens of millions of economic migrants, and cartel soldiers and Islamic terrorists hiding among them, flooding across the border? And would it be possible for a populist demagogue to exploit that crisis, and expand his power beyond constitutional limits? And, even if Trump gets voted out of office in four years, could the next President deal with the crisis he inherits? Would there be a way to walk back the failure of the Mexican economy, and stabilize the region? Or will the US be faced with permanent war on its southern border?
  14. 3 likes
    I'd like to think the chances of this are low, because American business interests in Mexico and with Mexico will put pressure in the opposite direction. However, we know that Trump is clueless about economics. We know that he would rather stoke his egoless soul with sticking to a stupid idea than admitting he's wrong. We know that the trailer trash that cheered him on wouldn't mind apoorer Mexico that's worse off than they are. So, it is possible; though I still believe it is unlikely. "A prosperous Mexico, caused by a capitalist-leaning Mexico"ought to be an important pillar of US foreign policy. So, it's no surprise that the clueless yahoos and their Dear Leader want the opposite. Let me add a note of realistic optimism though... We've all got an overdose of the idiot, but we have not seen reactions. The main reason is that everyone else is waiting to see what the idiot actually does; they don't want to react to his ravings alone. Reactions will come from home and abroad. The Mexican president cancelling his visit was one small reaction. Internal Mexican politics made it difficulty or him to meet Trump. Two days later, there are reports that he spoke to the Chiief Yahoo and they agreed not to talk about who will pay for a wall... Not just between themselves, but also in public. Similarly, The Chief Yahoo said that NATO was obsolete. Then, his defense secretary contradicted him, saying that if NATO did not exist, we'd need to invent it. And, standing by him, Teresa May announced that he'd told her that he was 100% behind NATO, and Cheif Idiot quietly stood quietly by, dangling his bonnet and plume. As time goes by, we'll see more reaction. It's even possible that the hoards of yahoos will thin as they see their Cheif being caught in more lies, and being bested by others.
  15. 3 likes
    The most important purpose a transcontinental border wall would serve is to meet the desires and expectations of the American electorate. Regardless of any conversation about the popular vote versus the legitimacy of President Trump, it has been my experience that the Americans who voted for Trump want that wall. It has nothing to do with economic or security benefits; it's a matter of democracy. Trump supporters were gleeful at the thought of the wall. Now, as the fog of campaign rhetoric is lifting, and these people are becoming slightly more aware of the fact that this wall will be one more expensive boondoggle for the taxpayers to bear, they continue to cling to the vision. Will the wall and Trump's other isolationist policies lead to economic and security disaster? They don't care: Build the wall. It will make them feel better. Here's a fantasy, although not so crazy: A fortification rivaling the Maginot Line and the Chinese Great Wall spans the roughly 1,954 miles of America's southern border. It does exactly that which it was designed to do. The cost of building, maintenance, and staffing it with troops exceeds anything our budgets could sustain. It would make a perfectly good tourist site; visitors from China, Saudi Arabia, and Russia could have their pictures taken while posing atop or in front of the wall brandishing the Trump logo. The heirs of the Trump dynasty would own and operate the hotels and casinos that punctuates the serpentine structure. As our descendants revert to savagery as a means of survival, they can sit around the campfires, and tell their children of the once powerful American Empire, and how the second coming of the Trump-King will once again make America Great!
  16. 3 likes
    I think you're trying to focus on the point-in-time thing we should try to optimize. Rand's "Objectivist Ethics" highlights two key linkages: first, that this pleasure is -- in turn -- based on our biology.. on the survival of life (today we might speak of this in terms of the role of pain/pleasure in evolution). "Good" (i.e. recommended action) is thus (mostly) tied to survival in its original cause second, she takes the focus away from point-in-time pleasure, to acknowledge that there are causal links between things. Seeing the pain in a dentist's visit is not good enough, we have to understand the pleasures and pains from the visit as a causally linked set. That's how we get to: "how to we get a better mix". The decisions move from considering a single thing (imagine someone making an excuse not to visit the dentist, because he's focusing on the pain alone). "Good" is the concept that embraces the evaluation of such mixes, and going far beyond these small bundles, to encompass one's life. Good it is the integrated evaluation of pain and pleasure. Only by starting from these two ideas can Rand end up saying Productive Work is one of the highest ideals. That's quite a huge integration that includes hundreds of observations that aren't mentioned in the essay. That's her key achievement: not her focus on pleasure -- which hedonists already took a shot at -- but explaining how we go from there to a message that sounds like "work hard". The hedonists had already praised pleasure, but nobody can take a short-range approach too seriously. Aristotle spoke of Eudemia, and his golden mean is one way of conceptualizing the various choices we have to make all the time. The Epicureans had spoken about enjoying life in a relaxed way. These were attempts integrate the idea that selfish pleasure is the core of Ethics with other observations about the world. The Stoics took a different tack: they recognized that men are driven to do "big things" which cannot be explained by "live a relaxed life" or '"do only what you need to be comfortable". They admired these men. At some level, they were admiring productivity, but could not quite explain why it was the good. They ended up with a somewhat "duty ethics". The Bhagavad Gita got to the same point too: work (karma) is good because it is, because it is a universal law. They both assumed a feedback: where the universe rewards us for doing our duty. The only alternative to work seemed asceticism, and Eastern philosophies thought that was good too...but, we can't all be ascetics. So, working hard was what the typical person had to do... just because. There was no tie to happiness, leave along to pleasure. Rand stepped through the horns of this ancient dilemma. In summary: I agree with you that pleasure is key, but it is key the way a dot of paint is key to a painting, or a word is key to Atlas. It's a starting point, but the bulk of Ethics is explaining how it comes together across our lives. Post-script: I think your focus on pleasure is important though, because some people read Fountainhead and Atlas as enshrining the virtue of hard work, but do not keep the link to pleasure and happiness in mind. By dropping that link, and by seeing work as an end in itself, drops the crucial justification for work. Work then is a duty: an end that we just do, because it is good... don't ask any more questions! This is why I think the recent moves by The Undercurrent/Strive: abandoning the focus on Politics, and linking Objectivist Ethics to individual happiness, is great.
  17. 3 likes
    Psychology used as a common noun usually refers to the totality of our thoughts. The things that happen in our (according to Oism individual) consciousnesses. So, when I read that something is part of "human psychology" (singular, no less, not "human psychologies"), the only way that makes sense to me is by assuming some kind of collective consciousness. There would be no other way for 7 billiion individuals to have the same set of thoughts, except if they share a consciousness. We don't share a psychology. We share a biology, and we develop our own psychologies. Some, more rational than others. And we certainly choose our own values, we don't have any values that came with the frame. So attributing the irrational valuing of scarcity that some humans have, and marketers like to take advantage of, to human nature, is absurd. It's not human nature to be irrational. You choose it.
  18. 3 likes
    I have personally not experienced any kind of success convincing another person about the logic behind Objectivism and why the philosophy is The Way, The Truth, and The Light. Maybe it's too wordy for most people when presented that way, maybe there aren't enough social scenarios where people accept deeper conversations, I don't know the reason, but a brick wall is hit every time. During the past couple of years I've given up the "lectures" altogether and replaced them with one-off comments in normal conversation, where I really try to think about everything from as realistic a standpoint as I can and then take a second to sum it up succinctly with a somewhat philosophical-style comment, delivered in my own words/formulation for the conversation only. People have really responded to this method, it feels like magic compared to the old strategy. At the same time, I've focused more on my own life than on an Objectivst agenda (I'm part of a trend, I guess?), with several benefits: a better life, from which to draw examples, and a better understanding of the purpose of philosophy, and why someone would follow principles to begin with, from which I can formulate my summations. I'm beginning to think there is no other way to get people to legitimately change their views. There has to be something to look at in real life for an "aha!" moment to happen. More emphasis should be placed on Rand's life success and enduring influence as support for the validity of her philosophy. More Objectivists should emphasize their own real life benefits following a stellar philosophy.
  19. 3 likes
    I don't agree with this account of the Objectivist ethics. It is a good piece of advice, epistemologically, but I don't think it is the basis for the distinction between morality and immorality, because you can unintentionally form invalid concepts. For example, many people who believe in God are basically honest, even though God is an invalid concept. I continue to find invalid and unexamined assumptions in my thinking on occasion, even years after learning of Objectivism. I'm not saying this is irrelevant to morality, it's just a really demanding standard to set. Almost everyone has some invalid concepts at work in their thinking.
  20. 3 likes
    That being said, I hearken back to what my first piano teacher used to tell me:
  21. 3 likes
    I wanted to start a thread just for general discussion of a benevolent or malevolent sense of life, and in particular, the concepts of a benevolent universe premise (BUP), malevolent universe premise (MUP), benevolent people premise (BPP), and malevolent people premise (MPP). Which of these do you identify with personally, and why? And do you have any reservations or disclaimers you want to add? In general, one can have a benevolent or malevolent sense of life. A "sense of life" is the basic emotional stance one has on life that comes from one's implicit metaphysical value judgments. Metaphysical value judgments are one's overall value judgments or feelings about the essential nature of existence, of man, and of man's relationship to existence.1 If one has an overall positive judgment about the metaphysical nature of reality and of man, then one's basic emotional stance on life will be positive. One will have a benevolent sense of life. Likewise, if one has an overall negative judgment about the metaphysical nature of reality and of man, then one's basic emotional stance on life will be negative; one will have a malevolent sense of life. Someone with an overall benevolent sense of life has a philosophical conviction that their life and the universe are good and valuable, a conviction that is not shaken simply by going through trying circumstances. They have a conviction that joy, exaltation, beauty, greatness, and heroism are the meaning of life, and not any pain or ugliness that they may encounter. They believe that happiness is what matters in life, but suffering does not, and that the essence of life is the achievement of joy, not the escape from pain. Pain, fear, and guilt are inessential and are not to be taken seriously as a scar across one's view of existence. Their basic stance when it comes to any question is that they love being alive, and they love the universe in which they live. "We exist and we know that we exist, and we love that fact and our knowledge of it" (Augustine). One's sense of life can be further analyzed into two basic categories: one's judgment of the universe, and one's judgment of man. An overall positive or negative judgment about the nature of the universe is what Rand calls the "Benevolent Universe Premise" (BUP) or "Malevolent Universe Premise" (MUP), respectively; a positive or negative judgment about the nature of man is the "Benevolent People Premise" (BPP) or "Malevolent People Premise" (MPP)2. A fully benevolent sense of life will combine a benevolent judgment of the universe and a benevolent judgment of man: both BUP and BPP. One may have a characteristically mixed sense of life, with a benevolent universe premise but a malevolent people premise (BUP/MPP), or a malevolent universe premise but a benevolent people premise (MUP/BPP).3 A benevolent universe premise (BUP) is characterized by a reverence for the Universe, and the belief that the universe, by nature, is intelligible to man, and that his happiness is possible in a place such as this. It's the belief that the things around you are real and ruled by natural laws, and that reality is stable, firm, absolute, and knowable. Tragedy is the exception in life, not the rule. Success, not failure, is the to-be-expected. It's the conviction that man is not ultimately doomed in this universe, but rather that a human way of life is possible. A benevolent people premise (BPP) is characterized by a reverence for Man, and the belief that man, by nature, is to be regarded as rational and valued as good. It's the belief that man has the power of choice, the power to choose his goals and to achieve them, and the power to direct the course of his life. It is the conviction that ideas matter, that knowledge matters, that truth matters, that one's mind matters. It's this conviction that leads to a respect and goodwill toward men, and an attitude, in individual encounters, of treating men as rational beings, on the premise that a man is innocent until proven guilty. One is unable to believe in the power or triumph of evil; evil is regarded as impotent and unreal, and injustice is the exception in life, not the rule. Consequently one has confidence in one's ability to judge others, to communicate with others, and to persuade them by rational argument, and a belief that the great potential value of men is the to-be-expected. The rationality in others is what matters, not their irrationality, and in essence they are a potential source of value, not a potential threat of dis-value. 1. For more on "sense of life", see the chapter "Philosophy and Sense of Life" in The Romantic Manifesto, by Ayn Rand 2. "Benevolent People Premise" is a term coined by Objectivist Dan Edge in blog posts back in 2007. You can find them here and here. Also see his thread here on Objectivism Online here. 3. See how Ayn Rand applies the BUP/MPP and MUP/BPP mixtures to the field of literature in her chapter "What is Romanticism?" in The Romantic Manifesto, where she discusses "volition in regard to existence, but not to consciousness" and "volition in regard to consciousness, but not to existence".
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    The notion that Republicans can't win is ridiculous. For most of the past eight years, Republicans have held Congress. They can win just fine. They're even set to hold the House this year, which is a miracle, given who their Presidential nominee is. In fact, before Trump won the nomination, polls showed that Kasich and Cruz had favorability rankings above Clinton, and they would've both beaten Clinton. Kasich in a landslide, Cruz by about three points. Studies that look at the history of the elections (including several that have guessed correctly in every election since the 70s) back that up, saying that the opposition candidate should have swept this election. So, had the Republicans nominated a candidate who didn't alienate 2/3 of the country, and most Republican donors, by being disgusting in every way imaginable, and then some I couldn't possibly have thought of, he or she would be the favorite in this election. Especially since the Dems are also fielding their weakest candidate since Dukakis. You see, the problem with the last three elections isn't immigrants favoring Dems. Immigrants are a small minority. The problem with 2008 and 2012 was that Bush doubled government spending, spent trillions on wars against Middle Age savages the US military had the power to annihilate for the cost of airplane fuel, and continued Clinton era financial policies that caused the biggest recession and financial crisis in decades. And the the problem with this election is that Republicans nominated the most hateable person they could find. If, in four years, the Republican Party gets its act together, they can win by a lot more than that extra million Dem voters Clinton might, if all the stars align in her favor, naturalize.
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    If you have access to back issues or reprints of The Objectivist, read her 1968 kiboshing of George Wallace; it's as close as you'll get (which is close indeed) to what she'd say about Trump. The character most resembling him in her fiction is James Taggart. Both are classic mixed-economy businessmen, getting rich by government favors and connections in a highly-regulated industry. Both are contemptuous of ideas and principles. Both are what Objectivist jargon calls social metaphysicians. Taggart stroked his vanity by letting his wife think he was a man of acheivement. Trump is trying to do this with the entire world.
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    I don't think it is implied in Objectivism even if it was depicted in Atlas Shrugged. In fact, even the novel did not do much in that regard. Yes, it has that as a bit of a "happy ending", but there's no believable bridge between the collapsing society it depicts in far more detail and then this finale of a return. Just the author's wishful thinking that living happily ever after in Galt's Gulch was unsatisfactory. I could be forgetting something that Rand said elsewhere regarding a collapse being a favorable pre-condition, but that would not be Objectivism, the philosophy. You're right that some Objectivists think that a collapse of society would be a good thing: wiping away the old to make space for the new; but, they're terribly wrong. A collapse is a bad thing, both while it is happening, and because of the likely aftermath. To think that a post-collapse society will somehow see the folly of its ways and support individual rights is worse than wishful thinking: it is the opposite of what is likely. In general, the way to approach the subject is to study the history of actual past collapses and major depressions.
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    There are a few comments in this thread that I've read, and reread, and still I don't know what their respective authors believe or wish to communicate. A little less attempted wit or brevity or snark and a little more plain-spoken earnestness and elaboration would probably go a long way. Regarding immigration: yes it is a right, as has recently been discussed elsewhere. It is as SpookyKitty said, "You have a right to immigrate to the US because you are an individual and no one can tell you otherwise (so long as you respect the rights of others)." No, this does not extend to "people who threaten to kill and kill Americans," but that's not an issue with immigration, per se (there are American citizens who also threaten to kill and kill Americans -- they are also criminal), and it is not a justification for restricting the rights of people who do not threaten to kill and kill Americans, whether immigrant or otherwise. In the case of someone who may (theoretically) be an enemy, or a criminal, but of whom we have no proof or specific suspicion, well... "innocent until proven guilty." Regarding the Constitution: it certainly was, as dream_weaver said, "a major step in the right direction," and ought be appreciated as such. Yet it is not perfect. In that we recognize its imperfection (to some degree borne out by the political results over the last couple centuries), I think it's also right to say that Objectivists generally wish to "subvert" the document, in that we wish to make substantial changes to it and to the system it defines. If people wish to defend the Constitution as written (if they regard that goal as something good, generally), they should not look to the Objectivists, who instead wish to enact Capitalism in full measure, contra both contemporary and historical American law. ("Radical.")
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    I think the play is suggesting that Rand's philosophy would promote this as a good thing, not that "some people succeed that way". Which, clearly, is not an accurate portrayal of Rand's beliefs. She'd say it's really bad for one's happiness, and the play seems to agree. It's a musical comedy but seems to be aimed at poking fun at how there are more values than purely money or a purely material goal - and picks a terrible symbol of that. "Trump in Love", or "Paris Hilton in Love" would make more sense.
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    Judging one's opponent as irrational is subjective, until you have argued said-opponent down to the last syllogism. If we are to assume that the Objectivist argument has the strength to overpower said-opponent, then there is no reason for shutting down the debate. Having proved your argument as true, the opponent must withdraw, forfeit, or admit defeat. But they must be allowed their freedom of speech. Force by overwhelming audible volume is still a form of force. If one's revolution is to prove a sustainable success, you have merely forced your opponent to lowering his volume to a level only circulated among members of the counter-revolution. (At this point, I don't care to list the many counter-revolutions, or acts of repression against dissenting and/or unpopular opinion-makers, from Socrates to heresy, to the present, but only to suggest that counter-revolutions do happen. It would be naive not to expect them.) Once you have "silenced" your opposition, they become "victims" of your force. You may think you have silenced them, but they will only use your oppression to their advantage in their argument against you. While I agree that (rational) mockery is one of the most useful tactics, the opportunity for your opponent's response must be guaranteed, especially if the revolution promotes morality in Objectivist terms, otherwise you have undermined your desired society of objectivity. For example, let's take the matter of anti-mysticism as a desirable Objectivist social norm. If you were to shout down your religious opponents, or in anyway deny them their opportunity to speak their piece, you will only alienate and enrage them. You may momentarily hush them up; you may go through the motions of re-education. And rather than re-educate them, and their children, they will only pass their cherished beliefs along down the generations, until the day of their reprisal. Judging by our current political climate, religion will not go away easily. If we examine some of the more sustained, successful, and least violent revolutions in history, we will notice a certain "ground-work" or foundation preparing society for the sudden changes. The industrial revolution, perhaps the best example, emerged from a time of reason brought about by a change of theology, and discovery brought about through innovation approved by the ruling classes. And yet, Luddites resisted. The American Revolution emerged from a society well accustomed to religious dissent, free-trade, free-speech, and more than one hundred years of a concept, known as, The Rights of Man. To be sure, the monarchists resisted violently, and in five years were violently defeated by those who believed in an untried form of government. And yet, church leaders resisted the idea of separation of church and state. The Civil Rights Movement (circa 1945-1965) emerged from a society that had seen the virtues and accepted the value of African-American lives through their valor in war and their contributions in sports and entertainment. And yet, the racists resisted. They still resist, but so too do the Luddites and the church leaders. Nonetheless, I am reasonably confident that in spite of America's curious and often irrational trends in politics, the core values of the industrial revolution, American Revolution, and equal protection under the law for all minorities will be norms for many generations against the wishes of dissenters. The revolutions that succeed often do so because they were right, and the public was prepared. If we are to ever witness an Objectivist victory over irrational mystic, collectivist, and socialist norms, it will be a victory achieved only after the establishment of a base of majority, consisting of people who believe in free-minds and free-markets. To the specifics of these ideals, I leave to those future generations. For now, let's say you want a revolution. As an important part of the process, people will need to be informed, one might say, re-educated. Re-education under Chairman Mao and Pol Pot didn't end well. In fact, I don't think you can change the norms of society until the young are educated properly, rather than re-educated as adults. The ideas of an Objectivist Revolution will only succeed when people willingly accept them. People must arrive at the truth under their own efforts and volition. To force any ideas on anyone is folly. The education of a society of true individuals will begin with parents who see themselves as individuals. Teach your children well. I witnessed a generation of people who believed themselves enlightened and right, the New Left, force a (believed-to-be) revolutionary set of values onto the American political landscape. The results are the formation of otherwise unique individuals into diverse collective-identity groups, and an expansion of the social welfare state. In my opinion, neither bode well for the future, nor does the rise of the counter-revolutionary Christian Right. The downward trajectory of politics will not change direction until a properly educated public demands the proper change. And that change cannot be explained on a bumper-sticker, nor blasted through an amplifier. The revolution will not be televised. It may have all ready started with forums such as this one. All said, I absolutely support an Objectivist revolution. Long live the revolution.
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    I will take up precisely the challenge you just threw down. There is a proper and improper use of cars as well as a proper and improper use of guns, and the distinction between what is proper and improper in both cases is exactly the same. What makes an action (with any tool) improper is that it violates rights. Improper use of an auto kills people and destroys property, the same as a gun does. The proper use of a gun and an auto do differ, in that it can be be moral to shoot to kill in defense of life or property while autos are not suited to defending rights in that way because of their size and the energy they have at speed makes them an indiscriminate weapon. This difference in the proper use of guns and autos is nonessential to matters of law because an objective code of law that concerns itself with defending rights should be written in terms of negatives, i.e. it specifies what is forbidden not what is permitted. A car driven down a sidewalk is perfectly analogous to a gun used in a mass shooting in that both violate rights. Rights are always the key to untangling legal issues. Only human beings have rights, and only human beings can violate rights. Inanimate objects cannot violate rights because inanimate objects do not have rights, and are not moral agents in any sense. When a muslim mass murders homosexuals, taking time to discuss gun control is a stupid distraction from the significance of what just happened.
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    I think "pickup artists" are just guys who are naturally charming and have a lot of experience with women, trying to sell snake oil to guys who aren't. But, the fact is, 99% of people aren't supremely charming and experienced...and yet, most of them manage to find partners. Just look at your friends and acquaintances, who have partners: what percentage of them would you say are "pickup artists", who can pick up a girl pretty much at will? I doubt you know more than one guy like that. Everyone else does it without any special skills. So I think what you should worry about isn't how the pickup artists do it, it's how these other people do it. There are only a couple of things that ACTUALLY WORK, in my experience: 1. Choose who you like: like women you know, and who have similar interests and values to yours...and are therefor more likely to like you back. Don't bother chasing after someone who isn't interested, or is out of your league (for whatever reason). 2. Experience interacting with women. I don't just mean romantic experience, although that is very important: and the only way to really become experienced is to actively seek experience (in other words, don't fixate on one girl you like, but rather "play the field"; I'm not suggesting that you should be with anyone, no matter who they are, but don't say no to women unless you have a good reason to: and "you're not my ideal woman" shouldn't count as a good reason). However, romantic experience aside, just making female friends is very important. People (including women) hate uncomfortable social interactions, and they will pass up a lot of potentially good things, just to avoid them. When a woman sees someone who is either by themselves, or surrounded by other guys, the main fear they have about talking to that person is that "this is going to be uncomfortable". And, unless you're really, really charming and confident, you're not going to change their mind about it: it's going to end up a self fulfilling prophecy. They're going to avoid being alone with you, at all cost...not because they hate you, but because they don't trust you to be able to avoid uncomfortable moments. On the other hand, if they see you surrounded by female friends, who are comfortable talking to you, they will not have that fear: they will be open to interacting with you. At that point, you don't need any special skills, you just need to talk to them, same way you would talk to anyone else.
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    Ok, so I think a productive line would be to point out that this list suffers from the same "divergences" as SK's previous thread. It's concepts are arbitrary and the differentiations don't follow an objective reduction to percepts making the differences asserted rationalistic symbol manipulation. We see ontological pluralities created from what an Oist method validates as synonyms. We have no explanation how a metaphysics-ontology would aid one in doing fundamental physics without violating the general vs special methods that differentiate Philosophy from Physics and keeps both grounded in perception. We see how a knowledge of concept formation (or lack of) enables one (or hinders) to understand the process of definition. Metaphysics tells only what is true and necessary of everything. Only what cannot be rationally denied of all existents. A discussion of how this subject matter would guide fundamental physics is in order.
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    Welcome back, Ilya It's always refreshing to view your multi-faceted concise and to-the-point interlocutions.
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    Terms such as theorems, proofs, conjectures, etc. are fairly well defined in mathematics. I happen to believe that much of how modern mathematics is practiced is either Rationalism gone wild or mathematical Platonism. My use/training in mathematics (Mechanics) is something entirely different from mathematics as practiced by your typical mathematician. If you ask ten mathematicians about mathematical foundationalism, you'll get 12 answers. That being said, if you approach something like Collatz Conjecture, then you need to either play by the rules of the game, or reinvent the rules. The following is a fairly well accepted definition of Proof. Mathematical Proof In mathematics, a proof is a deductive argument for a mathematical statement. In the argument, other previously established statements, such as theorems, can be used. In principle, a proof can be traced back to self-evident or assumed statements, known as axioms,[2][3][4] along with accepted rules of inference. Axioms may be treated as conditions that must be met before the statement applies. Proofs are examples of deductive reasoning and are distinguished from inductive or empirical arguments; a proof must demonstrate that a statement is always true (occasionally by listing all possible cases and showing that it holds in each), rather than enumerate many confirmatory cases. An unproved proposition that is believed to be true is known as a conjecture.
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    . The Status of the Law of Contradiction in Classical Logical Ontologism Leonard Peikoff – Ph.D. Dissertation (NYU 1964) Leonard Peikoff first met Ayn Rand when he was seventeen. That was in 1951. His cousin Barbara Wiedman (later Branden) had become a friend of Rand’s in the preceding year. The young friends of Rand had read and been greatly moved by her novel The Fountainhead, and they were greatly impressed with Rand and her philosophical ideas as conveyed to them in conversation with her. In 1953 Peikoff moved to New York from his native Canada (where he had completed a pre-med program) and entered New York University to study philosophy, which was his passion. He was able to read Atlas Shrugged in manuscript form prior to its publication and to converse with its author. He continued at NYU for his Ph.D. in Philosophy, which he completed in 1964. That was the year Allan Gotthelf entered graduate school in Philosophy. Ayn Rand and her distinctive ideas on metaphysics and logic, as published in 1957 in Atlas Shrugged, do not appear in Peikoff’s dissertation. Except for one modest point, his treatment of his topic is consistent with Rand’s views on metaphysics and logic, as well as with her thought on universals (ITOE 1966–67) and her broad-brush arc of the history of philosophy. His dissertation is worthy of study, certainly by me, for what have been many of the positions and arguments concerning the ontological status and epistemological origin of the Principle of Noncontradiction (PNC) in Western philosophy from Plato to mid-twentieth century. It is valuable as well for a picture of what Peikoff could bring to the discussions with Rand and her close circle, as well as to their recorded lectures and published essays (including his own “Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy” published by Rand as an immediate follow-on to her ITOE) in the ten years or so after 1957. A speculative sidebar: Beyond Rand’s philosophy, I doubt that Leonard Peikoff ever had anything to learn from Nathaniel Branden in philosophy. The flow of learning in philosophy not Objectivism was likely entirely the other way. That goes for the flow of reliable information in that domain as well between Peikoff and Rand. By the late ‘60’s, Peikoff, and Rand too, could of course learn from the studies of Gotthelf in Greek philosophy. I’ll sketch and comment on the course of the intellectual adventure that is Peikoff’s dissertation in a separate thread in Books to Mind. I’ll do that shortly. In the present thread, I want to just state his broad thesis (i–viii, 239–49), then turn (i) to the Kant resources Peikoff had available and relied upon in his story and (ii) to setting out from my own available resources, these decades later, what were Kant’s views and teachings on logic, what was always available in German, and what now in English. Under the term classical in his title, Peikoff includes not only the ancient, but the medieval and early modern. By logical ontologism, he means the view that laws of logic and other necessary truths are expressive of facts, expressive of relationships existing in Being as such. Peikoff delineates the alternative ways in which that general view of PNC has been elaborated in various classical accounts of how one can come to know PNC as a necessary truth and what the various positions on that issue imply in an affirmation that PNC is a law issuing from reality. The alternative positions within the ontology-based logical tradition stand on alternative views on how we can come to know self-evident truths and on the relation of PNC to the empirical world, which latter implicates alternative views on the status of essences and universals. Opposed to the classical logical ontologists are contemporary conventionalist approaches to logical truth. Peikoff argues that infirmities in all the varieties of classical logical ontologism open the option of conventionalism. He mentions that his own sympathies are with logical ontologism. Alas, repair of its failures lies beyond the inquiry of his dissertation.
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    A guy named Bob wakes up in the morning. Throughout the day, he makes various choices, including making a to-do list, working on his music album, ordering Chinese food, unwinding with his girlfriend, reading a novel for relaxation. What precedes and motivates those choices? A desire for them, either as ends in themselves (the pleasure they give him) or as a means to another value, or anything in between. Now, why does he desire them? If you answered, "because Man's life is the standard of moral value, and his own life is his moral purpose" you are ipso facto advocating intrinsicism. To paraphrase something I wrote in another thread, you're turning the metaphysicaly given into a god, the way Spinoza did, then giving moral significance to your obedience to the metaphysicaly given. "You exist, therefore: if you want to live, you're moral. If you don't, you're rotten." You can't say "I choose to live because it's moral". You're moral because you choose to live. On the same note, it's wrong to say "I choose to live because of so-and-so metaphysical fact", but you can say "I want to live, and although there's no categorical imperative telling me to live - after all, morality is my servant, not the other way around - my choice is not a whim or arbitrary, but rooted in the fact that I am a living being, i.e. justified by my identity or nature, not by a moral code." This is why Peikoff stresses in his OPAR seminar that this choice is both pre-moral and justified.
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    Dustin, I wasn't asking if any of your questions/objections in this thread alone you considered to be answered/resolved, I was asking about if you considered that to be the case of *any* of your questions/objections you have raised on this forum in general. Also, you have in your post there stated your position, but you have not addressed anything any of us have already said to you here about why we contend such a position is incorrect. You didn't answer my question either about what sources, aside from this forum, you have on Objectivism, or even point me to a place where you already answered that question (which also would have been perfectly acceptable). When I said, "You've made lots of threads here based on questions/objections to Objectivism " - I didn't mean that as an accusation, like it was an inherently bad thing that just should not be done. I was stating it because it was relevant to my later question, asking what, if any, sources you had aside from this forum on Objectivism. Asking this many questions isn't a bad thing necessarily, but it does makes me suspect that you may be attempting to approach learning about or "challenging" this philosophy very badly. You may be jumping into the middle of this philosophy and going about it all higgledy piggledy, not looking into the well made primary or even secondary sources on it that answer the whats and whys pretty thoroughly and systematically. You may instead be asking people to not just reinvent the wheel for you, but reinvent the rocket ship, knowing almost nothing about rockets already yourself, and that they do so random piece by piece with you showing little interest in actually seeing how the pieces fit together and why, or maybe even seeing all the pieces, just seeing how these individual parts aren't making sense to you at first glance and on their own and then saying "This makes no sense! It's all bullshit! No way this thing gets off the ground." This seems like a bad way for you to learn about Objectivism and an even worse way to try to convince anybody who knows Objectivism well that it is incorrect. It's also hugely inefficient on time involved doing it the messy way versus going to the primary or even secondary sources. As for "echo chambers" and "safe spaces" -- you realize, don't you, that with Objectivists being such a teeny, tiny percentage of the population, we all spend our lives immersed constantly in people and products of contrary beliefs, right? This forum is just one of the few places where we come together with people that DO share our support of this philosophy so that we can actually get some where furthering our discussions of the subject beyond constantly just going over the basics with people who think the philosophy is flat out incorrect, just endlessly rehashing the same basic issues over and over that are already old hat to us, never touching any further or new material. We don't need to have this forum bombarded with people who disagree with us in order to be exposed to other beliefs and the possibility that we are wrong because we already inevitably face those things all the time everywhere else we go pretty much. Our goal here on this forum isn't to *never* be exposed to contrary ideas(something the forum couldn't possibly achieve anyway), its to just have somewhere that actually is about our ideas in the midst of aaaaaaaaaaaaaall the rest that we are exposed to which isn't. And we already do believe in reexaming our own beliefs if ever we come across something which seems to flout them anyway. Having this forum to discuss Objectivism with mostly people who support it is like having a forum for fans of bag pipe music in a world where pretty much everybody hates bag pipe music.
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    I fear for the future of Oism.... Knowledge is not a "method" it is obtained by method. It is the outcome of method. Objectivism is about "adhering to the object" (76 lectures) in the relation of the "s"ubject to the object. Patrik this thread is a mess and I recommend you read Greg Salmieri's paper Conceptualization and Justification in the book Concepts and Their Role in Knowledge. The answers in this thread seem oblivious to the acontextual nature of axiomatic knowledge. Once grasped its impossible to be wrong about that knowldge and all knowledge rests on non-propositional "justification".
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    Here is a somewhat different tack on critiquing the offered critique (refering to objCrit2.pdf). The paper lists no author. There is no bibliographic list of works cited. Abstract starts out "We ..." but the first paragraph is "I ...". Abstract makes a claim about finding internal inconsistency in Rand's epistemology, but then the first thing the author does is substitute his own definitions for Rand's terms in the name of "neutrality", immediately nullifying the entire point of the paper. The abstract is in error where it claims concepts must subsume two entities, Rand's definition is "two or more units". Rejecting the requirement that every concept subsume two or more entities is irrelevant in relation to Rand's system, doing neither good nor harm. That's my superficial and cursory take from a brief page-through and reading of the first page. However, ambition is a good thing and I appreciate SpookyKitty's effort in making a pdf of his article.
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    I'm not sure if this has already been established in this thread, but proper names are not concepts with a single unit. They name, and thus mentally differentiate, a particular unit within a particular class of units. There's no abstracting going on. Just isolating. Mars is a proper name for a planet. It is a unit of the concept planet. By giving it a unique name we can more easily isolate it from every other planet in the known universe and remember its measurable attributes like redness. However, Mars isn't the only red planet in the universe, so we also need to remember that it's the red planet fourth closest to our Sun, which, by the way, is another proper name--for a unit subsumed under the concept star.
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    I agree completely with this. Aesthetics is a much more fundamental branch of philosophy than it normally gets credit for. I think hierarchically it should follow directly from metaphysics, and actually has implications in epistemology and ethics. In the same sense that everyone has to be a philosopher to some extent, since man by nature must be guided by a comprehensive view of life, do you think in a sense everyone has to be an artist to some extent, since aesthetic principles also perform a necessary function in the guidance of life (when it comes to metaphysical value judgments and sense of life)?
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    Perhaps Trump will make that effort easier over the next few years. He'll give ARI plenty of opportunities to oppose him, I'm sure, so hopefully they'll find a way to present that in a compelling way -- battles over immigration, religious liberty and free speech, for instance, could appeal to the left. Of course, articles like the Washington Post's aren't a great start, and I have to hope that Objectivists won't ally themselves with the Trump administration. He's almost a parody of what most people already assume Objectivism to be about; we have to work to fight that image.
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    You brought it up as a reason to think it is part of Putin's game plan to maintain authority, in a thread discussing whether Putin did/would manipulate the election. If it's crazy idea, I don't know why you linked us that article then, or what's wrong with what Swig said. He didn't do anything except tell more about a term he didn't know about until you mentioned it.
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    I remember someone on an ARI panel making a somewhat off the cuff remark to a question about promoting Objectivism. I think the context must have been that the questioner was not interested in a career as a professor or as an activist. The panelist said something to the effect: well, if you become rich and successful in your field and credit Objectivism for your success, that itself could have an impact... and you'll be able to fund people who want to play a more activist role.
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    I love these sorts of questions. I think future historians will say that human societies clung to collectivistic philosophies because they were too ignorant to properly integrate individualism with government. Why are we, as a species, still so ignorant? Perhaps we lack the psychological tools required to make individualism universally obvious, like the telescope and space travel made the solar system universally obvious to even moronic onlookers. Perhaps we gave up on enlightened monarchy too early. Perhaps we should have developed individualism more before designing a new rights-based constitutional Republic. Perhaps we are suffering the inevitable consequences of institutionalizing even a little bit of irrationality in making rights God-given and government part-statist.
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    In Spooky'Kitty's language "parasite" is a synonym for "living being"... a useless term that adds no meaning, but it useful to induce guilt.
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    A google search of this proverb returned: when the need for something becomes imperative, you are forced to find ways of getting or achieving it. synonyms: source, origin, genesis, fountainhead, inspiration, stimulus; literary wellspring While coincidental that fountainhead appeared in the list of synonyms, it was inspirational and stimulating as well. Consider the source, origin and genesis of Miss Rand's philosophy from the introduction of The Romantic Manifesto. As a child, I saw a glimpse of the pre-World War I world, the last afterglow of the most radiant cultural atmosphere in human history (achieved not by Russian, but by Western culture). So powerful a fire does not die at once: even under the Soviet regime, in my college years, such works as Hugo's Ruy Blas and Schiller's Don Carlos were included in theatrical repertories, not as historical revivals, but as part of the contemporary esthetic scene. Such was the level of the public's intellectual concerns and standards. If one has glimpsed that kind of art—and wider: the possibility of that kind of culture—one is unable to be satisfied with anything less. She spends the next couple of paragraphs concertizing her assessment of the downward descent she observed going on around her before adding: Renunciation is not one of my premises. If I see that the good is possible to men, yet it vanishes, I do not take "Such is the trend of the world" as a sufficient explanation. I ask such questions as: Why?—What caused it?—What or who determines the trends of the world? (The answer is: philosophy.) The chapter on Ayn Rand from Burgess Laughlin's book, The Power and the Glory, highlights, in terms of essentials, many milestones of this quest. Ok. So Miss Rand wrote her fictional opus', and published many of her findings. What about the fire she lit. Is "[t]he glow was red and still, like the reflection of a fire: not an active fire, but a dying one which it is too late to stop." A philosophy, printed in the pages of a book, sitting on a shelf is not the same as the philosophy that that determines the trends of the world. Near the beginning of Galt's speech, Rand builds up to and sets the tone for some elaboration. "Yes, this is an age of moral crisis. . . . But it is not man who is now on trial and it is not human nature that will take the blame. It is your moral code that's through, this time. Movies, books, news broadcasts, talk at the coffee counter are replete with conversations that blame the problems in the world on human nature. But when a man is on trial in a courtroom, assuming an objective system of law, it is not man on trial, it is a particular man on the basis of his particular moral code. In a structured environment, the judge, the prosecutor, the defense, are bound by the rules of justice as to what constitutes as evidence for and against guilt. This rigor is not necessarily employed at the water cooler, where the ongoing informal trial unfolds on a daily basis. Yet it is the verdict of these informal public juries that decide the outcome of presidential elections, local millages, or the informal conclusions about what determines the trends of the world. At this point in the juncture, it is this informal courtroom that will ultimately determine the success or failure of 'Operation Objectivism.' It is the wellspring of ideas that irrigate the moral landscape. Moral gardeners need to learn to identify and pull the weeds from the desired flora, as well as how to best care for and cultivate fertile minds for a proper moral code to flourish.
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    My reading of Ayn Rand's statement is that regardless of intelligence, looters only survive to the degree that there remain producers to loot. Therefore the ultimate destruction of the looters who don't get caught is one of exhausting their resource for survival. So whatever momentary success a looter enjoys, his means of survival is self-destructive if practiced consistently. Spock: "To hunt a species to extinction is not logical." ~ Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
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    The best comment I've seen about Trump, fitting well with the one above, was in National Review yesterday.
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    No. Culturally, philosophically, ethically society at large is still currently in the dark ages. This has momentum which leads can lead to socialism, communism, dictatorship which you no doubt speak of. If an Objectivist society were ever formed, it would have been possible only because of an objectivist culture, based on an objectivist philosophy and ethics. Because such is based on rationality and the choice to live, such is self-reinforcing. ONCE a person knows being a parasite is wrong, altruism is evil, life is the standard and men have individual rights, only a small number of insane criminals would reject it. By the time an Objectivist society is formed Man WILL know better, and will never look back.
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    I note from your premises and definitions, either you are confused between reality and concepts or you are attempting to confuse other people. Problematical use of "defined" and "in" Entities in reality are not "defined", they exist. Definitions are mental contents. An object is not metaphysically "defined" by anything, it simply IS what it is. The distinction between objects and substances is arbitrary here in premise 1, because all things simply ARE what they are. Compound objects which are groups of objects arranged in certain ways are simply groups of objects arranged in certain ways. A house made out of M&Ms is not a house + a bunch of M&Ms it simply is a house OF M&Ms, or a group of M&Ms in the configuration of a house. There is not some metaphysical schism of some things making another thing, it is ONE WHOLE THING, which is a group of things which happen to be M&Ms in a particular configuration of a house. Moreover, existents in reality are not containers as such. The M&Ms are not "in" the house, they CONSTITUTE the house itself, they are not contained BY it. Groups of things surely can contain OTHER things (physically according to a definition of how the things are spatially related), as a bucket contains water, but a thing does not contain itself nor any part of itself, because a thing IS itself. You are attempting to use of the term "container" in its conceptually hierarchical sense (or possibly stolen from the concept of geometric shape), but you are attempting to attribute that to metaphysics and the thing itself. This is an error. An entire egg IS an egg. An eggshell contains (physically) the white and the yolk. The egg does not contain the yolk, the egg IS the yolk the white and the shell. The concept egg, includes the yolk, and mentally one can look at the "shape" or "outer extremity" of an egg and say the geometrical volume occupied by the entire egg, contains all of the egg including the yolk. Neither the concept nor the shape, however, IS the metaphysical egg itself. This is problematical as above re "in", it also confuses reality with concepts. Here you are referring to "one" and "another" and that the "two" are the "same" as if you were introducing statements about reality, but they cannot be statements about reality because they are contradictory. This is bunch of fumbling nonsense. You are trying to say essentially "Suppose there exists one thing and a different thing, if they are really the identical same thing, they are not two things but one thing, and are not one thing and a different thing." This contains a contradiction which means that part of it is not a statement about things in reality (no contradictions in reality) but is a statement about an error of knowledge. "Suppose I first thought there existed one thing and a different thing, but then found out they are actually one thing, then I was wrong thinking there was one thing and a different thing" This is a fundamentally useless statement. 1. Nothing preceding Definition3 leads to an infinite regress. Your arbitrary premise 1, that objects are made of objects or substances logically leads ONLY to the conclusion that (whatever substances are) objects ultimately are made of substances. Again, here there is confusion between metaphysics and epistemology: entities in reality are not "defined", they exist. Definitions are mental contents. Again, entities in reality are not "containers" of themselves or containers of any portion of themselves, they ARE themselves. Note also, you have a completely empty definition (assuming it was sensible) for substance, it is defined as a negation and only in terms of itself... Such is not a definition of anything... "ishdatriddle is defined as that which is not defined by anything else except itself" is not a definition, it is a loose set of constraints FOR a definition which HAS NOT BEEN supplied. In a sense your definition of "substance" has defined nothing... (to avoid confusion, technically, it has not defined anything) which although ironic, is not of any substance for your chain of "logic". This, renders Definition 4, and anything which depends upon it, invalid. "Nothing is the object which" is a contradiction. The word "nothing" does not refer to any metaphysical object or entity. Trying to redefine the word "nothing" to refer to "something" is foul-play even in a silly word game; it is the exemplar of trying to define "A" as "non-A". Definition X: Dog means a non-dog... This attempt invalidates the sentence, the definition, destroys any possible meaning for the "word" being (re)defined. The word "nothing" is used to designate absence, in the context, of an existing thing, which would qualify as satisfying the requirements of the sentence. "Nothing in that box is red", means, of all the things that exist, there is no thing, which is both in that box, and is also red. "Nothing is longer than itself", means, of all the things that exist, there is no thing, which has a length which is longer than its length. "Nothing, other than air and lint, is in my pocket", means, of all the things that exist, there is no thing, other than air and lint, which is within my pocket. Simply put, here you have tried to (re) define nothing as a something, which is as successful as trying to define a contradiction; it is invalid. As shown above, the premises are flawed and thus the conclusions invalid. The errors are too numerous to correct, and I have no suggestion for what kind of conclusion you could hope to reach using anything similar to this line of "logic"...
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    And how do we know that the new guy is in error, versus that his critics are? By whose interpretation and aesthetic response do we judge? We can all declare that we're guided by Objectivism, and therefore that each of our differing tastes and interpretations are the properly integrate ones, and anyone who disagrees is wrong. Then, unless someone can actually provide some proof (which Rand admits is not possible without the missing "conceptual vocabulary") it's basically just an irrational shouting match in which one side is just posing as being better and more integrated Objectivists. As Tyler is suggesting, I think people should like what they like. Instead of asking if it meets Objectivism's criteria or approval, why not start with the assumption that, being an admirer of Objectivism, you probably like it for some reason that is consistent with Objectivism, perhaps even without fully recognizing it yet. So instead of heading down the path to a guilt trip and self-repression, why not ask a different set of questions, such as, why does this resonate with me? Others tend to see it as bad and icky and depressing, but is that the way that I see it? Does it make me feel powerful? Inspired? Rebelious? What virtuous thing about it am I responding to? J