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  1. 5 points
    It is hard when something is mixed. Sometimes one's immediate feeling toward it comes from whatever side of it you're seeing that day. A couple of years ago, I was in a small mid-western resort town on July 4th and thousands of tourists (mostly from elsewhere in the state) had turned out to see the fireworks. Trucks streamed in from all the nearby little towns and farms. The atmosphere was festive. There was benevolence all around. The red-white-and blue was respected, not as a symbol of something above us on an altar, but as a symbol of who we are. Not on a pedestal to be saluted -- though that too -- but, in casual clothing, in funny head-dress, in flashing lights to be worn for the evening. All around was a feeling of family and of sharing a value. Very few cops in sight, and yet the thousands self-organizing in very orderly ways. If you asked those people, in that moment, if freedom was their top value, if the individual is important, if we should recognize the individual's right to his own life and happiness...you'd probably find lots of agreement. It's all good, but it is mostly emotional. As you peel away and understand the intellectual roots, contradictions appear. I won't say the emotions are unfounded, that there is no "there there". When Hollywood makes a movie of a maverick going up against the world and winning, huge audiences love the theme. It is who they are: sometimes, on some topics, and in some emotional states. Nationalism is dangerous when it goes beyond a general benevolent celebration of sharing good values like freedom and individualism. It usually does, and we have a good person like Robert E. Lee rejecting Lincoln's attempt to get him to lead a Union Army, even though he could "anticipate no greater calamity for the country than dissolution" and thought "secession is nothing but revolution". Why? For "honor" -- which really translates to honoring a convention where you are loyal to your home state. Throw in ideas about the role of government in helping people in all sorts of situations. Thrown in ideas about inequality being caused by oppression. And faulty ideas about economics. And suspicions about bankers running the world. Add back the occasional cheering of the maverick who defies authority; but also add back the desire to control other people's behavior: if they're gay, or marrying someone of another race, or smoking pot, or even having a beer when they're 20 years and 11 months! That is the contradiction that is America. Still, you should feel free to choose what emotions you wish to invest in symbols like the flag. You do not have to salute a flag and think you're saluting a tortured contradiction that is eating itself from the inside out . You can salute it for the right reasons, or for what you think it once stood for.
  2. 5 points
    An abstraction that existed metaphysically would not be an abstraction, it would be just another concrete. In fact abstractions are concretes, they are attributes of the brains of those abstractors who have preformed that mental action. But as a product of human action such abstractions are not metaphysically-given, which is why they must be acknowledged as epistemological. A metaphysically given abstraction is a contradiction in terms.
  3. 5 points
    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.
  4. 5 points
    softwareNerd

    Pleasure and Value

    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.
  5. 4 points
    2046

    White Supremacist Protest Violence

    I do happen to believe they are the same, morally speaking. I had some experience with some Antifa groups, both online and at some protests. I naively thought they could be open to libertarian and individualist ideas, much in the way that objectivists hoped to influence the tea party groups in this way. After my interactions with them, I find them very similar to neo-Nazi types. Let me first explain a bit of history. Antifa, at least in so far as they claim, has its history in the KDP, the communist party of Germany during the Weimar years. Most of you are probably familiar with the stories of red shirts fighting brown shirts in the streets, which originated as the Sparticist Leage, and is basically a Bolshevik group that wants a communist dictatorship. The party is banned in Germany to this day. This is the intellectual heritage they claim and logos they use. It was resurrected in the 1980s by punk rock types and leftist agitators to fight against anything right wing using violence. It is not a singular organized group with a single goal or philosophy, much like the occupy movement, but are a disparate group of loosely networking individuals that get together for protests. I was drawn to them for the protest aspect. Many objectivists, I find, either put too much stock in voting and democratic politics, or are just too intellectual to be involved in practical action. I am interested in agorism and building alternative institutions, so naturally a group claiming to be about anti fascist action sounded promising. Objectivists, I still do believe, should be the real Antifa. They are also anti racism, anti sexism, anti bigotry, what are we if not all of those things? So I thought they were about using private, voluntary, and non-state means to fight these things through protests, boycotts, social pressure, doxing, etc, which sounded great. I thought, like many left-liberals dissatisfied with the Democratic Party establishment, they would be young, intellectual, and interested in fighting oppression and injustice, and I could influence them towards liberty and individualism. I knew many of them were left-libertarians or left-anarchists, but I had success in the past interacting with them. What I found was a group of extreme, violent anti-liberal racial collectivists who are basically social misfits and losers. Many of them are, in fact, extremely racists, much like the BLM folks I interacted with. Events such as "white people stay home day" on campus were endorsed. Yaron mentions this in his podcast, and I can confirm, yes violent leftist agitators were roaming around looking for white people to club. During a protest in California, there was a targeting of anyone who was white in a certain area because it was assumed they were pro-Trump. Many of them believe in some sort of reparation scheme, whereby all whites, regardless of their position in society, must be expropriated to repay for historical oppression. And, this is anecdotal, but I was interacting with an Antifa member who felt comfortable confiding in me, lamentably, that they couldn't openly support extermination of whites. When pushed on this, he circled and said he meant through promoting interracial marriage (except not marriage cause that's oppressive), which is a common thing you hear, that all whites would be technically gone and that would be a good thing. They are also virulently anti-Israel, and to such a point that they want to see it destroyed, and it's not hard to see how that turns into a general hatred of Jews. I think there's also a psychological aspect here and the analysis isn't complete without that. As many have pointed out, the type of person drawn to violent political extremism tends to be someone who is an outcast, is socially awkward or ignored in some way, people who just enjoy being edgy and contrarian, thumb their noses at established norms, and people who have psychopathic personality types. We can probably understand how easy it is, for some young people to be disasstisfied with mainstream conservatism, for example, and join the alt right or patriot type movements, only to be disgusted with them, then read Richard Spencer or something and become a full blown Nazi. Without a principled philosophy, this person is just drifting toward a cult or gang like group until they are embraced by the worst. The same thing happens on the left. Many were disgusted at the betrayal of the Bernie Sanders movement and looked for a better home that would embrace their psychopathic and nihilistic personalities. And the types I found numerous times. I saw a young girl pepper spray an elderly woman who she supposed was a Trump supporter. I saw kids, disabled people, women, moms and dads, random bystanders, etc. attacked with batons or sticks, or hit with projectiles. When I asked her if this was morally okay to her, I got the usual anti-conceptual "revolution isn't pretty" type response and was told this many times. "Break some eggs, if you want to make an omelette" slogan was repeated to me. I saw the group full of these punk rocker types and various social misfits that had no problem hitting women or elderly people. To the extent that I found anyone receptive to ethical egoism, I only found support of the egoism of Max Stirner, who believed that morality and law were artificial and limiting constructs, and supported a subjectivist and emotionalist type of egoism. But in generally, I found them to be anti-intellectual and not interested in ideas. Evaluation of whether something is threatening to me isn't a numerical comparison of sins, such that I would go "Antifa: socialists, Nazis: socialists + racists" that's two sins versus one, so Nazis are more immoral. Based on the foregoing, I do put Antifa in the same category as the Klan or Nazi type groups. Both involve bringing in people with nutjob views, dysfunctional personality types, social awkwardness, etc into the cultlike embrace of the group, and derive enjoyment from transgressing established norms of society. Both are racialist and both want socialist dictatorships. Both are perfectly fine with using violence to achieve that goal. Both are, in my view, one step removed from being domestic terrorist groups. Both are a danger to themselves and to me and to society as a whole. Im not sure how much political power they have, but Hilary Clinton was opposed by the Sanders movement, incredibly popular with young people. Many of those people moved on to Antifa and BLM groups. They have a way of infiltrating any leftist gathering and scouting for new recruits. I believe they are Soros funded and their actions whitewashed by the media. That's how we see things like mainstream liberal types who just think we need more peace and love protesting right next to a hardened left agitator with a hammer and sickle flag and nobody questions it. But everyone immediately knows Nazis are bad. One thing is certain, don't let your kids or friends join these groups, and don't go to these protests. Just stay away.
  6. 4 points
    Plasmatic

    Will Capitalism Collapse?

    For those whom capitalism is still an unknown ideal, capitalism is the complete seperation of economics and state and that has never existed. This clear, non-foggy, definition of capitalism is the basis for Rand's argument, that Laika just led himself to discover, on the difference between economic and political power.
  7. 4 points
    The following is a list of poems featured/mentioned in Poems I Like - and Why (lecture by Leonard Peikoff) ___________________________ LP's definition of poetry: "Poetry is the form of literature whose medium is the sound of concepts" Poems need not have events and characters Most suited to the eloquent, powerful statement of a relatively simple thought, sentiment or inspirational idea, an expression of love, a short story, a joke. Best suited to shorter works A cross between literature and music Like music scores, poems MUST be read out loud A poem must not sound like a poem - and yet it rhymes (must sound natural) Poems combine the sensory (auditory) field with the intellectual one; brain + ears, mind + body Two essential elements rhytm rhyme - "a repeated pattern of recognizable sounds at the end of the lines". Rhyming creates auditory expectations. The meaning can be a total twist - you hit the expected sound but it has a completely different meaning than what you anticipated ___________________________ METAPHYSICAL POEMS Richard Cory (Edward Robinson) - a malevolent universe poem with a punch Invictus (William Henley) - Byronic view of existence Say not the Struggle nought Availeth (Arthur Hugh Clough) - it looks bad, but stand back, we're winning The Gods of the Copybook Headings (Kipling) - the issue underneath the benevolent/malevolent universe premise: I wish vs it is. LP's top favorite. POEMS ON EPISTEMOLOGY Flower in the Crannied Wall (Lord Tennyson) - integration; the true is the Whole (Tennyson is LP's favorite poet) The Daffodils; The Tables Turned (William Wordsworth) - an opponent of reason and integration The Thinker (Berton Braley) - the theme of Atlas Shrugged POEMS ON MORALITY Two favorites of Ayn Rand, found in her papers: 1. Mourn Not The Dead (Ralph Chaplin) - on moral judgement 2. Short poem by 'A Nony Mous' (1960 July-August issue of Success Magazine) Why should you begrudge another The fortunes he does reap? Bless him, he's one brother That you don't have to keep! The Westerner (C. B. Clarke) - egoism and individualism. Ayn Rand had the last two lines of this poem in a placard frame. INSPIRATIONAL POEMS Poems that stress some virtue, such as strenght, heroism, persistence, courage. Columbus (Joachim Miller) - the virtue of persistence, Man the Hero If (Kipling) - a description of the Ideal Man (Ayn Rand's top favorite) LOVE POEMS To His Coy Mistress (Andrew Marvell) - what to say to a woman that won't put out... Sonnets from the Portuguese 43: How do I love thee? Let me count the ways (Elizabeth Browning) Love and Sleep (Algernon Charles Swinburne) POLITICAL POEMS Retaliation (Olver Goldsmith) - a thinker wants to go into politics A song: “Men of England” (Percy Bysshe Shelley) What is a communist? (Ebenezer Elliott) FUNNY POEMS Ogden Nash poems; The Pig; The Germ; The Duck; The Panther; The Ostrich; The Pizza; Which the chicken which the egg; Kind of an ode to duty (moral-practical dichotomy); Lines Fraught With Naught But Thought MISC POEMS The Lotos-eaters (Tennyson) - must be read in an increasingly sleepy way The Confessional (Robert Browning) - a tragic, compelling story Ulysses (Tennyson) - Man the Hero (white rhyme) Sometimes (Thomas S. Jones, Jr) - a man who betrayed his potential Dying Speech of an Old Philosopher (Walter Savage Landor) Do not go gentle into that good night (Dylan Thomas) Beethoven And Angelo (John Bannister Tabb) An Essay on Man: Epistle I | Epitaph on Sir Isaac Newton (Alexander Pope) The Arrow and the Song (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) The Song of Roland (translated by Dorothy L. Sayers) It's all a state of mind (Success Magazine, March 1963 issue) The Highwayman (Alfred Noyes) America for Me (Van Dyke) - an ode to America Drinking (Abraham Cowley) - or, as LP calls it, "The Metaphysics of Vodka" On a Girdle (Edmund Waller) Be Strong (Maltbie Davenport Babcock) Opportunity (John James Ingalls) Gunga Din (Kipling) - recommended by somebody in the audience Tennyson poems: Break, break, break; Crossing the bar; Rizpah (LP refused to read this one because it makes him cry) An ode to my mistress' breasts (mentioned during a Q&A session, LP might have referred to the girdle one by Waller)
  8. 4 points
    I wanted to add my thoughts, as a parent who is currently working through The Fountainhead for the first time. I appreciate the quote that was given on Rand' and motherhood being a career that can become outdated. This can be applied to fatherhood as well - which at this point in my life is my central purpose. Thus, I would characterize one's central purpose in life not in terms of an unchanging career, but in terms of a single building that Roark might have built - in the sense of a stage of ones life. A rational, discrete accomplishment and goal that consumes one with passion and leads to flourishing. Everything I do at this point in my life is in the very broad context of my being a father - even my mental "breaks" from fatherhood (such as dates with my wife, studying philosophy, going to the gym - which I require to come back and continue being the best father I can be, rejuvinated with fresh energy and perspective.) My marriage, my philosophical studies, my health/fitness, my personal time, my job - all of this (at this point in my life) supports my central purpose of being a father. More to the point - Within the context of my knowledge, I don't do anything antithetical to being a father in the long-run. My current "building/structure" must integrate and not contradict the others I have built in the past - for example I will rely on my marriage, life experiences and health/fitness to support my next structure, so they all form a support of whatever my current building is. As Rand alludes to, at some point it won't make sense for fatherhood to be my central purpose...my structure will be completed (for the most part...I know I will always be a father) just like my competitive bodybuilding, my college degrees, my career, my romantic life, a stable home, etc have all been important structures in my life for me in the past (in that chronological order, actually). But the important point is the structures one chooses to build in life may change and this presents no contradiction with the objectivist conception of a flourishing life. This is the integration referred to in the title of this thread - and it is deeply personal, and individualistic. The structure of one's value hierarchy should properly be completely unique and personal for that individual. Ultimately, the moral rule is that one pursue a flourishing life of reason, purpose, and self-esteem. The number of ways one may do this is limited only to their imagination. But just as Roark had multiple buildings that he architected during his life, a person's highest values may change as well. And Roarks buildings, although discrete, did not preclude one another. There is no reason that they should. And if I may share something a bit more to the point, if not exceptionally personal: It brought tears to my eyes when it occurred to me that my children are my Stoddard Temple. And I know that I will have to unveil them to the world someday, and it breaks my heart, in a selfish way, that I can't keep them perfect and sweet and pure and innocent forever. And they will be vandalized, and judged improperly by those who don't deserve to even look upon them. I will build it my way, according to the very best within me, no matter what it takes, through sleepless nights and tears, but also through joyous highs and laughter. And I will let no one sway me from my path unless the reasoning of my own mind convinces me of a better one. And when the time comes, as it will, for me to move on and choose a new structure in my life to focus on - I will look back on my temple and know it was built according to my highest values and to the best of my ability. And properly, and egoistically, I will be a better person for having built it.
  9. 4 points
    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.
  10. 4 points
    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".
  11. 3 points
    Boydstun

    The Law of Identity

    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy -- Process Philosophy --Johanna Seibt (2017) The Activity of Being --Aryeh Kosman (2013) / From the publisher: “For Aristotle, to ask “what something is” is to inquire into a specific mode of its being, something ordinarily regarded as its “substance.” But to understand substance, we need the concept of energeia―a Greek term usually translated as “actuality.” In a move of far-reaching consequence, Kosman explains that the correct translation of energeia is not “actuality” but “activity.” We have subtly misunderstood the Metaphysics on this crucial point, says Kosman. Aristotle conceives of substance as a kind of dynamic activity, not some inert quality. Substance is something actively being what it is.” / This book from Kosman is not an argument over what is true in the matter, only over what Aristotle thought true in the matter. As for true in the matter, I think Aristotle (under this interpretation of him) was wrong, although one doesn’t have to go back to Plato or Parmenides and pals to get things right. And I take Rand as by her philosophy to agree with me in all that. I’d like to add to the other thought in this thread that on the mere face of ‘A is A’ one can say ‘change is change’ even while ignoring ties of change to stasis or to other categories of existence, such as entity (in the Randian sense of that term). But one is then saying much less than one who is saying ‘change is change’ while keeping those ties in mind. At Metaphysics 1030a25–27, Aristotle allows ‘nonbeing is nonbeing’. But he takes such a statement to say far less than were one to say ‘substance is substance’. Those of us who, like Rand, take ‘A is A’ to be making an assertion about existence of A, take A to have ties to other things (counting its own parts as one type of other thing), to have a nature, to have identity (in Rand’s broader sense of the term). For us, saying ‘nonexistence is nonexistence’ is only a sameness of words, a metaphysical zero.
  12. 3 points
    StrictlyLogical

    Thankgiving

    We all know how awkward Thanksgiving can be at that moment when some family member asks all to state what they are "thankful" for. Particularly if you want to be completely honest and you are somewhat suspect of what others might consider "thankfulness" to be. While regretfully awaiting your turn... and after having counted the number of people in the "round the table" queue, you begin to ponder: Thankful to whom and for what? For that matter what does it mean to be "full" of thanks? What are these "thanks" you are full of? Are these left over pleasantries that you've gathered up like obligations and IOUs: there's that nice summer day I should have thanked the universe for, oh and that old guy kept the door open for me I should have said something to him, and the grocer lowered her price on bread which I really like I should have given her an innocent pat on the back, oh and my employees, clients/customers, and employer all rationally pursued their self-interest generating economic value all around, which is ALL good... I should have really said something to all of them (over and above eagerly and professionally participating in the value generating interactions themselves??...). A pile of pleasantries indeed... Then again, without a doubt I am proud, proud of myself and my accomplishments, and the bounty of my metaphorical harvests (which do not necessarily coincide with autumn), and proud of my family and friends, for what they have accomplished, who they are, and for the fact that they are my family and friends and that we have made strides and grown together. Without a doubt I am appreciative, appreciative of reality and of many others and their actions, appreciative in the sense that I fully recognize and treat rationally and with justice all that I deal with. And upon a reflection I realize that I already do generally try to exercise justice on a day to day basis, which requires that in every interaction just values in both matter and in spirit are exchanged, but that I could do better... So what is thanksgiving really? Is it a pile of pleasant IOUs to be balanced through a cosmic confessional around a dead turkey or is it a celebration and a reflection on life and its bounty? I think it is more the latter than the former, but perhaps as a small tribute to both, Thankgiving can be seen as a recognition and a celebration of life and a reflection of all its bounty and also an opportunity to resolve to go forward consciously keeping all of it in perspective so that, day to day, in all our interactions, value is created with everyone we deal with, in both matter and spirit, while we all pursue the happiness and life that is ours for the making. Happy LifeCelebMaking! EDIT: So what do you say when finally your turn arrives? Without being too picky about what thankfulness IS (to whom?) and the little cognitive white lie of actually using the term in order to ignore the concept's "inadequacies", the story could proceed as follows: Finally, after your uncle quips something about being thankful for Scotch, with his disarmingly odd smile, and looks your way, you stand up, and raising your glass, you clear your throat, and smile thoughtfully, "To be honest, I'm 'thankful' for this moment in time, a moment to celebrate life and all its bounty, to say how proud I am of us and all of you and everything we and each of us has accomplished and become, and I'm 'thankful' for the opportunity to reflect and resolve to go forward pursuing the happiness and the life that is all, each of ours for the making, and it is you, all of you, I 'thank' for being here, all together, for making this moment and opportunity possible. Thank you!"
  13. 3 points
    For one, that's the liberal left. The Communist left does not like identity politics and engages in class warfare. For the sake of identifying threats properly, you need to know who you're arguing against - we don't want to fight Communism by fighting liberals. The racial stuff is mostly liberal, filled with contradictions. The more important thing to do, at least when making arguments, is to state the position rationally. It would be better to dismantle an ideology alongside an alternative, rather than only point out stupid ideas. If people don't engage you, that's their problem. By doing that, you attract persuadable individuals. Yes, they exist. There's no need to say you'd need a therapist to do that. Appeals to rationality are appeals to people who might care, even the minority of good people who in fact will make a difference. Appeals with memes attracts the lowest common denominator, the people who don't care to think deeply. Sure, they are amusing sometimes, maybe even correct. The issue is that they are still shallow. This is what propaganda relies on, hoping you don't care where it came from, getting you to think the issue is as simple as the image. This is fine to a small degree as motivation where an issue really is that simple. Except, Nazis get that the issue is complex. So they simplify. Make it sound benign. Let people who don't know better keep saying IOTBW, they won't know the point is to slowly make white identity seem important and dominate the race war. No, most people who say IOTBW aren't neo-Nazis. That's the point. It hides the fact that neo-Nazis are running that dialogue. It makes the phrase defendable. An important thesis of Objectivism is that philosophy drives the course of history. It matters where ideas come from. It matters that IOTBW is from neo-Nazis. For this reason, we need a better strategy than to regurgitate a neo-Nazi phrase. The worst reply would be to say you don't care where IOTBW came from. You'd be saying origins of ideas don't matter.
  14. 3 points
    A man from deserts afar wrote this as he gazed to the stars: "There is no greater love than that which comes from god above. Pray the Lord your soul to keep do not thine understanding seek." A boy from Georgia read that book but never took a deeper look. If God's love was real inside this boy, Then why did it seem to steal his joy? He could not feel this god above. He did not know the truth of love. Was lost as those around him said, "You'll find your heaven in the end." For years he searched, blind and sad. Was love in this world not to be had? A woman from tundra afar wrote this as she gazed to the stars: "There is no greater love than what a man for himself does. Pull pride and reason off the shelf and let your guidance be yourself." The lost boy, then a man become Knew that his search was now done. He felt the love inside his soul; for his own sake, he was made whole. For the first time since his birth, he could have heaven here on earth. No waiting on a realm unseen, when this world can fulfill man's dreams. There is no greater love than this: to live life here in selfish bliss.
  15. 3 points
    I don't think philosophy is all that dissimilar to other ideas through history: man made flight, electricity, combustion engine etc., etc. All these ideas became popular because they resulted in worthwhile concretes. They weren't ideas the general public could've successfully been presented with, in theory alone. There was a need for concrete achievements, to go along with the ideas themselves. So that's the key: to go along with all the activism, people who like the ideas should live good lives, and that achievement will cause interest in the ideas that shaped that life. That doesn't mean activism is useless, but activists need to be conscious of the full range of their communication: both the intended and the unintended messages. For instance, an Oist activist focused on pointing out the flaws of the political system may think he's just communicating political ideas, but, in reality, to the average person, he projects a sense of isolation and even fatalism (us vs. them, as SN put it). When there's a contradiction between a more concrete and a more abstract message, people (rightfully) give more weight to the former. So that activist is hurting more than he's helping. To effectively control the message, and only communicate what he intends to, an activist needs to be well versed in communication and dedicated to the work full time. Even if you're naturally charismatic and an effective leader in your day job, it's not enough. Your message, no matter how convincing, can still be presented selectively, or misrepresented, by others (both in the traditional media and on social media). So you still have to be deliberate about everything you do and discerning about who you talk to...and that takes a lot of expertise and tedious research. Just to be clear: you don't have to be "fun", charming, or even nice and friendly, to be an effective communicator. Trump's an effective communicator...I doubt even his minions would ever accuse him of any of those four things. But you need to be aware of the times when you might be perceived as unhappy or a pessimist (as well as of the many other unintended messages we send out on a daily basis).
  16. 3 points
    I think this smuggles in the premise that pursuing survival (the 'pure' type) would never require you to temporarily diminish your momentary wellbeing for the sake of increased survival later on. In reality, pursuing survival pretty much requires you to incur 'hits' to your momentary survival. As the norm, I might add. A while ago I heard an anecdote by Harry Binswanger in which Ayn Rand was arguing with somebody who denied the law of Identity (A=A) on the grounds that a moving object has no particular spatial position. Every time you look at the object, it is in a different position, so where is it? Ayn Rand replied that the particular object isn't anywhere, it is in transition. Its identity is that it is changing its location. I think that the same thing can be applied to ethics. In fact, it was captured by Rand in her definition of life: 'A process of self-sustaining, self-generated action'. While it may appear a stationary definition, it is exactly the opposite. Survival is not merely a process of staying alive - it is a constant, never ending departure from your current position to a better state. This fact seems to have a expression in the way our brains are made: once you get where you want, you always have to move higher and higher, because you become progressively desensitized to what you currently have. If you suddenly find yourself without intellectual challenge, or doing the same things over and over, you become bored out of your mind. A lot of enjoyment is derived from the process of moving forward itself, from gaining values as well as enjoying values. Just to be clear, I agree with SL (and even Kelley) that flourishing is not the goal of life. To sunder the two is to ignore the hierarchy: life -> value -> survival -> moving forward (flourshing). Ayn Rand understood survival to be a state of transition from a lower state of robustness to a higher one. Death is also a state of transition, which is why you can't judge somebody's course by the claim that he is 'happy'. If his happiness is a slow march into the Lion's den, he's wilfully undergoing a process of slow death, no matter how well he tends to his physical health in the meantime. The excessive prudence that the' survivalist' displays is the result of his Gryllsian view of survival. He don't see the fact that life is actually a broad timeline filled with factors that cannot be separated from each other. Flourishers, on the other hand, tend to speak on the unstated, or unidentified premise that reality is full of things that conflict with survival while enabling flourishing. The flourishing-survival dichotomy is similar to the classical variants of the mind-body break: love vs sex, percepts vs. concepts. In reality, the thrill seeking & cool things that flourishers say they want to do (insteading of being tied to the 'boring' survivalist view) ARE what survival entails. A lack of pleasure and excitement is anti-life in the sense that it moves you away from survival and proper functioning. Rand captured this in the virtue of Pride: a person of unsundered rationality not only has the best life possible to him at any given moment in time, but he's also necessarily in a state of 'transition' to even higher self-esteem, wealth, health etc. Stilness means death, in the sense that every time somebody tries to remain where he already is ('freezing' his survival in place), he is actively hurting his survival, not maintaining it. In the example above, the hero does not gain five years of life by giving up his dream. Instead, he becomes spiritualy diseased. A person who shortens his life for a fuller experience does not forfeit survival, he acts exclusively on the principle of survival. This is not a negation of A=A. Ayn Rand was clear that the standard of value is survival as a specific kind of being. Survival as man does not mean merely longevity. It means pleasure, challenge, hobbies, love, art, friendship, constantly moving forward and other factors relevant to what he is. The values that man needs qua man are his actual means to longevity. A lot of people turn longevity into a contextless standard and then proceed to seek it in ways that not only hurts their own goal, but makes them survive not as men, but as diseased forms of life. Ayn Rand used the term 'metaphysical monstruosity' in Galt's Speech, and gave the example of a bird struggling to break its own wings, or a plant trying to destroy its own roots. So we can identfiy yet another dichotomy here: the longevity vs identity dichotomy. I think Rand would have agreed with me, since she put some examples in her books. For example, the before-mention Galt suicide threat, which appears in the same book as Galt's speech. Surely she must have counted on the fact that Galt's actions would shed some context on her abstract presentation. Galt is not choosing between death (suicide) and survival. He is choosing between two different types of death: by slow torture, or instantaneous. Galt is not motivated by any flourishing-survival dichotomy. His best use of reason told him that he has legitimate grounds to be 100% convinced that his life would become a living embodiment of precisely the thing that his own ethical code condemned. So paradoxically, his suicide over Dagny was a statement of a moral choice, in total agreement with survival qua man. There are legitimate cases where a change to a different course really isn't possible. Let's look at Galt. He longed for Dagny for a decade, a process that slowly imprinted her into his psyche as each day passed. Every time he had trouble getting motivated, he used her as fuel. He watched her go into the beds of two men he admired. He then got her, but.. what if she died at the hands of a bunch of petty people that represent what he despises the most? 10 years of striving and emotional investment, negated in an instant. A decade of his life, wasted. He probably understood the repercussions on his psychology that her death would have caused. He would lose desire to do anything, no matter how heroically he'd try to get on track. Implying he then wasted 5 more years in depression, and that eventually his desire for women returned, what competiton would there be? If another mercilessly-rational woman with the brains and character to build the John Galt line in a collapsing country was around, he would have known about her. For him, it's either the vice-president or nothing. It would haunt him forever. So, contra SL, I would say that sometimes, but not always, 'pursuing a different dream' can be anti-life. I will go on a limb and say that the pure survivalist, Kelley-type position is really the absolute same as the flourisher position, when all of the factors are brought into question. The most ardent Flourisher is actually the most ardent, pure and bare-bones Survivalist. And all 'self-actualization'-based ethical systems are useless unless people understand that self-actualization is not an intrinsic end in itself, but the effect, the natural result of a survivalist ethics. The alternative is accidentaly pursuing 'self-actualization' in a way that goes against its root (survival), which leads to consequences that are too obvious to mention. The self-realization vs survival dichotomy.
  17. 3 points
    Grames

    Donald Trump

    A philosophy of Objectivism that distorts itself and compromises its principles for the sake of wider acceptance is not what I want. Have children and raise them rationally, that is one method that can help gain some additional practitioners without compromising.
  18. 3 points
    Okay, in the spirit of the OP's request, this is my two cents: There is the psychological plane of existence, the experience of life, pain pleasure, happiness. Then there is the epistemological plane, the abstraction of life, the concept of flourishing and the moral code. And then the metaphysical plane, the organism, existence or nonexistence. From the metaphysical plane, the main thing that I learned from Rand was that there was no "my reality" vs. "your reality". There was just reality and the search for the truth is honorable. From the psychological/experiential plane: Objectivism taught me that I have a right to my life. I understood that when someone calls me selfish "they want something". I learned to strive for greatness rather than strive to look great. I found that if I held onto things that didn't make sense, if I went along for too long, I suddenly drowned in anxiety. I learned that living as a parasite can creep up on people. Objectivism gave me a path to follow to find my way back, to happiness. She awoke me to the existence of unearned guilt. I learn that when I have a sense of having achieved something, the pleasure was moral, it was good. And of course, I learned that the good was not what religion said and what a majority believed did not mean wisdom. Ultimately, with her attack on altruism, I learned that defining my boundaries, determining who I am and what I want was my fundamental responsibility and a never-ending task. She reminded me that the merging and melding with others, at the cost of my core self, was being dead before my time. And in the process, I have fought to hold on to who I am, to be myself. And now, I am here to learn what I put aside for later.
  19. 3 points
    DonAthos

    Why Objectivism is so unpopular

    I think the problem really starts because self-improvement is not the focus. I think you're both right. The outward/political focus versus self-improvement or the pursuit of personal happiness, and also the combative style... though not necessarily so much Rand's (though that's part of the issue), as that of Objectivists who try to ape her style. In my experience, most Objectivists have no idea how to talk to people outside of the Objectivist community, and no apparent desire to try to distinguish those who might be fundamentally open to reason, yet mistaken on one or several points. How to talk to people, to discuss ideas, to persuade -- both within and outside of Objectivism -- is a topic that is not only under-explored, but is regarded with outright suspicion by some. Some people seem content to pass moral judgement and condemn others to hell, rather than the (admittedly more difficult) project of examining their own methods of communication. I have found that many Objectivists have the reputation of being "assholes"; so much so that it's arguably regarded as characteristic. I don't think it's even undeserved. But it doesn't have to be so. I've known many utterly pleasant and polite Objectivists, and I see no reason why someone cannot be both correct and nice. Even our expressions of anger, where merited, can stand critical examination and improvement. Above all, I think that empathy is a vital characteristic (I would not go so far as to say that it is a "virtue," because I am not prepared for the argument -- but I'm not dismissing it either). I've used this analogy before, and I think it still serves: Objectivists have the best product on the market. We have truth. We have reason and reality on our side -- and despite what you may have heard (and despite humanity's checkered history), reason and reality are fairly persuasive forces. They keep all of us alive, every day, and have formed the basis for all of humanity's many achievements. So despite everything we're working against (deeply ingrained cultural forces, including academia, the media, and political institutions), I think Objectivism stands poised to remake the world. What we need -- what any great product needs -- is sales. We need to examine and re-examine (and re-examine again) our means and methods of communicating our ideas to a world which is frankly starving for reason, for peace, for happiness. We must continue to improve upon our approach until we succeed.
  20. 3 points
    softwareNerd

    White Supremacist Protest Violence

    There's a meta aspect to this White Supremacist vs. BLM argument, which one sees repeatedly in similar fights across time and geography: Protestant vs. Catholic in Ireland, Hindu vs. Muslim along the Indo-Pakistan border, and many other such conflicts. The aspect is this: the more extreme elements are a small minority around which there is a larger set of people who identify with them to some extent. If one considers the larger group, people on both sides have different ideas, but would likely move closer toward each other's position if they would talk, would probably be willing to talk, and would likely be able to find a workable solution even while disagreeing. However, the extremes are the loudest voices, and this keeps the (larger) group around them polarized, rather than listening and attempting to understand the situation rationally. Often, there will be some specific issue that the larger groups disagree on: it could be confederacy statues in this case, it could be cows and pigs in another case, it could be religious affirmative action in another. The more extreme elements will take an all-or-nothing position, and that's the loudest position. If members of the larger group around them say anything else, they're branded as traitors to the cause. On top of this, the extreme elements on both sides will try to provoke physical violations: perhaps using police to enforce what they want, perhaps using private thugs, or perhaps using violence against members of the "enemy" group. This is further polarizing. Once the battle reaches a certain point where people think dialog isn't going to get them anywhere -- because the opposition will use violence in response -- then they do the "rational thing" by cheering on when their own side uses violence. From one perspective, white supremacists almost do not exist; from another, millions of white supremacists are out there. If we're speaking of people who want to get rid of blacks, they're a tiny minority. If we threw them all in jail, we'd still have disproportionately more black folk in jails. However, if we expand the definition to include people who think there's probably something biological/genetic about black people that makes them inferior, we now have a slightly bigger set. If we expand this further to include people who think there's probably something cultural about many black people that makes them inferior (in effect, even if not inevitably), then we have a pretty big set: many millions across all states. Similarly, the set of people who think these statues should stay up is far larger than the racist hard-core. If nobody addresses their views and their arguments with words, it is no surprise they will give a secret, guilty thumbs up to the thugs enforcing their wishes with force. It is also no surprise that they will point to the thugs on the other side as their primary argument.
  21. 3 points
    I haven't seen any evidence that North Korea has the ability to deliver nuclear warheads with any accuracy. There are also several missile defense systems in the area, that further reduce the success rate of NK missiles. The US is in the process of deploying THAAD missile defense to South Korea, Japan has the ship and air based AEGIS missile defense system, and I'm guessing US bases in the region are protected by both. So, to me at least, North Korea's ability to inflict massive casualties on either SK or Japan is being exaggerated in the media. If they attack with conventional weapons, they would have a few days at most before their offensive capabilities are fully destroyed. If they try to attack with nukes, I'm guessing they would have one try, before the US responds with tactical nukes against their launch sites. That's one of the few good things about Trump: he is unlikely to hold back the US military from using appropriate force. And that's IF Un even has the power to start a suicidal war. Seems like a tall order for an unpopular, unproven leader to get his military to march into certain death...no matter how ruthless and scary he is.
  22. 3 points
    No. First, I want to know the truth about reality, i.e. to hold the correct philosophy. Secondarily, I would want others to also know the truth about reality and hold the correct philosophy (it would make life better for me). Merely having "an impact" of any kind as such has no value... it is only the particular kind of impact that might result which matters. If everyone already knew the truth and had the correct philosophy I would not be pining and wishing to have an impact on someone. You imply by your OP and other posts that either A) the philosophy is incorrect/erroneous, or that B ) the philosophy is correct but people are inherently flawed and cannot accept it. You then admonish us to action of one sort or another, which make little sense. An individual surely must seek out the truth and on the evidence he/she should accept a correct philosophy and reject a false one, and insofar as possible and when it is in his self interest to do so, to teach what he knows to others, thereby increasing their potential spiritual and economic value to him. If A) is the case, then only by evidence and reason can a person be shown that A) is the case. If B ) is the case, then a person who knows the truth can either try to convince others, or simply refrain from doing so. Since you seem to indicate that people just don't accept it, you imply it is futile to attempt to convince others. I see you are already trying to show why A) is the case (in other threads). If you are implying the philosophy is wrong, I take it you are proceeding in the attempt to show that. If B ) is the case, then logic would dictate from your premises, that since it is futile, one should not try to convince others. Which is odd, because at the same time you state we should "want" to convince others. All I can think is that maybe B ) is that case, but not all people are impervious to the truth (after all there are people who have heard the evidence and accepted the philosophy) and hence attempting to convince others, although difficult, is not futile. The point of your OP and your ensuing argument, if there is one, is elusive. Please be more succinct if you would like a direct answer.
  23. 3 points
    . The strings of the harp return to silence. That is so not only for each individual, but for the species, and eventually for all life in the solar system, and eventually farther, for all life-organization and intelligence-organization in the universe. Stardust to stardust. “When we are here, death is not come. When death is come, we are not here.” –Lucretius Taking a third-person perspective on oneself, one can be in advance conscious of one’s death, one’s full stop. In the first-person perspective, full ending of any object of consciousness whatsoever is collapse of both together, conscious process and object. I like better the third-person perspective, which is the only perspective with real interest for one's endpoint. Value is here on this earth beyond one's own life. Look to here and to the tomorrows of here all through one’s own last look at all.
  24. 3 points
    human_murda

    Is Dignity a Right?

    Changing the conditions of your work in a way that is different from your contract could be construed as an initiation of force/fraud (and a contract is definitely needed in situations like these). And there would be legal issues associated with holding you ransom. You might say that the corporation didn't force you to stay there. But the issue of force is determined by the nature of reality. If somebody locked you in a room only they can open, you would essentially be held as a prisoner. By the nature of reality (i.e., by the constraints placed by the fact that you are physically unable to leave), the situation is very similar and legal issues can be involved. Also another thing: if this is the mentality, I doubt they would be the first to do anything in space. So situation is very unlikely as well.
  25. 3 points
    StrictlyLogical

    Will Capitalism Collapse?

    Such an obvious, absolute, and undeniably true statement of fact and of Rand's position, will resonate with those who get it. Well said. Unfortunately, lesser minds will quibble, squirm, equivocate, whine, and in the end babble some anti-conceptual, inconsistent, irrelevancy, and I am decidedly not talking about Laika.
  26. 3 points
    StrictlyLogical

    Will Capitalism Collapse?

    Laika: Your decision to purchase and actually read a work by Rand herself is an impressive display of your intent to learn for yourself and make up your own mind about her philosophy. You are to be commended for it and with that kind of approach nothing will stop you from finding all the answers you need.
  27. 3 points
    Boydstun

    Objectivism in Academia

    . Religious Liberty or Religious License? Legal Schizophrenia and the Case against Exemptions Tara Smith – Journal of Law and Politics (25 April 2017) Abstract
  28. 3 points
    dream_weaver

    Joseph Campbell's Monomyth

    "Observe the persistence, in mankind's mythologies, of the legend about a paradise that men had once possessed, the city of Atlantis or the Garden of Eden or some kingdom of perfection, always behind us. The root of that legend exists, not in the past of the race, but in the past of every man. You still retain a sense—not as firm as a memory, but diffused like the pain of hopeless longing—that somewhere in the starting years of your childhood, before you had learned to submit, to absorb the terror of unreason and to doubt the value of your mind, you had known a radiant state of existence, you had known the independence of a rational consciousness facing an open universe. That is the paradise which you have lost, which you seek—which is yours for the taking. — For The New Intellectual, page 177 Joseph Campbell has done extensive work in collecting mythology from all around the world, offering one of the most secular explanations from his analysis of the similarity and differences between them. In The Romantic Manifesto, Ayn Rand decried the absence of rationality in the field of esthetics and provided her keen insights into the nature of art in her most controversial work. There are a few here, that have expressed interest in Joseph Campbell's works. His book The Hero With A Thousand Faces was to him what The Fountainhead was to Ayn Rand, setting each, in their respective areas, a notoriety they had not had prior to their respective publications.
  29. 3 points
    What exists, everything that is metaphysically given to us, needs to be accepted first. Existence has primacy; that means logical priority and semantic meaning moves in the direction from existence to consciousness. Existence exists, it needs no explanation to exist, no justification is required. Justification only applies to where choices are made. Existence has no choice, existence exists in the form it takes, its identity. There is no choice involved in existence existing. Justification can only be grounded in appealing to what exists and its identity. To ask for existence itself to have a justification is a logical fallacy because justification is logically dependent on existence and identity. "If I can't understand it then it can't exist" is a form of subjectivism.
  30. 3 points
    dream_weaver

    In the news

    The fact check site Snopes sets the record straight on an Ayn Rand quote by checking with Onkar Ghate associated with the Ayn Rand Institute. Did Ayn Rand Say 'The Question Isn’t Who Is Going to Let Me; It’s Who Is Going to Stop Me'?
  31. 3 points
    KyaryPamyu

    You should choose to live

    A guy named Bob wakes up in the morning. Throughout the day, he makes various choices, including making a to-do list, working on his music album, ordering Chinese food, unwinding with his girlfriend, reading a novel for relaxation. What precedes and motivates those choices? A desire for them, either as ends in themselves (the pleasure they give him) or as a means to another value, or anything in between. Now, why does he desire them? If you answered, "because Man's life is the standard of moral value, and his own life is his moral purpose" you are ipso facto advocating intrinsicism. To paraphrase something I wrote in another thread, you're turning the metaphysicaly given into a god, the way Spinoza did, then giving moral significance to your obedience to the metaphysicaly given. "You exist, therefore: if you want to live, you're moral. If you don't, you're rotten." You can't say "I choose to live because it's moral". You're moral because you choose to live. On the same note, it's wrong to say "I choose to live because of so-and-so metaphysical fact", but you can say "I want to live, and although there's no categorical imperative telling me to live - after all, morality is my servant, not the other way around - my choice is not a whim or arbitrary, but rooted in the fact that I am a living being, i.e. justified by my identity or nature, not by a moral code." This is why Peikoff stresses in his OPAR seminar that this choice is both pre-moral and justified.
  32. 3 points
    Objectivist Ed Powell has written a paper against the open borders immigration position of other Objectivists (Binswanger, Tracinski, Biddle, Bernstein, Duke). This raises the question: Does a foreigner have a right to cross an international border? Powell says no. Powell says the burden of proof that any applicant for entry is not a threat to the freedom or security of the country lies with the applicant. The paper is well written, the position well argued. For reference: Binswanger's essay and Biddle's essay
  33. 3 points
    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.
  34. 3 points
    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?
  35. 3 points
    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.
  36. 3 points
    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!
  37. 3 points
    The only perspective that matters is that of S. All S can do is be methodical and conscientious about his reasoning and general alertness. It takes an external perspective, frequently the omniscient or "God's Eye" view, to judge that S does not really have knowledge. This is why communication with others is so helpful for being objective, it allows S to better check his premises and expand his awareness of relevant factors. The same critique can be applied to the doctrine of Justified True Belief. Who is it exactly that is standing in judgement as a final authority on what is True or not? There is an implied omniscient perspective, but no individual has access to that perspective so JTB is not a workable theory. In short, one can be justified and still be in error. If knowledge must be guaranteed to be true before it can count as knowledge then there is no such thing as knowledge and epistemology is a dead end rather than an ongoing problem to be solved.
  38. 3 points
    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.
  39. 2 points
    MisterSwig

    The Law of Identity

    I suppose that's possible, but I think it is the most generous, positive assumption of the motive involved. Would you call it the intrinsic view of transitioning? I don't mean they are literally destroying their life. But they often do destroy their sex organs and other physical characteristics. My deeper point is that this is what transitioning means for them: destroying the man, and becoming a woman, or vice versa. Bruce is dead, long live Caitlyn! It's like some kind of crucifixion and resurrection. It's less about "identification" or "confirmation", and more about self-annihilation and rebirth. They hate the person they are and want to be someone else--only the someone else is the opposite sex. And so they rationalize the transition and claim that a man can become a woman, rather than admit that they are mentally ill. Mentally ill people rarely diagnose themselves. It's up to the mentally healthy to recognize the problem and help these people. Instead, we are allowing them to dictate laws.
  40. 2 points
    But, to also answer part of your question, there just isn't going to be one single "undisputed" account, just like there isn't one single undisputed account of what "health" includes. Health is individual, contextual, but also generic and inclusive. Health isn't just "I don't know what it is, but I know it when I see it," it is an objective state that is scientifically describable. But still my health may be different from yours. There may be a cutoff point below which you don't have it, and above which you do, but at the same time degrees in which this person has more than that person. Flourishing is individualistic like this. My flourishing is different form yours. To get a complete description you're going to have to take multiple accounts and multiple approaches and integrate them with your observations.
  41. 2 points
    Now that the meaning is sorted out, I have a question: what are the implications of the distinction? Is it possible that what is good -- in principle and always -- for each and every individual, is actually not good for me? If yes, could you provide an example. If not, are there additional things that are good for me, but not always good for each and every individual? I doubt this is possible as long as one expresses the latter abstractly enough, like "take the specific medicine related to your specific disease" , or even something more abstract like "take appropriate medicine when appropriate" For additional clarity, it might help to focus on some sub-set of human endeavor: say car maintenance. Is it possible that "good car maintenance" is at odds with "the maintenance that my particular car -- with all its idiosyncrasies -- needs"?
  42. 2 points
    The answer to that is not simple but multilayered. The abstraction literally exists only in a man's mind, but all of man exists in reality. It has to do with the fact that on the one hand there is a mind which perceives, identifies, thinks about, remembers, things in the real world. Generally the referents of mental activity are real. The contents of mental activity ARE to be distinguished from the things in reality which is why one should be careful about confusing concepts and their referents... they are not the same thing. On the other hand man is a natural system, he is in his entirety made of natural stuff, functioning according to the particular arrangement and state of that part of reality of which he is made. Man is not divorced from reality or separate from it, he is embedded in it... this is also true of his brain and his mind. The abstraction chair (in the context of a man) is a dynamic existing subset/or portion of an incredibly complex process and equally complex system which obtains whenever that man goes through the process of thinking about a chair. The existence of that dynamic existing subset is required for him to introspectively assert he is thinking about chairs and using the process of conceptualization.. i.e. that he holds an abstraction "chair" which refer to "chairs" of reality. It also must exist for him to make any decision based in any way on any consideration involving chairs... without the concept a man would not walk over and sit on it. The fact that chairs are even made rely on the fact of existence in a men's mind the abstraction "chair" otherwise he would not build it. Here is where we come to the central issue. "What" in existence we mean by the "abstraction" chair? Certainly there is no little chair floating around in a man's skull, there is no wood, and no chair backs, or legs. There is no image on a man's frontal lobe in the shape of a chair. There is an unfathomably complex process occurring in a mass of chemicals and cells and electrical impulses... There is an aspect of reality which corresponds to the abstraction in a man's mind of "chair". As I hinted at previously this can be seen or experienced from two perspectives, the internal first person one and the third person one. From the first person perspective the fact of reality which is the abstraction in the man's mind is experienced as a thought of a "chair". From the third person perspective the fact of reality which is the abstraction in the man's mind would be observed and identified as something which looks nothing like a chair and may in fact be unrecognizable without the most sophisticated diagnostic system. The abstraction literally exists only in a man's mind, but all of man exists in reality.
  43. 2 points
    And yet, you expend a great deal your creative energy (and time) making a pointless argument. Obviously, you hold metaphysical convictions that conflict with Objectivism. Ayn Rand did not contradict herself. If you watch the Tom Snyder interview to the end, she uses a religious reference in closing: "God bless America." Immediately prior to that statement, she clarifies her use of the term, God, as meaning: all that is good. Clearly, she did not always express herself literally, although she seems to be very conscientious of her choice of words. There is no "perhaps" in regard to Ayn Rand's convictions. As a person of independent thought, you may interpret information, perceptions, sensations, or the random fulfillment of wishes any way you so desire, but that does not make your interpretations matters of fact. Selling a house or making a financial contract may very well be creative, but it is not art. Not by Objectivist definition. You could say that there is an art to installing PVC piping, or landing an airplane, or folding your laundry. You could say that there is an art to picking pockets, or picking up a one-night-stand date, or stacking a deck of cards. The creative process is certainly applied to all of these examples. Some require human intuition. But it's not art. And you can say that it is, just as you could say: A is non-A. But merely saying so doesn't make it a matter of fact. So, in response to your statement: "you do not perceive creating and reality the same way I do," you are certainly correct. Objectivists require facts and evidence to support their interpretations. The distinction between your perception of reality, from the Objectivist understanding of reality, is defined as: the Primacy of Consciousness, versus, the Primacy of Existence. If you have any further interest in the works of Ayn Rand, you may do your own research. But it seems to me that that would be as much a waste of your time, as you have stated that you believe in a multitude of "existences" and that all metaphysical interpretations are mere speculation. Score one for Immanuel Kant.
  44. 2 points
    This is an assertion that contradictions exist in particular specific existents. It is a completely valid response to dismiss this as an wild hypothetical without a shred of evidence to support it. Another response is to identify the stolen concept at work here: "diction" is speech, "contra" is against, but existence does not speak so it cannot speak against itself. Contradiction is inapplicable to existence. Ought implies can. Therefore "Cannot implies ought-not". Epistemology is as normative a field as is ethics.
  45. 2 points
    The reification fallacy is a frequently found to be a habit of rationalists. Rationalism is a corruption of rationality because of its Primacy of Consciousness perspective on fundamental premises such universals or Descartes' cogito statement. Jacob Bunting, epistemologue and Scott Ryan are all rationalists by the evidence of their arguments or what arguments they find persuasive. Objectivism emphasizes rationality and rationalism is one of the chief failure modes of its would-be practitioners.
  46. 2 points
  47. 2 points
    I suppose you need to read the books that your target cohort respects. Not sure what that would be: the Bible, Malcolm X, Frederick Douglas, ... just throwing some names out, you can replace with actual examples. Do rap fans have some books they love? It helps to start from the context of your target. If I want to convince an average Muslim about an idea, it would help if I knew something about the Quran. Of course, that doesn't mean you'll be able to convince the person. If you tried convincing a hundred people and not one changed their minds, it would be no surprise. On the other hand, if there's some particular person you'd like to convince, then understanding their context would give you a step up.
  48. 2 points
    I would say that, to the extent that one intends to live an interesting and fulfilling life, he should develop within himself the soul of an artist. Indulge greedily in works of art, yes — but more broadly, cultivate your personal values (what you like, enjoy, appreciate, etc.), and curate your life in such a way so that your daily existence reflects and embodies that which matters most to you.
  49. 2 points
    Boydstun

    Galt's Gulch had no government?

    . In May of 1964, Rand wrote a letter to Prof. John O. Nelson at the University of Colorado. The letter includes the following paragraph: “I must mention that Galt’s Gulch is not an organized society, but a private club whose members share the same philosophy. It exemplifies the basic moral principles of social relationships among rational men, the principles on which a proper political system should be built. It does not deal with questions of political organization, with the details of a legal framework needed to establish and maintain a free society open to all, including dissenters. It does not deal with specifically political principles, only with their moral base. (I indicate that the proper political framework is to be found in the Constitution, with its contradictions removed.)” Letters of Ayn Rand, Michael Berliner, editor (1995, 626)
  50. 2 points
    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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