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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
    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.
  5. 4 likes
    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)
  6. 4 likes
    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.
  7. 4 likes
    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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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".
  11. 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.]
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 3 likes
    . Religious Liberty or Religious License? Legal Schizophrenia and the Case against Exemptions Tara Smith – Journal of Law and Politics (25 April 2017) Abstract
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    "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.
  16. 3 likes
    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.
  17. 3 likes
    The fact check site Snopes sets the record straight on an Ayn Rand quote by checking with Onkar Ghate associated with the Ayn Rand Institute. Did Ayn Rand Say 'The Question Isn’t Who Is Going to Let Me; It’s Who Is Going to Stop Me'?
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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.
  19. 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?
  20. 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.
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    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!
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    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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 3 likes
    That being said, I hearken back to what my first piano teacher used to tell me:
  27. 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".
  28. 3 likes
    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.
  29. 3 likes
    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.
  30. 3 likes
    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.
  31. 3 likes
    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.")
  32. 3 likes
    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.
  33. 3 likes
    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.
  34. 2 likes
    Since I'm French, let me keep you informed of what's happening in my country. Next Saturday, France will have the final result of the presidential election. Since the end of the first round (April 23rd) this result is already known: the next president of France will be Emmanuel Macron. Of course, when I write these lines, he's still competing against Marine Le Pen, but she has absolutely no chance of being elected. Although she's popular in a part of the French, she (and her party) is still extremely unpopular for the vast majority of French. She will not be elected because of what is called in France the "glass ceiling", which means that she can never exceed a certain level in public opinion. What happened in the first round? The current president, Francois Hollande, is extremely unpopular and didn't have the capacity to present himself again. So, in the first round, there were 5 important candidates (the other 6 are insignificant): François Fillon (The party "The Républicains", the main party of the right in France, the party of Nicolas Sarkozy, who was president between 2007 and 2012. Fillon was prime minister throughout this period. Emmanuel Macron (who was Minister of Economy under President François Hollande, but who launched his political movement since one year only.) Marine Le Pen (The party "National Front", the party considered as extreme right, nationalist.) Jean-Luc Mélenchon (His movement is called "Unsubmitted France", radical left, ideas close to Communism and Marxism.) Benoît Hamon (Socialist party, party of President François Hollande, main party left in France for 40 years.) The result of the first round was as follows: Emmanuel Macron 24% Marine Le Pen 21.3% François Fillon 20% Jean-Luc Mélenchon 19.6% Benoît Hamon 6.4% This is the first time in a French presidential election that none of the main left-wing (Socialist Party) and right-wing (The Republicans) parties are absent from the second round. A brief comment on what happened: Benoît Hamon represented the Socialist Party, the party of the current president, François Hollande. Even if he was part of a faction of this party that was critical of the President, he could not change the fact that he represented a party that had become extremely unpopular, since Francois Hollande was extremely unpopular. More than its predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy (who was also very unpopular). So the score of the Socialist Party is historically low. It was never so low since the 60's. Jean-Luc Mélenchon has almost doubled his score since the last election (2012). He withdrew the red flags and flags of the Soviet Union in his meetings to replace them with French flags, and he sings "La marseillaise" instead of "L'internationale". He was the most popular candidate for young people (18-24), because formally, he made a very modern campaign (despite his archaic ideas): he made a Youtube channel, he used the Social networks, meetings in holograms, his militants even made a videogame on him ("Fiscal Kombat"). Between Macron and Le Pen, he did not give his opinion for the second round, because for him Macron represents capitalism, and Le Pen represents fascism ... (In my personnal view, he is the archetypal dictator. He is an admirer of Chavez & Castro...) François Fillon was destined to win this election. But during the campaign, he was accused of fictitious employment (i.e. misappropriation of public money) for a situation dating back several years ago. This accusation has never been proved, but the presumption of innocence was not sufficient for public opinion to not considered him as guilty and corrupted. Especially since before that, Fillon said that if he was suspected of something, he would not be candidate. Some believe that these accusations have been secretly modeled by the current power in order to make the rival party losing (There are disturbing indications.). Anyway, these accusations made him considerably lower in public opinion, and prevented him from entering the second round. Politically, this was the first time that a major French presidential candidate said he wanted to significantly reduce the size of the state, reduce taxes, reduce regulations and take care of the public debt. It was also the first time I heard a french politician defending liberty (by using this word) in this kind of election. His speech with regard to Islamist terrorism (which he calls "Islamist totalitarianism") was without concession. Who are Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen? Politically Emmanuel Macron is center-left. He is supported by people from right, left and center. He governed as minister under the presidency of François Hollande (Socialist Party) but he was always perceived as different, iconoclastic. He is young (39 years old), doesn't have a political background, he had never be elected, he worked as a business banker at Rotschild. He studied philosophy (his thesis was about Hegel). He is in favor of globalization. His popularity in France comes from the fact that it embodies the image of a change, a renewal because: - He has a different style from most policies and he's young, he has an image of modernity. - He doesn't have a political career (except as minister during 2 years), he does not come from the traditional parties, he comes from the private sector. - He was still unknown 2 or 3 years ago. - He has the image of someone very smart, who knows his files, especially in economy. For the extreme left and far right, he represents capitalism, i.e. the evil. Actually it's true that when he was minister, his speech and his actions seemed "pro-capitalist" especially for a left-wing man. He's in favor of free trade, globalization, private sector... But since the campaign began, he wanted to show that he wasn't so capitalist, by multiplying social measures, protections, etc ... which makes him a centrist. Or a "pragmatist". Or a "moderate". Someone who want to "reconciliate", mix the hot and the cold, who is agree with everyone. He wants to be pro-capitalist and pro-protection in the same time. Marine Le Pen (who was the most popular candidate among the workers) is far-right and her economic program is clearly socialist and protectionist. The two main ideas of his party (the National Front) have always been the same since his father created the party in the 70s: "Fight against immigration and insecurity". Its aim is to "re-establish borders", to regain the sovereignty of the country, to fight against "globalized finance", "ultra-capitalism" and, of course, her speech against Islamism is radical. Never has his party and its ideology been so popular in France. But despite this, for many people, Marine Le Pen (and her party) is considered racist and xenophobic. Many also consider it fascist. She will lose the election, there is no suspense about it. If you have questions, it will be a pleasure for me to answer to you about this elections.
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    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.
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    "It has never been especially popular at OO.com" Hey now, that's not true. D: It was really popular early on in my time here. There were times so many of us were in there at once that we crashed the program. I hope the chat gets restored somehow. I haven't used it much lately mostly because there just wasn't much of anybody else around.
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    epistemologue, your source holds that universals are entities: "The phenomenon of similarity or attribute agreement gives rise to the debate between realists and nominalists. Realists claim that where objects are similar or agree in attribute, there is some one thing that they share or have in common; nominalists deny this. Realists call these shared entities universals; they say that universals are entities that can be simultaneously exemplified by several different objects; and they claim that universals encompass the properties things possess, the relations into which they enter, and the kinds to which they belong." Underlining mine. That's from near the beginning of Chapter 1 in Objectivism and the Corruption of Rationality. Will you grant the point now? If you are a realist, you are defending the existence of a kind of entity.
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    searching for "Scott Ryan" in the search bar placed on the top right of this page yields several threads. I think Scott Ryan's critique of O-ist epistemology is a good place to start. Intrinsicist universals, that is metaphysical universals, just don't exist. Scott Ryan can hold his breath until he is blue in the face and beyond but there will never be a solution to the "problem of universals" as long as the universals must be metaphysical. Rand's theory makes universals epistemological and that is its merit.
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    KyaryPamyu I retract the last sentence of my last post.
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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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    I mentioned it to point out that you are at least able to freely leave, while in Soviet Russia you'd be shot at the Berlin Wall. It'd be foolish to consider that taxation in the US is as unjust as being sent to the gulag, or as unjust as eminent domain in the US. It doesn't mean I'm okay with it if I say there is a pretty good degree of freedom regarding taxes despite some real injustices. They lacked representation in Parliament, and the taxes that were at issue was on tea they did not want, and a number pf oppressive laws that built up over time. Taxation in the colonies was done without any benefit of citizenship.
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    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
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    0:55: "Now, on the face of it that's paradoxical, because if it's primary it's the beginning, and yet if it's not groundless there must be grounds for it." It's from an advanced seminar on OPAR. He goes through the entire book and explains what he wrote in more detail. The members of the audience each have their own copy of the book with them, so they can follow Peikoff and ask specific questions. At 0:21 he announces that he'll comment on a topic from the bottom of page 324. He then dicusses it for the rest of the video. In the final version of OPAR, which went for publication, the page is 247 (according to the booklet). I am reproducing the portion here: "When they hear about the Objectivist ethics, philosophy professors from both groups [intrinsicists and subjectivists] ask, as though by reflex, the same question. "If the choice to live precedes morality,", they say, "what is the status of someone who chooses not to live? Isn't the choice of suicide as legitimate as any other, so long as one acts on it? And if so, doesn't it mean that for Rand, too, as for Hume and Nietzsche, ethics, being the consequence of an arbitrary decision, is itself arbitrary? [...] The professors I just quoted [...] seek to prove that values are arbitrary by citing a person who would commit suicide, not because of any tragic cause, but as a primary and end-in-itself. The answer to this one is: no. A primary choice [primary = preceding morality] does not mean and "arbitrary,", "whimsical,", or "groundless" choice. There are grounds for a (certain) primary choice, and those grounds are reality - all of it. The choice to live, as we have seen, is the choice to accept the realm of reality. The choice is not arbitrary, it is the precondition of criticizing the arbitrary; it is the base of reason. A man who would throw away his life without a cause, who would reject the universe on principle and embrace a zero for its own sake [...] would be disqualified as an object of intellectual debate. One cannot argue with or about a walking corpse, who has just consigned himself to the void. The void of the nonconscious, the nonethical, the non-anything. Ethics is conditional, i.e., values are not intrinsic." (square brackets and bolded text mine) A choice implies that you desire the end goal, either for its own sake, or as a means to another goal. The moment you act on a desire, you choose to act on that desire. Simple as that. Even people who act mindlessly, on random impulse, choose to follow that impulse instead of an alternative, e.g. thinking about the situation. If you restrict 'choice' to the conceptual level and forget that every action is a choice, whether it was triggered by whim or by logic, then I cannot convince you that every single action you do presupposes a choice. You can't conflate commitment with choice. Every choice made toward self-preservation implies a choice to live. Any protest against being harmed is an expression of that choice. At the root of your interest in learning and applying ethics, there is the implicit choice to follow your own desire for life. If that's not a choice, I don't know what a choice is. Morality is conditional. It's source is an if. I believed that no further explanation was required (the video text, as well as the video title are self-explanatory), but fair, I'll take heed of this advice next time and provide a summary of the contents. Leaving this point aside, I disagree that Peikoff is in any way unclear in the video.
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    No, I just don't think far right propaganda should be left unchallenged on this site. None of what you're talking about has any basis in reality. There is overwhelming evidence, and a pattern of behavior leading up to this, pointing to Russian intelligence services hacking the DNC and using Wikileaks as their publisher. There was overwhelming evidence even before US intelligence services confirmed it. There is also overwhelming evidence of Russian propaganda outlets working with far right organizations in promoting the anti-establishment wave of misinformation that is causing confusion among the general population in western countries.
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    In November of 1995, I traded a television set and a stereo system for a 386 computer system. I recall joking with someone in an internet-relay-chat room once that television contributed to developing a 3 to 5 second attention span. Mentioning that I had divested myself of the television set, I was asked if I missed it. I replied that I had missed it once, but I had gotten over it in about 5 seconds. The big screen has been back since April 2010. Connected to a DVD player, it has only presented what has been placed into the player primarily for entertainment purposes. The news has been relegated to being collected via radio and internet. I can't claim to be up on all of the latest stories, but the ability to filter for relevant information on them is an ongoing process.
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    Sometimes belief in God is dishonest, but not always. Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, Rand's favorite philosophers, both believed in God. Ayn Rand herself believed in God when she was young, as did Leonard Peikoff, who is the most prominent Objectivist philosopher alive today. When we reject belief in God, I think we are the beneficiaries of advancements in science and philosophy from over the past few hundred years that not everyone has fully grasped the ramifications of yet. It's not necessarily immoral if you can't see the flaw in the cosmological argument without help from the great philosophers of the past, any more than it's immoral to miss an error in a fallacious mathematical proof. Basically, your position amounts to the claim that every invalid concept is an inherently dishonest idea (to use Leonard Peikoff's term). That's just not true. But you are equating a logical mistake, forming an invalid concept, with deliberate dishonesty. They are not the same. They are irrational in the sense that they are using an invalid concept, and that there is a breach between their reasoning and the facts. That doesn't mean they are irrational in the sense of being immoral or dishonest - although, in some cases, they are.
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    Eliminative materialists claim consciousness is an illusion. That the apparent duality is solved by repudiating consciousness. Dualists of all types I think have the converse illusory view that nature itself, including structure function, identity and causality, somehow cannot itself simply be conscious "on its own". That alongside this neutered "nature" (some narrow and implicit parody of mechanistic materialism) must therefore "exist" something else parallel, over and above, and/or coincidentally with it... and this other stuff, realm, or aspect is where we can place consciousness. Reality as a whole is a unity of identities, it simply is. Entities are their attributes, not parallel to them. This requires a further reconciliation and/or integration for which I do not yet have the solution... but I'm starting to believe that the idea of duality itself must be the illusion because of the way we introspect and extrospect. But these are different types of things we DO in one reality, not dual "aspects" of reality as such.
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    Don't "suggest." If you think there's some "logical end" to my position, attempt to establish it directly. (And try to do so with greater clarity, please. For instance, "the logical end of your position implies an egalitarian standard" is utterly opaque. What "egalitarian standard"? How does whatever-it-is relate to my position? What are you talking about? I've read everything you've written here, and I still have no idea.) But while "explaining what you see" in that statement, you are purposefully ignoring the context of that statement, including the sentence I'd quoted of my own post where I contrast persuasion to force, the other posts in this very thread, and what you already know me to believe through hundreds of other posts on this forum. Misspoke, hell. I said "social efforts" in the context of a discussion about proselytization and persuasion, Eiuol; whatever you think "social" to imply otherwise, divorced of all context, in this case it is meant in contrast to political efforts (i.e. persuasion vs. force), as clearly demonstrated by the context I've mentioned. As a responsible reader -- and in an effort to "understand" my meaning -- you are expected to retain that context in mind when you attempt to parse individual aspects or statements.* To instead take that phrase out of context and reply to it, base an entire post around it, in fact, is utterly disingenuous. There's no attempt at "understanding" there, or even if there is, there's no hope of success. __________________ *It might be different if you came in off the street, so to speak, came into the thread without having read any of the preceding posts, and just responded off-the-cuff... though that's usually a breach of forum etiquette, and this is why: because without having that context, it is too easy to misunderstand/misinterpret (and also, of course, there is the annoying repetition of asking questions already answered, raising points already raised, and etc.) But for someone who is privy to all that context to choose to ignore it for the purpose of "making a point" is mind-numbing. It doesn't make sense to you that we should desire a world where people generally know truth and act upon it, in reason? You don't see the benefit to the individual of that? Yes, it is. Are you kidding? No, dude, a world of (mostly) rational people is not "a really nice addition" to anything -- it is a vital state of affairs for any given individual to be able to live with some measure of stability and security (and potentially so much more than this). It is the foundation of civilization. Where others initiate the use of force against us, we may (and arguably must) retaliate where and when it is in our power and interest to do so (meaning: so long as we can get away with it), but we would prefer things not come to that. Retaliating against force is our backup plan. It isn't the ideal. And in fact, retaliatory force -- and the threat of the same -- is itself geared towards the elimination of force from society. From "The Nature of Government": That's what we're after. The barring of physical force from social relationships.* (Perhaps you can write Rand's grave to let her know that you consider law, and retaliatory force, "social," too. Perhaps she "misspoke.") We don't treat "retaliatory force against the initiation of force," and "resolving conflict by means of persuasion and discussion" (meaning: before force is involved), as equivalent, though both may be moral in their relevant circumstances. Yet the latter is dramatically superior to the former. An ethical peace is superior to an ethical war, just as an ethical government is superior to living as best as one can within a tyranny. _____________________ *And because I recognize that I must elaborate upon every obvious thing anew in every single post, and possibly every single paragraph, lest you pull it free from context to make it the centerpiece of your next reply, yes it's true -- we will never completely eliminate force from relationships. We will always need a military, and a government with police and courts, prepared to retaliate against force, with force. Yet the more we can do to use "discussion, persuasion and voluntary, uncoerced agreement" to govern our affairs -- as opposed to resorting to force in self-defense -- the better-off we will be. Yes, that's right. Spreading Objectivism -- and reason and truth more generally -- is about my life entirely. Yes, no one should make himself a martyr for "the cause"; yes, all of our actions ought to be well integrated (or as best as one may manage) to his own existence, his own hierarchy of values, his own happiness. Yet other people, both before my time and currently, have ostensibly made it a goal to spread Objectivism, or reason and truth, via persuasive efforts: publishing novels, drafting essays, participating in debates, forming clubs, hosting shows, answering questions, offering classes, spreading literature, and engaging in discussions on online fora, among other things. Clearly I'm not alone in wanting the truths of Objectivism to be more widely adopted, and I think that there is good (perhaps even profound, and maybe even unavoidable) reason for that. Where we decide to be persuasive, we may discuss the nature of persuasion and the suitability of individual tactics, the consistency of our means to our ends. For instance, in this thread, it is necessary to observe that "shouting people down" does not persuade reasonable men of anything, but repels them. And if you say that such a tactic is not meant to be persuasive, I agree with you to that extent: your proposed tactics are not persuasive, and neither are your arguments for adopting them.
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    This thread was kindly pointed out to me, so I have a belated reply. As a prelude, it is mistaken to try to understand an Objectivist theory of language by comparing it to Frege’s. If one wants to understand what an Objectivist theory of language is, one can investigate that, and maybe at some point later one might even try to compare that to what you believe Frege claimed, but that comparison should not be your starting point. Second, discussions of language that focus on proper names and long-corrected factual errors (the Babylonians understood the nature of Venus) are likely to lead one up and down a twisted blind alley which ends nowhere. An Objectivist theory of language is centered around concepts. “The Evening Star” is not a concept, nor is “The Morning Star”. These are proper names (singular terms), and one can substitute “Superman” and “Clark Kent” just as well. One can believe that Superman can fly and not believe that Clark Kent can fly, even though Kent and Superman refer to the same thing. An Objectivist theory of language is about concepts, not factual errors pertaining to proper names. “Sense” and reference are not different things – “reference” basically described the relationship between consciousness and existence, and “sense” is interjected into the discussion to introduce a consequence of false inferences: or, to conflate two aspects of an existent yet recognizing those aspects, thereby sowing confusion. “Refers to” is a simple relation between something symbolic, and what is symbolizes, so nouns refer to things, verbs refer to places, adjectives refer to attributes. I don’t see that “sense” is at all a useful concept. I don’t know what it means to say that one thing boils down to another thing, but language is not just a system of names. Language is part of a general faculty of cognition, and Objectivism has had a lot to say about the “naming” aspect, via the theory of concepts. The “names” are specifically the labels (words) by which we access the cognitive folders that are concepts. Besides concepts, there are also propositions, where Objectivism has had less to say – until Harry Binswanger’s book How We Know. There is a huge amount to say about propositions and language. Words are not arbitrarily chosen. The relationship between a word and the units that it unifies is a social fact, one which is learned. It’s a fascinating but tangential matter how a particular phonetic sequence came to be the label for a given concept. One thing is for sure, it is not arbitrary. As far as I can tell, all things have multiple words attached to them. Oranges, for example, have the words “citrus; fruit; sweet; orange; carbohydrate; round; inexpensive; seasonal” attached to them. There is a peril to using expressions like “attached to” in a vague way. In a narrower sense, there are some things for which there are two or more referentially-interchangeable words, such as “penis” and “phallus”, and there are many other such words (a fact profitably exploited by Mike Myers) which have subtle social fact attached to them (you don’t use the word “wang” in the same contexts as you use the word “penis”). There is really nothing interesting to say about that fact. Language is not capable of misfiring when we speak nonsense. Language cannot act, and misfiring describes a kind of action. A being might misfire, or something like that, and might do so in a way somehow related to language, for example one might be incorrect in attempting to interpret a person’s intent as expressed by some piece of language. You can follow the rules of language, or not, just as you can follow the rules of logic, or not. Language is made up of structural units like sentences and clauses (and individual words), which can be used for many purposes (such as setting forth a proposition, but it also can be used to accomplish an end such as tricking an enemy into self-immolation). To say that a sentence “makes sense” is to say that it is possible to identify or express judgements that underly a linguistic expression. “That is a dog” classifies an entity as one of the units subsumed under the concept “dog” – in this case, the person is asserting a particular judgment. “The dog is running” presupposes such a classification of the subject entity, and classifies its action. I would like to especially address this question: Are any of you aware of any writings on Objectivist theories of language? If there aren't any, that confuses me because of the explosion in linguistics beginning before and lingering after the writings of Rand. There are a number of reasons why there aren't. First, the study of language is a very complex scientific matter, one vastly beyond the realm of philosophy (just as physics and chemistry are beyond the realm of philosophy). There has been virtually no progress on general philosophy of language for my entire lifetime, but there has been an explosion in scientific linguistics in that same period. As to why there aren’t a ton of linguists who are Objectivists, the ultimate explanation probably rests in the political problem that being a practicioner of an abjured non-communist philosophy is dangerous to one’s professional survival in an academic discipline. There is, additionally, a special reason, that the (formerly) reigning epistemology of professional linguistics is dimetrically opposed to the Objectivist epistemology. Linguistic theory has taken, for almost 50 years, a strong nativist position that man is born with a vast repertoire of factual knowledge about the world, whereas the Objectivist epistemology rejects this assumption. It has only been in the past 15 or so years that there has been some retreat on the nativist position in linguistics, whereby a theory of linguistics at least informed by Objectivism is possible. While the results of a half-century of linguistic research are in principle available to scrutiny by linguists, this requires an in-depth empirical understanding of the subject matter. There are relatively few linguists, and relatively few Objectivists, so the intersection of the two sets is even smaller. The hook into philosophy of language would be a tiny subset of linguists, namely formal semanticists.
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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