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  • Experience with Objectivism Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, Anthem, Philosophy: Who Needs It?, Virtue of Selfishness, The Romantic Manifesto, Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, and others.

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  1. I was curious if anyone else has read this book by Scott Ryan. I am still only on Chapter 1, but I think the author has a lot of clear insights that I haven't read anywhere else. The argument in Chapter 1 is that she missed the "problem of universals" entirely - which is properly a *metaphysical* question, not an epistemological one. Personally I've always thought it was odd that she began the book stating that it was all about the problem of universals, but the word "universal" is not defined, nor is it ever actually substantively used again at all throughout the rest of the book. Instead she talks about epistemological "abstractions". She seems to dismiss and avoid the metaphysical issue entirely. The only thing she mentions is that Plato and Aristotle (and intrinsicists in general) are wrong, that universals do not exist on the metaphysical level. But her only argument is that such universals could not be "perceived" directly, by no means - which is not a necessary feature of intrinsicist metaphysics. And her entire epistemology seems to be aimed at the idea of creating abstract concepts which themselves have both universality and correspondence with reality. If there are no such metaphysically real universals, then to what would these correspond, what meaning or use could they possibly have? The typical nominalist who denies intrinisicist metaphysics doesn't try to steal a notion of universal "concepts" like this, they will openly admit that concepts refer to a collection of concretes and have strictly pragmatic value (and are not any kind of universal abstractions which correspond with reality). Available on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Objectivism-Corruption-Rationality-Critique-Epistemology/dp/0595267335 Available in pdf here: http://www.scholardarity.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Objectivism-and-the-Corruption-of-Rationality-Scott-Ryan.pdf
  2. Same goes for Kevin. There are things that objectively are meaningful to him, regardless of whether he has happened to find that meaning yet or not.
  3. Whether or not it's a value to him is not ultimately hypothetical. Either it is or it isn't, regardless of whether he has yet to actually taste it or not. The facts of reality are one way or the other to begin with. John's nature and the nature of reality and the nature of chocolate are what they are, regardless of John's state of knowledge on any of these issues.
  4. "Kantianism follows the ethics of rational yet subjective altruism to the point of forcing others (even violently) to heed one’s ‘social’ will (especially of those in power) as if it were universal law." "Kant seems to know minds better than people, thus allowing people who, he thinks, don't know their minds as well or well enough be forced to follow minds in power who know what the minds subservient to duty need to practice." I also think these are odd claims, especially given what you yourself just quoted him saying about dignity and being subject only to the law one writes one's self: "the idea of the dignity of a rational being, who obeys no law other than that which he himself at the same time gives" How can he be accused of advocating forcing others when he describes morality originating from the dignity of a person, meaning their freedom to choose based on reason? How can he be accused of replacing "social will" with universal law, when he describes how one ought to obey no law other than that which he *himself* gives?
  5. I'm not sure I agree on the point about general vs. specific. If Kant's position on metaphysics is that it's unknowable / pure subjectivism, then that's a really strong position, whereas Rand leaves metaphysical questions open. Her philosophy is more of a "method" than a metaphysically grounded philosophical system.
  6. Just because someone professes that they do not find meaning in life doesn't mean that there *isn't any*. They might not even implicitly believe that or act on that premise, even if they profess it. Whatever theories someone has or doesn't have about the meaning of life doesn't change the objective facts about whether such a thing exists or not. Just because for life to have meaning it has to have meaning FOR YOU - doesn't mean it's existence *depends* on you. Just because only people hold things as having meaning doesn't mean that there isn't an objective fact, discoverable in reality, about what does or does not really have meaning. You could simply be mistaken about the issue, thinking it's one way when it's really the other. People can argue that life has no meaning, they can argue it's rational to believe life has no meaning, they can argue that the entire concept is irrational. But their arguments can just be *wrong*. Meaning does *not* presuppose that some person just happens to be holding that something has meaning to or for them. Just because nobody happens to be holding that something is meaningful, doesn't mean that it's just *not* meaningful, it's objective meaning could just not be known.
  7. Or maybe run this theory by his parents, I bet they would have some input
  8. This is a good point (though perhaps not applicable to the OP)... it's really pathological to question whether something is rational *just because you are interested in it*. If you like something, that is positive evidence that it *is* rational, all other things being equal. Pleasure is not the result of sin, it is a result of virtue. It's not a cost, it's an end in itself. If you like something, that is not a signal that you should stop and carefully think about it. The natural inclinations and innate desires in human nature are not rigged against your rational self-interest. There is no original sin in Objectivism. If you have some reason to question whether something is rational or right, then by all means stop and be careful. But *just being interested in something*, just *liking* something, is *not* a reason to question whether it's rational or right.
  9. So do you hold that there is no objective meaning that we can aim for or measure ourselves against? Isn't that pure subjectivism?
  10. You don't seem to be able to say categorically that life does have meaning. Is that stepping too far out on a limb for you? Do you think you might be in error? This is just an odd sort of "neutrality" to me, what would the risk be if you were wrong? Being "wrong" about life having meaning, means that there is no meaning - including in that conclusion. It's a self-contradictory thing. If you can start from the premise that life *does* have meaning, then if you don't know what it is, or find yourself being led to the opposite conclusion, then you know something is wrong, that there is a contradiction. So yes, it is rational to find meaning in life. And some things *are* necessarily a value to anyone who cares about rationality and meaning in life because of who we are, because of what human nature is, man qua man.
  11. @StrictlyLogical - is your argument that this is necessarily a value to anyone who cares about rationality and meaning in life, or is your point merely that it's a justifiable optional value?
  12. If I understand correctly, you're saying that in order for the standard of morality to apply to us, we must have reached a certain level of conceptual knowledge and conceptual thought. It's only from there are our choices either morally right or wrong. So we must have already have made certain choices (e.g. to live) prior to any moral context. Right? I don't agree with your premises, but even granting this, is it not the case that, once you've entered the moral context, when confronted with the alternative to live or not, the moral thing to do is to choose to live? Even supposing the choice were necessarily made at a prior time in a pre-moral context in order to even enter the realm of morality, once you're in the moral realm, isn't that all the more reason why the choice is morally obligatory?
  13. This accusation of intrinsicism does not make sense. Life is a value *to me*.
  14. It is a moral choice. See my section above on how "positive values are possible despite suffering". It's a mistake to think that the negative values can "outweigh" the positives, as I explained above. If you make that mistake of thinking that the negative can outweigh the positive then you could lose the desire to live. But that is an error in your reasoning, an irrational mistake. If you choose on the basis of this kind of error, you are choosing wrong - morally wrong, as much as any other immoral sacrifice or compromise that people make because of mistaken beliefs. The reality is that pleasure and pain are independent variables, and just because there is suffering, that does not take away from the positive values that are still possible. This is not a hypothetical "if" they happen to have any positive values - they *do* have positive values, and therefore they *should* pursue them.
  15. How is taxation a violation of rights? You can renounce your citizenship if you don't want to pay taxes anymore. Nobody is forcing you and "violating your rights" in order to make you pay taxes.