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Sean O'Connor

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About Sean O'Connor

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  • Birthday 03/14/86

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    New Jersey
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    Philosophy, ideologies, art, the news, history and biographies, the special sciences, thriving

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    United States
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    Those most passionate about promoting reason
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  • Real Name
    Sean O'Connor
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  • Biography/Intro
    Greetings, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Sean O'Connor. I am a 26 year old philosopher. I write essays and short stories. "My heroine; my greatest source of inspiration, is the genius novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand. Although she is my heroine I am not a follower of her ideology: Objectivism. I am an Optimist. An Objectivist agrees with every principle Ayn Rand upheld. I do not, as I have discovered a few contradictions in Ayn Rand’s literature. By identifying myself as an Optimist, I mean that I believe, absolutely, in the rational pursuit of ideals- for Optimism, as defined by the New Oxford American Dictionary is: “the doctrine, esp. as set forth by Leibniz, that this world is the best of all possible worlds; the belief that good must ultimately prevail over evil in the universe”. It is essential to add, that speaking morally, and assertively, indeed, good must ultimately prevail over evil, and that is only possible if one believes in the rational pursuit of ideals. The fact that I do not agree with Ayn Rand on every single point does not mean I think less of her. While Aristotle gave philosophy a foundation (that consciousness perceives reality but is not reality as such, the law of non-contradiction, causality, etc) Ayn Rand succinctly organized philosophy as a field of science; into definite branches (metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics, and esthetics), each with a fundamental principle (existence exists and thus reality is an objective absolute, we know reality is an objective absolute via our reason, one exists only for one’s own rational self interest, the ideal political system is capitalism, the ideal form of art is to project what could and ought to be). Ayn Rand eloquently applied her principles to events that occurred throughout her lifetime, and via her novels she gave humanity its first glimpse of ideal people (Howard Roark and John Galt) and the ideal society (Galt’s Gulch). Ayn Rand’s philosophical contradictions are very technical but essential to address. She did not consider psychology or economics branches of philosophy however they are. By her own definition- and it is the correct one- philosophy is the field of science that studies existence. Both the study of the navigation of one’s mind and the study of production are fundamentally existential, i.e, they concern how one, as an individual person ought to live/treat one’s life. Strangely Ayn Rand misused the term “philosophy” in certain instances. While Ayn Rand defines “philosophy” as the field of science that studies existence, she confused the term “philosophy” with “ideology” when she said things like “my philosophy, objectivism” or “his philosophy”, or “their philosophy”; she uses the term “philosophy” in such contexts which explicitly refer to a belief system (or belief systems), which is contradictory to the definition “field of science that studies existence” since, if philosophy is a science, one cannot claim to have a version of it. (For more on this I refer you to my essay “A Brief on the Definition of Philosophy for the Purpose of Advancing Freedom and Thriving”) Ayn Rand also misdefines a few other terms. Ayn Rand defines “value” as that which one acts to gain or keep, but this contradicts the more general use of the term value which is a thing’s place within a particular hierarchy. She defines “ virtue” as an action one takes in order to gain or keep a value but the virtues she proposes, such as independence and rationality, are ideals, not virtues, if one refers to the dictionary (satisfying one’s conception of what is perfect; most suitable), popular usage of the term (the best possible) or application of her own theory of concept formation which is “uniting two or more things according to a specific characteristic by a specific definition.” (Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology; p.10)" (from my essay "A Letter to Readers"
  • Experience with Objectivism
    I have read "We The Living", "Anthem", "The Fountainhead", "Atlas Shrugged", "For the New Intellectual", "The Virtue of Selfishness", "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal", "The Romantic Manifesto", "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology", "Return to the Primitive", "Ayn Rand Answers: The Best of her Q & A", "The Art of Fiction", "The Art of Non-Fiction", and I have read parts from "The Journals of Ayn Rand" and "The Letters of Ayn Rand". I have read all of the articles in "The Objectivist Newsletter". I have also read various essays by Dr. Peikoff and Dr. Branden
  • School or University
    I am a self taught philosopher
  • Occupation
    philosopher, writer
  1. From "On The Definition Of Value"

    What is value? Value is an abstract concept. A value as such is a place within a particular hierarchy. To value something is to judge where within a particular hierarchy a particular thing is. Ayn Rand asserted that a value is that which one acts to gain or keep however she confuses “value” here with a few other concepts. Her confusion is innocent however ironic. I say it is ironic because it was she who discovered precisely how to define a concept. “When in doubt about the meaning or the definition of a concept, the best method of clarification is to look for its referents-i.e., to ask oneself: What fact or facts of reality gave rise to this concept? What distinguishes it from all other concepts? ” (Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology) So indeed, what facts give rise to the concept “value”? “Value” is used in many contexts and yet always holds the same characteristic in each context. It is used in all numerical contexts. A numerical value is always positive or negative. “1” is a “value”. “-17,000,000,000,000” is also a “value.” “Value” is used also in philosophical contexts. If something is moral, i.e., in one’s rational self interest, it is of positive “value” to one’s life; it is highly valuable. If something is immoral it is of negative value to one’s life; it is destructive. What then distinguishes the primary use of “value” from all other concepts? ... (Clean here To finish reading "On The Definition Of Value")
  2. tadmjones, Why do you assert something but refuse to prove it? I am curious- when you make an unsubstantiated statement, what do you expect somebody's response to be? Did you expect me to take your unexplained assertion on faith? Why would you expect that? It is quite disrespectful. Why? Because you talk at people, as if they are supposed to take what you say on faith; you treat them as unworthy of your rationality. This implies that you are the one who needs to check your premises. You also ought to define your terms. What is "existence"? Existence is the state of being. How do you know something exists? Because you perceive things, i.e., you are conscious of something. That something, which is, i.e., which exists, is concrete. What is "concrete"? That which exists independent of the mind. I.e., that which you can perceive. Can you perceive existence? If you cannot perceive existence that would mean you are devoid of perception, and awareness, in which case you, qua human, would not exist. To make the definition of concrete clearer for you, I shall provide for you, the definition of "abstract". "Abstract" is that which is based on a mental record of a concrete. For example, a cat is a concrete concept. You can point to it; you can see it. Existence, also is a concrete. You can point to it, you can see it, hear it, smell it, taste it, and touch it. Ayn Rand and I agree on this. She wrote "To define 'existence' one would have to sweep one's arm around and say 'I mean this'". ("Introduction To Objectivist Epistemology"; p.41) What then is an example of something "abstract"? "Capitalism". What makes capitalism abstract? Because one cannot perceive capitalism as such. You might argue that one could perceive capitalism in action, but it would be just that...an abstract ideal and principle, in action, not as such, qua thing.
  3. Nicky, Thank you for your response and your honesty. I have to say, however, that I was disappointed when I read that you don't care about the definition of philosophy and that you also didn't care to explain why you don't care. So I shall ask you now: why not? If you don't care about the definition of philosophy then you implicitly don't care about clear communication. You furthermore imply that my assertion is "beneath you" , and again, you don't explain why- which Nicky, is by all means an insult. I have no problem with discussing disagreements but I take major issue to insults because insults evade the actual assertions and issues. I want to give you the benefit of the doubt however, and thus I am guessing, based on the fact that you commented, and asked me to list my disagreements with Ayn Rand, that you had no conscious intention to insult me. Am I correct? Now, if you believe I am playing a "word game"and that "definition is not a valid argument" why do you refuse to prove your assertion? You have a tendency to say things but then not explain yourself. You claim that my claim is illogical but you didn't identify a single contradiction! Before I share with you my list of disagreements I must address my disagreement with you. Definitions absolutely matter! They don't merely affect the truth: a definition is a fact, i.e, a true, actual identification! If you say that definition doesn't matter then you say that identification and logic and rationality don't matter. And on this issue, Ayn Rand and I are in profound agreement. Observe the fact that in many of Ayn Rand's essays she says "I shall define my terms". She ascribes more importance to definitions than just that. She wrote an entire essay on it in "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology". I referred to this essay in an earlier response on this thread which you ought to give a read. But, specifically, regarding the rich value of definition, Ayn Rand wrote "What is necessary is a knowledge of the rules by which the definitions can be formulated; and what is urgently necessary is a clear grasp of that dividing line beyond which ostensive definitions are no longer sufficient. (That dividing line begins at the point where a man uses words with the feeling 'I kinda know what I mean') Most people have no grasp of that line and no inkling of the necessity to grasp it- and the disastrous, paralyzing, stultifying consequences are the greatest single cause of mankind's intellectual erosion. (As an illustration, observe what Bertrand Russell was able to perpetrate because people thought they 'kinda knew' the meaning of the concept 'number'- and what the collectivists were able to perpetuate because people did not even pretend to know the meaning of the concept "man". (p. 50-51) As for my disagreements with Ayn Rand, I shall list them for you. Before I proceed, note that Ayn Rand and I do not completely disagree about the actual definition of philosophy. She provides two general definitions. One definition is correct and the other is wrong. Philosophy as the field of science which studies existence is correct. Philosophy as an ideology is incorrect. 1) Ayn Rand misdefines value. She says a value is that which one acts to gain and/or keep. Here she confuses "value" (which is a place within a hierarchy) with possessions, priorities, and objects of pursuit. 2) The definition of thought. She says thought is "an act of consciousness that draws conclusions". A thought is a distinct connection between concepts and anti-concepts. (For more on this I refer you to an excerpt from "An Epistle to Dr. Nathaniel Branden" which I have posted on this forum under the title "The Definition of Thought" 3)I agree with Nathanial Branden's disagreements with Ayn Rand as well: A)that she is guilty of finding all acts of immorality as contemptible, (all acts of immorality are to be condemned but condemnation and contempt are quite different and not all immoral acts are contemptible), that she is guilty of encouraging repression C) that she is guilty of encouraging dogmatism D) that she was wrong to refer to hypnosis as irrational nonsense (for a fuller explanation on these please read "An Epistle To Dr. Branden") 4) She says abstractions as such do not exist but they do. What is an abstraction. I covered this in an earlier comment on this thread. An abstraction is a mental impression of a concrete. Mental impressions exist. If they didn't your mind would have no means of knowledge, no means of referring to anything in reality, no means of identifying anything. 5) She does not acknowledge that economics and psychology are branches of philosophy but they are. (And regarding economics- she says Aesthetics as a branch of philosophy, but really, aesthetics is an economic issue since economics deals with production and consumption, and art is produced and consumed). Note that politics says that man has the right to be free. Economics asks, "what do I do with my freedom", i.e, since I am free, and I exist in a universe of resources, what do I do with them? Psychology asks, how do I get the most fulfillment out of it, which implies a)optimal navigation of one's mind and b)understanding personal meaning and value (do not confuse the issue of means of fulfillment which is psychological, with morality, which discusses how you are to act and treat your life more generally, i.e., morality explains why you exist for your own sake. Psychology explains how to get all the happiness you can!) I certainly hope that you, and others come to agree with me and Dr. Nathaniel Branden that "Ayn Rand might turn over in her grave to hear me say it, but she really did have the right to be wrong sometimes. No need for us to become hysterical about it or to behave like petulant eight-year-olds. Growing up means being able to see our parents realistically. Growing up relative to Ayn Rand means being able to see her realistically — to see the greatness and to see the shortcomings. If we see only the greatness and deny the shortcomings or if we see only the shortcomings and deny the greatness, we remain blind. “She has so much that is truly marvelous to offer us. So much wisdom, insight, and inspiration. So much clarification. Let us say ‘thank you’ for that, acknowledge the errors and mistakes when we see them, and proceed on our own path — realizing that, ultimately, each of us has to make the journey alone, anyway.” ("The Benefits and Hazards of Ayn Rand") I furthermore hope you are interested in my ideas, assertions, discoveries, and comments because they are true. And you should take tremendous interest in truth.
  4. Ruveyn1, In my last response to you, I asked if you read Leonard Peikoff's essay "The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy" and you did not answer, which disappoints me. What progress can be made in a discussion when you talk at people (as opposed to "to them"), evade their points, and then make new ones? It is also a bit disrespectful and is not a discussion. Why should I continue to take anything you say seriously and show you respect if I can predict that you are going to evade my responses and change the subject? That would be illogical! Nonetheless, I love defending my assertions and I am so happy that people have been reading this thread so I shall respond to your latest set of comments. 1) You claim that there are no proper or improper definitions and that they arise from consensus and common use of words. There are several contradictions that statement. I shall list them for you. If there are no proper or improper definitions then there can be no cogent, even semi-rational means of communication since your statement, based on its own premise, is devoid of any definition! According to you, your words neither refer to anything or don't refer to anything- which is really just a psychological confession which translates implicitly, in English, to "I am confused". I am not going to call you contemptible for being confused but that is what your statement in fact reveals. You say that there are no proper or improper definitions, and yet you then say they arise from consensus and common use of words. What does? You said first that there are no proper or improper definitions, which means that even the word "definition" refers to nothing. I am however going to take a guess that you tried to imply is that "a definition is determined by the masses". One, among the many problems with that assertion: if "definition" is based on arbitrary whims of the masses use of it, then, fundamentally, the word "definition" is merely a series of letters that will refer to some other series of letters- letters which the masses arbitrarily group into sounds which refer to this or that aspect of reality, temporarily. You don't find that irrational? Or do you not hold reason as your epistemological principle. And on that note, have you read "Introduction To Objectivist Epistemology"? Whether or not you have, you claim to reject the chapter on definitions, yet you haven't made a single reference to it. Why not? Do you typically reject ideas without trying to actually refute the actual idea? If you really wanted somebody to take your rejection seriously, I would think that you would offer a very thorough refutation so that we would have the proof that your ideas are clear. 2) For the sake of context, I shall define "definition"- which you claim cannot be defined, which means you claim there is no "actual" definition to "definition" beyond the wreckage of the consensus. In the "Introduction To Objectivist Epistemology" Ayn Rand writes "A definition is a statement that identifies the nature of units subsumed under a concept" (p.40) If you reject this definition, you are saying you do not believe units subsumed under a concept can be identified, which means you believe that there is no such thing as "concept", or "the law of identity", which means you think all of perception is one big indeterminate blur, which you nonetheless, have the magical ability to explain in words- words which have no actual definition and refer to nothing other than the consensus which also refers to nothing. That is quite literally irrational and evasive. Based on your claim there is no intellectual basis for language whatsoever (but yet you nonetheless intellectualize it! Why?) and furthermore, clarity of thought is not your goal when you communicate. 3) To base anything- whether it is definition (or in your case the arbitrary thing a word temporarily refers to) or legislation- on consensus is altruism. It means you surrender your reason to the whim of some other, which means to surrender your mind. If you want a full understanding of how catastrophic your surrender to consensus is, I refer you to "The New Fascism: Rule by Consensus" and "The Wreckage of the Consensus" both written by Ayn Rand in her book "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal" 4) Regarding the nature of changed definitions, I shall quote Ayn Rand, from "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology". "All definitions are contextual, and a primitive definition does not contradict a more advanced one: the latter merely expands the former. As an example, let us trace the development of the concept 'man'." She explains that a very young child with almost no knowledge will define a man as "a thing that moves and makes noises". She writes "within the context of his awareness, this is a valid definition". Then she explains how his definition changes he learns of animals and other various objects. The definition becomes "a living being that speaks and does things no other living being can do". Then she explains, as the child gains more and more knowledge, and grows up, he or she learns that a man is defined as a "rational animal". (p. 43-44)
  5. Eiuol, Regarding the question of the abstractness and/or concreteness of existence there are two separate issues. One is existence as such, and furthermore the axiom "existence exists" and the other is the vast expanse of existence. Existence as such as about as concrete as anything since consciousness itself exists. To try and describe the most basic psychological experience one can have, it more or less would express itself-implicitly of course- as "something exists". I see this computer screen. The fact that it exists is as concrete as anything can be. But then there is a second issue, and that is the expanse of existence which is abstract. What is the expanse of existence? The unexplored, unknown space of the universe, that which we do not yet know about existence, unrealized possibility, et cetera. You said "philosophy is the 'what' of existence. I would like to add that philosophy is furthermore the regard for and treatment of existence, and obviously, especially human existence. I think this is important because it emphasizes what is most enlightening about philosophy: how, in the most basic, fundamental, principled way, we are to think and live our lives. And the key implications here: those principles can be proven true by logic, so those principles exist qua facts on a given, concrete subject (a subject concerning lifestyle ultimately), which is philosophy, which is then a science, and not to be confused with false principles on how one should live one's life (an ideology/ religion). "Philosophy of biology" would be an anti-concept. Philosophy concerns living in general. But let me address, specifically, what you suggest would be a question that the "philosophy of biology" deals with: "Philosophy of biology would consider 'what' questions, like what does evolution imply for how the world is classified if entities are changing all the time?" That, would be a taxonomic question. The New Oxford American Dictionary corroborates this. "taxonomy |takˈsänəmē| noun chiefly Biology the branch of science concerned with classification, esp. of organisms; systematics. • the classification of something, esp. organisms : the taxonomy of these fossils. • a scheme of classification : a taxonomy of smells." My only criticism of their definition is they could be more succinct! But it is true that when one studies biology, (or anything) that philosophical issues will arise. The most fundamental question would be "what does this new fact I have just learned or discovered mean to me?" or "what do I want to know about x that I do not yet know? And why?" And- in fact- this transitions me right to your next point about the inevitable cross over when discussing branches of philosophy. Here I should like to say that philosophical statements consist of an integrated knowledge of philosophical principles. John Galt's speech obviously demonstrates this perfectly. Galt doesn't only discuss politics. He doesn't only discuss ethics. And furthermore, each advanced branch of philosophy obviously depends on its antecedent branches. Once you say reality is an objective absolute, you prove how you know so, once you understand your means of knowledge you say, so now that I know how I know things, how the hell am I to live my life? How am I to act? What am I to do with myself? How do I treat others? Once you say, well I know how we ought to live- both how we treat ourselves and we ought to treat others, the next question is- how do we morally keep "law and order" (so to speak) and thus we enter politics. Once we know how a society-and to what severe limit(!)- society ought to be organized, one may ask- what should I produce and what should I consume. (I understand that this could seem more like a moral question than an "economic" one - but it would "seem" so in the same way politics would- since politics is still an implementation of rational self interest. But I think rational self interest in the basic moral sense is more geared towards behavior as such and not specifically an in depth analysis of production and consumption. Maybe a clearer way to explain economics would emphasize treatment of resources. Then once we know what we ought to produce the question is: "how do I optimize my mind; how do I navigate it as succinctly as possible?" One may argue that this is epistemological, and say, "obviously the answer is 'think rationally' but that overlooks the prospect of concentrating on enhancing visualization, working with one's subconscious, efficient introspection, et cetera- which the field of psychology deals with. I wanted to show the full hierarchy of philosophical advancement here to demonstrate- as I think you were getting at- that each advanced branch is consistent with the antecedent principles and that discussing any philosophical issue, thus, is going to have crossovers. You pointed out something quite profound that I confess I had never realized- and so I must thank you for it. That is your statement that "Postmodernism certainly is the logical conclusion of all the Hegelians, and is more dangerous than communism ever was. Not only is there a destructive element to it of denying any truth whatsoever, there are no leaders to it." Indeed, postmodernism necessarily implies an anarchic political system since it really is just a chaotic riot of one person's power versus another person's power (as we see in practice via special interest groups and the freaks of occupy wall street, and the terrorists, etc). That being said, communists nonetheless use the postmodern and nihilistic metaphysics to say "nothing is of any value- not on an ideological level, and not on an economic level. Your believe is worth nothing. My belief is worth nothing. That computer you build is worth the same amount of money as an illegal immigrant's 4 hour dish washing shift. You'll both be paid the same." In other words, I am saying that communists "steal" from postmodernism (by teaching it in public colleges) as means to indoctrinate their evil socialist-communist agenda.
  6. bluecherry, I shall preface this response by submitting a principle for wording a concept: no more than one concept per word. This may seem unnecessary but it would prevent word usage from inevitably succumbing to ambiguity. More specifically, it is logical in the most literal sense, it is strict "non-contradiction", i.e., "this word will never contradict the concept it refers to". Some may argue that giving a word two concepts is not a contradiction but in fact it is because once that word, in use, refers to something other than its first concept, that is by nature, a contradictory instance. We are used to looking up definitions to words, and seeing 2,3,4, sometimes 7,8, 9 or more definitions! That's extremely sloppy language and it does not have to stay this way. Can a language be sharpened over night? Obviously not. And of course I know that you know I am not proposing that! Should a language, however, be reduced? Absolutely! Especially if, say, the word freedom is said to be defined as "self determination" by capitalists, but is said, by Socialists, socialists such as president Barack Obama, to be defined as "absence of need for general sustenance (ranging from perhaps a small monthly check -or job for all guaranteed by law, food stamps, government facilitated housing, health care, etc) Or here is another example: when an atheist socialist goes about referring to himself as rational on the one hand, an objectivist then, on the other hand, is saying "no, I'm rational!". Obviously both are using different definitions and are making communication much more confusing than it could and ought to be. You said that the definition I submit for science, which is the study of the aspects of the universe is overly broad? By what standards do you deem something as too broad? Or which term in that definition do you think makes it overly broad? Is the definition overly broad, or is the reach of science simply extremely wide- as wide as the universe is massive? I love one question in particular Ayn Rand asks when discussing concept formation and definition. "To what in reality does the concept refer?". Do you know exactly what I am referring to when I say "the study of the aspects of the universe"? Let us do a little experiment. Tell me, when you read that definition, what precisely do you picture in your mind. I picture a person examining something, and identifying and discovering facts about it- whatever those facts may be. I think the only possible confusion/ambiguity/equivocation one could accuse me of there is "what exactly does 'study' mean? I think I said in a prior response that when I say "study" I mean "discover and/or learn a fact or facts about a particular subject". Now, the dictionary on my computer- The New Oxford American Dictionary- offers nine different definitions for the word study. One such definition is "devote time and attention to acquiring knowledge on (an academic subject), esp. by means of books : she studied biology and botany." (Again, why the hell would I want to sort through nine Goddamn definitions if I can ultimately enjoy the luxury of one very clear, exact definition? I'm a busy man! :-P) If you dispute my definition of study, I would be open to that argument. But returning to science, and what the word "science" refers to- it refers specifically to" discovering and organizing facts about the aspects of the universe." A perfect example of how this definition works: what is it that a "science" teacher teaches? Facts, about some particular aspects of the universe. What is it Einstein set out to discover, fundamentally? Facts. Facts about particular aspects of the universe. As for the fact that I am on the only one submitting particular definitions that is because I am a pioneer! Pioneers always discover something, or invent something nobody else has. And if it opens up a vast amount of new work to be done, such as say, clarifying the English language and reducing words to a single concept: it is a vast undertaking, but not an irrational one. Ayn Rand did the right thing by clarifying "selfishness" and as you've said, many-actually most- people still will not accept the proper definition. But most people also won't accept the fact that nobody has the right to violate private property; that nobody has the right to violate an individual's self determination. They are a little bit slow but that doesn't mean we, the scientists and inventors should slow down! Quite the opposite. Let's produce knowledge and inventions their state university's don't know as incentive for people to start going to private universities of more advanced knowledge and technology. Everything in philosophy can be tested and proven via logic. "Despite what [a theorist named Dr. Julian] Friedland implies, he contradicts himself and fabricates a definition of philosophy towards the end of his article. He writes that philosophy 'employs the tools of logical analysis and conceptual clarification in lieu of empirical measurement. And this approach, when carefully carried out, can yield knowledge at times more reliable and enduring than science' What is logical analysis? What is logic? He does not define either. Why not? Because then he can use it as a blank word to mean whatever he attaches it to. [A point I referred to earlier](This is comparable to fiat money which claims to have a specific value, but is based on nothing other than the public’s submission to it.) Logic, again, is the art of non-contradictory identification. This means “logical analysis” is the identification and removal of contradictions. Furthermore, what does one 'logically analyze'? A particular aspect of the universe. Logical analysis is an element of science. When Friedland says 'in lieu of empirical measurement' he evades a fact which philosopher Leonard Peikoff articulates perfectly: 'There is no distinction between the ‘logically’ and the ‘empirically’ possible (or impossible). All truths…are the product of a logical identification of the facts of experience. This applies as much to the identification of possibilities as of actualities'. (“The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy”)"(From my essay "A Brief On The Definition Of Philosophy For The Purpose Of Advancing Freedom And Thriving") How does existence, the fundamental state of the universe, apply to ethics? The answer is: ethics tells you how to regard/treat existence as such, human existence, and specifically your existence, i.e., the existence of the individual person. Another example of philosophy's reach: economics-it helps us understand that existence and its aspects are resources, what we should produce and consume and why. Like politics, economics obviously depends on ethics, as ethics depends on epistemology which depends on metaphysics.
  7. From "In Condemnation of Apathy"

    I wrote "In Condemnation Of Apathy" because I realized that nothing bothered me more than the rampant apathy in our culture... posted it on my website (then seanoconnoressays.com and now seanoconnorliterature.com), which I persistently promoted on Facebook. I also recorded a video of myself reading the essay and uploaded it onto youtube and promoted that video on Facebook. And of course, I told people I know about the essay and requested that they give it a read. My point here is: I had something to important to say about the problem of apathy and I presented this statement to many people on many forums and I was rather surprised- in hindsight the surprise was due to naivety- how few people deemed an essay with such a title worth reading. After all, our culture is plagued by rampant apathy and it ought to be condemned. This was not even a technical, controversial, metaphysical, epistemological assertion. It is a very blatant problem that people of various ideologies can easily grasp without wavering from their theism or their selective use of their reason. I wonder: is the magnitude of apathy in our culture worse than I thought it was? (I do have to say, I am very pleased with the objectivismonline.com forum. Many of the people on this forum do care, are quite receptive, discuss issues respectfully, and quite intelligently.... (from "An Epistle To Dr. Nathaniel Branden")
  8. Question about Nathaniel Branden

    Have you read both Ayn Rand's statement about her break with Dr. Branden, and his statement? The most interesting difference between the two is that, quite out of character on the part of Ayn Rand, she expects us to take on faith, that Dr. Branden wrote her a letter that was "irrational and impossible"- as she does not identify what, within that letter, was "irrational". In Dr. Branden's statement, he explains every assertion. Regarding the moral issue: our guiding moral principle is rational self interest. Was it in Ayn Rand's rational self-interest to have an affair with Dr. Branden, and in the manner she did? If she was deeply happy in her marriage, and say, wanted to have meaningful and rich sex, while, perhaps her husband was in some way disconnected from her in that respect- and she told him she was satisfying a personal need, and he ultimate said "okay" then that cannot be deemed immoral.
  9. The illusion of volition(AKA free will)

    "'…If, as a staunch determinist such as Baron Holbach states in his System of Nature, man’s ‘ideas come to him involuntarily’- if man is ‘wise or foolish, reasonable or irrational, without his will being for anything in these various states”- then by what right does he or any other determinist claim his ‘involuntary‘ ideas as knowledge? A determinist can only announce: ‘Destiny forces me to believe’, etc. He cannot claim to know anything.” ('The Contradiction of Determinism" by Nathaniel Branden) I had never realized that knowledge itself implies the fact that humans possess free will. Prior to reading this essay, my understanding of free will was based on the fact that if humans do not possess free will then existence would have to be, quite literally, pure chaos. It would have to be pure chaos because every experience of consciousness would have to be a) not really an experience of consciousness and b ) arbitrary; then even the arbitrary belief in an awareness of consciousness is just some arbitrary occurrence but it is contradictory for consciousness to be both arbitrary and aware of the fact that it is arbitrary. In hindsight I see that I failed to identify the fact that a contradiction can be identified and thus implies the existence of knowledge. You explained free will on a much more fundamental level and reiterated the importance of examining all ideas from the most fundamental level possible... As I mentioned earlier, I used to be a determinist. In fact, I remember a specific phone conversation I had with my mother when I was attending Florida Gulf Coast University. I spoke to her of my intense depression, and dread over my belief that I was doomed for misery. It was that sense of doom that had always haunted me. A year and a half later (after a temporary absence from college) I attended a community college and took an introductory philosophy course. At this time I was only curious about philosophy. I was not consciously passionate about it. My passion at the time was poetry. I thought however that a good poet ought to have a sufficient understanding of philosophy. Ironically, I didn’t even know the definition of philosophy. I won’t tell you every disturbing detail about that course, or that college, (I’m sure the existence of community college itself saddens you; it saddens me!) but I must tell you about a question I asked my professor. The professor’s name is Dr. Jamey Heit. The particular course Dr. Heit was teaching was called “Moral Choices; An Introduction to Philosophy”. Now one day I rose my hand and asked my professor the following question: If we have free will, is it limited or does it include the free will to choose our beliefs? His answer was “that is a topic for a more advanced course”. This disturbed me tremendously since one cannot discuss morality without first knowing if one even has the free will to understand morality and furthermore act on that understanding. Furthermore, I remained uncertain about the nature of my free will or lack there of since even though I did believe I had free will I didn’t know it. “The Contradiction of Determinism” is the most eloquent, thorough discussion on free will that I have read. I can now most certainly say “I know I have free will”. Again, thank you. (It is true that Ayn Rand notes the fact that we have free will, and notes the implications, but so far as I am aware, she never wrote an in depth essay on free will as such.)" ("An Epistle To Dr. Nathaniel Branden" )
  10. moralist, That is an excellent point and really provides clarified insight into an ideal thought process. I really like the image that comes with "observe thought" as it implies more than just arbitrary thinking. I had written a previous comment here but omitted it because I wasn't clear. I want to give a better response. In regards to describing types of thoughts, speaking on the most basic level, there are logical thoughts and illogical thoughts- but then beyond that, as we advance our study of thoughts qua entities we can identify all the various types of thoughts, two of which you have implicitly identified: "introspective thought" and "intellectual thought". I do love that especially because it clarifies the contrasting images of passive, elementary thought- that which would stream through the mind of an apathetic- and logical, constructive thought and not only that, but thought of other various thoughts. Ultimately my favorite thing here is the treatment of thought qua an entity as far too many people think thoughts do not even exist (and yet hypocritically use the term!) Thanks for your comments!
  11. ruveyn, Have you read Dr. Peikoff's "The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy"?
  12. bluecherry, Don't worry about your rough definitions and writing as you are tired. You were nontheless, exceptionally thorough which is quite praise worthy and indicative of how rich you are spiritually. With that being said, I shall get right to our disagreement. I actually want to begin with the definition of science because I can't prove philosophy is a science if I don't define science. Science is the study of the aspects of the universe. I believe I explained in a prior responce, the distinction between the universe and existence. As we know, "existence exists". Existence is the state of being. That is obviously the "fundamental state" of the universe. (I here use the expression "fundamental state" because obviously there can be no other "fundamental" state since a thing can only exist. The issue of secondary states is a different issue) So what is it that a "scientist" does? A scientist discovers facts, or tries to. The actual science is the set of facts. If you were to teach Meteorology, for example, you would teach me facts about the atmosphere and weather, et cetera. The key point is that it is about facts. A particular field of science is a particular, distinct set of facts on a very specific subject. Now, I have said that existence as such is a state of being. It is the fundamental state of all things. It is an aspect of the universe. It is its own subject. It gets its own "field" of science. That is philosophy. In epistemological terms, philosophy, refers specifically to facts about existence qua state which are discovered, and taught and applied. When somebody then, say Nietzsche, starts tossing these ideas about meaninglessness into the culture and labels it part of "philosophy" or identifies it as "his philosophy" that is simply a lie. Nihilism and the will to power- that is is his ideology, his system of beliefs. The distinction has to be made otherwise a lie is being furthered. A fair question arises: what is the problem of teaching philosophy as a mix of facts, mistakes and lies, and thus referring to our belief systems as our philosophy? Let us use the exact same principle- the principle and implicitly postmodern premise- for another question. "what is the problem with teaching false theories and futile principles in math, which is the field of science which studies measurement and saying 'My Math, Seanism teaches that 1+1=3'"? (That definition of mathematics is based on the one Ayn Rand gives in "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology".) It is, in the most literal sence, illogical since Math isn't an ideology. It is a field of science. (And 1+1=2) To say "my philosophy, Seanism" or "oconnorism" is to say "my belief system is philosophy as such, i.e., speaking universally.". I shall make this even clearer by bringing up the law of identity. A is A. A is only A. I is not A, and B, and C. The nature of A can only be the nature of A. A and B may have certain things in common, such as the fact that they are both letters used in the English language but each has its own identity and it's own nature. So the nature of philosophy cannot be the field of science which studies existence and also a synonym for my ideology. To assert that is illogical, i.e, one contradicts the other.
  13. From "In Condemnation of Apathy"

    moralist, First of all, I apologize for the typo on your name. You made a profound point here; especially if we are going to have any success in the short term regarding the advancement of freedom in this country since true Christians are capitalists! A true Christian does not even support legislation banning abortion. Instead, the Christian would merely condemn it and insits that people choose not to have abortions because, according to the Bible it is "sinful". I would say we can "condemn religion as a whole" but I don't think we can find religion as a whole "contemptible". "there is a difference between contempt- deeming someone a threat to others and/or deserving of severe punishment/misfortune- and condemnation- expression of complete disapproval- and I assert that everything must be either condemned- if it is illogical- or praised- if it is logical. The reason I say this is because, in reference to the three types of immorality -self destructive, insulting, and violent- those who are self destructive but not insulting or violent have at least some remnant of respect for humanity; thus while they must absolutely be condemned they are not yet contemptible. Once a person becomes insulting and/or violent and thus renounces whatever tiny remnant of respect he or she used to have for humanity he or she thus explicitly confesses and demonstrates the fact that he or she is contemptible; this is evident because if somebody has no respect for humanity he or she can have no respect for him or herself and is in essence saying “I’m contemptible so you are as well! We are all contemptible!”." (from "An Epistle To Dr. Nathaniel Branden") Excellent quote on Jesus that you cited. I think it is especially excellent since we cannot prove that Jesus uttered a single word he is said to have uttered.
  14. And of course the basis of my writing, and my being here is to address basic, as well as complex, philosophical ideas. I have to confess, I felt- and to a slight degree still feel- nervous about communicating on this forum. Not as a matter of insecurity, but rather, precisely because of what you wrote- that people would get offended, then angry, and insulting at the sight of philosophical-ideological ideas that they have no interest in accepting. One of the worst trends in our culture, due to irrationality, lack of understanding the meanings of things, poor value judgements, et cetera, is that people fire insults at each other like anarchic freaks shooting machine guns! It is so rampant that family members of mine are this way, people where I work for are this way, and even my damn landlord is this way! Indeed, it really is time to address the problem of rampant insults head on! I am glad that there is not "too much" of that here. I wrote in the apology " I want to help you understand my discoveries and ideas and indeed inspire discussion/debate. (You might think I have contradicted myself somewhere and if you do, that's okay. To quote my hero, Dr. Nathaniel Branden, "I'm open to learning. But let's be clear about what I have said and not said"...The only thing I don't tolerate, or entertain is an insult. I mean every word of that. I have discovered, as I have asserted in other posts, that the defintion of philosophy tends to be misapplied and severely misunderstood and taught. I do not assert this because I want to cause a dramatic, arbitrary and semantical argument with Objectivists. I do it because I highly admire Objectivists, and want to impart, not the dismantling of objectivism in terms of most of its principles, but rather, the advancement of philosophy. By advancing philosophy we give it more substance and relevance. We make it more interesting! And we can thus interest others in it.
  15. bluecherry, Thank you for your responce, and again, I apologize for the length of time it took me to respond. The delay, like that which makes it difficult for you to concentrate on long texts, is due to current circumstances. So little time is terribly frustrating! There is indeed a lot of literature being presented to us throughout the world and it is certainly essential to be aware of it and be able to judge it. In my own life I am quite overwhelmed in my struggle to read as much as I can. I study objectivist literature, I want to study Dr. Nathaniel Branden's books and Dr. Leonard Peikoff's books, I want to study other ideologies as well, study the news, art, history and biographies, study the special sciences and answer as many questions of mine as I can and this is terribly, terribly time consuming- especially as I also must pay bills and promote my literature. You wrote: "everybody I know who might have any interest is already here. There's nobody else I know to make any recommendations to"- that is both depressing and comforting. It is obvious why it is depressing! A perfect concretization of how depressing it is: the fact that today we have to endure President Obama's second inauguration and the majority of the country's immoral "celebration" of socialism's progress in America. But as I said, I am also comforted and thus feel confidence in our future. I feel tremendous pleasure here. Perhaps your cirumstances are similar to mine. If they are not, then I am glad! For me: "There is no one I interact with in person- other than my girlfriend- who agrees with me on fundamental, ideological issues..it brings me sadness and frustration. But every time I get the opportunity to communicate with or read from someone I agree with- at least to a significant extent- ideologically, I feel exhilaration and tremendous confidence in humanity’s future; I get to experience the beauty of virtue, intelligence, wealth and truth; it is like a strangely warm day in the brunt of winter; it is luxurious!" (from "An Epistle To Dr. Nathaniel Branden)
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