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Harrison Danneskjold

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Everything posted by Harrison Danneskjold

  1. The DIM Hypothesis - by Leonard Peikoff

    Why can't we quantify reality?
  2. All About Evasion

    After reviewing Ghate's speech, I think you might be right. And I was wrong. Now I have to go track down that Seppuku knife.
  3. Is Social Awareness a Value, a Virtue or a Second Class "Goodness"

    Primarily that it's an extraspective (instead of introspective) thing; i.e. it's somewhere out in physical reality, and not in your own head. As for whether or not everything is existential, that's ultimately true, but it's still a useful concept (like "infinity" or the way a map of a city doesn't account for the curvature of the Earth). The introspective idea of "a concept" looks very different from the extraspective neurons and dendrites it's ultimately composed of.
  4. All About Evasion

    As for recognition, evasion is typically more direct and persistent. A drifter might slip up here or there because they're multitasking (or whatever) and simply missed something; if someone can sit and maintain that A!=A then they're probably not just drifting. As for dealing with evasion, I usually try to determine why they're evading and possibly address it. Maybe their fears are unfounded, maybe they're opposed to some inescapable fact of reality; regardless of what their motive is they're shooting themselves in the foot, and sometimes I'll try to help them see it. Otherwise I'll stop addressing their points at all. When I think other people are drifting things get a bit more complicated. Yes. It's like missing a turn while you're driving because you're also lighting a cigarette and messing with the radio; it's one of those things that can happen to anybody, at any time, if they're being careless. And it definitely impacts things here, but yeah: it's not like everyone who's ever commented on IP rights (for example) did so while cruising down the highway. I highly recommend it. Towards the end he gets into moral responsibility (how the difference between "errors of ignorance" and "evasion" isn't actually binary and how to gauge degrees of either one), which I found invaluable in my own life. Very good stuff. That's interesting. I've always thought of evasion as a consciously chosen thing (which is also how it seemed back when I called it "faith"). I'll have to come back to that in an hour or two.
  5. All About Evasion

    I'm not sure about that. Referring back to "Seize the Reigns of Your Mind", it makes sense to me to distinguish between drifting and evading. One can drift (simply failing to pay attention) without realizing it, and in fact cannot do otherwise; if you realize that you're drifting, and continue to do so, then it becomes wilful evasion. You can't evade accidentally; if you're not consciously refusing to pay attention then you're drifting. With evasion - just don't evade, I think. Drifting (which seems like a good portion of what you've described) is more difficult and I'm not sure I can improve on your approach; I wish I'd thought of it.
  6. All About Evasion

    I will actually answer that question (probably tomorrow), but to respond this way was just too hilarious to be passed up. Not the first video. The editor isn't cooperating with me (I think it's offended at a few of the things I told it in the last few hours); the second one. That's how you respond to evasion! XD You've got to admit - that's funny.
  7. All About Evasion

    When it comes to Christians, at least, I think it runs a bit deeper than that. In my first experiences with evasion, my parents called it "faith". All of the scriptures I heard about revolved around "faith" in one of two ways: the characters either thought for themselves, based their knowledge on the evidence of their senses, worked to improve their own situations and were brutally annihilated or they threw their hands in their air, said "God will solve our problems for us", had all of their problems miraculously solved and lived happily ever after. Imagining that what's basically the mind of the universe itself is inside your head with you, waiting to dish out infinite pleasure or infinite pain depending on the particular trains of thought you choose to follow... It's a lot of pressure. In retrospect, I imagine it must be close to what it feels like to have a gun to the back of your head. They're still so much fun to mess with, though. Anyway. I'll be back momentarily.
  8. Is objectivism consequentialist?

    To the degree that someone is a mystic, they are not happy. I've met plenty of alleged mystics who hardly suffered from their ideology's symptoms, at all - and none of them gave the causeless or miraculous a moment's thought beyond the confines of their Church. I've known others who routinely expected their problems to be solved by magic and wailed just as often that the universe hated them. I've seen others being rushed to the psych ward after scrutinizing their own beliefs too closely. Mystics are not happy.
  9. We Should Be Fun People. We Aren't. Let's Change!

    Mine, too. When I said that certain Objectivists need to lighten up I was thinking of the difference between "I guess I'm sorta happy at eighty" Leonard Peikoff and "smartphones are supercomputers! how can you be depressed with a supercomputer in your pocket?!" Yaron Brook. Absolutely. We shouldn't seek fun for the sake of PR; we should seek it -well- for fun! In the speech I linked to, Yaron Brook also addresses that idea (he calls it "pessimistic determinism").
  10. Is Social Awareness a Value, a Virtue or a Second Class "Goodness"

    That's exactly the right generalization; very good. The phrase I've found most useful is that man is a "contractual animal". And being able to respond appropriately to any individual's nature (which can sometimes mean the difference between life and death) requires social awareness. We don't need each other to survive, though (yet another strike against survivalism), nor should we be each others' primary concerns. Other people can help you to flourish (indeed, I don't know if it's possible in isolation) but you cannot and must not attempt to flourish through them. The difference consists of autonomy. Human life consists of two kinds of motion. Existentially we walk, eat, breathe, plant crops, make tools, build factories, trade and organize companies (etc); we do all of the countless things we must do to survive. It would be impossible us to flourish if we stopped because we would be very dead. We're also in constant personal motion throughout our lives. We learn and grow, we forget, our preferences wax, wane or change entirely; who we are as people is always changing. And you have no choice about whether to change or not; as long as you're alive, it's built into your nature. The only control you have is in which direction to go. Now, the key to being a healthy, happy and successful human is to consciously determine the course of your own motion, in both senses. If you take charge of your own personal development and live to be whoever it is you want to be then you'll be able to walk into any job interview or first date with your head high and without a trace of fear, guilt or doubt; if you live your life just doing whatever strikes your fancy then you may or may not become somebody you can tolerate. If you choose carefully when and where to plant your crops and how much to keep in reserve (etc) then you'll always have food on your table; if not then not. But a choice requires knowledge of and feelings about its consequences. Letting some momentary impulse or habit dictate your behavior is doing what any animal can do; not deciding. And no two people on Earth have the same beliefs or desires to decide by. Even if we somehow cloned a human mind (from childhood memories to their feelings about the previous night's dinner), after any length of separation it'd be uniquely different from the original (since both would've gone on acquiring new experiences and changes independently). This makes independence essential to flourishing. You have to be able to think for yourself (pursuing in your own way whatever knowledge you find important, revising anything that doesn't make absolute sense to you and maintaining everything that does), want what you want (exploring, evaluating and expanding on your emotional mechanism), "see through your own eyes and think with your own brain", go out to act on your decisions and change your mind as frequently as may be necessary - without having to explain or justify a damn thing to anybody else. If you can't take autonomous action then you're not in charge of your own life and you're screwed. This is part of why you should never make another person your highest priority (the other part being that to emotionally invest your self in things you can't control -such as other people- is a recipe for frustration and self-torture). We can (and should) value each other to some degree because we can make each others' lives immeasurably better in so many different ways (and, again, I'm not sure it's even possible for us to flourish alone) but at the end of the day each of us has to be allowed to come or go as we please, without restriction. And that's "the point at which social consciousness becomes second-handedness". That was an extremely sloppy and misleading for me to phrase it, and I'm sorry about any potential confusion; I hope this at least alleviated some of it.
  11. How to Morally Judge Amoral vs. Immoral Men

    Poison is neither moral nor immoral, but amoral. It's nothing more than what it is. Drinking poison because you thought it was Coca-Cola is neither moral nor immoral; it's nothing more than an unfortunate accident. Drinking poison with full knowledge of what it is (barring any truly extraordinary circumstances, such as a terminal illness) is immoral. The fact that something is bad for you doesn't necessarily make you evil for doing it, if you didn't know any better. You're not omniscient. The Arabian treatment of women is a symptom of their underlying view of mankind; that our proper place is as Allah's interchangeable and disposable slaves. I do not know of an honest way to make that kind of mistake. It's a somewhat technical part of this but I suspect that they do actually know better (in the same way that a playground bully, who has never heard of "rights" before, still feels the need to hide the nature of his actions). They pretend not to know better the same way they pretend that the Koran could ever make any sense; the same way Western Christians pretend that America was a product of Christianity, while the dark ages were not, and communists pretend that the USSR wasn't really communism. Ignorance excuses nothing if it's self-inflicted.
  12. We Should Be Fun People. We Aren't. Let's Change!

    Onkar Ghate defines three cognitive modes: Purposeful focus Aimless drifting Purposeful evasion
  13. We Should Be Fun People. We Aren't. Let's Change!

    While I generally agree with this, I think it's important to remember the circumstances she lived through. I'm sure it wasn't much fun to live in Soviet Russia, nor to have her ideas almost universally spat upon when she presented them to the West. It might make me a bit cranky, too. Firstly, I emphatically agree with you about acknowledging our own mistakes. Whether Objectivism ultimately stands, falls or corrects itself, as human beings our highest priority must be truth. Further, although some Objectivists certainly are comparable to religious worshippers (*cough* Peikoff *cough*), I don't think we all share such weaknesses. Peikoff just happened to have the biggest microphone for a while. Secondly, as Nathaniel Branden explained in The Psychology of Pleasure, there are many different varieties of "fun" we can experience... ... and not many could even recognize the kinds of fun which Objectivism emphasizes most. Hard work, self-improvement, rising to meet some challenge head-on; what Galt or Roark (who I consider truer Objectivist archetypes than Rand herself) call "fun" is what most people call "hard" and "stressful". Both perspectives are correct (Roark's kind of pleasure is both hard and fun) but choosing anything other than the path of least resistance is pretty radical today. Thirdly, while we should make more jokes, we should also be selective about their subjects. To laugh at something is to belittle it and make it seem small and impotent, which I think is why Rand said "one must never laugh at oneself". I don't agree with that principle, entirely; I think there are times when it's perfectly good and healthy to laugh at yourself - when you're laughing at your own flaws or weaknesses (or those of others). You must never laugh at the things dearest and most sacred to yourself (or what ought to be sacred to others). So I absolutely agree that some of us should lighten up a bit, but since we have such a nonstandard idea of what "fun" is this may not translate into the sort of behavior you might think (and certainly won't score us many brownie points with the general public, anyway). Hell, yes! That point, which at times seems lost on some of us, entails much of the "lightening up" I'd like to encourage. Amen! Thank you, but it hasn't come naturally. You should see some of my posts from a few years ago, if you're ever in a particularly masochistic mood. If you're interested in marketing Objectivism, there's a speech by Yaron Brook you should see.
  14. We Should Be Fun People. We Aren't. Let's Change!

    I'd just like to mention that I really don't think he's going to improve things. Although he'll certainly be better than Hillary would've, he explicitly conflates economic power with political power (he essentially ran on that) and that ought to be one of the requirements of holding the office. That being said, I can't help but like the bastard. Yawon Bwook actually seems like a pretty fun guy to me. I've seen a number of YouTube videos where he really radiates that (I've even seen him crack a joke or two), but it'll take just a bit for me to track them down. Is that really relevant, though? I'm sure you are a fun guy (and it's not dead; it's just worn out from a long night of shagging) but that's not the way you prove that point, man... Anyway. I'm sorry I haven't addressed anything substantive, yet; I'm very sleep deprived and I just wanted to clear up those details before I pass out.
  15. Is Social Awareness a Value, a Virtue or a Second Class "Goodness"

    What kind of social interaction, though? Are teaching, trading, stealing, sex and murder all equally good for you? The values one can gain from or lose to another person depends on what you do together, and there are plenty of different things to choose from. Why don't you start there? Good catch! Thank you.
  16. Determinism and free will

    It doesn't really relate to free will. I just saw a bunch of oversimplified and, frankly, incorrect claims about computer programs which I wanted to correct. I didn't mean to imply that AlphaGo can think; only that it's not predictable and that its unpredictability is not just a matter of exceeding our cognitive capacity. And that is spooky.
  17. Determinism and free will

    If you're a programmer then you should know the difference between an executable program and any old bits. The fact that there would be no program without a programmer (nor if he didn't freely choose to program it) is irrelevant; saying that an executable file itself doesn't exist without an observer is like saying that a tree falling in the metaphorical forest doesn't make any sound. We're now capable of writing neural networks in which nobody knows what's going on inside of them when they're running. We know how they generally work and have some idea as to what they'll do, but if you asked the person who programmed them what any specific one was doing at any point in time he wouldn't be able to tell you (I believe AlphaGo was one of these, if memory serves). I find that pretty damn spooky.
  18. Is objectivism consequentialist?

    Sorry; I didn't mean the quantity of people, either. A group of people is only some number of individuals. How they should behave, as a group, depends on how each of them should act in isolation (not that they'll necessarily be identical but that one must be based on the other). You are right on several counts (notably the relation between my ideas on "flourishing" and on socialization) and I do push for "social awareness", in my own way, and only in that very specific way. There's a point at which "social awareness" would cease to be healthy, benevolent coexistence and turn into second-handedness (trying to think through another brain, see through their eyes and do whatever you think they'd most approve of); beyond that point human beings stop being helpful or uplifting for each other's lives and gradually become codependent and monstrous. Trying to define the ultimate standard and purpose of ethics in social terms will prevent you from being able to define that cutoff point. Now, if you think it's just a separate but also important issue, then you're right. It probably belongs in another thread, but if you feel like making it and we can continue this subject over there. --- Also, on rat brains and flourishing, I found this to be extremely helpful:
  19. Is objectivism consequentialist?

    That's close to my position on "flourishing". All human emotions are one of two basic types of responses to some *thing*; for it or against it; desire and fear, pain and pleasure, etc. Some of those responses are built into the physical sensations of pleasure and pain, and are immediate, automatic and inescapable. Others are generalized expectations we have about the things around us; you touch a hot stove, learn to expect it to hurt and then fear it, you eat Halloween candy, learn to expect deliciousness and learn to crave it, you see adults using money to obtain Halloween candy, learn to expect that money can buy Halloween candy and learn to crave that, too. Even pride and guilt are responses for or against some thing; that thing just happens to be your self. So no human emotions is ever causeless or arbitrary, and anyone who says otherwise is up to no good. However, this doesn't necessarily make them good guides for action. There was a study done at one point which involved rats with electrodes wired into the pleasure centers of their brains. When given a button to directly activate their own pleasure they invariably learned to want to push it (the same way a child learns about hot stoves and candy) and did so until they all starved to death. The fact that our brains are however-much bigger and better than that of any rat does not make necessarily make us immune to the same vulnerabilities (just look at any drug addict). We have to learn to think in straight lines, to predict the full consequences of our own actions, to analyze our emotions (since they can lead us towards our own pain and destruction) and to suppress them, if necessary. If we do all of that successfully, all day, every day, then we can enjoy our lives so much more than those rats ever could've imagined (assuming they have imaginations - I don't know) but it's not easy. Now, I don't think you need any life purpose outside of your self, because the purpose of your life is the same as the purposes of those rats' lives, or of the life of any living animal: to enjoy it. But to enjoy it the way only a human can (to flourish) takes hard work.
  20. Is objectivism consequentialist?

    A "hierarchy" implies multiple distinct and individual things; a hierarchy of one item, isn't. And if there's a hierarchy involved then some things matter more than others (and presumably there is some top-level thing which matters the most). To say that there is an evaluative hierarchy involved at all sunders the two. Then you're using "life" to mean something very different from survival. I think Rand absolutely would've agreed with that (it's basically in her own words). I also think the terminology leads to the same type of confusion we're all grappling with here and that "flourishing" would describe that same thing in a much clearer and less ambiguous manner. I'm sorry; they aren't to me. Could you please elaborate?
  21. Is objectivism consequentialist?

    Yes, it is. How many people should interact logically depends on how a person should act. I don't think it'd be invalid to work backwards towards a conclusion, as long as we double-checked it the other way afterwards (making sure we didn't contradict anything more fundamental). Sometimes that's the easiest way to solve a problem. It is still backwards, though. Do you mean to include every moral code in that? If so then I have some churches to show you. Or was that just an oversight? Any of the men who died in the American revolution. Marie Curie. Everyone who's ever died trying to escape dictatorship. The astronauts of Apollo One. *sigh* But despite the various pains he endured there, didn't Roark experience a higher sort of satisfaction by holding on to his own values and standards (and consequently, in the context of his whole life, a net increase in "good stuff")? I know we're venturing into the nature of nonsensory types of "pleasure" now (which is far from obvious to me) but that's what I thought the last time I read it. He mentioned John Galt's choice to commit suicide if Dagny was caught. Every single person arguing for something like "flourishing" here has mentioned it and you have yet to address it. I don't know whether that's an evasion or whether you just didn't notice or consider it relevant; there's a lot going on here, across several dimensions simultaneously, which makes it very difficult to know where anybody's main focus is. So I won't claim to have such knowledge. It would, however, probably be instructive if you could address that at some point. Also, I've been assuming that by "minimoralism" you mean your own grasp of egoism, which you've named for the sake of clarity (and which, if true, I greatly appreciate), but is that true? Because if you see it as something distinct then there are a lot of observations and arguments that I don't need to have on the back burner any longer. Nobody (not SL nor even Invictus) is ignoring that; they're omitting it for the specific purpose of this conversation, while keeping in mind that those derivative issues are still real and important (but currently irrelevant). It's not necessarily invalid, either, and the points I want to make don't require it (it'd be a problem if they did). I was hoping to get away with doing this slightly out of order, in order to avoid the messier route, but it's looking less and less like that'll work. Well, there's more than one way to skin a cat.
  22. Is objectivism consequentialist?

    If blowing oneself up on a bus full of nuns and orphans is irrelevant to morality then the most we could ever say about it would be emotional ejaculations like "ew, that's gross" (as one might respond to the prospect of an anchovy pizza): we might find it personally distasteful and we might even try to prohibit it, but at the end of the day we must concede that it's a valid option. I do not believe it's a valid option for anyone, regardless of their circumstances. Although I find it just as distasteful as I'm sure you do, I also believe it's objectively and demonstrably wrong (wrong in the way that "2+2=5" is) and I'm prepared to try to demonstrate how and why. This isn't all that relevant to actual suicide bombers: don't argue with someone who wants to destroy you; run the Hell away and alert the authorities. However, there are countless other evils in the world today that stem from similar errors. Walk into any chapel service, for example, and you'll hear all the same types of distortions, falsehoods, misevaluations and sometimes open misanthropy which cumulatively allow someone to think to themselves that it'd be a good idea to blow up nuns and orphans. If you can't argue against the fundamental validity of worshipping death then to me that indicates room for you to learn more about egoism. Which is what I meant for my question to imply. So are you basically saying "ew, I don't like that"? That's true. I would prefer not to discuss yet the ways in which I think certain moral standards will harm their adherents. It'd be very difficult for me to discuss that without some amount of armchair psychoanalysis (which never ends well); although I disagree with most of the things that've been posted in this thread, I haven't seen anything atrocious enough to warrant that. So their sociopolitical ramifications -derivative as they are- seemed a less personal line of reasoning to the same conclusions. Perhaps something still better will occur to me. I was disputing your claim that a morality which applies universally to every choice we make would not reduce us to mindless, robotic slaves to the calculus. There are many different ways for me to try to program something. When I was first learning Java I would type something out (and retype and rearrange it until the compiler stopped yelling at me) and then immediately run it to see what it did. Later, there was a long period of time in which I'd code enormous subroutines and entire classes in an hour or two (certain that my conception was perfect and rushing to create it before I'd forget), run it and then send several weeks trying to determine what went wrong. Now I have a system. I make a list of all the classes I think I'll need, sketch out each one's most important parts, try to determine if any of them should be combined or split up and whether there's a better way to do any of the algorithms, repeat sketching and conceiving until I can't think of anything better and only then do I code anything (carefully). Does my system replace me as the programmer? I don't think so. I came up with it; I defined what sorts of designs were "better" or "worse" and I'm constantly expanding and improving it. Although it determines all of my programming-related choices and actions (at least when I'm on my A game) it's difficult for me to even conceive of it as anything other than a tool I've made for myself. I see Egoism as analogous to that. No, I was using an analogy to subtly point out what's wrong with justifying minimoralism on the basis of science and objectivity. If I had said that minimoralism is behaviorism, that would be a conflation. I didn't think the missing logical steps needed to be pointed out. Clearly I was mistaken about that, though. My bad. His survival is not dictated by his mental well-being, sir, no matter how "complex" the issues involved. That is a non-sequitur at bare minimum. And if he says "no, I just want to blow up a bus full of nuns and orphans" then ... ? -Galt's Speech
  23. Is objectivism consequentialist?

    So if I stopped wanting to live tomorrow then it'd be alright for me to blow myself up on a bus full of nuns and orphans, right? Can ANYONE here think of a reason why not?
  24. Is objectivism consequentialist?

    The usefulness of any theory depends on more than its simplicity or ease of quantification. Behaviorism is also extremely "amenable to science" but its omission of the fact of consciousness, while enabling it to quantify human behavior in the language of physicists, also restricts it to the description of reflexes (and invalidates any attempt to use it to quantify any meaningful behavior). The person would still have to choose to adopt that cold calculus. He'd have to learn about it, learn how to apply it to his own life and choose to apply it consistently (with nothing to ensure the accuracy of his conclusions -or the efficacy of his actions- except his own severity). There can be no calculus without a calculator. Furthermore, while I see what you mean about survivalism, if this calculus is about consistent ways to achieve happiness and is used for that same purpose then it wouldn't even make sense to ask whether it serves or is served by its user. Still further, what would you say to a minimoralist who decided that he just wanted to spend his life collecting welfare checks, staring at a TV screen and occasionally voting to maintain the status quo? I'm sure we'd agree that it's a rather repugnant prospect, but could you argue against his feeling that it's a good way to live?
  25. Is objectivism consequentialist?

    No, we wouldn't. Serious theologians argue with each other plenty - with the Bible as their standard of truth. And the Bible isn't too hot on the subject of atheism. A normal human being might adopt atheism in response to that, but a "monk" who could do so would not be. Yes. See Mental Health versus Mysticism and Self-Sacrifice by Nathaniel Branden.