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Everything posted by Severinian

  1. Severinian

    Heirs to dictatorships

    I originally posted this as a question to Leonard Peikoff for his podcast, but he never got to it before his podcast ended. I want to know what you think. What if someone with the moral character of John Galt was the heir to a dictatorship? What would he do? Would he just leave the country, or would he take the position as dictator and try to subtly govern the country towards a more Western society, or at least prevent it from getting even worse?
  2. Did anyone save this? The link is broken.
  3. In this podcast, Peikoff says that animals in slaughterhouse should be treated as humane as is economically viable: Doesn't this imply that it's irrational to care about the suffering of others, unless preventing it is a means to another end? (A premise I don't agree with) What if it's more economically feasible to slaughter them in painful ways, but you don't want to inflict such suffering on others, so you're willing to go home with a slightly lower paycheck? I don't see anything irrational about that.
  4. In The Fountainhead, I got the impression that Gail was supposed to be a semi-good, life-loving person who simply made a philosophical mistake, and this made him crave power. However, in Galt's speech, it seemed like Rand's position was that all powerlust came from subconscious nihilism? (I.e. hatred of the good for being the good)
  5. Severinian

    Are all powerlusters nihilists?

    That's the way in which some people use the term nihilist, but as far as I understand, Rand (and others, like Dostoyevsky and Nietzsche) used it to mean hatred of the good for being the good. I.e. the mentality of a drunk obese man who beats his wife into a pulp if she's laughing.
  6. Severinian

    Some people welcome oblivion

    When talking about the issue of life extension, it shocks me that a lot of people who don't believe in life after death don't really fear dying, and even say that they wouldn't want to use a cure for aging if it was possible, because they want oblivion at some point. Put aside the point that a non-senescing person could still commit suicide, how can some people possibly welcome oblivion? Imagine never existing anymore, ever, that is horrible! I don't understand these people, and they can't really explain why to me. The only possible explanation I can think of is that there's some fundamental pain, fear, guilt or sorrow that is constantly bothering them deep down, which is so strong that they would actually prefer to not exist than to bear it. Maybe they see joy as a mere relief from this fundamental pain, and at some point, they run out of "distractions from pain", and therefore, they would prefer oblivion, like Schopenhauer. Isn't this the only explanation? If one welcomes oblivion, the alternative must be worse? What can be worse than experiencing nothing? Experiencing something painful. As an aside, when, in Atlas Shrugged, Rand writes about people who hate existence. I guess she's talking about these people? Maybe some nihilist nutjobs even think they're doing people a favor by killing them, if they believe that everyone else must have the same painful experience of life, and that oblivion is best for everyone. She said that most Americans are incapable to fully grasp the nature of these people's psychology, because of a different sense of life. Thoughts?
  7. Severinian

    Physical infinity

    I guess we've all been baffled by the concept of the universe as eternal (which it must have been, since something by definition can't come out of nothing). I think eternity itself is impossible to really grasp on a deep level, because there's always a part of us that asks "When did all this actually start?" Yet it's hard to come to any other conclusion logically. With that in mind, could it also be possible that the universe is infinite? That no matter how deep we study nature we will never reach an end, that it is infinite both in inwards (from cells to molecules to atoms to electrons and protons to quarks, etc) and outwards (infinite number of galaxies). At the face of it, this idea seems ridiculous because it's incomprehensible, but isn't it incomprehensible in the same way as eternity? Could it be logically possible?
  8. Severinian

    Nietzscheism + reason

    Playing a sort of devil's advocate here - Would it be fair to say that Objectivism's morality is like the morality of Nietzsche, but with an emphasis on reason and long-term thinking? Nietzsche held that a person should do whatever he pleases, even if it hurts others, even if it means seeking power. Objectivism holds that we should use and seek power over other species, that it's moral to eat meat and wear make-up (for the sake of enjoyment) even though animals have to suffer and die for this. It holds that in a war, innocents can be killed as collateral damage. In other words, the one thing that differs Objectivism from Nietzscheism is that Objectivism also says "Pause before you act and think about what really benefits you. If you try to control other human beings in everyday life, you are depriving yourself of the incentive to be a producer and trader, you are also depriving yourself of the benefits and wealth you can get from leaving them alone and trading with them. Also, they might end up seeking revenge on you if you can't control them anymore, and so forth." Agree?
  9. I'm currently living in a condo in an urban area, but I fantasize about living "off the grid" when the time comes for upgrading to my own house. By that, I don't mean living in a primitive house with no electricity like a hippie, but just a house without reliance on public piping, electric cables, etc. Also, no immediate neighbours. Maybe even a spot where it's possible to grow food, even though I might not do that, so long as I can buy it from the grocery store. Now, of course, this is a bit unpractical, since it will be more expensive and one can't have shops, malls and so on in the immediate vicinity, so I'm wondering what the psychological cause of this desire is? Do you have any ideas? Is it irrational? When reading The Fountainhead, I got the feeling that there were some clues about this, with Dominique and Wynand both desiring places where Roark or Wynand's house could be untouched by the world, etc.
  10. Severinian

    Wynand's murders

    Wouldn't Roark inquire Wynand about the murders before he became his friend? Early in the section about Gail Wynand and his career, it said, when all the shady bribery and crimes of Wynand's early career was listed: (paraphrasing) "Noone could prove that the Wynand Papers were behind the fire that burned down the clothing store and killed 3 young women."
  11. Severinian

    Wynand's murders

    "A fire broke out in a sweatshop employing thirty young girls. Two of them perished in the disaster. Mary Watson, one of the survivors, gave the Banner an exclusive story about the exploitation they had suffered. It led to a crusade against sweatshops, headed by the best women of the city. The origin of the fire was never discovered. It was whispered that Mary Watson had once been Evelyn Drake who wrote for the Banner. It could not be proven." This is after many such instances of things that "could never be proven" are listed. Page 425.
  12. Severinian

    Wynand's murders

    Maybe Roark didn't know since he wasn't so interested in what was going on in the world, except for architecture, etc, but still, Rand should have addressed this, don't you think? Wouldn't a person like Dominique ever mention it?
  13. Severinian

    "Time marches on"

    What exactly happened to Toohey at the end of The Fountainhead? He's in an interview for a position in a new newspaper, and tries to find out about the owner's weakness, and the paragraph ends with "In the radio room across the hall somebody was twisting a dial. 'Time,' blared a solemn voice, 'marches on!' " I don't understand the significance of that last part. Is it simply saying that Toohey will just go on as he always does?
  14. Severinian

    Tears of joy

    Ayn Rand had an interesting hypothesis as to why people cry of joy. She said that it's actually a sadness over the fact that such beautiful moments are such a rare exception in life. In other words, it comes from philosophy and experience, and it's not the joy per se that makes you cry, but the grief that it's rare. It has the ring of truth to it, after all, you don't see children cry of joy that often. But what do we make of this video, of a mother singing to her baby, which is crying silently? Are we simply "projecting" and assuming that it's crying "of joy" like an adult person, when in reality, it might cry because of something else?
  15. Severinian

    Preemptive war and innocent casualties

    I might be wrong on this, but I think the NAP comes from libertarians, and not from Rand. If she coined it, it's certainly meant as a guideline, something to draw wisdom from in 99,9% of situations. If you predate on others, they will do the same to you. But it's not unethical to break into someone's house in a snowstorm. Regardless, if innocents are killed in a war, the war was still initiated by their host country, not the defenders. So it doesn't violate the NAP, as far as I understand the principle, but obviously, some libertarians disagree. It's irrational to hold NAP as the fundamental, unbreachable premise instead of egoism.
  16. Severinian

    Exposed to indifferent eyes

    "Sometimes, he was asked to show his sketches; he extended them across a desk, feeling a contraction of shame in the muscles of his hand; it was like having the clothes torn off his body, and the shame was not that his body was exposed, but that it was exposed to indifferent eyes." What do you make of this line? Why should being exposed naked to indifferent eyes matter to a rational person? If he or she had self-esteem, it shouldn't matter that some people won't see beauty in it. Just like you wouldn't feel ashamed if an animal saw you naked. I have a feeling that the answer to this explains why Objectivism is also against nude photography, which I've never quite understood.
  17. Severinian

    Exposed to indifferent eyes

    It was Howard Roark, so I doubt it's due to a lack of self-esteem. Regarding nude art, I must have remembered wrongly what Peikoff said in this answer, I guess he's talking about the act of masturbating here: http://www.peikoff.com/2014/03/24/i-am-dating-a-girl-that-is-an-internet-cam-girl-meaning-she-strips-and-masturbates-via-web-chat-for-money-i-like-the-fact-that-she-fakes-having-a-good-time-with-other-men-but-is-really-attracted-on/ Still, I don't understand why Roark, as a rational man, should feel ashamed, why should he care whether irrational people can't appreciate his work any more than if a dog didn't?
  18. Severinian

    The value of relationships

    I recently spoke to a hedonist who challenged the traditional Objectivist view by this example: Imagine that you meet a person like Morpheus from the movie The Matrix. He explains to you that you are actually living in a virtual reality machine, and that all other people in this world, just like the world itself, are merely part of the software. Just like non-human characters in video games, we can't expect people in this world to be conscious at all, they just seem to be, and act like they are. Naturally, you think he's joking, but he performs all sorts of "miracles" to prove to you that he is indeed from the outside, and that this is a computer simulation. The rational judgment at this point is to believe him, since he can seemingly defy natural laws. Now, he offers you a choice. You can actually return to the real world if you like, or you can stay in the simulation. Your life in the real world is not too good, you live in a dictatorship, and if you exit the machine, your life expectancy and chances of achieving happiness in the real world are smaller than in this one. But of course, you would meet "real people". Is it rational to go to the real world? Most people would say yes, because there's a huge happiness in knowing that you experience life with someone else. But what premises have led to that emotional response? (You know this is the Objectivist view on emotions) Is it actually rational to care whether your connection with others is genuine, as long as they react in the same way? If so, why? On a meta-ethical/meta-psychological level. As you can probably guess, the hedonist said that the rational choice would be to stay. I know many Objectivists don't like surreal examples about morality, but I think it's important, because it lets you focus solely on the issue in question.
  19. Severinian

    Some people welcome oblivion

    I don't think it's irrational to be motivated by fear. Fear, if it's based on something rational, is telling you something important, for example that you might die if you don't do anything about it. Schopenhauer was motivated by pain only, but I'd say a truly rational person is both motivated by fear/pain/etc and also the good things in life. The attitude of the people I'm talking about seems to be of the latter, "I don't care, it's gonna happen anyway, my death won't make that much of a difference, I don't mind the idea of oblivion", etc. That sounds very Schopenhauerish to me.
  20. Severinian

    Some people welcome oblivion

    Exactly. That's what I'm wondering, because some of my friends and potential love interests have taken this stance. But feel free to discuss any other aspects of life extension, objectivist views on death, etc as well.
  21. Severinian

    Some people welcome oblivion

    "There are plenty of people alive today who would welcome death rationally given their conditions." True, but that's because of some physical or emotional pain. And so if people say that they are perfectly comfortable with oblivion in general and wouldn't want to halt their aging, if they're that apathetic about their own survival, I think there must be something really bothering them deep down. Maybe it is some great value they lost that hurts every minute of their life, maybe they're scared of something, etc.
  22. Severinian

    Some people welcome oblivion

    First of all, as far as I can remember, Rand wrote something contradicting this in TVOS. But more importantly, this is not about dogma, we know that happiness is the ultimate goal, and if an immortal being can increase its happiness, then obviously it has values and meaning.
  23. Severinian

    Some people welcome oblivion

    I highly disagree that an immortal person would have no need of values, and I think that quote is taken out of context. Survival is not the ultimate goal, happiness is. If you were immortal, you could still enjoy new places, new art, revisit/reconsume old places and art, enjoy life's physical pleasures that you never get tired of, etc, you would never have to be "tormented by boredom".
  24. Severinian

    The value of relationships

    "It'd be moral to leave the Matrix, not for the sake of some abstract devotion to "reality" or "real people" or anything else that's based on the idea of a perfect illusion (which is the Kantian skew), but to avoid living your life at the mercy of whatever happens outside." What if this "Morpheus guy" could convince you that the machine was far more safe from destruction/tampering than you would be in the real world if you went outside into the real world? Maybe you could even leave the virtual world and see it for yourself, that the machine was perfectly hidden and secure, but everywhere where there were people, the risk of murder or other horrible things was high. If you then had the choice whether or not to go back, would it still be best to live in reality, even though it was more unsafe? It seems to me that in order to have a meaningful relationship, the subject of your love must be both conscious and "beautiful" to you. You would always feel a tiny bit of a fundamental loneliness with a "robot" even if it seemed 100% human. On the other hand, you don't love anyone just because of the fact that they're conscious. You don't love a mosquito, and you won't care that much if it turns out that they suffer greatly because it's hard for us to sympathize and empathize with an insect's suffering ("The Bambi effect"). Likewise, if your girlfriend was turned into an insect permanently, you wouldn't love her that much anymore, even if it would be her qualia in the insect. (I know the example is bizarre, but just bear with it)
  25. Ayn Rand, as we know, held that we have free will, and that virtue consists of focusing on reason, etc. How much does free will affect intelligence, according to this view? Ayn Rand was extremely rational and virtuous. If she was born into a family that had bad "IQ genes", and she was malnurished and beaten as a young child, would she still be as rational as she was? Could she have developed a high IQ? Is any of Ayn Rand's theories contradicted by modern neuroscience? I'm very curious about how all these things work together.