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  1. This is something that I've wondered for a long time. We can all envision possible alternative cases for our experiences. For instance we can imagine that we are in some sort of matrix scenario, or that in fact we are really just highly deluded, rather than living the lives that we probably believe ourselves to be living. This is to say that any event which is witnessed can have multiple explanations. This happens in the fringe areas of science all the time, we’ve all gotten into arguments about this, and while it may appear a trivial issue, from any point of view it is where most of our “problems” arise. On a very fundamental level, however, we cannot be certain that the “reality” which we are experiencing is in fact “real” because the alternatives which I pointed out above and a million other alternatives are all plausible explanations which are not falsifiable. However, in order to function in our perceived reality the most efficient way to do this has been shown, time and time again, to treat it at face value. This, however, does not necessarily make our interpretation any more accurate, since the whole thing could be one elaborate misinterpretation. Does this mean that ultimately all interpretations of the perceived universe, all knowledge, is ultimately pragmatic. We use it because it works, not because it is necessarily true because we have no way of knowing what is true, beyond arguably some logical necessities. Therefore I can agree with the Objectivist claim that “existence exists”, but I believe that on the strictest level this is where the line of reasoning ends. We know that there is an objective universe that is in accordance with certain laws. This unfortunately does not give us anything into what these laws must be or what we are observing when we observe something beyond the fact that it is the interplay of objective laws. Thoughts?
  2. Objectivism, Preferences, and Happiness

    Thank you all for the detailed replies, although I'm afraid that I cannot respond to each of them individually. So can we all agree that: 1. Life, as used by Rand, really means something along the lines of "the good life", the "happy and fulfilling life", and therefore that in my case while eating ice cream would increase my lifespan in the pure biological sense by some tiny amount, it would almost certainly harm my life in the Objectivist sense more, thus making ice cream a value 2. Desires, bodily, emotionally, and mentally, that lead to pleasure, happiness, longevity and fulfillment, are in themselves values, each of which have some value in being fulfilled This in turn leads to something of a "conflict of values", as all values cannot necessarily be fulfilled without contradicting other values. So for instance, if my desire for icecream lead me to consume four cones a day, then that might seriously start to damage my health, decreasing other values such as maintaining a reasonable level of weight and living a reasonably long life 3. Between individuals certain values will differ while others will remain the same 4. All pursuits of values need to be rationally pursued in such a way that conflicts of values are properly dealt with and the best life possible is (hopefully) attained Is this basically what is being expressed, and are there any problems with what I have said, or have I missed something essential?
  3. Inflation and Technology

    I'm afraid that on top of not really understanding what your theory is here, what I believe I understand about it I don't agree with. So let's start off with what the theory itself is: Are you saying that because of the ease with which transactions can be made in our present day, that inflation occurs extremely quickly and with very few hitches? I'm afraid that I simply don't see the punchline in what you are saying in the OP, where you have your longest explanation of your thesis. You state that sophisticated investors never really get harmed by crashes, but so what? I don't see how this has anything to do with inflation one way or another; it's just being an intelligent investor able to hedge losses. Modern technology might help the speed with which they do this, but it certainly does not prevent inflation from occurring. If your argument is here that no one is actually harmed by inflation, there are more advanced arguments against inflation harming business coordination, and there are still problems of smaller less advanced firms and the influence upon labourers. Finally, you mention that money is primarily now kept electronically and in a bank account. But so what? It still represents something that is considered to be real and in which all prices are expressed. I don't see how this increases the speed of inflation or decreases the downsides. So would you be kind enough to clarify your point?
  4. Hello All

    Someone gets it! Thank you everyone.
  5. Fiat Money as Economics’ Floating Abstraction?

    I agree that we're talking about the same thing. Not to derail the thread, but want to share what you mean by the bolded section?
  6. One Piece

    I'm not sure if you're remembering important parts of Gurrenn Lagann. The preferred method of facing one's problems is to charge head first willing and fighting against what opposes you as hard as you can, not as smart as you can. Consistently just through sheer will power the heroes win against impossible odds, their rejection of reason going so far as for Simon to go ahead and endanger the universe even when it is explicitly stated that he knows its destruction is inevitable if he proceeds. There's also the fact that throughout the entire series neither Simon nor Kamina have any clue what their doing. Gurren Lagann is created through Kamina wanting to "transform" and smashing Lagann through the top of Gurren without any knowledge that it would work. Every stupid idea that the main characters try works because they "will" hard enough, and the most rational plan throughout the entire series, the elaborate plan by Simon's partner to escape the anti-spiral forces, is shown to be inferior to charging head on into danger.
  7. What I got out of Rand's "The Objectivist Ethics", is that ultimately what is moral to man is that which "really" (that is to say actually, reasonably, and in accordance with reality) promotes his own life. From here the good and happy life is one which one is living to advance and maintain one's own life. As I recall this is, for Rand "the ultimate end", what all actions are ultimately seeking to do. Moreover, I remember Rand claiming that happiness was the goal, but that this wasn't something one directly strived for, rather it is something that resulted from the maintenance of life. There are two things that have always puzzled me about this, so I wonder if I am misinterpreting this view. My first problem with this is what it says about preferences and the way that one lives life. Both of these can be simply summarized in one (true) example: my adoration for ice cream. I absolutely love ice cream, it's great, it's delicious, I like it. However, does this mean that I have a "rational" reason for eating ice cream or valuing ice cream? This is not a reason that has anything to do with forwarding my own life, it is simply something arbitrary that I experience from the act of eating ice cream, but this is a feeling from wholly non-rational sources. Is this irrational from an Objectivist standpoint? At the same time, from the viewpoint of extending and constantly working towards the perpetuation of my own life, it would seem that if anything it is irrational to eat ice cream. Ice cream is high in calories, bad for your teeth, and I usually eat it in addition with a full meal, meaning that it's high caloric content is even worse. Therefore, if anything there is a perfectly rational reason NOT to eat ice cream. However, I can tell you know that I am willing to accept the small detriment to my health that results from eating ice cream for the enjoyment that I experience from it. This is rational in the sense that it is perfectly in accordance with objective reality, and even with happiness as my long term goal. So am I misinterpreting Rand on this crucial point, or is there some reason that I should go cold turkey on ice cream? I have other thoughts on the subject even in the event that the answer is "no", but I'll leave that for further responses. Thanks.
  8. Hello All

    I joined these forums because I have always had a strong interest in Ayn Rand's ideas, and out of that I have developed a strong liking for philosophy in general. I consider myself a post-Objectivist, although if you like something a little less pretentious and a little more meaningful I'd say that I have strong leanings towards Objectivism in many of my philosophical viewpoints. Philosophically I am most interested in existentialism and related topics, but as far as what I study in general, I am first and foremost an economist. Politically I am an anarchist, but I am not fanatical as far as that goes, so take that as you will. I look forward to interesting and informative discussions on these forums. -K
  9. One Piece

    This is something aside (since I've never engaged in the never-ending episode monster that is One Piece) but I think that the most Objectivist anime in terms of its themes of individualism and the importance of human effort and will is Gurren Lagann... As long as you ignore the pure irrationallism and irrationality of the entire series. Fullmetal Alchemist also has something to be said for it (Greed in the Brotherhood version is extremely capitalistic). I think that the anime with the best moral dilemmas, which I would love an Objectivist approach to, is Fate/Zero, which is simply amazing in how it portrays different views of morality. Evanglion is my favorite series out of all Television and film, but it's purely existentialist, which does have a few ties to Objectivism, but it would be easy to stretch them in this case.
  10. Fiat Money as Economics’ Floating Abstraction?

    I realize that this is what you are trying to say, but people value dollars because they can be exchanged for goods, which is because people value dollars. People don't care that people value dollars, people care that people will exchange for dollars. As I said above the predominant value of money is in goods, not in the money itself. This occurs both in a commodity and a fiat standard. Thus as to this insight: I don't think that this is relevant unless the value of money changes so much that it is no longer, in fact, money. The value of money changes suddenly in the case of fiat, but this doesn't devoid it from economic "meaning". Indeed, one can argue that it can enhance it. For instance, if we take the worldviews of the monetary interventionist and the monetary non-interventionist we see that there are two possibilities. I doubt that anyone denies that the fundamental purpose of money in a metallic standard is to act as a stable source of value to allow a smoothly functioning economic system. This is its prime purpose on a social level that is desired by every individual except those who wish to speculate in the currency itself. If the interventionist is right, then fiat money provides for better money, if the non-interventionist is right then it doesn't. Therefore I think the matter comes down to whether or not fiat money is substandard when compared to its substitute for acting as money. If this is the case then it is "valuable" and necessary that the value changes based upon the actions of the central bank, it is the "best concept" that we have. If it is not, then it is a worse concept and shifts without importance. To reiterate one more time, this is all because the value of a commodity in use is such a small part of the value of money in a commodity standard.
  11. Fiat Money as Economics’ Floating Abstraction?

    I can see what you're getting at, but I don't think that it's a fitting analogy to begin with. Fiat money has its value in the goods that it can purchase, which is what really defines "money" in the first place. Few people care for gold for the sake of gold in a gold standard, rather they care for the mass nexus of goods that it can be exchanged for. Concepts change over time, just as the value of the monetary unit does. The value of the dollar today is very different than it was fifty years ago, and the way that Darwin thought about evolution was significantly different than the way that we do. What is more is that a fiat currency is actually likely to be more stable in value than a gold standard is. This has been true off and on, and in the times that it has not been true this has often been because those who issue fiat currency didn't wish to keep a constant purchasing power, as was the goal of Irving Fisher.