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Everything posted by Dustin86

  1. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Ayn Rand made no real effort to engage with those whom she labeled "mystics" and "Subjectivists". I have read her notes, and although I have read records of her visiting places like steel mills to try to make that side of her Magnum Opus (Atlas Shrugged) sound more realistic, there are no records in her notes of her ever visiting "the mystics" or "the subjectivists" in order to truly understand the people she was criticizing. Yes, she grew up in Soviet Russia, but that was a regime that claimed the mantle of "logic" and "reason" and "objectivity" every bit as fervently as she. Now you or them or anyone else can argue as to who was the proper heir of that mantle, but the fact is that the Soviets claimed that mantle with equal fervor as she. There is no record within her notes of her delving into the world of people who were more or less self-proclaimed "mystics" and "subjectivists". If I had to guess, it's because she simply saw it as "beneath her". With other high-profile Objectivists it seems to be the exact same story. As far as I can tell, Objectivists don't really have a handle on "the other side"; they fire off criticisms of "mystics" without really knowing what "mystics" are saying.
  2. Try as I might, I still do not know what laws and theorems in formal logic such as "A is A" have to do with government. To me, it makes as much sense if she started talking about dinosaurs and tried to connect that to how the government should be run. The two seem to have nothing to do with each other.
  3. The original post, if you will. I truly don't mean to knock Happiness, but I find this thread to be quite strange. Most people are interested in their ancestry and don't go around worrying whether this is "tribal" or "irrational". I don't have a problem with Reason, but Reason's "fan club" is often all-too-similar to God's "fan club".
  4. And before somebody gets on my case about it, Rand was not always a rationalist. The Little Street was clearly not a rationalist work. Rationalism was a bandwagon that Rand got onto later in her life.
  5. Its threads like these that convince me that rationalism has become nothing more than a secular religion. That fact alone makes rationalism a scary thing and is why I find it necessary to critique it.
  6. Bluecherry, my own personal opinion wrt this question is that government has nothing to do actually with formal logic. I hold that this is the commonsensical position. Ayn Rand and Objectivism "grew up" in a period of history when men were "oohing" and "aahing" over formal logic (without really being aware of its limitations), much as centuries ago men were oohing and aahing over the (supposed) Christ and the Christian religion, without being aware of their limitations. Because of this, Ayn Rand sought the sanction of Formal Logic for her ideas on government, much as learned men once used religious (Christian) arguments even in learned texts in order to seek the sanction of Christ and Christianity for their ideas. I believe in freewheeling debate, I don't believe in echo chambers and safe spaces; I think it is good to engage with those whom you don't agree with.
  7. Look, I cannot read her mind from beyond the grave, if that's what you're asking for. However, I have read her 752 page Journals which contain detailed descriptions of visits to steel mills, notes about the steel business and the railroad business, etc. There is nothing in her writings about India other than that it (according to her) contains "mystic muck".
  8. Ayn Rand wrote extensive notes about her visits to steel mills and her efforts to try to find out about the steel business and the railroad business to try to make that side of her magnum opus (Atlas Shrugged) more convincing. However, for just one example, Rand uses the phrase "the mystic muck of India" (and similar) several times without having made any effort to understand Indian philosophy or religion, and without ever having visited India.
  9. No I can't, Craig. That's something you need to do, if you want to continue to criticize them. That's the point I'm trying to make. Understand something before you criticize it.
  10. I thought to create this topic because since at least the beginning of the 2010's the battle lines have begun to be drawn up for a new "culture war", with "professional skeptics" such as James Randi, Michael Shermer, Richard Dawkins, etc. and their numerous followers on one side, and people such as Rupert Sheldrake, Tom Campbell, Robert McLuhan, etc. and their growing number of followers on the other side who claim to have evidence for "psychic" and "paranormal" phenomena. I've been following this new culture war for the past few years now, and I tried very hard to give an equal hearing to both camps, but as time has worn on, I have increasingly found myself falling into the latter camp. I recently read Robert McLuhan's book "Randi's Prize" and listened to an interview about the book in which McLuhan makes a similar point to what I said at the outset of this thread: that the "skeptical" camp is not making nearly enough of an effort to understand what they are trying to criticize.
  11. An oft-cited Objectivist mantra is "I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.' It was recently stated, and confirmed by the fact-checking organization PolitiFact, that the six Wal-Mart heirs own more wealth between just the six of them than the wealth owned by the entire bottom 40% of America (~128,000,000 people) How are minimum-wage Wal-Mart workers (oh excuse me, "associates") who are just barely scraping together enough scraps from their meager paychecks to survive not living for the sake of these wealthy Wal-Mart heirs?
  12. Guys, the "freedom" you're talking about is freedom for the rich, where everybody else is told to work or starve.
  13. Guys, please help me with this quote from Atlas Shrugged. It may be at the very core of Objectivism. "She had thought that industrial production was a value not to be questioned by anyone; she had thought that these men's urge to expropriate the factories of others was their acknowledgment of the factories value. She, born of the industrial revolution, had not held as conceivable, had forgotten along with the tales of astrology and alchemy, what these men knew in their secret, furtive souls, knew not by means of thought, but by means of that nameless muck which they called their instincts and emotions: that so long as men struggle to stay alive, they'll never produce so little but that the man with the club won't be able to seize it and leave them still less, provided millions of them are willing to submit—that the harder their work and the less their gain, the more submissive the fiber of their spirit—that men who live by pulling levers at an electric switchboard, are not easily ruled, but men who live by digging the soil with their naked fingers, are—that the feudal baron did not need electronic factories in order to drink his brains away out of jeweled goblets, and neither did the rajahs of the People's State of India." This is the opposite of what we often hear. We often hear that civilized men are docile and tame, so they are easily ruled by a tyrant, whereas "wilder", primitive men are harder to control. This is often given as the reason for the rise of the Totalitarian States of the previous century. What Rand is saying in this section of Atlas (if I have interpreted it correctly) is the complete opposite of what we so often hear. Please help me with this quote.
  14. For most of human history, "absolute truth" was the province of a select caste of priest-kings who claimed divine and exclusive knowledge of absolute truth, and the rest of society just went along with it. Now, for around the past 3-400 years or so, extremely recently wrt the whole of human history, absolute truth is said no longer to be the exclusive province of priests and kings claiming to have special dealings with the Gods, but is said to be accessible to every man, supposedly by means of things like logical syllogisms. The problem as I see it is that even honest and earnest men have always disagreed to a greater or lesser degree on what is and is not part of "absolute truth". Firstly, this is very odd if it is supposed to be "absolute" and accessible to all men. Secondly, and probably more importantly: In the modern age, now that mankind no longer believes in the claims of priests that God provides their caste with privileged knowledge of absolute truth, sheer naked force has replaced claims of divine revelation to enforce one class's or leader's version of "absolute truth" upon the rest of his fellow men, given that individual men have never voluntarily agreed on what "absolute truth" consists of . The most infamous example is Communism, where millions were sent to gulags for thoughtcrimes such as "deviationism" from Stalin's version of "absolute truth". According to all of us here Communism was "irrational", but according to itself, its leaders, and the thousands of speeches they made, Communism was a rational system of objective truth.
  15. Ok, here is perhaps a better example. Ayn Rand, who was an Objectivist, held that homosexuality is morally wrong. According to an article by The Atlas Society: However, many Objectivists during both Rand's time and ours disagreed with her assessment on the morality of homosexuality. They said it was moral, or "neither moral nor immoral". Either homosexuality has to be moral, immoral, or "neither moral nor immoral". Whether or not something is moral, immoral, or "neither moral nor immoral", would seem to be part of "objective reality". So how could both Ayn Rand and Objectivists who held homosexuality to be moral (or "neither") both be perceiving "objective reality". Seems to me they were perceiving two (or three) different realities, none of which are "objective reality", since by definition there can only be one "objective reality". What they were perceiving was one subjective reality in which it is immoral, a second subjective reality in which it is moral, and a third subjective reality in which it is neither moral nor immoral.
  16. So there you go, Objectivists cannot even agree on whether everybody agrees or not. Whether or not all men agree on everything, or whether they're all just lying and playing "Devil's Advocate" (c.f. Mr. Swig) would in itself seem to be part of "Objective Reality", so you can see my point.
  17. Tenderlysharp is completely right: massive intergenerational theft is taking place, and to add insult to injury we're being mocked in so-called "failure to launch" comedies in movies and TV that cater to an older generation audience to get cheap laughs off of us, the ones they have screwed over. Social Security and Medicare, the massive national debt, large chronic deficits, and the interest that we must pay every year on the debt have robbed us blind, have robbed us of opportunities. This is Objectivists' "baby", or at least it should be. However, far too many prominent Objectivists, such as Dr. Michael Hurd whose blog is mirrored here (the biggest Objectivist forum on the internet), portray us as video-game playing parasites, when in reality we are the ones trying very hard to survive and we are the ones paying for the profligacy of the older generations.
  18. Guys, I actually read Rand's notes on The Little Street initially thinking that I would agree with the chorus of voices denouncing it, the chorus of voices saying that it lauds a horrible, horrible killer, etc., etc., etc. Surprisingly to me, I truly didn't see it that way. I understood generally where she was "coming from", what she was trying to "get at", much more than with Atlas Shrugged and especially her nonfiction books in which she tries to be a "logician" and tries to sound like she is deriving capitalism from "A is A" and other basic logic laws, a project that is simply impossible and frankly a little bit silly. There's something about The Little Street that clearly seems to bother most Objectivists. It's the "moonshine" of Ayn Rand. It's Ayn Rand with several Objectivist centralities (and indeed I would argue: several Incorrectnesses) such as "Ayn the 'Capitalist Logician' ", the "Benevolent Universe Premise", and the "Benevolent People Premise" distilled out of it. The Little Street, had Rand written it, would have been my favorite work of hers by far, and indeed would have occupied a special place on my bookshelf.
  19. In Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, in John Galt's Speech, there is a quote that seems to be central to the Objectivist worldview, but yet seems to be completely self-contradictory. "Man must obtain his knowledge and choose his actions by a process of thinking, which nature will not force him to perform. Man has the power to act as his own destroyer - and that is the way he has acted for most of his history. A living entity that regarded its means of survival as evil, would not survive. A plant that struggled to mangle its roots, a bird that fought to break its wings would not remain for long in the existence they affronted. But the history of man has been a struggle to deny and destroy his mind." Clearly according to Ayn Rand, man has done the opposite of what Objectivism says to do, for "most of his history". He has acted "as his own destroyer [...] through most of his history". He has been "a living entity that regarded its means of survival as evil". The next three words in the quote are "would not survive". But wait a minute! We're still here. Not only just man as a species, but Subjectivists and Subjectivism, are still here. Birds that "fought to break [their] wings" and plants "that struggled to mangle [their] roots" died out a long time ago. But Subjectivist human beings are still here. Indeed, the vast majority of human beings are Subjectivists, according to Objectivist philosophers. Assuming that Objectivism is true, how could this be?
  20. softwareNerd, I tend to agree. As much as I hate to sound like I'm "singling out" somebody, I think it's high time that Dr. Hurd's auto-post privileges, which automatically post everything he writes on his personal blog as a forum thread, are revoked, especially since he does not seem to be an actual participant on this forum. You are this forum's administrator, if I am not mistaken. Thus you would seem to be the person with the power to revoke "auto-post" privileges.
  21. SpookyKitty, en passant, I was thinking today about whether reason alone can tell us what is morally good. If "it is reason that tells man to kill his fellow for his stuff", then clearly the answer is no. Reason is a tool, it may help people to achieve the morally good, but it cannot tell people what the morally good is.
  22. sNerd, I'm used to freewheeling debate. I'm not used to "safe spaces". I was fortunate enough to intellectually "come of age" in an intellectual environment that accepted freewheeling debate.
  23. We all share the same values??
  24. Louie, you stopped right before my next part, which would have elucidated more what you want to know, which is: True or false? Clearly true. So I'm not seeing the link between rationalism and survival.