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KyaryPamyu

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  1. KyaryPamyu

    (My answer to) four objections to Objectivism

    These four objections are common criticisms of the Objectivist ethics which I've encountered in discussions or occured to me in my own study. I sum up the answers as follows: 1. Short and long-term actions are the component and symbiotic parts of one irreducible primary (i.e. happiness). 2. The process of life does not need justification, any more than any other existent. | The emergence of life, consciousness and free will from non-conscious processes is neither miraculous nor signaling the presence of an unconscious intelligence in matter which is blindly striving towards full self-consciousness. 3. The pursuit of excellence is an inherent, necessary and non-optional aspect of what life is (as against existentialism). 4. The metaphysical relationship between man and the universe is also the ideal/absolute best (i.e. that which is - the facts of reality - are the very roots and constituent parts of phenomena such as 'best', 'ideal', 'good', 'bad').
  2. KyaryPamyu

    Is your self an illusion?

    Yeah, as I said my focus is not on Anatta (non-self) because it's radically different from Advaita or Objectivist approaches. It blows my mind how sophisticated schools like Advaita were, since they precede classical german philosophy by more than a millenium. Buddhism is on my list of study though, so I might form my objections to Anatta later, though what you describe seems to be the kind of stuff that would drive any follower of Oist epistemology insane 😂 Well, let's say that a man is born in the US, spends his childhood there and then moves to France to study painting. He gets kidnapped by some mind-hackers and has his memories replaced with memories of spending his childhood in France, having completely different french parents, french friends etc. Would he still be the same person?
  3. Objection #1: Long range philosophies cause people to get stuck in the future while forgetting to enjoy the present moment. Answer to objection #1: Long range planning and productive work are activites that one does for his present-moment happiness, not solely for future benefits. Not planning for the future compromises your immediate enjoyment of life by causing anxiety and worry; planning for the future elevates your mood in anticipation of the good things that will come; finally, if you are able to enjoy the present moment, it's probably because you've done something right in the past, and you are reaping the results right now. There is no real dichotomy between enjoying the present and planning for the future. They are both the integral parts of your moment-to-moment enjoyment of life, since life only happens in the present moment. _________________________________________________________ Objection #2: Objectivism fails to justify the pursuit of happiness. Clause one: if life appeared by cosmic chance and not by some pre-determined universal goal, life has no justification at all. Answer to clause one: the labels 'justified' and 'not justified' are value judgements, and value judgements presuppose the goal of life. Clause one is therefore unintelligible, basically amounting to saying that living is not a good strategy if your goal is to live. Secondly, the way something got here does not invalidate its present, factual existence. Even if life appeared without some pre-determined universal teleology, it still exists and its existence is the starting point of discussion; only the unreal is not a subject of debate. Clause two: In Objectivism, there is no justification for the choice to live. Variation one: you cannot justify choosing to live, because the choice is a primary (it is not necessitated by some previous, higher goal). Answer to variation one: 'justify' is used here as a stolen concept, dropping its root in the concept of life. You are trying to justify why choosing to live would help your goal of living life. Variation two: choosing to live is a whim, because it is a primary (it is not necessitated by some previous, higher goal). Answer to variation two: a whim is a goal for which there is no actual necessity to engage in, relative to a preceding goal which is consonant with the root of values (life). Saying that choosing to live is a whim steals the concept and amounts to claiming that if you want to live, choosing to do so is a whim. Variation three: In Objectivism, the choice to live is defined as an acceptance of reality, of your existence. Therefore, you are merely dutifuly being nature's servant. Answer to variation three: accepting one's own desire to live is not an act of submission to nature, any more than an inanimate object being itself is an act of submission to its identity. The desire to live is a metaphysically-given aspect of living organisms. In accepting this desire, people are not submitting to a natural edict, they are simply observing what is already true, i.e. their nature. Variation four: Choosing to live is a moral choice. Answer to variation four: a moral choice is a choice that furthers man's goal of living a good life (it already presuposes that goal). _________________________________________________________ Objection #3: Objectivism tells people to grow and actualize their full potential. But why should you grow if the path is infinite, there being no particular point at which you can retire and be satisfied? Answer to objection #3. This boils down to metaphysics. The concept of infinity cannot be actualized in practice. No matter how long a counting streak is, its actual lenght is dictated by where you stop counting. If growth was a limited endeavor, it would actually hurt happiness by physically limiting the amount of things you can enjoy. The only way to ensure long-term happiness is by never reaching a dead-end in your possibilities. Asking why you should grow is akin to asking: how will making myself happier make me happier? _________________________________________________________ Objection #4: If existence, not consciousness, is a primary, then the universe is my direct antagonist. It is not aware that I exist. It is not somehow linked to me in a common ground between consciousness and matter. Nothing happens for a predestined purpose or teleological program towards complete self-consciousness/merging with god. It has no ability to protect me. It can't hear my prayers. It has no will to decide against randomly sending a tsunami onto my house. I am to be held responsible for absolutely everything in my life. Answer to objection #4: Man alone has a real, genuine capacity to use the metaphysically-given to further his own personal goals. This is in direct contrast to the universe itself, which is not alive and does not have goals. A universe that is 'separate from man' is implied to be a universe outside his reach, rendering him incapable to use it for his goals. But the universe is here for the picking. In fact, only the universe is here for the picking, being the only reality that exists, and both the source of life and life's value-warehouse. Given that values are a type of fact, choosing the correct values is not an instance of being a slave to the metaphysically-given, but the act of identifing the goodness which is already there for the picking as long as you earn it or work to create it. Saying that the universe limits your options is unintelligible insofar as 'values' becomes a stolen concept - different values are only made possible by a specific context of facts and cannot exist in a vacuum. The enjoyment and meaning of values would be robbed from man if values were arbitrary (not objective, firm, absolute) or if the universe was alive and played favorites (personal achievement plays a big role in the ability to enjoy a value). Luckily, the universe is a given and not the product of the Absolute's fully free (i.e. arbitrary) desire to reach full self-consciousness.
  4. Interesting. I practice a form of IF but only recently started incorporating coffee and tea. The opinions on this seem to be mixed, ranging from 'coffee will break the fast' to 'coffee enhances the effects of fasting'. The latter camp claims that coffee and teas enhance autophagy, one of the major mechanisms through which IF improves overall health.
  5. I've only started drinking the stuff a few days ago, it gives me a nice kick though it will probably get tamer as my tolerance level increases. If you like the subject you can check out this meta-analysis of twenty studies.
  6. Anti-aging studies are all the rage nowadays, and several experimental interventions were proven effective in extending mammalian lifespan (the class to which humans belong). Practices that work on humans include: Drinking coffee Drinking teas (green, red, black, hibiscus, ginseng, mint etc.) instead of plain water, due to their antiadipose quality and antioxidants Intermittent fasting (IF) - having your meals in a restricted window of time, e.g. eating during an interval of 4 hours, fasting for 20 hours. While hunger levels and fatigue drop after months of consistent practice, elevation of ghrelin (the peptide responsible for hunger) increases the expression of BDNF, which heightens neuron proliferation in the brain area associated with learning and memory Fasted exercise. Aerobics sessions deplete the glycogen from your liver and muscles, forcing the body to use its own body fat and labile proteins for energy. Resistence training (weight lifting) during a fasted state can increase HGL levels to exorbitant levels, preserving muscle and aiding the construction of new muscle tissue 30-40% caloric restriction, or more (CR) - consuming all of your essential nutrients, but ingesting less energy (calories) than you burn in a day. This forces the body to cannibalize its old proteins for energy, making way for a faster production of new proteins (and as a result, slowing down aging). Hard to implement in a three-meals-a-day scheme, easy on one meal a day since it's difficult to overeat in a single sitting. In time, your body adapts to caloric restriction by increasing energetic efficiency, slowing down metabolism and decreasing core body temperature. Using less energy to run physiological operations, as well as spending less time assimilating food results in decreased production of free radicals, a major factor in aging. Methionine restriction (MR) - decreasing intake of the amino-acid methionine (currently only practicable by moderating or eliminating consumption of animal products) Protein restriction (PR). Generally, bodybuilders consume 1g of protein or more per lb of bodyweight everyday. This is the surest way to make your liver explode, even if you are healthy. For contrast, you can Google a powerlifter named Dr. Amen-Ra which maintains a muscular body on roughly half a gram of protein per kg (kilogram) of bodyweight. Glycation restriction (GR) - reducing the process in which sugar molecules bind to bodily proteins, rendering them resistant to removal. Can be managed by reducing sugar intake, intermittent fasting, incorporating beans in your diet and supplementation with teas, spirulina, brewer's yeast, isolated amino acids, isolated soy protein Cooking foods in ways that reduce advanced glycation end products (AGEs) Supplementation with various substances: creatine, probiotics, cocoa, ginger, broccoli extract, glucosamine, resveratrol, curcumin/turmeric etc. Stress management, including meditation Reducing the time you spend sitting I currently practice some of those but not others. For example, I still eat animal products, sugary sweets, moderate protein. I tend to skip morning aerobics due to lack of time and I don't really supplement with a lot of stuff. Reducing the time spent sitting is itself a challenge. But in my opinion, the things listed above are all worth a go as long as two golden rules are met: 1. There must be no dichotomy between what you want to do and what those practices entail. For example, a ketogenic/low carb diet can be a nightmare for most people, since it involves giving up on pancakes, bread, sugary foods and basically everything that is nice in the world. However, incorporating coffee and tea in your diet is something people would do regardless of any anti-aging properties. 2. Transparency and ease of implementation. The practices must not take away from the time you would otherwise spend enjoying other activities. For example, aerobic sessions can be a drag for most people, unless they combine health with utility. Brisk walking to your workplace (if it's not very far away) or to your nearby store is just as efficient as a walk in the park or on the treadmill. And people with busy schedules might be attracted to the prospect of freeing up their time by skipping breakfast/lunch and eating a kingly dinner when they get home, especially since fasting can allow them to eat 'bad' foods while decreasing their negative effects. So what is your approach to health? Do you make provisions for your long term health? Do you prefer to live life now and hope for the best?
  7. KyaryPamyu

    Is your self an illusion?

    For this thread, my focus is on denominations (predominantly Hindu, such as the Advaita school within Vedanta) that declare the ego to be a subjective construct and the Witness/Seer to be grounded in (or identical to) Atman or the universal Self. The non-self (Anatta) doctrine of Buddhism isn't of particular debating appeal to Objectivists - after all, if no subject exists, who made the claim that there is no subject? But the ego-self distinction is sightly closer to home given Rand's views. Eastern philosophy is a rich field, so you might disagree with the propositions depending on what you are familiar with. GITS's influences also include elements of eastern philosophy. In particular for this discussion, what defines one's identity/individuality? Just how important is that individuality to which we cling to?
  8. What is the self? The standard line of reasoning in eastern philosophy looks somewhat like this: 1. People associate themselves with their ego, a conglomeration of their beliefs, tastes, ideas, wishes, fears, self-evaluations. 2. The ego, with all of its constituent elements can itself become an object of consciousness. Therefore, the ego is not actually the subject, the observing self. 3. The real self is the pure faculty of awareness which observes the ego and perceptions, unadultered by any other property. The japanese animation film Ghost in the Shell famously tackles this problem without providing a solution. If your faculty of awareness remains intact, but is transfered to a completely diferent (prosthetic) body, your old memories being erased and new fake memories being implanted, are you still yourself considering that the ground (the faculty of awareness) is still exactly the same? Ayn Rand defined the self as: (Note: by perception of reality, she means perception through rational appraisal, not mere observance) Quite a different approach. While buddhists refer to the process of thinking as "monkey mind" (which never stops chattering and giving opinions), Ayn Rand sees the ego or self as one and the same with the process of thinking. Which interestingly, is not the same thing as one's feelings or dreams. That being said, my objections to the eastern view are as follows: 1. It assumes that the faculty of awareness is not tainted by any nature, being featureless and infinite. The empirical ground of this claim is the meditative state, where all thoughts and external perceptions are removed from consciousness and one feels as though the faculty of awareness is at root infinite, limited simply by the brain of whomever that eternal self manifests as (billions of living beings that have this faculty). But actually, the pure faculty itself definitely has a nature, dictated by physiological factors: the integrity of the brain and its qualities, since practices like meditation can improve the sharpness of awareness and focus via physically changing the brain, and other factors can weaken it. 2. It claims that since awareness is our sole contact with anything at all (such as internal thoughts, extenal things), and because the contents of our consciousness are subject to change (self-appraisals can change, our perspective can become broader, perception of external things can itself be muffled through voluntary yogic techniques), only the eternal Self (the subject) exists. The phenomenal world is in constant flux, a mere illusion, but the underlying, observing Self, is the one thing that remains constant, similar to Kant's transcendental apperception. Again, this conclusion implies that pure awareness is not mediated by any material or external factors, which it clearly is. 3. Critics of the primacy of existence sometimes bring out the argument that your sense of self is dependent upon neural networks and structures in the physical brain, which can suffer changes (for example, in an accident), therefore your self-image can't truly be the self. This assumes that since our image of ourselves is a mental appraisal (subject to errors, inaccuracies or accidents), the self is an illusion. This fails to take into consideration that self-appraisals can point to facts of reality. 4. It claims that the self, to be a self, must be a perfect unity. It can not be made of component parts, such as habits, tastes, goals. This is akin to saying that if my body is made of several limbs, organs and cells, it is not a body at all. What surprises me is that Rand's view, while obviously different from the Buddhist view, shares some features with it. For starters, it aknowledges that the self is not your emotions, since emotions are fluid and change according to your appraisal of things. The self is also not your dreams, because what you dream about depends on your values and philosophy, and that aspect is subject to change. But what about memories? Are you still the same person if your memories get replaced? Well, think of it in the following manner. The faculty of awareness is like an organ in your body. If you replaced it but kept the rest of the structure intact - degree of intelligence, memories, tastes, reflexes etc. - You would still be yourself. This is a sort of reversal of the Ghost in the Shell dillema. Rand is ultimately completely correct: your essence does not lie in your accumulated knowledge, skills, beliefs. Those are merely your achievements. It actually lies in the distinct way you are using your mind, which is at the root and cause of any reflexes you might form. So: If you transplanted someone else's faculty of awareness into your brain, but preserved your formed habits including the attitude toward reason, you would be the same person, just as you would be the same even if you got a kidney transpant. Awareness is simply a physiological faculty. Your reflexes are a fact, which will condition that other person's awareness into becoming a replacement part for your own consciousness, like a replacement wheel for a car. If you transplanted your own awareness into a prosthetic body that holds different memories, values and reflexes, it would stop being a part of you immediately. The other person's mental makeup will simply assume it as its own. This is my personal view. What are your thoughts about the self? What is it, and is it real? In closing, just before you think eastern thinkers are weird: According to Fichte, Thesis: When you are aware of yourself, that which has self-awareness (the subject) is identical with the object that's being perceived (the object). Antithesis: But we're talking about two different things here. Subject and object are two different things. But they're the same. But distinct. What is going on? Synthesis: The self and the act of being aware of oneself are one and the same thing. When you are thinking the self, you are not observing it, you are bringing it into existence. The self which you bring into existence is self-aware, so it's also bringing you into existence. You are born from the world and the world is born from you, and that world gives birth to you and you give birth to the world in a neverending loop. This is why subject and object are the same thing, even though they appear to be distinct from each other.
  9. KyaryPamyu

    Concept formation and neuroscience.

    Concepts are formed in the mind. So I assume you mean that the mind is not produced by the brain but is a type of faculty which you somehow have without physical organs to produce it. Well, proof to the contrary is not that tricky. Look at people's abilities to think or form concepts when they miss a lung versus when their brain gets physically damaged. I suggest you study her theory about how concepts of consciousness are formed; either way, your awareness is not limited to sense data, you also have awareness of your own thoughts and emotions. To arrive at a theory of concept-formation you must use introspection.
  10. KyaryPamyu

    The Case for Open Objectivism

    The problem of induction is in no way a primary. First, the fundamentals must be discovered: the validity of sense perception, concept-formation, the hierarchical and contextual structure of knowledge, the open-endedness of concepts. The fundamentals are non-deductive; they are arrived at by induction. So you can't actually solve the problem of induction until you have performed valid inductions in the areas upon which discovering the solution depends. Peikoff's 'solution' is that there is no problem of induction at all, just like there is no problem of deduction. The real issue is knowing how to perform the induction correctly, i.e. by not dropping the principles of objectivist epistemology. You could write volumes about proper induction, but you would still be merely working out the implications of the basic principles. This is what I meant by 'encyclopedia', a philosophical encyclopedia that fully explains all of those derrivative issues. It's not as much an issue of judgement, but of objective fact. If somebody believes that he practices Objectivism but, without knowing, he is actually largely misinterpreting Objectivism, he is not factually an Objectivist. Sure, he is free to label himself as he wishes, but his belief will not turn his 'version' of Objectivism into the real thing. Now, if he later realizes that he understood the philosophy all wrong and eventually comes to truly understand it, his claims will no longer clash with the facts of reality. I have not adressed his character, unless you claim that if he's wrong in some aspects then it's some kind of purposeful evil on his part. Either way, you do not need to read the whole book before you can spot instances of various claims by Rand and Peikoff being taken out of context or blatantly misinterpreted.
  11. KyaryPamyu

    The Case for Open Objectivism

    Certainly Objectivist epistemology can be expanded, but only if by 'expansion' you mean a fuller and more detailed working out of the fundamentals. The solution to the problem of induction, which to my knowledge was not adressed by Rand in print, is implicit in her writings on epistemology. Peikoff is merely using the basic blocks in order to figure out what the solution might be. If his solution is in perfect alignment with that base, it can be called an Objectivist solution, but not Objectivism per se. Philosophy is not an all-encompasing encyclopedia, but merely the seeds out of which that encyclopedia is grown. The solution to the problem of induction will vary according to which philosopher tackles it, because it depends on the fundamentals they hold: their view of sense perception, of concept-formation, and of course of metaphysics which by its nature is very tightly linked to epistemology. As far as the additions are consonant with the fundamentals, you can accept any number of them and still call yourself Objectivist. My point is that the validity of the labels we apply to ourselves is still tied to objective facts. So I'd say that, at a minimum, the precondition of legitimately labeling oneself as 'Objectivist' is a true understanding of the principles, not merely acceptance based on how reasonable they sound. If one does not grasp why those principles are true, he cannot truly apply the philosophy, either to his life, or to new issues. Instead of being guided by Objectivism, he is guided by incorrect assumptions of what Objectivism says. I believe that a person who has a solid grasp of the fundamentals will have a much easier time spotting contradictions higher up in the chain, and will have an easier time correcting his own errors because the contradictions will quickly become apparent to him. This is why Rand could easily see why a disagreement in something as apparently optional and irrelevant as aesthetics actually reveals a superficial understanding of the method by which she reached the judgement, as well as of the first three branches of philosophy. She and her associates had a party game which involved putting various principles in a hat, picking up two at random and connecting the two principles in a non-rationalistic way, i.e. private roads + the validity of the senses. For the record, Kelley strikes me as a non-Objectivist, or rather, he's practicing a different kind of philosophical system. I say this because I've skimmed through The Logical Structure of Objectivism and his disagreements with 'official dogma' actually reveal gross misunderstandings of what Rand's actual positions were, a type of carelesness which also points to rationalism.
  12. KyaryPamyu

    The Case for Open Objectivism

    New knowledge does not not contradict old knowledge. This is a basic principle of her epistemology, which springs from her metaphysics: there are no contradictions in reality. If new scientific discoveries invalidate a single part of her philosophy, the whole system collapses. 'Patching' the philosophy up does not work, for reasons discussed in my previous post. So the question of an open system would not even occur; you would have to renounce the whole system of Objectivism, maybe apart from some ideas that Rand managed to get right by luck, despite her faulty base.
  13. KyaryPamyu

    The Case for Open Objectivism

    That's true, but that also shows their misunderstanding of what was always meant by the 'closed system' approach. So the 'closed' part applies only to the fundamental principles that shape the more specialized content of the system. If a single fundamental contradicts other fundamentals, the whole thing collapses. So if you can show that the theory of rights somehow contradicts the objectivist metaphysics in practice, then either the metaphysics or the theory of rights is wrong. But the theory of rights also depends on ethics, so it's actually possible that the error in the theory of rights was caused not by metaphysics, but by the system becoming corrupted at some later point in the hierarchy due to errors of reasoning. Thus, a destructive domino effect. Inasmuch as a system of philosophy is truly consistent, it stands as it was formulated by the philosopher. This applies equally to Kant and Rand; the only difference is that Rand's system is an integration of correct principles; Kant's system integrates his errors into an internally consistent totality. Rand was working on some new stuff in epistemology before her death (documented in her published journals) and never made the claim that she discovered everything there is to discover in philosophy. She has fully formulated the fundamentals of philosophy (as seen by her). Assuming that her integration was indeed perfect, any additions which contradict the fundamentals she set out will destroy the system because, apart from betraying a poor understanding of the fundamentals, the corrupted parts spawn more corrupted parts and so on. So it's legitimate to say that those who deviate in fundamentals from Rand's approach are not truly Objectivists, even if they do not contradict the fundamentals directly, but indirectly through ideas that actually nullify the base, whether they are consciously aware of this or not. I recently listened to a Peikoff Q&A where he claims that Rand said something among these lines: she wished there was somebody to take her ideas and make something truly comprehensive out of them. She was probably talking about specialized stuff, such as the relation between mathematics and concept-formation. The reason most people push for an open system is because they do not understand what they are opposing. True, this was also my meaning (setting aside my careless word choice). Given the absolutism of reality, I guess the only optional part is the distinctive names you give to the various principles, although you're not forced to use the 'official' names. Well, as I see it, her assesment of modern art is fully consistent with her ideas. She is merely applying the fundamentals of art to a specific offering of the art world. If art shows a worldview, then the obvious requirement is that you must take the nature of human cognition into account when creating artworks. This is why in painting (for instance), using percepts is not a subjective but an objective requirement. By the nature of the mind, disintegrated sensations and blobs of color cannot be integrated into anything. So the problem per se is not what the artist intended to do, but his faulty technical means.
  14. KyaryPamyu

    The Case for Open Objectivism

    Objectivism is a system of philosophy originated by Ayn Rand. When you add to it or change it, keeping the 'objectivism' label will make it tricky for people to know what exactly was part of the original system and what was added by future philosophers. Hence, Objectivism as formulated by Ayn Rand is a closed system. When Kant's philosophy became popular, another famous philosopher named Fichte created a new system based on Kant's; however, while his approach was quite different (including dropping the 'thing-in-itself'), he claimed that his philosophy merely carries out the full implications of Kant's own ideas and that it maintains the spirit of the original. Kant rightfully repudiated these claims. In the same vein, the brand of Objectivism proposed by the Atlas Society is not Objectivism, but an offshoot of it. Calling it Objectivism blurs the line between Objectivism, the philosophical system created by Ayn Rand (a historical artifact), and the modified versions. In this respect, the ARI institute is much more respectable because it always makes a point to mention when an idea is derived from Rand's system by another philosopher, but is not part of what Rand actually left in writing or publicly endorsed.
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