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Doug Morris

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Everything posted by Doug Morris

  1. Doug Morris

    The Case for Open Objectivism

    Eiuol's last post before this one did a good job of answering Azrael Rand on fundamentals. I will address a couple of additional points. It is somewhat plausible that genetic effects might contribute to statistical differences between races in intelligence or hardworkingness, although there is no evidence that this is actually the case and individual variation would still be more important. It is much less plausible that there would be a genetic tendency toward specific ideas such as collectivism and Marxism. Even if there is, we would still have to react to people according to their individual choices of ideas, not according to the statistics of a collective. It is grossly collectivist to say that blacks "as a group" made a choice to embrace the left. A substantial majority of blacks may have made this choice individually, and tribalism may have been part of the reason. But a lot of whites have made the same choice, and some blacks have made other choices. The tribalism is misguided, and there is no evidence that anyone is genetically predisposed to it.
  2. Doug Morris

    The Case for Open Objectivism

    I think you'd have a hard time finding an Objectivist who would say "that everyone is the same and that differences in outcomes are caused by unfair play". Could such a person even be an Objectivist? It is more compatible with Objectivism to emphasize differences in ability and effort as the source of differences in outcomes for individuals. However, an honest Objectivist would have to admit that luck and unfair play can also play a role. When we get into statistical differences in outcomes between races, such differences are probably primarily due to the differing histories of the races, and secondarily somewhat due to the unfair play that unfortunately still exists. The nature of such historical differences is complicated. I will discuss two examples, comparing Asians and whites and comparing blacks and whites. Last time I looked, the achievement statistics for Asians were better that those for whites. This seems to be because of cultural tendencies, handed down in many Asian families, that are especially conducive to hard work. Probably only a few cranks would say it is due to unfair play, since the unfair play that has existed in this country would reduce this difference, not increase it. There don't seem to be very many people claiming that Asians have a significant genetic superiority, either. It is still essential to remember that people are individuals and that there are very hardworking whites (and blacks and others) and probably some not so hardworking Asians. The primary historical difference between blacks and whites is the prejudice and discrimination to which blacks have been subjected. This includes both individual prejudice and discrimination, which unfortunately still exists to a significant extent, and the encoding of prejudice and discrimination into law, in particular the Jim Crow laws. All of this has had drastic effects on blacks, which have been perpetuated both by cultural and economic effects being handed down and by misguided, if well-intentioned, government interference. One especially destructive and unfortunate effect is that some blacks internalize negative ideas and attitudes about blacks. The environmental effects you listed are also part of the effects. It is still essential to remember that people are individuals and that many blacks have largely risen above these effects and many others have fought toward this, while there are probably some whites wallowing in negativity and unfortunate heritage. Even if it could be proven that there is a significant genetic element in the statistical differences among the races, it would still be essential to remember that there are great individual differences within each race. In particular, it would be grossly unjust and grossly impractical to let the statistical differences groupishly influence the way we organize our society.
  3. Doug Morris

    The Case for Open Objectivism

    The question of what causes the degree of conflict in a country can be complicated. I recently read something arguing that certain features of the mechanics of U.S.A. politics (an important presidency, districts in which only one member of a legislative body is elected) encourage a two-party system and that a two-party system causes polarization.
  4. Doug Morris

    The Case for Open Objectivism

    Some time ago Japan had politically opposed students donning riot gear and fighting pitched battles on university campuses. The United States has had trouble with physical aggression on university campuses, but not people donning riot gear and fighting pitched battles. So the question of which country is closer to civil war might be more complicated than first appears.
  5. Doug Morris

    The Case for Open Objectivism

    My personal observations first hand constitute very strong evidence that, in at least some cases, individual variation within each race is much greater than the statistical differences between the races.  If the news I have read and heard over the years is at least partially true, this constitutes additional evidence. The admittedly limited study I have made of scientific evidence also supports this conclusion. I have seen no evidence for a biological basis for statistical differences between the races mentally, intellectually, morally, and/or criminally. The different history of the races is enough to explain such differences, especially when combined with the effects of misguided government interference.
  6. Doug Morris

    The Case for Open Objectivism

    It is rational to do that which will give us the best life. This is what being selfish means. Tribalism is incompatible with this. Our closeness to civil war is due, not to the respects in which we actually match what Ayn Rand would consider an ideal society, but to the respects in which we fail to match it. Mixed-economy statism leads to pressure-group warfare, which may possibly lead to actual civil war. Lack of good ideas in people's minds leads them to make all sorts of mistakes, resulting in all sorts of destructive consequences. To the extent that different people make different mistakes, this is one source of conflict. For historical reasons, Japan is more homogeneous than the United States; this reduces conflict. Japan also has a tradition of obedience which is not a good thing, but which tends to reduce conflict. Japan also has a cultural tendency to avoid confrontation; to what extent this is a good thing and to what extent it is a bad thing may be a complicated issue, but it tends to reduce conflict. The races are different physiologically in ways that are relatively minor. One way of putting this is that the physiological differences between the sexes are greater than the physiological differences between the races. There are statistical differences between the races that some people point to in an effort to claim that there are biological differences mentally, intellectually, morally, and/or criminally. But these are due to differences in the history of the races; there is no evidence for a biological difference. Even with this effect of history, individual variation within each race is much greater than the statistical differences between the races. For Objectivism to become the moral system of a country, the substantial majority of the people have to understand and accept Objectivism. Getting there is a slow process. You glibly say "knowledge is power". No matter what we know and no matter how much we know, it does not give us power over the minds of others. To bring other people around we must explain and persuade. There is a lot of explaining and persuading to do. People may have a hard time understanding why they should spend much time listening. People whose thinking is dominated by the mysticism-altruism-collectivism axis of ideas will have a lot of questions and objections that result from this and, even under the best of circumstances, will need time to adjust their thinking. All this is true even if everyone is fully rational. Some people will be irrational, making them harder to reach or impossible to reach.
  7. Doug Morris

    The Case for Open Objectivism

    There are cultural and hormonal influences pushing us toward tribalism. We must be aware of this. We must also overcome whatever is irrational in it. Biological differences among races are minor. Differences among individuals are far more important. Any emotion carries with it a temptation to be led by it. People often do not know better than to follow this temptation. People who do know better may nevertheless follow it. We must resist this temptation and be led by reason. We are still at a very early stage of the spread of Objectivism. Objectivism still has little influence on how society in general goes. For most people, the mysticism-altruism-collectivism axis of thought still dominates their philosophy, whether explicit or implicit, and therefore plays a large role in their thinking and thus in their actions. Two points in particular. The altruist morality confuses many people as to what is in their self-interest. Mixed-economy statism has been corrupting both government and business for a long time, resulting in behaviors that are not consistent with reason and self-interest.
  8. Doug Morris

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    It is impossible to prove a causal relationship using statistics alone. A proof of a causal relationship must include an explanation of how the causal relationship works. If a statistical correlation is used as evidence, it must be accompanied by consideration of whether there can be other explanations for the correlation. This does not mean that it is impossible to prove a causal relationship, just that statistics alone doesn't cut it. History is full of wars. This does not mean that wars are necessary or conducive to human survival. Hormones and the actions they prompt people to have played a very important role in the evolution and survival of the human genus and the modern human species. We should not completely ignore them in making choices. But our rational conclusions should overrule any hormonal promptings that we can see are irrational. Are you saying that Objectivism is a type of rationalism? How do you define rationalism? If a person chooses to participate in a team sport, he or she accepts an obligation to act accordingly and to make the success of the team an important purpose. A professional athlete is providing a service for pay. It can be rational and moral for an athlete or fan to change teams, regardless of how many billion people disapprove. But it can also be rational, moral, and consistent with Objectivism to build a relationship with a team, as either a member or a fan, that makes one reluctant to change teams. The mysticism-altruism-collectivism axis of ideas has historically dominated most people's philosophy, whether explicit or implicit, and has therefore played a very important role in their thinking, and thus in their actions. We can achieve a great deal of change by re-engineering people's philosophy, without any re-engineering of the brain whatsoever. One of the things we must decide rationally is how much time and effort to spend analyzing any given decision. How much time and effort should I spend deciding which item to order from a restaurant menu?
  9. Doug Morris

    The family cannot survive without duty.

    Objectivism does not say we should not have emotional attachments. It says we should not let our emotions do our thinking for us and should be aware of where emotions come from. Your argument about productive work being the highest good could be used to argue against all sorts of things, including romantic love, art, and sports. Productive work is crucial on more than one level to having a good life, but it is not all there is to a good life. The highest value is life itself. The fundamental virtue is rationality.
  10. Doug Morris

    Abstract Surrealism

    I gather Banksy's identity is a secret. Could Banksy actually be eight years old? After typing this I did a search. Apparently he's been around longer than that.
  11. Doug Morris

    Korzybski vs. Rand

    Since Korzybski died in 1950, it's not that surprising that he didn't discuss Rand.
  12. Doug Morris

    Korzybski vs. Rand

    A long time ago I read the science fiction mentioned by Invictus2017. I'm a little curious whether the following features in the science fiction came from Korzybski. The term "null-Aristotelianism". Abbreviating this term with a capital A with a bar over it, read "null-A". Emphasis on the need to integrate the cortex, seen as the seat or source of reason, and the thalamus, seen as the seat or source of emotion. Using "the cortico-thalamic pause" to achieve or maintain such integration. Referring to a particular reaction as "thalamically quick".
  13. Doug Morris

    Korzybski vs. Rand

    To what extent is the failure of most current academic philosophers to take Ayn Rand seriously a reaction to what she said about Kant, and to what extent is it a reaction to other things she said?
  14. Doug Morris

    Korzybski vs. Rand

    Do "the mental processes required as conditions for knowledge" include "evasions, equivocations, obfuscations, circumlocutions, non sequiturs, endless sentences leading nowhere, irrelevant side issues, clauses, sub-clauses and sub-sub-clauses, a meticulously lengthy proving of the obvious, and big chunks of the arbitrary thrown in as self-evident"?
  15. Doug Morris

    Korzybski vs. Rand

    I maintain that what Ilya Startsev said about what Ayn Rand said about Kant misrepresents Ayn Rand's position. Apparently the complexity/illogic issue is leading us into a messy argument. But there is also the point I made that Ayn Rand made a number of more specific statements criticizing Kant's ideas, as can be seen from the Ayn Rand lexicon.
  16. Doug Morris

    Korzybski vs. Rand

    Ayn Rand is criticizing Kant not so much for complexity as for extensive, pervasive illogic, including a lack of definitions.
  17. Copied from the Ayn Rand lexicon, here is a relevant quote from Ayn RAnd. A given person’s sense of life is hard to identify conceptually, because it is hard to isolate: it is involved in everything about that person, in his every thought, emotion, action, in his every response, in his every choice and value, in his every spontaneous gesture, in his manner of moving, talking, smiling, in the total of his personality. It is that which makes him a “personality.” Introspectively, one’s own sense of life is experienced as an absolute and an irreducible primary—as that which one never questions, because the thought of questioning it never arises. Extrospectively, the sense of life of another person strikes one as an immediate, yet undefinable, impression—on very short acquaintance—an impression which often feels like certainty, yet is exasperatingly elusive, if one attempts to verify it. This leads many people to regard a sense of life as the province of some sort of special intuition, as a matter perceivable only by some special, non-rational insight. The exact opposite is true: a sense of life is not an irreducible primary, but a very complex sum; it can be felt, but it cannot be understood, by an automatic reaction; to be understood, it has to be analyzed, identified and verified conceptually. That automatic impression—of oneself or of others—is only a lead; left untranslated, it can be a very deceptive lead. But if and when that intangible impression is supported by and unites with the conscious judgment of one’s mind, the result is the most exultant form of certainty one can ever experience: it is the integration of mind and values. There are two aspects of man’s existence which are the special province and expression of his sense of life: love and art. “Philosophy and Sense of Life,” The Romantic Manifesto, 31
  18. Doug Morris

    Korzybski vs. Rand

    If you look up Kant, Immanuel in the Ayn Rand lexicon, you will see that this is not what Rand said. Copying from Psychological Techniques, the last section of the lexicon's entry on Kant, the closest she comes to what you said is to describe Kant's technique as your conclusion must be brazenly clear, but your proof unintelligible. Your proof must be so tangled a mess that it will paralyze a reader’s critical faculty—a mess of evasions, equivocations, obfuscations, circumlocutions, non sequiturs, endless sentences leading nowhere, irrelevant side issues, clauses, sub-clauses and sub-sub-clauses, a meticulously lengthy proving of the obvious, and big chunks of the arbitrary thrown in as self-evident, erudite references to sciences, to pseudo-sciences, to the never-to-be-sciences, to the untraceable and the unprovable—all of it resting on a zero: the absence of definitions. This is still different from what you said. The lexicon also gives a number of more specific statements she made criticizing Kant's ideas.
  19. In defense of the Criminal Minds people, I should mention that there was at least one case of a better quote from Ayn Rand at the close of an episode. It started "Reason is not automatic." I forget the exact wording of the rest, but it was to the effect that those who reject it can not be swayed by it. The episode involved a deadly confrontation between a religious cult and the authorities.
  20. One time, at the end of a Criminal Minds episode, there was a quote attributed to Ayn Rand. It sounded a lot to me like a quote from Ellsworth Toohey, although I haven't checked to make sure of this. As I recall, it went "All men are brothers under the skin, and I for one would gladly skin humanity to prove it."
  21. Doug Morris

    Reblogged:Why Not a Landing Strip?

    Pets can be a complication too.
  22. A mixed economy would act like someone who has cancer, but has no understanding whatsoever of this, even if a few people are trying to tell him or her.
  23. My initial reaction is to interpret it as saying that we determine our own future. It is up to us to make the best future we can for ourselves, and not to make any excuses. The line that follows seems to say that the best results tend to take time to achieve.
  24. It wouldn't hurt to try again as long as you're prepared for rejection.
  25. I recall a specific instance of the "out of league" syndrome. I was at a gathering at the home of a man who owned the franchise on several fast food restaurants and had a very nice house. It was not an Objectivist gathering and I don't know what his philosophical views were. I think he was better off financially than most, if not all, of the rest of us at that gathering. (i was working in IT and was certainly not poor.) He mentioned a woman he was attracted to but didn't think he could have a relationship with because she was much richer. He said "I'm not crying poverty, but I'm not in her league." Her "league", if I understood correctly, included the ability to make a trip to Europe impulsively. Suppose I had known such a woman and been interested in her romantically. The financial difference would have been even greater. According to his reasoning, I should have dismissed any thought of attempting to get a relationship going. That doesn't really follow. It is of course possible to speculate about possible problems related to the financial difference, and even without that there's always the chance a relationship won't work out. But that doesn't mean one shouldn't try.
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