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About poohat

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  • Birthday 06/04/1982

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    maths, science, philosophy, linguistics, logic, go, fitness.

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    Imperial College, London
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    Mathematics student
  1. poohat

    Prometheus Rising

    Theres no advocation of either Christian science or magic in the book. There is a fair bit about yoga/meditation/psychology/etc, but his attitude throughout is always 'try it yourself and form your opinion' rather than 'believe what I say; it is true!'. On a sidenote, I personally believe that 'non-aristotlean' logic (which he does talk about at length in Quantum Psychology, but not in Prometheus Rising iirc) is far superior to classical logic in most areas, although you have to understand that 'logic' in this context does not mean the same thing as 'logic' in Rand's writing (ie its referring more to symbolic logic and epistemology than 'the art of non-contradictory identification' and metaphysics) You might not like his strong advocation of E-Prime however.
  2. poohat

    Prometheus Rising

    Its one of the best books I've read, and I'd thoroughly recommend that you check it out. I wouldnt use the word 'mystic' to describe it at all; RAW tries to keep everything as 'scientific' as possible throughout, and while his ideas do differ somewhat from established thought, they didnt come across to me as being in any way irrational. I'd also recommend Quantum Psychology from the same author (and pretty much everything else he's ever written). I havent read Timothy Leary's own exposition of the 8 circuit model, so can't really comment on that directly.
  3. Here in the world of science we often refer to this as a 'hypothesis'. They're generally considered to be essential to any significant advance in knowledge.
  4. poohat

    Homosexuality vs. Heterosexuality

    fair enough, I'll stop posting here.
  5. poohat


    Didnt Rand claim in IOE that it was possible to measure things like 'love' (she took a behaviorist view iirc)? Would happiness be any different?
  6. poohat

    Gay Marriage

    Can't these things be controlled though? Some people have 'taught' themselves to be able to go without sleep for very long periods of time, or to 'conquer' hunger. Wouldnt this bring these urges partly under the concept of volitional? Nah, its too much of a coincidence. Most men are attracted to women, and vice versa. If this wasnt the case, then both their genes and the species would die out. Furthermore, most men and women are generally attracted to the TYPES of sexual partners that an evolutionary based study would predict (strong, 'protector' types in the case of the female, and good 'mother' types in the case of the male). On top of this, the sexual roles played in most cultures by men and women plays more than a passing resemblence to that found within the animal kingdom. Now, I suppose that sexual choice could be purely 'volitionally' and its just 'coincidence' that most humans happen to 'choose' to be attracted to the sexual partners that would give their genes the best chance of survival (and that almost every human culture has formed the institutes that best perpetuate the survival of the genes, such as pair bonding/marriage/etc), but its a rather far-fetched theory. The simplest theory based on current evidence seems to be that biology does in fact play a significant role in sexual choice, but this doesnt mean that volition isnt also involved.
  7. poohat

    Homosexuality vs. Heterosexuality

    This seems like a false dichotomy, since it doesnt have to be one 'or' the other. It could easily be partly genetic and partly volitional (ie you are able to choose, but your choice is partly limited by your genes). Only if he is control of those problems, otherwise you are seperating volition from morality. People can only be morally responsible for their CHOICES, not for what they are. Its strange terminology, but it kind of makes sense. He seems to be using 'direct volitional' to refer to short-term choices (such as "should I go and get food?") , as opposed to 'long term' choices. Something like being good at football is probably 'indirectly volitional' by this usage. I couldnt just get on a football field and 'will' myself to be a good player, but I could make the choice to learn how to play and spend many years practicing. Other things like your capacity for pain/talents/weaknesses/etc are 'indirectly volitional' by this definition, since you could improve them by spending the appropriate amount of time practicing.
  8. poohat

    Occupying Iraq

    Your insanity is amusing. If this were to happen, I suspect the US would disappear overnight in a nice cloud of mushroom smoke.
  9. poohat

    Gay Marriage

    It 'taught' non-human animals how to hunt and survive. I doubt that humans magically forgot this genetic 'knowledge' as soon as they evolved volition. Humans came out at the end of a very long evolutionary process remember - whatever humans 'were' before they 'became' humans obviously 'knew' how to hunt and survive, otherwise it wouldnt have survived for long. If consciousness/volition automatically resulted in the loss of this knowledge, it wouldnt give any benefits from an evolutionary standpoint (and would probably even be a major disadvantage). (please excuse the anthropomorphic terminology; I used 'these' to indicate where my word choice was technically nonsense).
  10. poohat

    Gay Marriage

    Criminals value thievery and murder by conscious choice; there is no criminal gene... Lazy fools value idleness and sloth by choice; there is no laziness gene... Fat people value overeating by choice; there is no obesity gene... Sick people get sick by choice; there is no sickness gene. Stupid people are stupid by choice; there is no stupidity gene Two legged people have two legs by choice; there is no two-legged gene Am I doing this right?. Do you seriously believe that once a genetic organism reaches a level advanced enough for volition and consciousness to arise, the past X million years of its genetic history are instantly forgotten? Yes, volitional beings cant be treated as being isomorphic to nonvolitional beings due to the massive differences that volition entails, but I think its silly to claim that biological factors can play no part whatsoever in partially determining certain choices (the size of the part played would be a question for psychology and biological sciences). I dont really think that 'having volition' is a binary thing either - it kind of makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint to suppose that one person/species could have 'more volition' ('stronger' volition?) than another.
  11. poohat

    Gay Marriage

    Of course rights stem from the difference in biology between man and beast - consciousness and volition are biological phenomena. Theres nothing special about man that makes him more deserving of 'rights' than any other conscious/volitional animal - we have simply yet to encouter any non-human animal that we think possesses consciousness or volition.
  12. poohat

    Ban Communists?

    Well the problems here are that a) Marx said a lot of different things about a lot of different subjects, and most proclaimed Marxists today arent really following in the footsteps of Marx anyway. Marxism (as the term is normally used) in a sociological/political sense can really be split into 2 distinct parts: normative, and descriptive. By 'descriptive' I mean a description of the state of current Western society, and by 'normative' I mean ideas about what society should look like. Most of the anti-marxist posts in this thread have attacked the normative side. For instance, when someone says "communism is a good thing", or "its unfair that the rich are exploiting the poor and we should do something about it", they arent being descriptive - they are giving their opinions on what things 'should' be like. This doesnt really relate to the works of Marx, since Marx generally didnt advocate anything and tried to keep a detached position in most of his writings (other than in the Manifesto). I dont think Marx even explicitly claimed that he was in favour of communism, just that it was inevitable (although you certainly could argue that the very act of writing the Manifesto implied that he was in favour of communism). Non-normative Marxism can generally be thought of as a number of theories regarding both history, and sociology. None of these prescribe how things 'should' be, they are simply Marx's evaluation of how things actually are (well, how they were in the 19th century but you get the idea). While I personally believe that most of his theories were wrong, I do think he had a couple of points that were correct mixed in amongst the nonsense. In any case, someone could be a Marxist in the sense that they agree with most of Marx's socio-political analysis, while also disagreeing completely with leftist Marxists about what should be done to 'fix' things. As I mentioned previously, I've spoken to Marxists who basically believed that something akin to lassez faire capitalism would be the best normative solution to our current problems. There is certainly no guarantee that a Marxist will support communism, although obviously a lot of them do.
  13. Well often different words/phrases can identify the same existent/concepts, but have different semantical meanings. To use the classic RAW example, if you went into a restaurant and were offered 'a bloody hunk of meat chopped off a castrated bull' you might not find it too appealing, whereas a 'hamburger' may do more to whet your appetite.
  14. Its not meaningless, it has a clear and unambigious meaning, which has been posted several times in this thread. Rand arguing the semantics of 'selfish' was completely different, since her point was that the word 'selfish' referenced a hodgepodge of distinct and unrelated concepts without any clear unity, hence making the concept of 'selfishness' (in standard usage) invalid. I would agree that this thread has deteroriated rapidly since my first post though. Most advanced fields of study generally evolves its own vocabulary over time. I agree that modern philosophy does tend to take this a bit too far, however you have to realise that someone who hasnt studied philosophy for a significant period of time simply isnt meant to be reading academic journals, any more than a non physicist should be reading peer reviewed journals on quantum physics. Academics generally write for other academics, who they assume are familiar with the problems tackled and terminology used. When academic philosophers write for the general public, the terminology is (normally) toned down to an understandable level (or introduced gradually). On a sidenote, even Objectivism (to a lesser extent) has its own non-standard approaches/phrases/nomenclature which an outsider would find completely baffling. A newcomer attending something like the TOC's 'advanced seminars on objectivism' would probably be almost as baffled as a non-philosophy student trying to make sense of kripke's rigid designators, or whatever. Have you considered that the term 'valid' might actually have been initially created to describe 'sound' logical arguments, and then filtered down into common usage from there? I dont know personally, I've no idea if the term 'valid' was co-opted from general usage by logicians, or vice versa. Personally when I hear the word valid, I normally assume its being used in its logical sense. I really dislike hit and run attacks like this. If you think that formal logic is somehow fllawed (I think thats what you were getting at, although I could be wrong), I'd be interested in hearing why.
  15. The term validity' has (to the best of my knowledge) always been used since its inception to refer to a correctly deduced logical argument regardless of the truth values of the premises, which is how I initially used the term in this thread. I am not the one who tried to 'undefine' the word here, I simply mentioned the pointlessness of substituting a completely different linguistic sound to refer to the exact same concept. I dont really care which word you use to describe "a correctly deduced logical argument", and debating which word is 'best' to use is a fairly textbook example of 'arguing semantics'. I'll continue to use the standard-usage adjective 'valid' however. Its not quite the same thing though. Validity is a property of the argument, whereas deducibility would be a property of the conclusion.