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Everything posted by Aqualyst

  1. *** Post copied from previous version of forum. - sN *** Over the past 35 years I have seen the foremost Objectivists talk about the importance of grammar in writing and thinking. A few have flatly stated that "if you can't write, you can't think." So, money spent on grammar books and tapes will be well spent. You may want to try The Art of Thinking by L. Peikoff, (MP3 download from the ARI Bookstore), as well as Principles of Grammar (another MP3 download).
  2. The answer to this question obviously has everything to do with the definition of “well-being.” A simplified dictionary definition would be: the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy. Of the three conditions named in the definition, only one can be “reasonably proved.” That is the condition of being healthy. Happy and comfortable have more to do with the contents of consciousness, with how one feels about ones condition, and consequently cannot be objectively observed or reasonably proved. For example, I was once asked the question, “If the primitive tribe is just as, or even more, happy than those living under science and technology; then how can it be said that living in the Western world is better than living under primitive, tribal conditions?” This question cannot be rationally answered because happiness has to do with contents of consciousness, while the benefits of living under the science and technology of the Western world can be objectively observed, and therefore proven. Who can know what makes a man “feel” happy or comfortable? The contents of a man’s mind are entirely subjective in this context. So, the question in the Original Post would seem to be exactly like the one in my example above. It is logically unanswerable because it is a package deal; one that combines two entirely different contexts and premises. Now, if the original question were rephrased to, “Which is better: a) living in a technologically advanced society or, living in a primitive society;” then this question is objectively and rationally answerable.
  3. It is my understanding that the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle was spawned, so to speak, by the discovery of our inability to predict all of the actions of subatomic particles. It is also my understanding that we discovered this inability through tests that, in order for us to "see" any results, it was required that we change these particles by bombarding them with great force. So, my simple minded conclusion is that we cannot "see" subatomic particles in their natural state, and consequently must change them to see them. My next simple conclusion from the foregoing is that it is not reality or causality that is in question, but rather the primitive state of our capacity to see particles as they naturally exist. Perhaps as our grasp of the small world we are trying to know improves, we will come to understand quantum physics without uncertainty. I mean, before the microscope, we could not see or understand the world of bacteria, yet we could sense that something was going on beyond our ability to witness first hand this small world, because of effects in the real world that we could see. I guess in those days, we blamed our shortcomings on demons, witches or gods. To me, the Uncertainty Principle has taken the place of those demons and such, and contributes no more to our knowledge than they did. Now, since I am not a physicist, I suspect I may be about to get an education refuting what I've stated above. As a life-long seeker of truth, I welcome that education.
  4. Yes, I actually do agree with the above to an extent. By the time I was 33, I had been to 21 countries around the world and had sex with women in every one of them. I went with women of every color, every race, every age. I did not discriminate, except to the extent that she had to be clean and decent. I even bedded two women at the same time (which, I learned, is not what most men imagine it to be). When I wrote that I waited until 33, I meant that was when I thought I had found the right woman and got married. It took 8 years to learn that it was a mistake. Unfortunately for both of us, I discovered Objectivism during our marriage and learned then that we were so philosophically incompatible that it was unfair to both of us to continue. So, perhaps JASKN has the right approach; which, if I understand it, is: "Try it. You might like it." And, I don't mean that sarcastically. Sometimes you learn things about a person in a trial relationship that you would never discover in normal conversation from a barstool.
  5. A company I worked for years ago when I was young required the field engineers, like me, to report to the office every Monday morning. The rest of my time was spent in the field. The guy who occupied the desk behind mine in the office would ask me every Monday morning, "Did you get anything strange over the weekend?" Since I kept my personal life private, my reply to him was always the same: "Yes, I used my left hand." How does this have anything to do with the original post? Well, it is meant to separate sex from meaningful relationships. If you just want to experience sex with a woman, simply pick one up from a local bar and get on with it. The best sex of this type is when she comes over at 10 PM and leaves at about 2 AM. However, my take on the original post is that the poster wants sex to mean something more than just a fleeting feeling in a certain part of the body. If that is the case, then waiting for the "right" person to come along is the only answer. Since we unfortunately live in a period of corrupt philosophy (an irrational view of existence and our place in it), finding the "right" person is no easy task. I personally waited until I was 33 years of age and still made a mistake. So, good luck (Mr. Original Poster) in your search. You're going to need it. Meanwhile, arm yourself with as much as you can learn about the philosophy of Objectivism.
  6. Below is the plaque for the US 11 bridge across Lake Pontchartrain from East New Orleans to Slidell in Louisiana. It was completely funded and built by private individuals. It may not be eligible as a "wonder" but it did survive Hurricane Katrina mostly intact, while the I-10 Twin Span was mostly destroyed. The US 11 bridge was built in the early 1920s by private individuals. The I-10 Twin Span was built in the 1970s and 1980s by Federal and local government. This should answer the question about whether or not a government is needed to provide roads in a truly capitalistic society.
  7. brianleepainter commented: What I mean by this is that Police is an essential government service, but what we have today is a role that is required yet is tainted, not fully upholding individual rights to the point where the role of employment, Police Officer, isn't compatible with Objectivism. Correct? and also commented: Can the Police Officer choose to not arrest Prostitutes AND protect civilians from robberies while keeping his employment? If the answer is no, then I think Objectivism and current Police Officers are mutually exclusive. It is true that police are a requirement of an Objectivist society. It is also true that today's laws are tainted by the non-objective. So, is it possible for an officer to choose not to enforce laws against the non-objective such as prostitution and drugs. As a former police officer, and contrary to what Nicky seems to believe, I can attest to the fact that one can make this choice and remain employed. The caveat is not to get caught. Can one be an Objectivist and remain a police officer who picks and chooses what laws to enforce? Well, actually, the same question could be asked of many positions of employment. In other words, we live in a society fraught with irrationality and one is forced to deal with it if one wants to survive. As I mentioned in a previous post, I quit the police department (not fired as Nicky wrongly drew from my post) because I finally realized that I could not personally maintain the deception of picking and choosing and still be true to myself. However, as an engineer, I learned that I had to often "suck it up" and do what I was told, no matter how irrational the orders from my supervisor-- if I wanted to remain employed. At one point in my career, my job title was Engineering Technical Advisor, responsible for over 40 personnel in the field. I was also the Technical Writer for most engineering documents and, because no one else wanted to to it, I created all brochures and presentations for customers. My supervisor, who was not an engineer and could not begin to do my job, once chided me for being too slow. I tried unsuccessfully to explain that it was more important to get the job done right than it was to do the job quickly. He told me in no uncertain terms that the truly important thing was to "get the job on the street" and let him worry about the rest. So, I was forced to perform "half-assed" work to remain employed merely to satisfy an irrational supervisor. I wonder if this example would be, in principle, significantly different that enforcing non-objective laws. Either way, I was required to act against my principles, and against the principles of Objectivism. So, perhaps one could ask whether or not one can remain an Objectivist in just about any endeavor in today's irrational society. If I were a Hank Rearden or a John Galt, I could probably get away with standing on principle. Otherwise, men today are generally buffeted about by the winds of irrationality.
  8. I will probably regret this, but I am compelled to respond to Nicky's post on my comments. Nicky stated: In other words, no, you can't. Because cops can't pick and choose which laws to enforce. Not now, and not in an Objectivist society. It's not your job, and not your responsibility. Of course I can pick and choose which laws to enforce. As a man of free will and principle, I can certainly choose not to enforce non-objective laws where there is no victim. And, obviously, such laws, by their very nature, wouldn't exist in an Objectivist society. I am making a moral statement to all those who know me as my small part in attempting to change an immoral, faulty system. Nicky stated in response to my numbered comment on arresting the Commissioner for DUI: This is a criminal act. While I sympathize with having to deal with having a criminal for a superior, I don't understand how that's relevant to the questions in this thread. This is relevant to the original post because that post dealt with matters of principle as pertaining to being a police officer. This particular Commissioner was an habitual drunk and had received many passes from other police officers. I chose to arrest him because he was breaking an objective law, as opposed to a pot smoker who is not. On the same principle of non-objective drug laws, I was disqualified for serving on a jury a few years ago because I told the prosecutor that I did not consider possession of pot to be a crime. The prosecutor, for obvious reasons, did not want me on the jury. Nicky stated in response to 2 and 3 of my numbered comments: Picking and choosing which laws to enforce is not the prerogative of a police officer. Not in current society, and not in an ideal Objectivist country. Of course it's my prerogative to pick and choose. As a man of principle, what kind of man would I be if I chose to enforce non-objective laws just because some idiotic, irrational, non-objective laws somehow found their way into the legal system? Or, as another poster alluded to; should I be a good little Nazi and enforce whatever laws I'm told to simply because the Fuhrer says so? Oh, wait, you did mention that the moral choice would be to leave. So, those are the moral choices available to men? One can enforce the non-objective laws or leave. Don't attempt to change the system. Just obey. Well, I would certainly choose to leave if Galt's Gulch actually existed.
  9. Quote from previous post: "Curious, so is it possible to be a Police Officer who only upholds individual rights and remain employed, today?" My answer to this question is a qualified "yes", so long as you don't come under the scrutiny of a hard-nosed, irrational superior. As a former police officer, I did the following: 1) Arrested the Wild Life and Fisheries Commissioner for DUI. I was reprimanded for this by the Commander for not paying homage to status. 2) Refused to arrest individuals caught smoking marijuana, so long as they were not trying to sell to or involve minors. No one caught me on this. 3) Refused a transfer to work undercover in Vice or Narcotics. Again a reprimand. I stated I would quit before becoming a criminal just to catch one. 4) I was passed over for promotion due to past reprimands. I ultimately quit to become a mechanical engineer. So, one can remain employed; however not without some cost to one's career. In general, if you are a man of principle, I would advise against a career in law enforcement today.
  10. Quote from above: "So why is it that Americans are always singled out? Why is it so fashionable to attack them? Is there some element of truth to these attacks?" My reply does not specifically address "narrow-mindedness," but I have experienced some of the other attitude you describe above that may help to explain what foreigners think, or perhaps more precisely "feel" about Americans. That feeling strikes me as being primarily envy; but also a misdiagnosis of the American sense of life. In 1971, I was visiting the city of Valparaiso, Chile. One evening while walking about, I met three college students: two guys and a girl. They immediately identified me as American (probably from my mode of dress) and asked if I would be interested in having a drink and a conversation. We spent the next hour at a quiet bar and I answered many questions they had about America. The one question that I remember quite well is: "Why does America always have to be number one at everything?" During the discussion that followed this question, it became obvious to me that these students considered Americans to be generally arrogant, self-centered and uncaring about others (just to name a few of their criticisms). They believed Americans were always in competition with each other and with the rest of the world. In general, my response amounted to a description of the average American as being an individualist concerned almost entirely with creating a good life for himself and his loved ones, and that he was mostly unaware of competition in his quest to succeed in his goal. I also pressed upon the idea that individual freedom was greater in America than in many other countries; which allowed an American to actually realize a good life created by his own efforts. We parted friends at the end of our conversation and I believe I partly convinced them that there was such a thing as a good American. However, that memory, and memories of my many visits to other countries around the world still cause me to conclude that the primary emotion we Americans instill in foreigners is envy. Regards... Aqualyst
  11. One of the best tools I have seen for improving written communication skills is Principles of Grammar by Leonard Peikoff; available at the Ayn Rand Bookstore. Check the following link: http://www.aynrandbookstore2.com/prodinfo.asp?number=LP05M
  12. Subjectivity and objectivity deal with consciousness and its relationship to existence, so perhaps an explanation by comparison will help. Objectivity would be a consciousness focusing on external objects outside of itself in reality. Objectivity is recognition by consciousness that the facts of reality exist independent of consciousness. Subjectivity would be a consciousness focusing on its own contents. Consequently, reality becomes dependent on consciousness; and is then necessarily dictated by the feelings or whims of the being or group whose consciousness is the center of focus. Truth is then no longer a matter of observation of the facts of reality, but rather a focus on the contents of a particular consciousness, or a poll of the total conscience of a group. It should be obvious which is better for the survival of human beings. To the subjectivist, truth (the facts of reality upon which survival depends) is relative to consciousness. To the objectivist, the facts of reality are what they are, independent of consciousness, and they must be recognized and adhered to if survival is to be secured.
  13. Good post, Dante. However, I must add that my entire post was intended to establish the very fact that the senses are axiomatic, without making the actual statement. This was purposely done to answer the original post while maintaining the level of knowledge of philosophy demonstrated by the original poster. I could have reduced the entire post to the following: The senses are axiomatic and, as such, require no validation. It is concepts formed from axiomatic percepts that are the products of individual consciousness and therefore subject to analysis; and then let the original poster figure out what that meant.
  14. The senses of human beings necessarily evolved (as with all living organisms) in this world in order to perceive existents that were supportive or obstructive to the survival of the human organism. It is completely illogical to consider that the senses of an organism would evolve in any other manner. To ensure the survival of the living human organism, humans must have adapted to the facts of reality, just as any other living organism down to the amoeba must have adapted to its surroundings to survive. If the senses of humans evolved in order to help the human organism to perceive the facts of reality in order to support survival, then it logically follows that the facts of reality provided by the senses must be true. Otherwise, the senses would be providing false data to the human organism that is contrary to the survival of the organism. Negatively put, why would a sense evolve that provided false data to an organism that was destructive to the organism? This would defy the concept of evolution and would contradict the facts of reality. Organisms that do not conform to the surrounding facts of reality do not have a valid means of survival and will eventually become extinct. The fact that human beings have not only survived, but have risen above all other life forms on this earth, is certainly proof that the five senses of homo sapiens are valid. We, as human beings, are capable of perceiving that which exists. It is not the senses (or perceptions) that are in question. It is what the human consciousness does with percepts that is in question. And so, it is not valid to conclude that the senses of one human being perceive existents that are unavailable to another human being. What actually happens is that the consciousness of one human being evaluates its percepts differently than the consciousness of another human being. This is a feature of the conceptual faculty, not a feature of the senses. Percepts, by their nature, must truly reflect the facts of reality. Otherwise, an organism has evolved whose senses report false data about the world in which it exists. This would be a contradiction because no such organism could survive if it was forced to react to data that was inimical to its survival. So, since perceptions evolved in this world are essentially infallible, for one human being to claim that it has perceived facts of reality that are unavailable to another human being would be a contradiction. It would only be valid to claim that the assessment of perceptions by the conceptual faculty was different from one being to another. Ultimately, it is not perceptions that are in question. Since they evolved in this world to assist an organism to survive in this world, perceptions are necessarily infallible. It is concepts formed from perceptions that are in question. It is in the realm of concepts that a proper philosophy (a comprehensive view of existence) becomes necessary. It is the philosophy of Objectivism that provides the guidance to correctly assess the data provided by the senses (percepts) in order to support the survival of the species of homo sapiens.
  15. Peter Schwartz wrote an excellent article on this very subject back in the days of The Intellectual Activist. He later gave a lecture on the subject entitled Requirements of Objective Journalism. The lecture is available on CD at the Ayn Rand Bookstore at the following link: http://www.aynrandbookstore2.com/prodinfo.asp?number=HS58M Hurricane Katrina took away my entire 25-year library of Objectivist works (along with the rest of my home), but I do remember that the Schwartz article (and later the lecture) covered just about all one would want to know about objective journalism.
  16. Ayn Rand wrote the following in The Voice of Reason: "Speaking of concretes, I would say that every civilized language has its own inimitable power and beauty, but the one I love is English—the language of my choice, not of my birth. English is the most eloquent, the most precise, the most economical and, therefore, the most powerful. English fits me best—but I would be able to express my identity in any Western language."
  17. It would be instructive to read Ayn Rand's own words on the concept of value: ("Value” is that which one acts to gain and keep, “virtue” is the action by which one gains and keeps it. “Value” presupposes an answer to the question: of value to whom and for what? “Value” presupposes a standard, a purpose and the necessity of action in the face of an alternative. Where there are no alternatives, no values are possible.) From the above, one can conclude that nothing is a value in and of itself. The concept presupposes a valuer.
  18. I can offer one man's experience. I was running Window Vista Ultimate until last week. I upgraded to Windows 7 and the upgrade solved the problem I was experiencing. Three weeks ago, I suddenly lost every Adobe application installed on my PC. This included Acrobat Professional and Adobe CS2 Professional. No Adobe application would run. My efforts to resolve the problem included uninstalling all Adobe products and re-installing from the original disks. Nothing I did resolved the problem. In desperation, and on a suggestion from an Adobe Techie, I downloaded Windows 7 Ultimate. This resolved all problems with Adobe products. I have no idea why it worked; I only know that it did. Now that I'm using Windows 7, I do notice a couple of improvements. One is that boot up is about twice as fast. The other is that programs seem to run faster and with fewer "hour-glasses" in evidence. Otherwise, I don't really see much difference in Windows 7 and the Windows XP I run at the office.
  19. The movie offers important and profound messages. Message to society at large regarding dealing with thugs: Step One. Find a group of really stupid thugs. Step Two. Find a guilt ridden, terminally ill guy who will agree to let stupid thugs kill him. Step Three. Convince the guilt ridden, terminally ill guy to taunt the stupid thugs into killing him in front of witnesses. Step Four. Amen, justice is served. Message to really stupid thugs: Kill the guilt ridden, terminally ill guy away from witnesses. ~ or ~ Kill the witnesses, too.
  20. A personal experience on why Westerners hate the West: In Valparaiso, Chile in 1971, a local university student told me that most of her peers hated America. When asked why, she simply stated that it was because America was always number one. This could be deemed a case of what Aussies call the Tall Poppy Syndrome, indicating a resentment of the success of others. Or, in other words, some Westerners hate the West (as others in this thread have stated or implied) because of envy and/or self hatred. Is it possible to find a West-Hater who isn't an altruist/colectivist at heart?
  21. May I suggest reading "Assault On Integrity" by Alan Greenspan in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. Greenspan has since traveled far from Objectivism, but the article, apparently written in 1963, says much about the concept of government regulation. Also, in a Q & A following one of his lectures, Leonard Peikoff stated that regulations restrict men's activities in advance of any wrongdoing. Laws, on the other hand, should objectively state what is considered a prohibited action and prescribe appropriate penalties should that action be committed. Peikoff's comments illustrate the distinction, although sometimes subtle, between law and regulation.
  22. Implicit – understood – inherent – contained – implied. There is nothing in the concept of implicit that says “essential”. Hence, there is nothing in the sentence in question that says that “finiteness” is essential to life; but rather simply a part of life. Socrates is a man. All men are mortal. Ergo, Socrates is mortal. Does this syllogism not contain implications about life having an end? Have not the lives of all men ended? The sentence in question was part of the context of a post. It was not intended to stand on its own, out of context, but rather as a logical extension of the integration of the knowledge of life, as such. It was intended as one more nail in the coffin of the idea that an immortal being could value. The fact that a particular consciousness can conceive of no fundamental requirement for life to end does not necessarily mean that there is no such requirement. Perhaps man will someday discover what it is about life that renders it finite. Or, perhaps man will discover that life “just is” finite and that this fact simply has to be accepted; in the same way that existence has to be accepted. Existence is what it is. Life is what it is. Neither can be infinite.
  23. Philosophically speaking, there is no such thing as an “immortal man.” Implicit in the concept “man” is mortality. A “cure for death” does not make man immortal. A newly discovered means of thwarting death becomes simply one more value that man has to gain to sustain his life. Conversely, the immortal being must enact no cause to gain the effect of sustaining his existence. Continued existence for the immortal is guaranteed and requires no action. Hence, no values are possible to the immortal being because values arise from life. Hence, happiness doesn’t apply to the immortal because life is not what he has, but rather assured existence. Life, too, is an existent. It has definite characteristics. It can be defined. It is neither guaranteed nor infinite. Implicit in the concept of life is that it has an end. It is finite. Life, as such, is not what an immortal being has. Happiness, as a state of consciousness, is only possible to a being that possesses life that can end, and who must act to gain the values that feed such a conscious state. Attributing such conscious states to immortal beings is the province of mystics when they refer to the “reasons” for the deeds of their Gods. The original post proposed that the existence of death could be sufficient to hinder the motivation to act for the furtherance of one’s life. Philosophically, arguments have been given against such a proposition. Psychologically, however, a particular consciousness may conclude any number of things, including the idea that the existence of death makes moot any life-promoting decisions.
  24. Focusing on happiness changes the context of the discussion from existence to the contents of consciousness. Nonetheless, if happiness is to be defined as the state of consciousness that proceeds from gaining or keeping values; then the argument from happiness becomes circular. It goes straight back to values and from whence they derive. If life is the standard of value, and the immortal being has not life, but rather perpetual, assured existence; then the immortal being has no standard by which to judge any action or its consequences. The concept of happiness would therefore not apply to an immortal being.
  25. The fact that death is inevitable should not, by itself, hinder motivation or render decisions meaningless. On the contrary, the inevitability of death, by implication, gives meaning to life. It’s true that everyone will eventually die, but this fact has implications for action. For the rational animal (man), the fact of his inescapable death gives rise to the need to gain the values that sustain and advance his life and make it worth living. To mortal man, every “is” implies an “ought;” every existent has implications for action. There are no meaningless decisions. Every decision matters, including whether or not to scratch an itch. All decisions have a positive or negative impact on the life of the mortal man. Conversely, to an immortal consciousness, no action is superior to any other. It is the immortal man who should be ambivalent. There is no action he must perform -- no value he must gain -- to sustain his life. It is the immortal man who should ask, “How important is my life?” Immortality is, in fact, the real meaning of hell; for it is a sentence to a life without the need to think or act. There are no values to be gained because the standard of all value (life) is guaranteed.
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