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MisterSwig last won the day on April 3

MisterSwig had the most liked content!


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  1. I'm not sure if this has already been established in this thread, but proper names are not concepts with a single unit. They name, and thus mentally differentiate, a particular unit within a particular class of units. There's no abstracting going on. Just isolating. Mars is a proper name for a planet. It is a unit of the concept planet. By giving it a unique name we can more easily isolate it from every other planet in the known universe and remember its measurable attributes like redness. However, Mars isn't the only red planet in the universe, so we also need to remember that it's the red planet fourth closest to our Sun, which, by the way, is another proper name--for a unit subsumed under the concept star.
  2. Yes, another example I like. I'm starting to conceive such situations as representing a complex purpose. A complex purpose is an integration of several related ones which are united by an ultimate one. Depending on your ability to maintain a context for your life, your ultimate purpose for going to the dentist might be only to stay healthy, or it might be to stay healthy to keep working to make money to buy a house to raise a family and live happily. All of that would be my general idea of a complex purpose. Note: I'm experiencing weird issues with my smartphone, which I'm using to slowly type this. I'll get back to motivation once this issue is resolved.
  3. I think this helps illustrate important facts about purpose. 1. Chosen: Purpose is volitionally chosen, not automatic, and therefore it's most likely a uniquely human thing. (I doubt chimps could have a human-like purpose.) It's possible to not choose a purpose, in which case we would act pre-volitionally like a baby or post-volitionally like an emotion-driven looney. 2. Good or bad, harmony or discord: Because man is fallible, his chosen purpose might be good or bad for his individual survival. Likewise, it might be in harmony or discord with his particular moral code. The two evaluations are separate and unique questions, meaning that a particular purpose could be good for survival while in discord with one's moral code, and vice versa. 3. Complex: Man is capable of setting short, mid, and long-term goals. And so there may be multiple chosen purposes for any particular action. When properly integrated, these single purposes become one complex purpose which we use to guide our entire life process. It's possible for man to set only short-term goals, in which case he drops the context of a future life and lives only for the present purpose. It's also possible for man to have a longer-term goal but lack the planning skills or ability to achieve it, in which case his shorter-range goals will not be integrated with the longer-term one, and ultimately he will fail or be frustrated, unless he learns and adjusts his goals accordingly. 4. Post-life: On account of having imagination, it is possible for man to set a post-life goal which is achieved (or not) only after and on account of his death. Despite not being alive to see this final purpose fulfilled, he can still act with purpose before death in order to best ensure that the imagined goal is achieved. And like all purposes, even this one can be good or bad for survival, and in harmony or discord with one's moral code. To elaborate a bit on #4, a popular example of a post-life goal is: to get into Heaven and be with God. Religious folk may or may not attempt to integrate this final goal with their short, mid, and long-term goals in life before death. They may routinely choose to drop the context of such a supernatural afterlife and focus on pursuing more this-worldly purposes such as making money and raising a family. But if they do pursue Heaven, then they must do so according to some standard of value, such as whatever moral code they can glean from their favorite religious text. If they should decide that getting to Heaven and being with God requires killing infidels because that's what their favorite prophet said, then their shorter-range goals in life will probably include waging war upon non-believers. They might even conduct a suicide mission against the enemy to prove their devotion to their ultimate purpose. Another popular post-life goal is: helping loved ones. This is accomplished by creating a will and bequeathing property to the people we love. But in order to have something to bequeath, this purpose must be properly integrated with pre-death goals, such as making a good living and buying valuable property. If one chooses to live hedonistically and spend everything on booze and gambling, there may be nothing left for loved ones in the end.
  4. How many pinheads can dance on an angel?

    Looks like they've done some studies on that problem. Which seems absurdly unnecessary since Mr. Owl already gave us the answer.
  5. How many pinheads can dance on an angel?

    That's awesome! I like this part... Vaporizing the dance floor is also a problem with mosh pits at metal concerts.
  6. This whole thread is about imaginary creatures that fly around inside our heads and breathe statements.
  7. I couldn't find the thread about angels dancing on a pinhead, so I thought I'd ask a related question. How many pinheads can dance on an angel? If we assume the existence of angels, we should probably also agree that they reside in the same realm of existence as pinheads. Otherwise interaction between the two entities would be impossible, I guess, and the main question would be rendered pointless. Though, if you can see a way around the existential problem, be my guest and place angels in whatever immaterial realm you like, even though in the Bible they walk around like people. Moving on, my initial thought is that dancing is something only humans and circus animals do. So a pinhead, being neither a human nor a circus animal, could not possibly dance on an angel. That seems straightforward enough. But then I've seen Bill Nye try to dance on TV, and I'm almost certain that a pinhead could replicate his effort if perchance a strong wind passed by or if the angel quivered a little. Yet, there's also the problem that a pinhead is not the entire pin, is it? It doesn't include the wire or the point. Still, I think it has a small chance of moving like Nye. Now we must decide how many such pinheads could whirl around on an angel's bald head.
  8. There's a thread on angels?!? How'd I miss that! I hope it's more in my league. Gonna check it out right now. Lay-tah, skay-tahs!
  9. I think I see your point. Is purpose the why we do something or the doing itself? Here's my problem. If purpose is only the why, then which why is it? Because if we are always doing something in order to flourish in life and be happy, then are we going to school to graduate, to get a good job, to make enough money to raise a family, or to be able to retire at fifty and sail around the world before we die? Which larger reason is it? Or consider the concrete-bound version. Why do I study as a student? To do well on the exams. Why do I take exams? To pass my classes. Why do I want to pass my classes? To graduate. Do we have countless little purposes? Or one giant, overarching one? I'm thinking that purpose is both the actions and the reasons for those actions. Man is an integrated body and mind. He acts with his reason. He acts with purpose. A human act without a purpose is a random or uncontrolled event. In reality I doubt we can separate the act from the purpose, unless we want to act like beasts. Certainly we can direct our mental focus on our purpose or our actions and consider them separately or together in our mind for awhile, perhaps to refocus or plan our future behavior. Or to reprioritize our goals. But what would it mean if the action and the reason for the action were existentially or temporally separate things? I don't have a good answer for that one. Gotta give it more thought.
  10. Been there done that. But you reminded me of the Heaney translation of Beowulf that I still need to read. Thanks.
  11. I am free to make my own definitions when making a point. You're not free to steal a concept and then deny its origin. The concept of dragon comes from it being a fictional creature. You cannot now pretend that it's supposed to be real. That would be committing the stolen concept fallacy, as Rand identified. Of course, you could be joking around. If that's the case, then touché!
  12. I think you're on to something there. In "Philosophy and Sense of Life" Rand wrote: It's interesting that she ascribes a "motivational power" to sense of life. I'm working on an idea about how the mere recognition of chosen values produces a psychological desire for the value. This desire is automatic and part of what we call motivation. While it does not determine a particular action, it is what mentally impels us to perform some volitional action in relation to the chosen value. Now I'll need to consider how the sense of life affects motivation and purpose before posting my idea. The "generalized feeling about existence" that arises from the "discreet conclusions" probably does relate to the measure of perseverance or expectation of success one has in the face of difficult obstacles. It would affect how they treat the obstacle on a psychological level. If they generally hate reality, then whatever it is they wanted beyond the obstacle probably has little value to them anyway, so they will feel little motivation to get by the obstacle. They might instead decide to seek a value that distracts them from reality, like going to the liquor store to buy some vodka. On the other hand, someone who loves reality and being alive probably values the desired goal intensely and will therefore think real hard on how to overcome the obstacle.
  13. I like this example. It describes a problem in which we have the same stated purpose (to graduate from college) yet two clearly different levels of motivation (high and low). Even if we disagree on the relationship between purpose and motivation, this is a good example of what I'm talking about. The way I see it, purpose is the action, the work, the graduating. Everything the student has done, is doing, and will do in order to graduate is his purpose. Life is a process, and so a purpose in life is also a process. The student's purpose is not his statement that he "wants to graduate." That's only words. In reality, his purpose is all of the productive work that goes into graduating, because "to graduate" means "to do what it takes to earn a diploma." It doesn't mean "to be handed a diploma." Now we have two students with different levels of motivation. One works hard to graduate, and one does not. Why is this? If purpose is the productive work itself, then motivation must be related to the level of devotion to this work. We often hear people talk about how committed or attached they are to their work. Some students love studying. Some hate it. Motivation is this psychological factor related to a purpose. But what causes it? And why are some students more motivated than others? You said that the student with low motivation chooses other activities instead of studying. Let's say he would rather spend his time playing sports, because he wants to be a professional athlete. In this case, his low motivation for studying is related to his chosen priority in values. He values graduating less than becoming a pro athlete, therefore he works less on studying, and more on running or jumping or whatever he needs to do to get hired by a professional sports team. His level of devotion (motivation) to performing particular types of work (purpose) depends on the hierarchy and relative importance of his chosen values.
  14. Sure you do. Concepts consist of the "mechanism" needed to output statements. And since statements are composed of words, a concept is best understood as a word-making mechanism. Concept itself is a word, therefore there must be some kind of a superconcept, a prime mover mechanism which either outputted itself or has always existed, and which originally outputted the very first statement to ever exist, which of course would have been about itself. This stuff really isn't that hard to figure out. It's not like you're the first person to come up with this garbage.
  15. Dragon is not an invalid concept. Your definition of it is incorrect. A dragon is a mythological creature often depicted as a large, lizard-like monster that can fly and breathe fire. This concept does have representative units in reality, in fictional books and movies.