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Everything posted by MisterSwig

  1. A Complex Standard of Value

    There has been some great discussion about values lately, and so I'd like to present a brief case for my notion of a complex standard of value. Any feedback or criticism would be appreciated. This is only the beginning of a work in progress. I start with the idea that humans have three basic aspects: the physical, the mental, and the biological. Also, for each aspect we can hold a separate standard of value. For the physical it's pleasure over pain; for the mental, it's knowledge over ignorance; and for the biological, it's health over sickness. Next, many people seem to believe that man is primarily one of these aspects, while the others are secondary. They argue for what I call a simple standard of value. If man is primarily physical, then his standard of value is pleasure. If he's primarily mental, then his standard is knowledge. And if man is primarily biological, then the standard is health. I call such positions the Simple Man Fallacy. It means taking the standard of value for one aspect of man and applying it to the whole person. I suppose it's an example of the fallacy of composition. I believe it is critical that we form a complex standard of value which integrates the three standards of man's existence: pleasure, knowledge, and health. Rand of course argued for the standard of value being man's life. But there is much confusion over what that means precisely. She said it means: "that which is required for man's survival qua man." And what does that mean? She explained: This is a complex answer that is difficult to digest. For example, how do we figure out which terms, methods, conditions and goals are required for our survival as a rational being? Well, to answer that question, I suggest we consider in equal measure the three basic aspects of our existence: the physical, the mental, and the biological. We should formulate a complex standard of value which integrates our critical needs for pleasure, knowledge, and health.
  2. A Complex Standard of Value

    Fascinating. It never even occurred to me that I could possibly measure these aspects. Actually I would categorize entertainment (movies and music) with knowledge. Pleasure is physical pleasure, not the mental kind. I'll think about this and see if I can categorize more items.
  3. A Complex Standard of Value

    Yes, further distinction is needed because the human body requires values for two primary systems: sensation and motion. We need pleasure for our sensory system. And we need health for our motor system. I believe each primary bodily system requires certain values in order to function properly. And therefore a standard of value is needed for each one. I don't think the mind has a similar division because it doesn't directly sense the outside world. It relies on the body for that.
  4. A Complex Standard of Value

    The limit would be those fundamental aspects which are absolutely necessary for the existence of a human being. There is no example of a non-physical human. There is no non-mental human. And there is no non-biological human. It is true that the mental depends upon the biological, and the biological depends upon the physical. But I submit they are unique states of existence which are all necessary in order to have a human being. I considered adding emotional and volitional, but decided that they are not unique states of existence. They are types of mental, and they almost certainly exist in lower animals too. Psychological is a type of mental. Evolutionary and longevity are types of biological. I agree. But how do you accomplish that in a way that you can mentally retain and use to properly guide your actions? It seems like Rand's formulation is too confusing for many Objectivists. The mental, which I think makes sense because it's the least understood aspect. Objectivists tend to agree on the physical and the biological. But when it comes to the mental we often disagree on whether the mind is a type of matter. And we haven't really solved the problem of free will. So it's hard to integrate an aspect you don't actually understand. Hence, your last question... I can agree that the mental depends on the biological. Without a living organism, there would be no mental organism. But I can't agree that knowledge is derived from the biological. It's derived, or obtained, from the mental's awareness of existence in general, which includes the physical, the biological, and the mental. As for pleasure, it does seem to be both a physical and biological value. The same could be said for health. I'll have to think about that some more and get back to you.
  5. The Audit

    I bolded "only" because I suspect that you use that word (and similar ones) to stop yourself from thinking. It is actually a very powerful word. If you look it up in the dictionary, it means things like "alone in kind or class," "sole," "standing alone by reason of superiority or excellence." So when you say "the only problems" that means you have determined that these problems are all there are to consider. They represent the complete class of problems which need to be solved in order to fix your reasoning. So how would you respond if someone came along and said, no, there are other problems to consider? What if, perhaps, one other problem is that you have stopped thinking about certain things? Why has it become difficult for you to spot your own errors?
  6. The Audit

    Why did you phrase that last bit the way you did? You seem to want more examples of bad reasoning than good, yet in your thesis statement you subordinated your greater desire to the lesser. I'm not so interested in reading your old posts, but if you put up some fresh ones here, I'll nit-pick them until my fingers turn blue.
  7. Thankgiving

    Not so much. Remember that you're talking about pre-Enlightenment colonial America. The Pilgrims, like many Puritans, were a religious tribe of separatists. They had no real concept of independence. They just hated the Church of England. And when they got to Massachusetts, they built their settlement on top of an abandoned Indian village. They took food and seeds from Indian burial grounds. Half of them died the first winter. And the other half would have died the next winter if not for the seeds they took. Their first "thanksgiving" had nothing to do with a harvest. It had to do with not perishing during the two-month ocean crossing. Then the real first Thanksgiving was an actual harvest celebration, thanking God for the food they produced with the seeds they took from the Indians. Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-Western Civilization. But we don't need to romanticize religious tribalists in order to appreciate how Enlightened individuals have since secularized the holiday.
  8. Truth as Disvalue

    You turned "moral evaluation" into a tautology. By what standard do you evaluate your standard of value? How do you know if it's a good or bad standard? More fundamental than the standard of value is the standard of knowledge. The OP's standard of knowledge is arbitrary fantasy. This is what allows him to believe that evasion and self-delusion will make the mental anguish go away, when those are the very things causing his pain in the first place. He is evading the joys of this life and obsessing over oblivion. And he is deluding himself into believing that lying to oneself cures mental health problems.
  9. Thankgiving

    Countries other than America, including Canada, celebrate Thanksgiving. Also, harvest celebrations in general have nothing to do with national pride. We have independence and victory celebrations for that purpose.
  10. Truth as Disvalue

    I mean that to develop a code of values one must first discover things that are valuable. Particular things are either valuable or not, and you need to figure out the truth before you can move on to combining that knowledge into a moral system.
  11. How Valuable Is Your Attention?

    Attention is the act of focusing your consciousness on sensory experience. It happens most dramatically when you wake up from sleeping or snap out of a "daydreaming" episode. Attention is valuable in relation to your particular needs. If you need sleep, then attention is not so valuable. If you need to escape from a burning building, then it's very valuable. You can also broaden or narrow your attention--expand or concentrate your focus. If you're guarding a fortress, you should probably keep your eyes and ears open at all times. If you're trying to learn a melody, you might want to close your eyes and put down the sandwich. Part of volition is your ability to choose where and how to place your attention.
  12. Truth as Disvalue

    Yes, because lying to yourself is dishonest and irrational. It doesn't respect reality or truth, which is the foundation of morality. The OP seems to think that moral evaluation springs fully formed from an arbitrary standard of value. No, it's the result of a complex thought process which considers all the relevant evidence and ethical principles. If you can't stop thinking about death and oblivion, then you might have a serious mental disorder and should see a doctor about it. You might have a chemical imbalance which can be treated with drugs. Obsession, depression, suicidal tendencies, these are not unique medical conditions. People get treated for them. Self-prescribed evasion and brainwashing is probably the worst treatment possible and might lead to a psychotic break.
  13. Truth as Disvalue

    How about this one... The truth about death is actually a value to you, because it provides the necessary contextual knowledge for your fake belief in an afterlife. Why delude yourself into believing such a falsehood if you don't value the knowledge of death and oblivion? Then there is the other paradox: why continue believing the falsehood once you've forgotten about the truth? Won't reality and reason lead you to the truth again? To maintain the delusion, you will always have to keep the context of oblivious death and your fear of it.
  14. Truth as Disvalue

    How does that statement relate to this one in the OP? The only factor I see considered here is whether the truth is displeasing to you. There's no mention of whether it's important information to know.
  15. Truth as Disvalue

    I'm still having trouble understanding how this is not the mind-body dichotomy. But I'll move on to another objection... It seems like you're equating value with a pleasing truth. But aren't many displeasing truths also valuable and indeed critical knowledge for survival? If I evade displeasing truths, I will be ignorant of dangerous people and things that might injure or kill me. For example, if I evade the historical horrors perpetrated by Nazis and Marxists, I might become friends with them and join their movements today. Or, let's say a child molester lives down my street. If I evade the disturbing evidence against him, I might think he's a swell guy and let my children play at his house.
  16. Truth as Disvalue

    How would you respond to the objection that you're violating the law of identity? Essentially your arbitrary belief consists of saying death is life, life is death. A is B. B is A. If death is rather a transformative process from one lifeform to another lifeform, then I'm not sure your view would qualify as an arbitrary belief, since you're making a factual claim about death. We should be able to study whether it truly leads to another lifeform. If not, why? Is the next lifeform undetectable in this realm? Or are you positing an afterworld to go along with your afterlife?
  17. Truth as Disvalue

    Also, in order to evade oblivion and believe in an afterlife, you must accept some form of the mind-body dichotomy. (Unless you believe you'll rise from the dead like Jesus with both body and soul.) And then what do you do with the dichotomy all your life? Delude yourself into believing it too is true? What then will become of your standard of value? Will you become a mystic of muscle or of spirit? When you talk of survival and flourishing, is that the survival and flourishing of your soul, or of your body?
  18. Jan Helfeld Interviews

    The giveaway was his repeated idea of an ultimate value: "a long and happy life." Life is a continual process. It is a biological series of actions to gain values. So what he's saying is that his ultimate value is the entire lifelong process of gaining values that make him happy. In other words, his ultimate value is the collection of all the values he's ever gained during the course of his life. So we have this set of values, and inherent in each particular item is this idea of the Great Collection, the Ultimate Value. But the Ultimate Value doesn't really exist as a physical thing. It's just a collection that he imagines. It's not his specific, objective existence at that particular moment in time and in that particular context of knowledge. It's instead his total existence throughout time. And that's some kind of idealism.
  19. Jan Helfeld Interviews

    Helfeld says his ultimate value (or end) is a "long and happy life." And he tries to show how an ultimate value is identified by examining the series of means and ends which lead to that ultimate end. And in this he sounds like an Objectivist. But I think he makes a critical mistake which a lot of Objectivists make: he doesn't reduce the concept of "value" to objective reality. He manages to reduce it to the process of driving to the supermarket to acquire food, which is decent. Most people can't even do that. But why are driving, supermarket, and food human values? Because they lead to a long and happy life? This seems like an intrinsic view of value, suggesting that these things are good because they possess the inherent quality of "long and happy lifeness." As long as you gain one such value after another such value, you will indeed achieve a long and happy life, barring unforeseen disasters. But how does he know which values have the quality of "long and happy lifeness"? And: what if a long and happy life is not possible for him? How would he know which things to value and pursue? I don't believe Helfeld will convince any anarchists to embrace the idea of limited government, because he lacks an objective basis for values and therefore will struggle to defend the value of individual rights and the need for a government to protect them. Anarchists will argue that society benefits more from natural forces like survival of the fittest (and mutual aid) than man-made impositions like limited government. And that is a difficult position to attack when you don't have a firm grasp on the nature of ethics and individual rights.
  20. The Moneyman Behind The Alt-Right

    You mean like reserving the right to deport undesirables? This would be an extension of private property rights given to the state and not the feds. A private citizen of a particular state has the right to remove whomever he pleases from his plot of land. Likewise, an anti-Federalist might argue, the state should have the right to exile whomever it pleases for whatever reason it pleases. So if white Idaho votes to banish blacks, they'd have to move to a black-accepting state.
  21. The Moneyman Behind The Alt-Right

    Are you aware that Rand's "Racism" article that popped up in your search contains this quote? The CRA is 53 years old. Nobody listened to Rand back then, and nobody will listen to us now. Why waste energy on it when we have much bigger fish to fry? Besides, Rand was against the CRA because it violates private property rights, not on account of some vague idea about "freedom of association" whose specific wording isn't even in the Constitution. If you want to fight the CRA, help re-establish the concept of private property rights, which ARI writes and talks about all the time.
  22. The Moneyman Behind The Alt-Right

    Well, I'm not being serious here. We should not seek national unity based on universal tolerances. That would be completely subjective. It should be based on inalienable rights, like the Founders discovered, even though they got it a little wrong. I was having some fun with this idea of tolerance as the basis for a legal system. For example, we should also not tolerate toy guns that look real, because kids might get shot. Oh, and ban old guns, because they've been known to blow up in your hand. Let's only have new guns that haven't been used in mass shootings and don't look like a toy.
  23. I picked up the movie Shot Caller at Redbox last night and was a little surprised to find that its subject matter relates to my current personal research interests: white nationalism and the indoctrination of normal white folk. You wouldn't know this from just the tagline "Some criminals are made in prison" or the brief synopsis: The synopsis failed to mention that the gang the protagonist gets caught up in is a white supremacist group, and the focus of the story is the gang's attempt to indoctrinate him and his attempt to resist while doing what he has to do to stay alive in prison and keep his family from harm outside. The movie doesn't deal too deeply with the intellectual side of indoctrination, though there is a little of that. For example, during a brutal gang initiation scene, the voiceover explains the prison philosophy: "The fact is we all started out as someone's little angel, and then a place like this forces us to become warriors or victims. Nothing in between can exist here. And you've chosen to be a warrior. Now it's up to you to remain one." Mostly the film shows how violence and threats are used to control gang members and break their will to be good and moral. It depicts high-security prison life where violent criminals are caged together and form tribes based on skin color. This, of course, they do for their own protection from being gang raped or killed as a lone wolf. Eventually the gang gains so much power through violence that it assumes a level of control even over some prison guards, who fear being harmed for not doing as the gang demands. The movie is cleverly shot in an actual prison using former gang members as extras. It is well-executed thematically. The main actor is amazing to watch as he goes through a terrible transition. The plot is darkly thoughtful and tragic, in a naturalistic Shakespearean sense. While the protagonist is no great moral hero, he does seek a sort of responsibility and redemption for his crimes. We get the sense that it's about an otherwise decent man trying to survive in absolute hell on Earth. Unfortunately the action seems philosophically driven more by emotion and determinism rather than reason and volition. But that's not really the focus, and might be irrelevant considering the context of prison life. Though there is one memorable line about a warrior's best weapon being his mind. Clearly the creator of this film, Ric Roman Waugh, wants us thinking more about prison reform. His main point is that our jails are designed to break men even more than they already are. Prison doesn't help them become better individuals. It forces them to become hardened tribal animals. It offers an environment where otherwise good men have no choice but to form or join a racial gang to survive.
  24. The Moneyman Behind The Alt-Right

    If the Bill of Rights were written today, it would probably be called the Bill of Tolerances. 1. Thou shalt tolerate freedom of expression, except if one should use a non-preferred gender pronoun. 2. Thou shalt tolerate guns, except for those used in mass shootings. 3. Thou shalt tolerate soldiers, except when they kill innocent children and babies during wartime. Etc.
  25. The Moneyman Behind The Alt-Right

    Already Regnery is subdividing his white tribe into those who agree with Frost and those who don't. After he kicks out the anti-fence whites, what's next for the great ethnostate: street brawls over what color to paint the damn thing? If "comfort" with one's tribal members is the standard, then maybe we had better establish a universal level of discomfort which everyone must tolerate for the sake of national unity.