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Betsy

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Everything posted by Betsy

  1. My book is now available on Kindle and will soon be an audiobook too.
  2. My book has just been published! You can get The WHYS Way to Success and Happiness from Amazon right now. http://www.amazon.com/dp/1517501105/ You can also order a special limited edition book (100 numbered copies) signed by me, that will ship in mid-October. If you want one, PayPal $35 (includes free shipping) to [email protected] before they're all sold out. ====== My book is significantly different from most of the other fine books written by Objectivists because Its intended audience is not just Objectivists, Ayn Rand fans, or professional intellectuals. It is a popular book for general audiences. While very philosophical, it's not what Ayn Rand would call "philosophy for Ragnar." It's philosophy for Rearden and for Eddie Willers and for the boy on the bicycle in Monadnock Valley. Its subject is neither ethical nor political. It's about epistemology and psycho-epistemology but, unlike Harry Binswanger's How We Know, it doesn't attempt to comprehensively describe or explain consciousness. Instead, it's a small "how-to" book -- a user's manual or quick-start guide -- for consciousness. It's not about Objectivist epistemology per se, but about an important aspect of epistemology and of Ayn Rand's unique thinking method that is crucial to everyone's life and well-being: causal reasoning. The style is friendly, conversational, and entertaining with a focus on principle-based solutions to real-life problems. From the book description on Amazon:
  3. Some names seem obvious from the sounds. John Galt-gaunt tall gold gelt (gold money) Orren Boyle=sore boil Wesley Mouch=weasely mooch ouch Bertram Scudder=burr tramp cruddy Tinky Holloway=hollow tinkling Robert Stadler-staid stagnant
  4. My son read and enjoyed Anthem when he was in 4th grade and was about 9 or 10. We didn't encourage him to read The Fountainhead until he was a junior in high school and had developed a serious passion for astronomy. At that point, we thought he could understand and identify with a man driven by a love of his work.
  5. That is something Ayn Rand denied ... sort of ... in 1966. I was part of a group of 3-4 people talking to Miss Rand after an NBI lecture and we were discussing naming children. She was very opposed to naming children after their parents or after living people because she thought a child should have his own identity. Then I asked her, "What about naming fictional characters after real people." She said she was against that too and that she chose her character names if she liked the sounds and the associations with similar words. She cited Lois Cook making rhymes out of "Toohey." I didn't completely buy that, so I asked "How do you say Frank O'Connor in Spanish?" She smiled a great big innocent smile and said, "That does sound good, doesn't it?"
  6. That depends on how one measures productiveness. Did you have a particular example in mind? I don't believe I made a universal statement. As I recall, we were discussing assessing another person's honesty and you can never be as certain of another's honesty as you can be of your own.
  7. It is incorrect to assume I am saying that the motive of a person is always important with respect to judging his virtues from his actions, but it usually is. Would you conclude that Keating is just as virtuous as Roark because they both chose to be architects and they both went to the Stanton Institute? Why they did it makes a difference. What if someone really wants to tell a lie but refrains because he doesn't think he can get away with it right now. Does the fact that he told the truth right now prove he is honest?
  8. Whoa! I never said the action was unintentional. Almost all actions are intended -- i.e., motivated by something. What I actually wrote was "I cannot know, with equal certainty, what you intended to do." Of course it is. I never said otherwise.
  9. That is significant evidence, but not 100% certain. It could be the intent was to quit smoking, but willpower failed. No, for the same reasons as the above. Observing the actions first-hand, I can know, with 100% certainty, that you puffed on the cigarette and ate the cookie, but I cannot know, with equal certainty, what you intended to do.
  10. If you haven't determined the cause yet, you should be holding out for more evidence. For instance, it was noted when I was studying finance, that every time womens' hemlines went up, so did the stock market and vice versa. All the evidence confirmed it and no evidence contradicted it. There was no evidence to the contrary to raise a doubt. The only problem was, there was no reason to believe hemlines were causally related to stock prices or how. That begs the question What is "sufficient evidence to consider it as something non-arbitrary?" But there is a real, non-arbitrary standard of proof that tells you when you know "enough". The standard is, "Have I found the cause yet?"
  11. Is it, or is it the other way around? Having conclusive evidence is what causes doubt to be dismissed because the conclusive evidence contradicts the doubt. The opposite is not necessarily true. The fact that you have little knowledge of, and no reason to doubt, the theory of relativity does not establish it as conclusively true. I don't think so nor do I see Dr. Peikoff defining it that way. An essential definition is in terms of causes rather than consequences. Having conclusive evidence causes and results in the dismissal of doubt as contradictory. Observe that Peikoff defines certainty positively as having conclusive evidence and then mentions lack of doubt afterward as a consequence.
  12. Only in the sense that "Considering that I don't know enough about this, maybe there's something I don't know that would disprove it." That does not mean there is specific, identifiable grounds for a specific, identifiable doubt. That doesn't follow. When Ayn Rand refused to endorse Darwin's theory, it did not mean she had any reason to doubt it or that she had an "alternative" explanation but only that she didn't know enough about it to be sure it was true. The basic doubt is that one does not have enough evidence for a conclusion and not that one has any specific, identifiable alternative.
  13. That is not what I was saying at all. In the indicated post I was making the case that Dr. Peikoff's definition of "certainty" was a positive definition based on what certainty IS -- i.e., having conclusive evidence. I was contrasting this to other definitions of "certainty" that define it negatively in terms of what it IS NOT - i.e., it does not have any doubt. When I wrote that Dr. Peikoff "does not say that there is no longer any possibility of doubt," I meant just that literally. He doesn't make any claims whatsoever about the possibility (or impossibility) of doubt. I did not mean to say or imply that there was a possibility of doubt at all. As Dr. Peikoff wrote, there is no grounds for asserting that possibility.
  14. I was using metaphysical possibility, as y_feldblum pointed out, to mean a potentiality. Whether a potentiality will be actualized depends on the nature of the entities acting. Where human action is not involved, the results are totally deterministic and, if we understood the entities well enough, totally predictable. Where human action is involved, whether a potentiality will be actualized depends on volitional choices. In the case of the acorn, whether it grows into an oak tree might depend on whether someone chooses to plant it in fertile soil or not.
  15. I don't see any contradiction here because we are discussing two different propositions here: 1) the possibility that something is true and 2) the possibility that a conclusion is not true (doubt). There are many situations where you have evidence that something is true, but not sufficient evidence for forming a conclusion, and no evidence that it is not true. In such a situation you would say "It is not certain, but it is possibly true, and I have no reason to doubt it."
  16. They very well could be extremely honest people, but I would not have enough evidence to know that about them. There are some virtues, like courage, that are difficult to judge unless you see someone in a situation that puts them to the test. No, but it is very strong evidence that he has that virtue and is likely to be honest in the future. Everything I know about a person, or can find out, enters into my evaluation of him.
  17. The issue is not one of having a doubt, but of having enough information. One either has enough information to be certain beyond a reasonable doubt or one does not. To be certain beyond all doubt would require an unbroken causal chain of evidence from perception to conclusion. You can have that about yourself but, because you must infer rather than introspect about the motives of others, the causal chain between the motives of others and their actions is broken at the point at which you infer their motives.
  18. By making the metaphysical/epistemological distinction I am trying to distinguish what is a fact from what is a known fact. Metaphysical facts exist whether or not anyone knows them, while epistemology deals with human knowledge of metaphysical. Metaphysical facts include what was and what is and what might be -- i.e. the potentials of entities. The metaphysically possible means the potential. Actually, by "epistemological possibility" I mean what is known about entities including their actual and potential metaphysical characteristics. Thus, in reality (metaphysically) someone did or did not commit a murder. There is no metaphysical possibility/potentiality involved in past events. Epistemologically, however, we may not have sufficient evidence to know conclusively whether someone did or did not commit the murder, so we look at the evidence and say that it is (epistemologically) possible he did it. Quite right. That it why certainty is not essentially an issue of doubt. It is an issue of how much evidence (and the kind of evidence) we have. Sometimes we should hold off declaring something certain (like some else's character) because we don't yet have enough evidence and not because we have doubt.
  19. These assertions need to be justified by evidence. There are some important philosophical distinctions not raised in OPAR that were made by Miss Rand or Dr. Peikoff. In order to prove that a distinction is opposed to Objectivist epistemology, you have to show where and how. Actually, it is the other way around. For an assertion to be epistemologically possible you have to point to what in reality (metaphysically) justifies and serves as evidence for the assertion. Thus, for an assertion to be epistemologically possible means that it is metaphysically possible -- but not necessarily the other way around. There are millions of real things (metaphysically) that might serve as evidence for an assertion that nobody has ever asserted and no mind has ever considered. Thus, while they are what they are, metaphysically, they have no epistemological status whatever. Definitely not! Just look at my example. You don't have to know everything -- or even everything about acorns -- to know that an acorn can't turn into Hillary. All you need to know are some things about acorns and Hillary. The difference is between what something is (existence) and what we know about what it is (consciousness). For all things in existence -- with one exception -- metaphysical possibility does not apply. These things either are or they are not with no "probability" or "possibility" in between. The one exception is the future choices of volitional beings. It is possible for a given man to be in focus or out of focus, honest or dishonest, tomorrow. It is in the metaphysical nature of volitional beings that such a possibility exists. Epistemological possibility exists whenever there is some, but not conclusive, evidence of an idea's truth and no evidence that it is false -- regardless of the entity in reality we are considering. Thus, in our current state of knowledge, we can say that some physical law or historical event is possibly true. The physical law applies to reality or it does not and the historical event happened or it did not. Metaphysically there is no "possibility" at all. It is a real -- and sometimes useful -- distinction. (See the reasons above.) Why do you say it is invalid?
  20. The biggest problem is that we can't directly perceive someone else's intent. All we can perceive are their actions from which we infer their intent. The problem is that for any given action, there may be many different reasons a person took that action. You can't just assume one possible motivation and ignore all the others until and unless you have enough evidence to do so. Gathering and analyzing the necessary evidence to accurately evaluate another person is probably one of the most difficult and challenging intellectual tasks there is.
  21. Actually there are two kinds of possibility and they both require evidence. They are metaphysical possibility and epistemological possibility. Something is metaphysically possible when the nature of an entity allows for and does not contradict something being true. Thus, it is possible for an acorn to become an oak tree but not to become Hillary Clinton. Something is epistemologically possible when we have some evidence for it being true and no evidence that it is false, but that the evidence we have is not conclusive.
  22. I don't think this is what Dr. Peikoff in saying in Chapter 5 of OPAR. There he is talking about conclusive evidence that meets a standard of proof, not degrees or percentages of evidence.
  23. The latter. I would consider seeing two instances where a particular person is honest where it works to his disadvantage and he could get away with not being honest. I gave examples of Dr. Peikoff doing that in this post. Another example of disadvantageous honesty was a friend of mine who lost an expensive ring and was compensated for it by her insurance company. Many years later she found the ring and tried to return the money to the insurance company and her insurance agent said she should forget it. She insisted on returning the money.
  24. How would you evaluate a claim by someone who tells someone else, "I don't care if you think you want X. I know what you really want and it's Y." How would you evaluate such a statement? The "known evidence" may be certain, but not the conclusion inferred from the known evidence. Given a particular action a person is known to have taken, there may be several possible motivations for taking that action. Roark and Keating had very different reasons for being architects.
  25. Well, of course, our senses give us direct access to some of existence. I was not implying that our senses give us omniscience. When we use abstraction and tools, we abstract from direct perception and use direct perception to apply and read the tools and other instruments we haved devised.
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