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thinkonaut

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    Artificial intelligence, songwriting, epistemology, philosophy of mathematics, writing op-eds, starting an Internet business

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    Adrian Apollo
  1. thinkonaut

    Mathematics: Reality And Infinity

    Thanks for your participation, Stephen, I only wish you (or Alex) would address the objection that I raise. Why should we assume the universe to be Euclidean? I don't think it makes sense to do so. One of the cardinal features of Objectivism is the recognition that existence is primary to consciousness. Regardless of whether or not someone *perceives* that I am qualified to discuss something, the essential question is: What is the claim? Is it logical? What is the evidence? What counterevidence might exist? I would rather not spend my time on this forum addressing non-essential questions. Whether anyone judges me to be qualified to do anything should be of secondary interest to members of this forum and should not rise to the level of being important enough to comment on in posts. Coupling such assertions that I am not qualified with a link to a thread in order to "look for yourself" does not help. You should reference some specific claim that I have made, and then provide the link. The content of that of which I speak speaks for itself. And that's one of the many pleasures of being an Objectivist. Since I don't want to address nonessential questions on this forum, I won't try to defend my qualifications on this forum. Anyone interested in facts which show that I am qualified is invited to contact me by private e-mail at thinkonaut------at-----yahoo-----dot-----com. One of the reasons I quit the Circular Time thread was because I don't appreciate being shadowed by critic(s) who don't address the essential issues. The fact that such extraneous and counterproductive talk is allowed onto this forum (or to remain here) shows a severe flaw in the editorship herein and I just won't be able to participate with such continued shadowing of that nature. I must insist that people address the issues, otherwise I will withdraw my participation. Such shadowing is a form of argument by intimidation, pure and simple (or "intellectual bullying" to use plain talk) and it won't wash in the eyes of the savvy participants of this group. All that being said, Stephen, I find much of what you write to be very informative and interesting, and you have, in prior posts, made comments which have helped me to correct or augment my views, and I appreciate it. You're a bright guy and much more knowledgeable than me on many topics. I admire you for it. Merry Christmas.
  2. thinkonaut

    Deleting Threads?

    There's several things happening here all at once, one, figuring out what principles apply to the thread I started on Circular Time in Member's Essays; two figuring out what principles apply to current and past posts; three. figuring out what should apply to future posts. Since David already did delete the Circular Time thread per my request, one could argue that I have the prerogative to have it not re-instated (at least as applies to my posts therein). As for the future, I think the owner(s) of this site should consider a mini-forum where people start a thread and act as editors with the prerogative to accept and delete posts. As for "anything goes," you're right, I should have said "almost anything goes." Just because a person might be rational doesn't mean that everything they have to say is edifying to the reader. Oftentimes it is difficult to judge the long-term worth of one's work, since one is so intimately involved with it. So, even if David does not allow blatant irrationalism on the site, I still don't think an "almost anything goes" policy is consistent with Objectivist principles. Granted, the Internet is a new type of communication medium and exact analogies cannot be made with other forums such as lectures or periodicals. Still, human conception is limited. It behooves us present nicely edited intellectual products for the reader's edification. To allow some participant to post to their heart's content is to invite an tangled intellectual product to be made. Individualism is the hallmark of Objectivism, and in my opinion, the best thing the owner(s) of this site could do is to allow the intellectual products created here to be closely monitored and shaped by individuals. Suppose Ayn Rand printed every letter she received in "The Objectivist Newsletter." Would that have been edifying? Should Harry Binswanger approve every post that comes in to HBL? I think not. This site has a tremendous untapped potential which could be unleashed by following my proposal for closely monitored mini-forums. I have to reiterate, that I have no complaints about "hitting the submit button." Everything I said in the Circular Time thread still stands. The reason I wanted it deleted is because the thread was quickly becoming a chaotic intellectual product and I did not want to take part in that. I don't think Ayn Rand would have wanted to take part in such a venture either. I repeat: everything I said in the thread still stands.
  3. thinkonaut

    Mathematics: Reality And Infinity

    Regarding Alex's essay, his whole thesis hinges on the premise that the universe as a whole is Euclidean. I would have liked to see more in his essay as to why he accepts this as a premise. I think that such a premise is a mistake. Euclidean geometry, in my opinion, only applies to parts of the universe, not the universe as a whole. Every frame of reference that we choose to describe with Euclidean geometry can only be described by Euclidean geometry within a limited range. I do not believe it makes sense to think of lines, for example, that extend outwards in a never-ending fashion. It does not make sense, by my way of thinking, to think of the universe extending outwards in all directions in a never-ending fashion, Alex's intriguing essay notwithstanding.
  4. If you read the section of ITOE where AR mentions prepositions, adjectives, etc., you will see some of her ideas on the philosophy of language. Had she decided to write a book on Objectivism, she would most likely have gone into it further. The philosophy of language has to do with picking up where concept formation leaves off. Once concepts are formed, how are they combined? That's the philosophy of language. As for concepts of fantasy like "unicorns" or what have you, those are high-level concepts of consciousness. Read ITOE to learn more about concepts of consciousness. Men have the capacity to fantasize, so the referent of "unicorn" would be an idea. It's an idea about ideas. Since ideas are aspects of existence, as they exist in the minds of individuals, "unicorn" does have a real-world referent, just as the concept "concept" does, which is also a concept of consciousness. That doesn't mean that unicorns exist as some type of horse with a pointy thing on its head, but the concept "unicorn" does indeed have a referent. But it would not have a referent if men did not exist. "Unicorn" presupposes the existence of men and presupposes the ability of men to fantasize. Such fantasies have a purpose and a context.
  5. thinkonaut

    Deleting Threads?

    I wouldn't be so sure about that implication. The law can be subtle sometimes. And of course the owner of the site has the prerogative to accept for publication or remove whatever he wants. If my essay is listed in an essay section as a thread in a section that is not an archive section, but is some kind of discussion-in-progress, then I don't think it's just a simple matter of saying that David has the implied right to keep publishing my stuff in that format. Actually, this is probably an area of law that hasn't been settled.
  6. thinkonaut

    Deleting Threads?

    Well, I don't mind leaving my "Circular Time" thread on the forum, but just to cover all bases, I reserve the right to have it (my posts) deleted in the future based on the previous non-clarity of the policy and based on the fact that David *did* remove it. The new question is not whether I have the right to have it deleted in the first place (since it was), but whether David has the right to reinstate it. What complicates matters is that we are talking about other people's writings, too, and I don't wish to claim any say over whether those posts are published. If people misunderstood this point, I apologize for my lack of communicating clearly. The other people's posts can always be retained, whether or not my posts are there. They could be retained in some other form. I just don't believe that an "anything goes" forum is consonant with Objectivist principles. I realize that David does do some editing and monitoring, i.e., keeping out irrational people, but I still don't think that's enough. If I were giving a lecture, the opportunities for people to take the floor would be carefully controlled. If it weren't, then people would get up and leave, which is what I saw was going to happen to my thread, so I got up and left first. After all, the people who attend a lecture are there to listen mainly to the speaker, not the questioners. It should be up to the host and the speaker to decide if the questioners are making the desired contribution to the purpose of the lecture. Even if there is merit to what the questioner says, it still boils down to the issue of whether the lecturer thinks it's pertinent and wants to continue with it. Of course, there will be honest disagreements on the part of questioners who are not given as much attention as they ask for. There will always be honest disagreements of that nature. But the solution is not to let the questioners take over the floor, but to ask the questioners hold their own lecture. This is tangential and not totally related to the issue at hand, but I am reminded of an article that Ayn Rand wrote in one of the Objectivist newsletters. Student rioters at Berkeley were demanding that the students and professors be able to take over and run the university, and AR disagreed. I agree with AR. Students and professors should be able to run universities, i.e., hire and fire administrators, but only if they are the ones that started the university in the first place, such as what occurred when universities originated historically as formal organizations of foreign students in Italy, as I understand it. No offense intended to anyone involved in this event. It appears as though everyone had good motives.
  7. thinkonaut

    The Incredibles

    I saw the movie last night and enjoyed it. Yes, there are secondary aspects to the movie that are wrong, but the main theme of the movie is that egalitarianism is bad and heroism is good. We're going to have to get used to looking for the good fundamentals of things (like movies), and separating out the not-so-good secondary messages. Otherwise, we'll end up alienating ourselves and missing out on the rising tide of Objectivism-related ideas in contemporary culture.
  8. thinkonaut

    Dagny And Francisco's Childhood

    I found it interesting how Dagny went to work early on for Taggart Transcontinental and performed in a superior fashion. This was right at the end of her teens, right? I like how she climbs the ladder by doing her job so well that there is just no question that she deserves to advance. Childhood can be a wonderful time where we are unaware of the horrible state that exists in many aspects of society. Therefore, it seems natural that AR would want to write about the heroes childhood years. It can have the same flavor as the purity of Galt's Gulch.
  9. I attended the launch on Oct. 4 and I was deeply moved by the experience. I deem it to be one of the top 5 experiences of my life. It has changed me, for example, it has inspired me to become a public speaker. Looking back on the experience, there were times throughout the day (when I was visiting the home hanger where SpaceShipOne is parked)--there were times which were like being in Galt's Gulch with heroes around.
  10. thinkonaut

    Deleting Threads?

    I'd like to see some argumentation, instead of just assertions. That's one of the reasons I prefer that the entire Circular Time thread be deleted. It's just clouded up with too much non-argumentation. *I'm* the one who doesn't want to fake reality, which is what I'd be doing if I continued to participate in the thread, pretending that the thread is edifying to the reader. Since I can't selectively clean it up, the only thing I can do is to ask for the whole thing to be removed. Would you say that a judge is attempting to fake reality when he has comments stricken from the court record? Obviously not, because the purpose of the stenographer's notes is *not* to create a precise historical record, but to produce a document that enables the jury to accomplish their task. Likewise, the purpose of a forum such as this one should not primarily be a historical one. The purpose should be to provide edifying content to the readers. That means it would be better if the moderators hacked away at unresponsive and evasive posts that clutter up threads. To *not* have a policy of insisting on edifying content while cutting loose only the most egregious offenders is to support the kind of collective decision making exhibited by the Taggart Transcontinental Board of Directors. Why would I want to offer my work to be trampled upon by such a process? The thread wound up becoming an intellectual train wreck. Take my word for it, this Web site is going to perish if someone doesn't start exercising some editorial control. That's why Dr. Binswanger's list is thriving and why I have no problem participating in his group. He's being an egoist and allowing me to be one, too. Enough of this biting-one's-nose-to-spite-one's-face stuff. We need each other in order to more effectively fight the larger battle. Do we want Objectivism to win, or do we want to score debating points against each other? Ayn Rand wrote once that she gave up debating of that sort. We should follow suit. I just looked at the bottom of the home page of this site and it said there were 291 visitors at the moment and 14 members accessing the site. Those are 291 visitors that we need to be winning over to our side by showing them how we can engage ourselves in productive truth seeking on our threads, instead of dodging arguments and making bald assertions about how so-and-so doesn't understand such-and-such and using intellectual fighting words like "absurd" and "pussyfooting." You can count me out.
  11. thinkonaut

    Deleting Threads?

    I disagree. A record could be left stating that a post was deleted. The reality is that it was available for viewing during a certain time frame, but afterwards was not available. If I attached a political poster to the outside of my house and my neighbor responded by posting a message on the outside of his house, would he have cause to complain that I was "obliterating reality" if I removed it? He could complain that people would not understand why his poster was there or what the words on it meant. To make such a complaint would be to confuse mental reality with physical reality. The poster had a world line of a certain length. It existed in space and time. Of course, we are talking about putting posters up on David's house and not our separate houses, but the analysis is the same. The only question is who has the intellectual property rights to the posters and thus has the legal prerogative to remove them? If David decides to set up a contract where people agree to have their messages posted in perpetuity, then everyone is forewarned and may choose to participate or not participate accordingly. Since the issue was not made explicit when I created my Circular Time thread, it remains a legal issue as to whether I can insist that the thread and/or my essay be removed. Since David already *did* delete it, I'm inclined to conclude that he has changed whatever implicit agreement we started with and doesn't necessarily have the legal right to simply undelete it. That is the legal issue to be decided. If I'm Martin Luther, and David has agreed to let me nail a document to his front door, does he have the legal right to insist that it remain there in perpetuity, even though he and I did not discuss the issue? I doubt it.
  12. thinkonaut

    Deleting Threads?

    Just to be clear, I have not changed my position on the content of what I put on the Circular Time thread. There may well be some kind of public record aspect to this, but I'm not sure I have granted the forum the right to put my name up in perpetuity under a format that amounts to republishing my essay everyday. There's two issues here, one, deciding what was implicit before, and two, deciding what to do in the future. As for the first case, since David did delete the Circular Time thread per my request (even though he reinstated it), that shows that in his mind he had already granted me the prerogative of at least removing my essay, if not the whole thread. Even if the whole thread is deleted, people can still re-post what they said in another format. As for the second case, deciding what to do from now on, I strongly recommend allowing the possibility of some sort of mini-forum where the host (the author of an essay) has a degree of control. This is how it would be at a live lecture. The doors aren't thrown open to every passer by on the street to come in and derail the proceedings. Even if a participant has good intentions, a lecturer needs to have a certain degree of control over what is happening because an intellectual product is being created. As egoists, we should know that collective production does not work. Yes, the forum belongs to David and since he has the ultimate say, then it is not collectivism. But *if* he chooses not to exercise much control, it would be analogous to someone buying a piece of land and retaining ownership of it while allowing a commune to be established on it. Perhaps a different analogy would be more illuminating, for example, the case of a newspaper publisher who just lets anyone and everyone have a say over what goes in the paper based on who shows up at the door. I wouldn't buy such a newspaper. So far he has banned people for being irrational, and I applaud that. However, I still believe that it would be desirable to have a portion of this site set aside where the author of a thread is allowed to set the tone and ground rules of the discussion. People could certainly choose not to participate in that part of the site if they don't like the idea.
  13. thinkonaut

    Deleting Threads?

    Whatever is decided for the Circular Time thread, as a matter of setting future policy, I'm in favor of giving the author of an essay in the Essay section the prerogative to withdraw his essay and have the thread deleted. Others may have different preferences, but I think the author should be seen as the "host" of what amounts to a mini-forum, and that those who post on that thread look to that particular author to set the tone and ground rules of the thread, just as a lecturer would do if giving a talk in person. If the thread ends up being deleted, individual posters should know that they need to keep copies of their posts so that they can re-post them in another format on some other thread if they choose. As for the Circular Time thread, it was becoming something that wasn't my cup of tea and something I hadn't bargained for. All I wanted to do was find people who might be able to stimulate my thinking in the area and perhaps make new friends. I wasn't looking to get into brash discussions. Especially frustrating is that I am sure that the brashness resulted from miscommunication. Certainly the author of any post in whatever part of this Web site should have the prerogative to delete his post, since the author retains the copyright to his own words. If the prerogative is not given to withdraw one's own words, it could be legally demanded, unless it is made clear that people are losing the copyright to their words when they post. In that case, I won't post in the future.
  14. thinkonaut

    Circular Time

    What's so mysterious about saying that I am preparing a response and that here's some relevant issues to consider ahead of time? I see nothing mysterious about it. It's like a professor saying that before we talk about such-and-such paper, you should read up on these certain issues and think about how they might apply, and in particular, think about how such-and-so might apply in this way, etc. (And I'm not saying that I deserve the status of philosophy professor, only that I am doing something akin to what a professor might do, and that there's nothing wrong with doing so.) I do think it would be helpful to debate these issues in the abstract before I apply them to his paper, if that's possible at this point. Perhaps not. I will win you over one of these days! I know you to be an intelligent and thoughtful person, and I am perplexed really, as to the nature of your reaction to some of my posts here. Your main complaint seems to be that you say it is absurd that I attempt to apply certain mathematical concepts to the universe--but that's what valid concepts are for! That's what makes them valid, the fact that we can apply them. If it is wrong in principle wrong to hypothesize that the universe is hyperspherical (or hyperspheroidal), due to hyperspheres being concepts of method, then it is also wrong in principle to say that a planet, for example, is spherical, because spheres are also concepts of method. You've never really responded to me pointing this out. I must be a failure when it comes to communicating. If so, that wouldn't imply that my ideas are wrong, but just that I have trouble understanding my audience and communicating my ideas to them. I once applied for a teaching position at a community college, and the dean confided in me afterwards that the panel thought that I had real difficulties in communicating. I suppose they were right. I do have trouble seeing things from my audience's perspective, and I can see that I am just not reaching you. I'll accept the blame for that. But may I politely request that we stop talking about talking and focus more on the issues at hand? I don't want to bore people with tangential issues.
  15. thinkonaut

    Circular Time

    Point well taken, thank you. I need to get my "Objectivism Research CD ROM" re-installed in my computer so that I can look up such things. My (modified) question is still pertinent, though: Is it proper to criticize only the unstated premises of a philosophical paper without making exact quotations of passages therein?
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