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hippie

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About hippie

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    Massachusetts
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    Adam
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    Brandeis University
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    Swing dance, chess, philosophy, astronomy, science, politics, old movies, old music, old paintings, old buildings, food, Kids in the Hall, life.
  1. But Speicher, so much love will be lost between us… Anyway, you're right. If you perceive free will as an axiom, and I do not, then we must be two diffent kinds of beings. I doubt that, and I believe you are simply misinterpreting your senses, but if that is where we stand that that is all we can have to say--which is what I've said, but had hoped not to repeat, yet again. Betsy, what is right is: what is best to do. Honesty is the act of representing to others what one knows without lies, embellishment, or omission. A state of morality is a state of being proper in the context of one’s environment. None of these contradict determinism. While the act of doing something right or wrong is determined (e.g. studying a business in order to make a sound investment), the existence of a right or wrong is not. Likewise, just because 2 + 2 = 4 is immutable, that doesn’t mean that right and wrong cease to apply. In the problem 2 + 2 = X, the right answer is four. If someone says seven, he is wrong. As an investment consultant, it is right to study businesses. One might not study businesses, and whichever the consultant does is determined, but there is still a right and a wrong. Fred, I expect I have already addressed most of what you wrote. With the question of, “So why bring up the issue [of your personal character]?” That is exactly my question. Anyway, yes, my character is determined by me… which is then determined by other causes. That’s how the chain of causality goes. Every effect has a cause. Who I am (the effect) has a cause (who I was and what happened to me over time). I must add, as a general note, that it never ceases to amaze me how excited Objectivists get over this discussion. I cannot imagine that one would get so heated about, say, the argument over the nature of dark matter. I am not a socialist—I am not proposing that physical force be used against anybody, I am not threatening anybody, I am not proposing any kind of threat like gun control or socialized medicine. I can understand getting angry with a communist, who tells you that you ought to be chained and worked like a slave (and is taking political steps to get it done). But on a matter like this, it’s just absurd to get upset. Editted for sentence flow and clarity.
  2. I cannot sense being forced or free to say what I said. Neither is automatic. I deduce--from other automatic knowledge like existence, perception, consciousness, and causality--that existence is pre-determined. This is only self-defeating if you assume free will. I have just denied it without pre-supposing it. You think I have because you assume free will. As I do not, and as I believe that the circumstances of existence necessitated that I say what I said, I find no contradiction. I only find contradiction in the free will position. Whether you agree with me or not, I do not see how anybody can hold me personally, morally guilty of any intellectual error or dishonesty. If I were to agree with any of you on free will, it would only be out of pressure from you and not out of an actual agreement. *That* would be dishonest and I cannot do it, even though it would temporarily be easier for me to simply lie and concede the matter. From where I stand, the only right, just, honest, moral thing to do is to express and maintain a belief in determinism. Criticize that if you will, but I cannot believe that this should bring my character into question. Speicher, this is the post you referred me to: QUOTE (hippie @ Jun 8 2004, 11:20 PM) "In addition to what Spearmint has said, I would like to throw another mind experiment at you: Assume there is a man who chooses to do a tap dance. Then, time is reversed. Nothing is changed, all things are exactly and perfectly the way they were, all variables being perfectly identical. Must he tap dance again? If he must, he is determined. If he is not compelled to, his will is random, causeless, and without reason. If choice comes ex nihilo, that is just mystical." But the primary choice does not come from nothing; it derives from the nature of consciousness and the nature of the brain upon which consciousness depends. You make a false alternative between determinism and randomness, thereby defining volition out of existence. The primary choice is both caused and necessitated by the nature of man; given any particular circumstances, man must choose, but what he chooses, to focus or not, is the expression of volition. QUOTE "When you ask, do I sense my own free will, I don’t. When I act, I weigh my options, consider my knowledge, and do what I must because of my reason. For instance, when I must choose between apple juice and orange juice, I know that orange juice is healthy and tastes better than apple juice. Because I value what tastes better, I must drink the orange juice." If you want to really understand the process that you just described, you need to separate out two things: the primary, irreducible aspect of volition -- the choice to focus, or not -- and volition as a guiding process in our reasoning. This latter process, what Peikoff refers to as the "higher-level" actions of consciousness, unlike the primary choice, are not irreducible, and your thinking above in regard to juice is explainable in terms of your principles, your values, your knowledge, and a multitude of other mental and physical factors. And at any given step along your reasoning process towards your decision about which juice to drink, you can choose to remain in full focus and avail yourself of the full context of your knowledge and the circumstances, or you can choose to lessen your focus and muddle the reasoning processes that ensue. So all your consequential reasoning is caused, in the sense of being guided by a matter of choice, but it is not necessitated because your primary choice, to focus or not, could have been otherwise. QUOTE "He, however, fundamentally agreed with Ayn Rand. He believed that the fundamentally undetermined and, essentially, random choice that a person makes is the choice to think or not to think." I'm afraid you do not understand what Ayn Rand thought. She would have been horrified at the notion of a "random" choice, itself a contradiction in terms. Hopefully, based on what I wrote above, you will be able to form a different perspective on this issue. * * * I do not see a single point that I have not already addressed and would merely be repeating myself to respond to. If choice comes from consciousness, and consciousness from the brain, and the brain is a material object determined as other material objects are, then choice is determined. As I have said in other words, I believe your position is that something adds changes to the brain that do not make it determined. Some kind of external source of cause is, in a sense, injected into the brain. Where does this come from? How is this source not determined like other causes? I’m sure your answer is, respectively, “consciousness” and “somehow”. This is rather circular. The brain causes consciousness, and consciousness cause changes in the brain, but the changes produced by consciousness are not pre-determined even though consciousness is. Pushing forward, I quite directly addressed the false-dichotomy issue. I understood the “process I described” (choosing between orange juice and apple juice)--that’s how I wrote about it. I addressed, I believe several times, the axiom of free will. This eliminates any need to discuss the primary choice to focus or not to focus. And I addressed whether I understood Ayn Rand (as a refresher: I understand and I disagree). In regards to the rest of your post, I should point out that I don’t read Ash Ryan’s posts as he has personally insulted me, as you have begun to do. If you take it to the level that Ash Ryan did, I will not read your posts either. My reason for bring this up is that you allude to his posts without clearly stating what was in them and I don’t know what they were. Nonetheless, I ended the conversation (as I’ve said) with the understanding that we had both exhausted anything left in the subject. I was neither ignored any argument nor avoided any thought, and was only trying to prevent repetition (as I’ve said). I *have* acted as if I had no volition. I have done the things you assume are products of volition, such as typing and thinking, because my consciousness existed in the necessary state that made those actions the only possible result. If you want to blaspheme me for understanding existence this way, you may but I will not dignify ad hominem statements with any response. It’s the same principle as I said at the very beginning: I don’t see what people hope to achieve by yelling at me--as if my supposed volition may be commanded by the volume of their voices or inflection in their text. In this case, it’s as if some think the sagacity of their slanders could direct my supposed volition.
  3. Wait a second. What substantial issue have I not addressed? I ended the conversation because I do not believe it has anything more to offer and would merely degrade to repeating previously said points (as it has already, to a slight degree). From your very own position, free will is an axiom. If I cannot sense it as a self-evident truth, then no further analysis is warranted. I do not sense it as a self-evident truth, though I given an honest consideration of that line of thinking. I simply do not accept it. If you say it is an axiom and I do not, what more is there to discuss? Quite frankly, I'm surprised and disappointed that you should imply I'm intentionally ignoring anything. I had more respect for you than to expect this.
  4. hippie

    Help Me, Please.

    You’re right, SMS, teachers like you and I face are redundant. However, one great advantage they bring is that they actually know their subject (some of the time). For instance, the history teacher I previously mentioned did know his subject. He just didn’t know anything else, and he didn’t care to know anything else, and he actively opposed knowing anything else while in his classroom. Nonetheless, he knew European history. The advantage of that is that he can tell you tons of essential and often useful concretes that you might have more difficulty finding independently. This also holds true for the sciences. I could never have re-invented all of that math if I did not have the formulas that previous thinkers handed down to me. With that kind of educational environment, I can look at the conclusions which I know are true, and trace their reasoning back to reality. Though it would be far, FAR easier if the teacher would just explain the damn things, it is still far easier that I have the teacher there rather than try to observe the motion of the moon and derive the acceleration of gravity on my own. This is one reason why I am still motivated to go to class. The other is that I just know that I cannot get the graduate school I want without good grades—and I cannot get the job I want without the name of a good graduate school on my resume. It’s almost as if I have two sets of eyes at all times: One focused on the immediate job that needs to be done and the other looking at the ultimate goal that I hope to achieve. I must ask, do you have some kind of ultimate goal, held clearly in your mind? I don’t mean do you already know what kind of program you want to create later in life, or what corporation you want to work for. Do you know what it is in the world that you hope to change, and improve in order to make your life better, through computer programming? It’s sad that college is something that has to be gotten over with. To be honest, I only think that way some of the time. The other time, I actually enjoy reading whatever it is that I am reading, and it’s almost a guilty pleasure of mine to re-invent these complicated subjects. It’s like exercising muscles that should never have to be exercised (or not in this way). I don’t like that I should have to do it, but it still feels good doing it—knowing that I can do it. But then there are times when I get very angry with the fact that I am wasting my time, spending years doing what could have been done in months with the right teachers. That’s when I have to bite down hard and push through my books/lecture notes/paper assignments. In the end I just have to look at my long-range goals, like an exhausted runner looking at the finish line on the horizon.
  5. hippie

    Help Me, Please.

    I just finished reading “Comprachicos” in Return of the Primitive and what you have posted is exactly what is in that story—and it is exactly what I’m going through as well. While I think some of the things you mentioned are not so bad, like surprise tests (they want to make sure you’re paying attention so that, when they move to the next subject, the class understands the antecedent and necessary material). None of my classes seem to fit together. They are all suspended vacuums, neither integrating with any other class nor with reality. In fact, I tried integrating my philosophy classes with a history class, and the teacher gave me lower grades for it. I didn’t write anything wrong, no facts were missing; the paper was flawless. When I asked the teacher about it, he said, “This is not a philosophy class, it’s a history class.” He didn’t say that there was any error in writing style or content. It was just that I had the wrong content (though he had never specified that the content could not employ philosophy). I’m certain your situation is even worse than mine because of your location and society. My suggestion is to try to pick your classes as best you can so that they relate to your study, and independently draw abstractions from the concretes they give you. I do this when I can, but I know it can be difficult. That is simply what must be done, though. Never memorize a formula or accept a truth handed down to you that you don’t understand. It took me forever to get my math homework done like that, figuring out exactly what a “log” meant and why it was significant. But I understood the material and I could apply it to all kinds of different situations, while other math students could only answer the problems on the homework—and I got As because of it. Basically, you’ll have to do what I did: re-invent math. Luckily, I stopped math at about the trigonometry/pre-calculus level so I didn’t have to re-invent much. Now I have to re-invent philosophy and history. It’s a difficult job, and a hell of a lot more difficult than it really needs to be. But this is how life works. I have always thought that one has to kill himself with stress and work before he can justify living. Also, you should probably study things that are not immediate needs but may be needs in the future, though. You shouldn’t wait until you encounter a problem before solving it in theory, if you can possibly do so. It will make you a more efficient and competent worker. The English built airplanes before they were at war with Germany, and farmers harvest more grain than they can eat in a single day, because it’s more productive when you think and work beyond the range of the moment. It’s better to prepare yourself for future possibilities—though that does not mean that you should prepare for everything. If you see no connection at all between what you’re studying and what you might encounter in the future, then certainly it’s a waste of time. Anyway, I wish you well. At the end of the day, remember, whatever you might feel you’ll only have to bear it for a few years and it’s over. That’s part of what keeps me going. If I just stick it out for a little while longer, the whole rest of my life is mine.
  6. I hate to make two posts in a row, but since there has been such a fuss about editing... I think it is obvious that I was not sanctioning the liberal case, considering that I have said that I refuse to write with those pointless gender-neutral tactics that my professors have tried to impress upon me.
  7. Has nobody here ever spoken in liberal jargon as a mockery of liberalism? I bet you they have and, if I did some searching, I bet I could find examples.
  8. Welcome, Hema. Good to see more international Objectivism going around.
  9. Bearster, my post was not intended to be a metalinguistic treatise so I did not go into great detail. If I thought it was pertinent to describe the time Ayn lived in—which I did not—then I would have spoken more about it. I believe, by saying, “Actually, today, they try to force writers to avoid gender-biased sentences like that--but in Ayn Rand's time, it was less of an issue,” I have stated the circumstances in which Ayn lived, insofar as it is pertinent to the discussion, and how those circumstances contrast with today’s culture. If it had been unclear that Ayn grew up in the 1930’s, I would have explained. If it had been unclear that in the 1930’s liberalism had not manipulated our society as feminism has today, I would have explained that too. But they seem rather like common knowledge to me. If, by your first sentence, you mean to imply that I have misused the term “bias”, here is the Encarta 2004 dictionary definition: “preference: an unfair preference for or dislike of something.” Considering that liberals called the gendered pronouns an unfair preference for men, I have used the term appropriately. Edited for accuracy and clarity.
  10. Actually, today, they try to force writers to avoid gender-biased sentences like that--but in Ayn Rand's time, it was less of an issue. For the sentence "The robber fired his gun," they prefer that you just say, "The robber fired." If you cannot omit the gender article, then they try to find some way around it like, "The robber fired a gun," or "The robber fired the gun that was in the robber’s possession." In spite of that, I still use gendered articles. When my teachers correct me, I never change it. It's the little things in life.
  11. Welcome, Atlantis. You were just about the age I was when I first began Ayn Rand. I don't know about you, but for me that was a god-send at that age. Just beginning to develop ideas about the world, deciding the path of one's life and such.
  12. "Both of them, however, justify Capitalism by the "common good", and not by reference to individual rights." That would be the single greatest reason to worry about the future of Israel, and the rest of the world.
  13. To establish a very, very cursory history, the UN did not give Palestinian land away. The British took the land on which today stands Israel and Palestine after WWI, because they were breaking up the Ottoman Empire (more accurately, they did not take it but governed it as a mandate). They expressed vague interests in a Jewish homeland there, but promised nothing solid. After WWII, the British felt bad about all of their previous anti-semitic racism and, with the help of Zionist pressure, finally conceded the land to the Jews. Now, if you are to assign any blame, it would be to the British for making contradictory promises. However, the bottom line has nothing to do with Palestinian property rights--they don't believe in property and never consistently protected it as a concept. The relevant issue is not who was promised what or who got there first. Indians were here first and neither they nor the British promised America to Americans. We fought to create a free land. The reason why America is a legitimate nation, and the only reason, is that we are a just nation that respects man's natural rights. Likewise, Israel protects individuals far more than any Arab nation ever would. It is not perfect, and if Palestine proposed to establish a perfectly free, laissez-faire capitalist system based on Objectivist principles, I would say to hell with Israel. But as it stands, an individual (any individual, regardless of race) is freer in Israel than in any Arab nation. Thus I support Israel.
  14. Sorry I’ve been away for so long—I’m sure you’ve all been waiting in baited breath. Since I am a very busy man, I will try to make this as streamline as possible and only address Mr. Speicher. Most everything that could be said has been. I’ve had other Objectivists argue that volition is an axiom, but I deny that (see previous post to see how I explain consciousness and human action). I accept other axioms because they are fundamentally self-evident, such as existence, consciousness, causality, and life. Yet volition neither appears to me as self-evident nor possible in light of the other axioms (again, to see why, see my previous posts about causality). When I said, “I know that is not what you or Ayn Rand intend to say,” I was referring to the idea that existence causes perception, causes consciousness, causes action in a perfectly deterministic way—which I am sure you are not arguing. At some point, in some way, you are arguing that there is a prime mover. An agent that is not caused, but causes other things. Most theists say god gives it to us and Objectivists say it is in our identity. But either way, the argument is that a man creates his decisions, and they are not created by anything else (else they would not be his decisions and it would not be a case of free will). Some understand this to be that, at any given moment, we choose one particular action or another whereas the Objectivist claims that it is primarily and constantly a choice of to think/focus or to abandon thought/unfocus. Still, even in the Objectivist case, the point is made that man creates something from nothing. His choice is not determined by antecedent causes. It may be confined to the realm of physically possible events and by means of the identity of man, but whether a man goes left or right—whether he focuses or unfocuses—is derived solely from “himself”. “Himself” not being just the material being, but some mystical entity that injects a cause into the real world, and yet nothing caused the injection. That, I cannot understand. That a something comes from nothing is beyond me. As I said before, I think it most productive that we agree to disagree. I doubt we'll get anywhere. “I am not sure how much you even agree with yourself.” I am. Good day, Adam
  15. By editing a previous post within 60 minutes is not changing history any more than writing a new edition to an history text. Usually, in a new edition to an history text, you do not change the concept of the book--if you did it would not go under the same title. Rather, you simply clean up the presentation. It isn't unreasonable to do something similar on a message board.
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