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metaphysician7887

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  1. This is a stand-alone testament to the utter lack of competency that NIJamesHughes possesses as a moderator. And given all the other evidence, it truly would be an act of faith to think that NIJamesHughes acted anything other than reprehensibly in altering Stephen's posts. Plain and simple, I will not be posting here anymore if NIJamesHughes is not stripped of his moderator privileges completely. --Alex
  2. Not to take away from the deeper discussion here, but this reminds me of a wonderfully witty formulation about conspiracy theories that a professor of mine used once. I don't remember his words verbatim, but a near-verbatim retelling would go something like this: "The thing about conspiracy theories is that the complete lack of any real evidence is presented as the main reason for believing them." --Alex
  3. I agree entirely. I take credit (or, should I say, responsibility ) for first raising this issue a while back. As I see it, there are two central premises here, both of which are explicit in the Objectivist corpus: 1) All we can say about the ultimate constituents is that they must have identity; as such, they need not be anything like perceptible, three-dimensional objects. As Ayn Rand said: "The only thing of which we can be sure, philosophically, is that the ultimate stuff, if its ever found -- one element or ten of them -- will have identity" (ITOE, 291). See also Dr. Peikoff's discussion of the "puffs of meta-energy" in Chapter Two of OPAR, which he says may be "radically different from anything men know now" (45). 2) The law of causality -- and, therefore, the law of identity as well -- do not by themselves mandate determinism. The law of causality is an abstract, metaphysical law, which only states that an entity cannot act in contradiction to its nature. As Dr. Peikoff writes on p.68 of OPAR: Given these two facts, we simply cannot say that the ultimate constituents must be deterministic -- and nor can we say that they must be either determinstic or volitional. Since their nature may be "radically different from anything men know now," so might their actions. P.S. - With Stephen, I wanted to underscore that this issue is controversial, and the conclusions here being advocated by myself and Stephen are not part of Objectivism. --Alex
  4. I'd go a step farther and say that "this statement is false" is not really a statement, because it doesn't state anything. Its only referent is itself -- or, more exactly, its only referent is its own referring. Sure, it's a grammatically correct sentence, but it's not a statement until it refers to something outside itself -- just as consciousness is not consciousness until it is conscious of something outside of itself. "A consciousness conscious of nothing but itself is a contradiction in terms" (Galt's Speech), and a statement that only states its own stating in a contradiction in terms. (See Harry Binswanger's lecture, "The Metaphysics of Consciousness," where he discusses self-referential pseudo-statements explicitly.) It follows from this that "this statement is false" is not some sort of exception to the law of contradiction. For, the law of contradiction states that something cannot be both A and non-A at the same time and in the same respect. "This statement is false" is not both true and not true; it's simply not true, and it's not false either. It's not "truth-functional" at all. It is, as GreedyCapitalist said, gibberish. And the same goes for most (if not all) of the paradoxes that analytic philosophy has bequeathed to us. They commit this same "fallacy of pure self-reference" (as Dr. Binswanger calls it), and thus merely serve as examples of the word games that analytic philosophers love to play. --Alex
  5. I'm not sure. He gave that opinion of Dead Poets Society in 1995, although I don't know when "Eight Great Plays" was recorded, since I do not own it (the date of the course doesn't seem to be listed on the Ayn Rand Bookstore website). --Alex
  6. I thought I should add that this is the only point I intend to defend (and the only point I've really made) about the content of Dead Poets Society. There certainly are negative points about the movie -- the movie probably did focus too much, etc., on Neal, since he is in fact weak -- and if these points render the movie unenjoyable (or unwatchable) for some, that's fine. But this does not mean that Neal failed because he was too independent. On the contrary, he was not independent enough, as the end of the movie makes clear. --Alex
  7. "All the heroes"? Who was "destroyed," except for Neal? The rest triumphed in the end. Yes, Neal was weak to some degree, which is why he couldn't survive. Also, he wasn't "the protagonist"; the movie went on for a fair time after his death, and there were all the other students in the movie who triumphed precisely because they proved to be more independent than Neal. Again, I don't take the movie as expressing the idea that one fails because of independence. On the contrary, when the students caved and signed the document implicating Mr. Keating, it showed how miserable they were, and what a life-destroying mistake it was. And, when they rectified their error by standing on their desks -- despite the fact that they were being threatened with expulsion while doing so -- it was clear that this act was the most life-affirming thing they could do. It was a vindication -- not only of Mr. Keating -- but of their own souls. --Alex
  8. *Plot Spoilers Follow* The main reason that Dr. Peikoff mentioned (this was all in a Q&A period) for why he was "enraged" by Dead Poets Society was that, in his view, all the independent people were made to fail and all the second-handers were made to succeed. He didn't name details (he said he was having some trouble remembering the movie), but my guess was that he was thinking of, e.g., Neil committing suicide, and all the students (except Charlie) signing the document at the end which falsely implicated Mr. Keating. But I have never agreed with this criticism, especially since the end of the movie (with the students defiantly standing on their desks) was explicitly meant to be a recognition by the students of the sacredness of independence, and of the terrible consequences of blind conformity. However, I will let those who have seen the movie decide for themselves. --Alex
  9. I too am a big fan of Dead Poets Society; it is an unusually explicit dramatization -- both via actions and philosophic/poetic statements -- that independence and active-mindedness is integral to living a fruitful, "extraordinary" life. A truly wonderful movie. (P.S. - Dr. Peikoff, in his course "Judging, Feeling, and Not Being Moralistic," said that Dead Poets Society "enraged" him, and expressed a decidedly negative opinion of it. If anyone is interested, I'm more than happy to go into what his reasons were.)
  10. No. You have once again displayed that you simply do not know what you are talking about. The fallacy of making a false generalization is not the fallacy of composition. This is discussed explicitly in Dr. Peikoff's Introduction to Logic course, and is made evident from studying any reputable logic text on the subject, which you obviously have not done too closely (if at all). I'm done discussing this. The Durande as made the following statements: "How can the question of whether the universe has mass even be discussed by sane adults???" "...any honest observer would conclude that since atoms have mass, and in the universe there are a lot of atoms, then the universe has mass." Thus, anyone who disagrees with The Durande's fallacious argument -- and, indeed, anyone who even discusses this whole issue of mass seriously -- is both dishonest and insane. These statements are absurd. If you want to stand by them, then come out and say so. But don't you dare skirt the fact you have called a large number of people within Objectivism (and at least one top-notch Objectivist intellectual) "insane." --Alex
  11. No, since not every argument attempting to show that the universe has mass commits the fallacy of composition. If I had to pick out one reason why "mass" is inapplicable to the universe, it would be because the idea of "spatial boundaries" is inapplicable to the universe. Yes, this is an interesting issue. How can the universe be finite, if it does not possess some finite attribute (such as length, mass, age, etc.)? In what respect would it be finite? A lot can be said in answer to this, but I will confine myself to giving only an outline of my reasons (however long this outline may be), and then let you follow-up. (As a preliminary note, I think the question should be rephrased to ask: how can the universe be finite, if it does not possess any attribute? "Finite attribute" is a redundancy; all attributes are finite. I find it clarifying to note this.) 1) The universe is not an entity; it is not like an apple, a house, or a car. Certainly, if I maintained that any of these did not possess any (finite) attributes, then they would not be finite, since they would not be anything. An entity is its attributes, and it is from observing entities that we first get the idea of attributes. But, again, the universe is not an entity. 2) Given this, I don't see why one must ascribe attributes to the universe as a whole in order to say that it possesses identity. Just as the axiom of existence does not specify what exists, but only that something exists, so does the axiom of identity state that A must be A, but does not specify what this identity must consist of (i.e., whether it consists of attributes or not). If philosophy cannot find an attribute that makes sense when applied to the universe as a whole, there is no metaphysical veto power by which philosophy can say that this would render the universe without identity, anymore than the law of causality can have veto power over free will. In philosophy, we must go with the facts, and not construe metaphysical axioms/laws as denying those facts. 3) The universe does in fact possess identity, because existence is identity, and the universe obviously exists. By denying that all these attributes apply to the universe as a whole, I am not saying that we can't say anything positive about the universe as a whole. Indeed, I could never deny all these attributes to be applicable to the universe, unless I knew something positive about it to begin with. And what I do know about it is that it is the sum total of that which exists. This is a positive idea, and constitutes its identity. 4) By saying that the universe is finite, I only mean that it possesses identity, and I don't think "finite" should mean more than this. Yes, it's true that we usually use "finite" to describe (something with) a quantifiable attribute or whatnot. But this is also how we usually use "identity," and the universe possesses identity nevertheless. Some may counter that “finite” is specifically meant to emphasize the quantifiable nature of something, but whereas the universe is not quantifiable, it should not be described as finite. I’m somewhat sympathetic to this objection, but it leaves one in the position of maintaining that the universe is neither finite nor infinite, and I don’t think that this is helpful. Even if it is true that “finite” was initially meant to describe something quantifiable, I think that the very special case of the universe warrants that the usage of it be extended. The universe does, after all, possess identity, and finite is meant to be opposed to something that lacks identity (i.e., infinity). Thus, I think maintaining that the universe is "not finite" is misleading and unnecessary. (There is more to say on this technical issue, since it probably is the best objection to calling the universe finite. But since it is a technical, “borderline case-ish” issue, I’ll leave it here for now.) So, to answer your question outright: I don’t believe that the universe needs to be finite in a particular respect -- if this means, in the respect of possessing an attribute -- in order to be finite. It possessing identity is enough. (As an afterthought, and if it helps, I suppose one could say that the universe is finite in respect of only subsuming the existents that it does subsume.) Since I’ve wrote much already, feel free to bring up anything else you specifically would like to discuss. --Alex
  12. Amen. And might I add, for the sake of the permanent record on this forum, that there is another reason why the The Durande's pretentious rudeness is at bottom all the more absurd, and this too needs to be both exposed and apologized for. Consider the following: I was originally not going to bring this up, but since The Durande thinks that it is interestingly relevant to this debate what Objectivist intellectuals believe on this issue -- and since The Durande has continually maintained that he is espousing the proper Objectivist position, and that anyone who disagrees is dishonest and insane -- please note that Dr. Harry Binswanger has stated publically that the notion of attributing size to the universe is a very wrong assumption which leads to needless paradoxes. He has also rejected the idea that "density" applies to the universe as a whole. I do not say this as an appeal to authority that the universe does in fact lack these characteristics, but only to combat the implication (if not explication) lurking in many of The Durande's posts that all reputable, "sane" Objectivist intellectuals would agree with him. This claim is simply wild, and should be summarily retracted. The Durande does not speak for Objectivism, nor for all "sane" Objectivists. He speaks only for himself. --Alex
  13. I agree entirely. As has become manifest from reading this thread, The Durande's entire modus operandi is to respond to an objection to his fallacious arguments by simply repeating the fallacious arguments over again (except with added question marks and capital letters, of course). He has never displayed even a passing familiarity with the fallacy of composition, he has never dealt with the unanswerable difficulty of how something without spatial boundaries (the universe) can have a specific mass, and he explicitly refused to answer Stephen Speicher's additionally fascinating argument. Add to this the fact that The Durande claims to be professing a proper Objectivist position when saying that the universe has mass, and yet he continually ignores the quote from Miss Rand I have cited multiple times which plainly contradicts this claim. And, of course, add to this The Durande's insufferable intrinsicist rudeness, by which he claims that anyone who does not immediately agree with him is a dishonest, insane wacko (his words, not mine). And yet he has the audacity to bring up the Argument from Intimidation against me. From now on, when reading anything with The Durande's name attached to it, I personally will be repeating to myself the following three words: consider the source. --Alex
  14. The universe is all the entities, attributes, actions, relationships, etc. which exist. So, in one sense, there is no "relationship" between all the existents "AND the universe," since the universe is all the existents. However, let me know if the following helps with what you're getting at. Human beings can look at a group of existents from two different perspectives. We can consider a group via considering all the members of the group individually, and we can consider a group via considering the group qua collection. An example of the former would be to say, "America is a happy country." This only means that a preponderance of individual people within America are happy, and does not mean that the country as such possesses collective happiness within a collective mind. An example of the latter perspective -- i.e., considering a group qua collection -- would be when one says, "This pile of marbles was expensive." This does not mean that each marble, taken individually, is expensive -- each marble by itself may in fact cost very little -- but only that the pile of them, when taken as a collection, costs quite a bit. When considering the universe as a whole, we have been (or should be) talking about this latter perspective. So, by saying you are confused about the "relationship between" all that exists "AND the universe," perhaps you are asking what relevance the specific identities of the individual entities within the universe has to ascribing those specific identities to the universe as a whole? If so, my answer to this question is: one can ascribe a property to the universe qua collection only if one shows that the universe qua collection has a nature sufficiently similar with the entities that do possess that property. And I have maintained all along that the universe, being everyting that exists, does not possess spatial boundaries, and this fact inescapably disqualifies the universe from possessing certain characteristics. E.g., it cannot be ascribed mass, since the idea of mass makes no sense when applied to something that lacks spatial contraints -- anymore than the idea of an "age" of something makes sense if that something lacks temporal constraints. Yes, a "collection" is only the various entities (considered qua collection). There is nothing over and above the entities. I also agree that the universe is not an entity -- and, as you seem to be using the term "collection," I agree that bare collections are not entities. I would, however, recommend the discussion in the ITOE Appendix, "What is an Entity?", for a fascinating discussion on what one can regard as an entity, since there are more things to say on that subject. If collections exist, why is it a problem to see the universe qua collection as metaphysical? Collections of individuals exist, and individuals within collections exist. Does that help? --Alex
  15. The virtue of my position is that my response need only involve stating the issues explicitly. I ask the readers of this thread to consider them for themselves: 1) Whether it constitutes the "argument from intimidation" to cite and explain a well-established logical fallacy in order to expose an opponent's errors; 2) Whether The Durande's post once again confuses a) the conclusion that the universe has an particular thing within it that possesses a mass, with b] the conclusion that the universe as a whole possesses the characteristic of mass; 3) Whether this confusion is at the heart of the fallacy of composition. (And let us not forget all the other objections/proofs of my position I have brought up within this thread that The Durande apparently believes he can ignore until I try to prove that he massless, or that he lives outside the universe.) -- Alex
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