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dream_weaver

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  1. Linked in on Real Clear Science was this article from The New Atlantis. The link was labeled: We're entering a New Age of Philosophy Why Information Matters By Luciano Floridi, professor of philosophy and ethics of information at the University of Oxford When we use a computer, its performance seems to degrade progressively. This is not a mere impression. Over the years of owning a particular machine, it will get sluggish. Sometimes this slowdown is caused by hardware faults, but more often the culprit is software: programs get more complicated, as more features are added and as old bugs are patched (or not), and greater demands are placed on resources by new programs running in the background. After a while, even rebooting the computer does not restore performance, and the only solution is to upgrade to a new machine. Philosophy can be a bit like a computer getting creakier. It starts well, dealing with significant and serious issues that matter to anyone. Yet, in time, it can get bloated and bogged down and slow. Philosophy begins to care less about philosophical questions than about philosophers’ questions, which then consume increasing amounts of intellectual attention. The problem with philosophers’ questions is not that they are impenetrable to outsiders — although they often are, like any internal game — but that whatever the answers turn out to be, assuming there are any, they do not matter, because nobody besides philosophers could care about the questions in the first place. The brain is the hardware, the mind is the software analogy. The end of the first paragraph results in a hopeless solution. Upgrade to a new machine. Well, you cannot simply replace your brain, given the technology today. By the time the end of the second paragraph is reached, echos from The Ominous Parallels begin to reverberate and resonate to the frequency of "whatever the answers turn out to be, assuming there are any, they do not matter, because nobody besides philosophers could care about the questions in the first place." Listen closely and see if you can hear a similar message in this: The intellectuals are ignorant of philosophy's role in history—because of philosophy. Having been taught by philosophers for generations that reason is impotent to guide action, they regard the mind and its conclusions as irrelevant to life. Having been taught that philosophy is a game, with no answers to offer, they do not look to it for answers. —Page 314 Two paragraphs later, he reiterates the issue in a similar manner invoking linguistic analysis. Do not try to understand these lines. I produced the first two using a “Postmodernism Generator,” and the second two using an “Analytic Philosophy Generator.” They sound like real examples of contemporary scholasticism — philosophy talking about itself to itself in its own jargon. Such scholasticism is the ultimate freezing of the system, the equivalent of a Windows computer’s “blue screen of death”: so many resources are devoted to internal issues that no external input can be processed anymore, and the system stops working. The world may be undergoing a revolution, Rome may be burning, but the philosophical discourse remains detached, meaningless, and utterly oblivious. Time for an upgrade. Again, give up, for you cannot replace your brain, grafted onto what Ayn Rand put forth in The Ayn Rand Letter, Vol. 1, No. 18 June 5, 1972, "Fairness Doctrine" For Education Most of today's philosophy departments are dominated by Linguistic Analysis (the unsuccessful product of crossbreeding between philosophy and grammar, a union whose offspring is less viable than a mule), with some remnants of its immediate progenitors, Pragmatism and Logical Positivism, still clinging to its bandwagon. —Page 79 Nine paragraphs in, the surface is finally scratched. The answers will have to do with this particular time in human history. Philosophical “upgrading” moments are rare, and they are usually prompted by important transformations in the surrounding reality. Since the Nineties, I have been arguing that we have reached one of those moments — a turning point in our history. The epochal transition from an analogue to a digital world and the rapid development of information technologies are changing every aspect of our lives: education, work, and entertainment; communication, business, and commerce; love, hate, and anything in between; politics, conflicts, and peace; culture, health, and even how we remember the dead. All this and more is being relentlessly transformed by technologies that have the recording, transmission, and processing of information as their core functions. I must have missed something in the collegiate college courses I did not attend, about philosophic answers being applicable universally, regardless of the "when" in human history. It is the mark of the subjectivism that preface their claims with "It may have been true then but . . . " By this time the crow is starting to kick in, because I can't look this one up on a searchable CD, and don't recall off the top of my head which of ARI lectures I got it off of, although it was probably one of Peikoffs. By the twelfth paragraph, pay-dirt. This means that if philosophers are to help enable humanity to make sense of our world and to improve it responsibly, information needs to be a significant field of philosophical study. Among our mundane and technical concepts, information is currently not only one of the most important and widely used, but also one of the least understood. We need a philosophy of information. Didn't someone write an introductory book about the basic nature and role of concepts? It is, in essence, the philosophy of information, 'unless-ons' we are just playing linguistic analysis word games. The rest of the article drifts back into rationalizations about computers while introducing the Turing test. By the end of the next section, How to Ask a Question, I can halfheartedly agree. The twenty-second paragraph says: What philosophy can offer to contemporary debates that involve the concept of information, whether we discuss the intelligence of computers or the makeup of the universe, is clarity about how to ask the right questions so that answers are possible and useful. Failing to ask the right questions can only lead to confusions and misunderstandings. This resonates with a question I've asked myself several times: If the right questions lead to the right answers, where might the wrong questions lead? As John Galt responded to Mr. Thompson in the Wayne-Falkland Hotel on page 1011 of Atlas Shrugged: John Galt: "Will you tell me just one thing: if you're able to pretend that you haven't heard a word I said on the radio, what makes you think I'd be willing to pretend that I haven't said it?" Mr. Thompson: "I don't know what you mean! I—" John Galt: "Skip it. It was just a rhetorical question. The first part of it answers the second." Rand's philosophy has been available to the world now coming up on 60 years. Meanwhile, Ellisworth Toohey asked, "But Mr. Talbot as a man? "What's his particular god? What would he go to pieces without?" In the radio room across the hall somebody was twisting a dial. "Time," blared a solemn voice, "marches on!" —The Fountainhead, page 689
  2. "Observe the persistence, in mankind's mythologies, of the legend about a paradise that men had once possessed, the city of Atlantis or the Garden of Eden or some kingdom of perfection, always behind us. The root of that legend exists, not in the past of the race, but in the past of every man. You still retain a sense—not as firm as a memory, but diffused like the pain of hopeless longing—that somewhere in the starting years of your childhood, before you had learned to submit, to absorb the terror of unreason and to doubt the value of your mind, you had known a radiant state of existence, you had known the independence of a rational consciousness facing an open universe. That is the paradise which you have lost, which you seek—which is yours for the taking. — For The New Intellectual, page 177 Joseph Campbell has done extensive work in collecting mythology from all around the world, offering one of the most secular explanations from his analysis of the similarity and differences between them. In The Romantic Manifesto, Ayn Rand decried the absence of rationality in the field of esthetics and provided her keen insights into the nature of art in her most controversial work. There are a few here, that have expressed interest in Joseph Campbell's works. His book The Hero With A Thousand Faces was to him what The Fountainhead was to Ayn Rand, setting each, in their respective areas, a notoriety they had not had prior to their respective publications.
  3. Thanks, Harrison. Having taken some computer programing back when the lines of code were still numbered, I gained some insight with what could be done using it by writing a program that emulated many of the responses of the IBM370 mainframe used for the class. One of my classmates commented often how he mistyped his program name while trying to execute it. I saved the 'emulator' under that name. Inevitably, he ran the program, and both he and the teacher where at their wits ends trying to exit from it. I don't think it is a need for a "philosophy of information". I think just having a sound rational approach can be applicable for a great many things. I printed out the 'emulator' program and turned it in as a bonus along with the 'euchre' program I wrote for the final 'exam'.
  4. What Campbell is driving at in the Conclusion, as a whole; just the first function of myth; or perhaps as his approach guiding his overall writings in general?
  5. To touch on the "problem of universals", one reference that comes back on a search is from page 29 of For The New Intellectuals: They were unable to offer a solution to the "problem of universals," that is: to define the nature and source of abstractions, to determine the relationship of concepts to perceptual data—and to prove the validity of scientific induction. Also, check out the introduction to ITOE2.
  6. Somehow you and your consciousness are one with its source? Why the division here? A body without the function of consciousness is a corpse.
  7. While it certainly has its roots in consciousness and existence, reconciling the conceptual to the perceptual would be far more succinct. As language became more refined to encompass new understandings and exposing the old myths for what they were, where can those who revel in the "sense of awe before the mystery of being" retreat to? In this sense, language becomes an enemy that need be destroyed or at least held at bay.
  8. Per the Conclusion of The Masks Of God-Occidental Mythology: A distinction must be drawn, through all our studies of mythology, between the attitudes toward divinities represented on one hand by the priest and his flock, and on the other by the creative poet, artist, or philosopher. The former tends to what I would call a positivistic reading of the imagery of his cult. Such a reading is fostered by the attitude of prayer, since in prayer it is extremely difficult to retain the balance between belief and disbelief that is proper to the contemplation of an image or idea of God. The poet, artist, and philosopher, on the other hand, being themselves fashioners of images and coiners of ideas, realize that all representation—whether in the visible matter of stone or in the mental matter of the word—is necessarily conditioned by the fallibility of the human organs. In the context of this portion of the paragraph, Campbell's highlighted words come across as well articulated and lucidly cogent. If he would have used term 'mind' instead of 'organs', I would have found it spot on. Skipping toward the conclusion of the Conclusion he writes: Some, perhaps, will desire to bow still to a mask, out of fear of nature. But if there is no divinity in nature, the nature that God created, how should there be in the idea of God, which the nature of man created? The question posits somewhat of a false alternative. I also suspect that it uses an elevated concept of 'divinity', placing it outside this earth and just beyond man's reach, effectively usurping yet another one of the highest moral concepts of our language. As an adjoiner, I'm going to reclassify Campbell as a poet, rather than a collectivist (although the subjectivist still has merit.)
  9. Keynote entry on Google search for "Joseph Campbell on Star Wars": The 1988 documentary The Power of Myth was filmed at Lucas' Skywalker Ranch. During his interviews with Bill Moyers, Campbell discusses the way in which Lucas used The Hero's Journey in the Star Wars films (IV, V, and VI) to re-invent the mythology for the contemporary viewer. The Star Wars novel was published November 12, 1976. Star Wars is fiction not myth, and Campbell discussed some of the parallels that come from The Hero's Journey as they were applied to Star Wars. * Star Wars was certainly a success, if measured financially. I'm not so sure if you contrast the number of fans to the number of Zeus' followers. Italics mine, as I like how you phrased it. Perhaps it is because of how it resonates with a phrase I was repeatedly exposed to: "Give me that old time religion." In the case of Star Wars, Lucas acknowledges having used key aspects of Campbell's work to help guide him in shaping his own interpretation of those elements. Rand offers no such connection. Campbell offers allegories and analogies to elucidate his audience. Rand offers the recourse to reason for hers.
  10. Trying to fit Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead into the hero narrative was an unexpected sidebar. The opening quote, and Rand's development of Original Sin was more the pattern I would be interested in identifying better, and would prefer to try to put the myths under that lens.
  11. Galt's (Rand's) calling was revealed in his speech. It doesn't fit Campbell's use of the monomyth well? Agreed. The results of his transformation was interwoven into the events unfolding before Hank Rearden's and Dagny Taggart's eyes, giving rise to the 'shape-shifting' destroyer. These two aspects had taken place before Eddie ever gave the bum a dime in the opening paragraphs of the novel. If anything, this is would be a refinement of the monomyth, a subtlety he (Campbell), in my readings thus far, had yet to discover and elaborate on.
  12. On that note, this Amazon gift card just came in handy. 25th Anniversary Edition.
  13. Found on Page 8 of The Power of Myth: “Man should not be in the service of society, society should be in the service of man. When man is in the service of society, you have a monster state, and that's what is threatening the world at this minute." That last chapter in Occidental Mythology just moved up the reading list.
  14. That was part of my response to MisterSwig.
  15. I need to dwell on this. It strikes me as being close to the right questions to be asking here.
  16. Are one of us "whitewashing" here, or are we both seeking the same kernel of "moral advice"? Note, both you and Joseph Campbell appear to be in agreement about bringing back the boons. Ayn Rand uses John Galt to deliver the "boons", so to speak. Where liies the gospel of salvation in Galt's speech?
  17. I have the Masks of God as well as the Hero's Journey, in addition to The Hero With A Thousand Faces. I bought them about 20 years ago, I have just not read them up until now, save one. Here's another passage from page 193, supporting the refusal of the return. WHEN the hero-quest has been accomplished, through penetration to the source, or through the grace of some male or female, human or animal, personification, the adventurer still must return with his life-transmuting trophy. The full round, the norm of the monomyth, requires that the hero shall now begin the labor of bringing the runes of wisdom, the Golden Fleece, or his sleeping princess, back into the kingdom of humanity, where the boon may redound to the renewing of the community, the nation, the planet, or the ten thousand worlds. But the responsibility has been frequently refused. Even the Buddha, after his triumph, doubted whether the message of realization could be communicated, and saints are reported to have passed away while in the supernal ecstasy. Numerous indeed are the heroes fabled to have taken up residence forever in the blessed isle of the unaging Goddess of Immortal Being. I don't know if Joseph Campbell would fully agree with Ayn Rand's assessment: Aristotle said that fiction is of greater philosophical importance than history, because history represents things only as they are, while fiction represents them "as they might be and ought to be." Prescriptive or descriptive, Mr. Campbell wrote along the lines of bringing "back into the kingdom of humanity, where the boon may redound to the renewing of the community, the nation, the planet, or the ten thousand worlds." Could the prescriptive influence the descriptive (or vice versa?) Miss Rand has taken the Hero's journey (albeit, I've not read the volume yet, but of what I have read thus far . . . it stands to reason.) Both The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged bear testimony of this. Since then, there have been many a buddha that have taken the hero's journey themselves (read either one or the other or both) and have come away with their own message of realization. While Joseph Campbell has gathered one of the largest compilations of myths secularly, Ayn Rand has epitomized myth in the most secular way, to date. To borrow from the movie Hidden Figures*, Kevin Costner's character, Al Harrison's stated , , , "we're already there." The date October 10th, 1957 represents a tipping point that has yet to be fully acknowledged . . . historically. * Nicely done movie, in my esteem.
  18. On that note, I'll hold to the tale of King Muchukunda, and disregard the boy who cried wolf.
  19. I might be quick on the draw with regard to putting his every use of society carte blanch with collectivism. In general, I think both Campbell and the general tenor of many myths are collectivist at their essence. I'll take some issue with the hero who never returned or was not believed. As a myth, it is the story regardless of the particulars that gets passed on. The hero that was granted the wish of eternal sleep, upon being awakened, looked out at the world of men, and rather than return, went on to the land of the immortals. In another version, the boy who cried wolf is a folklore used to illustrate the potential consequence of telling a story eventually no one believes. I had not considered that perspective. It has merit. This is beyond where I've, thus far, catapulted 'the hero'. The tie-in with 'an actual "everyman" makes sense.
  20. You should do something about this. Clearly this is your duty. What is, or should your policy be if and when you encounter someone who you can clearly identify as having no truck with reason?
  21. How does she do this? Did she find a way to transcend literature and embed a metaphysical gun within it to hold on those poor Objectivists, substituting a bullet for an argument? I doubt very much she did it thusly, or by offering them an endless supply of word salad.
  22. The esthetic principles which apply to all art, regardless of an individual artist's philosophy, and which must guide an objective evaluation, are outside the scope of this discussion. I will mention only that such principles are defined by the science of esthetics—a task at which modern philosophy has failed dismally. —The Romantic Manifesto, page 42-43 On page 381 of the Epilogue, Joseph Campbell opens with: THERE is no final system for the interpretation of myths, and there will never be any such thing. Hermeneutics, for lack of a better term, would support Mr. Campbell's assertion. Where guiding principles are not clearly identified and adhered to in an area of expertise, the epistemological desire for order cannot be satisfied. Ironically, the first heading offered within his epilogue is entitled The Shapeshifter. Under the 3rd section The Hero Today, Campbell offers: It is not only that there is no hiding place for the gods from the searching telescope and microscope; there is no such society any more as the gods once supported. —page 387 The very place Joseph Campbell has been searching about for answers to the questions he has raised, is the hiding place into which the myths have shape-shifted. He briefly glances off of it here: The problem of mankind today, therefore, is precisely the opposite to that of men in the comparatively stable periods of those great co-ordinating mythologies which now are known as lies. Then all meaning was in the group, in the great anonymous forms, none in the self-expressive individual; today no meaning is in the group—none in the world: all is in the individual. He strikes on it in the next few sentences, but I cannot affirm that it was done in a explicit manner. I suspect not. But there the meaning is absolutely unconscious. One does not know toward what one moves. One does not know by what one is propelled. The lines of communication between the conscious and the unconscious zones of the human psyche have all been cut, and we have been split in two.
  23. And in that context, I would agree.
  24. Men are afraid that war might come because they know, consciously or subconsciously, that they have never rejected the doctrine which causes wars, which has caused the wars of the past and can do it again—the doctrine that it is right or practical or necessary for men to achieve their goals by means of physical force (by initiating the use of force against other men) and that some sort of "good" can justify it. It is the doctrine that force is a proper or unavoidable part of human existence and human societies. — Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, pg. 35 Sometimes the distant beating of the war-drums, as read in the headlines of the news aggregates and resonating from their various news affiliates by the self-appointed modern-day medicine-men of the super-villages, can be heard setting a tempo for the march of Attila's henchmen to the battlefield—should they heed the call. With the recent activity in Syria, a Russia warship and 150,000 Chinese military lining up outside the combat arena. How many of the archer's have pinch-drawn their weapons in anticipation? Conjure an image of Theoden in Helm's Deep just before he utters "And so it begins." With this in mind, it was time to read The Roots of War again. Her mastery of the language leaped out in the opening line of the CUI quote. Men have never rejected the doctrine, i.e., men still accept the doctrine that force is a proper or unavoidable part of human existence and human societies. Alas, for those that have rejected it, there are still those who have not. A quick trip to Wookieepedia (The Star Wars Wiki) found that those on the Dark Side of The Force aptly drew their power from raw emotions and feelings (used as tools of cognition?). In reading The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell provides an encounter with Microprosopus. Perhaps J.R. Tolkien ran across another historic reference that served as inspiration for his 'Eye of Sauron'. (The lidless eye, and per Tolkien . . . that never sleeps.) As she ended the paragraph previous to the one cited at the beginning of this post: "[W]ars have kept erupting throughout the centuries, like a long trail of blood underscoring mankind's history." I would have to add that the largest pools of blood in that underscore seem to be gathered where statism has been the most deeply entrenched.