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New Buddha

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Everything posted by New Buddha

  1. I don't really agree with this. I've read several biographies on Bach (and own around 70 or 80 cd's of his music - he's probably my favorite over all composer) and by most accounts, he was a successful, accomplished, respected composer and well loved teacher and father (of over 20 children - 10 of which survived to adulthood - which was not atypical of the time). He was very much subject to the whims of patronage, as were all artists of his time, but he fared better than most. Another important point, and you should know this as a trained musician, is that much of Bach's music is not about conveying any particular emotion, and it's certainly not programmatic as was music in the late 19th Century. There are the cantatas, masses, motets, passions, etc., which set text (often biblical) to music, and in those works his music is written to support the emotion or tone of the text. But the sonatas, preludes, fugues, ricercars, passacaglias, fantasies, toccatas, etc. follow very specific musical forms (such as giga, sarabande, allemanda, etc.) . Polyphonic music (of which he was the undisputed all time master) is primarily an exploration and exposition of musical forms. He took these forms to heights never seen before, or since, but it's incorrect to listen to that type of music in the same way that you would programmatic music. And it's very much wrong to draw an overall conclusion about Bach's "sense of life" from any one prelude.
  2. This is very much the case. If a novelist writes a 400 page book of nothing but sadness and loss, or if the entire body of work over the course of his career is about nothing but sadness and loss, then you can draw some conclusions about that artist. However, his style, plotting, pace, etc., might still qualify his works as "great". But a novel, unlike painting, sculpture or architecture takes place over time. A novel also uses written language as opposed to a visual language and is much more capable of concisely conveying ideas. Too, a symphony, and certainly one that is programmatic, can convey a large range of emotions over time. No one would say that the 2nd movement of Rach's 2nd piano concerto is positive or up beat, but it of course sets up the final movement - and therefore it's somberness and sadness plays a crucial overall role in the piece.
  3. To expand on the above. I think I misread your post because in part because I still had in the back of my mind this post of yours: Is it your notion that once you've "corrected" your "damaging" ideas, you will then not like particular types of works of art any more?
  4. I see that I misread your post. I apologize.
  5. Objectivity is not something determined by consensus. That would be the opposite of objectivity and would be nominalism.
  6. Not all forms of art are the same. Sculpture can definitely be commemorative - so taking into account "outside considerations" is perfectly acceptable and adds tremendously to the meaning of the work. Some examples of this are the Statue of Liberty and the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial in Washington D.C.
  7. Not all great art has to be heroic, cheery and up-beat. The weeping angle sculpture posted by the OP (while not necessarily "great art") is for a tomb. To say, or imply, that this sculpture reflects somehow a tragic "sense of life" of the relative who commissioned the piece (which I assume is what the OP is doing) is capricious at best. Sadness and a feeling of loss is not something that should be denied. I'm an atheist, but I can respect Michelangelo's Pieta as a great work of art.
  8. In ITOE, (Concepts as Mental Existentents, p. 153) Rand says in response to Prof. F.: "Because in a metaphysical sense only concretes exist. Therefore, when we form a concept, we cannot say that we have removed it in a certain sense from individuality or the existence of concretes. Isn't there a Platonic element in the question? The basic overall point would be always to keep in mind that this is a cognitive process, not an arbitrary process; it's a process of perceiving reality and is governed by the rules of reality. Nevertheless, it's our way of grasping reality; it isn't reality itself; it's only a method of acquiring knowledge, a method of cognition." Why this is so is well summed up on p. 63: "Since consciousness is a specific faculty, it has a specific nature or identity and, therefore, it's range is limited: it cannot perceive everything at once; since awareness, on all its levels, requires an active process, it cannot do everything at once. Whether the units with which one deals are percepts or concepts, the range of what man can hold in the focus of his conscious awareness at any given moment, is limited. The essence, therefore, of man's incomparable cognitive power is the ability to reduce a vase amount of information to a minimal number of units--which is the task performed by his conceptual faculty. And the principle of unit-economy is one of that faculty's essential guiding principles."
  9. By "anatomical behaviours" I mean such things as riding a bike, shooting a basketball, climbing stairs, etc. These are learned behaviours that become automated, and once automated require little in the way of conscious, deliberative attention to execute. This, by the way, is true too for speaking and listening and reading and writing - all of which are at their root, anatomical learned behaviours.
  10. This is a very important point (and well stated). Too often in philosophical discussions "choice" or "making decisions" is limited to analyzing a single decision when, in fact, we make tens of thousands of decisions each and every day. This fact illustrates the importance of "automation" of learned behaviors. At one point, they require attention, but over time they become automated. Even something as simple as getting off the sofa, walking into the kitchen while avoiding furniture in your path, opening the refrigerator, reaching in, picking up the milk carton (left or right hand?), closing the door, getting a glass out of the cupboard, pouring the milk, adding vanilla, etc., etc., etc., required the making of many many "decisions" - most of which are automated - but at one time had to be learned consciously. There is a wonderfully written book (highly cited and influential in cognitive science) by the neurologist Antonio Damasio titled Descartes' Error which explains the neurological basis and role of emotions in decision making. They are not just something added onto thought, or a legacy of more primitive evolutionary thinking, but rather play the role of "filters" (somatic markers) in making decisions when many alternative solutions are possible. They are learned along with the anatomical behaviors and stored in memory for future reference.
  11. Here is a good brief article by the physicist Carlo Rovelli outlining the history and importance of Atomism and it's reintroduction into Western thought by the rediscovery of Lucretius's On the Nature of Things in 1417. This work was very influential on Newton, and even Jefferson owned 5 copies of it (Jefferson described himself as an Epicurean in a letter to a friend). Rovelli is known for his Relational Quantum Mechanics interpretation and Loop Quantum Gravity. Though he is critical of the Aristotelian influence in the Middle Ages, he is by no means critical of Aristotle in general, and shows in this paper Aristotle's Physics how and why it was so pervasive and not easily overthrown until the 16th and 17th Centuries. An interesting extract from the AEON article: The closure of the ancient schools such as those of Athens and Alexandria, and the destruction of all the texts not in accordance with Christian ideas, was vast and systematic, at the time of the brutal antipagan repression following the edicts of Emperor Theodosius, which in 390–391 CE declared that Christianity was to be the only and obligatory religion of the empire. Plato and Aristotle, pagans who believed in the immortality of the soul or in the existence of a Prime Mover, could be tolerated by a triumphant Christianity. Not Democritus. But a text survived the disaster and has reached us in its entirety. Through it, we know a little about ancient atomism, and above all we know the spirit of that science. It is the splendid poem De Rerum Natura (The Nature of Things, or On the Nature of the Universe), by the Latin poet Lucretius. Lucretius adheres to the philosophy of Epicurus, a pupil of a pupil of Democritus. Edit: Marx's Doctoral Thesis was entitled The Difference between Democritean and Epicurean Philosophy of Nature.
  12. The ability to immediately grasp a small number of like things is called Subitizing, and is not unique to humans. A related mechanism is called Chunking. In the image below, it is easy to subitize the number of stars (differentiated by color). In addition we can, through chunking, see four "sets" of stars. These types of cognitive limits are "not bugs, they are features." From the standpoint of energy consumption and time there is very little evolutionary benefit to "knowing" that there are 42 crows as opposed to 38. There is an economical trade-off between knowing too much and too little.
  13. This may seem to come from out of left field, but Aristotle held that if you have two sculptures of, say, the same athlete in the same pose, size, proportions, etc., -- but one is cast in bronze and the other is carved of marble -- then they share the same Form but differ with regards to Material (Form and Material being two of the four Causes - the others being Efficient and Final). To Aristotle, Form and Material are metaphysical and exist not only separate from each other, but also exist "beyond Physics" (which is what "Meta-" means). Form and Material are said to inhere in the sculptures. The way this ties into the current discussion about Universals is that it was also true for his distinguishing between Species and Genus. He truly believed that there inheres something in the bronze and marble sculptures that allows us to classify them as "similar" Species of the "higher" Genus that "unites" them. The role or place that metaphysics held for Aristotle is hard to convey because it is so contrary to what we know about Physics nowadays that it borders on being little more than mystical nonsense (which is one of the reasons that the Catholic Church seized hold of it, bastardized it, and has never really given it up). You seem to be using the term "metaphysics" in a way not commonly recognized, which I think is the cause of much of the confusion.
  14. You might want to take a look at this post by John McCaskey, Induction without the Uniformity Principle. Induction should be about Classification. The type of example that you give (all balls will roll) while very common when discussing induction is not, in fact, an example of induction.
  15. Thanks for the summary. In the U.S., prior to the elections, the polls showed Clinton clearly in front. Many think that this is because many people would not admit that they were going to vote for Trump due to the pressures of political correctness. Could this also be the case with Marine Le Pen?
  16. By framing the question in the way that you do, you are (implicitly) operating from the assumption that we can, or should be able to, know reality independent of the method of forming concepts and propositions. Understanding this method is what epistemology is all about. "What we know, and how we know it." You're taking the position that concepts and propositions are "standing between" us and reality. The fact that man (and dogs, and cats, and bats, and dolphins, etc.) each have unique methods of acquiring knowledge about reality does not mean that their knowledge is Subjective. The sensory, perceptual and conceptual nature of each species has a specific nature and identity, and operate causally.
  17. Szalapski, If it's true that you have not read ITOE yet, then you really need to. It's central to understanding Objectivism.
  18. Most of the points you raise center around regulations and standards with regards to how businesses operate. Many people (if not most) don't understand that the majority of standards followed by businesses (and recognized by the courts) are established by the industries themselves. This would still be true even under the most laissez-faire society that Objectivists could hope for. As an architect, I follow many standards established by such non-governmental, industry-created organizations such as ASCE, ICBO, UL, ASTM, ANSI, AWI, etc. These standards would still exist in a laissez-faire economy because the legal concepts of standard of care and implied warranty would also still exist. Insurance companies who protect companies, and the banks who finance them, require some assurance that a company will not act with negligence and will perform the necessary level of due diligence required by law. This would not disappear in a laissez-faire society. Your understanding of what a laissez-faire economy would be like sounds like that of a Bernie Sanders supporter.
  19. Gee. I wonder why?
  20. I agree with this, and believe that it forms a part of HM's misunderstanding of the issues being discussed. To the extent that Rand considered animal (non-human) intelligence at all, she was largely incorrect.
  21. Axioms are not "outside the purview of proof". Axioms are nothing more than very broad generalizations -- arrived at via induction from empirically acquired evidence. Axioms are not a priori truths. We arrive at the concept of "consciousness" (via induction) by observing things that are not conscious (trees, rocks, sodium, stars, etc.). We also know that organisms that are conscious are not always conscious (i.e. sometimes sleeping, comatose, or having impaired consciousness due to mental retardation, autism, alcohol etc.). What does it mean "life being mechanistic in nature"? As opposed to what?
  22. How could you have possibly concluded that I'm advocating any form of "pure reason"? How did that creep into the discussion? Lol. My argument (unlike yours) is that animals (including humans) are volitional agents -- and that inherited/instinctive knowledge plays a minuscule role in animals (including humans) who's survival in challenging environmental niches requires the learning of complex behaviors. Knowledge of how to survive in these types of niches is not mindlessly/automatically/instinctively "inherited" as you claim. It is handed down generationally and acquired through nurturing/observation/learning. And it can also be lost. My position is the exact opposite of any form of "pure reason" or "instinct" that YOU are advocating. What young children (and animals) are NOT capable of doing is "abstracting from abstractions". The ability to "abstract from abstractions" is what separates mature, adult humans from the other animals and is the line of demarcation between childhood/adolescence/adulthood. A wolf (through experience/learning) forms first-level abstractions for bears, rabbits, elk, etc., but what a wolf cannot do is form the concept "animal". This is true too for very young children. Every rabbit that a wolf encounters is not a unique percept -- it is a generalized abstraction (i.e. a concept).
  23. Certainly young children do. Children don't really begin to engage in the unique form of human abstract reasoning until 6 - 8 years of age, and yet they do learn a great deal before then, if properly nurtured. The human brain continues to grow into the late teens and maybe even in the early 20's.
  24. I wouldn't mind participating in this post, but I'm hesitant to do so because of the type of statement above. The biggest problem with your approach to the subject is that you are using terms in a way that are not commonly accepted. Terms such as volition, inheritance, evolution, and instinct are a few examples. The term "instinct" would, in my vocabulary, be limited to say, in human infants, such things as suckling, clinging (closing their fist when an object is placing in it), not falling off of a ledge, etc. A beaver does not "instinctively" build a dam- this is a learned behavior due to observation and learning and is passed down generationally. A beaver raised in captivity, released in the wild, would not "instinctively" build a dam. However, a horse or a gazelle will "instinctively" begin to walk almost immediately after it is born -but for dogs, cats, humans, and many other animals, walking must be learned - often with encouragement by parents, etc. Being a good mother is not an "instinct" among chimps. A young chimp raised in isolation, who gives birth, will not be a good mother. Mothering for many animals is a learned behavior. Another area where I disagree with you is your narrow definition of the the term "volition". There is a difference between a dog acting volitionally and a human's volitional capacity for reflection and imagination and "abstracting from abstractions", however, ALL animals possess some capacity for volition. I posted this link to a paper by an Objectivist Psychologist that you might find interesting. Volition is not to be equated with thinking about long term investing in a 401k. All animals act volitionally thousands of times a day. Every step you take, every sofa you avoid while walking, every thing you pick up, involves volition. Volition is not unique to human beings. From the Abstract: What is Consciousness for? Abstract: The answer to the title question is, in a word, volition. Our hypothesis is that the ultimate adaptive function of consciousness is to make volitional movement possible. All conscious processes exist to subserve that ultimate function. Thus, we believe that all conscious organisms possess at least some volitional capability. Consciousness makes volitional attention possible; volitional attention, in turn, makes volitional movement possible. There is, as far as we know, no valid theoretical argument that consciousness is needed for any function other than volitional movement and no convincing empirical evidence that consciousness performs any other ultimate function. Consciousness, via volitional action, increases the likelihood that an organism will direct its attention, and ultimately its movements, to whatever is most important for its survival and reproduction.