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Boydstun

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  1. . “The power of a glance has been so much abused in love stories, that it has come to be disbelieved in. Few people dare now to say that two beings have fallen in love because they have looked at each other. Yet it is in this way that love begins, and in this way only.” --Victor Hugo, Les Miserables First Glance has long been a facet in characterizations of romantic love. In this old song, it is in the setting of unrequited love or perhaps just unfeasible love. Passing By The following song is more for the First Glance that works into forever. Some Enchanted Evening I had three First Glance, but really First See, in my life. In the earliest, my good friend had begun to read AS on account of me introducing him to it. The moment was a visit to me where I was working, having dropped out of college due to lack of funds. I was at my desk. After our talk, as he was leaving, he mentioned he had begun the book and that he liked Dagny Taggart. We became a couple the following summer, when we were both nineteen and continued together to his death twenty-two years later. In that whole trajectory it was to me as if that one particular visit at that office was the first time ever I saw him, and we were one. / The second time was three years after his death. I had gotten to know a friend better and better, and on one of my visits, she was showing me how she did her creative craft and that launched in me what I call, from the old lingo, a flip. A transition to being in love. That was unrequited, though we became ever better friends, after I could get over some of the pain. / The third time was the relationship begun on a definite evening (19 Jan. ’96) and continue to now and to death. It was not that we were in love at the first glance. But we would never forget it.
  2. I composed this three-part essay five years ago. This sector of OBJECTIVISM ONLINE is a natural spot for it. Beauty – Francis Kovach Part I The author of Philosophy of Beauty (PB) was my first philosophy professor Francis Kovach. Beauty is “that which, in sole virtue of a knowledge of it rather than its usefulness, delights its knower” (PB 24). What is “that which”? What is beauty? A sense of beauty can be companion to other feelings engendered in a work of art. “Pure beauty merely delights; the sublime delights and awes; the tragic delights and saddens; the comic delights and makes one laugh; . . .” (PB 29). Michelangelo’s Pieta: pathos with beauty. Bernini’s David: power and determination with beauty. Brancusi’s Bird in Space: suspension and sweep with beauty. Ugliness crafted in art is craft of the contrary privative of the positive value beauty (PB 250–64). Ugliness has been taken as a privative since Plato, although, since the nineteenth century, there have been dissenters. One version of a positive interpretation of ugliness “seems to go back to Winckelmann, who ventured to assert that expressiveness was one of the primary characteristics of classic art, whereas Lessing held the more traditional view, viz., that beauty is the main purpose of classic art. Schlegel, at the end of the eighteenth century (1797) declared that the main concern of modern art is not beauty but the characteristic or the interesting, and the characteristic or the interesting may be, among others, the repulsive or hideous, i.e., the ugly.” (PB 255) The kind of beauty in art is what Kovach called material beauty, “the integral unity of a multitude or variety of proportionate parts” (PB 185). Integral means the capability of the parts to contribute to the whole of the beautiful work, where “these parts, through their presence, actually ensure and constitute the wholeness of the beautiful material being” (185). Proportionate means capability of being put together with the other parts and of being united with them into the whole of the beautiful work of art (185). In any “obviously well-arranged whole” there can be found “integrally proportionate and unified parts” (PB 185–86). The integrity of such an orderly material whole is the principle of its order. Integrity is “the property in virtue of which order has all the parts necessary and no parts unnecessary for it” (190). (I notice in passing that having all the parts necessary does not preclude there being alternative necessary parts; necessary part of a piston engine could be spark plug or fuel injector.) Such an artistic whole damaged or never completed, or composed as if those were so, frustrates the viewer. It frustrates fulfillment of the natural cognitive desire for and cognitive delight in the fully knowable. A full integrity renders things fully knowable with the delight that holds, and thereby, integrity is a true principle of beauty (193). The esthetics of my Prof. Kovach, who was very learned in the history of esthetics, has considerable affinity with that of Rand. In much of her thinking about art, she was not alone. What Kovach says about integrity and integral unity in the work of art fits well with Rand’s writings on esthetics in The Fountainhead and in her nonfiction. The proportionate “is intuitively intelligible and, thereby, cognitively delightful; whereas that which is disproportionate is, as such, intuitively puzzling, upsetting, disturbing, even displeasing to the beholder” (PB 195). Suppose a man “is listening to a lullaby, and suddenly he hears drums sounding fortissimo. . . . He will instantly intuit the unsuitability of the loud sounds of the drums to the soft sounds of the other musical instruments in the lullaby” (195). The role of proportion is to render intelligibility and its delight intuitively. Unity in the work of art, or in a machine for that matter, “unity, as such, is intelligible; multitude, the privation of unity, is not. Inasmuch as the unity of a material being is intuitively, effortlessly intelligible, the knowledge of it is delightful, and the thing itself is cognitively delightful and, as such, beautiful” (PB 195). Kovach goes on to argue for the presence of integrity, proportion, and unity in all material things. That we do not encounter beauty in all of them is due to the order in some being not directly perceivable by us or not intuitively knowable by us or relatively inferior or conspicuously defective or so frequent that it cannot delight. The artist aiming to realize beauty, for cognitive delight of the beholder, will be concerned with composing details in right definite relations to the whole she has in mind, or at least selecting among particulars according with a whole emerging in mind. The order in her representation, if beautiful, will be an exemplification of the three principles of order of material being, concretely intelligible and, therewith, immediately delighting (198–208). Francis Kovach belonged to the Scholastic tradition in philosophy. He took their view that beauty is objective. Beauty is there whether or not it is discerned. He argued for that view and, furthermore, he argued that beauty is a property of being the Scholastics called a transcendental property of being. Such a property is convertible with being and with other such properties. The distinction between being and its transcendental properties is only ideational; in reality they refer to the self-same thing. (Here I shall stay with the customary name transcendental property, though I think merely cohort is a better name.) In Rand’s metaphysics, identity is such a transcendental property of being, where being means any and all existence, actual or potential, physical or mental (AS 1016–17, 1035–37, 1040–41, 1054; ITOE 56, 82, App. 240). The oneness or unity of each existent is also a transcendental in Rand’s metaphysics. Or, at least we can say that the oneness or unity of each entity, which is the primary and fundamental category among all existents in Rand’s metaphysics, is also a transcendental in that system (ITOE App. 199). The convertibility of unity with being is from Aristotle (Top. 127a27–28; Metaph. 1003b22–23; cf. Aquinas ST Q.11 A.1). Rand’s convertibility of identity and being was most fully seen before her by Avicenna with his addition of the transcendentals “thing and something, meaning definiteness and otherness, respectively” (PB 240). Avicenna was adding those specifically to the Plotinian set of transcendentals: unity, truth, goodness, and beauty. In the thirteenth century, there began efforts to systematically derive the transcendental properties, and those various efforts led to a variety of sets of the transcendentals. The set and derivation of Thomas Aquinas came to be quite influential among modern Scholastics from mid-nineteenth century on. In his early work On Truth, Aquinas set out the following system of transcendental properties, as summarized by Kovach: “Considering being absolutely, one can pass this affirmative judgment on it, ‘Every being has an essence’ or ‘Every being is something definite’—a judgment which leads us to realize the transcendentality of ‘thing’—‘being with a definite essence’, and the abstract transcendental of ‘definiteness’. Next, still considering being absolutely, we can pass a negative judgment on it, ‘No being is actually divided’, that corresponds to the judgment, ‘Every being is actually undivided’, and leads the mind to the recognition of the transcendentality of ‘the one’ and its abstract correlative, ‘unity’ or ‘oneness’. In the next steps, one may consider ‘being’ relatively. In so doing, and relating it to non-being, he can realize the truth of this proposition, ‘Every being is other than non-being’, which is the recognition of the transcendentality of ‘the other’ and the abstract ‘otherness’. If, next, somebody relates being to the first unique power of the human soul, the intellect, he can discover the truth of the following proposition, ‘Every being is intelligible’ or ‘true’, and thereby the transcendentality of ‘the true’ and of ‘truth’. If, on the other hand, one relates ‘being’ to the second unique power of the human soul, the will, he may recognize that it is true to say, ‘Every being is desirable’, and, through this judgment, the transcendentality of ‘the good’ and ‘goodness’. Summing up, we may say that there are exactly five transcendental properties of being in such a way that definiteness is an affirmative absolute transcendental; unity, negative absolute; otherness, negative relative; and truth and goodness, affirmative relative. (PB 241) Aquinas latter expressed his belief that beauty also—in accord with Plato, Plotinus, and others—is convertible with being. Kovach argues for incorporation of beauty into Aquinas’ system of transcendentals. Consider intellect and will not separately, but jointly. Then, affirmatively and relative to that combination, we can say, “Every being is cognitively delightful,” which, according to Kovach, we have reason anyway to think true, outside its consideration in connection with Aquinas’ system. Then beauty is a transcendental property of being, for “we call a thing beautiful precisely if and when it delights upon becoming known to us” (PB 242). Now Objectivists should be ready to correct and adapt this objectivist theory of beauty and artistic beauty. The Scholastic objectivist is on the right track in taking the intelligible and the good to be affordances of existence for human cognitive and evaluative powers. However, firstly, in Rand’s system, the fundamental affordance for truth is not truth, but fact (cf. Metaph. 993b30; ST Q.16 A.3). Truth is recognition of fact, which latter is a cohort of existence. Secondly, the affordance of goodness in existence is not fundamentally for will or desire, but for life. All occasions of value are confined to relationships of existents to life, including distinctly human forms of life, and to derivatives of life. Value and goodness are not cohorts of existence in Rand’s system (contrast with Aristotle’s NE 1096a23–29). Then beauty is not a cohort of existence; though if a sense of beauty is cognitive delight, sensed beauty is yet a function of the true and the good and can be objective in a new mix of the definite ways in which the true and the good are objective. Then too, whether an artwork crafts an illusion capable, in right conditions of the beholder, of eliciting cognitive delight by its concrete integral unity of held truths and values is an objective matter in an elaborate sense. In her literature, Rand had bannered an objectivist view of beauty, with ugliness as its antithesis. The range of things she called beautiful was considerable, from the beauty of human face and body to the beauty of countryside and city skyline, to the beauty of an evening of formal debut composed by a mother for her daughter, to the sense of beauty a young woman would have for familiar items in the surroundings of her occasions with her lover, which occasions had carried “a feeling greater than happiness, the feeling of one’s blessing upon the whole of the earth, the feeling of being in love with the fact that one exists and in this kind of world” (AS 108). The character Lillian Rearden, in a lecture to her husband, says that telling a beautiful woman she is beautiful is a gift of no cost. “But if you tell an ugly woman that she is beautiful, you offer her the great homage of corrupting the concept beauty” (AS 305). In Fountainhead Peter Keating accepts a commission to build a home for the successful writer Lois Cook, who tells him she wants it to be the ugliest house in New York. “’The . . . ugliest, Miss Cook?’ / ‘Sweetheart, the beautiful is so commonplace!’ / . . . / ‘Keating, where’s your courage? Aren’t you capable of a sublime gesture on occasion? They all work so hard and struggle and suffer, trying to achieve beauty, trying to surpass one another in beauty. Let’s surpass them all! Let’s throw their sweat in their face. Let’s destroy them at one stroke. Let’s be gods. Let’s be ugly!’” (ET IV 256) In oral reply to a question in 1976, Rand maintained that beauty is a sense of harmony. A beautiful face, body, sunset, image, or object will have parts that are harmoniously integrated to the whole unit. “If there are contradictions and clashes, the result is marred or positively ugly.” Consider a face you find beautiful. It is beautiful because all its features “are harmoniously integrated, . . . they all fit your view of the importance of all these features on a human face.” A sunset or landscape will be regarded as beautiful “if all the colors complement each other, or go well together, or are dramatic together.” Rand went on to say that this was an objective definition of beauty (in her particular relational sense of the objective) and that to maintain it as a universal standard of beauty, you need to “define the terms of the objects you are going to classify as beautiful and what you take as the ideal harmonious relationship of the elements of that particular object. . . . It is true, of course, that if there were no valuers, then nothing could be valued as beautiful or ugly, because values are created by the observing consciousness—but they are created by a standard based on reality. So here the issue is: values, including beauty, have to be judged as objective, not subjective or intrinsic.” (Beauty in Binswanger 1986; see also Hospers 2001, 322–23; PB chap. V) There are some ambiguities in those remarks, but there is clear enough fit with Rand’s writings, and it is a little surprising Rand never committed those remarks on beauty, polished perhaps, to writing. Three observations: She spoke of the harmoniously integrated. Yes, integration is at work in Rand’s analysis of beauty and at work in several ways in her whole theory of esthetics. She spoke of importance (relative importance), and this does have definite work in selections made in composing an artwork, including literary work, but, I say, not in analysis of the integral unity of the parts of a beautiful face. She spoke of harmony. That is a species of proportion, that is, harmony is one of several ways by which parts may be joined with other parts into a whole that is beautiful, a whole whose knowledge delights (PB 207). Notwithstanding that last point, Rand’s view of beauty as a whole had by harmoniously integrated parts is subsumable under my Thomist professor’s wider definition of material beauty: the integral unity of a multitude or variety of proportionate parts. In those oral remarks, Rand spoke of the positively ugly. I do not take that as an affirmation of the views of some modern estheticians that ugliness is some sort of fundamentally positive antithesis to beauty, another, equally positive reality. (On history, analysis, and resolution of the issue, see PB 250–59.) It would seem most natural in Rand’s philosophy to see ugliness vis-à-vis beauty as parallel evil vis-à-vis goodness (AS 1024). That is, ugliness would be lack of beauty and not equally a positive reality, but a real lack and, moreover, a positive opposition to beauty. Rand’s principle of the harmonious for the beautiful should be widened to the proportionate. I should note, however, that her conception of the harmonious was not confined to the tranquil, for she spoke of dramatic composition of colors, and her own art form, the novel, required dramatic conflict. Harmony for Rand could not plausibly be confined to accord. Perhaps Rand’s conception of the harmonious was synonymous with the proportionate. Perhaps her definition of beauty did not differ from Kovach’s definition in that element (cf. PB 205). The view of beauty defended by Kovach is an intrinsicist one, which in common parlance and in philosophy has been called the objectivist view. He defends the position that everything is beautiful, though by contingencies of our minds, we do not always experience the beauty there. One way in which Rand’s view of beauty needs to be objective in her special sense, not intrinsic, is as follows. On the beautiful, I propose a Randian contraction in comparison to the conception of Scholastic objectivists. Similarities given in perception are there whether or not this were a world in which sentient life such as we had arisen. Integral unities of multitudes or varieties of proportionate parts are not something that exists outside the context of life. Only with the entry of life into the world is there entry of the proportionate. It is only the concept life than makes the concept proportionate possible, just as it is only the concept life that makes the concepts value or problem possible. Magnitude structures are in the world. Ratios are in the world without our putting numbers on them. Proportions are in the world and can be an element of the proportionate. Proportions, however, are not enough to constitute an occasion of the proportionate said of a multitude or variety of parts forming an integral unity, which type of unity is beauty. There is a complication of expression. The noun correlate of the adjective proportionate is proportionateness. That is ugly, and one seldom sees it used. One sees instead proportion used as the noun correlate of proportionate. That is a broader sense of proportion than I mean in saying proportions are an element of the proportionate, and in such cases, one could substitute the proportionate for proportion. For example, instead of saying harmony is a species of proportion, I would better say harmony is a species of the proportionate. Life is the force of beauty. Even the singular stillness and quiet around thought of a loved one deceased has its faint, shadows-beauty by life and our knowing it. We may not know how our visual, motor, intelligent, and affective systems have evolved such that we delight in perception of the intense pattern of a butterfly wing, evening soar of swift, or display of fireworks. But of beauty as integral unity of multitudes or varieties of proportionate parts, we know life is the force of beauty. (To be continued.)
  3. . Tibor Machan - his closing argument - Individualism in the Right Key (August 2015) .
  4. This note is not on experimental tests, but links to some big-picture physics. It happened that when I was briefly in graduate school in physics at Chicago, it was the centennial of Einstein’s birth. Among the speakers who came over in our celebratory year, was this man, who in my lifetime was a light of the world. QM + GR Beginning?
  5. . Thanks, Abhijeet, for sharing these resemblances and overlaps between quantitative characterizations in physics and in Rand's theory of concepts. Another aspect of physics and Rand's theory I'd say lies in her remarks on commensurability (which has some relation to Aristotle) and their connection to dimensional analysis. Then too, there are straight examples of Rand's idea of measurement omission in the character of concepts in very explicit form in physics. Such would be the concept of a solid as material having some resistance, however much not zero, to shearing stresses. Or we speak of an electrified body as having some amount, however much not zero, of net electrical charge. Another nice example from the exact sciences is the measurement of shape. Unfortunately for Rand, she did not understand how shape is measured and gave an erroneous account of it in trying to use that as an example in her theory. The correct method is a splendid example for her theory and is given here. Search also on the word football here.
  6. . Welcome to OBJECTIVISM ONLINE, Abhijeet. I have some answer beyond the ones given above, but they must remain secret until I finish my book. The ones above are helpful and good to assimilate. On the reproductive basic nature of life, I suggest that we think about it in connection with the productive and creative nature of human beings. More and more, I imagine that reproduction of our species will come under our control as production. That said, I cannot but notice that however the new humans will be gotten, my experience of seeing and knowing a baby now grown to a young man finishing high school is something very profoundly important in the psychological makeup of his folks and grandparents. Here are some thoughts about the issue from a journal I created and edited years ago. Ron's word is to my mind not a completion of the topic, but worth attention. Objectivist Ethics: A Biological Critique - Ronald Merrill (1997) Some Responses
  7. . Part IV Part V Part VI
  8. Works of Kathleen Touchstone Engaging Objectivist Philosophy Objectivity (1993) - Can Art Exist without Death? I. Mortal Man II. Limitations Other than Death III. Would Unlimited Time Have Value? IV. Physical Infinities V. The Psychological Make-Up of Immortal Man VI. Art Among the Immortal Objectivity (1993, 1994) - Intuition, the Subconscious, and Knowledge - Part 1, Part 2 I. The Objectivist View II. Intuition and the Act of Discovery III. Biology and the Unconscious IV. Cerebral Dichotomization V. Right-Brain Links to Intuition and the Unconscious VI. Hemispheric Speculations VII. Right-Brain Learning VIII. The Art of Seeing Objectivity (1996) - Mathematics and Intuition I. Mathematical Invention II. Intuition and Self-Evidence III. Intuition and Realism IV. Intuition and the Innate V. Nativism Considered VI. Children and Number VII. Computational Synapses VIII. Implicit Learning IX. Priming and Perception X. Mental Representations XI. Neural Networks XII. Left Brain – Right Brain XIII. Problem Solving and Intuition Objectivity (1998) - Attentional and Perceptual Disorders and the Nature of Consciousness I. Nonreductive Explanation II. First-Person Approach III. Measuring Consciousness IV. Global Aspects of Consciousness V. Anomalies of Consciousness VI. Brain Correlates of the Conscious and Unconscious VII. The Seat of Consciousness Then Athena Said - University Press of America (2006) Reason Papers (2008) - Ethical Principles, Charity, and a Criterion for Giving I. A Principle Is a Strategy that . . . II. Survival Is the Basis for Success III. To Sustain One’s Life, Productivity . . . IV. The Principle of Reciprocity Results in . . . V. Production Should Equal or Exceed . . . VI. In Deciding between an Ethical Action and . . . VII. / . . . A “Heuristic of Giving” Is Useful Because . . . The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies (2008) - Economic Decision-Making and Ethical Choice I. Utility Theory II. Principles and Long-Term Success III. Decision Theory and the BUP [Ben. Univ. Pr.] IV. Human Capital and Productive Purpose V. Choice among Ethical Alternatives VI. Decisions when the Expected Loss Is Large VII. Beyond the Call of Duty The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies (2018) - On Life and Value within Objectivist Ethics I. Value and Life II. Life and Life III. “Consume to Live” or “Live to Consume” IV. Life’s “Value” V. Decisions Involving Competing Values VI. A Few Comments on Ethically Neutral Values
  9. What Irony Replaced: Henry James, Ayn Rand, and American Romanticism Marilyn Moore Part 1 Part II Part III
  10. Thanks, Grames. Thanks, Bill Hobba. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Famaey, Khoury, and Penco 2018 “The observed tightness of the mass discrepancy-acceleration relation (MDAR) poses a finetuning challenge to current models of galaxy formation. We propose that this relation could arise from collisional interactions between baryons and dark matter (DM) particles, without the need for modification of gravity or ad hoc feedback processes.” Berezhiani, Khoury, and Wang 2016 “Cosmic acceleration is widely believed to require either a source of negative pressure (i.e., dark energy), or a modification of gravity, which necessarily implies new degrees of freedom beyond those of Einstein gravity. In this paper we present a third possibility, using only dark matter and ordinary matter.”
  11. . I’ve had Scott Ryan’s 2003 book critiquing Rand’s epistemology about four years, though I’ve not gotten to work through it fully. His book displays considerable knowledge of Objectivism and some other philosophy as well. I have the impression that his is one of the two most substantive book-length critiques so far of the Objectivist philosophy itself (the other being Kathleen Touchstone's Then Athena Said). The material quality of his book, paperback, is excellent. The quotation from Intrinsicist is from page 41 of Ryan’s book. Mr. Ryan died in Feb. 2016 at age 52. He had a degree in mathematics, and late in life, he earned a JD. He was an esteemed participant in a blog of Edward Feser, who is author of a very helpful book Scholastic Metaphysics – A Contemporary Introduction (2014). Greg Salmieri observes in his 2008 Ph.D. dissertation Aristotle and the Problem of Concepts: "It may be that the dominant non-realist theories of concepts in the history of philosophy all render concepts subjective, but it does not follow from this that all non-realist theories must. There is room for theories that hold that concepts have an objective basis, without having univesals as their proper objects." The qualification “proper” in Greg's phrase “proper object” is meant as in Aristotle's speaking of a given sensory modality's proper object. So as an Aristotelian conceives of sound as the proper object (dedicated object, we would say in engineering) of hearing, the Platonist conceives of universals as if they were proper objects of concepts. Greg argues that Aristotle did not think of universals as “proper objects” of concepts. In his 1964 Ph.D. dissertation, Leonard Piekoff has a footnote on page 107 in which he cites an old jewel. That jewel is The Theory of Universals by R. I. Aaron (Oxford 1952). In this work, the author treats the varieties of realism, conceptualism, and nominalism across the history of theory of universals. He argues the sound points and bases of each and what each of them of itself leaves out of account. In the end, like Rand, but earlier, Aaron rejects all realism, conceptualism, and nominalism as inadequate. He then sketches what he takes to be the right theory, so far as it goes. I add that last clause because he had not got onto Rand’s idea of measurement-omission analysis of general concepts (and related analysis of similarity relations). This book, and of course Peikoff’s dissertation, is work to which Peikoff would have exposed Rand in those years leading to her publication in ’66-67 of her own theory of universals and concepts. Aaron titles his sixth chapter “Is There a Real Problem?” He responds to various reasons for thinking there is no such problem. He proposes that it is not wise, given the history of the problem and reasons against there being any problem, to begin with the questions “Are there universals?” or “Is the universal a word?” He begins, rather, with the question “How do we use general words?” which engenders more narrow questions such as “What past experiences are necessary to successful use of general words?” and “What sort of objects and what sort of arrangement of objects in the experienced world enable us to use general words successfully?”
  12. I quite agree. As I said those things were written eight years ago. Within that year of writings itself, I was in some flux over what could pass for ethical egoism. I'm still refining, but I agree with you, and I'm pretty settled about it, that THAT does not pass.
  13. SL, could a value of one's be not for some further purpose? If I bother to write this note, it's for some purposes. Thinking and remembering and communicating are values. Finally, we must come to some value that is its own purpose and which explains the value of all those other values, the ones instrumental to some facet or other of that ultimate value, wouldn’t you think? My life is an ultimate value in my activities, it is an end in itself. Your life is an end in itself. As a child, Kira had read a story about a conquering Viking who respects neither throne nor altar. This story was Kira’s favorite, high above all others. This conqueror is never defeated. At the end of the story, looking over a city he had conquered, the Viking raises a goblet of wine and speaks: “To life, which is a reason unto itself” (Rand1936, 40–41). “In a fundamental sense, stillness is the antithesis of life. Life can be kept in existence only by a constant process of self-sustaining action. The goal of that action, the ultimate value which, to be kept, must be gained through its every moment, is the organisms life. "An ultimate value is that final goal or end to which all lesser goals are the means—and it sets the standard by which all lesser goals are to be evaluated.” (OE 16–17) “It is only an ultimate goal, an end in itself,that makes the existence of values possible. Metaphysically, life is the only phenomenon that is an end in itself: a value gained and kept by a constant process of action. Epistemologically, the concept of ‘value’ is genetically dependent upon and derived from the antecedent concept of ‘life’” (OE 17). “The maintenance of life and the pursuit of happiness are not two separate issues. . . . When one experiences the kind of pure happiness that is an end in itself—the kind that makes one think: ‘This is worth living for’—what one is greeting and affirming in emotional terms is the metaphysical fact that life is an end in itself” (OE 29). Rand writes of men of good will. Where does she locate a good will in morality? The text on money maintains that with a good will a person will respect the sovereignty of other persons’ minds over their values and labors. Having a good will of this kind and to this extent is not morally singular; it is a moral requirement for anyone. Results and marks of failing to have this minimal level of good will would be, for example, takings by force or fraud (AS 1019, 1022–23). Restricting one’s takings to the consensual is an occasion of a minimally good will respecting the minimally good will of others. Then too, with this type and level of good will, one treats others as ends in themselves. “Just as life is an end in itself, so every living human being is an end in himself, not the means to the ends or the welfare of others” (OE 27). The moral person set on her own happiness does not take her pleasure to be the proper goal of the lives of others nor does she take the pleasure of others to be the proper goal of the life that is hers (AS 1022). One of good will, however, will find personal pleasure in seeing the value efforts of others (AS 1060). There are “no victims and no conflicts of interest” necessary among moral, rational people (AS 1022). Each can craft his values and desires, while respecting the circumstance that “by the grace of reality and the nature of life, man—every man—is an end in himself.” (AS 1014).
  14. Merlin, I notice that the words you found of Dagny to James fit well with a line in Francisco's oratory on money: "Money demands of you recognition than men must work for their own benefit, not for their own injury, for their gain, not their loss---the recognition that they are not beasts of burden, born to carry the weight of your misery . . . ." Also: "The words 'to make money' hold the essence of human morality." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Doug, You might have an interest in a couple of philosophic works realistic about assessments of utilities of others and about interpersonal comparisons of utility. “Anyone who breaks my leg or gives me a thousand dollars may be fairly confident of the direction of the impact on me of the action. But one would have to be dotty to hand out exquisite recordings of Bartok’s quartets to random people on the street. Such an action, no matter how well-meant, could plausibly, I am sad to acknowledge, bring about a net reduction in welfare for everyone involved.” (p. 8 of Morality within the Limits of Reason by Russell Hardin) Robert Nozick’s paper “Interpersonal Utility Theory” is included in his book Socratic Puzzles.
  15. . A Rejection of Egoism —Excerpts from this linked article: The first strand in Rand’s move from agent egoism to beneficiary egoism was the thesis that if one does not hold one's own life as the motive and goal of one’s actions (at least indirectly), one is acting in a self-destructive way. The second strand, wound together with the first, is that if one does not hold one’s life as the motive and goal of one’s actions, one is acting in a disintegrated way, and integrated life is better life. . . . The third strand in the cord by which Rand ties beneficiary egoism to agency egoism is the stress she lays on the self-sufficiency of organisms in general and individual humans in particular. . . . In the Strand One section, I interpreted Rand as holding to an egoism in which some right actions are not directly for the actor’s sake, only indirectly so. Directly, they could be for the sake of one not oneself, nonetheless count as egoistic. By this interpretation, Rand’s type of ethical egoism would fall outside Kraut’s exceptionally restrictive definition. “Egoism holds that there is only one person whose good should be the direct object of one’s actions: oneself” (WGW 39). My interpretation of Rand on this point is in some tension with her text that I quoted (AS 1059–60). Further tension is added by other text of Rand’s: “The rational man . . . . recognizes the fact that his own life is the source, not only of all his values, but of his capacity to value. Therefore, the value he grants to others is only a consequence, an extension, a secondary projection of the primary value which is himself.” (VoS 46–47) She goes on, in that 1963 essay, to quote Nathaniel Branden: “The respect and good will that men of self-esteem feel towards other human beings is profoundly egoistic; they feel, in effect: ‘Other men are of value because they are of the same species as myself.’ In revering living entities, they are revering their own life. This is the psychological base of any emotion of sympathy and any feeling of ‘species solidarity’.” (VoS 47) Rand’s contrast of secondary to primary might suggest the contrast of indirect to direct. I think, considering the layout of the psychology to which Rand points, that suggestion should be rejected. Rand in Full —Excerpts from this linked article: Catherine Halsey learns to greatly curtail her personal desires and to devote her efforts to helping others. This she does because she wants to do what is right and because she accepts the idea that selfishness is evil (ET XIII 384). Catherine also accepts the idea, advocated by Toohey (ET XI 342), that selfishness leads to unhappiness. I have been unable to recall or locate any major thinker who advocated this proposition, but it will follow from the premises that happiness requires morality and that selfishness is immoral. Catherine’s success at unselfishness makes her unhappy and resentful. She speaks with her Uncle Ellsworth about it. She acknowledges that he is much brighter than she and that “‘it’s a very big subject, good and evil’” (ET XIII 384). Rand then uses their dialogue to argue the incoherence and pointlessness of absolute unselfishness. Rand’s lead into her case for the goodness of pure selfishness consists of the sensibleness and pleasure of having personal desires (together with having one’s own thoughts and choices) and guiding one’s own actions. (ET XIII 384; GW II 454). We have seen this way of entering the case for egoism before, in the development of Andrei after he meets Kira. After her deep conversation with Uncle Ellsworth, Catherine gets together with Peter Keating. He is feeling dirty because of his testimony against Roark at the court case over the Stoddard Temple. Peter and Catherine reaffirm their love, which is a first-hand personal preference satisfying their own identities. They kiss. “Then he did not think of the Stoddard Temple any longer, and she did not think of good and evil. They did not need to; they felt too clean” (ET XIII 391). This suggests that at least one reason the concept of good and evil is needed is the human potential for betraying egoistic innocence. . . . I should pause over the necessity of intended self-benefit for correct values. Not all of one’s potential selves are worth benefitting. Among those who are, Rand maintains that only potential selves whose every value is intended to benefit themselves hold entirely correct values. “Concern with his own interests is the essence of a moral existence, and . . . man must be the beneficiary of his own moral actions. / The actor must always be the beneficiary of his action” (VS ix–x; also OE 46–47). One is a beneficiary in ways other than by one’s resulting positive feelings, because one is a self that is not only feelings. Man’s self is “‘that entity that is his consciousness. To think, to feel, to judge, to act are functions of the ego’” (HR XVIII 737). It is the self—one’s soul—that has thoughts, meaning, will, values, desires, and feeling (GW II 454). Roark loves the buildings he designs not only because of the positive responses they elicit in him. Dagny loves diesel-electric locomotives and the minds that create them not only because of the positive responses they elicit in her. It is not plausible that when she finds that man at the end of the rails, the one for whom she has longed since her youth, she will love him only because of the positive responses he evokes in her. There is, however, a thread of subjectivity in Rand’s conception of value and love and normative selfishness that is puckering up the fabric. In my judgment, that thread is unnecessary and should be removed. Speaking metaphorically, the solemnity of looking at the sky does not come only from the uplift of one’s head (HR V 598). In extreme desire for another person, the other does not recede in importance compared to the desire (GW IX 539). A rational desire to help someone in need is animated not only by “your own selfish pleasure in the value of his person and struggle” (AS 1060, emphasis added). Rather, it is enough for rational egoism that, by design, no actions be contrary self-benefit (of a self worth benefitting). The requirement that all actions should intend primarily self-benefit should be dropped. In this way, one can love persons simply for the particular ends-in-themselves that they are. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Those linked articles (and those excerpts just shown) are old one's of mine (2010). I've still some settling out to do, particularly on what are the most liberal restrictions on what could still be called ethical egoism, consistent with the long history and varieties of it in ethical theory.
  16. Eiuol, You can get a single issue of JARS for $23 or a two-issue annual subscription for $36. I gather you are not a subscriber to this journal. Why not? Are you a subscriber to any other journals? The Objective Standard? It is odd to me that people so continually interested in the thought of Ayn Rand, by their posts, do not subscribe to such journals and discuss them here. But what is far more odd to me is the little-to-zero quotations of Rand herself, fiction and nonfiction, I see in these online posting discussions. It’s as if as the decades went by few with a positive response to Rand’s writings cared to continue actually reading Rand and discussing those writings (with exact quotation and citation) in their online discussions supposedly about her philosophy. Claims about what she wrote without backing it up with exact quotation is beer talk. Rand’s writings are not that difficult. To fathom Rand, as for any philosopher (sometimes much more difficult), one should first, second, . . . and last, read Rand. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Eiuol, You asked of Merlin, could he share something of his manuscript, perhaps an outline, so we might discuss that in lieu of the paper itself. That is terrible. His actual work is not worth getting hold of so we readers of it might actually discuss that labor itself? Perhaps you noticed my post of the subheadings of my forthcoming paper on Rand and Descartes. They indicate areas covered in the forthcoming paper. Compared to the paper itself, they are as nothing. If someone said to me, well, instead of reading your paper and then discussing it, let’s discuss the topics named in your subheadings, I wouldn’t give them the time of day.
  17. ~Some Notes on the Concept(s) of Validity in Objectivist Epistemology~ Validity within propositional and predicate logic is generally taken to mean: that merit of argument in which the conclusion cannot be false if the premises are true. We speak also of validity in property titles and in contracts. Kant had much work for a sense of validity in epistemology joining those two senses. He announces in the Preface to the first edition of the Critique of Pure Reason that a central component of that work “refers to the objects of pure understanding and is intended to make comprehensible the objective validity of understanding’s a priori concepts” (xvi). That general epistemological sense of objective validity in concepts is useful in application to concepts and propositions in philosophical systems besides Kant’s. In his mature, pragmatic philosophy, Dewey writes: “According to experimental inquiry, the validity of the object of thought depends upon the consequences of the operations which define the object of thought” (1929, 103). Speaking of experiment, Dewey refers to the process “by which the conclusion is reached that such and such a judgment of an object is valid” (ibid., 230). Logical positivist Ayer writes: “In saying that we propose to show ‘how propositions are validated’, we do not of course mean to suggest that all propositions are validated in the same way. On the contrary we lay stress on the fact that the criterion by which we determine the validity of an a priori or analytic proposition is not sufficient to determine the validity of an empirical or synthetic proposition. For it is characteristic of empirical propositions that their validity is not purely formal” (1952, 90). For Ayer one can validate a proposition either by finding it to be analytic or by finding it to be empirically verified. Rand remarked: “Objective validity is determined by reference to the facts of reality. . . . Man cannot know more than he has discovered—and he may not know less than the evidence indicates, if his concepts and definitions are to be objectively valid. / . . . When new evidence confronts him, he has to expand his definitions according to the evidence, if they are to be objectively valid” (ITOE 46). “How does one determine and objective definition valid for all men? It is determined according to the widest context of knowledge available to man on the subjects relevant to the units of a given concept. / . . . An objective definition valid for all men, is one that designates the essential distinguishing characteristic(s) and genus of the existents subsumed under a given concept—according to all the relevant knowledge available at that stage of mankind’s development” (ibid.). Expanding a bit on a point noted by Patrik: In Rand’s philosophy, Peikoff takes validation to be “any process of establishing an idea’s relationship to reality, whether deductive reasoning, inductive reasoning, or perceptual self-evidence” (1991, 8). As Peikoff had expressed it in his 1976 lecture series The Philosophy of Objectivism, “validation, in the broad sense includes any process of relating mental contents to the facts of reality. Direct perception . . . is one such process. Proof designates another type of validation. Proof is the process of deriving a conclusion logically from antecedent knowledge” (see further, Peikoff 1991, 118–20, 137–38). Returning to Rand, she further observes “there are such things as invalid concepts, i.e., words that represent attempts to integrate errors, contradictions or false propositions, . . . or words without specific definitions, without referents, which can mean anything to anyone . . . . An invalid concept invalidates every proposition or process of thought in which it is used as a cognitive assertion” (ITOE 49). I think of objectively meaningless concepts as a type of invalid concept. They are a subdivision of that type of error; not every invalid concept is objectively meaningless. Rand constructs an invalid concept man in which his ability to run is taken for his essential characteristic and running entities is taken as genus of the concept (ITOE 71). To better absorb this example, one should imagine that one does not have the other conception and definition of man rational animal, not even implicitly. Try to imagine that for basic adult definition of man one has only the definition running animal, alongside running water and so forth as species of running entities. That would be a misidentification of the essential trait of man. It would be an objectively invalid concept, though not an objectively meaningless concept. Such a concept is assessable for validity. It is assessable for contradiction with reality, including contradiction with other concepts warranted by reality in the present context of knowledge. That is to say, such a concept is objectively meaningful, though it is objectively invalid.
  18. I’d say the asking and finding of why and how is at the core of reason provide it is taken as understood that reason is always with a body and brain with a living developmental history and within a social context of coordination and training during in its development. However, I’d also stress observation, and by that I mean more than just a perceptual apprehension along one’s way. I mean a centered deliberate attention to something in perception (or thought) or how to get a new perception of that sort. There is a stage of the crawling infant, before any language acquisition, in which the infant cannot make visual observations while crawling. He or she crawls a bit, then stops and looks, then resumes crawling. Those self-world and inter-human observations of the infant are part of its growing package of reason, I’d say. Of course, it’s with languaged observations and languaged pursuits of why and how that we have full-blown reason. But at this fuller stage, I’d still want to stress the factor of observation and add the factor of reason thinking about itself. It needs to get to know what it can reasonably expect of itself. I don’t know how self-conscious they were about it, but the Babylonian observations of the paths and times of certain things in the heavens, their recording of those things and trying to fit mathematical schemes capturing those recurrences was not much pursuit of how and why. But it was within their ability in that culture, and it attained a better picture of the surface-what, which could be helpful later to other astronomy folk in more advanced cultures trying (sometimes terribly prematurely) to get somewhere with the how and why. Back when I first read Atlas Shrugged (while in college, but on the side), 10 years after it was first published, I formulated a saying for myself: “to reason is to question.” That’s fine if that is understood to mean that questioning is essential to reason, but not so hot if it is understood to mean that anything passing for a grammatically correct question can pass for an episode of reason. I do rather like Rand’s definition of reason as the faculty of identifying and integrating the evidence of the senses. I’d note, however, that our reason we put to work in pure mathematics is circumscribed by that definition in only a nebulous way. Also, the definition is on its face too much setting us pondering the givens in perception as merely evidence to use in winning our way to the real physical world, when really that is not her full picture of our way with the world and our blend of thought and action.
  19. William, looking through the "Look Inside" Table of Contents and text available from that first book, by the psychology professor, it looks like a large compendium of human errors, conceptually and scientifically amenable to analysis and discovery of their mechanisms. Starting with the second chapter, that is. In that, it seems like Dennis (Ninth) is right. However, the first chapter does seem to parade some all-too-common irrationalities that it suggests will be explained by the material in the succeeding chapters. I don't know if the book does fulfill that, and it is indeed unclear from what is shown whether the author regards the irrationalities such as murderous religiosity as anything more than deterministic errors. Also, I don't catch anything about rational belief such as our belief that the moon illusion is an illusion. In fact, he just seems to wave his hand, saying surely no one could believe the moon could be actually a larger size near the horizon. But what about people 25,000 years ago? They had natural language like us, but not our accumulated exploration, science, and mathematics. I don't see why they would not just presume the moon changes its size in the way it visually appears to change. I've taken a photograph of the rising moon before with my camera. It's marvelous largeness in our eyes is just not there in the photo. The largeness and marvelousness are not there in the photo. We have rational methods of investigating illusions. Not only in how they come about, but for determining that they ARE an illusion in the first place. Offhand, it does not look like this book stresses, if it addresses it at all, that we have rational beliefs and methods and why THEY are so compelling.
  20. “The process of a child’s development consists of acquiring knowledge, which requires the development of his capacity to grasp and deal with an ever-widening range of abstractions. This involves the growth of two interrelated but different chains of abstractions, two hierarchical structures of concepts, which should be integrated, but seldom are: the cognitive and the normative. The first deals with knowledge of the facts of reality—the second, with the evaluation of these facts. The first forms the epistemological foundation of science—the second, of morality and art.” (Rand 1965a, 10) --quote in my From Integrity to Calculus , Rand tells the religionist: “Whenever you committed the evil of refusing to think and to see, of exempting from the absolute of reality some one small wish of yours, whenever you chose to say: Let me withdraw from the judgment of reason . . . the existence of God, let me have my one irrational whim and I will be a man of reason about all else—that was the act of subverting your consciousness, the act of corrupting your mind” (1037). Rand was not opposed to feelings. She was not against the idea of the human soul, provided it is thought of as naturally part of one’s living body and mortal as one’s body. In Fountainhead she has dialogue between Keating and his wife Dominique in which soul is given the expressly nonreligious meaning: that in one that is one’s genuine person—not only one’s body—one’s will and meaning, that in one which independently thinks, values, decides, and feels (GW II 454–55; cf. 1957, 1057). -- from my Mysticism - Kant and Rand (Part 1 -Reason) . When philosophers lay out theories of good definition, they are theories of an explicative kind of definition (see David Kelley’s Art of Reasoning, chapter 3). Consider Rand’s definition of reason as the faculty that identifies and integrates the evidence of the senses. In my dictionary, I find reason defined as the capacity for rational thought, rational inference, or rational discrimination. The terms rational and thought go to already familiar synonymies with reason. The differentia within the rational, in this dictionary definition, are the discriminatory and the inferential. Rand’s definition stays close to the common usage reflected by the dictionary, but it replaces discrimination and inference by their kin identification and integration, it eliminates the non-explicative rational, and it adds a base for the activities of reason, specifically, deliverances of the senses. Rand’s definition is explanatory of the common usage found in the dictionary, and it is tailored to tie neatly to a particular wider philosophical view. Quine could say this is a fine explicative type of definition. Rand has given the term reason a new synonymy. The various contexts in which reason under the dictionary definition is properly used remain contexts in which reason under the new, explicative definition is properly used. The new definition covers the processes of drawing distinctions and making inferences. The new definition also applies to the wider processes of identification and integration of sensory evidence, processes in which the narrower processes are embedded. --from my On Quine's "Two Dogmas" PS - Welcome to Objectivism Online.
  21. Test of Stochastic Collapse-of-the-Wave-Function Models Probing the Quantum Interface with the Classical and How the Q-Regime yields the C-Regime Quantum Optomechanics with Photonic Crystals
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