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Boydstun

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  1. Group Theory and Physics

    . Neutrino-nuclei scattering now observed after theoretical prediction 43 years ago. Small Detector, Big Result Experiment Paper The 1974 Prediction
  2. Easy Truth, welcome to Objectivism Online. I liked Aristotle’s bit about truth being in one way hard and in another way easy, “like the proverbial door one cannot avoid bumping into.” Your insight that if existing were itself an action, it would imply that all entities act is right, provided we keep constant the sort of action we are talking about throughout that if-then statement. That kind of action would be something more inert than when, in science or in everyday experience, we say that such-and-such thing acted in such-and-such way. Nevertheless, for those who love not only easy truth, but hard truth, the question of whether existing is itself an action, or activity, is a good one. Aristotle, Leibniz, and Lotze affirmed. Russell denied, arguing against Lotze. The case that Aristotle is an affirmer on this question is made out by Aryeh Kosman in his book The Activity of Being (2013). I’m a denier on the conception of existing as necessarily being a sort of acting. I affirm that all concrete existence is temporal, but for that, it suffices that some concrete part in the whole of concrete existence is acting in our ordinary and scientific types of acting. To be clear, I’m talking about any sort of acting that has been connected in a necessary way with existence per se in the history of philosophic reflection or is thusly connected by us in our philosophic reflection today. What we know from science (e.g. that mass is convertible to energy, that mass-energy has some dynamical relations with spacetime, and that the vacuum has energy) concerns other sorts of activity than the one that has been claimed by philosophers for existence per se, and these activities we learn in the physical sciences were conceived and discovered by means necessarily beyond philosophic reflection.
  3. My Verses

    Shadow-Wing.mov
  4. My Verses

    . Placement Lush, sheenuous pluming-greens slip peeks of the milk-limpid moon to him, and delirious lofty fan-flares wreck quakes of tensile steel-lance cries to him. A stone stardop soft-sprays a whiff-frail light, flushing his chest. He sweeps touchless drift-shades, and flash-streaks a glancing crester, sailing breath-brimmed space, splitting, splash-sparkling on a wind-spilled pool of silver rock. Fan-flares fly to open sky. Swirl-leaves flow, flicker and toss, and whispers cease on fluffs of moss. (c. 1968) Placement rev1.mov
  5. Brainworks

    . The Code for Facial Identity in the Primate Brain Doris Tsao and Le Chang --- Cell (June 2017)
  6. My Verses

    . Lifehold No council, no say. All earth turn, night trail day. Unceasing sea tease land away to watery deep stage lay, dark for none. Bit ties bit, string twists string, winding time into spring. Like by like, life-clock sets, tracing past for future nets. Lights slip, waters slip slight chambers live-green for green, for green. Green-thrive, alive, earth stake, break, take; place in own pace, own bound, own round. Light-full green-sleep, keep in watchless waves of green live, green gone, dreamless. (Aug. 2001, 2016) Audio Recording - Lifehold.mov
  7. Ayn Rand: Her Life, Her Philosophy

    . When Rand first began working on We the Living in 1929, its title was to be Airtight: A Novel of Red Russia. Clearly, one of the objectives of her novel was to exhibit the moral, economic, and technological inferiority of communist Russia in comparison to America and Europe. The main writing and rewriting of the novel was in 1933–35. By 1933 America was at the depth of its greatest economic depression. There was much clamoring from business and labor leaders for “economic democracy,” for the cartelization and socialization of major industries, and for central planning of production and consumption. The picture of communist Russia that Rand was exposing in We the Living was as in the early 20’s. By the 30’s Russia was not Russia in the immediate aftermath of revolution and civil war. There were large construction projects underway over there, which were being touted by Stalin’s government to show the superiority of communism. A scene in Rand’s novel retained through her first couple of drafts to May 1934 was one in which Kira’s lover Leo mentions to her that in New York there are six million inhabitants and that they have subways. “It must be delightful—a subway” Leo remarks to Kira who adores such things (Milgram 2004, 13). That was cut from the novel by November 1935. There are additional reasons for removing the passage, but I think one was that Stalin’s Russia had completed its first underground metro, in Moscow, in May 1935. Rand’s use of the lack of subways in cities of communist Russia as illustration of its technical stagnation would not have been effective by 1935. Canal
  8. White Supremacist Protest Violence

    We should not erect statues of Andrew Jackson all along the Trail of Tears to ensure that his Indian Removal of the Five Civilized Tribes is not repeated. "Preserving history and not ignoring history" is the chant, but not the heart of the chanters and their forebears defending these public statues to leaders as leaders of the Confederacy---clinging to the old white supremacy is the core.
  9. White Supremacist Protest Violence

    At a monument at a museum downtown here at Lynchburg where we live. And then, if you actually go into the museum, you can actually learn something.
  10. White Supremacist Protest Violence

    James M, yes. It's my understanding that most of these statues across the South were built near the end of the nineteenth century, when surviving soldiers of the Confederacy were naturally dying. Support for those memorial projects then as now was in large measure continuing support for the fist of white supremacy.
  11. Psychological Visibility

    * “Because we are not accustomed to see any of the things within and do not know them, . . . [we] do not know it is that within which moves us: as if someone looking at his image and not knowing where it came from should pursue it. . . . It is truly a greater beauty . . . when you see moral sense in someone and delight in it, not looking at his face—which might be ugly—but putting aside all shape and pursuing his inner beauty. But if it does not move you yet, so that you call someone like this beautiful, you will not when you look inward at yourself be pleased with your beauty. . . . This is why discussions about these sorts of things are not for everybody; but if you have seen yourself beautiful, remember them.” Plotinus, Enneads V.8.2 – A. H. Armstrong, translator
  12. White Supremacist Protest Violence

    . I lived in Chicago during this one: http://www.jta.org/2013/06/20/news-opinion/the-telegraph/nazis-marching-through-skokie When I was a young man, I demonstrated quite a bit, particularly against taxes (April 15 at the main post office each year) and against reinstatement of the draft registration. A friend recalls I joined the counter-demonstration against the Nazis linked above. I don't actually recall that particular counter-march, but I do recall that on all such occasions all sorts of other political factions will try to join in and get mileage for their own political cause(s). In my era of demonstrations ('70s and '80s), I witnessed no violence from the pro- or counter-side. The most important thing about the events in Charlottesville this past weekend was that a young man (of a fascist, racist political persuasion) drove his car into a bunch of our citizens who were opposed to his views. And the American President stated no specific condemnation of that mayhem and murder, which was a heinous act an order of magnitude more wicked than any other violence there. The public statues of this sort ARE going to come down when all the legal process has been completed. They are today and since they were erected principally monuments proclaiming white supremacy. I live in Lynchburg, about an hour south of Charlottesville. Around here I encourage people to go over to the Museum of the Confederacy just down the road, over at Appomattox. It was completed pretty recently, it is truly informative, and is accessible to folks of all sorts of educational levels or age. The old statues, such as this one of Lee, are unnecessary for historical education and awareness. .
  13. Peikoff's Dissertation

    . Peikoff's Dissertation Prep Plato Aristotle I To be continued. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Further Observation on Rand’s Definition of Logic vis-à-vis Aristotle’s Metaphysics I had remarked in “Aristotle 1” that in her differentia (PNC) for definition of logic, Rand may have been led astray by Aristotle’s “‘all who are carrying out a demonstration refer it to this [PNC] as an ultimate belief; for this is naturally the starting-point even for all the other axioms’, which is only a few lines of Aristotle beyond the lines she quotes in the closing scene of 1957.” Her Atlas quotation spans 1005a23–b20, and she uses the Ross translation. The lines of Aristotle just now I quoted are 1005b32–34, also using Ross. Joe Sach’s 1999 translation of Metaphysics has the latter lines as: “Everyone who demonstrates traces things back to this as an ultimate opinion [PNC], since this is by nature a source even of all the other axioms.” The shift from “the starting-point” to “a source” contains a little loosening by shift from the definite article the to the indefinite article a. Had Rand been looking at the latter translation she might not have gone with PNC as the basic element of identification delimiting the aspect of identification of special focus in logic. She and her early expositors might not have attempted to portray first-figure syllogistic inference as under the auspice of PNC. Christopher Kirwan’s 1992 translation of this book (gamma) of Metaphysics goes with the definite article. Reeve’s 2016 translation of Metaphysics goes with the definite article. In a note (390), Reeve works out an example of a mathematical axiom (that proportionals alternate) that can be defended by showing its denial leads to contradiction. But again, back in logic itself, that the valid inference ‘Socrates is mortal’ from ‘All men are mortal, and Socrates is a man’ can be shown to entail contradiction if denied is no showing that PNC is more fundamental, nor equally fundamental, than the logical principle we use straightaway in that inference: identity.
  14. . Budd, I’m pretty sure Rand would have been fine with that 1888 text on deduction by Stock I linked, and that is formal logic. Peirce reviewed that text shortly after its appearance, and complained it made errors on logic of relations, and complained it did not introduce the modern developments of Venn and of what Peirce termed Symbolic Logic. Self-evidence arises in the older, more limited vista of Stock, but as well in the more modern developments. Peirce would not have wanted to call it self-evidence, which he took in close proximity to intuition, which he detested. The self-evident things in logic, Peirce would have simple called facts, necessary facts. A rose by any other name. . . . Whether Rand ever got into learning the contemporary logic, such as was presented in Irving Copi’s text Symbolic Logic (1954) or Quine’s Methods of Logic (1950), I don’t know, but I’d be surprised if she did. She’d have been familiar with material covered in the first-course texts, such as Copi’s Introduction to Logic, of course. She listened to what Leonard Peikoff had learned and concluded on modern logic, to be sure. In my notes to his 1976 lecture course The Philosophy of Objectivism, in the Q&A of Lecture 4, I jotted a reply evidently to some sort of question about modern logic: “Rand’s math/concepts antithesis of Russell <--severs both from reality // Symbolic logic rejected out of hand---arbitrary assumptions, etc.” <--For whatever indication my cryptic notes might contain. (Rand or Peikoff aside, logical relations between Rand’s conceptions of logic and Aristotle’s or Kant’s or contemporary conceptions of logic is topic for any informed intelligence, not only for the reflections of Rand or of Peikoff on those relations.) After the root post linked below, the follow-on posts are in reverse-chron. http://www.solopassion.com/node/6043 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ PS - I notice now in this link that Fred Seddon's question to me eight years ago included not only the name Peikoff, but the name Veatch. Henry Veatch's book Intentional Logic was a text Peikoff relied on in his Ph.D. dissertation (1964). So Veatch's outlook there might be of a feather with Peikoff those decades ago concerning "symbolic logic." .
  15. . William, this logic text by Stock in 1888 uses self-evident for the principle discussed at this linked page. It nicely mentions Aristotle’s first-figure syllogisms as those known as perfect, the self-evident ones upon which (with some other self-evident logical principles) Aristotle had argued the validity of the syllogisms of the other figures. Stock was an Oxford teacher of logic. At the beginning of the book, Stock had described the three laws of thought also as self-evident. His conception of the identity law among those three is very slender, though rightly conceived as necessary and universal. Were one to enrich the identity law along the lines of Rand’s enrichment, I think it would still pass for self-evident and indeed already encompass the principle known as nota notae discussed at the page of this link. All the same, I don’t think nota notae would be inheriting its self-evidence from that more Randian law of identity. Self-evidence stands on each of its occasions without having had self-evidence transmitted to it from some other occasion of self-evidence. I don’t care for Audi’s grandparents-example in his point 4. There are things we prove are necessarily so, such as Lowenheim’s Theorem in logic or the Pythagorean Theorem in geometry, and that does not necessarily make those propositions self-evident, at least not in an unstrained sense of the self-evident. That is not to say that no propositions that are conclusions of a proof are not also self-evident. Some are and some are not. I can construct a proof to the conclusion “Nothing comes from nothing,” although that proposition were already self-evidently true to anyone who soundly grasped its statement. Discussion of self-evidence of principles in logic, by Frege and by our contemporaries Tyler Burge or Penelope Maddy stays close to logic, recognizing that logic will apply to the actual world. But these proceed without (making explicit) the broad background thesis of Rand’s that “logic rests on the axiom that existence exists,” that two-word proposition being a report of a standing manifest fact, a truth known self-evidently by perception. .
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