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Boydstun

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  1. Notice at Classics, Philosophy, and Ancient Science at University of Pittsburgh: The full biographical sketch (excerpted in #4) that appeared in Being, Nature, and Life in Aristotle, a festschrift (2010) in honor of Allan Gotthelf, can presently be read here. From James Lennox, on his association with Allan Gotthelf:
  2. From The Times, Trenton: Philosopher Allan Stanley Gotthelf died of cancer at age 70 on Friday, Aug. 30, at his home in Philadelphia, in the company of his dear friend Cassandra Love. A memorial service will be held Saturday, Sept. 7, at 10 a.m. at the St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan, NY; burial will be at Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, NY, at 3 p.m. He is survived by Ronald and Cassandra Love, and their sons Zach and Ian Barber (whom Allan regarded as his family), by his many friends and students, and by his sister, Joan Gotthelf Price. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ From The New York Times: David Charles (Oxford University) speaks of Gotthelf's "decisive role in the renaissance of scholarly and philosophical interest in Aristotle's biological writings," and Alan Code (Stanford University) comments that "no scholar has had a deeper and more lasting impact on the scholarly understanding of Aristotle's biological corpus than Allan Gotthelf." Gotthelf made this impact through a series of path-breaking essays now collected in Teleology, First Principles, and Scientific Method in Aristotle's Biology (Oxford University Press, 2012) and through the conferences and workshops he organized. These events formed the basis for two books: Philosophical Issues In Aristotle's Biology (Cambridge University Press, 1987), which Gotthelf co-edited with James G. Lennox (The University of Pittsburgh), and Aristotle on Nature and Living Things (Mathesis, 1985). The latter book, which Gotthelf edited, was in honor of his friend and mentor David Balme (University of London), and after Balme's death in 1989, Gotthelf shepherded several of his projects to publication. In 2004, Gotthelf's "contributions to the study of classical philosophy and science" were celebrated at a conference at the University of Pittsburgh, which led to the volume: Being, Nature, and Life in Aristotle: Essays in Honor of Allan Gotthelf (Cambridge University Press, 2010), edited by Lennox and Robert Bolton (Rutgers University). Gotthelf met Ayn Rand in 1962, in connection with lectures on her philosophy that he attended. Rand took an active interest in philosophy students, and over the next 15 years, he had the opportunity for long philosophical discussions with her. Gotthelf is one of two friends whose expressions of interest Rand said prompted her to write Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, which has become one of history's best-selling works on epistemology. Gotthelf was an active participant in Rand's famous 1969-71 Workshops on that book, an edited transcript of which now appears as an appendix to the book's second edition (Plume, 1990). Gotthelf was a founding member of the Ayn Rand Society, a group affiliated with the American Philosophical Association, and he held the Society's highest office from 1990 until his death. Since April of 2013, he has shared that office with Gregory Salmieri (Boston University), his former student and frequent collaborator. Gotthelf co-edited (with Lennox), and contributed essays to, the first two volumes of the Society's ongoing Philosophical Studies series, published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. He is the author of On Ayn Rand (Wadsworth, 2000), and is co-editor (with Salmieri) of Ayn Rand: A Companion to Her Works and Thought (Wiley-Blackwell, forthcoming).
  3. In his recent movie Clear History the character played by Larry David takes inspiration from Howard Roark’s dynamite of Cortlandt in The Fountainhead movie, along the David way to hilarity and happy ending.
  4. Plas, I believe the book you are thinking of is Concepts, Induction, and the Growth of Scientific Knowledge, due out next year. Gotthelf was co-editing it with Richard Burian. Perhaps this book will come to be issued. It was planned to consist of papers largely from a workshop Gotthelf organized in Pittsburgh in 2010. I don't know if there was a contribution from John McCaskey to that workshop.
  5. One of my professors of thermodynamics in engineering, an Iranian guy, would say as he introduced a new concept and how it is put to work “Now I want you to think real good with me.” I list pages here of some good such moments (1969–71) between Rand, Gotthelf (B ), and Peikoff (E), transcribed in the Appendix of ITOE: 207–8, 212–15, 240–244, 248–51, 260–63, 268–79. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I’d quibble over Augustine, looking into his Greek philosophic roots, but the moment remains the light and lightness it was.
  6. Allan Gotthelf (December 30, 1942 – August 30, 2013) Fond memories of Allan, with highest esteem and appreciation. His written works,* and the younger generation of scholars he assisted, will continue to expand my understanding. From the festschrift for him, Being, Nature, and Life in Aristotle (2010): From his Preface to Teleology, First Principles, and Scientificå Method in Aristotle’s Biology (2012):
  7. SL, I have written some about mysticism here at Objectivism Online. I know you don't have time to dig into this work at this time, but I thought you might like to have the links here in this thread for future easy reference. Mysticism – Kant and Rand Reason / Intuition / Feeling Concerning your ruminations so far, I'm inclined to keep reification of abstractions as an error that enters into mysticism at times, but enters in non-mystical error as well. A certain feeling of tremendous luminance and simplicity seems to be a necessary element of mysticism. Also, a sense of an external supersensible intelligent presence seems pretty common to it. -S
  8. Garshasp, Irfan Khawaja is known to me personally. He is a highly trained professional philosopher, as is his associate Carrie-Ann Biondi. Irfan contributed a paper to Metaethics, Egoism, and Virtue (2011), edited by Allan Gotthelf and James Lennox. I have some comments on that paper here. Another paper of Irfan Khawaja “A Perfectionist-Egoist Theory of the Good” appeared in my journal Objectivity in 1997 and is available online in V2N5. The two seminars Khawaja and Biondi have designed look excellent: Fall 2013 Spring 2014
  9. . There is an informative review essay by Roger Scruton on modern theories of music hinged to generative grammar as well as to geometry in Reason Papers (Oct. 2012) online here.
  10. Why Does Music Feel So Good? National Geographic Music's Delight Science News 5/18/13
  11. RW, No. Michael Stuart Kelly does not at all appear to be any such thing. You are writing about and to real persons with the real names and personal identities they have shared, and with real families who love them. Stephen
  12. RW, No. I did not mean light in that sense. I meant light as in optics, a purely physical science, a very old one. In the nineteenth century, electromagnetism was comprehended sufficiently well that physicists were able to discover that light in the physical sense was electromagnetic radiation. This is a matter of physical identity. I can still remember the day over four decades ago when my physics professor demonstrated on the blackboard at the end of a long derivation that a ratio of a certain electrical and a certain magnetic property of the vacuum equals exactly the velocity of electromagnetic waves propagating in vacuum. The electrical and the magnetic characteristics of the vacuum are measurable to high accuracy, more and more as we go along, and from that we can calculate the velocity of electromagnetic propagation in vacuum. The velocity of light is measurable to high accuracy, higher and higher as we go along. The equality of the velocity of light with the computed velocity of the propagation of electromagnetic waves has been demonstrated by measurement of the velocity of light and measurement of the electrical and the magnetic characteristics of the vacuum. That is why one knows today that light---physical light absorbed by the retina, which signals receipt along the optic nerve to the thalmus---is electromagnetic radiation. In my coolness example, I was indeed referring to our subjective sensation. The conjectured neuronal processes to which some, including I, expect it is non-eliminatively identical has not yet been discovered so far as I know, at least not with the kind of specificity we need for confirming identity. As Eiuol surmised, I did deliberately chose feature instead of attribute. That was only to skirt the tendency of many to think of a simple property for example of an attribute. Many typically think of sonar as a feature of the the bat and color as a property of the bat. Me too. By feature I meant that sort of more complex attribute. My first philosophy professor was a Thomist, so like you, I do use attribute for both simple ones (properties) and more complex ones (features). Consciousness is a feature of some animals. Rand assumed it a feature of even insects (ITOE). Today, the neuroscientist Christoff Koch (an associate of Robert Efron, who was an associate of Ayn Rand and wrote an essay about reductionism for her journal) still thinks of them as having that feature, but that has become a minority view in the profession. I think the dominate view is that without cerebral cortex, there is no consciousness. That is not to say subcortical structures and their processes connected to cortex are not required for consciousness. Stephen
  13. Plas, in #12 I did not say the phrase I meant. I meant and should have said non-eliminative physicalism. By non-eliminative physicalism, a non-eliminative reductionism, I mean only the general form as was accomplished when light was identified with electromagnetic radiation. It was learned that light was electromagnetic waves of a certain frequency range. Yet light did not then cease to be light, or become some sort of prior delusion now dispelled. Similarly, we know that there are sensors in the skin that register the rate of heat flow out the surface into the environs. We feel that as coolness. My idea is only that if we someday fully understand the brain processing that culminates in the feeling of coolness from activation of the sensor, coolness will not have ceased to be coolness, or become some sort of delusion then dispelled. Stephen
  14. . History of Materialism (1866 – 3 volumes) Friedrich Albert Lange Eliminative Materialism RW, I don’t know if you have read Atlas Shrugged, but therein Rand criticizes the materialisms of Marx and of Skinner under her label “mystics of muscle,” and she tries to compose a unified relationship of body and mind, affirming each. Rand, and I too, would go for your integration-but-not-dissolving of mind and matter. Mind is a feature of living brain in Rand’s view, as are all other forms of consciousness lower than mind. I am a non-reductive physicalist, and this may be consistent with Rand’s view of mind and matter (mind, brain, and physical world).* I think true the Union theory of mind and brain set forth by Ted Honderich,* though I think his inference of determinism from it is unsound.
  15. Vic, I would say that concepts logically presupposed by measurement methods are not analyzable in terms of the omission of measurements. How far concepts of measurement, including geometry, require a form of mathematical induction would be good to look into. I know that in my practical measurements, I’m not presuming the principle of mathematical induction. The point of contact with mathematical induction would be in measurement theory, with conceptual analysis of measurement, such as in Foundations of Measurement.* To pull away the logical and mathematical presuppositions of measurement theory leaves a great deal of substance to Rand’s proposal. That all other concepts are in principle analyzable in terms of measurement-omission, even if only ordinal measurement (or ordered geometry) in some cases, is a very substantial claim about the nature of those remaining universal concepts. John, Thank you for sharing your achievement. Are some results provable only by mathematical induction? Is there some sort of proof or disproof of that conjecture. Even if there is no such proof, I’d be interested to know simply if there are results that have only been proven using mathematical induction so far as you know. –Stephen
  16. Thanks, Chris, for the intriguing thinking in #5. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I’d like to lodge in this thread for future reference a couple of remarks of Leibniz, written in 1693 and in 1700. They are from Prefaces he wrote for collections of medieval state documents.
  17. . Morally right or morally wrong means to me only: which should be chosen in certain kinds of situations with certain sorts of consequences. I believe I mentioned, by link, that I am not an ethical egoist. However, I think Rand was right to say that choices affecting the course of your own life are within what should be called moral choices. She takes humans, rightly so, to be not only animals who live over a span, but who choose to some extent what sort of life they might win. That is, they not only have life, but are capable to some extent of making a life and a character. I think, beyond Rand, that the core context of moral choices is effect on persons, more specifically, as Nozick puts the nerve of it, moral responsiveness is responsiveness to value-seeking selves as value-seeking selves (1981). Selves are centers of human lives and both form the compass of what I would call moral choices of which thing to do.
  18. . TJ, concerning #53, would you exclude as outside the realm of logic and reason the opportunities for enhancing your struggle for existence and your enjoyment of existence by doing what you can to help the washed-ashore man survive? I gather from #40, that bringing facts into a decision about what course to choose is automatically unreasonable in your view. “The fact that a man must consume nutrients in order to live . . . is neither good nor evil, it just is.” Is there any way in which you think such a fact provides guidance about what you ought to do. Come along now. You are not a blank on such issues. You have positive values to share. Again, person-to-person. Help us out. Just say No to prosecution. Would you say that pleasure and absence of hurt are good reasons for selecting certain actions and not others? Would you say they are causes of such selections, but not reasons for such selections?
  19. . TJ, I mentioned this to you already in #35. I'll try a second time, but then leave you alone on it. The word meaning what you mean should be spelled principle, not principal. The latter is a different word, with a different meaning. --S
  20. TJ, If justice is treating people as the kinds of beings they are, and they are ends in themselves in the human way, justice would include treating them as ends in themselves. At least that would be the just thing prima facie. Sacrifice of others and exploitation of others in the negative senses of those concepts would be inconsistent with treating them as ends in themselves, wouldn't you think? Treating gasoline as water would be a performative inconsistency; that is the kind of inconsistency relevant to ethical theory. Do you think Rand's arguments for the virtue of justice are wanting? I am still learning and developing my views on some aspects of ethical theory as well (e.g. a, b, c). I'd like to mention for everyone a couple of papers pertinent to the issues TJ has raised, essays now online: Human Rights as Game Strategies SB A Perfectionist-Egoist Theory of the Good Irfan Khawaja
  21. . What do you think, TJ? Care to share your views of the truth about self-interest and the rights of others? Like if you were talking to persons, not prosecuting or beating someone up. (Note: principle, not principal.)
  22. This thread is an excellent discussion. TJ, Beyond the ways in which each individual organism of a species and indeed the species itself exists as a dynamic end in itself, wouldn’t the reason that individual people ought to be treated by others as ends in themselves be because their intelligence and psyche is organized towards being an individual dynamic whole? That would be Rand’s stress on the circumstance that only individual minds can think, and from there comes the way individuals of our species and indeed the species itself can continue their organic end-in-itself existence. There is at least one place where Rand wrote “Only man is an end in himself.” That was in an Introduction written for a 25th anniversary edition of The Fountainhead. From the context, I gather that Rand was not here denying the end-in-itself character as it occurs in other living beings. The contrast class was something else here. The full paragraph is: “But neither politics nor ethics nor philosophy is an end in itself, neither in life nor in literature. Only Man is an end in himself.” By the way, the statement “Man is an end in himself” was apparently a common saying, at least among literati, a long time before Rand. In his 1853 work The Aesthetic Relations of Art to Reality, Nicholas Chernyshevsky wrote: “Artistic form does not save a work of art from contempt or from a pitying smile if, by the importance of its idea, the work cannot answer the question: Was it worth the trouble? A useless thing has no right to respect. “Man is an end in himself”; but the things man makes must have their end in the satisfaction of man’s needs and not in themselves.”* The point I note here is how the author put our subject proposition in quotes, indicating that it was a common current saying that man is an end in himself.
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