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Everything posted by Boydstun

  1. . Neera Badhwar was a past presenter at the Ayn Rand Society as well as at David Kelley’s summer seminar. Her 2014 book Well-Being: Happiness in a Worthwhile Life has received two notable reviews: In Ethics and in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. Thanks to Stephen Hicks for notice of these reviews. Prof. Badhwar does not mention Ayn Rand in this book. Aristotle is the sage here, filled out by modern experimental psychology, with new perspective and argumentation by the author.
  2. . I see from the Name Index for my journal Objectivity (1990–1998) that authors referred to something or other by N. Branden on the following pages. I’m curious what were the topics for which these authors had found something useful in his works. I’ll fill that in here in the Name Index entry for him. Branden, Nathaniel V1N2 68, 72, 74 “Why Man Needs Approval” – Marsha Enright V1N5 43, 59, 70, 161 “Intricate Consciousness” – Jay Friedenberg “On the Physical Meaning of Volition” – Ronald E. Merrill “Finitude and Meaning” – James Henderson V1N6 31, 163 “Formation of the Concept of Mind” – Paul Vanderveen “A Philosophy for Living on Earth” – Peter Saint-Andre V2N1 112, 120 “Volitional Synapses” – Stephen Boydstun V2N2 9 “Axioms: The Eightfold Way” – Ronald E. Merrill V2N3 110, 146 “Compatibility of Determinism and Free Will” – George Lyons “Con Molto Sentimento” – Marsha Enright V2N5 35–36, 45, 69, 71, 73, 78, 86 “The Essence of Art” – Roger E. Bissell “Objectivist Ethics: A Biological Critique” – Ronald E. Merrill V2N6 193–94, 202, 204–5 “Ayn Rand: Literary Portraiture v. Philosophic Explication of Ideal Man and Woman” – Charles Wieder
  3. . The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 16(1,2) – 2016 Nathaniel Branden: His Work and Legacy The last time I saw Nathaniel Branden, he also saw me. There are some things I’m quick on. One is quickness in catching objects falling unexpectedly, another is quickness in catching some kinds of jokes. It was 2005 at the last of David Kelley’s summer seminars I had the pleasure of attending. Branden was there, not to give a lecture, but a live interview, hosted by Duncan Scott. They called the interview-session “On Ayn Rand and Objectivism.” I had not intended to attend the session, but had ended up too exhausted to walk back to my motel across the Union campus and then return for my next big session. So I plopped myself down in the interview session. I’d not prepared any question. (I certainly wish I’d prepared and had asked him about his and Rand’s collaborations [and Continental precursors], up to the completion of Atlas Shrugged, on their concepts of self-esteem and on what he would come to call The Visibility Principle in their joint journal a decade later.) So I contributed nothing to the interview, except for one lightning laugh. Some audience members had been asking about his personal romantic relationship with Ayn Rand and its eventual bust-up of their wider relationship. At one point, he said of some recent writing or other, by others, on those things, “I will say this, if I’d done half the things they claim I did to Ayn Rand, she’d had to have been an idiot.” We both knew well that consequent was an absurdity, and he flashed those blues and grin over to my instant burst. There are some recollections in this JARS issue from persons who (unlike me) knew Nathaniel Branden personally. Pages 115-243 are especially susbstantive on Branden's ideas in psychology as he developed them after his years with Rand.
  4. . The Perfectionist Turn - From Metanorms to Metaethics Douglas Rasmussen and Douglas Den Uyl (Edinburgh University Press, 2016) This new work is available at half-price until 1/8/17. There will be two Authors-Meet-Critics sessions of this book at the American Philosophical Association Meeting in Baltimore next month. “The Perfectionist Turn offers a defense of perfectionism itself, and demonstrates how ethics can be independent of yet in rapport with politics.” –Fred D. Miller, University of Arizona
  5. . Probing data from the LIGO black hole merger events for Planck-scale structure at event horizon of classical general relativity: December 2016 (Associates of the distinguished Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics)
  6. . Additional reviews of Tara Smith's book Judicial Review in an Objective Legal System are linked here. I'll not be able to attend the Author Meets Critics session on this work at APA. There is another session "Particularist v. Generalist in Perception Theory" which I need for my own work and which is in the same time slot as the ARS session on Tara Smith's book. In some ways, there are just too many good things in the world.
  7. . These Words These words we read from some desire . . that someone live . . the this entire. Read is our reach, . . our grasp, our be . . life that is know . . wings that are free. Copyright Stephen C. Boydstun 2016
  8. Thank you all for your contributions to this thread. I’d like to add three notes. Firstly, I’ve gathered that in the West, the Revolution in Russia was much opposed at the time because of the communist ideology of the revolutionaries. In the post-revolutionary period, which is the setting of Rand’s We the Living, there was extremely cold winter, lack of fuel for heat, and lack of food. And of course there was the terror of imprisonment and killing by the new iron fist and its ideology. Some private assistance was sent from America. I recall reading that in this period there was also a shortage of paper in Russia, and the Rockefeller Foundation sent them paper. Also there were communists/unionists in Britain who were encouraged by the revolution; they made ties and visits in the Stalin era to report back good, progressive things the new regime was getting done, such as health facilities. Secondly, I was born in 1948, and my awareness of the wide world and politics emerged during the Eisenhower presidency. It was Godless Communism that was the great threat to our country, from ideological currents in that direction within the country, and more urgently, from USSR and Red China, who fostered People’s guerilla warfare in countries around the world in their aim to set up communist dictatorships throughout the world. USSR possessed, by the time of my first political awareness, atomic and nuclear bombs and rocketry, and they had an enormous Red Army poised against Western Europe. In NATO we opted to outpace the Reds in weapon technology, rather than match their army and its expense. Decades later that expense would become part of the reason for the collapse of the USSR. The main thing I want to add to this thread is that it was the nuclear weapons and delivery systems above all that made the USSR a threat, a widely recognized threat, to the USA from my earliest political awareness in the ‘50’s to the end of the Soviet Union. It remains a threat from Russia in the years since then, and we can still get into games of Chicken and its relatives with Russia in potential nuclear exchange, even though Communism is now out in Russia. Thirdly, I’d like to share some lines near the end of Rand 1943, Toohey speaking to Keating: “Look at Europe, you fool. Can’t you see past the guff and recognize the essence? One country is dedicated to the proposition that man has no rights, that the collective is all. The individual held as evil, the mass—as God. No motive and no virtue permitted—except that of service to the proletariat. That’s one version. Here’s another. A country dedicated to the proposition that man has no rights, that the State is all. The individual held as evil, the race—as God. No motive and no virtue permitted—except that of service to the race. Am I raving or is this the cold reality of two continents already?” Today is much safer for America (and Europe) than those earlier times. I think that another force remains, however, pushing towards collectivism, and that force is nationalism. Then too, the human impulses to self-sacrifice and contrivance of greatest virtues as beyond oneself and one’s immediate loved ones; the chasing after things by many in the manner of Keating; and the lust for power by those akin to Toohey—these remain. “History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.” –Mark Twain
  9. I'll certainly vote against Mr. Trump because of his commitment to nominate Supreme Court Justices who are "Pro-Life" (i.e., will overturn Roe v. Wade).
  10. . The straight dope on the inception and early spread of HIV in the US is at last here. I had always doubted the Patient-0 story put about by Randy Shilts in And the Band Played On. Too convenient for making a good story, and it struck me as too conjectural. Always mistrust shortcut personifications of the complexities of real history, substituting for absent data.
  11. More on Rand's journey from 1936 WL to 1957 AS (& 1959 WL), since purchasing my own 1936 WL: His Own Truth First Time
  12. Welcome to Objectivism Online, Harvey Meale. We living animals are certainly wired up a lot for avoidance of death, for maintenance and growth, and for reproduction. Our human rationality extends somewhat our options on reproduction and on choice to die, and we can tailor those choices, hopefully sensitive to life-context, to goodness that is our life and the lives of our loved ones. I don’t think any sense of metaphysical value-ranking is sensible outside the phenomena of life, the existence of life, the whole scheme of life on this planet. Outside the context of living existence, there is no better or worse in existence and no problems to be solved. The old talk of perfection-levels of existence or of being, in their widest sense, was a goof. Before my existence, there was no me actual, potential, or temporal. Any potential of me was distributed in other, actual human life and its materials at hand. My nonexistence before my life was nothing bad (or good) to me who was only a potential from actual parents. My nonexistence and indeed the earlier nonexistence of life on the planet was nothing bad or good to the pre-life world. (Men have not spoken of the living God for nothing.) But once I do become, come to live, dying is continuously largely a bad thing in that stop of life is bad, for largely, continuance of my life is good and is good for my fellows. Death of my loved ones is very largely bad for me, whatever to them in their life situation. Apart from me still living and apart from other life in the world, my coming back to not living is the end of time experienced and the end of bad or good. There is much in agreement with Rand in this note, and this bit too is from her literature: Nothing can change the fact that we have been and been the mind and life and good and bad we were, even though all trace of our existence becomes erased and even if no mind remains in the universe. We living can love that fact. "We exist and we know that we exist, and we love that fact and our knowledge of it" --Augustine. To say "our knowledge" is to say a part of our living, in my view and in Aristotle's. I know some of this note repeats ideas already expressed in this thread, but I wanted to say howdy, this is me, and to return the welcome stimulus to reflect on this topic. Stephen
  13. . The Libertarian ticket Johnson/Weld has today been endorsed by the Chicago Tribune, joining earlier endorsements by The Detroit News, the New Hampshire Union Leader, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and others.
  14. Boydstun


    . Wiring and Molecular Features of Prefrontal Ensembles Representing Distinct Experiences Ye, Allen, Thompson, et al. --- Cell (2016)
  15. . Smith's Judicial Review in an Objective Legal System will be the subject of an "Author Meets Critics" session of the Ayn Rand Society on Friday afternoon, January 6, 2017, at the Eastern Division Meeting of the APA in Baltimore. New book The Perfectionist Turn by Rasmussen and Den Uyl is also the subject of an "Author Meets Critics" session at this meeting of the APA. That will be in the evening of that same day.
  16. . Tara Smith's book Judicial Review in an Objective Legal System (2015) has been reviewed by Carrie-Ann Biondi in Reason Papers here.
  17. The full program, without commercials, can be watched here. Good questions, strong answers, strong team.
  18. 2nd CNN Town Hall with Libertarian Ticket - Tomorrow Night at 9:00 pm.
  19. The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty by Simon Baron-Cohen From the Tower - 50 Years Ago
  20. Huffington Post has finally gotten tooled up to include the Libertarian in the polls, which is how the ballot---three choices---will look most everywhere in November.
  21. Trump's List for Supreme Court Justices Are against Elective Abortions Trump with the Power - Deportations Rand's political assessment of Mr. Trump would likely repeat her points against George Wallace, but without her charge of racism (at least it would be a more oblique racism). But the other charges would still fly, and her summation would still be: proto-fascism in America. Next to Wallace, she thought Humphrey looked practically decent. Of course she'd be in a pickle more than most of us today, what with Hillary being a woman and all, and with not wanting to vote Libertarian. Like most Americans, I expect Rand would condemn Trump's conduct at the Presidential debates, a disrespectfulness and sordidness displayed to us, to his conception of us, himself, and the Presidency.
  22. Understanding Trump by George Lakoff New Location: Understanding Trump
  23. Boydstun


    Neural Representations of Physics Concepts "Considerable advances have been made in developing brain-based theories of semantic knowledge, such as knowledge of concrete objects or emotions. Brain-imaging research has uncovered sets of brain systems that collectively contain the neural representations of such concepts, including information about the way the human body interacts with them (in the case of objects) or their intensity (in the case of emotions; Just, Cherkassky, Aryal, & Mitchell, 2010; Kassam, Markey, Cherkassky, Loewenstein, & Just, 2013). What has not yet been investigated with this approach is the neural representation of specialized abstract knowledge acquired through academic study, such as science learning. The current article addresses this issue in the area of physics knowledge. . . ."
  24. Planning to see Start Trek Beyond next week. But first, an emblem of the real "step that travels unlimited roads" here.
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