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Applications of Philosophy

Objectivism in one’s daily life

By Thomas M. Miovas, Jr.

04/27/2012

There is a disturbing trend among the younger generation of those interested in Objectivism, and that is to reject some of the applications of philosophy in Dr. Peikoff’s podcasts on the grounds that Objectivism – and philosophy in general – ought not to have anything to say about certain topics. Among those topics discussed have been whether or not the New York City Mosque ought to be built after the atrocities of 911, transgenderism and whether or not a sex change is moral, and the best way of fighting terrorism, among others. I don’t know where these disagreements are coming from. I don’t know if it is from Diana Hsieh, the Kelleyites, or some other influence, but it does seem to be widespread considering the conflicts I have had with quite a few people on forum.objectivismonline.net forums. Some would say just to leave them alone and find a better forum, but I don’t think it is just that forum as the attitude also extends to some of my FaceBook friends and a general hatred of checkingpremises.org. A few have gone so far as to imply that Dr. Peikoff “has lost it”, or that he is being dishonest in applying Objectivism to areas where it shouldn’t have anything to say about a topic, or that he is an Objectivist in name only because they disagree with him.

Philosophy is a wide set of integrated principles guiding a man’s thoughts about the nature of existence and man’s place in it. As such, it gives a man a special intellectual frame-work with which to guide his thinking. For many philosophies, a practical guide to living on earth is not given. These philosophies give wide principles or pseudo-principles in a mind / body dichotomy way – philosophy is for intellectualizing divorced from living one’s life practically. But Objectivism is certainly different. Ayn Rand identified Objectivism as a philosophy of living on earth; which means that it gives more practical guidance explicitly versus most any other philosophy. And since Objectivism is based on the facts of reality in a wider and wider integration of those facts, applications based on Objectivism can get down to many more specific areas than most any other philosophy. Basically, anytime there is a need for broad principles to guide one’s thoughts and actions, an Objectivist philosopher or even a long-term Objectivist can give one the principles to guide one in how to think about the facts prevalent to the more specific issues.

Philosophy as such cannot tell you what to have for breakfast, but it can tell you that given the nature of man and the fact that he needs to eat certain things in order to remain alive, that one ought to have a nutritious meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Similarly, given the nature of egoism – the morality of Objectivism -- philosophy can tell you that when you are confronted by an enemy who seeks to destroy you and your country that you ought to defend yourself in the most efficient manner possible. It cannot tell you to use either guns or knives or karate to defend yourself in those specifics, but it can tell you that egoism requires also acknowledging the necessity of self-defense if one values one’s own life. So, in broad principles, it can tell you to destroy the enemy – no holds barred. Similarly, since morality stems from a rational understanding of the nature of man and the requirements of sustaining one’s own life, that certain medical procedures that go to the root of what it is to be that particular individual ought to be avoided. For example, a frontal lobotomy might make you more manageable, but it is not recommended as this would take away one’s ability to reason and possibly one’s free will. Since one’s sex or gender is fully integrated down to the individual cells and molecular structure of one’s body, then just making a physical change to one’s genitals is not recommended, since such a change would not be integrated into the rest of one’s body – at least not with modern technology. So, a sex change is not recommended, and is certainly immoral if one claims to want one with no reason behind it and just going by one’s will and introspection as to one’s gender.

I’m not here trying to imply that if you disagree with Dr. Peikoff on a particular topic, that he is necessarily right because he is a long-term Objectivist and an Objectivist philosopher. The issue is not agreement or disagreement, but rather following the proper objective methodology and applying broad philosophical principles to one’s daily life and the issues confronting oneself. If you can show that you can apply objectivity to the issues and come up with a better solution, that’s great, and I encourage you to think it through. But if a man has shown himself to be a great philosopher in his own right, in his lectures and books based on Objectivism, then I think one ought to really think it through before stating that he has lost it or that he doesn’t know what he is talking about.

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Who says that Peikoff (and/or Objectivism) “ought not to have anything to say about certain topics”, particularly the NY mosque and the moral nature of sex changes? I’ve seen some people say Peikoff ought to stop making podcasts, and that he’s “lost it”, but why do they say that? It’s because they think he’s wrong on these issues. Blaringly wrong. And then the reasons people think he’s wrong are discussed. Often it’s because, they claim, he doesn’t know enough, if anything, about the subject he’s discussing (the transgender). Do you think people should pontificate on subjects they’re ignorant of? Alternately, it’s that his reasoning and conclusions contradict Objectivist principles, and his statements are internally inconsistent and even incoherent (NY Mosque).

What on earth does either subject have to do with “daily life”, and where is the logical transition is to all this boilerplate you’re following it up with? BTW, how long have you studied Objectivism? I must say I was surprised by your claim that Peikoff’s End States that Sponsor Terrorism was written 10 years before 9/11, since I can remember vividly when it was published in the NYT just a few weeks after 9/11. I heard about it and sought it out. He paid for the space to run it in the paper.

http://forum.objecti...100#entry292106

Edited by Ninth Doctor

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I must say I was surprised by your claim that Peikoff’s End States that Sponsor Terrorism was written 10 years before 9/11, since I can remember vividly when it was published in the NYT just a few weeks after 9/11. I heard about it and sought it out. He paid for the space to run it in the paper.

Actually, you are right about the publication date of End States Who Sponsor Terrorism (Tuesday, October 2, 2001), so my apologies about the mistake. However, he had been advocating the same response to world-wide terrorism decades before 911, when our government began dealing with terrorist acts on a case by case basis as if they were just requiring some sort of police action and not an all-out war against the Islamicists.

As to DR.Peikoff not knowing what he is talking about Re transgenderism and NYC Mosque, he has answered those issues in spades during podcasts; right to life coming before property rights and man's metaphysical nature coming before making major changes to the body that cannot be physically integrated by man at this point.

Edited by Thomas M. Miovas Jr.

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As to DR.Peikoff not knowing what he is talking about Re transgenderism and NYC Mosque, he has answered those issues in spades during podcasts; right to life coming before property rights and man's metaphysical nature coming before making major changes to the body that cannot be physically integrated by man at this point.

Are you now claiming that Peikoff’s critics on those issues didn’t address the arguments he put forward? You say he “answered those issues in spades”, well, his claims were likewise “answered in spades”. If you actually want to discuss those issues, you ought to do it on the appropriate thread. And further, you should have discussed it on the appropriate thread when the topic was being actively discussed. Where were you during the "date rape" imbroglio? Far as I know, you restricted yourself to the safety of Amy Peikoff's blog, where you made the ridiculous claim that Peikoff had "blasted his critics".

http://dontletitgo.com/2012/02/17/on-leonard-peikoffs-brief-podcast-discussion-of-the-kobe-bryant-case/

You just really, really, really love Peikoff. I used to love Jesus, so I know how it feels.

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I've never loved Jesus. I met LP, though.

In person, about 25 years ago, I had a long conversation with him about many things. Seemed like a nice enough guy, and we talked about theory of music as it relates to aesthetics--but it was a short conversation. He knew very little about the subject and said so. I guess that was "before" he discovered that, "an Objectivist philosopher or even a long-term Objectivist can give one the principles to guide one in how to think about the facts prevalent to the more specific issues". He then had a certain grounded reason that he is showing to me that he does not have anymore. Based on the evidence I've read here that thing I once observed he had is lost--which is what I meant by "it".

The one enormous caveat to these conversations however is that we are not having them with LP himself but rather his idolateurs. Based on what I observed long ago directly and based on reading LP books and hearing almost every taped lecture of his, these conversations would go very differently if the genuine article were here arguing his own points, I think...

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Reposting this from a FaceBook Note I wrote:

Having Respect for Ayn Rand and Dr. Peikoff

by Thomas M Miovas Jr on Sunday, March 18, 2012 at 9:13am ·

To some of my critics regarding respect for Dr. Peikoff and Ayn Rand:

Now, look, it is not an issue of "idolatry" regarding how one ought to deal with Ayn Rand and Dr. Peikoff; it's an issue of realizing the incredible accomplishment that both achieved with their presentation of Objectivism, the most rational philosophy ever conceived of by man. Maybe I am in somewhat of a unique position on this forum, as I have a degree in physics and philosophy and have studied the history of the world in the context of Western Civilization as I was getting those degrees via my university's core curriculum program. I definitely disagree with their premises, since it was a Catholic university, but it gave me the opportunity to get the facts whereby I could draw my own conclusions about the influence of philosophy on world history. And in that context, Objectivism is the greatest thing that ever happened to mankind and can save civilization from another Dark Ages. With that in mind, and given his book, Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, morally requires one to take notice if one takes one's own life and reason as the standards. It is an issue of applied justice to treat LP with a great deal of respect, even if one disagrees with him on a particular topic. It doesn't mean don't voice your disagreement, but it does mean that if you disagree with him that you ought to present your side in terms of the relevant facts integrated in a logical manner -- to use the method of objectivity. To not do that, to not follow that method, is to say that you do not take facts and reason seriously; and, of course, this also implies that you will not respect anyone who is rational. To be consistent with reason and Objectivism means that one has to take note when someone has achieved a great achievement like Objectivism and OPAR.

http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/justice.html

http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/objectivity/1.html

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Maybe I am in somewhat of a unique position on this forum, as I have a degree in physics and philosophy and have studied the history of the world in the context of Western Civilization as I was getting those degrees via my university's core curriculum program. I definitely disagree with their premises, since it was a Catholic university, but it gave me the opportunity to get the facts whereby I could draw my own conclusions about the influence of philosophy on world history.

Are you claiming you have an education that is superior to that of your interlocutors? Your degrees could have come out of a cracker jack box, for all we know. I have degrees too, so what? George H. Smith doesn’t, not even high school, but he’s written influential books on philosophy and history.

To be consistent with reason and Objectivism means that one has to take note when someone has achieved a great achievement like Objectivism and OPAR.

Oh dear. I always find the exaggerated reverence afforded OPAR by dedicated Peikoff devotees an odd thing. You’d think it was a work of stunning quality and originality. My opinion is that where it’s good, it’s not original, and where it’s original, it’s not good. To explain my reasons for this evaluation is beyond the time I’m going to commit, but there are several notable critiques available one can seek out.

Have you read Nathaniel Branden’s The Vision of Ayn Rand? It’s a transcription of his Basic Principles of Objectivism course, given with Rand’s approval and participation from the late 50’s through 1968. If you haven’t, then you lack the background to evaluate OPAR qua intellectual achievement. It may very well be the philosophical equivalent of Peter Keating’s Cosmo-Slotnick design, for all you know.

http://www.amazon.co...5710009&sr=8-19

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Just a brief reply to someone who was wondering where I was during the "date rape" hoopla and why I didn't participate in rebuttals to LP on oo.net. The simple answer is that I did not think he was advocating date rape to begin with. I did say on Amy Peikoff's forum that I would back out if a woman changed her mind because I don't care to be accused of rape, but I was neither for LP or against LP at that point. I did agree with LP that it was a moral issue; that once a woman says Yes then she ought to follow through with it. However, my comments about his retraction were that not only did he clarify his position, but he went into a whole mini lecture on what was and what was not rape -- i.e. there are those who claim that a woman ought to give or not give specific permissions to, say, touch her left breast, and if she doesn't give explicit permission, then it is date rape; which is ridiculous. That was what I was referring to when I said that he blasted his critics even in his retraction. And as I pointed out either in Amy's forum or on FaceBook, it is not as if the man wants to cut off the woman's arm and needs explicit permission to do so -- no, he wants to do something that is pleasurable to both parties, but the feminists and the "permissions first crowd" act as if the man is trying to do harm to the woman by making advances she may not have explicitly given permission to do.

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Thomas M Miovas JR: "right to life coming before property rights "-this is true and you may not kill while protecting your property if your life is not in danger. But Dr. Peikoff never explained how a legal construction of Mosque endangers or threats anybody's life? The proposed blast of this non-existed Mosque without doubts represents the initiation of force, not retaliation. Dr Peikoff's analogy with the emergency situation is simply out of context and his suggestion that two contestants on the ownership should fight until one of them will kill another is inconsistent with the Objectivist principles of emergency ethics.

Edited by Leonid

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Are you claiming you have an education that is superior to that of your interlocutors? Your degrees could have come out of a cracker jack box, for all we know. I have degrees too, so what? George H. Smith doesn’t, not even high school, but he’s written influential books on philosophy and history.

Oh dear. I always find the exaggerated reverence afforded OPAR by dedicated Peikoff devotees an odd thing. You’d think it was a work of stunning quality and originality. My opinion is that where it’s good, it’s not original, and where it’s original, it’s not good. To explain my reasons for this evaluation is beyond the time I’m going to commit, but there are several notable critiques available one can seek out.

Have you read Nathaniel Branden’s The Vision of Ayn Rand? It’s a transcription of his Basic Principles of Objectivism course, given with Rand’s approval and participation from the late 50’s through 1968. If you haven’t, then you lack the background to evaluate OPAR qua intellectual achievement. It may very well be the philosophical equivalent of Peter Keating’s Cosmo-Slotnick design, for all you know.

http://www.amazon.co...5710009&sr=8-19

Actually, I spent a good chunk of the 90's listening to the NBI tapes from a truck traveling the country. Well that and some great stuff from Second Renaissance. I pretty much roached those tapes making the reprint wonderful since it made it easier to go through.

As for a comparison, OPAR is succinct if a little stiff where The Basic Principles of Objectivism was easier to listen (or now read) in addition to the fact it was a lecture so more details and examples were presented. That is handy when one needs to work through ideas. OPAR is a good source to quicky look up something while BPoO is better to actually learn Objectivism, the later likely do to the positive fact Ayn Rand was involved.

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We had a long and involved discussion of the NYC Mosque and the principles surrounding it in this thread (now closed), so I am not going to go into a great deal of details regarding defending LP's position. I think it is quite clear, given the facts of the case and leading up to 911, that the USA was attacked by Muslims who were acting fully and consistently with Islam and that it was an ideological stance on their part. Those who are against the prevention of the NYC Mosque do not see the battle in philosophical terms -- they tend to see it as several religious nut cases flying airplanes into buildings with no greater meaning to the acts of destruction. However, if one takes ideas seriously and realizes that the "Death to America!" slogans espoused by Iran and other Islamic nations do represent their actual philosophy and that they *mean* it -- that destroying America is a moral ideal in their philosophy -- then, yes, one has not only the moral right to prevent them from building a monument to their wanton destruction, but a moral obligation based on reason to prevent them from becoming established in this country (at least so long as the war is going on). And that they ought to be utterly destroyed insofar as they seek to establish a country or an empire based upon that ideology.

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Just a brief reply to someone who was wondering where I was during the "date rape" hoopla and why I didn't participate in rebuttals to LP on oo.net. The simple answer is that I did not think he was advocating date rape to begin with.

And what, that view wasn’t put forward here?

The point I’m making is that, it seems, you’re counting on people not taking the time to revisit issues they’ve already discussed ad nauseam. I know I’m not interested in reviewing Peikoff’s podcasts on the transgender and the NY mosque, been there done that.

it is not as if the man wants to cut off the woman's arm and needs explicit permission to do so -- no, he wants to do something that is pleasurable to both parties, but the feminists and the "permissions first crowd" act as if the man is trying to do harm to the woman by making advances she may not have explicitly given permission to do.

Yeah, non-consensual sex, it’s always a pleasure! Unbelievable.

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We had a long and involved discussion of the NYC Mosque and the principles surrounding it in this thread (now closed), so I am not going to go into a great deal of details regarding defending LP's position. I think it is quite clear, given the facts of the case and leading up to 911, that the USA was attacked by Muslims who were acting fully and consistently with Islam and that it was an ideological stance on their part. Those who are against the prevention of the NYC Mosque do not see the battle in philosophical terms -- they tend to see it as several religious nut cases flying airplanes into buildings with no greater meaning to the acts of destruction. However, if one takes ideas seriously and realizes that the "Death to America!" slogans espoused by Iran and other Islamic nations do represent their actual philosophy and that they *mean* it -- that destroying America is a moral ideal in their philosophy -- then, yes, one has not only the moral right to prevent them from building a monument to their wanton destruction, but a moral obligation based on reason to prevent them from becoming established in this country (at least so long as the war is going on). And that they ought to be utterly destroyed insofar as they seek to establish a country or an empire based upon that ideology.

Why then not to destroy each and every Mosque in the country, to ban all Muslim institutions and to make the practice of Islam Illegal? But as far as I remember Ayn Rand said that even use of retaliatory force should be under the strict supervision of objective law. She also said that one should fight bad ideas with good ideas, not with force. Force should be reserved only for retaliation. Dr. Peikoff's proposal takes the concept of preemptive strike much too far.

Edited by Leonid

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Why then not to destroy each and every Mosque in the country, to ban all Muslim institutions and to make the practice of Islam Illegal? But as far as I remember Ayn Rand said that even use of retaliatory force should be under the strict supervision of objective law. She also said that one should fight bad ideas with good ideas, not with force. Force should be reserved only for retaliation. Dr. Peikoff's proposal takes the concept of preemptive strike much too far.

First of all, it wouldn't be pre-emptive, since they attacked us first (various terrorist attacks including 911); second of all, to do it legally would require a full declaration of war against an Islamic country similar to the declaration of war against Germany and Japan during WWII. In lieu of that type of principled declaration, I don't think we can stop the spread of Islam nor stop the building of the NYC Mosque. However, by rational principles, if someone declares war on you, then yes, you can stop them in their tracks (ban any new mosques) until after they surrender and vow to never attack us again.

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First of all, it wouldn't be pre-emptive, since they attacked us first (various terrorist attacks including 911); second of all, to do it legally would require a full declaration of war against an Islamic country similar to the declaration of war against Germany and Japan during WWII. In lieu of that type of principled declaration, I don't think we can stop the spread of Islam nor stop the building of the NYC Mosque. However, by rational principles, if someone declares war on you, then yes, you can stop them in their tracks (ban any new mosques) until after they surrender and vow to never attack us again.

The people who attacked on 9/11 and the people who wanted to erect Mosque are not the same people. Objectivist cannot treat people as a group. Not every Muslim is a terrorist. But if mosque is a problem why to ban only new mosques and not all of them? If we are in war with Islam why not to make it legal? However even in the legal war not everything is permitted and justified. For example during WWII to kill Japaneses on the battlefield was a legitimate action of war. To deport all Americans of Japanese origin to the camps was a shameful action of initiation of force against peaceful community on the racial ground. It seems that Dr. Peikoff supports this particular type of action. Cannot see how it's compatible with Objectivism.

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The people who attacked on 9/11 and the people who wanted to erect Mosque are not the same people. Objectivist cannot treat people as a group. Not every Muslim is a terrorist. But if mosque is a problem why to ban only new mosques and not all of them? If we are in war with Islam why not to make it legal? However even in the legal war not everything is permitted and justified. For example during WWII to kill Japaneses on the battlefield was a legitimate action of war. To deport all Americans of Japanese origin to the camps was a shameful action of initiation of force against peaceful community on the racial ground. It seems that Dr. Peikoff supports this particular type of action. Cannot see how it's compatible with Objectivism.

There is a great thread on this issue here: NYC Mosque: Respect Property Rights

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If you haven’t, then you lack the background to evaluate OPAR qua intellectual achievement. It may very well be the philosophical equivalent of Peter Keating’s Cosmo-Slotnick design, for all you know.

Right...if I haven't listened to Brandon, then I can't possibly know if OPAR is a masterful integration or not. Where do you come up with this stuff?

And, no, I am not talking about non-consensual sex. I'm talking about the man initiating the sexual act, such as foreplay or cuddling in the appropriate context, like a date specifically engaged in to have sex with a woman one loves. As LP pointed out in his retraction podcast, one cannot say that it is rape if the man did not get specific written permission beforehand. Of course, the woman can say NO, I don't want to go any further, and the man would have to back off; but this doesn't mean that the man cannot initiate the physical contact without direct permission.

I think that Straw Man presented earlier must have been to your replies.

Edited by Thomas M. Miovas Jr.

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I'm not going to be engaging with 9th doc any longer after his insults to me presented in the form of sound bites. So do not think that I agree with him if I do not reply to his stuff.

Jeez, after I really went out of my way to keep the last one congenial!

Here’s some advice: you’ll draw much less flak if you drop the schoolmarm routine. We know you hold Peikoff in the highest esteem, full deference and all that...good for you. When you lecture people in an open forum about why they should too, you’re liable to hear the case from the opposition. And you can’t handle it. You don’t have effective answers for it.

You’re making Peikoff look bad. You’re making Objectivism look bad.

BTW how many times have you said you won’t be replying to me again? On how many threads? Hell, if it weren’t for me I bet no one would have bothered with this latest finger-wagging exercise of yours.

Edited by Ninth Doctor

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I'm not in agreement with the idea that all of Japanese decent ought to have been rounded up and thrown into camps during WWII. It was an over-reaction, and in part, came from the inability to confront the Imperialist Japanese / Shintoists on ideological grounds. Likewise, because Bush originated the idea that we have to be nice to Muslims even though Muslims attacked us and to state that "Islam means peace" when it clearly doesn't (just look at any Muslim country and their history of conflict with non-Muslims), then taking the proper course of action against specific Muslims becomes problematic. No, we cannot "round them all up" but no one has been saying that. We are talking about preventing the building of a structure that would be dedicated to Islamicism and the eventual take-over of America via Sharia Law. Ordinarily, no, the US government could not stop an ideology per se, but I would not have been against curtailing Naziism or Shintoism during WWII; and I'm not against curtailing Islamicism (Islam in its political form) during the badly identified "War on Terror." One has to be able to think long-range and in terms of fundamentals to see that Islam is a philosophy in action out to destroy the United States, and it would be proper to prevent that until they are so beaten back to the Stone Age that they never lift a finger against us again.

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That what Bush was wrong doesn't mean that Peikoff is right. I would curtail Islamism as political movement by means of ideological or philosophical warfare and by means of legal action when it's obvious that islamists act against the law of the land. But i wouldn't fight buildings. After all Islamists don't need a mosque to get together. They can do it in the halal restaurants, community clubs and even in islamic gyms and swimming pools. Should we blast all these structures as well? And if mosque represent a particular problem, why not to blast all of them and to get over with it? Is this particular mosque had been chosen not on any rational but on purely emotional basis?

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This particular Mosque would have been built specifically in reference to the atrocities of 911. Many Americans see it as an affront to the death and destruction engaged in by Muslims on 911,and even the Imam who was going to run it was saying it would be specifically built to commemorate 911 -- they claim as a memorial, since many Muslims also died. But their original name for it -- Cordoba House -- was in reference to the mosque built to commemorate the take-over of Spain by Muslims at Cordoba, Spain. So, everything taken into account, no, they cannot be permitted to raise a monument of conquest on US soil in commemoration of 911.

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Cordoba also could be a symbol of Islamic Golden Age, prosperity, flourishing of science, art, philosophy and religious tolerance. All depends on the intentions of those who want to run this mosque.

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