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lex_aver

A fair warning and four questions

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virginia, JASKN, why do you choose to focus your attention on my character, motivation, etc.? Why not answer my questions or just ignore me?

 

They may seem like assertions because they are stated so simply, but upon stewing in the ideas over time, their truth just becomes more obvious.

Or not. I don't like being preached to, so why would I read a book which doesn't argue its main points and instead just states them?

Edited by lex_aver

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For one, your questions have been answered by other posters -- perhaps more will jump in, also. For two, your character is "outshining" your questions. Also, why would anyone want to help out someone with dubious character, who is actually stating that he doesn't care about the answers, in a sense?

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For one, your questions have been answered by other posters

I have issues with these answers, like I stated in my responses.

For two, your character is "outshining" your questions. Also, why would anyone want to help out someone with dubious character, who is actually stating that he doesn't care about the answers, in a sense?

Don't wanna help? Fine, I don't mind.

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 How you approach a discussion is important, I have found this to be difficult because you threw a bunch of complicated questions out there without sharing anything about how you thought about those issues. We can't really help you understand our positions unless we understand yours first. This "Answer me and I will be the Judge" format isn't really equitable and anyone could do it to any group of people and it would be frustrating. 

 

I could easily go on a forum about something non-philisophical and do the exact same thing. I would just be ignored as a troll. 

 

So can you just take the attribute question and discuss just that.

 

Maybe you should make a new thread. Please explain what you mean in the fullest detail. 

Edited by Hairnet

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"Psychologically, the choice “to think or not” is the choice “to focus or not.” Existentially, the choice “to focus or not” is the choice “to be conscious or not.” Metaphysically, the choice “to be conscious or not” is the choice of life or death . . . ."

 

Yeah, right, no fluff at all...To clarify certain things. I'm certainly not interested in them enough to read hundreds of pages of what seems to be a sub-par assertions gallery from what I've seen in the links to the lexicon.

You'd have to read the rest of the context. If that is *all* Rand said about choice, you'd be right. But it's not all she said about choice. That quote explains Rand's viewpoint well (that's what quotes of a single line are for), but not why. I'll get back to your OP a little later though. The lexicon linked is just a quote collection after all, just as a means to see what Rand is about in terms of viewpoints. Actually, it is essentially true that focusing or not is a primary psychological concern, and I know this from my own studies of psychology. I suppose it's fluff if you don't like adjectives and anything besides dry mathematics papers, though. Really though, if you want to convince yourself *first-hand*, you have to read something. Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology is pretty short, 200 pages or so of the main stuff, and a lot is just an appendix.

 

Again, I'll get back to your OP questions later.

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Don't wanna help? Fine, I don't mind.

Yes, well, you asked. I wasn't saying I didn't want to help, just giving you a reason (...you asked...) why someone would focus on you as well as your questions -- especially considering your opening post! Come on...

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"Psychologically, the choice “to think or not” is the choice “to focus or not.” Existentially, the choice “to focus or not” is the choice “to be conscious or not.” Metaphysically, the choice “to be conscious or not” is the choice of life or death . . . ."

 

Yeah, right, no fluff at all...

 

Maybe it's just me...? But I don't find this particularly, er, "fluffy."

It seems to be drawing a deep connection between the necessity of thought (and the nature of "thought" which is to focus/"be conscious" [on/of something]) and one's real-world survival.

Perhaps there's some more compact way to put such an idea (though I wouldn't attempt it personally), but would it capture the elegance of this parallel phrasing, and retain all of the information conveyed (e.g. a comparison between the various categories of approaching this subject, such as psychology vs. metaphysics)?

Anyways, Rand didn't write bumper stickers. Her quotes aren't meant to be taken out of context and analyzed on their own, as though they each contain the totality of her meaning. But if we are looking at individual quotes, this one seems fairly rich in meaning, though again, maybe that's just me.

 

I don't like being preached to, so why would I read a book which doesn't argue its main points and instead just states them?

 

Why would you contend that Rand doesn't argue her main points without reading the works in which she does precisely that?

 

Don't wanna help? Fine, I don't mind.

 

You think those directing you to read Rand's actual writings (for the purpose of understanding her meaning, and engaging her arguments) are not being "helpful"? But that's the best answer available, and the surest help you're going to get.

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Yeah, right, no fluff at all...To clarify certain things. I'm certainly not interested in them enough to read hundreds of pages of what seems to be a sub-par assertions gallery from what I've seen in the links to the lexicon.

 

So let me get this right. You are genuinely interested in learning what Rand's position was, but you are unwilling to to read what she wrote, but you are willing to read a bunch of strangers' summaries of her philosophy?

 

If money is an issue, you can find her writings online for free. You could start here: http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ari_ayn_rand_the_objectivist_ethics

 

Or, here's a better format, and you get the whole (short) book. http://www.e-reading-lib.org/bookreader.php/137212/Rand_-_The_Virtue_of_Selfishness.pdf

 

(The Objectivist Ethics is not terribly long, maybe a chapter's length, if you are legitimately and honestly trying to understand her).

Edited by secondhander

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Oh man, I take a nap and this thing explodes in the mean time. D:

Alright, I'm going to try to keep my post from getting too scattered here, but admit I may not do so well with so many different lines of discussion going now that I'm trying to address.

First, I'd like to say that while it very well may be frustrating trying to talk to you (I don't know so well yet, I'm just skimming so far and seeing lots of stuff implying frustration), I personally don't believe you are just trolling. What I do think is likely the case though is that some years ago you got a bit ahead of yourself and were hasty to refer to yourself as an Objectivist. I don't mean any kind of put down either by saying you weren't an Objectivist though. See, I and many other people around here regard that term, "Objectivist", as something that typically takes quite a while to qualify for. Being an Objectivist requires not just liking but agreeing with the ideas in Objectivism. To agree with something, first you need to know what it is. Getting to really know all the ins and outs of this philosophy can take quite a while, just as is true with getting a high degree of familiarity with many other philosophies and other things. As a matter of fact, I don't consider myself to qualify for the term "Objectivist" still even though I've been involved with Objectivism for about seven years now. For many of us, there aren't much more than a handful or so of people who have qualified as Objectivists in our evaluation. Hell, once in a blue moon I come across people who don't consider anyone but Rand herself to have qualified for the term "Objectivist." What I and many others refer to ourselves as is "students of Objectivism" - we're not experts, though we may aspire to be perhaps. This doesn't mean though that we don't intend to live according to the tenants of Objectivism to the best of our knowledge and agreement with what we know so far. I know I intend to do so.

A common mistake though, particularly for people who are relatively recent in discovering the existence of Objectivism, is to get really inspired and enthusiastic about what they've discovered and these strong feelings wind up blinding people to the extent of ignorance that they still probably have about this stuff. In many cases this results in people fervently, though messily trying to apply Objectivism and basically they end up treating it more like dogma than anything else. These people miss out on a lot of information about what situations various rules were made to deal with and thus applicable to, what exactly various terms entail and so on and they start trying to apply things to places they aren't compatible with. (For example, somebody may hear that egoism is a good thing and altruism is bad and think that doing anything that helps somebody else is necessarily altruistic and thus bad.) The result of this is usually doing a lot of things to shoot themselves in the foot and being a condescending, pompous jerk. Sometimes it may even go as far as somebody thinking the only right things to do and way to be are exactly like some of the characters in Rand's works of fiction, down to choice of career, mannerisms, and maybe even how they look. We have a term for this in fact. A lot of us refer to it as the "I am Howard Roark phase". Many people go through this to some lesser degree though. I had a brief stint of about a month or so where I wound up being a jerk to a newly made friend when I was still really new to all of this. I still regret how I treated that person too. In my case then and in almost every other case of these things happening there is a clear trend though that the people going through this phase have read some of Rand's fiction and little or nothing of the non-fiction. 99% of the time one of two things happens after a little while: 1) Somebody gets around to learning more about what is written in the non-fiction and sees where they made incorrect assumptions 2) The newness and enthusiasm starts to cool down enough for somebody to take a step back and see that there's been a lot of stuff they've been doing that has made their life worse rather than better and then, without ever really delving into the non-fiction, they conclude Objectivism is just wrong and awful and that they don't want anything to do with it anymore.

The high commonality of option 2 among people who claim to be former Objectivists can be pretty frustrating to us here. In these cases it is a lot like somebody (intentionally or not) put up a straw man of what Objectivism is and now we're left trying to get rid of the straw man. We frequently feel like we need to keep going and removing the strawman again because it being circulated around is responsible for a lot of incorrect assumptions about those of us that do support Objectivism and a lot of unwarranted hostility toward us. I would not be surprised at all if option 2 is basically what happened to you, but feel free to correct me if I'm wrong about that. Part of what makes dealing with people who have gone down road 2 and their vision of what Objectivism is frustrating is that these people usually still aren't aware just how much more information is out there that they are missing. They may come here and make a comment or question about one or two things where they may be way off base in underlying assumptions of the question even to begin with and then expect somebody to resolve all of their questions and concerns in maybe a couple paragraphs and if that isn't what happens then they may get condescending with us and go off talking about how we just can't give satisfactory answers and are bad or stupid for not renouncing Objectivism right then and there. Sometimes somebody is willing to stick around for discussion a bit longer, but then there's an expectation of us to rewrite out in our posts pretty much the hundreds or even thousands of pages on the philosophy of Objectivism. They won't accept book recommendations and our reluctance and exhaustion with the proposition of basically writing out all the Objectivist non-fiction is taken to be reason to conclude we're just wrong. This has happened time and time again.

Now, unlike a lot of other people, I'm a bit more willing to follow this trail of posts for a while at least though. I have more time on my hands than a lot of the other people here do and, furthermore, I have personally learned a lot about Objectivism without having yet read any of the main works of non-fiction cover to cover. Again, I'm not claiming expertise, but I think my knowledge is pretty good. However, I have gradually learned a lot of this stuff over seven years now through many other sources in addition to asking people around here about things. There are a number of reliable sources of info on the non-fiction stuff available online, but they are definitely scattered around and it's like you have to roughly patch things together bit by bit this way rather than how a lot of the non-fiction books are done in a more orderly manner covering more subjects at a time and explicitly showing their connections from one conclusion to another. Basically, though it possible to get a pretty good understanding of Objectivism primarily through utilization of free online resources, it is really dang slow. Just a heads up there. Also, please do remember that just like you and everybody else, I do have a life outside this forum to attend to, so sometimes I may be slow to reply, maybe even a couple days gaps in posts once in a while. I don't intend to run off though as long as you will please try to remain civil with me just as I intend to remain civil with you.

 

Well, this kind of intro section to my post has gotten a lot longer than I expected. I think I'll end this here and get down to business of the subjects at hand in a separate post. Hopefully it doesn't end up taking long.

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sNerd, are "folk meanings" really enough? Rand was claiming to have an axiomatic system capable of justifying laissez-faire capitalism, yet people can honestly disagree on what they mean. Doesn't it concern you? Doesn't it warrant some elucidation of these basic concepts?

Enough? That cannot be answered without context: i.e. enough for what purpose? I'd reply that Rand did more than enough for her audience, but that she was addressing a lay audience. None of her books, not even "ITOE" is written for an academic audience.

Take one example. You ask about identity. The typical lay-person's implicit use of the idea is very similar to a student of philosophy: and they both act as if it is axiomatic. Take an example: a granny calls customer support to say her computer does not work. They ask her if it plugged in. It isn't. ha ha. But, that's just the intro...

A philosophy student calls customer support and they ask if the computer is plugged in. He plugs it in and he is shocked that it makes any difference! In the past, to turn on his computer, he eats a banana, or fries and egg, or puts on his trousers... ... they've all worked in the past, except that he does not think of it as "working". The absurd notion that one thing leads to another has never been shown to be true.

You get the point: every philosophy student, including you, work and act and question in a way that takes identity for granted... but, only a philosophy student continues to question the very thing he takes as implicit in his every question! Fair enough... if that interests you, have fun with it. Most people are not interested in the obvious.

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"It seems that treating attributes as predicates"

predicates? This is what Google gave me:

"Noun

The part of a sentence or clause containing a verb and stating something about the subject (e.g., went home in John went..."

Just wanted to double check there. It doesn't look like attributes can be a predicate all on their own. A verb is required too. They can be part of a predicate of course though. It doesn't look like this is very important to the point though, more like a grammar question, so I'll go on.

 

"For example, consider a sentence 'our sun is hot, and this area of lava is hot'. Are the two instances of 'hot' here referring to the same attribute?"

The sun and lava are each a unique object, separate from each other, but "hot" refers to some part of what they are that each of them has in common/similar with each other, though possibly (in this case, pretty surely) in different amounts. "Hotness" is the same in both cases here to the extent that they each meet a certain set of criteria, but they are different in that it isn't as if the sun and the lava are both utilizing the same set of some substance which we call "hotness." I don't intend to dodge further questions you've posed here, but before I try to answer some of your follow up questions to the one I quoted above, I want to see how you would interpret this. I'm not sure if you would consider this response I've given to fall under what you would consider being the same or if you'd consider it to qualify as being different or if you would consider it a valid third option.

 

As for "What is identity?" I think the reason you are finding it difficult to get the kind of answer you are looking for is because "identity" is one of the things we would call an "axiomatic concept." http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/axiomatic_concepts.html  I'd like to emphasize though that Lexicon entries are better as starting points for exploring a topic rather than being taken as entire arguments all on their own generally. The lexicon is made up of brief sections quoted from longer works and sorted by topic with the intent of being used as a quick reference just for basic info on what the position of Objectivism is on various topics. The entries leave out a lot of additional information on how these positions were come to and various things in verifying them. The Lexicon is kind of like getting a paper from somebody that says, "Hi, I'm Tom. I'm from Washington state. I'm five and a half feet tall. I think the Yankees are the best baseball team." You've got some quick info there to the effect that you can see it would be incorrect to say that Tom thinks the Red Sox are the best baseball team. You don't have, however, doctor's records about his height and a slide show demonstrating why Tom contends that the Yankees are the best. I expect to talk some more about this "axiomatic concept" thing in follow up posts, I don't expect you to see this much here alone as sufficient on its own.

 

"how could non-determinism, in principle, could have evolved? How does it fit our understanding of physics, by which process could it have been acquired, and what possible evolutionary advantage could it have provided?"

That, again, is a question that would require observation to find out for sure. I can speculate though that as far as an evolutionary advantage goes, our type of consciousness has been an advantage because we've been able to come up with many and varied solutions to lots of problems we face much more quickly than other animals. We can adapt more quickly than if we were only relying on natural selection to do things like, say, create immunity to some disease.

 

"what is the difference between the propositions 'humans are indeterministic' and 'humans have free will'?"

. . . is there a problem if they are the same? Or if one is at least a type of the other? Perhaps if you elaborated just a little bit on what you mean when you say "indeterminsitic" and "free will" I'd be better able to tell what you're getting at with this question.

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Boydstun, I apologized about that one. Thanks for the link, BTW, "free will of the gaps" is a flaw in Objectivism that I'd caught up to early :) Generally, if you claim that you've validated something through introspection, yet a lot of people don't seem to be able to do that, what does it mean? Are they stupid, damaged people? If you need a significant proportion of human beings to be stupid in order for your philosophy to work, you're doing something very, very wrong.

 

bluecherry, suppose for the sake of the argument that I've read all of Rand's works, and I still "identity" too vague. What does it say about Objectivism? What does it say about me?

Edited by lex_aver

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Yeah, right, no fluff at all...To clarify certain things. I'm certainly not interested in them enough to read hundreds of pages of what seems to be a sub-par assertions gallery from what I've seen in the links to the lexicon.

 

That's like condemning a chair because you find it uncomfortable to sit on the loose chair legs.

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"bluecherry, suppose for the sake of the argument that I've read all of Rand's works, and I still "identity" too vague. What does it say about Objectivism? What does it say about me?"

About Objectivism, I don't think it really says anything at all. About you, I think it would just say perhaps you could use some more time, examples, and discussion. After all, I'm pretty sure that if I read a calculus textbook for example that I would still not get everything in it just from that alone. I don't think that makes me stupid and I don't think you would be stupid either. I don't expect everybody to respond the same way and in the same time to much of any text. Variety, it's a big thing in people. I would think it was nice you gave reading the primary sources on this stuff a shot though. What you read would probably influence the course things would take on the subject from that point on.

 

I do wonder though, what sort of standard is it that you thus far find "identity" to be doing poorly against?

 

As for the "free will of the gaps" thing, I don't think that -- Ah, you know, one thing at a time for now. I'm going to grab some breakfast for now. :)

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> I do wonder though, what sort of standard is it that you thus far find "identity" to be doing poorly against?

 

It literally seems meaningless. Suppose I have a sentence involving "identity". For example, "Logic is consistent applicaton of law of identity without contradiction". Suppose I've chosen a logical system (like natural deduction or first-order logic), and a systematic way by which I apply it to sentences about observation, which I'll call *application rule*. By which process am I supposed to collect empirical evidence to determine if such a system of logic + application rule fits the definition "consistent application of law of identity without contradiction"? In particular, which observation would result in invalidation of such a system?

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> I do wonder though, what sort of standard is it that you thus far find "identity" to be doing poorly against?

It literally seems meaningless. ...

Your mistake is in trying to find meaning where there is no static meaning at all. it changes with day and mood and person.

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sNerd, so the meaning of a word which is an essential part of one of three axioms which Rand claims are enough for everything has arbitrary meaning? I hope I misunderstand you now, because this doesn't bode well for Objectivism at all.

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sNerd, so the meaning of a word which is an essential part of one of three axioms which Rand claims are enough for everything has arbitrary meaning? I hope I misunderstand you now, because this doesn't bode well for Objectivism at all.

Yes and no. It really never varies, but sometimes it does.

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sNerd, you do realize you're saying nonsense, right? :)

Ever see that ventriloquist act where he makes the puppet do that hand-over-the-head motion?

"VVRROOOOOOMM!!"

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sNerd, you do realize you're saying nonsense, right? :)

Thank you. It gets better with ice-cream through a looking-glass. When one tries that, then the clarity it affords is absolutely muddy. Try it: I've never seen anything so clear that one cannot see it at all. The argument that concerns the pope is not that the tail is hitched, but that it is.

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Thank you. It gets better with ice-cream through a looking-glass. When one tries that, then the clarity it affords is absolutely muddy. Try it: I've never seen anything so clear that one cannot see it at all. The argument that concerns the pope is not that the tail is hitched, but that it is.

 

Very well said, I can't agree more.

I was just reading "The Cashing-In: The Student 'Rebellion'" when I made the connection that lex_aver is probably currently studying Linguistic Analysis.

High praise to your insightfully elegant post softwareNerd.

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> I was just reading "The Cashing-In: The Student 'Rebellion'" when I made the connection that lex_aver is probably currently studying Linguistic Analysis.

 

And you're wrong :)

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