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Why is O'ism against environmentalism?

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I recall that Dr. Gary Hull's lectures on the ARI site seemed to be quite against environmentalism. I am wondering why this is?

For instance, lets say someone creates a new form of fuel that is very efficient, can be used in place of oil without making any modifications to machines that use oil, and is very cost effective. This would, of course, be a dream propuct for many entreprenuers. However, this product has been scientifically shown to destroy the ozone layers at an incredibaly fast rate. In fact, it does so much damage to the atmosphere that if it was used wide-spread it would completely destroy the ozone layer in 50 years.

I know this is a totally unrealistic scenerio, but I don't see how unrealistic it is that something like this may occur (a very profitable product that would be disaterous to humanity).

I am curious, would an Objectivist then be in favor of environmentalism if a scenerio like this occured? Or would an Objectivist still consider it immoral to prevent a capitalist from pursuing wealth, even if their particular ventures would destroy the world?

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I recall that Dr. Gary Hull's lectures on the ARI site seemed to be quite against environmentalism. I am wondering why this is?

What do you mean by "environmentalism"? What is your best definition?

(For the nature of and methods of forming a definition, see "Definitions," The Ayn Rand Lexicon, pp. 117-121.)

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What do you mean by "environmentalism"? What is your best definition?

(For the nature of and methods of forming a definition, see "Definitions," The Ayn Rand Lexicon, pp. 117-121.)

I mean the classic defination of environmentalism. Did he mean something else, and just didn't specify clearly enough for me to understand?

Active participation in attempts to solve environmental pollution and resource problems.

highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0070294267/student_view0/glossary_e-l.html

An organized movement of concerned citizens and government agencies to protect and improve people's living environment.

www.prenhall.com/divisions/bp/app/armstrong/cw/glossary_6.html

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=ISO-...G=Google+Search

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my favorite example was the one presented by John Stossel. He asked a crowd of people to survey a hypothetical new type of fuel. It has the exact same energy use as gasoline, but is more dangerous, flammable, toxic, and inimical to life. He asked the crowd if they were a government board, would they approve the use of this controversial new fuel? nobody raised their hand. Stossel countered by saying that the fuel he described was real, it is natural gas, and people have been using it safely for years. He did an excellent job of demonstrating the sluggishness of government mandated programs.

getting specifically to your problem, remember that if they are violating someone's rights, such as the right to their life, then it is immoral. Just like an Objectivist would oppose a factory that dumps toxic chemicals into a drinking supply, if the hypothetical fuel really did prove to destroy the Ozone layer at such a high rate, then yes, because the Ozone layer is essential to human life.

It has to be based on rational hard scientific study. None of that Al Gore scare tactics half-science crap. The problem that occurs with enviromentalism (almost universally) is that these crooks will use pick and choose tactics to bend scientific study for their own political means. A popular one that they use is the global warming scare as evidence of man's destructive nature, while ignoring the other half of the truth, that the Earth goes through natural hot and cold periods, and man's interference with nature is negligible.

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my favorite example was the one presented by John Stossel. He asked a crowd of people to survey a hypothetical new type of fuel. It has the exact same energy use as gasoline, but is more dangerous, flammable, toxic, and inimical to life. He asked the crowd if they were a government board, would they approve the use of this controversial new fuel? nobody raised their hand. Stossel countered by saying that the fuel he described was real, it is natural gas, and people have been using it safely for years. He did an excellent job of demonstrating the sluggishness of government mandated programs.

getting specifically to your problem, remember that if they are violating someone's rights, such as the right to their life, then it is immoral. Just like an Objectivist would oppose a factory that dumps toxic chemicals into a drinking supply, if the hypothetical fuel really did prove to destroy the Ozone layer at such a high rate, then yes, because the Ozone layer is essential to human life.

It has to be based on rational hard scientific study. None of that Al Gore scare tactics half-science crap. The problem that occurs with enviromentalism (almost universally) is that these crooks will use pick and choose tactics to bend scientific study for their own political means. A popular one that they use is the global warming scare as evidence of man's destructive nature, while ignoring the other half of the truth, that the Earth goes through natural hot and cold periods, and man's interference with nature is negligible.

thank you

This is pretty much along the lines of what I was thinking. That is, that most environmentalist use scare tactics for their own motives (like my friends that are members of the green party).

The part of your post that I italicized was what I was hoping the Objectivist answer would be, as that makes perfect sense to me.

I still have many questions for Objectivism, that may be annoying to some, but I cannot completley accept a philosophy if I have any doubts about particular aspects of the philosophy. This is one more doubt cleared up. Since Dr. Gary Hull didn't specify this answer in his lecture I was under the impression that he considered any attempts at environmentalism (I am refferring to the definations I posted) as being evil. I am glad this has been cleared up.

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Never drop the context! Keep in mind that real-life situations are often complex, varied, and unique -- and fellas, keep in mind that I didn't say nuanced :(

Environmentalism can be defined as a broad range of things ranging from common sense to downright evil. Always be specific in the discussion of such ambiguous topics.

Environmentalism is typically bad because its proponents frequently claim that nature has some sort of intrinsic value; they use this assertion to springboard a bunch of junk science into the media.

Common-sense environmentalism, to me, is no different than respecting individual rights. Because things like air, water, and ozone are necessarily dynamic factors on Earth, they affect everybody -- often regardless of choice.

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I have a similiar question, that I would rather post here then start a thread on...

What is the Objectivist view on eating animals? What seperates us from other life? I am not a vegan, on the contrary, I am quite the meat eater. This is just a question that I have been curious about, as I have heard other students of Objectivism claim it is already to eat animals on the premise that they are not conscious (which I don't believe is true at all). Since we cannot either prove, or disprove that animals have a consciousness (in a similiar context as ours) would this be an arbitrary statement?

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I have a similiar question, that I would rather post here then start a thread on...

What is the Objectivist view on eating animals? What seperates us from other life? I am not a vegan, on the contrary, I am quite the meat eater. This is just a question that I have been curious about, as I have heard other students of Objectivism claim it is already to eat animals on the premise that they are not conscious (which I don't believe is true at all). Since we cannot either prove, or disprove that animals have a consciousness (in a similiar context as ours) would this be an arbitrary statement?

Rights apply to an independent volitional being.

Animals are non-volitional and are programmed with an automatic code of survival.

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reference?

What do you mean by reference? If you mean textual reference, then I recommend you the reading of "The Virtue of Selfishness"; there is an article about this.

If you mean evidence, then I say: look around you! Have you ever seen a non-human volitional animal?

I eat animals because:

1) They don't have rights;

2) Some of them have a really good taste.

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What do you mean by reference? If you mean textual reference, then I recommend you the reading of "The Virtue of Selfishness"; there is an article about this.

If you mean evidence, then I say: look around you! Have you ever seen a non-human volitional animal?

I eat animals because:

1) They don't have rights;

2) Some of them have a really good taste.

I mean reference as in proof that animals are non violational. I take philosophy as evidence, but I would prefer seeing the studies that prove this.

What makes you think humans aren't the same as other animals, but we have been able to develop an ability to communicate?

We have certain innate abilities, just as other animals do. Like an infants startle reaction, or an infant holding breath under water, and these are minor reflex actions. Crows can instinctually build tools for digging. Humans spent thousands of years to develop societies, langauge, and all the characteristics of an animal we define to have a volitional consciouness.

Look at feral children, who display characteristics of the animals they coexisted with before they came into human contact. These children are conditioned by the wilderness, and learn animal like characteristics, such as lapping water, and having no emotional control in society.

Rats can distinguish between human languages, and other animals such as monkeys can learn rather complex tasks. Look at Kohler's work on animal insight, where chimpanzees used objects in their environment to reach food that was place out of their natural reach. Are you saying that this is an instinctual ability? These chimps were programmed to stack several boxes to reach bannanas hanging off the ceiling, right?

I do have TVOS on order, but I would appreciate a synopsis of the argument.

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Here's a website that disagrees

http://www.pigeon.psy.tufts.edu/psych26/

It's research like this that puts doubt in my mind to some aspects of the Objectivist philosophy...

This seems like the work of pure instinct... <_<

"Benjamin Beck(1980) offers a fascinating story about the ingenuity of a crow which lived in his laboratory. The crow was fed dried mash, which needs to be moistened before the crow can eat it. However, the keepers occasionally forgot to do so. The crow found a solution to his keepers' absent-mindedness; he used a cup to get water to moisten the mash himself! The cup had been given to the crow as a toy but he used it to collect water from a trough on the other side of the room."

http://www.pigeon.psy.tufts.edu/psych26/tools.htm

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I mean the classic defination of environmentalism.

Watch out for "classic definitions." They are often anti-conceptual; meant to obscure the truth rather than reveal it.

Environmentalism is a movement largely run by people who do not seek to improve man's environment for his well being. Instead, they are nature-worshiping nihilists who see "the environment" as a deity and seek to advance it (as if an abstract like that had goals). Their consistant goal is the destruction of man and his happiness, which they see as being at odds with "nature."

Rand and others wrote on this topic, and the best article for you to read is in The new left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution.

Also try http://www.earth4man.com

That site is, from what I can tell, based on that article.

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I mean the classic defination of environmentalism. Did he mean something else, and just didn't specify clearly enough for me to understand?

Active participation in attempts to solve environmental pollution and resource problems.

highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0070294267/student_view0/glossary_e-l.html

An organized movement of concerned citizens and government agencies to protect and improve people's living environment.

www.prenhall.com/divisions/bp/app/armstrong/cw/glossary_6.html

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=ISO-...G=Google+Search

[boldface added]

I have no idea what you mean by "the classic defination [sic] of environmentalism." What is that definition? Please do not quote listings of dictionary usages. Dictionaries generally don't define terms/ideas, but merely record a range of usages.

Which of the two "definitions" above are you using? They are different.

Have you studied how to form definitions? Are you familiar with the ideas of genus and differentia? Are you familiar with the ideas of essentialization and essential distiguishing characteristics? If not, here is a tremendous opportunity to learn something about the most important and revolutionary part of Ayn Rand's philosophy, her epistemology, specifically her theory of concepts.

My rough, tentative, and shortest definition of environmentalism would be this: A religion of the worship of nature. A somewhat expanded, but still essentialized definition would be: A religion whose ontology is one-world (with Gaia, the Earth Goddess, as the supreme deity); whose epistemology is intrinsicist; whose ethics is setting nature as the highest value; and whose politics is using aggression to subordinate peaceful and honest human activities to nature (Gaia).

You seem to use the term "environmentalism" as a name for rational land management by its owners. That would be a neologism -- in this case, creating a new term for an alreay suitable phrase.

Environmentalism -- in essentials -- is a religion, and an evil one, potentially far more destructive than Islamic fundamentalism. Does this meaning match Dr. Hull's in the lecture? I would be very surprised if it didn't.

Edited by BurgessLau

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Rights apply to an independent volitional being.

Animals are non-volitional and are programmed with an automatic code of survival.

You forgot to mention the one essential, distinguishing characteristic of man--the attribute that distinguishes him from all other living beings--and with that omission ironworks soundlab was all too easily able to cast doubt on Objectivism:

REASON

That ironworks soundlabs had to ask what differentiates man from animals reveals how little he knows of Objectivism, so I would suggest that he immediately read up on some essential primers before seriously doubting any aspect of it.

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I mean the classic defination of environmentalism. Did he mean something else, and just didn't specify clearly enough for me to understand?

Active participation in attempts to solve environmental pollution and resource problems.

highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0070294267/student_view0/glossary_e-l.html

An organized movement of concerned citizens and government agencies to protect and improve people's living environment.

www.prenhall.com/divisions/bp/app/armstrong/cw/glossary_6.html

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=ISO-...G=Google+Search

[boldface added]

I have no idea what you mean by "the classic defination [sic] of environmentalism." What is that definition? Please do not quote listings of dictionary usages. Dictionaries generally don't define terms/ideas, but merely record a range of usages.

Which of the two "definitions" you gave are you using? They are different.

Have you studied how to form definitions? Are you familiar with the ideas of genus and differentia? Are you familiar with the ideas of essentialization and essential distiguishing characteristics? If not, here is a tremendous opportunity to learn something about the most important and revolutionary part of Ayn Rand's philosophy, her epistemology, specifically her theory of concepts.

My own familiarity with her theory is very limited. I welcome correction.

My rough, tentative, and shortest definition of environmentalism would be this: A religion of the worship of nature. A somewhat expanded, but still essentialized definition would be: A religion whose ontology is a polytheistic one-world (with Gaia, the Earth Goddess, as the supreme deity); whose epistemology is intrinsicist; whose ethics is setting nature as the highest value; and whose politics is using aggression to subordinate peaceful and honest human activities to nature (Gaia).

You seem to use the term "environmentalism" as a name for rational land management by its owners. That would be a neologism.

Environmentalism -- in essentials -- is a religion, and an evil one, potentially far more destructive than Islamic fundamentalism. Does this meaning match Dr. Hull's? I would be very surprised if it didn't.

Edited by BurgessLau

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You forgot to mention the one essential, distinguishing characteristic of man--the attribute that distinguishes him from all other living beings--and with that omission ironworks soundlab was all too easily able to cast doubt on Objectivism:

REASON

That ironworks soundlabs had to ask what differentiates man from animals reveals how little he knows of Objectivism, so I would suggest that he immediately read up on some essential primers before seriously doubting any aspect of it.

Did you even refer to any of the links I posted?

I do not believe animals have no ability to reason. I would consider quite ignorant to think that animals cannot reason, not even slightly. They might not be able to perform learned complex tasks, such as the numerous ones humans can.

Please prove to me that animals have no ability to reason

and don't let your halo choke you...

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[boldface added]

I have no idea what you mean by "the classic defination [sic] of environmentalism." What is that definition? Please do not quote listings of dictionary usages. Dictionaries generally don't define terms/ideas, but merely record a range of usages.

Which of the two "definitions" you gave are you using? They are different.

Have you studied how to form definitions? Are you familiar with the ideas of genus and differentia? Are you familiar with the idea of essentialization and essential distiguishing characteristics? If not, here is a tremendous opportunity to learn something about the most important and revolutionary part of Ayn Rand's philosophy, her epistemology, specifically her theory of concepts.

My own familiarity with her theory is very limited. I welcome correction.

My rough, tentative, and shortest definition of environmentalism would be this: A religion of the worship of nature. A somewhat expanded, but still essentialized definition would be: A religion whose ontology is one-world (with Gaia, the Earth Goddess, as the supreme deity); whose epistemology is intrinsicist; whose ethics is setting nature as the highest value; and whose politics is using aggression to subordinate peaceful and honest human activities to nature (Gaia).

You seem to use the term "environmentalism" as a name for rational land management by its owners. That would be a neologism.

Environmentalism -- in essentials -- is a religion, and an evil one, potentially far more destructive than Islamic fundamentalism. Does this meaning match Dr. Hull's? I would be very surprised if it didn't.

Gary Hull didn't give a very clear answer of what his specific meaning, but this clears it up quite nicely for me.

I have not studied how to form definations, and untill now I didn't think there was a science behind it. I generally look in the dictionary, and use the defination provided to answer my question. Unless the word has several possible uses, in which case I would pick the defination that has the strongest relationship to whatever question I am asking.

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I mean reference as in proof that animals are non violational. I take philosophy as evidence, but I would prefer seeing the studies that prove this. 

Here is what I mean by volition: The ability to consciously and deliberately choose between the available courses of action.

Let us take the example of the choice of life. Can you say that animals can choose between life and death?

They cannot because they are programmed by nature to do all that is necessary for their survival.

Therefore the claim that animals have volition is not true.

Humans on the other hand have no automatic code of survival. Humans have the ability to consciously make a choice on all decisions even on life and death. That is why human beings have volition.

What makes you think humans aren't the same as other animals, but we have been able to develop an ability to communicate?

See above

We have certain innate abilities, just as other animals do. Like an infants startle reaction, or an infant holding breath under water, and these are minor reflex actions. Crows can instinctually build tools for digging. Humans spent thousands of years to develop societies, langauge, and all the characteristics of an animal we define to have a volitional consciouness.

Of course we have some innate abilities. The point is that when we become aware of our surroundings, we have the ability to choose whether or not to exercise the abilities (leaving out the reflex actions like startling). For example, an adult can choose to not hold his breath under water.

Look at feral children, who display characteristics of the animals they coexisted with before they came into human contact. These children are conditioned by the wilderness, and learn animal like characteristics, such as lapping water, and having no emotional control in society.

Human beings are not born with volition. An infant cannot choose between life and death. He will always choose life.

However they have the ability to acquire it through association with other human beings.

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http://msnbc.msn.com/id/6808288/

Rats can learn to distinguish between human langauges.

I can pull up several examples of animals reasoning in similiar ways as humans, that is, creating cognitive maps and formulating answers to predicatments. Granted some of these maps may be hardwired into their brains, but I highly doubt apes learning sign language, or rats distinguishing between langauges as being innate functions.

I can't see how one could say animals cannot reason at all. "Because Ayn Rand says so," will not convince me either.

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Did you even refer to any of the links I posted?

I do not believe animals have no ability to reason. I would consider quite ignorant to think that animals cannot reason, not even slightly. They might not be able to perform learned complex tasks, such as the numerous ones humans can.

Please prove to me that animals have no ability to reason

Don't let your halo choke you

Do you know what is "reason", in Objectivism?

No, it's NOT the ability "to learn to perform a task". If you think so, then my suggestion stands: read the basics of Objectivism.

No, I don't have to prove that animals don't have the ability to integrate into concepts the perceptual data provided by their senses, and then combine such concepts into propositions and sequences of propositions forming strings of logical thoughts.

You do.

And I don't believe insults are acceptable according to the forum rules:

"(2) This forum will not tolerate personal insults or other posts devoid of intellectual content. Examples of personal insults include sarcastic comments and accusations of irrationality or immorality. If you disagree with another poster, attack the argument, not the poster. If you think that a poster is behaving in an irrational or immoral manner, contact the moderators. Likewise, all posts must add to the discussion rather than merely express agreement or disagreement without explaining the writer's reasons."

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I have not studied how to form definations, and untill now I didn't think there was a science behind it. I generally look in the dictionary, and use the defination provided to answer my question. Unless the word has several possible uses, in which case I would pick the defination that has the strongest relationship to whatever question I am asking.

I'd wager that half of the discourse on this entire forum revolves around the way stuff is defined. Clear definition is fundamentally, hugely, incredibly important -- it is the aspect of the discussion which references the basic axiom of identity.

I'm not speaking of definition in the lexicographic sense -- it's a deeper, more influential kind of definition. Burgess put it quite well when he made the distinction between real philosophical definition, and simple common word usage. The dictionary is frequently inadequate when discussing things to such depth as is seen on this forum.

I used to gloss over definition and identity in my head until it hit me one day -- I can't really describe it, other than to say it "clicked" -- and I finally grasped fully the concept of true definition. If this all seems stupid to you right now, I guarantee that with further study, it will become more clear.

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Here is what I mean by volition: The ability to consciously and deliberately choose between the available courses of action.
If a chimp is placed in a room with numerous objects scattered throughout the room, and food hanging from the ceiling, which is out of his reach, how will he get the food? He will have to select items to stack, and build a structure to reach the food. How many combination could potentially arise for reaching the food if there are 4 boxes, 2 barrells, 2 sticks, and a trampoline? Are you going to tell me, and yourself, that the animal only has one choice of action that they may select? Please read Kohler's studies on this before you get back to me.

Let us take the example of the choice of life. Can you say that animals can choose between life and death?

They cannot because they are programmed by nature to do all that is necessary for their survival.

Animals are programmed by nature, and their environment to do what is needed for survival. Does a dog naturally know not to shit on the carpet, or are they conditioned through some form of reinforcement not to do so? Is it necessary for the survival of a cat to be trained to relieve themselves in the toilet?

As for the first part of your question, I cannot think of an example of animals committing suicide, but I would venture to say that before humans had formed society, and before humans started putting together tools, we operated under the same conditions as other animals. I should ask the question then: Did humans always wear clothes, use tools, and perform the complex tasks today? Or was this all the product of passing down knowledge from one generation to the next, much like an adult chimp teaching a young chimp how to use tools? Luckily for humans we had help by creating language that allowed us to pass knowledge back an forth between large communities of humans.

Therefore the claim that animals have volition is not true.

I still don't buy it. I still believe it is safer to say that animals do have voliton, just not in the same context as humans.

Humans on the other hand have no automatic code of survival. Humans have the ability to consciously make a choice on all decisions even on life and death. That is why human beings have volition.

See above

Of course we have some innate abilities. The point is that when we become aware of our surroundings, we have the ability to choose whether or not to exercise the abilities (leaving out the reflex actions like startling). For example, an adult can choose to not hold his breath under water.

Human beings are not born with volition. An infant cannot choose between life and death. He will always choose life.

However they have the ability to acquire it through association with other human beings.

I have yet to find any studies that show that animals and humans learn differently. Through what I have learned so far in life, I see language, and society as being the two key aspects that have seperated humans from animals. I see this as being the reason we have spent thousands of years developing an ability to learn by developing the most complex cognitive maps out of any animal.

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Do you know what is "reason", in Objectivism?

No, it's NOT the ability "to learn to perform a task".  If you think so, then my suggestion stands: read the basics of Objectivism.

No, I don't have to prove that animals don't have the ability to integrate into concepts the perceptual data provided by their senses, and then combine such concepts into propositions and sequences of propositions forming strings of logical thoughts.

You do.

And I don't believe insults are acceptable according to the forum rules:

"(2) This forum will not tolerate personal insults or other posts devoid of intellectual content. Examples of personal insults include sarcastic comments and accusations of irrationality or immorality. If you disagree with another poster, attack the argument, not the poster. If you think that a poster is behaving in an irrational or immoral manner, contact the moderators. Likewise, all posts must add to the discussion rather than merely express agreement or disagreement without explaining the writer's reasons."

I have not insulted anyone, and I apologize if you take those words as insults.

"don't let your halo choke you" is a figure of speech, I generally use with Christians, but does apply to anyone who thinks their beliefs are so righteous that anytime they encounter contradictory evidence they polarize their beliefs, instead of accepting new information.

I still stand by my own conclusion for why animals reason in a different context than humans. The whole point of my argument was to find out why Objectivism claims it is okay to treat animals in any manner. We learn the same, and I have yet to see a certain connection scientifically that shows we are born with a specific biological condition that seperates us from animals and allows us to reason differently. We can, however, express ourselves much better and can perform tasks I don't feel like being reduntant, so reread my other posts.

Stacking several objects together, or creating sequences of sign language, or performing simple addition/subtraction tasks all fit the definations I have found of reason. These are all faculties of reason.

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If this all seems stupid to you right now, I guarantee that with further study, it will become more clear.

Hence the reason I am here, asking questions, and arguing them. If my conclusions seem stupid, oh well, I am operating on what 22 years of acquiring knowledge has created for me, which may be right or wrong.

If something doesn't make sense to me, or doesn't fit into what I see is logically sound I am not going to accept it as truth. Once I can say without reasonable doubt I am wrong, I accept that I was wrong and integrate the new information into my belief system.

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