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  1. Today
  2. Thanks. I wanted to make sure we were on the same page regarding heartbeat. I think we are. In order to choose life, I think one must first become self-aware and at least implicitly grasp the concept of life. Becoming self-aware might actually be the same thing as implicitly grasping and choosing life, since you are a living organism, and you are differentiating yourself from other things in that first instance of self-awareness. And as long as you continue choosing self-awareness, you're essentially choosing life--your life.
  3. dream_weaver, Thanks for bringing that paragraph to my attention. I thought it was perverse when I read it before but didn’t analyze it in detail. Bernstein spends the bulk of his essay arguing 1. When Barney was involved in (the Church of) Scientology it was a beneficial organization and movement, and 2. Barney’s college’s are beneficial too. But Bernstein seems uncomfortable with this because he ends by saying, in effect, none of it matters. In the following, ask yourself what was bad, what harmed life – and why does Bernstein refer to it in those negative terms? “... it is more important to reward the good than it is to punish the bad. That which promotes life is vastly more important than that which harms it.” In other words: Maybe Barney is a liar and a crook, but look at the millions he’s given to ARI, TOS, etc. spreading goodness everywhere. (Including Biddle’s and Bernstein’s pockets.) Bernard Madoff and Jeffrey Epstein gave millions to charity so at the end of the day they were good men? If the charity had been ARI or TOS? Apparently Bernstein’s position is this: When judging a man and his career we are to turn a blind eye to evil and see only good (he considers ARI and TOS good). According to him this is an “uplifting principle of the Objectivist ethics.” As MisterSwig pointed out, it is no such thing. The quote from Galt’s speech provided by dream-weaver supports that it is not: “... to withhold your contempt from men's vices is an act of moral counterfeiting, and to withhold your admiration from their virtues is an act of moral embezzlement.” Rather like the pithy line attributed to Aristotle: “Justice consists in loving and hating aright.” Bernstein not only withholds his contempt from Barney’s vices, past and present, he denies the vices exist. More than that, he turns them into virtues! He loves Barney, through and through. His essay is one monumental act of injustice. Denouncing evil is the counterpart of praising good; they are two sides of the same coin of moral currency. In MisterSwig’s terms, punishing evil is part of rewarding the good and vice versa.
  4. Yesterday
  5. As I mentioned there is a definite difference between the two, but heartbeat biofeedback has been around for a many years. In the case of breath, you choose to inhale or exhale while the automatic version is also available. In the case of heartbeat, you can learn to slow or increase the speed. This is also true about body temperature. I know this because I have done this. You have to have the proper equipment that lets you know of minute variances. Keep in mind, in the case of heart beat you have an influence, you can slow and speed it up, but I don't think you can stop it by conscious will. The most useful manifestation that I have seen is controlling blood pressure ... via breathing techniques. Here is one reference, there should be many since it has been around for at least 50 years. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4104929/
  6. Do you have a reference for the idea that we can control the heartbeat like we do breathing?
  7. If evil extorts values from the good, then punishing evil is rewarding the good. It is helping restore what rightfully belongs to the good. It is justice.
  8. It looks a close reprint of George Seller First Edition artwork, for Atlas Shrugged.
  9. Was Atlas Shrugged written to glorify the train wreck in the tunnel or the destruction brought about by project X, and how the passengers or physical and mental mystics of muscle and their supporters deserved the identified outcome Ayn Rand had identified and written for them? Also, it is expressed indirectly in Galt's speech: Evil, not value, is an absence and a negation, evil is impotent and has no power but that which we let it extort from us. and that does need to be considered in conjunction with: that to withhold your contempt from men's vices is an act of moral counterfeiting, and to withhold your admiration from their virtues is an act of moral embezzlement Is an objective example to be better set by being obsessed with pursuing values, or to be perceived as being obsessed with dis-value?
  10. It sounds like rationalistic, context-dropping nonsense to me. I'd like to know where Rand presents this so-called "principle of Objectivist ethics."
  11. Bernstein makes an astute identification in this blog: One uplifting principle of the Objectivist ethics is that it is more important to reward the good than it is to punish the bad. That which promotes life is vastly more important than that which harms it. One of my favorite presentations by Bernstein, a precursor to The Capitalist Manifesto, was the no longer available set of talks on The Robber Barons. The historians managed to turn a group of value producers into villeins by failing to integrate the relevant factors.
  12. A story in the New York Post crows that "Team Trump Just Called a Halt to the Obama-Era War on American Suburbs:" Westchester County was once Barack Obama's "petri dish." Now, it's Donald Trump's. Since when should anyone's property be at the mercy of a government official? (Image by Daniel Case, via Wikimedia Commons, license.) During the Obama administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development tried to install Washington bureaucrats as the decision makers for how communities across all 50 states should grow. Using an obscure rule called Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, HUD sought to remake America's cities, towns and villages by forcing any community that was getting federal funds to meet racial quotas. To do this, HUD applied the notion of "disparate impact," which unilaterally deems housing patterns to be discriminatory if minority representation is not evenly spread across the jurisdiction. Communities with high concentrations of minorities are automatically labeled segregated. ... [A] year into the settlement, HUD demanded that the county go "beyond the four corners" of the decree and declare its basic zoning rules on things like height, density and safe drinking water as racially "exclusionary." Single-family homes on quarter-acre lots were deemed potentially "racist" -- supposedly because minority members might not be able to afford them.The good news, such as it is, is that the "Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH)" policy, which Obama implemented at the last moment of his administration, has been considerably weakened. Paul Mirengoff of the conservative Power Line blog correctly notes a problem I have noticed with other instances of Trump "finding Obama's pen" and using it -- rather than pursue a more principled and effective solution to his predecessor's abuses of power: Not really. Yes, the Trump HUD, under Secretary Ben Carson, has proposed a revision of Obama's AFFH that peels back some of the rule's most egregious overreach. However, it has the core of Obama's AFFH ... intact. That core is the federal government's power to control local zoning decisions. As long as the feds have this power, they can tell people where to live and take control of key housing, transportation, and business development decisions. They can siphon off suburban tax revenue and control suburban, as well as urban, planning. [bold added]And it is hardly lost on Mirengoff that a Democratic successor to Trump can easily restore this "overreach" and more with such an apparatus intact and waiting to be used. Speaking of an earlier claim by Hugh Hewitt that Trump had [brought] "down the hammer on the guidance-addicted bureaucrats" via a pair of executive orders, I stated: Maybe. For now, until some crafty functionary finds a new way to circumvent the law. And via an order a future President can easily overturn, anyway. ... He can't, but it isn't because he can't get the legislation he needs to remedy the problem that Trump is signing this executive order. It's because he has no fundamental problem with central planning: He didn't ask by what right the government plans our lives. There is no larger or long-range plan to rid America of this huge, long-known, and well-documented burden, of which "dark matter" is just a particularly pernicious manifestation. [bold added]So, clearly, Trump's being a fan of the government running everything (as long as it's his way) isn't just not a long-term solution to these problems, it's worse than none at all. But on top of that, Mirengoff shows us that the problem is bigger than just the man in the Oval Office: The Trump-Carson "AFFH lite" accepts the principle that it is the business of the feds to tell local governments how to zone and plan.And, as intelligent as so much of Mirengoff's commentary is, he has accepted the principle that government can and should "plan" private economic activity and tell property owners what they can and cannot do with what they own. This -- like the housing rules under discussion -- violates individual rights, as Ayn Rand in remarks about the term state's rights noted in 1963: The constitutional concept of "states' rights" pertains to the division of power between local and national authorities, and serves to protect the states from the Federal government; it does not grant to a state government an unlimited, arbitrary power over its citizens or the privilege of abrogating the citizens' individual rights.This applies equally well to counties and municipalities, and includes zoning, which should not exist at all, and whose existence sets the stage for such federal-level meddling as two administrations in a row now have adopted. Note that we haven't even gotten around to discussing the impropriety of the government stealing money and giving it away, which also continues under this cosmetic change. -- CAV Link to Original
  13. Why You Shouldn’t Be A Socialist #3 I tried to put a book review of Why You Should Be a Socialist on Amazon and met a barrier that was new to me. "We apologize but this account has not met the minimum eligibility requirements to write a review. If you would like to learn more about our eligibility requirements, please see our community guidelines." The guidelines say to post a review you must have spent at least $50 on Amazon.com in the past 12 months. I did spend more than $50 in the past 12 months. However, part was with a gift card, and my net spent was less than $50. 🙂
  14. Andrew Bernstein, long on the Objectivist scene and these days a contributing editor of Craig Biddle’s The Objective Standard, posted "A Tribute to Carl Barney" on his personal blog. A friend of Bernstein, who hates the Church of Scientology, tried to get him to take it down, to no avail. If you search on the three B’s: ... Biddle Bernstein Barney using Google you’ll find a recent review of Bernstein’s tribute. (Bing and DuckDuckGo don’t have it indexed.)
  15. This sounds right, or at least, as far as the OP is concerned, this is as far as we can go about figuring out what Rand thought about a causally determinate world (that is, "randomness" is not a characteristic she would attribute to reality) while also accepting free will. There is nothing other than yourself that causes behavior for the most part, otherwise what you do is not usually correctly attributed as behavior. Of course you can characterize the will of a single celled organism as less robust than the will of a human, and the less psychological intervention there is, the less we would call its actions "behavior". And if you remove any well from a particular action, you would just call it automatic and therefore biologically determined (i.e. the function does not require consciousness or awareness). An unconscious or nonvoluntary will is just a Freudian-like analysis. If we have wills that are distinct from our volitional will. I'm not arguing against that position necessarily, but that way of framing consciousness is not something that Rand does or is in the vicinity of the way she does philosophy.
  16. Last week
  17. Do you have the source? I'm very curious to read this claim in context. Sorry, I looked and could not find it. It caught my eye when I saw it. I will include it if I see it again. Yes, there definitely is a difference in the amount of control we have over heartbeat vs. breath. But we have some control, some say about both. To will is an action. It is an action that cannot be (or should not be) attributed to (caused by) "something other than myself". The problem is that there is "sleep walking" type actions that are automatic, yet "I did it". The struggle that I have with all this is: When is an automatic action "my automatic action" vs. "an automatic action". The reason for the focus is the attempt to discover the moment one chooses life. (or what is the nature of this choice) Is it when the heart started beating? Was it the first moment one felt pain and wanted to avoid it? Was it when one learnt about death and consciously chose to live. These are different types of choice. Some are volitional and some are automatic and some may be something not articulated like: volitionally automatic (which is a contradiction).
  18. Now isn't that explaining will in a deterministic light? I hope not. I don't like the term deterministic, because it implies materialism. By involuntarily I don't mean necessarily. It just means not voluntarily. I've never gained control over my heart beat, not what I would call voluntary control through the nervous system. So I can't say the two are related. However, like everyone else, I have limited control over my breathing. So the will is connected to that function, probably due to the development of speech which requires controlling air flow through the vocal chords. Also, while asleep, I managed to control a dream once during a lucid dreaming episode. This is an ability reported by many others. So I believe the will is involved with dreaming too, perhaps due to the development of reason which requires controlling one's thoughts. Breathing and dreaming are particularly interesting functions to study, given their unique relationships to the will. I've never sleepwalked or been hypnotized, but there's probably something to glean from those phenomena as well. It seems to me that the will is the power to control oneself, or aspects of oneself. But not every function can be directly affected by that power, and even the functions that can be affected cannot always be affected with total control or consciousness. The stage of development and state of awareness matters. Beyond that I struggle for answers and hesitate to speculate. Is an automatic action like the heart beat a function of an involuntary will? Perhaps, if you define the will as a kind of reflex. Then the will would be a typical reflex seen in lower animals and humans, and the free will would be a next-level reflex seen primarily in adult humans. Of course there is the problem that we don't seem to have the ability to control the heart beat using free will. But that's not an issue with breathing or dreaming.
  19. The "broken units" problem is an aspect of the "problem of two definitions" covered by Dr. Peikoff in lecture 3 of "Unity in Epistemology and Ethics". A 'broken unit' in the context of this thread is only possible when a concept has a two definitions, and the criteria of the second more normative or teleological definition is absent.
  20. The "broken units" problem is an aspect of the "problem of two definitions". I will make that link in the broken units thread (sorry for the epic necro). The problem of two definitions is covered by Peikoff in lecture 3 of "Unity in Ethics and Epistemology".
  21. All (biological) organisms have genes. Genetic determinism and biological determinism are synonymous. Biologic actions (like digestion) are genetically determined. However, behaviors are not genetically determined. They are genetically influenced, but not determined. There are many more factors that determine what a behavior will be in addition to genes. Strictly speaking, you can say that reflexes are behaviors, but as for anything else, genes do not determine behavior. It's not that the biological is conflated with the genetic, but that some people have a really hard time understanding how people can be biologically determined in some ways, and have free will at the same time. Either they deny that people have free will, or they deny that people operate under the same rules as other animals. Or they just accept the contradiction. Do you have the source? I'm very curious to read this claim in context.
  22. On that note, it appears I dropped the context of this part of the thread. Here is a link to the results on 'broken units' that may be more relevant.
  23. Granted, there are differing context regarding free, but to understand free will, even indicated by "choosing to think or not", one must understand the "obstacle" that some encounter. In other words, some can't choose to think? Well, why and when? Now isn't that explaining will in a deterministic light? Also, a "a will to function involuntarily" may be the key phrase to analyse. Is functioning involuntarily in fact "willing" something? Is one's heart beat a function of "will"? What is automatic and is that a willed action?
  24. It is a different context of free. The freedom to chose to think, or not. Free Will, Ayn Rand Lexicon.
  25. Tough question. I would call it freedom from impulsion, that irresistible feeling that impels me to focus or move a certain way. Once I achieve self-awareness, I become aware of this feeling and can fight its effect on me. But before self-awareness, it might be what stimulates my will to function involuntarily in a particular way.
  26. Can anyone tell me who did the covers for the centennial versions??
  27. Free will by some perspectives seems redundant in that having a "will", implies a freedom to will things, i.e. to choose. So the implication is that a "will" can also be unfree. Again by some perspectives, an unfree will, is in fact no will at all. Free to choose, implies a free will. But free from "what"? The possible oppression or obstacle is what clarifies the nature of the "freedom". So when there is free will, one is free from what? Rand may not have mentioned mental illness and its relationship to free will but I believe Branden did. As far as I can remember he did say that some childhood trauma, in fact can remove free will from a person. In the case of severe addiction to something, at some points there is no free will. For an alcoholic, after the first drink, something else takes over (at least that is the experience). This oppressor, or obstacle to sanity, makes certain choices disappear. In this case, the oppressor is a metaphor, as if there is one. But the experience and the behavior are as if an oppressor exist.
  28. No, anything genetic follows them. This is a problem with the idea of "biological determinism." It conflates the biological with the genetic.
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