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  1. 3 points
    Adrian, I'm re-reading Atlas Shrugged for the third time, 10 years since my previous reading. I found that she repeats the same point a lot upon my first reading, and perhaps the second reading, but I don't find it anymore. The repeating is necessary, to make it more convincing and dramatic. To stress the importance of the point. You know, the principle that altruism is evil can be summarized in one sentence, but it's the role of fiction to put the principle in as many concrete terms as possible, making the reader to discover it for himself. It's the principle of "show, don't tell." By the way, do you find "War and Peace" as repeating the same point many times? Rereading Atlas Shrugged for the third time, I'm dumbfounded by this book. It's remarkable on so many levels. For one, it is cross genre, it defines categorization. Is it a science fiction, a romance novel, a detective story, a self-help book, a philosophical treatise, a political satire, a prophecy, an action adventure, a poetic hymn (like the Greek myths)? Second, many books are spoiled if you know the ending, or if you know the hidden secret. But, this book reveals a secondary meaning and depth only if you know what's coming at the end. You say that the dialog is not as developed: the dialog is ingenious because every sentence is first understood as metaphorical, while on a repeated reading (once you know the secret), it's read as literal! She hid things in plain sight.
  2. 2 points
    Of course some Objectivists, choose to be activists for the philosophy, but that in no way means the philosophy itself IS activist, and people interested in the philosophy should not think that it is. In considering Objectivism as a whole, I am confronted with distractions... not in the form of ideas, but in the form of personalities, of movements, of factions... and yes, a little bit of activism. Rather than looking outward and inward to my center.. I find myself sliding my eyes sideways at metaphorical others... whose presences, in the realm of my engagement with ideas, are inappropriate and unwelcome. As time goes by, I become more keenly aware that to my mind, philosophy is not FOR society even though the act of instituting a correct political system IS for society AND such is contingent upon the political philosophy of the individuals instituting it, philosophy (even political philosophy) pertains to knowledge which, although referring to things like societies, in the end is something only attributable to an individual's brain and wholly dependent upon self-responsibility to properly attain. [I realize colloquially, recorded information societies have collected are referred to as knowledge... but no collective brain contains a dusty room in which those old pages are kept... and I am not using the term knowledge in this loose sense] I see many persons, institutes, and even Rand herself at times, was activist in the sense that there is an urgency to share which is a direct reaction to the state of others' actual or perceived ignorance. There is a sense of a battle, as Leonard Peikoff put it, between Aristotle and Plato. This desire to correct, to fix minds out there, runs through it all ... and this was no different in myself. But early on I began to feel it was wrong, and I gravitated toward the idea (emphasized also in Objectivism) that philosophy serves the individual who choses life... and that it is essential to have the correct philosophy to understand reality and act in furtherance of one's life. Life is not about preaching to others... no matter how much I wish the others did not think or feel as they do. Somehow, with the ever increasing insanity in the world, I am seeing SO much more clearly that philosophy is a deeply personal thing, and I find myself wishing for an Objectivist writer who could take the reader on a journey through ideas which is focused on the positive substance thereof rather than the negative absences or flaws in other schools of thought. One who focuses overwhelmingly on what Objectivism IS rather than what it is not, and one who shows what is correct while relying very little on differentiating it from what is wrong. One who does, by way of the occasional warning, point out pitfalls of wrong thinking but shrugs them off, one who warns of vice throughout the world but with a feeling that "it only goes so deep". One who makes the reader really feel the sanctity of one's own life as paramount, and any desire to influence or persuade others as not even secondary but only remotely moderately important. [Ironically, such a writer, insofar as they perfectly hold philosophy as primarily personal, might only be interested in studying philosophy and accordingly have no motivation to write about it at all.] A reader with such a sense of the sanctity of one's own life, would have no desire to convince anyone else of anything... would not flinch at the utterance of even the most absurd of irrationalities, certainly not out of any insecurity or fear of any mismatch with others' ideas. Of course, as with all things, philosophy is a subject which one wishes to share with others he values and cherishes, and to the extent of that intimacy, it is natural to wish to have that play and engagement with something common to both. But the idea that one needs to have common ideas with people generally in society is not tenable, and probably never has been. My sports friends need not like the same music I do, nor my concert going friends like the same visual art I do... and if they say something as ridiculous as I hear in the fake news, on youtube, or the Twitverse, it should affect me no more than a 4 year old calling me a "poopy head"... I'll smile and redirect the interaction... "oh really... say, you like icecream don't you?"... "ha... hey that reminds me .. do you still like that quarterback playing for..." "thanks for sharing... hey, what do you think of the edge control used in the shadows of this portrait... isn't it sublime?"
  3. 2 points
    SR, There are concrete things that can only be identified by abstract thought. An example would be an electron or the magnetic field it generates if the electron is moving. An attribute such as the electron’s electric charge or it ability to produce a magnetic field are attributes. I suggest that faculties are just functional attributes. Functional items arise only in a biological setting. The mental is only within the biological. Those are positions of Rand (me too). As you know, in the ITOE, Rand called out a category of primary existents which she titled entities. Here other basic ontological categories called out there were actions, attributes, and relationships. In your quotation, she is saying that consciousness is an attribute, not an entity. By “certain sort of entity” she would mean certain animals. The attribute consciousness is a functional attribute, and such would seem reasonable to call faculties, continuous of a philosophic tradition of speaking of mental faculties. Faculties are powers, I’d say. If we spoke of the faculty of walking, we would not mean anything but the ability or power to walk. I imagine it’s just traditions of talking to typically say ability to walk or faculty of thought. It would be natural within Rand’s metaphysics, I’d say, to take primacy of existence to consciousness to be statement about a relationship. All of Rand’s fundamental categories—entity, action, attribute, and relationship—are existents. The latter three, as you know, are dependent on the first one, the primary form of existent. Rand took the solar system to be an entity. The biological consciousness-system could be an entity, and this is natural to call mind. It can be an entity set within a larger entity, just as the solar system. But mind is a functional system set within a larger array of functions of the animal. A self is that mind. Consciousness is sometimes not awareness of an awareness. It is just awareness of things not itself sometimes and most fundamentally. Some animals could have consciousness-selves without awareness of their consciousness-selves, I think. The question of how one identifies what constitutes one’s mind is something I’ll have to leave. For the answer, I’d look both to modern developmental cognitive psychology and to history of philosophy on the constitution of the mind: the Greeks, Arabs/Scholastics, early Moderns, right on through philosophers to now. Big project, that one! I think it is right to see consciousness as action, as attribute, or as to relationships. These fundamental categories do not have the exclusivity had by Aristotle’s categories. The can all be true characterizations of a thing, appropriate in different contexts of consideration.
  4. 2 points
    Might seem off topic, at first. I was reminded last night catching a glimpse of the film I'd seen before, The Pursuit of HappYness. I don't know how it slipped through the movie moguls' attention, but here's a rare movie that encapsulates America. I.e. A black man who is not a victim. In this fortuitous passage I watched, the character played by Will Smith, despondently muses to himself after a particularly trying day coping with his little boy (heroic, too) and two jobs: WHY did Thomas Jefferson come up with "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness"? Did he know that it was only to be "a pursuit", never achieved? (Roughly). He by dint of energy, values and application eventually realizes his ambitions (based on true life story of a man who built up his own insurance company). I first considered, now here's a man who could never tolerate a Jefferson statue be torn down. And, "freedom"? that's what you make for yourself. Wherever there is no "systemic" restriction put upon you, in a free nation. Irrespective of past injustices. Very smart topic, this, and extremely incisive responses made; beginning from an innocuous product it touches all bases of present 'Social Metaphysics' experienced in every country.
  5. 2 points
    "The famous image of Aunt Jemima was based on the real image of Nancy Green, who was known as a magnificent cook, an attractive woman of outgoing nature and friendly personality, an original painting of which sold for $9,030 at MastroNet. The painting was rendered by A. B. Frost, who is now well known as one of the great illustrators of the Golden Age of American Illustration.[13]" This quote is from the Wikipedia article covering the life of Nancy Green, the original celebrity personality representing the soon to be discontinued brand, known as, Aunt Jemima. I hope there is common ground among the other contributors to this thread regarding the nature of the decision of the Quaker Oats company. Their decision is a meaningless gesture pandering to the Social Justice Warriors, who will, no doubt, glow with pride for their valiant campaign to retire poor Aunt Jemima. Quaker Oats can breathe easier now. But, I can't truly cooperate with any sort of boycott of Quaker Oats products, as I can't remember the last time I've purchased any. Pancakes and syrup are a little too rich for my breakfast diet. This has all been somewhat educational; I was unfamiliar with the story of Nancy Green, until yesterday. I have been aware of the very controversial "mammy stereotype," or archetype, which every you prefer. According to the available resources, Nancy Green made a success from her personality, as well as her apparent abundance of other virtues. Whether or not one might approve of her persona, it served her well, as it served the needs of industry marketing of a fine product. She was born a slave, but she chose to be the person she became, with the help of free enterprise. She was not forced to cook pancakes; she was a free woman. I don't know how much money she made, but she didn't die in poverty, as far too many other African-Americans of her generation did. I think it would be reasonable to promote awareness of her life story, as well as other early-twentieth century African-American celebrities and entrepreneurs. Regardless of the means of her success, Nancy Green deserves some credit for not only achieving the American dream, but for her efforts in promoting the dream to others. I stand by my position that it seems pathetic, silly, and wasteful to try to persuade others to believe in the heinous nature of a harmless logo. The heinous nature of racism will never be properly understood, when SJWs waste their 15 minutes of fame trying to harpoon red herrings such, "plausible" racism found in marketing logos. How will the conversation be taken seriously as this goes on? The mammy-image of Aunt Jemima had been revised for years, but some people will take offense at anything. You can remove the image of every human, anthropomorphic animal, vegetable and/or extraterrestrial alien from children's cereal boxes, and it won't make a damn bit of difference in progress toward changing the justice system. If you'll indulge me a slippery-slope argument, we may all be satisfied, if not thrilled, when the food products available arrive in plain beige containers, marked, Brands X, Y, and Z, after all mascots have been deemed unlawful. And the only place you'll find a representational image of slave-holder George Washington will be the statue on display in Trafalgar Square. And that's about all I have to say about that. Eioul, go ahead and pick all of the nits from my statement you want until your heart's content.
  6. 2 points
    This is all part of the cleaning up of past history as if it never existed. A statue offends one or only a minority of individuals in one group, tear it down. An innocent image on a box by another, the same. This has a little to do with people not wanting to offend some others too delicate to handle reality, but mostly to do with mind control for political power. You can hardly blame a company's flip-flop marketing strategy, their profits are at the mercy of activists' mass action. On the broad front, all capitalist enterprise can end up 'owned' by the people. Marxism wins without a shot fired. We, the people, deserve what we get when we perceive symbols as reality and substitute feelings for free minds. How far men sink into apologism for their very existence is yet to be seen.
  7. 2 points
    I do not equate philosophy for living, and living one’s life with anything like political activism. Life requires knowledge and a philosophy, so having “skin in the game” is to take it seriously and to live by it. You only have one life and it’s yours to live. Some “activists” of a quite different political flavor from myself feel quite strongly that “real life” is lived in the political sphere... the body politic, society as a collective endeavour... and hence participating in life is measured by them by how loudly one shouts and how many likes one receives. These activists of course define and identify themselves not as individuals but literally as parts or units of groups. On the contrary, I tend to see the choice to live life and the philosophy by which one lives it, as much more profoundly and intimately personal and individual than anything those “activists” could even imagine. I dare say, a private individual life well lived in accordance with proper knowledge i.e. correct philosophy, has more real skin in the game than any activist could hope to have. Of course their whole goal is to change others and change the world, but they are oblivious to the fact that they are so focused on everyone else’s lives that they are bystanders of their own lives. I think most Objectivists have skin in their game, in the reality of their own lives, and I also happen to think most Objectivists are not Activists, nor do they believe in Activism.
  8. 2 points
    Returning to the initial question, I’m going to say “No, it would not be helpful”. It would be helpful to clearly articulate a real problem which in principle could be solved, but that has nothing to do with BLM. The problem is not that Richard Spencer has his ideas, and the propagation of his ideas cause some other problem. The problem that BLM is addressing is the “rampant and deliberate violence inflicted on us by the state” (their words). As they say, “Our intention from the very beginning was to connect Black people from all over the world who have a shared desire for justice to act together in their communities”. Given these fundamentals as a raison d’être, there is no reasonable connection between their purpose, and intellectual engagement over wingnut ideas about race. You do not need to inform Blacks that Spencer is intellectually wrong: that is experientially self-evident. BLM is at its core an anti-intellectual “progressive” ideological movement, which has become the quasi-official spokesperson controlling discussion of a broader issue. Their success as a movement is, very simply, that they connected emotional reactions to poorly-understood problems in race relations in the US with an ideology that most people don’t bother to analyze, using a slogan as the glue.
  9. 1 point
    SL, Poetically said, I think the poetic manner is a singular way to condense and express this unbelievable totality of life and one's life's existence. There are wonders here, how this animal made of star-stuff could become consciously rational and aware of its consciousness which ~almost~ seem mythological or religious. "Lest we be mythologizing ourselves" - of the species and of the individual being, I don't know of how one cannot. Obviously, without the supernaturalism. That autonomous "I" unique to you was who could observe, will to think those things, question them and marvel. This recalls, I like that old "You are a child of the universe: no less than the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here". We are "right" to be here and right for "here", without any intention of the Universe. And another, from that song: "I sing the Body Electric ... I toast to my own reunion, when I become one with the Sun".
  10. 1 point
    Those who study the works of Ayn Rand will sooner or later become familiar with the idea of unit-economy, that is, of concepts enabling man's mind to increase its awareness of the world far beyond what it would be able to juggle at the perceptual level. Regarding the latter, Rand spoke of the "crow epistemology," a limitation in our ability to function at the perceptual level. Her student, Leonard Peikoff, puts it this way: Image by Jesse van Vliet, via Unsplash, license. This experiment illustrates a principle applicable to man's mind as well. Man too can deal with only a limited number of units. On the perceptual level, human beings are better than crows; we can distinguish and retain six or eight objects at a time, say -- speaking perceptually, i.e., assuming we see or hear the objects but do not count them. But there is a limit for us, too. After a certain figure -- when the objects approach a dozen, to say nothing of hundreds or thousands -- we too are unable to keep track and collapse into the crow's indeterminate "many." Our mental screen, so to speak, is limited; it can contain at any one time only so many data. Consciousness, any consciousness, is finite. A is A. Only a limited number of units can be discriminated from one another and held in the focus of awareness at a given time. Beyond this number, the content becomes an unretainable, indeterminate blur or spread, like this: ///////////////////////// For a consciousness to extend its grasp beyond a mere handful of concretes, therefore -- for it to be able to deal with an enormous totality, like all tables, or all men, or the universe as a whole -- one capacity is indispensable. It must have the capacity to compress its content, i.e., to economize the units required to convey that content. This is the basic function of concepts. Their function, in Ayn Rand's words, is "to reduce a vast amount of information to a minimal number of units ...." [bold added] (Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, by Leonard Peikoff, p. 106)The above is easy enough to grasp with low-level concepts, such as table or chair or human being, but we can (and do) also abstract further from concepts (correctly formed or not):You have no choice about the necessity to integrate your observations, your experiences, your knowledge into abstract ideas, i.e., into principles. Your only choice is whether these principles are true or false, whether they represent your conscious, rational convictions -- or a grab-bag of notions snatched at random, whose sources, validity, context and consequences you do not know, notions which, more often than not, you would drop like a hot potato if you knew... You might say, as many people do, that it is not easy always to act on abstract principles. No, it is not easy. But how much harder is it, to have to act on them without knowing what they are? [bold added]Having briefly thought about how we form and why we need abstract ideas, it is a worthwhile exercise to consider the ideas of government in general (and police in particular) in light of recent events. Let's start with Ayn Rand's pithy, principled summary of what we saw in Seattle, which she foresaw decades ago:Anarchy, as a political concept, is a naive floating abstraction: ... a society without an organized government would be at the mercy of the first criminal who came along and who would precipitate it into the chaos of gang warfare. But the possibility of human immorality is not the only objection to anarchy: even a society whose every member were fully rational and faultlessly moral, could not function in a state of anarchy; it is the need of objective laws and of an arbiter for honest disagreements among men that necessitates the establishment of a government.[bold added]And now, let's hear an update on the very predictable results of our most recent experiment with anarchy, as told by a couple of journalists:[O]nce they created a police-free zone, they immediately had to deal with all those issues and more -- with only the donated time and supplies of fellow protesters, who still had day jobs. With police absent from the 6-square-block area, the experiment spun out of control, with accusations that it ended up causing exactly what it had aimed to stop: more violence against Black people. [bold added]If anarchism -- like socialism -- fails every time it is tried, why do people keep trying it? Because neither their proponents nor, frequently their would-be opponents -- who should have an advantage in any debate -- really know what government is or what it is for. And that is because they have failed to form valid principles for understanding how a society must be organized to be successful. (In addition, opponents who are absolutely correct may fail at persuasion for a variety of reasons.) It is worthwhile to consider this in light of something else Rand said about concepts:The formation of a concept provides man with the means of identifying, not only the concretes he has observed, but all the concretes of that kind which he may encounter in the future. Thus, when he has formed or grasped the concept "man," he does not have to regard every man he meets thereafter as a new phenomenon to be studied from scratch: he identifies him as "man" and applies to him the knowledge he has acquired about man (which leaves him free to study the particular, individual characteristics of the newcomer, i.e., the individual measurements within the categories established by the concept "man"). [italics in original, bold added](Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, by Ayn Rand, pp. 27-28)It is the same with concepts like society and government: Many people do not have these things properly conceptualized, and so do "study" such phenomena from scratch, essentially by trial-and-error. And so, where concepts would save an individual's mental capacity, they could also save an individual or a whole society time. (And, in this case, unnecessary bloodshed.) Rather than go straight to "tear down the system" (or "defund the police," whatever that's supposed to mean), a proper approach would be to consider what "the system" actually is, what part(s) of it we need and why, and how to reach what we need. Even in a case where a system needs tearing down, doing so is worthless without already having a positive alternative in mind. "History repeats itself," need not be a pronouncement of doom. It is only a description of what happens when, out of ignorance or poor thinking, individuals attempt to solve universal problems without recourse to universals. Our society needn't reinvent or rediscover the police or government. The knowledge is already there and there is a correct and productive way to think about the problems it addresses. And, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, there are people out there who would be selfishly and gratefully receptive to learning more about both. -- CAVLink to Original
  11. 1 point
    Just to confirm, isn't "I" self? If so, I is a power, or "the power". Based on that definition. "I", implies "the power". (in me (but that may be redundant)) It has interesting psychological effects. Also, to be selfless is to be powerless. I was just entertained by it, not making any assertions here.
  12. 1 point
    It may be that the political rhetoric in Austria is more overtly based on the appeal “we must sacrifice ourselves for that group”, but that is not the rhetoric used in the US. Appeal to “the greatest common good” underlies the government’s response, but “sacrifice” in US political rhetoric refers to “something necessary for an end, but not an immediately desirable end itself”. When soldiers, police and firemen die in the line of duty, or doctors work long hours at personal risk to save lives, it is termed a “sacrifice”, because the immediate outcome is certainly not desirable (taking a risk, working long hours), but the end towards which these people are working is certainly a value. Instead, the covid-related government actions have been justified as being necessary: although “justified” is really a strong term, since the myriad executive declarations simply assert “it is necessary, and I have the power”. It is crucial for the covid-facists that issues of scientific fact be kept out of the discussion. Ignorance has been politically weaponized to a stunning level, instead we must trust our elected executive official (unless he’s a Republican), who we assume has sound scientific and economic reasons to believe that these actions are necessary and sufficient for reaching that end. The public perception of “what is necessary” with the further provision that it should be sufficient is totally divorced from science. The science of the problem is, very simply, we don’t know, there are a lot of plausible stories that can be told. It is also vital that we not delve deeply into the question of what that end is – it changes frequently. For a while it was “flattening the curve”. Now it is “masks stop covid”. If you closely watch the media, you can detect the next wave of restrictions, which will result in greater rigidity about the kind of masks and how they are worn. (This is a concern for me because I can’t breathe, and businesses are now prohibited from serving unmasked customers). My response to covid-facists is to criticize them for hypocrisy. They demand that I must sacrifice myself for their personal benefit – they are being selfish (we know that is not so, but we’re dealing with rhetorical contradictions). They have no right to restrict my life so that they can continue to enjoy theirs. This is an easy argument to make, because when you ask “Why do you support such-and-such governmental restriction”, 99 times out of 100 it reduces to the emotional assertion “I don’t want X” – I don’t care what you want, what about what I want? Or when the assertion is collectivist “We don’t want X”, I point out that there has been no determination of what “we” want.
  13. 1 point
    One thing I would like more understanding and discussion about is applying Objectivist frames of thinking to more social issues where the government is not involved in any way, distinct from the usual discussion about what the government is doing but should not do. Related to that is that I am growing more interested in actively persuading people to think about various issues differently, talking about how to establish meaningful change for individual lives (mental health is a big topic to me). I'm not sure where to find other people with a similar activist frame of mind. Other than to create something myself, of course. If I don't find anything helpful for my goals, I will create something. Another interest is wanting a lot more about building on Oist epistemology and thinking about that, but my academic pursuits in psychology and philosophy fulfill that pretty well. The meaningful discussion I want about this involves the application of epistemology to psychological theory.
  14. 1 point
    Eiuol (Lev) and I (William) have created a new show on Youtube called Welcome To Reality! It is devoted to respectful debate and discussion. We will cover various topics that interest us and try to apply our understanding of Objectivism to moral and political action. The first episode is on the use and morality of recreational drugs, such as alcohol and psychedelics. We hope you'll check out the program and subscribe to our channel. Thanks! https://youtu.be/aDWd-b2xEB0
  15. 1 point
    Politics - "socio-politics" - is moving faster than philosophy. This is where I've chosen to focus, for one example, and am appalled that many of my colleagues don't see what this conservative does and several others have, and write about and broadcast it clearly and unambivalently: The Establishment Strikes Back By Buck Sexton Dear reader, If you turn on the TV or open up your newspaper, you'll find practically nothing about the fiercely contested presidential race just five months away. At least at first glance... The stories appear to be focused on an array of topics that aren't about electoral politics. And yet most of what we see is presented with a clear theme: America is doing poorly. There's the renewed media obsession with COVID-19, for example. The few weeks of relative quiet is all over now. Predictably, the Democrat-dominated media took a brief hiatus from the "social distancing" mantra so that tens of thousands of protestors (and rioters) wouldn't be the target of public shaming. There was a convenient absence of public health professionals on cable news networks or social media calling out protestors for their mass gatherings. Who needs social distancing when you have social justice? Among conservatives and independent-minded voters, this partisan hypocrisy was noted – causing a tremendous loss of faith in the so-called "objective experts" who are now demanding another lockdown. National media is also focused on the nationwide protests... which so often turn into riots. Nonetheless, they are described as "mostly peaceful" even when journalists can clearly see a burning building and violent mobs. At first, the movement was all about the killing of George Floyd and police brutality. Then it rapidly transitioned into demands for police budget cuts or even total police defunding. Now it's a Marxist movement seeking to erase and rewrite American history through toppling and destroying statues. Nobody really knows what these protestors will be enraged about next week. It doesn't really matter. Journalists certainly don't plan to get to the bottom of any of it. The point of all this rabble rousing and street activism is not to address systemic inequality or the history of American oppression and racism. This is all about power politics and the upcoming election, plain and simple. Call it the "Make America Miserable Again" plan. Recommended Link: 3 million to lose jobs... NOT because of coronavirus? A terrifying (for some) and new disruptive force is creating thousands of new millionaires (Barron's estimates 20,000 to 200,000 so far) while at the same time destroying the financial future for many others. Don't get left behind. Get the facts for yourself here. These mobs have taken to the streets as part of a mass mobilization of the Democrat party.... whether shouting in cops' faces, looting stores, or burning down buildings. And they are running a widespread and well-coordinated campaign against President Donald Trump – they're just not doing it in the most traditional way. Think of it as asymmetrical political warfare. This is not a standard presidential battle between two men... Presidential candidate Joe Biden is effectively a ghost, refusing to leave his basement in Delaware unless he dons an ominous black face mask and dark sunglasses. He seems to forget where he is and mumbles a bizarre gaffe almost daily. Few believe Biden is going to inspire a movement. But that's not the plan... All Biden has to do is fog a mirror. The establishment will take care of the rest. That's because all of 2020 is a referendum on Trump. If the mood of the country is positive and hopeful this November, he's probably going to be the president for four more years. The country doesn't have to be perfect... It just has to be moving in the right direction. What Trump was doing before the pandemic was working. All he has to do now is convince enough voters that he has a plan to bring back the economy of January 2020. On the other hand, Democrats and the establishment ruling class will seek to stop this "right direction" feeling at all costs. We are seeing that effort right now. The more they can get the American people to focus on a pandemic, civil unrest, and mounting economic anxiety from the shutdowns – the tougher it will be for Trump to focus on his voters and go on the offensive against his opponent. The national news media is pulling out all the stops to make sure that there is an overwhelming narrative of national fatigue and frustration that has set in by November. All of this will play to Biden and the Democrats' advantage... Fair or not, the American people expect the party in power to deliver. Trump is the guy in the White House with the biggest job in the world, and voters in the swing states aren't going to respond well to anything that sounds like, "It wasn't my fault, it was the virus and the dirty-fighting Democrats" – no matter how true that may be. Trump doesn't have to beat Biden... He has to beat the ruling class that is still in a state of shock and rage from 2016. Back then, they laughed at him and assumed they could force him out with the absurd Russia collusion hoax. Now, they're willing to tank the whole country as long as it finishes off Trump's reelection. Remember that as you watch and read all these stories about a nation in crisis. If we simply refuse to undergo lockdown again and enforce some law and order in the streets, America will bounce back pretty quickly. The biggest obstacle to our recovery is not from a virus or an anti-cop narrative... but is the coordinated, stop at nothing effort of many powerful individuals and their interests that view America as mere collateral damage in their maniacal anti-Trump campaign.
  16. 1 point
    Are These Troops Guarding the Lincoln Memorial? A Snopes follow-up special. Not sure how far I'll make it through the interviews. Some of them bustle with pride of what their maws and paws accomplished after the war. Conspicuously absent, the woe is me victim talk, that permeates some of the media presentation of folk today.
  17. 1 point
    The display of troops here is just a re-election show for the Pres. It's free advertising to him. Maneuvering troops in show is an old propaganda ploy. I love the major memorials on the Mall. Lincoln, Jefferson, and Washington memorials will stand fine under a Democratic President in 2021 just as in the past. Although I love these grand memorials (and the war memorial with my cousin's name on it), I'd like to mention, in connection with the Emancipation, a collection of interviews of former slaves that is available to read online. I return to it again and again. https://www.loc.gov/resource/mesn.130/?sp=10
  18. 1 point
    "Protesters said they are planning to topple a statue of Abraham Lincoln in the capital meant to commemorate his 1863 proclamation freeing enslaved people in the rebel states at the height of the Civil War" (WSJ, pay-walled). "“As a black man, when I see that statue, I see that my freedom and liberation only lies with white people,” said Glenn Foster, 20 years old, of Montgomery County, Md., an organizer of the Tuesday rally." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emancipation_Memorial
  19. 1 point
    Red, brown, yellow, black and white . . . But where do you draw the line? Suppose, magically, there were five races conjured on earth. Add to that 7000 years of intermingling. Are DNA records going to be used to categorize individuals according to genome? What was Chauvin's DNA breakdown? What was Floyd's DNA breakdown? If there are no magical "race" borders, then to borrow on Wendy's slogan of yesteryear, "Where's the beef?" If Chauvin/Floyd spills over into Columbus/Green (Jemima, if you prefer), then credibility is lent to the magical five, or so, races conjured on earth. If intermingling prevails, then those who see a white cop murdering a black suspect are not willing to wait for the DNA results to confirm the Chauvin was a pale-skinned black, or that Floyd was a dark-skinned white. A is A. Both cannot prevail intellectually. The fact that this issue is spilling over into areas outside of the legal enforcement that spawned it, bears testimony that unresolved, a.k.a. unclear issues, are encapsulated into the aftermath of this incident. Without 'race', there are only individual human beings, judged by their own merit. With 'race', the conclusion "that there are only individual human beings, judged by their own merit" gets challenged in such a thread as this. My wallet, for now, is residing in my hip pocket. For some reason, I've acquired a hankering for some French Toast with a side of Sausage Links, Canadian Maple Syrup, a pat of Unsalted Butter and a glass of Orange Juice in the morning.
  20. 1 point
    Not "stereotyping" others isn't any guarantee they won't and don't racially stereotype you. And usually will. (A few times I've heard "white privilege" thrown my way). There's the difficulty of being individualist in a especially collectivist time. The decent and considerate folk, the individualists and, yes, any Objectivists (joke) might see a person and perceive "person" who -also- happens to be black, brown, white, female, short, tall, fat - whatever. Racists and anti-racists and racialists perceive: Black or White person. Racialism is what most stokes up the differences of race groups - tribes. Avidly looking for and making everything 'about' race - briefly. Something our media is expert at. This also can include individuals who are just overly sensitive of any racial aspects. I've had confided in me by a few individuals - black - that many a time they're in a social group, there will often be white individuals being over-solicitous of their opinions and jokes (listening very seriously and laughing uproariously). I was told by this guy and woman that they felt rather sad and patronized, while also being quite amused by the idiocy of their colleagues . To be not treated on your own merits is dishonesty and injustice by others. To be attributed qualities one may not have, on superficial appearances, isn't that dishonesty and injustice too?
  21. 1 point
    The Onion article also points out the absurdity of your case.
  22. 1 point
    Redd Foxx, may have been a real person, but what about Fred G. Sanford? (Interesting to note, Redd Foxx's christian name was John Elroy Sanford.) The only thing offensive about the quarter box of pancake mix in my cupboard is the expiration date: Oct 23 09 Somehow, even boycotting the pancake mix would seem an exercise in futility on that note. Goodreads has a ready made replacement for it as of 1998: Eioul, for an individual that overturned my take on the mantra I learned as a child, your position on this issue comes across as tilting at a windmill. Turns out the words to that song aren't as I remember them though. "Red and yellow, black and white" is what I recall.
  23. 1 point
    Am I missing the 'thrust' of the conversation here? Or is the "Jolly Green Giant" not a real person either? (in the context of either metaphor: Aunt Jemima Syrup, or the metaphor; Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix?
  24. 1 point
    I've got to admit, it's a bit confusing. It wasn't that long ago that critics of modern advertising hurled complaints about the overexposure of wafer-thin Caucasian women, usually blondes, as the ideal feminine image for the purpose of marketing consumer goods and services. They insisted that more African-American women with more "realistic" proportions and deeper skin-tones need to be represented in advertising. What ever happened to that? I'm 6' 6", and I've been called "Jolly Green Giant" on more than one occasion. Maybe I'll initiate a movement to remove that guy from the shelves. While I'm not unsympathetic to folks who want to make changes, removing the image of an underappreciated success, such as Aunt Jemima, is a mistake and lowers the dignity of the more serious discussion. Success stories are hard to come by; wouldn't it be better to learn more from her biography, instead of air-brushing her out of history and continue the rhetoric that there is no such thing as "the American Dream"?
  25. 1 point
    I like Maple syrup, myself, as well as butter over the many substitutes available. Buying more or less Quaker Oats 'Raisin, Date and Walnut' instant oatmeal does not target the controversial product. The Nancy Green story has many iterations. Here is one that is succinct.
  26. 1 point
    Give a different, less spineless, producer a try. If you trade with cowards you'll get more cowards.
  27. 1 point
    I prefer not to associate with people who don’t agree with me. I am willing to do so when those people have some superior value for me. I prefer to not deal with any form of irrational behavior, but I don’t live by myself in an isolated cabin in the woods. What value system tells you how much time you have for friends (as opposed to anything else), and what specific value do you apply in sorting your acquaintances into a friend / non-friend grouping. E.g. is it “any form of irrationality”, “violent communism”, “communism”, “violent”? And why would it be rational to shun a person who you know has irrational beliefs. Is it something completely different, namely the “in-your-face” nature of SJW’s.
  28. 1 point
    There is one nonfiction book going along those lines, and that is Peikoff's Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. The Dedication of the book, which is to his daughter, speaks only of his hope that the philosophy set out in the book will guide her life. He deliberately pushes comparisons with other philosophies to definite margins, and these are few and small. This contrasts markedly with his other two books The Ominous Parallels and The DIM Hypothesis. I enjoy all these and the various things they address, but the focus on the positive in OPAR is a nice thing to enjoy of it. One nice thing for me in presentations concerning Objectivism was that after the split between Rand and Branden, the castings and recastings of people in the world into deep dark and light psychological types and mixtures of such types dwindled and disappeared. There was little to nothing of that negativity (and beyond-the-pale speculation) in writings of Peikoff, Gotthelf, or Kelley---good for them. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ PS Barbara Branden once remarked in an online post that she found OPAR dry. Similarly, Nathaniel Branden, in a video interview made pretty late in his life, said yes, he thought the book a good representation of Objectivism, but too dry. I mentioned to Barbara in that thread that I didn’t find it dry at all. It is captivating to me. But there are different degrees of the personal in which a philosophy book can be written. Descartes’ Meditations is probably the tops on that, it captivates the novice to philosophy today as ever.*
  29. 1 point
    I got the second link fixed OK now. It has seemed to me that myths also help people stay afloat and not totally despair in the circumstance of personal pains and horrors, particularly the deaths of their loved ones or their own coming death. Last January my younger sister died, and on her Facebook page, when her March birthday came round, some of her friends would write things like “Happy Birthday in heaven, Helen.” It is now 30 years to the day that my first life-partner died. We had been together for 22 years. For the first 20 years after his death, I would go at sunrise on this day of the year to the spot on the lake where I had spread his ashes a couple of weeks after his death. I would spread peonie blooms onto the water, wait for the sun to rise out of the lake, and read either the Mackay poem Morgen (Tomorrow) in German or the Auden poem Lullaby. It was a ritual in which I was especially in touch with him. We were not supernaturalists, and I’m still just nature. But there was what I thought of as something of a myth-making part of my mind within the overall rational governance there. It was a way, just an image, of him continuing in perfect peace, and with animal companions, until I come to him. Mythic. There is a poem about that and its evolution called “The Castle” in the thread My Verses.
  30. 1 point
    Sight of Superlative Achievement PS: REBIRTH OF REASON is reborn. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ SL, your root post for this thread is so right. The greatest value of Rand's philosophy and her literature has been and will be personal uplift, not political reform or debating with her competitors. In her book Anthem, the decision by Prometheus near the end to liberate some other people back at the community of his origin is set out as entirely secondary to the precious thing and way of life Prometheus has found. Similarly, The Fountainhead does not end with Roark's courtroom soliloquy, but with Dominique rising to him on the lift--"Then there was only the ocean and the sky and the figure of Howard Roark." I read Atlas Shrugged all-through three times in three years when I was a young man (ten years after it was published). It was not for the sake of political inspiration or confrontation with false ideas that I returned to read it that second and third time.
  31. 1 point
    SL, you quoted me but I am unsure what you were directing at me. I will put this simply. I have no task to teach others. It is out of selfish interest that I concern myself with pointing out that there are potential errors to be made in the philosophy which lessen it. A selfish concern that new, young minds would drop out of Objectivism in confusion or disappointment. If one or two can learn from my experience and not give up, that's some value-trade to the various intellectuals I benefited from.
  32. 1 point
    It's interesting to consider where you would be or I would be, had not Rand felt the need for "activism" -- the spreading of her ideas which required her to work in fiction, research other thinkers, craft arguments, form an institute, engage with others (often hostile), and so on. Whatever Rand may have thought about art and didacticism, I'd dare say that activism describes her life's work. She meant to change the world by changing the minds of others, and she put a lot of effort into making that happen. And perhaps you might think that misses the point -- that Rand had no need to act in your interest or my own, but only in her own interest. But why do we take it that Rand's activism wasn't in her selfish interest, or that she did not judge it so? How is an individual's interest not generally served in working to help others to find truth and reason? You're right that life isn't about preaching to others... but preaching to others might well be an important part of one's life. So while I agree that there's a limit, in reason, to trying to drag the recalcitrant from their errors, we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater: we shouldn't abandon efforts to spread good ideas in the culture, or to fight against the bad ones. And we might consider whether and how we might do so even more effectively. People have the capacity for reason, and I believe that most people will tend to respond to a good argument, all else being equal. Argument itself is something of a science and something of an art, and it has to be learned and worked on and continually revised in the face of failure and opposition -- and I believe that there's a lot of frustration in the Objectivist community because, perhaps implicitly, we believe that The One True Argument has already been made, one size fits all, done and dusted. But no, the work of spreading these ideas has only just begun -- if I can even fairly describe it as having been "begun." The ideological battle you reference is real, and I fear we are losing it, in part because we are too often content to surrender the battlefield without a fight. To act as though we shouldn't need to show up in the first place, as though any ideological movement in the history of mankind has ever spread without people actively working to make that happen. Do you know who doesn't share that notion (both literally and its tenor more broadly)? The evangelists, the socialists, the jihadists, among many others. And because they commit themselves wholeheartedly to spreading their ideas, and to finding the most effective means for so doing, they typically succeed in spreading them far better than we do. Unfortunately, their ideas are poisonous for society, and unfortunately for us, we live in society and tend to suffer directly when that poison spreads. If it were the case that a man could simply say, "Well, that's none of my responsibility; I'll leave them to it and enjoy my life unimpaired," and retreat to Galt's Gulch, I'd say more power to him. But I don't believe that he can enjoy his life unimpaired. I don't believe that Galt's Gulch exists outside of Atlas Shrugged, and if it did, I don't think it would be allowed to last. I believe that the condition of the world has a direct bearing on our individuals lives, and so yes, we must take some measure of responsibility for addressing that condition -- not out of altruism, but selfishly, so we can live.
  33. 1 point
    Nevermind, I found them.
  34. 1 point
    New Ideal presents writings that address some of what you identify. Today's politics and politicians are symptomatic of the deeper underlying causes at play. Early in Galt's speech, this is addressed in the following manner: "You have destroyed all that which you held to be evil and achieved all that which you held to be good. Why, then, do you shrink in horror from the sight of the world around you? That world is not the product of your sins, it is the product and the image of your virtues. It is your moral ideal brought into reality in its full and final perfection. You have fought for it, you have dreamed of it, and you have wished it, . . . So while so many are aghast at what they see, far fewer understand that what they see is the product and image of the virtues (in the broadest sense) of the culture at large that has brought it into being. On a positive note, Ayn Rand observed and published many of her discoveries. You are investigating them. You have the opportunity to share them with others you think may be seeking such answers also.
  35. 1 point
    Anyone expecting of the governments of the world, or the gatekeepers of popular culture to swing toward condemnation of the current cultural trend will be disappointed. Expecting any organization to engage in a counter-movement to the current culture will result in disappointment. Anyone spending time or money on any organization that claims to wage such a counter-movement will likely find they have wasted their time and/or money. My only recommendation is to support the very few innovators producing cultural products that reinforce Objectivists points of view. There are producers of movies, music, literature, graphic novels, Youtube videos, alternative school systems, and many forms of popular culture that persuade individual opinions. There are public speakers who may not have any idea what Objectivism is, and yet they convey some of the ideas valued in Objectivism. The situation is not hopeless, but it will require a proverbial sea-change of popular culture to counter act the current cultural norms. I don't know how far things will get, but my approach has always been to take control of those matters in one's own life, and worry less about providing proper direction for a disoriented mob. Am I a bystander in the decline of Western Civilization? I will leave that for others to decide, if they wish. But if I really want to make a contribution to progress toward a more rational society, I would become one of those innovators of new and rational ideas, and find a way to market/distribute those ideas.
  36. 1 point
    Implicit in any relationship is a mutually shared philosophy which makes it possible to enjoy/appreciate the value(s) on which the relationship is built. If you both love fishing, you at least agree that life is worth living, that an enjoyable way to do that is to sit and fish, and that we should be allowed to fish. Philosophically, not much else really matters, at least with regard to your fishing excursions.
  37. 1 point
    Given your description of the milieu, we are probably neighbors. There was one guy who I agreed with on numerous political topics so we were friends, but he felt that he had to bolt and left the state (politics and real-estate cash-in). 99% of the time, I avoid political talk with friends, unless I can steer the conversation to an area that can be rationally discussed, which is a matter that is as much about their level of ideological commitment to emotion as a tool of cognition as it is about the topic of conversation. Maybe I have a better quality of friends (they probably think so), but I don’t know any irrational ideological extremists (there are plenty of them in the area, I just don’t interact with them). I am on occasion faced with a provocative statement from a friend, which presents me with one of three main choices. One is to engage the friend with a counter-question or statement aimed at identifying an underlying premise that I know is wrong. An example might be anything of the form “We don’t want X”, which frames moral and political questions as the codification of personal emotion. The response might be, “I disagree, I do want X”. A semi-rational person would then pause and examine the reasons for this feeling, and might only respond “But it’s not right”, which leads to the obvious follow-up “Why isn’t it right?”, or maybe “The opposite of X is what’s right, don’t you agree?”. Obviously, you have to decide at what point you’re threatening the relationship. In a few cases, I have essentially had to post no-trespassing signs by saying that I don’t see sufficient common ground for civil discussion of the topic. My solution is that friendships are not entirely based on shared political values, and you should not get enraged at disagreement over politics any more than you should get enraged about religion or music.
  38. 1 point
    Boydstun

    Peikoff's Dissertation

    PNC Ground Shifts to the Side of the Subject – Kant IV-d In elementary logic, we have forms of inference that are valid inferences and forms of inference that are erroneous. An example of the latter is: “If a raccoon got the bird feeder down, then some raccoons are clever. Some raccoons are clever. Therefore, a raccoon got the bird feeder down.” This is the formal fallacy of Affirming the Consequent. Its general form is “If p, then q / q / therefore p.” I say that in no way is the invalidity of an argument of this form in general the cause of its invalidity in “application” to reasoning about raccoons and downed bird feeders. Our witness of the failure of right reasoning in the “application” is no less immediate than it is in the “purely formal” rendition. In fact the cloistering from worldly particulars we have in the general form of the fallacy could reasonably leave one wondering why it has been called out as a fallacy. After all, in its general form, it is a mystery why anyone would give such an argument. Only in an “application” does the reason emerge. For there one’s genuine belief (gotten from outside this argument) of the truth of the second premise gives that premise a shininess that can for a split second loosen one’s fix on the train of the argument at hand. The point of the formality of the formal fallacy (wrong-in-form) Affirming the Consequent is only that it is a general no-no across any substitution sentences for p and q. The formal fallacy, which one might reasonably associate with Kant’s pure general logic, derives its normatively from its “applications”. This formal fallacy is no commander, contrary the current Kant insisted. (If one found upon taking the formal case in which q just is p that p is not-p, one might give the formal exhibition of the fallacy Affirming the Consequent some serious normative sense merely of itself. However, that is not what one finds upon entering p for each occurrence of q in the layout.) We have fallacies of deduction that are called informal, for they derail necessary conveyance of truth from premises to conclusion, although they have no crisp exhibition of general form such as is available for the fallacy of Affirming the Consequent. Example of an informal fallacy is the Fallacy of Accident. “Everything has a reason for being this way, not that. Therefore, there is a reason anything at all exists, rather than there being nothing at all.” The premise is true over a very wide range, and it is reasonably stated as a general truth in a wide range of scenes of thought. But there are some few settings in which the premise might well be false, so when affirmed as universally true, it should, strictly speaking, be affirmed only with the qualification that such-and-such setting is out of consideration. Otherwise, strictly speaking, the premise is false. Then truth is not being conveyed from the premise to the conclusion in my example. In our standard elementary formal logic today, that circumstance would not invalidate the inference, really, because the first proposition of my example for this fallacy is seen as only a conditional for the second proposition. Whereas, for Kant as for Aristotle, the two propositions are seen as something more: they are seen as an argument. Anyway, formal logic seen as about correct and incorrect argumentative form, would for Kant count as his “pure general logic” and, fact is, that form does not source the norm had by raising up in “applied general logic” the fallacy we call Fallacy of Accident. Formal logic is not autonomously commanding norms into logical inferences. It is not, freely from all character of the world, determining fallacies as fallacies, formal or informal. Then too, logically valid forms in their instances do not derive their correctness from the correctness also plain in the crisp exhibition of that general form of deduction. “All animals are mortal. Ralph is an animal. Therefore, Ralph is mortal.” That the conclusion is necessarily true if those premises are true does not derive from the denuded form “All A are B / this is an A / therefore, this is a B” giving high-altitude directions to lower-altitude craft. Does Kant’s “pure general logic” amount only to formal logic as in our elementary textbooks? Is the formality of his pure general logic only that formality, schema-forms of correctness in concepts and judgements for any subject matter and any sorts of objects, a formality in logic embraced by all logic lovers from Aristotle to us? No and no. (To be continued.) Note [1] Kelley 2014, 120–21. Aristotle’s fallacy of accident in Sophistical Refutations and Rhetoric is ancestor to this fallacy, though it bears only a pale resemblance. Fallacy of Accident appears in §404 of Meier 1752, the logic text from which Kant lectured. It makes no appearance in the Jäsche Logic, though it shows up in one set of student notes of Kant’s lectures, the Hechsel. According to those notes, Kant claimed that if one “tried to clothe this [fallacy] in the form of a syllogism, the vitium would at once strike the eye” (110). This seems to say that one would fail to get it into a valid syllogistic form and that that failure would show the formal root of the logical error. The long tradition of supposing that what we call informal fallacies were somehow rooted in or reducible to formal errors may have, I suggest, bolstered Kant’s thinking that form (in an amplified version peculiar to him—subsequently influential—to be sorted in the next installment) is the bottom line of all norms of general logic. Some scholars today maintain that Aristotle supposed all the errors he compiled (which is a subset) of the lot we list as informal fallacies were reducible to errors of syllogism, which is to say errors of form. See Woods 2012, 523–24, 531, 570. References Kelley, D. 2014. The Art of Reasoning. 4th ed. Norton: New York. Woods, J. 2012. A History of the Fallacies in Western Logic. In Handbook of the History of Logic. Gabbay, D. M., F. J. Pelletier, and J. Woods, editors. North Holland: Amsterdam.
  39. 1 point
    "Men have been taught either that knowledge is impossible (skepticism) or that it is available without effort (mysticism)." Consciousness and Identity. I suggest to you, Rob, that Objectivists are prone to this false alternative as is anyone else in any other philosophy. Rationalism is akin to mysticism, and there is hardly an Objectivist who has not been affected by rationalism, I am willing to bet. The beginnings of a venture in Oi'sm are densely theory-laden. The principles, the potent ideals. If one gets fixed at the idealist stage, effectively one is assuming someone else's knowledge - without effort. The ideas then are soaring but groundless abstractions. Objectivism basically is not a set of beliefs, it is the method and means which leads one to the principles - independently. By trial and error, eventually and invariably one should find that the methodology takes one to Rand's self-same principles. An objective is to finally outgrow one's teacher, I agree - to achieve intellectual and moral independence from even the most brilliant thinker. I think that cannot happen in less than a few decades. Else, one falls far short of her. That brings in induction. Without some quite extensive experience with and observation of "reality" one has no foundation for concept building. Induction. Not given the attention it must have in Oism. I quip that one needs ten tons of induction to distill a single proposition from. Induction is the groundwork, the antidote and cure for rationalism. To give up on the independent pursuit of reality (maybe through disappointment with one's ideals that are not met quickly enough in the reality of living, complacency, despair, laziness, being overcome by all the competing, compelling arguments by hundreds of other intellectuals) will logically be followed by one's skepticism (and/or relativism). What's the use? Knowledge is barely possible. And everyone I hear has his own plausible ideas. Who am I to argue? Skepticism once it occurs, (has been allowed to be admitted) effectively marks the end of a venture in philosophy, especially this one. Objectivism boiled down, as you know. Reality and the method of attaining it. Faithfully adhering to the nature of the organ by which mankind has to attain it, if one so chooses, consciousness.
  40. 1 point
    Hi Rob, You may just be touching base after a dozen years. Objectivism is a philosophy for individuals to live on earth. When one remains true to one's self, if they cross paths with the philosophy, it is likely to resonate with them. From your description, it is your understandings that have evolved over the years, not Rand's philosophy. So long as you don't abandon your cause, the label of an apostate can be foregone.
  41. 1 point
    Paraphrasing a quote here, Rand saw herself as primarily a proponent, not of capitalism, but egoism... and not primarily egoism, but reason. I approach my friendships and other relations the same sort of way: I seek people who are fundamentally reasonable. Your mileage may vary, but I've found people who demonstrate varying degrees of reason in every walk of life, and subscribing to most every sort of view -- at the very least, nominally. At the same time, I have met people whose stated beliefs I judge as correct, yet they are not very reasonable in their dealings, in their lives -- and they don't make for great friends. This fundamental orientation to reason can show up in many ways, from hobbies and activities, to career pursuits and romantic involvements, discussions/arguments and so forth. The more reasonable they are, in this basic sense, the more apt we are to get along... even where and when we disagree. The people who are less fundamentally reasonable, though we may agree on everything else (howsoever superficially), the smallest disagreement could wind up being an unmanageable obstacle. Consequently, I've maintained friends among Christians, Hindus, Atheists, Buddhists, and politically on the left, right and in the "middle." The more zealous socialists I've known can be trying, at times, and not least because -- to the extent they adhere to their own professed beliefs -- they often feel required not to be friends with someone who believes as I do. Yet even with one or two of these, I have found that I can identify sufficiently with their virtues to overcome other deficits (like intelligence and taking ideas seriously). My closest friend in the world (apart from my wife) is a Methodist. He's sincere in his religious beliefs, but not very dogmatic. We made peace about our diverging views very long ago, and though we still argue them from time to time in one form or another, we understand that our bonds are based on fundamental things that, perhaps, aren't completely captured or expressed in our stated philosophies. We do not fear disagreement.
  42. 1 point
    Boydstun

    Entity and Ousia

    Entity and Ousia Contrasting Roark with many other people, Mallory remarks to Dominique of those others: “At the end there’s nothing left, nothing unreversed or unbetrayed; as if there had never been any entity, only a succession of adjectives fading in and out on an unformed mass” (GW V, 485). Consider in Rand’s full metaphysics the finer structure in her conception of the law of identity: "Whatever you choose to consider, be it an object, an attribute, or an action, the law of identity remains the same. A leaf cannot be a stone at the same time, it cannot be all red and all green at the same time, it cannot freeze and burn at the same time. A is A (AS 1016). Rand clearly intended here, in Galt’s Speech, that what is proposed for objects is to be generalized to entities. Every entity is of some kinds that are exclusive relative to other kinds of entity. Rand used the term entity in the paragraph preceding the object examples of leaf and stone. That is, she uses entity in the initial statement of her law of identity: “To exist is to be something, . . . it is to be an entity of a specific nature made of specific attributes” (AS 1016). On that page, it is clear that she takes for entities not only what are ordinarily called objects such as leaf, stone, or table, but micro-objects such as living cells and atoms, and super-objects such as solar system and universe. Now we have a modest problem. If we say “to exist is to be an entity of a specific nature made of specific attributes,” we seem to say that attributes are either entities or are not existents. Consider for attributes “the shape of a pebble or the structure of the solar system” (AS 1016). To avoid the patent falsehood that the shape of a pebble does not exist, shall we say that not only the pebble is an entity, but its shape is an entity? Rand reaches a resolution by a refinement in her metaphysics nine years after her first presentation. In 1966 she writes “Entities are the only primary existents. (Attributes cannot exist by themselves, they are merely the characteristics of entities; motions are motions of entities; relationships are relationships among entities)” (ITOE 15). In Rand’s view then, we have that to exist is either (i) to be an entity consisting of particularities and specific attributes and a specific nature or (ii) to be some specific character in the nature of entities or among an entity’s particularities. Philosophers often use the term entity to mean any item whatever. That is one customary usage and perfectly all right. Rand decided to take entity into her technical vocabulary as something more restricted. She went on to name some fundamental categories that cannot exist without connection to entities: action, attributes, and relationships.[1] As with Aristotle’s substance (ousia), where there is any other category, there is entity to which it belongs.[2] Though Rand held entities to be “the only primary existents,” she did not suppose entities could ever exist without their incidents of action, attributes, and relationships. To trim away, in thought, all the internal traits of an existent as well as all its external relations should in right thought leave no existent. Out of step with Aristotle, Rand did not maintain there is such a thing as an entity that is a what, yet is without any specification by other categories of existents.[3] Entities have relations to other entities, but not the belonging-relation (inherence) had to entities by the categories not entity. The entity that is the sofa is in a region of the living room and it is in a force-relation with the floor. But it is not in anything in the way its shape and mass and stability and flammability are in it. Though she held actions, attributes, and relations to be incapable of existing without the entities of which they are incidents, Rand did not import to entity Aristotle’s concept of substance as somehow imparting existence from itself to the other fundamental categories. In Rand’s view, all of those categories have some instances in concrete existents. Actions, attributes, and relationships are not entities in Rand’s sense. To qualify as an entity, I say and think Rand could have been brought around to say, an entity has to do more than be able to stand as the subject of predication (or as the argument of a propositional function). Running or oscillation can be the subjects of predicates, but they can do so as actions, not entities. Fraction and containment can be the subjects of predicates, but they can do so as relations, not entities. Twill and vesicular quality can be subjects of predicates, but they can do so as attributes, not entities. Rand’s entity as primary existence parallels to some extent Aristotle’s ousia as primary being. Entity as subject of attributes, actions, and relationships parallels Aristotle’s ousia.[4] Substance has been the most common translation of Aristotle’s ousia, when used as the fundamental form of being. Joseph Owens argues that the traditional translation of Aristotle’s ousia is poorly conveyed by substance and is better expressed by entity.[5] Joe Sachs argues for the more Heideggerean translation thingness for ousia.[6] In whatever English translation, Aristotle’s full conception of ousia in his Metaphysics is far from Rand’s conception of entity. Entity does not stand as of-something. In that respect, it is like Aristotle’s ousia. Unlike his ousia in Metaphysics, entity as such is never the essence of something. Also contra Aristotle’s being that is ousia, the existents that are entity can have parts that are entity. Furthermore, as noticed earlier, unlike the accidents of Aristotle’s ousia in Metaphysics, the existence of incidents does not derive from the existence of entity.[7] Existents of the incidents are coordinate with existence of entities, not derivative from nor secondary to existence of entities. In contrast with Aristotle, Rand’s entity, primary form of existence, is only of this whole of existence, our spatial-temporal world, with both its actualities and its potentials, and our understanding over it. That is the all-encompassing reality. Contraction of being to existence includes a denial that there are metaphysical perfections and denial that there is such a thing as unqualified being. Such perfections, and unqualified stuff, when added together with existence per se constitute Aristotle’s being. Aristotle has Rand’s entities as occasions of ousia, at least prima facie, and these he calls natural ousia.[8] Aristotle’s primary ousia, fundamental form of being, I should add, is always an individual, a this something, though not always a concrete.[9] “Substance is on the one hand, matter, on the other hand, form, that is, activity” (Metaph. 1043a27–28).[10] Shape, such as shape of a bronze statue, is not all Aristotle means here by form (mophê). That which explains the coming to be of the statue from unshaped bronze is here included as form; then too, form is here determining principle of which the bronze constitutes this statue rather than any other being. Bronze of itself is determinate matter, but as matter of this statue, it is this form’s matter in consideration of its potential to be another form’s matter. For Aristotle explanation of substance requires both matter and form. Like most all moderns, Rand and Peikoff reject Aristotle’s fundamental form/matter division of all beings.[11] Aristotle had ousia not only primary in account of the kinds of being, but prior in time to them.[12] In the shift from being to existence as most fundamental and in the shift from ousia to entity as most fundamental category of existence, we do not conceive of entity as temporally prior to attributes and relations. For the move from being to existence as most fundamental is move to existence already with identity. If existence is identity and most fundamentally concrete, then entity is identity and most fundamentally concrete. Let us say further that entity is identity, essential and inessential. Essential identity of an entity is identity without which the entity would not be the kind it is.[13] To say that entity is essential identity might seem close to Aristotle’s view that ousia and its essence are one.[14] Rand’s principle existence is identity has greater scope than Aristotle’s ousia is its essence. For her existence is identity has comprehensive scope: it spans not only entity and its essential attributes, but its entire suite of attributes, as well as its standings in actions and relations. For Aristotle capturing what is a specific ousia—where ousia is the primary form of being and the subject of attributes and alterations—requires formulating its definitions such that the essence expressed in the predicate (definiens) has a uniquely right necessary tie and has explanatory tie with the subject (definiendum). Without that essential trait, the ousia defined could not be the kind of ousia it is. Furthermore, if no such trait can be found, the subject is not an ousia, a what-it-is, but a depending quantity, quality, relation, time, location, configuration, possession, doing, or undergoing.[15] In Rand’s modern metaphysics, capturing best what is a specific entity requires formulating its definiens such that it has a right, necessary, and explanatory tie with the subject entity. The unity of essential characteristics with existence of the entity to which they belong are not absolute in the way Aristotle’s specific essence belongs to specific ousia. His is an ascription right independently of context of knowledge. Rand’s theory of essential characteristics for definitions allows for evolution as our knowledge context grows.[16] Furthermore, unlike Aristotle’s theory, the unity of the essential in definitions of existents is just as tight where those existents are attributes, actions, or other relations as when the existent being defined is an entity. The essence of Newtonian force is expressed in its definiens, with specific mathematical defining formula relating certain physical quantities. Special relativity recasts that fundamental defining equation of force, the old equation imbedded in a more elaborate one taking newly learned factors into the account of force.[17] Contrary Aristotle, existents not substance and not entity can have essential characteristics, and these are a function not only of what is so, but of what it is we know of what is so. Although Rand made essential characteristics dependent on context of knowledge, these characteristics are real, the dependencies (such as causal or mathematical) other characteristics have upon them are real, and the explanatory character of essential characteristics vis-à-vis other characteristics is objective. Additional likeness and difference in the metaphysics of Rand and Aristotle are the following. In the metaphysics of Aristotle, when we grasp the essence of ousia, we become that essence; such an assimilator is what is a mind.[18] In Rand’s metaphysics, our grasp of an essence is an identification of an identity; such an identifier of identity is what is a mind, although essence is not the only identity of the existent determining mind, and as mentioned, entity is not the only category in which there are essential aspects. Furthermore, unlike the metaphysics of Rand and other moderns, the metaphysics of Aristotle has it that essence is only in kinds of ousia (kinds of substance/entity) such as the kind man. The essence of man—rational animal—exhausts the kind man. Aristotle recognizes, naturally, that the individual man is more in particulars and specifics, more than the essence and ousia. Rand has it rather that the kind is only a class of individuals, each with all their identity, and essential characteristic(s) of the class concern causal and other explanatory relations, identities that are categories not only the category entity. Rather than her loose and overlapping categories of action, attribute, and relation, Rand could have conceived of them as mutually exclusive categories by confining attributes to traits not essentially in relation to other things and by confining relations to features not monadic and not action. It would remain, however, for her selection of fundamental categories that electric current, for example, could be (a) an attribute of an active conducting wire, manifest by shock or by resistance heating of the wire, and (b) a flow of electrons within the wire and (c) a source of the magnetic field around the wire. Assignment to a Randian category, unlike an Aristotelian one, should, I think, remain dependent on the physical situation under consideration. In the present example: (a) attribute, (b) action, (c) entity. In Rand’s fully developed theoretical philosophy, as I mentioned, essential characteristics, though factual, are functions of the human context of knowledge.[19] If we extend functional dependence of essential characteristic to context of consideration, then multiple highest genera of an existent is not problematic, unlike the circumstance for Aristotle with his metaphysically absolute essences, ever the same whatever our level of knowledge and context of consideration. Notes [1] AS 1016; ITOE 7, appx. 264–79. [2] ITOE appx. 157, 264; Aristotle, Cat. 2b3–6; Metaph. 1028a10–30. Aristotle maintained two sorts of substance, primary and secondary. The former would be an individual such as the individual man Parmenides; the latter would be the species or genus of such an individual. Rand’s entity is always only a concrete individual. [3] Aristotle, Metaph. 1028a30–b3. See further, Pasnau 2011, 99–102. [4] ITOE 15; Aristotle, Cat. 2a14–19; Cael. 298a26–b3; Metaph. 1028a10–b7. [5] Owens 1978, 137–54; see also Gotthelf 2012, 8n11. What is traditionally translated as being in Aristotle, is sometimes translated as existence; Barnes 1995, 72–77. Here again, we must not let that dull us to the differences between Aristotle and Rand on the concept in play. [6] Sachs 1999, xxxvi–xxxix. [7] Aristotle, Metaph. 1045b27–33; Lewis 2013, 13–15, 91. [8] Cael. 298a26–b3; Metaph. 1017b10–15, 1028b9–32, 1040b5–10, 1042a7–11. [9] Cat. 3b10–23; Metaph. 1028a12, 25–30. [10] A. Kossman, translator. [11] ITOE appx. 286. Koslicki 2018 offers a modern defense of Aristotle’s hylomorphism. [12] Aristotle, Metaph. 1028a32–33. [13] Top. 101b37; Metaph. 1025b11, 1029b14–16 ; ITOE 42, 45, 52. [14] Metaph. 1031a28–1032a5; see also Top. 135a9–12; further, Witt 1989 [15] Cat. 1b25–2a; Top. 103b20–25; Metaph. 1028b1–3. [16] ITOE 40–52. [17] What force is in our contemporary physics is also informed by the setting of force in relation to Hamiltonian mechanics, a more general classical mechanics having natural joins with quantum mechanics. Newton’s gravitational force, whose definition requires its fundamental equation, is also recast by situating it in the deeper successful theory that is general relativity. [18] Aristotle, De An. 429a10–430a26. [19] ITOE 43–47, 52. References Aristotle c.348–322. B.C. The Complete Works of Aristotle. J. Barnes, editor (1984). Princeton: Princeton University Press. Barnes, J. 1995. Metaphysics. In The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Gotthelf, A. 2012. Teleology, First Principles, and Scientific Method in Aristotle’s Biology. New York: Oxford University Press. Koslicki, K. 2018. Form, Matter, Substance. New York: Oxford University Press. Owens, J. 1978 [1951]. The Doctrine of Being in the Aristotelian Metaphysics. 3rd ed. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies. Pasnau, R. 2011. Metaphysical Themes 1274–1671. New York: Oxford University Press. Rand, A. 1943. The Fountainhead. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill. ——. 1957. Atlas Shrugged. New York: Random House. ——. 1966–67. Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. In Rand 1990. ——. 1990. Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. Expanded 2nd ed. H. Binswanger and L. Peikoff, editors. New York: Meridian. Sachs, J., translator, 1999. Aristotle’s Metaphysics. Santa Fe: Green Lion Press. Witt, C. 1989. Substance and Essence in Aristotle. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
  43. 1 point
    merjet

    Entity and Ousia

    Edges, Entities and Existence This essay, which contains a lot about Ayn Rand's ideas about entities, was presented at The Objectivist Center's (now The Atlas Society) Advanced Seminar in 2000. There is nothing about Aristotle's substance (ousia). It's long.
  44. 1 point
    I go to Ford to purchase a new car. I buy a car with all the latest features, but I get home and the car is missing some features. I go back to the Ford dealer and summoning my best Karen, I ask to speak to the manager. I bought the package with all these features, but my car doesn't have these features, I say. Ah, but you bought the car from StrictlyLogical and Merjet. They were your salesmen. And they're not here. They're gone. Sorry, you're out of luck. And they won't be in tomorrow, or the next day. In fact, they're saying home and we're shielding them. And you can't get reimbursed from Ford because, see, you only have the right to get reimbursement from those who sold you the car. No such entity "Ford" sold you the car, see? SL and MJ sold you the car. And you will never see them again. Now begone! If I were to do some cliche Randian analysis, beyond just peppering every other sentence with boilerplate jargon like "objective" this and "metaphysical" that, would probably conclude that this is the "concrete-bound" mentality. I would probably conclude that it is the refusal to abstract. And the reason for that is because organisations and institutions are groups of people, and these various people are representatives of the organization. And they know that, they're just being an insufferable pedantic.
  45. 1 point
    Boydstun

    Peikoff's Dissertation

    23 May 2019 PNC Ground Shifts to the Side of the Subject – Conventionalism III To set myself the task “weed this patch of periwinkles” I may need to use language. The two popular weeds there at this season are dog violets and a native vine I don’t know the name of. Getting to the nub of that weed-vine among the thicket of periwinkle vines and pulling out the former without pulling out the latter is a challenge. Names and language do not seem to be enlisted in executing the task; they enable only my report of this work. The weed-vine and the periwinkle are of different leaf shape and color. Tug gently on the end of the weed-vine reaching for the sun. You won’t be able to see the weed-vine you’re tugging but a few inches before it disappears (leafless in this portion of it) among the thicket of periwinkle vines hugging the earth and putting down their roots continually along their way. But as you tug on the weed-vine, you’ll be able to find with your other hand that single vine being tugged. It is tightly tensed and in synchrony with any rhythm of tugs you apply with the other hand. Repeat from there, and eventually you arrive at the nub of the weed-vine and pull out that vine by the root. Pause at a step in which you have the single obscured weed-vine in each hand. Pull with the one hand, feel the pull in the other. That is a perceived connection between two distinct events. At this point, philosophers from Plato and Aristotle to Hume and Kant stick up their noses. Not Locke. That applied force can be conveyed along a vine is a physical necessity. That different things in general (as example, weed-vines and periwinkle vines) are not same things is another type of necessity, logical necessity, however neatly it coincides with physical necessity. Logical necessity holds unconditionally and in all contexts. What I’ve called physical necessity is traditionally taken to be necessity under some sort of limiting conditions, and this necessity has been called a contingent connection, reserving necessary connection for logical (and other formal) necessity. The real distinction, I think contrariwise, should be in what aspects of things we are accessing and the different ways these two aspects are accessed. Peikoff 1964 points out that Locke avoided the contingent/necessary terminology. Locke instead applied probable/certain to the division. We have seen in my section Aristotle II that Locke maintained we have by sensory perception instances of the general fact that different things are not same things and that a thing is never both A and not A at the same time and in the same respect. Philosophers, including Peikoff in 1964, are correct to fault Locke’s blurring under probable/certain a clear understanding that ampliative inductive generalizations over perceived instances do not suffice to land the absolute necessity in general principles of logic or pure mathematics. Peikoff notes on page 218 the parallel criticism in Hume’s famous dictum that we do not find in sense perception any necessary connection between distinct events (distinct impressions, in Hume’s own parlance and perspective). Countering Hume’s quandary, Kant attempted a radical subject-sided formulation of necessities such as the necessity in a principle of causality, a reformulation in which Kant would have objective temporal order of distinct events get the necessity of that order from a necessity of causal structure demanded by human mind. (Cf. Peikoff 2012, 32–33.) Locke had fogged up by his softening of the distinction between (i) the physical necessities one can sense and manipulate with the weed-vine in one’s hands and (ii) formal and metaphysical necessities. Nevertheless, I maintain Locke right in taking (i) to be the driver of (ii) and not the other way around, as philosophers from Plato to Kant and beyond would have it. British empiricism has its good sense even if it was never good enough. Locke was not really of one mind in this. Peikoff lays out an opposite strand also in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding: IV 3.31, 4.6, 4.8, 9.1, 11.13–14. “What is Locke doing in such passages as these? He is now contrasting eternal truths and existential truths. The former are to be discovered only by ‘the examining of our own ideas’, and ‘concern not existence’ . . .” (222). Peikoff points out that the likes of platonist Cudworth or Leibniz had also maintained such a division, but for them consideration of our own ideas accesses the eternal truths as immutable relations in the divine understanding. Eternal truths such as the laws of identity and noncontradiction, as well as the essences of existing things, are givens to the human mind, independently of our self-examinations accessing them. But for an empiricist such as Locke, rejecting that rationalism, and joining considerable nominalism (the conceptualist wing of nominalism) concerning universal ideas to the empiricism, the divide between matters of fact and the eternal, formal truths can make conventionalism concerning the ground of logic “almost inevitable” (223). The leading German spokesman for conventionalism in science, geometry, and logic in the early years of the twentieth century was Hugo Dingler: “The application of the law of contradiction rests on my free will . . . and this is just what is called a stipulation [Festsetzung]” (1919, 14-15; quoted in Carus 2007, 120n14). “There is no other way to guarantee the general validity of a law other than its stipulation by the will” (1919, 13; Carus 119). Peikoff would not likely have known much about this history in 1964, much beyond, that is, what Popper wrote against it in his 1934 The Logic of Scientific Discovery. I want to point it out because Dingler rejected as unfounded Kant’s basis of the necessity in geometry as arising from synthetic a priori judgments and Kant’s picture of how certain laws are a priori conditions of the possibility of any experience (Wolters 1988). Dingler is nonetheless a redo of Kant, of the first Critique, with conscious choice (of alleged conventions) replacing Kant’s mandatory structure in any sensory intuition and in any conceptualization of things external to mind. Though crucial, fundamental organization of mind on Dingler’s view is voluntary, and although Kant would shake his head over such free play as that, it remains that the organization is an a priori condition for the possibility of any experience or knowledge. Carnap will resist such radical conventionalism in the 20’s and 30’s. I’ll return in the next installment to the course of Logical Empiricism and the role of (still overextended) conventionalism in their characterization of logic and in the characterization by Dewey and by C. I. Lewis. I expect to yet dig into the fate of conventionalism concerning logic to the present day. Jumping out of chronological order, just now I want to be sure to mention—to show that conventionalism in logic remains a current and a concern in philosophy today—the section 6.5 “Logical Conventionalism” in Theodore Sider’s Writing the Book of the World (2011 Oxford). ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Carus, A. W. 2007. Carnap and Twentieth-Century Thought – Explication as Enlightenment. Cambridge. Dingler, H. 1919. The Foundations of Physics: Synthetic Principles of Mathematical Natural Philosophy. Union for Scientific Publishing, Berlin and Leipzig. (In German.) Peikoff, L. 2012. The DIM Hypothesis. New American Library. Wolters, G. 1988. Hugo Dingler. Science in Context 2(2):359–67.
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