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  1. 1 point
    Bluetooth proximity apps on smart phones could track data anonymously, that a positive Covid-19 test could be used to decrypt a single phone number in order to release a message to phone numbers that had been in proximity during a presumed incubation stage, alerting others the potential of having been exposed so as to consider having themselves tested. Voluntary participation, with a transparent disclaimer in how the operation is to be exercised and carried out. It would be less of a surveillance application, than an approach to choose to be informed
  2. 1 point
    The severity, ease and method of transmission is different. So there is a higher threat assessment. It does not give authorities any expanded rights. Activities can change because of threat level, that's all.
  3. 1 point
    Given the nature of the threat I think we have to start with a "new" set of what is normal when thinking of the relationship of activities we take for granted with rights. Why? Because even though the nature of rights does NOT change, given the situation, our normal concrete assumptions about how those rights are exercised and protected has to change, and our normal assumptions about what activities infringes rights or constitutes the initiation of harm changes. So, ASSUMPTIONS about freedom of movement, about what does or does not constitute harm, has to change. ASSUMPTIONS about the rate of crime and frequency of violation of rights and hence what kind of police and how many officers also necessarily changes. First of all we have to side, as the norm, with those who are uninfected, and harming no one. People who have no symptoms and who have diligently not come into contact with people who exhibit symptoms, have no reasons to believe they are dangerous, and hence should not be restricted in any way. Conversely, however, given the nature of the threat, anyone who exhibits symptoms of the virus, or who knows they have been in contact with people who have exhibited symptoms, or knows they have been in contact with a group of people, one of whom has the virus, that person HAS reason to believe they pose a danger. Authorities also have reasonable grounds to believe they pose a danger. The process of protecting the innocent, is necessarily preventive, and uses the same standards regarding evidence of a threat to bodily harm/life as in any other case, although the standard for the evidence depends also on the science of the particular kind of threat. We do not arrest a man for making a small campfire in is rural back yard, we arrest a man who repeatedly makes a huge 30 ft spark throwing bonfire in his suburban backyard... here the science of FIRE is used to assess the thresholds. The number of perpetrators, and offenders, those who are criminally negligent, and exposing innocent people to the deadly virus, will far exceed the number of common thugs we are used to seeing lurking in our streets. Enforcement and protection of the innocent during such a plague require greater number of police officers and diligent citizens reporting criminally negligent behavior. This is nothing like life as normal, because rights are being violated by negligence, at a rate far exceeding anything we have personally ever seen.
  4. 1 point
    Eiuol

    C & C: Coronavirus #4

    What do you mean by justice? They are throwing out the milk, destroying what they produce. With a little creativity, any option would be better than throwing it out. Even giving things away for free provides publicity.
  5. 1 point
    Alien Invasion Imagine an invading alien force which quite accidentally came to Earth via an errant asteroid. The aliens themselves are quite unusual. They are passive, non-sentient, and they multiply under the right conditions. Most alarmingly the aliens are quite small, they invade humans, multiply and pass from human to human... and they are miniature, unpredictable, terrorists who seemingly at whim, can kill the human host they have invaded including themselves. A sort of miniature non-sentient suicide bomber who kills the host and themselves without much rhyme or reason... although statistically we can detect a pattern regarding which hosts are more likely to trigger the attack. There is also much evidence regarding how they multiply and propagate from human to human... oddly they can be modeled on something from Earth we more commonly know as a "virus". In a world with a proper government whose responsibility is to protect individual rights from domestic and foreign invaders, a council is assembled, and the issues debated... How do we protect the individual rights the very right to live of our citizens from this blind insidious invading alien force? [Edit: not sure if this should be added here or added as a new thread... actually I'd like to request Dream Weaver move it to a new thread called "Aliens and Proper Government" ]
  6. 1 point
    merjet

    C & C: Coronavirus #4

    Coronavirus - Medicare for All #2
  7. 1 point
    Eiuol

    Aliens and Proper Government

    That's what's entailed by what she wrote about rights. Rights are about living in the social world, and the various social interactions required, and the expectations we can have of others with regard to how they treat us, and so on. Plants can't initiate force; cows can't initiate force; viruses can't initiate force; tornadoes can't initiate force. If something lacks any conceptual capacity whatsoever, it can't initiate force, nor can it have rights. Sure, you might want some kind of defense or insurance against things that go wrong, but things that are not sentient don't require government intervention for you to fight, because one doesn't need to relegate the use of force against those without rights (viruses).
  8. 1 point
    Easy Truth

    Aliens and Proper Government

    Back to the issue of individual rights. Individual rights, basically means no group based rights. That no group has privileges, all individuals have equal rights. But the group of infected does loose certain rights that "we all have". There is an unavoidable and justified temporary loss of certain rights for people infected. But is this an attack on individual rights? No, for the most part, the framework of individual rights does not change. Except for the exception below (last paragraph): One has a right to be left alone (as long as one is not harming anyone). But in this case, the "as long as" is violated by an infected person. So the framework of individual rights still stands. The rule (as a whole) is not eliminated, in fact it is obeyed. The respect for the individual is still there. Meaning "everyone" is not quarantined. Only the potentially or actual harmers are locked down by force. The shift in rights for this group is based on the right to quarantine by a government which is a defensive move (right to retaliate, right for defense and self defense). This right of defense and self defense is also part of the individual rights framework. Furthermore, the right to be left alone includes the right to boycott. To not interact with the infected. Any business or individual has the right to avoid, to have nothing to do with an infected person, as in: forcefully prevent entry into the business. Our (specific and final) rights don't exist without any justifications. Some people lose their right of free movement. It is contingent on the presence of the alien in the person. They temporarily lose the right of movement until the alien is separated from them. All the (general) individual rights are intact and preserved awaiting for this contingency to be removed. The infected are not identified as a group. The are individually identified, and individually put under quarantine. That is again a respect of individual rights. But, there is one element that is an attack on individual rights. The indiscriminate lock down of EVERYONE, infected and noninfected, (in a sense, criminal and innocent).
  9. 1 point
    Boydstun

    Beauty - Francis Kovach

    I’d like to record a link telling the remarkable life of my first philosophy professor Francis J. Kovach. I relayed in the course of my paper the way of Thomas Aquinas on the situation of transcendentals (such as unity, truth, goodness, and beauty) with being. At the time I wrote that (2013), I was not yet aware of a book by Jan A. Aertsen titled Medieval Philosophy as Transcendental Thought (2012). This book has since become a tremendous help to me in better understanding the history of medieval metaphysics (Arabic and Latin) in its developments from Aristotle and the relation of medieval thought to early modern philosophy, including the transcendental idealism of Kant.
  10. 1 point
    Easy Truth

    Aliens and Proper Government

    The flies are not the problem, if the flies imbedded a virus that can be transmitted from human to human, if the human can infect others, the human is the initiator of force. This "thing" is working through a member of society to initiate physical force/damage on another. In this scenario, one person is threatening and causing harm to another. This activity, be it (volitional or non volitional) should be barred. The exploration here is: How can it be accomplished without elimination/diminution of individual rights.
  11. 1 point
    Easy Truth

    C & C: Coronavirus #4

    Since most won't, the desired know-how is going to be, how does the population regain its rightful freedom. Strong positive self esteem is going to be necessary at a minimum to fight for what one deserves. A clarity is going to be necessary that allows for the confidence and sense of deserving to exist. The autocratic leaders will always exist and they will push the boundaries. What is happening is a calamity that only some see because it is not like an earthquake or tornado that has immediate harmful consequences. The new way of thinking is that a government can in fact print checks and won't go bankrupt immediately. So it is legitimate for a leader that wants votes to say "my checks will be bigger than the opposition". In addition to that, this is not the last pandemic or even the last wave of this one.
  12. 1 point
    merjet

    C & C: Coronavirus #4

    Coronavirus #5
  13. 1 point
    Boydstun

    C & C: Coronavirus #4

    This study estimates about 81,000 deaths in the US from Covid 19 over the next four months. Hopefully, we'll all be around to see how close the author got in this prediction. And hopefully not near so many. As of this morning, about 2,200 have died in the US.* http://www.healthdata.org/sites/default/files/files/research_articles/2020/covid_paper_MEDRXIV-2020-043752v1-Murray.pdf
  14. 1 point
    Boydstun

    C & C: Coronavirus #4

    One thing that has struck me about the social impact of this outbreak is how much the character of the social response is altered by the advance in communications technology. In 1957-58 there was the pandemic of the H2N2 virus. I was only nine and didn’t retain much memory of it. According to the CDC note linked below, it killed about 116,000 people in the USA. That is twice the number of Americans killed in Vietnam. The population of the US in 1957 was about 172 million, whereas today it’s about 330 million. So percentage-wise, it would today be as if about 200,000 Americans were killed. I attach also a study I found on the US response to that pandemic. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1957-1958-pandemic.html https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/bsp.2009.0729
  15. 1 point
    DavidOdden

    C & C: Coronavirus #4

    At the very beginning of the outbreak in the US, the death rate in Washington was very high, I believe around 20%. It is now substantially lower. The explanation is that the disease spread first through a specific elder care facility. There was a very strong correlation between “might be tested” and “was a patient at that facility”. This is a reminder that there are lots of unreported variables – facts about being tested, testing positive, and dying are not randomly distributed in the population. If you believe the statistics (my message is, don’t!), Italians recover better than Americans – US recovery rate is 2.5% and Italy’s is 12%. I suspect that it’s not that around 90,000 Americans still have the disease, instead there is a difference in reporting. The highest rates of infection are in Andorra, San Marino, Iceland and Luxembourg: basically, cities elevated to the status of country. The really low incidence of the disease in Africa is explained by the fact that people don’t move around much there. The one case where I think we can reasonably attribute something political to the number of cases is Iran, compared with Afghanistan and Turkey. I think they see this as an opportunity to get sanctions lifted.
  16. 1 point
    dream_weaver

    My Verses

    In my case, the explanation helped. It was rather cryptic,. save for the intellectual lights.
  17. 1 point
    merjet

    C & C: Coronavirus #4

    Yes, tentatively. I say "tentatively" since the Worldometer numbers change often and ceteris paribus. Based on the following numbers captured only minutes ago, the mortality rate for Italy is about 7.4 times that for Switzerland. I added Spain and the USA this time. Date Country Total Cases Total Deaths Tot Cases/ 1M pop Tot Deaths/ 1M pop Deaths / Cases 3/25/2020 Italy 69,176 6,820 1,144 113 9.86% 3/25/2020 Spain 47,610 3434 1,018 73 7.21% 3/25/2020 Switzerland 10,171 135 1,175 16 1.33% 3/25/2020 USA 54,963 784 166 2 1.43% Also, the age distribution of the countries' infected populations may differ and mortality rates vary significantly by age regardless. For example the following are mortality rates from the 2016 US Life Table. Death probability Age Male Female 65 0.015808 0.009761 70 0.023122 0.015413 75 0.035963 0.025035 80 0.057712 0.042539 85 0.096603 0.073763 90 0.163689 0.129706 Recognizing the caveats, I believe it is still safe to say that Switzerland's health care system is handling the pandemic much better than Italy's or Spain's. Based on this page, it seems that Spain's health care system is very much under government control with patients paying very little. There is some private health insurance.
  18. 1 point
    Jim Henderson

    My Verses

    Beautiful! Consider the Helios Overture of Carl Nielsen.
  19. 1 point
    dream_weaver

    C & C: Coronavirus #4

    @Easy TruthTry: Covid-9 + a healthcare variable = 0.013%—0.098% (truncated) mortality. South Korea contrasted with Italy by Mises Institute.
  20. 1 point
    "With all due respect , my tradition is older than yours, older than anyone else's. My profession was the first one man ever made, and it'll be the last one to go [in response to being called a Silver-Grey]. It's the one that makes all the others possible. So what do you say?" He held up the card [of the Warmind's instructions] for the third time. "Does our civilization deserve to live, or not?" — Marshall Atkins The Golden Age — John C. Wright
  21. 1 point
    I may be misunderstanding but “square roots (plural) of the positive real numbers” is defining a universal, it has many referents, it does not "only" referer to “square root of 17.”
  22. 1 point
    Reidy

    Review of The Siren of Selfishness

    Roark's hair may be, after Samson's and Rapunzel's, the most famous in literature, and it's not blond.
  23. 1 point
    "How To Think about Coronavirus and Our Society's Response" is now on YouTube. Yaron Brook also did a show yesterday about the coronavirus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s89AJYF7T5M
  24. 1 point
    This is a story on a guy who went around to small stores and cleaned the shelves of the supplies people are panic buying, and re-sold then online at much higher prices. Of course, he’s being castigated, including by some who claim to be fans of Rand. The supplies he bought would have quickly sold out anyway, and his business provided customers the opportunity to buy things they couldn’t get to the front of the line to get themselves. He did the work, and took the risk to buy all that stuff when there was no guarantee he could re sell it at high prices. The stores he bought from didn’t have a policy against anything he did. I say he’s innocent. Unfortunately for him, he failed to anticipate Amazon’s and Ebay’s PR moves, which resulted in him getting shut down. But does any Objectivist have a problem with this? https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/he-has-17700-bottles-of-hand-sanitizer-and-nowhere-to-sell-them/ar-BB11blvS
  25. 1 point
    Why do you think that? I don't see why immortality implies a lack of ability to kill yourself. It certainly isn't necessary to the point of this thread - one could imagine such a strong power of resilience that involuntary death is a solved problem, while voluntary death is still entirely possible. Secondly, why should one wish such a thing? Why should one ever be bored? Does a rose not smell sweet having smelled one before? Is a kiss not enjoyable because you've kissed before? I enjoy the sunrise despite having seen a thousand of them. It holds intrinsic beauty and pleasure. I enjoy art for art's sake; it's an end in itself. I'm intrinsically happy in my own person. I'm happy just to be able to see a sunrise. I'm happy just to be alive; just to be conscious is inherently enjoyable and meaningful. There are an endless number of things I wish I had the time to do. I want to play every game, I want to learn every language and every musical instrument, I want to see every part of the world, I want to learn all of history, I want to meet every person alive, I want to have great-great-great...-grandchildren. I want to explore and prove all of mathematics. I could give you more than a hundred thousand years of things I want to do right now. I love myself and I love my life. This is a permanent, undying, and insatiable love. What I'm describing is what being a human is like. All of the things I've mentioned aren't unique to me, they are intrinsic in human nature. It's death that is anti-human.
  26. 1 point
    You are making a circular argument. For a universal to be real does not imply that it's a concrete. That's only true under the premises of a non-realist metaphysics. You are assuming a metaphysics in which only concretes are real, and then telling me abstractions therefore cannot be real because only concretes are real. But it's your premise that I'm disagreeing with in the first place. The distinction between "abstract" and "concrete" is whether some thing is universal or specific - not whether the thing exists or not. The question of the reality of universals is a question of whether there are metaphysical natures, whether there are such abstract "kinds" in reality, or whether everything in reality is purely a specific and concrete, not of any real class or kind (other than those subjectively invented and justified). (side note, when someone uses the phrase "existed metaphysically", what they really mean is "existed physically" - they don't really understand the term "metaphysical". The "metaphysical" is not another realm of existence out there in the heavens above the physical. There is one realm of existence: the universe. Metaphysics is the study of the nature of things, and whether things have such a "nature". If a given thing has a metaphysical nature that means it is of a kind (a "kind" meaning a type or class of things). The thing itself is the concrete: it is entirely a specific particular. The type or the kind of which the concrete is an instance or examplar is the abstract: it is a universal, and stands for an unlimited number and variety of possible instances or examplars. The only question of what "exists metaphysically", are exactly these universals, that's what metaphysics is. Hence such arguments from materialists and positivists and nihilists, et al., that "metaphysics" is a dead subject.)
  27. 1 point
    If one views free-will/focus/choice as a sub-type of causality, how does doctrine of determinism square with this? The law of causality is the law of identity applied to action. Determinism applies this to every action, including the action of choice, which fundamentally is to focus, an exercise of free-will. The contradiction arise when one considers the action of choosing performed by a mind as preordained by antecedent factors. If the action of an entity is determined by the entity which acts, the complication arises when one cannot physically identify an entity called the mind, much less the action that asserted to arise from it. And while a refutation on the terms set by those who claim to be the gate-keepers of such matters has not been identified, the opposing horn of the dilemma has been well established, demarcating morality as physical actions arising such as to be judged as good or evil. Results, such as inexcusable deaths in Nazi concentration camps are easy enough to categorize as evil. Individuals have been held accountable in numerous court trials for actions taken under the guise of following orders. Such verdicts grant credence to a sub-type of causality operating within the wider theater of inanimate materialistic causality. A rock, rolling down a hill, crushing a carload of occupants has no moral culpability. An individual, leveraging a rock to roll down a hill in order to bring about that same result (knowingly or unknowingly) is the basis of the differences between homicide, negligent homicide, etc. Under societies familiar with how varying nuances can color the moral character of the actor, the choice/focus/free-will as agencies available to a mind of a conceptual being should be guiding the verdict accordingly and give its rightfully deserved consideration. The metaphysical basis of morality was not articulated clearly and concisely until Miss Rand explicitly provided the correlation between the two. If you grant the validity of her discovery, then it was true in every philosopher's time from before Thales, and even beyond. There is something amiss (or inherently wrong) with the notion that assertions need be refuted. The onus of proof lay on he who asserts the positive, comes to mind. If an onus of proof has been met, then those who fail to accept it should fall suspect, not the one that supplies the criteria necessary.
  28. 1 point
    There's nothing particularly quantum mechanical about Noether's theorem (it was proven just before quantum mechanics was widely accepted). It applies to classical mechanics too.
  29. 1 point
    Then it's time to let it go for a while so that we digest what was said. Another choice is to have someone who understands your position to make it for you and see if that makes a difference. I have done my best to understand and to respond.
  30. 1 point
    MisterSwig

    Feynman And Ayn Rand

    Definitions exist within a context of knowledge. If you don't know what "talking" means, then you're probably not worth talking to.
  31. 1 point
    SR, there was an extended article on compatiblism in my journal Objectivity by George Lyons in 1995, and there is further discussion in Eilon v. Boydstun 1997. My first degree was in physics, my second in engineering. I continued to study physics (and philosophy) through the decades. The idea that all future formations of each molecule and each galaxy are fully determined in their inanimate course of nature is false. So I say with Aristotle and with Peirce, and say against Leibniz, Laplace, and (more ambiguously) Rand/Peikoff. It is due to the free play, the contingency, within the course of lawful classical inanimate nature that engineerings are possible. The natural organization that is life is like an engineered system, of a sort. It requires contingency (and lawfulness) specifically of its inanimate surroundings and its own material and energy transformations to maintain itself and its kind. Consciousness able to range over the actions possible to its full organism and select trials is free to the extent of that consciousness, I'd say (with J. Enright *). More such power, more such freedom. For the human animal, such is free will and not compatibilism. For the compatibility of engineering-type organizations, including their instrumentation and control systems, with deterministic physical law is not, as I understand it, the compatibilism pushed by Hobart et al. Furthermore, free will as evident in one's first-person perspective on oneself is not one bit at odds with whatever science one brings to bear on one's third-person view of oneself, provided one gets unblindered as to the full setting of those sciences within their zone of nature. Writing large to all that is physical the narrow aspects of the physical world for which we discovered continuous deterministic mathematical characterization was and is unwarranted, vastly so. Professional up-to-date layout of compatibilism is here.
  32. 1 point
    If you compel (force) anyone into anything, justice requires that you pay a price for it. And Eiuol idea is that the "free lunch" is a reasonable price to pay a reparation for force that already has been used. But you two have to admit that it is an arrangement that is (overall) not ideal. The ideal solution is that the school/all schools should be private and go by free market private school rules. A private school in those circumstances is not an institution that "compels" parents to put the children there. So there is no crime that they have to pay for, then there is no reason for them to be obligated to provide free food. You will probably come back with "well that's not the world we live in". The problem is that the world that you see we live in "looting is eternally the norm. It will always happen. It has to be accepted. We have to get used to it." That is not the REAL world. Looting does not and should not happen. It will stop happening when it is not "believed in", when it is not surrendered to and supported by the population by false ideologies. When we eliminate (in our minds) the possibility that we can live in a just society, justice becomes impossible.
  33. 1 point
    Teen Vogue has identified the Ayn Rand Institute's essay contest as a notable benchmark. The American Prospect Is Running an Essay Contest for High Schoolers
  34. 1 point
    That question fits like a glove, or perhaps the thought that got jotted down back on the 26th of February in a notebook kept for such occasions . . . (out with it all ready) . . .in response to the thought Galt put forth about "conspirators" being united by links of evasion . . .: Can an aversion to evasion be culturally cultivated? At one time logic was respected, and even sought to be adhered to, or so it was suggested in the motivational opening to Peikoff's Introduction to Logic course. Rand wrote of a sense of life she recollected from her childhood that has ebbed away over the course of her years (my description, not hers). What does it take to turn morality into gold, such as folk want to discover it for themselves? (That was written by the sorcerer in Newton using the psychopomps to appeal to the Freudian alchemist in me.)
  35. 1 point
    Feeding the children is a utilitarian solution. It is not giving it back to those who it was stolen from.
  36. 1 point
    if (argument.understand == false) ; system.out.Print ("REEEEEE") ; Run sys.exe [ lexicon.cite ("www.aynrandlexicon.com) ] ;
  37. 1 point
    Boydstun

    Beauty - Francis Kovach

    “As for the necessary appetitive effect of the esthetic experience, focally the experience of beautiful fine art, it is a desire flowing directly from the esthetic judgment and its keep in knowledge and flowing indirectly from the esthetic intuition and delight. For the moment the beholder intuits the beauty of an object, an esthetic love is born, one assuming the specific character of esthetic joy or delight possessed in that moment of beholding. The object of this desire is not only or firstly the enjoyment of the previously beheld beauty. Rather, it is the desire to face that particular beauty again (PB 315–16). So I long to again walk around Mercury in Firenze and to again stand gazing a long while into On the Terrace in Chicago. Face to face.” (photo — 2/27/20)
  38. 1 point
    Boydstun

    My Verses

  39. 1 point
    Well yeah, we'd all love to read a scholarly essay from Rand on a lot of things, but that is not going to be available to you. Compatibilism could look something like Rand's position in the following way: what most people mean by "determinism" (in the ordinarily held belief set "determinism is true") is just that "things have causes." They don't happen randomly, or magically. They "obey laws" or act orderly. In that sense, free will is something compatible with "determinism construed as things having causes." Generally, at the level this concern is presented, it is when the person has reached a certain level of reflection about nature and causality and it's relation to choice. But you're right that compatibilist views have, historically, rested on shifting the meaning of "free" to modal notions about our power or ability to bring things about, and the absence of restraints on those powers. Additionally the classical compatibilists tended to conceptualize "determinism" in a stricter way than I just did above, but in the sense of "necessary due to things that are not up to us." In that sense, Rand's position has nothing in common with compatibilism. Rand's position seems to entail not merely that we faced no constraints on our power or ability to do otherwise if we desired, but that we have an agent-causal power to direct our consciousness that is ontologically irreducible to event-causation alone (her "focus theory.") But if you're looking for some in depth informational resource: there isn't any. Rand's philosophy is underdeveloped on this point.
  40. 1 point
    Boydstun

    Rand and the Greeks

    I wrote this and originally posted it online in 2010. Rand and the Greeks In the “The Objectivist Ethics” Rand stated: “Aristotle did not regard ethics as an exact science” (14). “He based his ethical system on observations of what the noble and wise men of his time chose to do, leaving unanswered the questions of: why they chose to do it and why he evaluated them as noble and wise” (OE 14). Insofar as Aristotle’s approach was indeed as described in the preceding quotation (see e.g. NE 1140a24–25), Rand stakes ethics in a dramatically different way. Rand aims to ground an ethics in something more firm, namely, in biology. In the soul, Aristotle marks three divisions: passions, faculties, and states. He argues that excellence, or nobility, cannot be a passion nor a faculty, and so must be a state. In particular excellence “will be the state which makes a man good and which makes him do his own work well” (NE 1106a22–23). More particularly still, excellence “is a state concerned with choice, lying in a mean relative to us, this being determined by reason and in the way in which the man of practical wisdom would determine it” (NE 1106b36–1107a2). A number of thinkers sympathetic to Rand’s rational, life-centered ethical egoism have argued that, in a variety of ways, her ethics is closer to Aristotle’s than she had expressly gauged it to be. One of the additions Rand made to the exposition of her ethics in “The Objectivist Ethics” beyond the exposition in “Galt’s Speech” was her introduction of the phrase ultimate value. Rand rejected the Aristotelian conception of vegetative and non-conscious animal activities as being due to some sort of “teleological principle operating in nature” (OE 16). Like the early moderns Descartes, Hobbes, and Spinoza, like we moderns today, Rand held the domain of Aristotle’s final causation to be confined “only to a conscious being.” Final causation in its only reality is “the process by which an end determines the means, i.e., the process of choosing a goal and taking the actions necessary to achieve it” (CvD 99). Taking that modern layout for understood, Rand wrote: “In a fundamental sense, stillness is the antithesis of life. Life can be kept in existence only by a constant process of self-sustaining action. The goal of that action, the ultimate value which, to be kept, must be gained through its every moment, is the organisms life. “An ultimate value is that final goal or end to which all lesser goals are the means—and it sets the standard by which all lesser goals are to be evaluated.” (OE 16–17) The only such ultimate value, the only end in itself, is the life of the individual organism, in Rand’s view. In the vegetative and appetitive organizations within the human animal, that end is supposed by Rand to be their healthy overarching one. Those systems run that way automatically. But the human individual is fundamentally free to choose how far he keeps his mind and actions set upon that same ultimate end, the preservation and fullness of his own life. There is a parallel here with Aristotle’s conception of the mature human ability to craft deliberate virtues upon natural virtues (see Lennox 1999). Then again there is the glaring difference that Rand would not have philosophical contemplation to be the overarching end driving a human life taken to be happiest of all other human lives (NE X, 7). In his 1975 work Human Rights and Human Liberties, Tibor Machan argued that “only if a specifically human goal can be identified—one shared by all people just in virtue of being the kind of thing they are—could an identifiable standard for moral valuation be found. If there is nothing on that order that human beings ought to achieve, no summum bonum, then the idea that they ought to achieve it could not be meaningful” (71). Rand had argued that “it only an ultimate goal, an end in itself, that makes the existence of values possible. Metaphysically, life is the only phenomenon that is an end in itself: a value gained and kept by a constant process of action. Epistemologically, the concept of ‘value’ is genetically dependent upon and derived from the antecedent concept of ‘life’” (OE 17; see also Den Uyl and Rasmussen 1984a, 65–67). What goes for value goes as well for the Aristotelian coins excellence, success, and doing well. Life—the physical phenomenon of life—is their original and perpetual grounding context (cf. Kelley 1992, 58). Professor Machan went on to endorse an argument by function-explanation put forth by Eric Mack (1971) to the conclusion that “the end of the objective function” of an individual’s choices and actions “is the sustenance of his life” (72). Machan then linked Rand’s summum bonum, as defended by Mack, with Aristotle’s idea that “the proper goal of each person is his own success as a human being, his own happiness” (72). Tightening the link, Machan observes: “The happiness discussed by Aristotle is far broader than what people usually mean by the term ‘happiness’. It is closer to what Ayn Rand has characterized as ‘a noncontradictory state of joy’. The main feature of this state is not pleasure, fun, or excitement. Instead it is a self-acknowledgement of worth, a sense of being a successful living entity of the kind human beings are” (73; see further, Lawrence 2006). There is considerable difference, nonetheless, I should say, between what Aristotle and Rand conceived the human mind and life to be and between what they took as the source of ethical norms (see e.g. Long 2000). Aristotle argued for happiness as the unique final end; Rand found life as final end-giving end of happiness. Moreover, Rand conceived happiness, with its self-sufficient quality, to be integral with, not aloof from, the pleasure of human animal life (see Frede 2007, 264–67, on Aristotle; cf. Saint-André 1993, 152, 159–66, and Branden 1964, on Rand). Among others stressing the kinship of Rand’s ethics to Aristotle’s would be Jack Wheeler in his contribution “Rand and Aristotle: A Comparison of Objectivist and Aristotelian Ethics” (1984). Similarly, Peter Saint-André stresses that Rand’s project, and Aristotle’s too, is “at root metaphysical,” both projects dealing with “‘what is possible’ to the human individual” (1996, 209). He objects to Rand’s representation of Aristotle as only “sifting through what the noble and the wise say and do” to uncover norms. That may be what Aristotle sometimes says he does, but, Saint-André would have us look at Nicomachean Ethics I, 6–7, “wherein Aristotle investigates the ontological status of the Good and derives the nature of happiness from the ergon or ‘characteristic work’ of man quo man” (1996, 210). In his 2005 paper “Ayn Rand as Aristotelian: Values and Happiness,” Fred Miller observes that Aristotle’s presentation is open to interpretation among noted scholars. John Cooper, Terence Irwin, and David Reeve read Aristotle along the lines read by Machan, Den Uyl and Rasmussen, and others, which allows one to see Aristotle as near Rand in pattern of meta-ethical reasoning. Gabriel Richardson Lear reads Aristotle along those lines in her deep study (2004, 121–22, 145–46). Sarah Broadie dissents from the Grand End reading of Aristotle (1991), though she takes Aristotle as having practical reason discern right action, rather than constituting it (2006, 348). John McDowell finds Aristotle more like Rand found him: “Rather than giving a criterion that works from outside the ethic, [Aristotle] says that such things are as the virtuous person determines them to be” (1998, 35; quoted in Miller 2005). In any case, biological existence is not among the candidates for external ultimate criteria for ethical norms various scholars have drawn from Aristotle’s text. Professor Miller draws attention to Rand’s remarks on Aristotle a couple of years after her critical remarks on Aristotle’s ethical theory. Rand approved of Aristotle’s conceptions of life and knowledge as naturalistic facts. She viewed Aristotle as giving “living entities, the phenomenon of life,” a central place in his philosophy (1963, 10). “Life—and its highest form, man’s life—is the central fact in Aristotle’s view of reality. The best way to describe it is to say that Aristotle’s philosophy is ‘biocentric’.” (The same can be said for Protagoras, who influenced the Cyrenaics and Epicurus, I should note.) Rand continues: “This is the source of Aristotle’s intense concern with the study of the enormously ‘pro-life’ attitude that dominates his thinking” (11). When it comes to his ethical writings, however, I do not find Aristotle bringing biology expressly to bear. I do not see he has any understanding that the physical phenomenon of life, and its continuous self-generated struggle for continuation, is the source of all value. Happiness is not ordered to life by Aristotle in the express and deep way it is ordered to life by Rand. “Just as the pleasure-pain mechanism of man’s body is an automatic indicator of his body’s welfare or injury, a barometer of its basic alternative, life or death—so the emotional mechanism of man’s consciousness is geared to perform the same function, as a barometer that registers the same alternative by means of two basic emotions: joy or suffering.” (OE 27) “The maintenance of life and the pursuit of happiness are not two separate issues. . . . When one experiences the kind of pure happiness that is an end in itself—the kind that makes one think: ‘This is worth living for’—what one is greeting and affirming in emotional terms is the metaphysical fact that life is an end in itself.” (OE 29) Aristotle recognized that there is no desire, no valued thing, where there is no life (EE 1281a26–27). That is short of seeing that and how the concept value, or goodness, presupposes the concept life. Aristotle observed that pleasures complete competent activities “as an end which supervenes as the bloom of youth does on those in the flower of their age” (NE 1174b31–33). Life is desirable, and pleasure completes the activity that is human life (NE 1175a10–21). Moreover, the life of the virtuous is pleasant, and its pleasures are harmonious because they are pleasures taken in things that are by nature pleasant (NE 1099a6–14). But Aristotle does not proceed expressly from pleasure to joy to happiness, and on the steps life, life, life. Aristotle held that eudaimonia is a complete thing, an end in itself (NE 1097a30–35; 1176a36–1176b5; EE 1219a24–39; see further, Richardson Lear 2004, 69–71). He held it to be something of a self-generated achievement (NE 1114b30–1115a3; EE 1215a15–19). One barrier to Aristotle fully seeing happiness as emblematic servant of life itself, morality’s true ground, is perhaps this: Although he recognized the self-generated dimension of life, he “did not clearly identify that a living organism’s existence depends on this activity” (Smith 2000, 119n11). Born nine years after Aristotle and living five decades beyond him was Epicurus. He promoted a form of eudaimonistic hedonism, directed by the reins of physical life, which life dwells in a world devoid of Aristotelian natural teleology. That Epicurus keeps ethics close to biology is fast upon his view that “the soul is a body [made up of] fine parts distributed throughout the entire aggregate, and most closely resembling breath with a certain admixture of heat . . . . All of this is revealed by the abilities of the soul, its feelings, its ease of motion, its thought processes, and the things whose removal leads to our death” (Ltr. To Herodotus 63). Human nature “was taught a large number of different lessons just by the facts themselves, and compelled [by them]; . . . reasoning later made more precise what was handed over to it [by nature] and made additional discoveries” (H 75). Good and bad arise only within sense experience. So death cannot be the root of that which is bad (Ltr to Menoeceus 124–25). “The wise man neither rejects life nor fears death” (M 126). Among natural desires, “some are necessary for happiness and some for freeing the body from troubles and some for life itself” (M 127). As for the first two, Epicurus writes: “The cry of the flesh: not to be hungry, not to be thirsty, not to be cold. For if someone has these things and is confident of having them in the future, he might contend even with [Zeus] for happiness” (Vatican Collection 33). Epicurus held to a conceptual primacy of pain over pleasure—the latter is only the absence of the former—although plenty of harmonious pleasure is possible in life if one keeps ones desires limited to what is necessary for a modest style of life (M 128–32; Principal Doctrines III–V). “One must not force nature but persuade her. And we will persuade her by fulfilling the necessary desires” and the natural but unnecessary ones, provided they are not harmful (VC 21). Epicurus anchors happiness to absence of bodily pains and harms. This suggests he takes physical life to be the basis of right desires. In addition, as seen in the paragraph before last, some right desires are necessary “for life itself,” in the view of Epicurus. I do not find in Epicurus the insight that it is the concept of life, with its fundamental perpetual alternative, that makes the concept of right desire possible. Still, it should be clear that on the relation of moral values to life itself, there are precursors of Rand’s pages in the writings of both Epicurus and Aristotle. (See further, Shelton 1995, 1996, and Saint-André 1996.) (Coming in a few weeks: Salmeiri 2020.) References Aristotle 1984. The Complete Works of Aristotle, volume 2. J. Barnes, editor. Princeton. Branden, N. 1964. The Psychology of Pleasure. In Rand 1964. Broadie, S. 1991. Ethics with Aristotle. Oxford. ——. 2006. Aristotle and Contemporary Ethics. In Kraut 2006. Den Uyl, D. J., and D. B. Rasmussen 1984a. Life, Teleology, and Eudaimonia in the Ethics of Ayn Rand. In 1984b. Den Uyl, D. J., and D. B. Rasmussen, editors. 1984b. The Philosophic Thought of Ayn Rand. University of Illinois. Epicurus 1994. The Epicurus Reader. B. Inwood and L. P. Gerson, translators and editors. Hackett. Frede, D. 2006. Pleasure and Pain in Aristotle’s Ethics. In Kraut 2006. Kelley, D. 1992. Post-Randian Aristotelianism. Liberty (July). Kraut, R., editor. 2006. The Blackwell Guide to Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Blackwell. Lawrence, G. 2006. Human Good and Human Function. In Kraut 2006. Lennox, J. G. 1999. Aristotle on the Biological Roots of Virtue: The Natural History of Natural Virtue. In Biology and the Foundation of Ethics. J. Maienschein and M. Ruse, editors. Cambridge. Long, R. T. 2000. Reason and Value: Aristotle versus Rand. Objectivist Studies. No. 3. The Objectivist Center. Machan, T. R. 1975. Human Rights and Human Liberties. Nelson Hall. Mack, E. 1971. How to Derive Ethical Egoism. The Personalist (Autumn):736–43. McDowell, J. 1998. Some Issues in Aristotle’s Moral Psychology. In Mind, Value, and Reality. Cambridge. Rand, A. 1961. The Objectivist Ethics. In Rand 1964. ——. 1963. Review of Randall’s Aristotle. In The Voice of Reason. 1990. Meridian. ——. 1964. The Virtue of Selfishness. 1964. Signet. ——. 1974. Causality versus Duty. In Philosophy: Who Needs It. 1982. Signet. Richardson Lear, G. 2004. Happy Lives and the Highest Good. Princeton. Saint-André, J. P. 1993. A Philosophy for Living on Earth. Objectivity 1(6):137–73. ——. 1996. Epicurean Pleasure and the Objectivist Good. Objectivity 2(4):205–11. Shelton, R. 1995. Epicurus and Rand. Objectivity 2(3)1–47. ——. 1996. Parallel Metaethics. Objectivity 2(4):213–25. Smith, T. 2000. Viable Values. Rowman & Littlefield. Wheeler, J. 1984. Rand and Aristotle: A Comparison of Objectivist and Aristotelian Ethics. In Den Uyl and Rasmussen 1984b.
  41. 1 point
    2046

    Charles Tew

    My comments should be interpreted as stand-alone and not as related to Rucka or alcoholism. The guy is just weird. What's up with the super old picture that obviously is not what you look like? Are you trying to catfish your audience? Most of what he says is just unoriginal and uninteresting. The universe is eternal. The choice to live is an irreducible primary. Free will is the choice to focus. Okay, yes I too have read Peikoff. Combine that with constant pretentious posturing and ad hominem, with all the standard Randian tropes ("you're evading and have failed to focus your mind!"), crankish delusions that he's the greatest living philosopher of our time and ARI is immoral because it didn't accept him to OAC, and no one is as smart and virtuous as him, etc.
  42. 1 point
    Eiuol

    Reification and Suicide

    I think it is a fine thought experiment. I think it frames two things. One is your main idea: How does one compare pain too suffering, or when does enduring pain become sacrifice? Your position is, seemingly, that unrelenting pain and torture is that point. Epist's position is that at no point does enduring pain become sacrifice, as long as one has the capacity to think, i.e. live according to man's nature - no matter how long it lasts. My position is Epist's, as far as I understand it. But then there's another question to ask: what is excruciating pain and emotional despair? I'm lead to wonder what is excruciating pain is, because I suspect what is excruciating to you isn't going to be as bad for me. I honestly have a high pain tolerance, and I doubt that level of pain exists without some error of thought or choosing to focus. For example, Buddhist monks, leaving aside any error about ethics this implies, are quite amazing at enduring pain most likely due to their meditation skills. It isn't a matter of them embracing pain, or attempting to ignore the pain. Simply, they recognize it as present, and that's it. One way to think of this is that Buddhist monks want to erase value, thus nothing will be able to harm their values. This is nihilistic, and anti-life. Or, another way is that they recognize how pain is meaningless, a zero, and adopt some mental skills to manage what life throws at them. To them, 99 years of despair and suffering is due to the wrong frame of mind. This mirrors the Stoics. Pain and suffering, in the usual sense people mean it, is due to frame of mind. With proper practice and study, this pain is entirely bearable. If you have the skills, your thought experiment wouldn't make sense. The real question is what pain is in the first place. If the pain is a promise, he also knows it's time to start acquiring the proper frame of mind.
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