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  1. 2 points
    I wanted to bring these two recent books by Objectivist intellectuals to the attention of the forum. I'll just quote the Amazon description for each, since I think they pretty much speak for themselves. America's Revolutionary Mind by Thompson "America's Revolutionary Mind is the first major reinterpretation of the American Revolution since the publication of Bernard Bailyn's The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution and Gordon S. Wood's The Creation of the American Republic. "The purpose of this book is twofold: first, to elucidate the logic, principles, and significance of the Declaration of Independence as the embodiment of the American mind; and, second, to shed light on what John Adams once called the "real American Revolution"; that is, the moral revolution that occurred in the minds of the people in the fifteen years before 1776. The Declaration is used here as an ideological road map by which to chart the intellectual and moral terrain traveled by American Revolutionaries as they searched for new moral principles to deal with the changed political circumstances of the 1760s and early 1770s. This volume identifies and analyzes the modes of reasoning, the patterns of thought, and the new moral and political principles that served American Revolutionaries first in their intellectual battle with Great Britain before 1776 and then in their attempt to create new Revolutionary societies after 1776. "The book reconstructs what amounts to a near-unified system of thought―what Thomas Jefferson called an “American mind” or what I call “America’s Revolutionary mind.” This American mind was, I argue, united in its fealty to a common philosophy that was expressed in the Declaration and launched with the words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident.”" https://www.amazon.com/Americas-Revolutionary-Mind-Revolution-Declaration/dp/164177066X God Versus Nature: The Conflict Between Religion and Science in History by Seiler "Science is based on reason. Religion is based on faith. "Reason and faith are fundamentally incompatible, therefore science and religion must be incompatible. "Given this basic conflict, a close look at history reveals some puzzling facts: Science was born in a society that believed in many gods (Ancient Greece). Numerous scientific achievements were made in the very religious Islamic world. Modern science was born in a society dominated by Christianity (seventeenth-century Europe). Most scientists in history were religious. "How are we to make sense of these facts? How are we to relate them to the broader trajectory of the science/religion relationship from Ancient Greece to the present? "That is the subject of this book." https://www.amazon.com/God-Versus-Nature-Conflict-Religion-ebook/dp/B0857HQTYR/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=god+versus+nature&qid=1590163367&s=books&sr=1-1 I've read both, and (obviously) would recommend both.
  2. 2 points
    A Guide to Effective Study, by Edwin A. Locke, sports the following contents. Part I. Study Methods 1. Introduction 2. What is Studying? 3. How To Do Abstract Reading 4. How To Do Abstract Integrative Reading 5. How To Identify and Designate What Is Important 6. How To Program Your Memory: The Nature of Memory 7. How To Program Your Memory: Specific Techniques 8. The Physical Context of Study 9. The Social Context of Study 10. How To Manage Time 11. How To Take Lecture Notes 12. How To Prepare For and Take Exams 13. Study Monitoring Part II. Study Motivation 14. Motives for Going to Col3ege 15. How to Cope with Fatigue and Boredom 16. Blocks to Mental Effort 17. How To Cope with Test Anxiety 18. How To Cope with "Failure" 19. Motivational Monitoring 20. Autobiographical Portraits of Two Self-Motivated Students. Here is a breakdown of the bold type headings: 3. How To Do Abstract Reading Techniques of Abstract Reading Establish the Proper Mental Set Formulate the Ideas in Your Own Words Form General Mental Images Break Down The Material Into Smaller Units Common Errors in Abstract Reading Overconcreteness Vagueness "Cheating" on Yourself The Problem of Time Summary Exercises Evaluating You Answers While this book may be out of print, Study Methods & Motivation: A Practical Guide to Effective Study by Edwin A. Locke is listed over at the Ayn Rand Instititue e-store, and is likely a revamped version.
  3. 2 points

    Feynman And Ayn Rand

    Lawrence Edward Richard, firstly, welcome. I wondered if you are related to the Lawrence Edward Richard who died in 2011, because a Facebook man of that name stopped posting there at that time and recently that page has started again having posts under that name. I wondered if perhaps you were his son or other relation. Anyway, welcome to Objectivism Online. I enjoy your posts, as so many others here. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I think Rand, as any person in a sensible moment, would squarely object to the statement of Feynman’s as stated, which William Hobba rightly disputed, at the root post of this thread. In its context, which is unknown to me, we might see some better sense to Feynman’s remark. To the remark as it stands here, I would add to Mr. Hobba’s remark that Newton’s definition of Force, as well as its expanded formula by Einstein/Planck, is precise. They are both precise. That the later one is wider in correct application and contains the earlier one in the appropriate physical limit, does not make the later one more precise, but more widely correct. On and on, there is precise definition in physics. The definition of what are canonically conjugate pairs of dynamical variables is precise. The indeterminacy of their precise joint values in the quantum regime is precise. The definition of what is a Feynman Diagram is precise. Rand praised modern science a lot, but had criticisms of a number of general things being said about science by ’57, quoted from the fictitious book Why Do You Think You Think? (AS 340-41). Also in Atlas Shrugged, she made a couple of criticisms of some particular modern science. Most famously, she criticized Behaviorist psychology, which critique she extend in a later essay concerning Skinner. She indicated what was by her lights a wise attitude towards QM, with its “Uncertainty Principle” so salient with the educated public at the time, through words of the fictional character Dr. Stadler (346). She never returned to QM physics stuff herself, but she put her stamp of approval on all the contents of Peikoff’s 1976 lecture series “The Philosophy of Objectivism” which included his understanding and critique of the “measurement problem” in QM. Rand’s rejection of Behaviorism and (with Branden) of human instincts (under some prominent meanings) and the subconscious (under some prominent meanings) was under her view in what is usually called philosophical psychology. Her conception of What is a human being? was at odds with those quasi- or pseudo-scientific psychology schematics. Rand carried in The Objectivist a serial article on epistemological issues in biology that was authored by Robert Efron, a distinguished neuroscientist (Christoff Koch was a student of his). The title was “Biology without Consciousness” (1968). Rand savaged a paper by philosopher of science Feyerabend in her 1970 essay “Kant v. Sullivan.” Rand’s philosophy has also had some interface with science in her conceptions of what sort of thing could or could not be a cause anything.
  4. 2 points


    Welcome to the forum, Giemel, Your experience seems similar to my own. Reading through the many posts, you will find that there are as many differing views contesting to be the most rational point of view. I wouldn't worry too much about trying to identify as Objectivist, as I would see it more as an aspiration, rather than an identity. Most people I've discussed ideas with have never heard of Ayn Rand, let alone any philosophical school of thought. Most people are religious and anti-intellectual. There's little you can do about it. In conversation, I usually identify as "rational egoist," if that's any help to you. If they wish to know more, they need to listen, or it's their loss. In any case, it's a comfort to know our ranks are growing.
  5. 1 point
    Boris Rarden

    Working outdoors

    I work outdoors in city parks. I wanted to do this for a long time, but it came handy during Covid. Before Covid I used to go to the public library to work, but now I can't do that. Once it got warmer in the Spring, I began going outside, with a table setup. I'm able to carry all this gear on a bicycle, or by car with a wagon cart for the last mile. Besides the gear, I take lunch with me and plenty of hot tea to keep me warm if it gets cold. (Working in a standing position is warmer.) The biggest challenge that remains is an unlimited and affordable LTE mobile plan. I have an article on Medium that documents it in more detail. It's linked from my homepage.
  6. 1 point
    Absolutely agree. Additionally, for those wanting to delve further into ethics and values I have to recommend Tara Smith (professional philosopher) and her works Viable Values and Ayn Rand’s Normative Ethics. Her writing is exceptionally clear, succinct, and her razor sharp logic is as flawless as humanly possible.
  7. 1 point
    Welcome to Objectivism Online, Carl Leduc. I was wondering, given your university, whether you are bilingual French/English. Also, if you read both well, would you say there has been a good translation of Atlas Shrugged into French? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ This is only a sidebar to your question, Carl, but I do not agree with the idea that understanding Objectivism completely takes years. I know that the philosophy can go on and on, effectively endlessly, in the different traditional and new philosophical questions it can be developed to tackle. And on and on in detailed scholarly comparisons with other philosophies. And on and on in the ‘philosophy of x’, where x stands for the various special areas of knowledge such as mathematics and the various sciences. Objectivism itself—considering Rand’s writings she chose to publish as well as subsequent works by competent expositors in this close period beyond Rand’s life—can be thought to be of various sizes it seems to me. The first size would be simply what all is in the novel Atlas Shrugged (mainly Galt’s Speech, with its organized conceptual progression). In my own estimation, anyone fully understanding what is said in that book alone understands Objectivism. Everything further, fine and fascinating as it is concerning the philosophy set out there, is inessential to Objectivism insofar as the further work delineates the philosophy at all beyond what was said in that book. It has been my experience that people interested in learning more of the philosophy beyond what they could or did find in Atlas are somewhat above average general intelligence, usually at least one standard deviation above. Seekers of more, in my encounters with them, were seldom genuinely seeking to get something clarified they had found in Atlas nor figure out what good applications the book and its philosophy might have for making their own life. Rather, they were reaching for additional intellectual adventures and realms stemmed from aspects of the Atlas one. There are two books beyond Atlas that present the philosophy, in its larger, more luxurious size, in an organized way. So to a great extent, these present the philosophy with the integration needed for integrated understanding of it. Those are Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand and The Blackwell Companion to Ayn Rand. Stephen
  8. 1 point
    To take this one step deeper, Can the notion of one receiving the spiritual values, goods, or services of another, then refusing to pay the spiritual price for them be regarded as keeping them by force?
  9. 1 point
    Fraud, when it comes to breach of contract, is consider to be an indirect initiation of force. What is the purpose of a guilt trip for earned guilt versus unearned guilt? Eiuol, how much are you getting paid per hour to employ on Mr. Veskler's behalf your moderation skills for the Objectivism Online forum?
  10. 1 point
    Guaranteeing they will need another job? Ooops there's that n-word ... "NEED" Hogwash. You base your entire argument re. $15 upon nothing but a subjective whim, an arbitrary edict, as all proponents of minimum wage do. Who decides what kind of food, (basic or fancy), what kind of shelter (living alone in a mansion, or in an apartment with 6 others), what kind of clothing (basic or brand-name), what kind of leisure activities and luxuries (smart phones, movies, game consoles, cigarettes, booze, junk food, etc.) are "necessary" to a person's "need" of a certain wage or number of jobs? What about an intelligent industrious 13 year old hoping to become a doctor. What is wrong with him starting with summer employment in a kitchen because he has in an interest in cooking - say at $3-$5 an hour? He has no expenses at all and he might find that very much "worth" it while being very worthy and good at it, maybe he'll take the job for the experience only, or the odd cookie. ...and wouldn't responsible parents want their children to learn the importance of employment at an early age, to learn that as adults they will not be "entitled" to get anything from anyone except by voluntary trade? What about a young trade college student with flexible hours, already on a scholarship or funded by parents, wanting to do a little work on the side. Who's to tell him he cant accept a $3-$5 an hour job if that is all he is currently good for? What about a "failure... to launch" adult who lives with his parents or lives with 6 room-mates, and the household costs to him are so low he is nowhere near "needing" a second job? What about an honest hard working person willing to take two jobs but looking to move up in value so that one day they can stick with one? Who should decide that a person "should" only have one job? Who should decide how many hours a week a person is allowed to devote to productive money earning work? What about an unskilled wife or (an unskilled husband for that matter) of a professional who wants to do something and is willing to work for $3-$5 as a cook? Who should decide how much a couple "should" earn, or how many jobs a couple "should" have? Moral wage rates include everything, right down to $0 where volunteers are willing to work in exchange only for the experience of working. And I'll tell you who should decide the rates, the employer and the potential employee, and given their specific circumstances either the employee will accept the job for a wage which is also acceptable to the employer, or they will part ways. THAT is moral.
  11. 1 point
    The terms used sometimes confuse the subject, as in "completely fair" vs. "fair" vs. "moral". One fundamental problem is that if you objectively as a third person look at many transactions, you will see that one person gets more value than the other. Frequently!! You can conclude that most transactions are unfair. What makes it fair, or just, or enforceable is the fact that there was an unforced agreement, a voluntary one. The "agreement" is what makes it voluntary. Voluntary meaning "not tricked into it" or not threatened by the other party into it. We are not born with the ability to make the best transaction all the time, we learn to make better and better ones. Some people have low self esteem and are consistently taken advantage of. In many of these cases, resentment builds and they will not transact anymore. The example you bring up is more about what is workable or practical or a best practice for one of the transactors. To observe the other person and IF a long term relationship is desired to make sure that the other person is satisfied as to not create problems later on. It is not about fairness, it is dealing with your own rational self interest (personal ethics). But what if a rational person does business with an irrational person. Does the rational person have to determine what the irrational person should get? In most cases, it can't be done. You may say that 15 dollars is what they should get, but then I think it should be 50.3425 dollars per hour. Why? It feels right to me. Here you are controlling the process of transacting as a third person, as an authoritarian. Don't they have a right to be free to transact? Without you refereeing it? Or perhaps regulating it?
  12. 1 point
    They can be actually. To subsidize means basically to provide financial support. Financial support through public funds is not the only meaning of subsidize. I think many libertarian minded people have a genuine hard time understanding that just because something is a voluntary market transaction does not mean that transaction is morally good. It is also possible to accept a transaction without endorsing the transaction as completely fair, especially in the short term. I think this especially applies to internships. Generally, I think paying employees what looks to be very small wages is often due to the employer failing to acknowledge the value that an employee provides. Suppose I hire an employee for $10 an hour, and they would accept it. If I hire them for $15 an hour, they would accept it. An employer has to make a decision about the wage they want to pay above the bare minimum that the employee would accept. I don't imagine that the moral way to make this calculation is simply to figure out what is the lowest wage that the employee would accept. The moral way to make this calculation is to think about the value that an employee provides - not merely the monetary value. As far as full-time employees, at really any job, I can't see a reason to say that an employee should be paid less than $15 an hour. That is, a full-time employer should have enough respect for their employee that they pay a living wage. This is just a long way to say that I agree with you. I mean, they might be financially viable businesses, but I wouldn't call them morally viable.
  13. 1 point
    In diatonic music, even in the greatest symphonies, the chord must be resolved to the center. Choirs must follow strophe and antistrophe and end the play in catastrophe. — Ao Aoen, The Warlock
  14. 1 point
    And if a cameraman had shot you in that situation, inadvertently mixing with neo-Nazis? Such a sleazy old media trick, I'm amazed the public falls for it still. If the Press wants to destroy someone's character they have taken or pull out an old photo of him/her in the company of notorious scumbags and publish it. That's a simple variation on "guilt by association", guilt by proximity. The short attention span and 'symbolic' mindset of readers and viewers does the rest. He/she will always carry that slur on their public reputation. No different to the guilt by association technique here, that suggests very different people, conservatives and supremacists, protesting the lock down, lumped as one 'group'. For what reason? Why should the media make that play? Obviously some have a vested interest in keeping the economy from recovering.
  15. 1 point
    I composed this three-part essay five years ago. This sector of OBJECTIVISM ONLINE is a natural spot for it. Beauty – Francis Kovach Part I The author of Philosophy of Beauty (PB) was my first philosophy professor Francis Kovach. Beauty is “that which, in sole virtue of a knowledge of it rather than its usefulness, delights its knower” (PB 24). What is “that which”? What is beauty? A sense of beauty can be companion to other feelings engendered in a work of art. “Pure beauty merely delights; the sublime delights and awes; the tragic delights and saddens; the comic delights and makes one laugh; . . .” (PB 29). Michelangelo’s Pieta: pathos with beauty. Bernini’s David: power and determination with beauty. Brancusi’s Bird in Space: suspension and sweep with beauty. Ugliness crafted in art is craft of the contrary privative of the positive value beauty (PB 250–64). Ugliness has been taken as a privative since Plato, although, since the nineteenth century, there have been dissenters. One version of a positive interpretation of ugliness “seems to go back to Winckelmann, who ventured to assert that expressiveness was one of the primary characteristics of classic art, whereas Lessing held the more traditional view, viz., that beauty is the main purpose of classic art. Schlegel, at the end of the eighteenth century (1797) declared that the main concern of modern art is not beauty but the characteristic or the interesting, and the characteristic or the interesting may be, among others, the repulsive or hideous, i.e., the ugly.” (PB 255) The kind of beauty in art is what Kovach called material beauty, “the integral unity of a multitude or variety of proportionate parts” (PB 185). Integral means the capability of the parts to contribute to the whole of the beautiful work, where “these parts, through their presence, actually ensure and constitute the wholeness of the beautiful material being” (185). Proportionate means capability of being put together with the other parts and of being united with them into the whole of the beautiful work of art (185). In any “obviously well-arranged whole” there can be found “integrally proportionate and unified parts” (PB 185–86). The integrity of such an orderly material whole is the principle of its order. Integrity is “the property in virtue of which order has all the parts necessary and no parts unnecessary for it” (190). (I notice in passing that having all the parts necessary does not preclude there being alternative necessary parts; necessary part of a piston engine could be spark plug or fuel injector.) Such an artistic whole damaged or never completed, or composed as if those were so, frustrates the viewer. It frustrates fulfillment of the natural cognitive desire for and cognitive delight in the fully knowable. A full integrity renders things fully knowable with the delight that holds, and thereby, integrity is a true principle of beauty (193). The esthetics of my Prof. Kovach, who was very learned in the history of esthetics, has considerable affinity with that of Rand. In much of her thinking about art, she was not alone. What Kovach says about integrity and integral unity in the work of art fits well with Rand’s writings on esthetics in The Fountainhead and in her nonfiction. The proportionate “is intuitively intelligible and, thereby, cognitively delightful; whereas that which is disproportionate is, as such, intuitively puzzling, upsetting, disturbing, even displeasing to the beholder” (PB 195). Suppose a man “is listening to a lullaby, and suddenly he hears drums sounding fortissimo. . . . He will instantly intuit the unsuitability of the loud sounds of the drums to the soft sounds of the other musical instruments in the lullaby” (195). The role of proportion is to render intelligibility and its delight intuitively. Unity in the work of art, or in a machine for that matter, “unity, as such, is intelligible; multitude, the privation of unity, is not. Inasmuch as the unity of a material being is intuitively, effortlessly intelligible, the knowledge of it is delightful, and the thing itself is cognitively delightful and, as such, beautiful” (PB 195). Kovach goes on to argue for the presence of integrity, proportion, and unity in all material things. That we do not encounter beauty in all of them is due to the order in some being not directly perceivable by us or not intuitively knowable by us or relatively inferior or conspicuously defective or so frequent that it cannot delight. The artist aiming to realize beauty, for cognitive delight of the beholder, will be concerned with composing details in right definite relations to the whole she has in mind, or at least selecting among particulars according with a whole emerging in mind. The order in her representation, if beautiful, will be an exemplification of the three principles of order of material being, concretely intelligible and, therewith, immediately delighting (198–208). Francis Kovach belonged to the Scholastic tradition in philosophy. He took their view that beauty is objective. Beauty is there whether or not it is discerned. He argued for that view and, furthermore, he argued that beauty is a property of being the Scholastics called a transcendental property of being. Such a property is convertible with being and with other such properties. The distinction between being and its transcendental properties is only ideational; in reality they refer to the self-same thing. (Here I shall stay with the customary name transcendental property, though I think merely cohort is a better name.) In Rand’s metaphysics, identity is such a transcendental property of being, where being means any and all existence, actual or potential, physical or mental (AS 1016–17, 1035–37, 1040–41, 1054; ITOE 56, 82, App. 240). The oneness or unity of each existent is also a transcendental in Rand’s metaphysics. Or, at least we can say that the oneness or unity of each entity, which is the primary and fundamental category among all existents in Rand’s metaphysics, is also a transcendental in that system (ITOE App. 199). The convertibility of unity with being is from Aristotle (Top. 127a27–28; Metaph. 1003b22–23; cf. Aquinas ST Q.11 A.1). Rand’s convertibility of identity and being was most fully seen before her by Avicenna with his addition of the transcendentals “thing and something, meaning definiteness and otherness, respectively” (PB 240). Avicenna was adding those specifically to the Plotinian set of transcendentals: unity, truth, goodness, and beauty. In the thirteenth century, there began efforts to systematically derive the transcendental properties, and those various efforts led to a variety of sets of the transcendentals. The set and derivation of Thomas Aquinas came to be quite influential among modern Scholastics from mid-nineteenth century on. In his early work On Truth, Aquinas set out the following system of transcendental properties, as summarized by Kovach: “Considering being absolutely, one can pass this affirmative judgment on it, ‘Every being has an essence’ or ‘Every being is something definite’—a judgment which leads us to realize the transcendentality of ‘thing’—‘being with a definite essence’, and the abstract transcendental of ‘definiteness’. Next, still considering being absolutely, we can pass a negative judgment on it, ‘No being is actually divided’, that corresponds to the judgment, ‘Every being is actually undivided’, and leads the mind to the recognition of the transcendentality of ‘the one’ and its abstract correlative, ‘unity’ or ‘oneness’. In the next steps, one may consider ‘being’ relatively. In so doing, and relating it to non-being, he can realize the truth of this proposition, ‘Every being is other than non-being’, which is the recognition of the transcendentality of ‘the other’ and the abstract ‘otherness’. If, next, somebody relates being to the first unique power of the human soul, the intellect, he can discover the truth of the following proposition, ‘Every being is intelligible’ or ‘true’, and thereby the transcendentality of ‘the true’ and of ‘truth’. If, on the other hand, one relates ‘being’ to the second unique power of the human soul, the will, he may recognize that it is true to say, ‘Every being is desirable’, and, through this judgment, the transcendentality of ‘the good’ and ‘goodness’. Summing up, we may say that there are exactly five transcendental properties of being in such a way that definiteness is an affirmative absolute transcendental; unity, negative absolute; otherness, negative relative; and truth and goodness, affirmative relative. (PB 241) Aquinas latter expressed his belief that beauty also—in accord with Plato, Plotinus, and others—is convertible with being. Kovach argues for incorporation of beauty into Aquinas’ system of transcendentals. Consider intellect and will not separately, but jointly. Then, affirmatively and relative to that combination, we can say, “Every being is cognitively delightful,” which, according to Kovach, we have reason anyway to think true, outside its consideration in connection with Aquinas’ system. Then beauty is a transcendental property of being, for “we call a thing beautiful precisely if and when it delights upon becoming known to us” (PB 242). Now Objectivists should be ready to correct and adapt this objectivist theory of beauty and artistic beauty. The Scholastic objectivist is on the right track in taking the intelligible and the good to be affordances of existence for human cognitive and evaluative powers. However, firstly, in Rand’s system, the fundamental affordance for truth is not truth, but fact (cf. Metaph. 993b30; ST Q.16 A.3). Truth is recognition of fact, which latter is a cohort of existence. Secondly, the affordance of goodness in existence is not fundamentally for will or desire, but for life. All occasions of value are confined to relationships of existents to life, including distinctly human forms of life, and to derivatives of life. Value and goodness are not cohorts of existence in Rand’s system (contrast with Aristotle’s NE 1096a23–29). Then beauty is not a cohort of existence; though if a sense of beauty is cognitive delight, sensed beauty is yet a function of the true and the good and can be objective in a new mix of the definite ways in which the true and the good are objective. Then too, whether an artwork crafts an illusion capable, in right conditions of the beholder, of eliciting cognitive delight by its concrete integral unity of held truths and values is an objective matter in an elaborate sense. In her literature, Rand had bannered an objectivist view of beauty, with ugliness as its antithesis. The range of things she called beautiful was considerable, from the beauty of human face and body to the beauty of countryside and city skyline, to the beauty of an evening of formal debut composed by a mother for her daughter, to the sense of beauty a young woman would have for familiar items in the surroundings of her occasions with her lover, which occasions had carried “a feeling greater than happiness, the feeling of one’s blessing upon the whole of the earth, the feeling of being in love with the fact that one exists and in this kind of world” (AS 108). The character Lillian Rearden, in a lecture to her husband, says that telling a beautiful woman she is beautiful is a gift of no cost. “But if you tell an ugly woman that she is beautiful, you offer her the great homage of corrupting the concept beauty” (AS 305). In Fountainhead Peter Keating accepts a commission to build a home for the successful writer Lois Cook, who tells him she wants it to be the ugliest house in New York. “’The . . . ugliest, Miss Cook?’ / ‘Sweetheart, the beautiful is so commonplace!’ / . . . / ‘Keating, where’s your courage? Aren’t you capable of a sublime gesture on occasion? They all work so hard and struggle and suffer, trying to achieve beauty, trying to surpass one another in beauty. Let’s surpass them all! Let’s throw their sweat in their face. Let’s destroy them at one stroke. Let’s be gods. Let’s be ugly!’” (ET IV 256) In oral reply to a question in 1976, Rand maintained that beauty is a sense of harmony. A beautiful face, body, sunset, image, or object will have parts that are harmoniously integrated to the whole unit. “If there are contradictions and clashes, the result is marred or positively ugly.” Consider a face you find beautiful. It is beautiful because all its features “are harmoniously integrated, . . . they all fit your view of the importance of all these features on a human face.” A sunset or landscape will be regarded as beautiful “if all the colors complement each other, or go well together, or are dramatic together.” Rand went on to say that this was an objective definition of beauty (in her particular relational sense of the objective) and that to maintain it as a universal standard of beauty, you need to “define the terms of the objects you are going to classify as beautiful and what you take as the ideal harmonious relationship of the elements of that particular object. . . . It is true, of course, that if there were no valuers, then nothing could be valued as beautiful or ugly, because values are created by the observing consciousness—but they are created by a standard based on reality. So here the issue is: values, including beauty, have to be judged as objective, not subjective or intrinsic.” (Beauty in Binswanger 1986; see also Hospers 2001, 322–23; PB chap. V) There are some ambiguities in those remarks, but there is clear enough fit with Rand’s writings, and it is a little surprising Rand never committed those remarks on beauty, polished perhaps, to writing. Three observations: She spoke of the harmoniously integrated. Yes, integration is at work in Rand’s analysis of beauty and at work in several ways in her whole theory of esthetics. She spoke of importance (relative importance), and this does have definite work in selections made in composing an artwork, including literary work, but, I say, not in analysis of the integral unity of the parts of a beautiful face. She spoke of harmony. That is a species of proportion, that is, harmony is one of several ways by which parts may be joined with other parts into a whole that is beautiful, a whole whose knowledge delights (PB 207). Notwithstanding that last point, Rand’s view of beauty as a whole had by harmoniously integrated parts is subsumable under my Thomist professor’s wider definition of material beauty: the integral unity of a multitude or variety of proportionate parts. In those oral remarks, Rand spoke of the positively ugly. I do not take that as an affirmation of the views of some modern estheticians that ugliness is some sort of fundamentally positive antithesis to beauty, another, equally positive reality. (On history, analysis, and resolution of the issue, see PB 250–59.) It would seem most natural in Rand’s philosophy to see ugliness vis-à-vis beauty as parallel evil vis-à-vis goodness (AS 1024). That is, ugliness would be lack of beauty and not equally a positive reality, but a real lack and, moreover, a positive opposition to beauty. Rand’s principle of the harmonious for the beautiful should be widened to the proportionate. I should note, however, that her conception of the harmonious was not confined to the tranquil, for she spoke of dramatic composition of colors, and her own art form, the novel, required dramatic conflict. Harmony for Rand could not plausibly be confined to accord. Perhaps Rand’s conception of the harmonious was synonymous with the proportionate. Perhaps her definition of beauty did not differ from Kovach’s definition in that element (cf. PB 205). The view of beauty defended by Kovach is an intrinsicist one, which in common parlance and in philosophy has been called the objectivist view. He defends the position that everything is beautiful, though by contingencies of our minds, we do not always experience the beauty there. One way in which Rand’s view of beauty needs to be objective in her special sense, not intrinsic, is as follows. On the beautiful, I propose a Randian contraction in comparison to the conception of Scholastic objectivists. Similarities given in perception are there whether or not this were a world in which sentient life such as we had arisen. Integral unities of multitudes or varieties of proportionate parts are not something that exists outside the context of life. Only with the entry of life into the world is there entry of the proportionate. It is only the concept life than makes the concept proportionate possible, just as it is only the concept life that makes the concepts value or problem possible. Magnitude structures are in the world. Ratios are in the world without our putting numbers on them. Proportions are in the world and can be an element of the proportionate. Proportions, however, are not enough to constitute an occasion of the proportionate said of a multitude or variety of parts forming an integral unity, which type of unity is beauty. There is a complication of expression. The noun correlate of the adjective proportionate is proportionateness. That is ugly, and one seldom sees it used. One sees instead proportion used as the noun correlate of proportionate. That is a broader sense of proportion than I mean in saying proportions are an element of the proportionate, and in such cases, one could substitute the proportionate for proportion. For example, instead of saying harmony is a species of proportion, I would better say harmony is a species of the proportionate. Life is the force of beauty. Even the singular stillness and quiet around thought of a loved one deceased has its faint, shadows-beauty by life and our knowing it. We may not know how our visual, motor, intelligent, and affective systems have evolved such that we delight in perception of the intense pattern of a butterfly wing, evening soar of swift, or display of fireworks. But of beauty as integral unity of multitudes or varieties of proportionate parts, we know life is the force of beauty. (To be continued.)
  16. 1 point

    Those Lockdown Protests Across America

    White supremacists pop up in strange places wherever they might think they could persuade someone to join their side, and the types of people that I've seen go to those protests are stupid enough to fall for it. I don't know how many of them think that the virus was created in a lab as a weapon, or think that the flu is more dangerous, but they are there. Not to mention that libertarian types have a terrible time at condemning racism, so white supremacists and certainly white nationalists fester quite easily there.
  17. 1 point
    Lawrence Edward Richard

    Feynman And Ayn Rand

    Hello Boydstun Nice of you to say hello and the friendly feedback. I became in as much as it is my main consideration in rational argument and used in my Substance Misuse Worker career an Objectivist in 2019 after reading the Fountainhead around Easter of that year. I picked it up in a Charity Shop in North Wales and cherish this battered old book. NO other book has given me so much beauty. I forced my way through Atlas Shrugged over a long period. I remain unconvinced grand political theories and live in much cherished social housing and value my NHS. For a while after reading Fountainhead and beginning Atlas Shrugged I couldn't understand why I kept coming back to a book that said to me (left wing as I was) such shocking truths, or why I found Dagny so beautiful and Hank and Eddie so relatable. In the end I gave in to the fact that beauty exists and to try to treat everyone like they have goodness and good intentions is futile. It also made me value people around me a lot more for their virtues. The joke is in any conversation I have with my wife, who doesn't read Rand at all, she MAKES RAND'S arguments as if Rand has possessed her. I find her very beautiful anyway, but when I hear her passion when she speaks about right and wrong it is gorgeous. I had to accept in the end that what I loved turned out for too long to have been told to me rather than realised by me.
  18. 1 point
    Clearly not. It's just shorthand for saying "the people in charge of running the business who decide which values should be promoted in the operations of that business". We don't need to go "back to basics", you and I are both trying to use Objectivist standards of judgment here. So, the proper beneficiaries are first the individuals running the business, and a consideration within that (for themselves) is about the values that their actions promote in society. But you already know this. It's fine to promote products that you personally would not use (there could be many rational reasons someone would use a product that you just haven't thought of, or things that don't fit into your life for whatever reason), the problem only comes in if you deliberately try to create demand through the irrationality of others, through ends or motivations that you know are immoral. And of course I don't mean a contextless absolute - I'm referring to immoral actions that are immoral for anyone by virtue of being human, like being second handed. In this case, with the so-called price gougers, the ends and motivations are positive. I had a typo in the bit you quoted, I fixed it now just in case that caused any confusion for some reason.
  19. 1 point
    Hey there Bill, I know exactly what you mean. I look at my earlier permissiveness and assumption of good intent from other people as an automatic given, with depression.
  20. 1 point
    @LER, I think you are missing the contextual nature of moral evaluation. If I have a choice between buying 5x toilet paper and having no toilet paper at all (returning to the sponge on a stick days), I will spend 5x on toilet paper. The proper question is not whether the law of supply and demand is overridden by some theory of non-governmental price controls, the question is why my supply (of money) is and what my demand (for TP) is, and how that relates to supply and demand of other people (stores and online sellers). Where the supply is very low and the demand is high, you expect the price to go up. If you actually have TP in your store, that changes the supply equation for you, so of course you would not spend 5x on online TP, you would only spend 1.5x to buy it at the store. The reality is that the shelves are still bare (ymmv). Your analysis of the situation is wrong, when you imply that the online seller is the creator of the shortage. This implies that there is some constant natural force which provides our needs without any effort on our parts, which the “speculator” has unnaturally interfered with. If you want to assign blame, you can blame the store for not getting more TP, or the manufacturers for not making more TP, or your neighbor for buying TP (whether it is in ordinary amounts or in horder amounts). It is morally inconceivable that blame should be assigned to a person simply because they recognized an opportunity to make a buck. This goes for TP as well as eclipse glasses. Temporary shortages exist all the time, and in a free market are generally solved when the producers increase production. That TP on the shelf is the property of the store owner. It becomes the property of the bulk-buyer when he puts it in his cart and pays for it. That TP is not your, until you actually buy it. It’s a risky business, reselling. There is no such a thing as a moral economy that predates modern capitalism: “moral economy” is the same as and came into existence as modern capitalism.
  21. 1 point

    Just War Theory

    (Thread title changed from "Democratic Just War Theory") To add a bit more depth to what @Repairman brought up on another thread: Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) codified Augustine's reflections into the distinct criteria that remain the basis of Just War Theory as it is used today. The need by a civil society to provide sound justification for going to war is one of the many practical influences that Philosophy has on our lives. — Just War Theory - Oregon State University
  22. 1 point

    C & C: Coronavirus #4

    OK, so maybe I'm being a "Monday morning quarterback", but having a team of pandemic response scientists on the ready to harness, then develop strategies to deal with a virus might have caused governments not to have to take drastic action in a vain attempt (my opinion) to "protect" vulnerable elders, those with compromised health issues, etc., into quarantine.
  23. 1 point
    The guiding principle: "A private individual may do anything except that which is legally *forbidden*; a government official may do nothing except that which is legally *permitted*". [The Nature of Government] That for me simply answers "how would an objectivist based gvt ... etc." What is "permitted" is when a government should and must act unilaterally under specially pre-defined and delineated conditions, i.e. in a state of emergency. The 'what, why, when, how and for whom?' will specify objectively what ARE emergency conditions. Basically, what is the threat (and its magnitude) to the lives and freedom of citizens? At a pre-specified stage (when the standard of normality is regained) that government must relinquish its permitted powers. The objectively legal details of what constitutes "normality" in a given context - when does a war or natural disaster - end? - would have to be thrashed out. (hello Lawrence).
  24. 1 point


    The choice of wording is indeed paramount. I thought of that when the book recommendation Ending Aging was addressed. I'd be inclined to substitute aspect or attribute for side-effect, however.
  25. 1 point
    Writing for the Foundation for Economic Education, Gavin Wax argues, per his title, that "The COVID-19 Crisis Is the Result of Decades of FDA Misrule." Contrary to popular misconceptions, I advocate deregulation because I support freedom and science, not lawlessness or quack remedies. (Image based on FDA logo, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain under U.S. law. Feel free to re-use this image. I would appreciate attribution, but do not require it.) I have long advocated the abolishment of the FDA and have sometimes noted that agency's malfeasance here. So, lots of this may be old news to readers here. On top of that, I oppose all talk of "reforming" an organization whose very foundational idea is corrupt -- and refuse to use a term like "over-regulation." This article does both, like many conservative treatments of the topic of regulation. Having said all that, I can almost hear you ask why I am pointing to this article. The below was news to me, and reveals the threat to our health from the FDA is much more serious than I realized. Wax notes that, in the 1990's, the FDA started using "tactics familiar in communist countries" to enforce its edicts. He quotes one of its functionaries at the time: The old way is over. We used to say that if a company made certain changes, then we would probably not take any action. Now, we won't. Now, even if they make the changes, they might end up in court. We want to say to these companies that you don't know when or how we'll strike. We want to eliminate predictability. [bold added]In other words, the FDA isn't simply burdening medicine with hoops and red tape, which would be bad enough; it's subjecting that vital industry to what Ayn Rand called non-objective law. When men are caught in the trap of non-objective law, when their work, future and livelihood are at the mercy of a bureaucrat's whim, when they have no way of knowing what unknown "influence" will crack down on them for which unspecified offense, fear becomes their basic motive, if they remain in the industry at all -- and compromise, conformity, staleness, dullness, the dismal grayness of the middle-of-the-road are all that can be expected of them. Independent thinking does not submit to bureaucratic edicts, originality does not follow "public policies," integrity does not petition for a license, heroism is not fostered by fear, creative genius is not summoned forth at the point of a gun. Non-objective law is the most effective weapon of human enslavement: its victims become its enforcers and enslave themselves. ("Vast Quicksands," The Objectivist Newsletter, July 1963, p. 25)Wax expresses concern that the public might not accept the idea of ridding itself of the FDA. I was, to the contrary, already becoming less pessimistic about this prospect as the crisis has revealed the culpability and nature of this agency. Its abusive treatment of innovators and entrepreneurs should seal the deal in terms of painting a moral case for freedom in medicine, as well as showing the urgency of acting accordingly. -- CAV Link to Original
  26. 1 point

    Weird online TOS article

    Then this is not the venue for making such a case. Present your findings via the proper channels. There is no statute of limitation on murder. I don't know of a statute of limitations exists for attempted murder.
  27. 1 point

    Weird online TOS article

    One of the shining beacons from within the literature of Objectivism is the unknown future of humanity and by extension of human beings brought about by the ability to choose. Its future is up to those who fight for or against it.
  28. 1 point

    Ayn Rand's Popcorn-tradiction.

    It does no such thing. You can create two entangled black holes that exist at opposite "sides" of the universe but are the same space inside of the event horizon of either. Entangled particles share the same exact feature because ER = EPR. There is no contradiction involved; you just don't understand the science.
  29. 1 point

    Free State Initiative

    CF - exactly. The project is just a blank-check support of an undefined and unidentified political platform that mouths vague platitudes about achieving 'liberty' - but without providing any intellectual basis (or even definition) for that liberty.
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