Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Leaderboard

Popular Content

Showing content with the highest reputation since 08/03/10 in Posts

  1. So I just finished "Humor in The Fountainhead," from Essays on Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, and its caused me to think some more about humor, a subject I hadn't given too much serious thought to. My purpose here is just to share some thoughts and hopefully hear others' thoughts on the subject. In the essay, Rand is quoted as making the following two statements: Upon first reading these, I found myself disagreeing strongly with both of them. My opinion is and has been that the ability to laugh at oneself demonstrates health and good-naturedness. In thinking about it, and reading through the essay and a few more of Rand's statements on humor, I find that these views are actually very easily reconcilable with my own. Consider this statement by Rand: In the essay, Robert Mayhew distinguishes between benevolent and malicious humor. Benevolent humor is basically humor aimed at objects which deserve scorn and ridicule, while malicious humor is aimed at objects which deserve respect and reverence. Thus, benevolent humor belittles the metaphysical importance of bad things, while malevolent humor belittles the importance of good things. Now, humor which is aimed at one's own achievements, or more generally one's own positive values, is obviously malicious humor. Laughing at oneself in the sense of laughing at these things is indeed bad. However, in thinking about it, that is not at all what I picture when I think of 'the ability to laugh at oneself.' Consider someone who slips and falls, or misspeaks in some absurd way, or makes an obvious error in a presentation. In all of these situations, I am inclined to think of the person who can 'laugh it off' as good-natured. I would contrast this with the image of the person who, when something like this happens, blusters and attempts to 'save face.' Obviously, this second person is primarily concerned with others' impressions of him rather than the actual error or accident. Such second-handedness is clearly not an appropriate attitude. But what is the first individual doing? First of all, he is acknowledging the reality of the accident or mistake. Furthermore, he is (in Rand's characterization) belittling its importance by laughing at it. Self-deprecating humor, in this case, is not aimed at ones values, but rather at one's mistakes. This form of humor is indicative of genuine self-esteem; the person in question is acknowledging the reality of his own thoughts and actions (an essential first step for genuine self-esteem) and is able to casually dismiss errors with a laugh. There is no attempt to pretend for the sake of others' opinions that the error was not made; rather, it is acknowledged and then moved on from. In my experience, the majority of instances of self-deprecating humor fall into this latter category of laughing off a mistake. Thus, while it is true that actually cutting oneself down with humor also undoubtedly occurs, the everyday understanding of 'laughing at oneself,' (at least what I think is the prevalent understanding of it) is a healthy practice, one which should be celebrated.
    8 points
  2. Dante

    Accepted determinism

    We certainly are governed strictly by the laws of cause and effect, and there are no loopholes in causality. However, accepting this view does not immediately lead to the acceptance of determinism, as is often supposed. The non sequitur is often accepted because many people have an incorrect conception of causality. For many people, determinism is part of the definition of causality; this viewpoint might be termed 'billiard-ball' causality, where all instances of causality are assumed to be instances of objects interacting deterministically like billiard balls. However, Objectivism supports a more general conceptualization of causality, which does not smuggle in determinism. Causality, properly conceptualized, is simply the statement that, "A thing acts in accordance with its nature." This formulation leaves open the question of whether or not that nature is deterministic or (as in the case of human consciousness) some ability of self-determination is part of that nature. Now, I would not dispute the fact that the particles which make up the human brain and form the physical basis for human consciousness act deterministically, but it does not follow from this that the system as a whole acts that way (see fallacy of composition). In fact, to claim that determinism is true is to engage in a contradiction. The existence of knowledge itself presupposes that volition exists; knowledge depends on our ability to volitionally weigh evidence and separate truth from falsehoods. To claim something as true which undercuts the basis for truth is clearly contradictory. For some further threads on determinism, see 1 2 3 4. The rest of your point, however, is well taken (replacing 'acting deterministically' with 'acting causally'). If we pretend that our free will can do more than it actually can, then we will be helpless to face many personal issues. Our minds have a certain, definite nature, and our will is limited in scope. We need to understand this nature and these limits in order to act effectively (this is just another example of "Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed"). The example of kicking an addiction is a good one, where understanding how the human mind works will contribute greatly to one's success. Psychological issues in general depend on a good understanding of the nature of human consciousness. This thread on procrastination and how to beat it using an understanding of human consciousness also comes to mind.
    8 points
  3. One of the greatest regrets of my early life is cutting off ties with a girl I loved, and several of our common friends, because I couldn't have her. Yes, staying friends would've been painful...and, back then, I thought pain was a hindrance to any kind of accomplishment or success, and therefor to be avoided at all cost...but, as I found out later: pain is a part of life. A necessary, and therefor GOOD part of life. It would've TAUGHT me a lot, about both myself and the nature of the human experience in general. So just take the pain. Don't betray your values, by removing a good person from your life, because you're scared of a little pain. If you take the pain of a short term, probably illusory heartbreak, you will be rewarded for it with a learning experience you can't access in any other way... and possibly a lifetime of friendship as well. P.S. You DO want to stay away from any kind of an exploitative relationship. My post assumes that your relationship with her is a straight forward friendship (like mine was), and she is not taking advantage of your feelings in any way.
    6 points
  4. I find it very unlikely that she simply didn't value or like her life that much, and thought this would be a good opportunity to just throw it away for little or no reason. I find it much more likely that she took her responsibility (her chosen responsibility) as a guardian of these kids very seriously, and was willing to pay the ultimate price to preserve the integrity of that responsibility. I think, particularly if you have kids whose safety you entrust to others every single day, that calling her a hero isn't a misuse of the term at all.
    6 points
  5. Jesus Christ, stop already. Peikoff's comment was a throwaway line on the nature of consent, not the morality of sex. At worst, he's wrong about the Kobe Bryant case. Stop acting like you guys never said anything based on insufficient information. He did not say it's moral to have sex with a woman even if "the parts don't fit", he didn't even say it's moral to have sex with her if she's doesn't like it. He didn't say it was OK to choke her even though she's not into that, he didn't say it was OK to twist her arm behind her back to cause pain, but making sure you leave no physical mark, he didn't say it's OK to anally rape a man. And yet, all those lovely images somehow made it into people's arguments on how he is wrong. I guess what he actually said isn't all that egregious. Why else would you feel the need to spice it up like that? I do not wish to continue this post. I want to stop. Hope that's clear, I want this to be the end of my post. I don't want to write this next part. I don't wanna. No. (this last No. should be read in a forceful tone, please) Anyways: sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. Obviously. If there is no fraud or force involved (which, incidentally, Peikoff made sure to specify), then that person is free to leave at any time. Their declarations really don't mean as much as their actions. The owner of this site has no reason to feel bad about me continuing this post despite my declaration that I don't want to. The declaration was pretty meaningless. They often are. Rape means having sex with a woman against her will, not without her explicit consent. In Peikoff's example (though I have no idea if also in the actual case he cited, because, like I said, I don't keep up with celebrity news), the woman is clearly there by choice, and free to leave at any time. Unless next you guys are planning to also add kidnapping to the list of stuff Peikoff never said but somehow found their way into this thread anyway. The book he wrote suggests he doesn't. You're gonna go with the pointless speculation off of the throwaway line in a podcast though, huh?
    6 points
  6. I’m in the Cayman Islands now, where I just had my second Regenexx-C procedure with culture-expanded stem cells. I saved for it for two years. We treated almost every joint in my body. The first procedure 20 months ago probably saved my life, and I’m stoked to get even more improvement from this one.
    5 points
  7. DavidOdden

    Race Realism

    As you think about this topic, I suggest that you keep in mind the possibility that “race” is simply a mistaken concept, a mis-identification. It’s not like “gremlin”, “unicorn” of “free lunch”, being purely fictitious, but is is sufficiently detached from reality that it needs to be consigned to the intellectual trash heap that also contains phlogiston and epicycles. In its place would be some concept pertaining to human evolution and genetics. The genetic concept of “haplogroup” is based in objectively measurable fact, and the study of Y-DNA and mtDNA haplogroups has produced some interesting results pertaining to population genetics. (The reason for these 2 groups is that they do not recombine, so Y-DNA gives you good information about the patrilineal line and mtDNA is about the maternal line). In tracing shared mutations, you can come up with something resembling a “family tree” of humans. There are geographical correlates of haplogroups, where for example haplogroup A appears in parts of Africa especially among the San, who have probably been hanging on in the same spot for tens of thousands of years. Haplogroup A represents the “original situation”, lacking any of the subsequent Y-DNA mutations. And then you start adding mutations, and you check the geographical distribution of that mutation. (Geographical distributions have to be controlled by knowledge of history, for example the Siddi in India were transported from East Africa about 1500 years ago; obviously, Europeans only appeared in the New World a few hundred years ago). There are some surprises there, for example haplogroup B is high frequency in Africa, but also among the Hazaras of Afghanistan, which is surprising since usual racial classifications would have them be Mongoloid. Eventually you will get to haplogroup L-M20 which has high frequency among Tamils and I assume Malayali. It is also frequent (though not as frequent) among Pashtuns. Again, Dravidians can be racially classified in lots of ways, depending on what morphological features you’re attending to; Pashtuns are pretty much standardly classified as Caucasian. So the problem is that there is a physical reality (a genetic fact, which refers to your ancestry) which however doesn’t match well with any extant theory of “race”. The reason is, simply, that the theory of “race” is based on a false premise of absolute and instantaneous separation of humans – as though God split the human race into 6? groups and instantly transported them to their ancestoral homelands. Instead of race, we have a better concept of haplogroup, which is actually related to genetics. There are very many haplogrops: it is a hierarchical concept.
    5 points
  8. Yes, of course. Western countries are democracies. Ordinary citizens decide who runs our governments. We should vote for leaders who recognize basic facts about Vladimir Putin, such as: 1. He is a murderer, behind a series of assassinations and assassination attempts both at home and in countries around the world (including Britain, which shows how brazen he is). 2. He is fueling the Ukrainian civil war. 3. His intelligence services hacked the DNC, and released compromising information to Wikileaks in order to prevent a Clinton victory. This was an unprecedentedly hostile act. While espionage, including hacking, is par for the course between competing world powers, none of them have dumped the information they obtained through espionage onto the web, to influence elections, before. As such, this is a new level of hostility, which warrants an equally hostile response. 4. The DNC hack is part of a media and intelligence campaign aimed at destabilizing western countries. It is Russian propagandists (behind outlets like Russia Today) and intelligence services working together to sow confusion and poison western politics. In other words, we need to elect leaders who recognize Vladimir Putin as the enemy, treat him and his government as such, and retaliate proportionally for every single act of aggression or attempt to interfere. And, of course, we need to speak up about these basic facts, whenever someone is willing to gloss over them and write them off as "the leftist media trying to justify losing the election". Not saying they're not doing that, by the way. But what the leftist media is doing doesn't change what the facts are.
    5 points
  9. It is hard when something is mixed. Sometimes one's immediate feeling toward it comes from whatever side of it you're seeing that day. A couple of years ago, I was in a small mid-western resort town on July 4th and thousands of tourists (mostly from elsewhere in the state) had turned out to see the fireworks. Trucks streamed in from all the nearby little towns and farms. The atmosphere was festive. There was benevolence all around. The red-white-and blue was respected, not as a symbol of something above us on an altar, but as a symbol of who we are. Not on a pedestal to be saluted -- though that too -- but, in casual clothing, in funny head-dress, in flashing lights to be worn for the evening. All around was a feeling of family and of sharing a value. Very few cops in sight, and yet the thousands self-organizing in very orderly ways. If you asked those people, in that moment, if freedom was their top value, if the individual is important, if we should recognize the individual's right to his own life and happiness...you'd probably find lots of agreement. It's all good, but it is mostly emotional. As you peel away and understand the intellectual roots, contradictions appear. I won't say the emotions are unfounded, that there is no "there there". When Hollywood makes a movie of a maverick going up against the world and winning, huge audiences love the theme. It is who they are: sometimes, on some topics, and in some emotional states. Nationalism is dangerous when it goes beyond a general benevolent celebration of sharing good values like freedom and individualism. It usually does, and we have a good person like Robert E. Lee rejecting Lincoln's attempt to get him to lead a Union Army, even though he could "anticipate no greater calamity for the country than dissolution" and thought "secession is nothing but revolution". Why? For "honor" -- which really translates to honoring a convention where you are loyal to your home state. Throw in ideas about the role of government in helping people in all sorts of situations. Thrown in ideas about inequality being caused by oppression. And faulty ideas about economics. And suspicions about bankers running the world. Add back the occasional cheering of the maverick who defies authority; but also add back the desire to control other people's behavior: if they're gay, or marrying someone of another race, or smoking pot, or even having a beer when they're 20 years and 11 months! That is the contradiction that is America. Still, you should feel free to choose what emotions you wish to invest in symbols like the flag. You do not have to salute a flag and think you're saluting a tortured contradiction that is eating itself from the inside out . You can salute it for the right reasons, or for what you think it once stood for.
    5 points
  10. An abstraction that existed metaphysically would not be an abstraction, it would be just another concrete. In fact abstractions are concretes, they are attributes of the brains of those abstractors who have preformed that mental action. But as a product of human action such abstractions are not metaphysically-given, which is why they must be acknowledged as epistemological. A metaphysically given abstraction is a contradiction in terms.
    5 points
  11. Let me start with a fundamental problem with your position: you claim actual knowledge of the effort that Rand put unto understanding various bad philosophies, and moreover you find it to be insufficient. I have an extremely hard time believing that you even met Rand, much less that you have the kind of personal knowledge that led to the development of her philosophy. I don’t know what facts you are relying on as evidence for your claim – not everything about the development of her intellect is summarized in the journals. In fact, I don’t understand what it would even mean to “make a real effort to engage with” the opposition. Let me amplify on what the problem is. Correct me if you can, but you made no real effort to engage with Rand’s philosophy. Your criticism hinges on the presupposition that to understand an idea, you must “visit” the people promulgating the ideas. That of course means that all prior knowledge is truly incomprehensible, thus you yourself cannot comprehend Rand because you cannot visit her, you do not understand Objectivism because you haven’t visited OCON and ARI, you cannot understand Plato, Aristotle, Locke, Kant, Frege because you haven’t visited them (they are dead). Hopefully you see how absurd a position that is. Understanding is about grasping ideas: understanding comes from identifying those ideas, because ideas are not laid out self-evidently in the words of an author. The trivial social act of “visiting” does nothing to clarify those ideas, and does not firm up a person’s grasp of ideas by magically allowing them to see consequences of ideas, and detect contradictions in them. Where you say that “the ‘skeptical’ camp is not making nearly enough of an effort to understand what they are trying to criticize”, I would conclude instead that you have not made nearly enough of an effort to understand that criticism. Now, I do in fact understand “the mystics” sufficiently, so I should by your lights have a privileged position to criticize them. I will claim to have a more nuanced understanding of classical Indian philosophy than Rand did: I don’t have any reason to think that she knows about Cārvāka philosophy, nor do I have any reason to think that she could read Sanskrit. Her “mystic muck” characterization does not mean “every Indian philosopher has been a hopeless mystic”, it is a correct generalization about a particular earlier intellectual export. You might want to investigate exactly what the nature of that export is, because it was influential, in a bad way, in the West for, mercy sake alive, two centuries, and even now we are not free of it. So actually, you don’t have to visit India to understand the muck, you just have to look around you (these days, more in antiquarian bookstores). The fact that she doesn’t burden Galt’s speech with a silly footnote granting some element of rationality to the Cārvāka doesn’t invalidate her characterization of Indian philosophy. Now then. What is necessary is not a visit, what is necessary is a study of the ideas, to see if they bear promise for being correct. Plainly, they do not. They are grounded in false and absurd ideas, such as that being whipped and burned is the same as not being whipped and burned – and that you cannot know if that idea is absurd. If you want to make this be about specific texts in Indian philosophy which you think are in fact compatible with Objectivism (and were not written by Br̩haspati or his followers), then make your case.
    5 points
  12. I think you're trying to focus on the point-in-time thing we should try to optimize. Rand's "Objectivist Ethics" highlights two key linkages: first, that this pleasure is -- in turn -- based on our biology.. on the survival of life (today we might speak of this in terms of the role of pain/pleasure in evolution). "Good" (i.e. recommended action) is thus (mostly) tied to survival in its original cause second, she takes the focus away from point-in-time pleasure, to acknowledge that there are causal links between things. Seeing the pain in a dentist's visit is not good enough, we have to understand the pleasures and pains from the visit as a causally linked set. That's how we get to: "how to we get a better mix". The decisions move from considering a single thing (imagine someone making an excuse not to visit the dentist, because he's focusing on the pain alone). "Good" is the concept that embraces the evaluation of such mixes, and going far beyond these small bundles, to encompass one's life. Good it is the integrated evaluation of pain and pleasure. Only by starting from these two ideas can Rand end up saying Productive Work is one of the highest ideals. That's quite a huge integration that includes hundreds of observations that aren't mentioned in the essay. That's her key achievement: not her focus on pleasure -- which hedonists already took a shot at -- but explaining how we go from there to a message that sounds like "work hard". The hedonists had already praised pleasure, but nobody can take a short-range approach too seriously. Aristotle spoke of Eudemia, and his golden mean is one way of conceptualizing the various choices we have to make all the time. The Epicureans had spoken about enjoying life in a relaxed way. These were attempts integrate the idea that selfish pleasure is the core of Ethics with other observations about the world. The Stoics took a different tack: they recognized that men are driven to do "big things" which cannot be explained by "live a relaxed life" or '"do only what you need to be comfortable". They admired these men. At some level, they were admiring productivity, but could not quite explain why it was the good. They ended up with a somewhat "duty ethics". The Bhagavad Gita got to the same point too: work (karma) is good because it is, because it is a universal law. They both assumed a feedback: where the universe rewards us for doing our duty. The only alternative to work seemed asceticism, and Eastern philosophies thought that was good too...but, we can't all be ascetics. So, working hard was what the typical person had to do... just because. There was no tie to happiness, leave along to pleasure. Rand stepped through the horns of this ancient dilemma. In summary: I agree with you that pleasure is key, but it is key the way a dot of paint is key to a painting, or a word is key to Atlas. It's a starting point, but the bulk of Ethics is explaining how it comes together across our lives. Post-script: I think your focus on pleasure is important though, because some people read Fountainhead and Atlas as enshrining the virtue of hard work, but do not keep the link to pleasure and happiness in mind. By dropping that link, and by seeing work as an end in itself, drops the crucial justification for work. Work then is a duty: an end that we just do, because it is good... don't ask any more questions! This is why I think the recent moves by The Undercurrent/Strive: abandoning the focus on Politics, and linking Objectivist Ethics to individual happiness, is great.
    5 points
  13. Like Aristotle, Rand's philosophy will percolate through cultures with free speech until it develops a large enough root system to sustain another golden age of reason. Our job as individual roots in that system must first be to achieve our own happiness and be as great as we can possibly be at whatever we enjoy doing. We need more great Objectivists to figure out great ways to influence others and bring them to our side of the intellectual battle.
    5 points
  14. Nicky

    Metaphysics of Death

    In Objectivism, ethics deals with what's good or bad, and metaphysics deals with what is. Objectivism does not describe reality and natural laws and phenomenons as good or bad, it only describes human choices as good or bad. With that out of the way, within the context of Ethics, Objectivism would consider as bad those deaths which are chosen for irrational reasons, it would consider good those deaths which are chosen for rational reasons, and it would consider amoral (neither good nor bad) those deaths which are inevitable. I'll give some examples for each category: 1. murder, or death that is self inflicted through carelessness, passivity, evasion, or other forms of irrationality (murder is considered bad because violating the rights of a fellow member of a civilized society is considered irrational). 2. death that is chosen for the purpose of avoiding unbearable pain due to terminal illness (euthanasia), or a justified deliberate killing (for instance, Hitler's killing) 3. death due to incurable disease or natural disaster The reason why I gave this answer rather than answer your exact question is because the above is the only rational definition of good and bad that I'm familiar with (I'm also aware of several arbitrary, religious definitions of good or bad, that go along the lines of "the will of God is good, the opposite is bad"...but I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that's not the kind of definition you're operating under). If you wish me to answer your question in the context of metaphysics, without involving religion, I'd be happy too...as soon as you define the terms good and bad in that context.
    5 points
  15. This assertion is not backed by facts. The 1929 depression had people up in arms. Their solution was FDR. In the recent "great recession", Bush et al got most of the blame. We got 8 years of Obama. Now, the 8 years of wallowing has turned many people against Obama and they're looking to Trump. Go back in history and you find Germany in severe crisis -- hyperinflation that basically wiped out all debt, the French re-taking parts of Germany between the two wars. People were anxious and turned to Hitler. Assertions like this are baseless unless you can provide counter-examples from history. Without that, it is like saying "if I heat water, maybe it will freeze". The key flaw is thinking that politicians and the "elite" classes are the real problem. In fact, your average voter is the kernel of the problem. He only gets the politicians he deserves.
    5 points
  16. I think this discussion has missed what I see to be the money quote from that Swift interview, and it's not the one where he says that parents should think about how they're disadvantaging others by reading to their kids. He's describing the fundamental task of the philosophical work under discussion, and he describes it like this: He assumes that the moral default is perfect equality, and that any deviation from this outcome has to be justified on some independent moral grounds. He does indeed think that many parenting activities (such as bedtime reading) can be justified on independent grounds such as 'familial relationship goods,' but it's not the specifics of what he wants to allow or forbid that I find most troublesome. It's his overall approach, in which the default choice is to forbid any activities that produce inequality of outcomes, unless we have some independent reason for keeping them. In effect, he accepts Plato's framework of total state power over the family, but argues that it should refrain in some cases from using it (it always decides what to 'allow' or not, but it should allow certain independently justifiable activities). It reminds me a lot of Rawl's approach to distributional justice, where the default seems to be perfect equality of resources, and deviations from that standard have to be justified on the basis of making the poorest better off. If I recall correctly, Rawls was trying to defend some elements of liberalism from the assault by egalitarianism (much like Swift seems to want to defend certain familial goods against total equality of opportunity), but his basic approach was to assume egalitarianism as the moral default and carve out exceptions to it. Needless to say, I find this approach to be immensely flawed. Whether or not Swift would personally advocate for banning private school or not seems to me to be beside the point. Under his framework, all family activity is guilty until proven innocent. That is what is wrong with his approach, far more than the specifics of what activities he thinks are innocent or guilty.
    5 points
  17. So, time to kick off this Advice thing. If you have a question for me--specific and personal are best--throw it out there and I'll answer it as best I can (eventually). I don't pretend to be an expert on anything in particular, so what's the point of this exercise, you may ask? It's really for me to do my best to show *how* I arrive at my notions. Why is this instructive or of any value? Because the hardest part of answering any particular issue about life is in deciding what is and isn't *essential*. You have to go from the particular (your problem) to the abstract (the essential principles involved) to the particular (the application of that principle). This is a process that must be practiced. A lot. It is CRUCIAL to understanding and applying Objectivism because the connection between the particular and the abstract is THE fundamental, defining factor of the philosophy. So the purpose, as I see it, of this advice forum is NOT the value of the SPECIFIC advice (although I do hope that anybody asking a question does at least get SOMETHING out of it), but by trying to illustrate this process of concretization and abstraction as much as possible. So, our first question: Dear Jenni This year I turned 30, and loved it. Every year I feel better about myself and happier to keep on living. Each passing year seems to open up the world in broader ways than the year before -- I learn more, and inevitably recognize more how little I actually know, which has the effect of making the world seem more full of opportunity. But, starting around age 28, my body began making me notice it. Jump off a 3ft.-something, and there's a sharp pain back there, which doesn't go away for four days. Aren't sleeping tonight? Good luck recovering from that in less than a week. Wtf is this splitting pain in my skull? Oh, sure glad that went away as mysteriously as it appeared... six weeks later. Etc. Now I have this conflict and dichotomy where I'm increasingly excited about living, while growing more and more uneasy (legitimately afraid?) about my apparent impending body breakdown. Ironically, I was born with a gimp heart which needed two operations. But, it never impeded my life, so I never thought of myself as deficient -- until The Pains started coming two years ago. Is my fear realistic? Should I accept or even be glad for my uneasiness about it? I don't feel glad about it. I think there's something I'm missing in my view of mortality, or something else? --JASKN So, to start us off, I'm going to summarize this question as essentially asking: "This aging and death thing, how should one feel about it?" In my experience, everyone has awareness of mortality more or less forced on them at some point in their lives. How exactly this happens (heart operations, physical pains, in my case a horrible movie I saw when I was 11) may have some personal importance but isn't really essential to the overall issue at hand, which amounts to a realization that the decay and end of one's existence, while inevitable, isn't exactly something that anyone could realistically anticipate with any enjoyment. This is an interesting question (and, I think, a good one to kick this off) because fear or dread of mortality is something that I have a rich (if that term applies to something so unpleasant) and varied experience with. I'll get to my more poetic expressions that I find the most helpful in dark moments in favor of a more analytical approach at first, in keeping with my ideas for this "Ask Jenni" business. So, the very first thing to do when applying one's analytical powers to a subject should always be to ask, what are the facts of the matter? Which is always a great excuse to produce a list. Note that this is not intended to be an *exhaustive* list, just an *illustrative* one. So, some facts on aging/death (which JASKN has pretty much already supplied): 1. It's inevitable. 2. It diminishes or even completely removes one's capacities for action. 3. Much of one's joie de vivre is dependent upon one's capacity for action. Well, put that way, it sounds kind of grim, but I want to submit a fourth (and, I think, significant) fact for your consideration: 4. Fretting oneself about things one can't change only has the effect of destroying the capacities and enjoyments one still has, making one grumpy, crotchety, miserable, unpleasant, and possibly even hastening said inevitable decay and demise. So, in short, the principle this falls under is basically: "you can't do anything (ultimately) about it, fretting makes it worse, so the only thing to do is to toss it out of your list of things to worry about and get on with your life". So, there's the analytical bit taken care of. Clearly I have fixed everything. Well, no, because an important factor remains that affects one's life but that the analytical bit *doesn't* dispense with, because fretting about something is an *emotional* response, and like all emotional responses cannot simply be turned off--not even if you know they're ridiculous. Maybe even especially if you know they're ridiculous. You can toss it out again and again (getting madder and madder at yourself each time), but until you resolve the underlying conflict it's going to pop right back up again. Of course, this is also where things start getting kind of fuzzy. But here's (some of) my perspective, and I hope it helps: I suspect this kind of anxiety ultimately derives from a subtle mental habit of viewing life and death (or youth and age) as a trade-off, as if they were options on a bargaining table. If you're viewing them (even very slightly) in that way, getting older seems like one heck of a lousy deal. Youth gets all the good stuff, and old age gets maybe that wisdom thing. Unless, of course you go senile. In reality, though, that is *not* the trade that life offers to you. It's not a question of "I can be young and awesome, or I can be old and suck", but between "I can get older and enjoy it as best I can, or I can just die now and miss out on something awesome". Staying young isn't on the table. Not dying at all isn't on the table. To view things with equanimity, whenever that feeling of worry or dread comes up, remember the deal that is *really* on the table, not the one you would *like* to be on the table. It won't fix everything instantly. You may never *entirely* reach some kind of Buddha-like state where the anxiety never impinges on you again, but what happens is that you develop practice at facing the fear head-on, seeing it for what it really is, and letting it go so you can hurry up and get back to the awesome. And, like anything, practice makes it easier.
    5 points
  18. Objectivism requires, in a nutshell, that you do not attempt to gain values through dishonesty. This means more than simply ensuring that what you say isn't technically a lie; it requires that you endeavor to appeal to others' reason and intelligence rather than their stupidity and gullibility. In both of your examples cited above, the person is clearly behaving dishonestly, and in both cases it comes in the same form. The person is failing to disclose a fact that they know will be material to the decision of the person that they are tricking. In your original example, the guy clearly knows that he's going to leave this girl as soon as he sleeps with her, and he also knows that she wouldn't sleep with him if she knows this. He's deceiving her by withholding this fact and pretending that he has the intention of dating her. Similarly, the fact that some part will soon go out at great cost is a fact that is material to the buyer's decision to buy. Withholding it is fraud, and clearly dishonest. Objectivism holds that this method for gaining values will not serve your life and happiness in the long term. Relying on dishonesty to gain values requires that you seek out the dumbest and most gullible people to deal with, rather than the most intelligent and perceptive. It institutionalizes a fear of certain facts, namely the facts that will expose your lies, rather than encouraging an attitude of unreservedly confronting all facts of reality, which is the policy that one needs in order to be successful over the long term. Furthermore, relationships founded on dishonesty cannot become the kind of deep relationships that are integral to one's happiness, where another person truly sees and understands you. No short-term gains of one-night stands or car sales are worth this kind of life.
    5 points
  19. One can appreciate Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's opening paragraph on Postmodernism: That postmodernism is indefinable is a truism. However, it can be described as a set of critical, strategic and rhetorical practices employing concepts such as difference, repetition, the trace, the simulacrum, and hyperreality to destabilize other concepts such as presence, identity, historical progress, epistemic certainty, and the univocity of meaning. While apparently indefinable, it is not indescribable. For those having no truck with the reaffirmation through denial, a friend of Miss Rand once said: that today's attitude, paraphrasing the Bible, is; "Forgive me, Father, for I know not what I'm doing - and please don't tell me." The law of causality guaranties the outcome of the rebellion against identity. In the meantime, postmodernism just provides another way to separate those who know A is A, from some others that wish it were not so.
    5 points
  20. I used to feel this way a lot (still do, sometimes, but not nearly as much). It's a generalization that you're drawing from the only data you have around--the way you feel about your own activities. You're waiting for the activities to give you a feeling of purpose or satisfaction, and when they don't, you conclude that there is no purpose or satisfaction to be had, and it's all pointless. The truth is, activities won't give you purpose or satisfaction, so suggestions on the nature of "go do something!" are, in a sense, futile. However, they do have positive effects in that they can help you find your own purpose and satisfaction in a secondary sort of way. A lot of people, when they try to determine what interests them, do this sort of self-meditation where they wrack their brains trying to find some a priori voice that'll tell them, "I love soccer!" or similar. The thing is, you aren't born with interests that are stuffed somewhere in your brain. You *develop* interests by doing things, enjoying them, doing them again, enjoying them more, etc. Most people generally do all of this while they're still young enough that they aren't consciously aware of the process, so when they get to the questioning stage (late teens early twenties), they already know what they like and what they want to pursue, so it's just a matter of examining their mental contents in an orderly fashion to decide which interest is the top interest. Everyone isn't like that, though. Some people, due to shyness, a compliant personality, whatever, arrive in their late teens early twenties still pretty much unformed. When they start examining themselves, all they find is a void waiting to be filled. They think there's something wrong with them. There's nothing wrong with you, it's just that you hit the self-conscious phase before you had enough material to work with to form interests. So now, instead of having it happen more-or-less automatically as you grew, you're going to have to build them manually for yourself. I found that a helpful first step is to say "my purpose, is to find a purpose". It won't fix things for you right away, but it does help to know that feeling no deep attachment to your few interests isn't some kind of hideous psychological flaw. But this statement that you have a purpose even if it isn't a single directed one can help you straighten yourself out. So, step two is to figure out what will help you find a purpose. Well, clearly if you're going to develop strong interests, you need material to work with. So you need to go and consciously try things. Pursuing more of the interests you already have is good, but don't be afraid to try other things as well. Don't sabotage yourself by over-evaluating and trying to search for some kind of emotional spark WHILE you are doing them, though. You already have a mental habit of suppressing or repressing your emotional connections to people/things. The only thing that will happen if you try to analyze while you're doing is that you will suppress or repress whatever emotional reaction you DO have. So just concentrate on doing it instead of dwelling on how you feel about it. Later, after you've done it a few times, you'll start feeling either that you want to keep doing it, or that you'd prefer to stop. THAT's when you pull out the analysis. But it shouldn't just be a "what am I feeling about this" analysis, you need to ask yourself, "what about this is causing me to feel X"? Maybe you joined a band, you really like playing the music, but you just HATE the bass player so you find you don't want to go to practice any more because that jerk will be there harshing your groove. It's not that you don't "actually" love playing the music--it's that you want a different band. But, if he WASN'T there, you'd totally love to go play your music. Voila, you've discovered your full musical interest! NOW FIND A NEW BAND. So, yes, you do need to make yourself do stuff. Don't ride yourself too much if you find it difficult, and definitely reward yourself for even the tiniest positive steps. Don't listen to people who tell you what you "ought" to be doing--if you don't know, yourself, they sure as hell can't know. And don't hassle yourself for being different or somehow less worthy than people who happened to pick up their interests more or less by accident when they were younger and not self-critical yet. Yeah, that way sure seems like it would have been a lot nicer, but at least this way you get to form your interests consciously. You won't have a mid-life crisis where you suddenly begin to question what the source of your interests really is. In a way, you're sorting out your mid-life crisis NOW. And don't fuss yourself over not having friends or people to connect with. The problem is largely that you are currently lacking the kind of material that forms connections. The friends will come once you build up the material. There may not be many, but they'll be much better than the kind of friends you just fall into in high school. It's also not a sin to withdraw from your family. You're busy. You got stuff to build, and sometimes they try to "help" and don't help at all. So if you find them oppressive, tell them, as respectfully as you can manage, that they need to back off and let you do your buildin'. It'll probably be the nastiest, most awkward conversation EVAR, but they'll appreciate it that you told them what was up with you and you'll feel better about your relationship with them. And they may even back off. (Don't expect an instant fix--stay respectful and polite. Stick to your guns, but don't fire.)
    5 points
  21. An example of religious totalitarianism is Iran, or the Dark Ages. Calling Romney a religious fascist is much greater hyperbole than even calling the Tea Party socialists. Romney wants religiously motivated government control in a couple of areas (all of which can easily be circumvented by simply traveling out of the state, not even the country - since even the very unlikely overturning of Roe v. Wade would only result in a few states limiting abortion), while Obama wants near-full control of all Americans' work, more than half of all their earnings, full control over their health care, etc. , and he's proven that there's no escape from him anywhere on this planet (by enforcing his fascism all the way into Switzerland). But, I'm sure, logic will fall on deaf ears, and Kate will continue proving the evil ways of everyone but the political Left with her endless stream of fallacious arguments and plain arbitrary assertions, and consider herself the smartest, most modern and open minded person on here, for doing it. She's every freshly brainwashed, liberal college graduate I've ever met.
    5 points
  22. Don't worry, Wotan; I have it all covered. I conversed with a rock today that told me Steve Job's soul was currently travelling past the Gligok galaxy, on its way to Valhalla. Now, as is well known, the Gligok galaxy is home to the infamous Kecktox. An evil race known for its proclivity of enslaving souls as they make their cosmic voyage. Me and the rock both agreed something had to be done, so, being a wizard, I cast a spell on Steve Job's soul to hide it from the Kecktox's souldar. With any luck, Steve Job's soul should arrive safely at Valhalla, where he will be at peace slaying Jewish money lenders for all of eternity.
    5 points
  23. Originally posted by Don from NoodleFood, If you have ever debated the issue of limited government versus anarchy with an anarchist, you have undoubtedly run into this argument: "Every government in history has violated individual rights, so what grounds do you have for believing there could be a government that doesn't?" In fact, our own Stephan Kinsella raised this point in his current discussion with Dave Harrison. He said, "All of our experience and history shows all states to ride roughshod over citizens' rights." (Dave's response was perfect: "To some extent or another, depending on the state. And therefore what?") What I want to note is the epistemological error in the anarchist's argument. Specifically, the false view of induction. To take the standard example, suppose I observe a hundred swans, all of which are white. This by itself would not justify concluding that all swans are white. Induction does not work by enumeration. To generalize, you would have to know why all swans must be white -- what in their nature causes them to be white? In the same way, you cannot argue that because all governments have violated individual rights, that all governments must violate rights. You would have to be able to identify something in the nature of government that necessitates the violation of individual rights. Never has an anarchist succeeded at this task. The closest anyone has ever come was Roy Childs, who famously argued that in barring other individuals and organizations from the use of retaliatory force, a government is initiating force. But, as I have argued elsewhere, Childs' argument shares the fatal flaw that plagues almost every anarchist argument: the complete evasion of the requirements of objectivity. In one of her Ford Hall Forum speeches, Ayn Rand read a quote so horrific and illustrative of the point she was making that the audience burst into applause. Rand paused for a moment and explained to the audience that their applause was non-objective, since she had no way of knowing whether they were agreeing with the quote or with Rand. Rand's point is that objectivity imposes requirements, not only in a person's mind, but in how they express themselves in a social context. Each audience member knew why he was applauding, but his applause was non-objective because the person he was trying to communicate with, Ayn Rand, had no means of knowing what his applause was attempting to communicate. The same principle applies to the issue of retaliation. In his open letter to Ayn Rand, Childs disputes Rand's claim that, "The use of physical force -- even its retaliatory use -- cannot be left at the discretion of individual citizens." He writes: Morally, a man has the right to retaliate against those who initiate force. In fact, as Ayn Rand pointed out, assuming he is able to do so, retaliation is a moral imperative. Refusing to retaliate against an aggressor is to sanction his aggression -- and to welcome more of it. Yet, if he is living in a society of other men, it is not enough that an individual determine in his own mind that his use of force is retaliatory. Since whether an act of force is initiatory or retaliatory is not self-evident, and since a man who initiates force is by that fact a threat to society, any man who engages in force that has not been proved by objective means to be retaliatory must be considered a threat. This is the deepest reason why the use of retaliatory force must be delegated to the government: an act of retaliation that isn't first proved to be an act of retaliation is indistinguishable from an act of aggression -- and must be treated as such. What, then, are "objective means"? To determine that an instance of force is retaliatory, men must know what the act of force was, the general standard by which guilt is to be determined, and what evidence was used to meet that standard in a particular case. Every member of society must have access to this information. And, of course, each of these elements must be objective (the laws, standards of evidence, and the evaluation of whether the evidence in question meets that standard). By its nature, then, objectivity in retaliation cannot be achieved without a government (assuming we are speaking here of a society of men and not individuals or isolated tribes). If an individual uses force, by that very fact he is an objective threat to other members of society and may properly be restrained, even if he was responding to another man's aggression. He has no grounds for claiming his rights are being violated. Imagine you are walking down the street and a man walks up and punches the person next to you in the face. The anarchist would argue that if you use force to restrain that person, you are initiating force if it turns out that the man he punched hit him first. Yet that is pure intrinsicism. It is non-objective in the same way that the audience's applause was non-objective. He may be retaliating but you don't know it. Contrary to Childs, the point is not that individuals are unable to make objective determinations of what constitutes retaliatory force -- it's that objectivity demands they prove it to every other member of society. Only a government can provide such a mechanism. (The anarchist would of course dispute this last claim as well, but the point here isn't to make the case for limited government -- merely to demonstrate that government is not inherently aggressive.)
    5 points
  24. Except that each person's highest value is his or her own life. Attempting to claim that the highest value is some abstract "life" and therefore homosexuality, because it does not result in children, 'does not value life' is rationalistic, and a confusion of what is meant by valuing life for the Objectivist. Objectivism as an ethical code is always a guide for the individual valuer, who should always be focusing on his particular life. Valuing one's own life and therefore being true to oneself could certainly result for some people in a homosexual lifestyle, and everyone engaging in homosexuality for these reasons is operating on the premise of life: their own individual life, not some nebulous, abstract, 'furtherance of the species' conception of life, which by design refers to no life in particular.
    5 points
  25. Eiuol

    The Process Of Deliberation

    Aristotle stated in Nicomachean Ethics that no one deliberates about facts. (Well, to be specific, he stated that no one inquires about what they already know. Aristostle thought of deliberation as a type of inquiry). As I’ve observed, this is true. I do not deliberate - reason out thoroughly and carefully- when I state that 2 + 2 is 4. More complex, I do not deliberate that the only way to violate rights is the through the initiation of force. It may take time to determine that both of these statements are facts, but once it is determined they are facts, no more deliberation occurs. Deliberation may occur again when some premise is called into question. If anyone gets to *thinking* about premises, that is deliberation, and the only time when truth is being considered. To deliberate, then, implies uncertainty about a conclusion. Really, it’s the process of induction. Deduction is reasoning with facts, so conclusions contain already known facts. Induction is deliberation, or consideration of new information of some entity. When deliberation stops, a concept has been formed. In a sense, Aristotle’s observation is this, which maybe he did not realize or know: concept formation is a volitional process of deliberation, and is an inductive process. Concepts consist of facts, and any formed concept is the final end of deliberation. Formed and valid concepts are not deliberated about. This further emphasizes how knowledge is contextual: what you know depends upon the facts you know, the objects being deliberated over. A knowledge base is made up of objects of non-deliberation, i.e. facts. When forming the concept “egoism,” it already consists of non-deliberated-over facts, namely that you are yourself, that there is not another entity controlling you. Deliberation occurs when those facts are put together in a way after noticing similarities and differences. If there is no process of integration, deliberation is not happening; you’d have facts and that’s it. And as has been shown, considering facts alone is not deliberation. Deliberation can only happen when some goal is sought after, particularly the formation of a concept. I should also throw in that deliberation might not always be about concept formation, but it still is thinking about facts which can, at that point, be integrated differently, dis-integrated, or even mis-integrated. What I'm thinking here is that this observation about deliberation can be used somehow to persuade people to think about new ideas, and get them to reconsider current ideas they hold. In order to change the minds of many people on particular subjects, already-formed concepts need to be deliberated about. Meaning that the facts which the concept/subject under consideration consists of need to be explained by the other party. That is the only way to get a person to think about what they understand to be a fact: have them re-form the concept. Argumentation might not be the method, but introducing a consideration is the first step in changing a person’s mind. Intellectual dishonesty, then, is not only refusal to acknowledge facts, but also a refusal to deliberate. In any case, destabilizing known “facts” rather than encouraging steadfastness of beliefs, even of one’s own beliefs, may be the best way of getting people to change their mind. However, that should only be done if teaching is the goal. Ideas can kill, so should be used as weapons when a destructive individual/group is involved; I don't mean to imply that all people should get an equal say. Fence-sitters -- even if not explicit ones -- can accept different ideas upon deliberation. But not before the concept in question is deliberated about. I'm going after something that is more than just activism in general, more than just going out and speaking of ideas. I'm thinking about very specific means to get people to unwittingly get to them to reconsider their beliefs. I'm wondering how to get the more resistant people to think about their ideas, not just fence-sitters. One way to lead a person to deliberate is present an argument. That way, they have to integrate their thoughts, present a conclusion. The issue with that is it is basically deduction. It would not be deliberation in the sense previously discussed. If I wanted to persuade others to agree with egoism (or any other concepts related to Objectivism), or any other “deep” concept, it may be better to figure out what facts the other person does not have. If I wanted to get an egalitarian to accept egoism instead, I couldn't talk about what they already knew. I'd have to present a fact that would have to be integrated that never had been previously. As a result, either the person fixes resulting contradictions, or outright evades/dis-integrates/mis-integrates the new fact. Of course, this all to some extent depends on a person being intellectually honest. Simply stating facts may be one way to entice people to think differently about an idea, without a great deal of mental effort on my own end. Or stating the existence of a concept previously unheard of by the other person. I would like to know what other people think about what I said about deliberation here, as well as any other ideas anyone has on how to get people to change their mind about something. And other ways to spread ideas other than activism. I’m personally not a fan of activism, but I do enjoy spreading ideas.
    5 points
  26. If you believe this then you truly are a fool of the greatest proportions.
    5 points
  27. Take any group of people of equal numbers. Put them in those situations and you will get a few that behave exactly like this if not worse. It reminds me of the line from "Apocalypse Now" Kurtz: "We train young men to drop fire on people, but their commanders won't allow them to write "fuck" on their airplanes because it's obscene!" By the way would this be the proper time to bring up the Objectivist ideal of total war? Where the deaths of civilians are the responsibility of the people they support even if only tacitly, and that any free nation has the right to invade any slave pen? War is hell, policing up the bodies and body parts is the kind of shit that makes grown men cry, puke and shit their pants so if you don't like the look of it then don't ever claim that you can send a man to war and have it be all pretty and sterile like some sort of 1930's movie where men fall gracefully and intact when they are shot and you don't have to see their skulls come apart. It's time that the civilian population grew up, more than just a little. Get in, get it done and get out with the fewest numbers of our own killed, or maimed. THAT is the job. Not making it all pretty for the fucking camera.
    5 points
  28. They actually need a 3/5 quorum, which means they need 20 senators. 19 Republicans, one with a donkey on his lapel, will not suffice. A common theme of the union-side is that Gov. Walker is abandoning democracy. Of course I don't need to explain why democracy is bad on this forum, but I still think there is some irony here that shows how confused the term, "democracy," is today. Reducing the power of the teacher's unions is exactly what many of us in Wisconsin elected the Republicans to do. We voted, the unions lost. Sounds democratic to me.
    5 points
  29. This discussion has been rather far removed from the fundamental principles regarding man’s rights, and has focused instead on notions of aggression, spreading (versus other means), sensory inputs, affecting a person, doing damage to body or property including creating a risk of same. It has included the idea that one can accidentally initiate physical force. The problem has been (for over a half century) that we (not exclusively Objectivists, referring to people who take the concept of “individual rights” to be an essential concept that must be understood) are constantly playing whack-a-mole by invoking a concept like “aggression”, then we get challenged as to what “aggression” is, then we refer “aggression” to something else. Rand has stated the fundamental principle, and in my opinion Schwartz has explicated it nicely. I quote a single sentence from his first page: “This concept of force applies exclusively to actions taken by human beings against human beings”. But it is not just “the unchosen” that we identify when talking about force. Second sentence bottom p. 1: “We thus identify the concept “force” to denote a physical action to which we are subjected against our will”. Finally, he makes the identification that “The concept of force pertains only to the volitional. It pertains only to physical actions taken by a volitional being to neutralize the choice of another volitional being” (emphasis added). Relating this to the mask-mandate, there is no question that the governmental requirement to wear a mask in the locally-mandated circumstances is the initiation of force. It is a particularly egregious initiation of force, since it is in all cases a use of special dictatorial power that is outside the rule of law – it is only justified because it is declared to be an “emergency”. There isn’t even a real law requiring you to wear a mask. Sweeping away the mask orders, the question then should be, what legal consequences should there be if you do not wear a mask? The same as if you walk your dog, drive your car, or grow a tree on your property. If you walk your dog and do not control it, and it eats the neighbor’s cat, you are liable for the damage. There is extensive legal background on this principle (it is millennia old). The government and legal system subsumes these concepts under the “duty of care”, which allows you to not care about another party’s interests up to a point, but you must care when your actions do “harm”. It is obvious that I am not talking about Objectivist theory here, I’m just stating what has always been a legal principle governing social interactions. There are two related challenges for Objectivists on this front. The first is to be able to sort actions which should have legal consequences versus one which should not. Dogs eating cats would be an example of the former. Using the pronoun “he” when the referent prefers to be identified as “she” is an example of the latter. The second is to find a system of reason that relates those identifications to general principles, consistent with Objectivism. Automatically labeling something as “initiation of force” is anti-reason. Presenting a clear line of reasoning from principles to conclusions is what it means to “reason”. So let us reason. The strongest claim that I find at all compatible with Objectivism is that one should not knowingly, willfully transmit a disease to another person without permission. The second strongest claim is that if you negligently cause harm to a person by your actions (or inactions), you bear responsibility for those choices. Masks are about the second kind of case, where the bar is being lowering for a claim of “negligence” (as well as corrupting the concept “cause”). It is always possible at any time that any person has some transmissible disease and does not know it. It cannot be a principle of civilized society that one must self-quarantine if it is possible that one has a transmissible disease (that virtually contradicts the notion of a “civilized society” – we must always self-quarantine; life is not possible). This discussion needs a better principle. What principle underlies the distinction between covid and the common cold? What scientific facts underlie claims about covid versus the cold or the flu? I don’t mean, what do the newspapers say, I mean what are the scientific questions and findings? Then how do those facts relate to a person’s proper choices? That is how I think this discussion should be framed.
    4 points
  30. I'm no psychologist, but it is fairly common knowledge that grief is a natural part of life, if we conceive of it broadly as going through the process of psychologically dealing with loss. Loss is natural and ubiquitous if one is alive, growing, or changing... all the time one loses one's former self to become something new , something more (or different), a process of being is not static - it is a process of becoming. We transform from a dependent child to an adult, we learn to accept that Santa Claus is a fiction, as an adult we accept "the highschool years" as a part of our ever evolving lives and not its definition, and we must learn to make the transformation through old age and decline as well... These transformations and the subsequent introspections of the differences of self, require a process to fully deal with. We are aware that those who do not properly process these changes, as with those who do not properly process the death of a loved one, have psychologically unresolved issues... which can and will be problematic, until they are properly processed and there is closure and acceptance of the reality of that particular loss or change on a deep psychological level. One of the biggest psychological transformations a person can go through is to convert from an adherent of the religious/supernatural/mystical to a complete atheist. This is no trifle... it is a fundamental shift of a world view, indeed a view of the universe, all of existence, its relation to the self and the very definition of self also. Is anyone aware of any authority, academic, or psychologist who delved into, contemplated, and/or wrote substantively on the subject matter of the psychological process of Grief necessary for fully completing the transformation from religion to atheism in a psychologically healthy manner?
    4 points
  31. This came to mind, though she's not a psychologist: If you know someone going through it, good chance this talk will be relatable. The transition from Catholic to Atheist is long in my past, so I'm more interested in people's thoughts/experiences with the social context of being a member of this particular oppressed minority. Especially at work. I avoid the subject at work, and when asked try to leave it at "I'm not religious". But there's always some nosy parker. I once had an outside consultant I had barely met tell me, intending it as friendly advice, that the only thing he knew about me is that I'm an atheist and that I shouldn't let people know that. He was from a communist country and hadn't been raised with religion, so he was speaking as one atheist to another. "Just tell them you're spiritual". Up to that point I'd only had one person quiz me about my religion, starting with "where do you attend church?"; suffice to say she was not about to take "I don't" as a final answer, and she was one to make the most of her time around the water cooler. And I didn't even use the "a" word. This was years ago, and I didn't stay there very long. Nevertheless, it rankles.
    4 points
  32. I'm not sure on what you base your view of the psychology of middle-class Americans. What Trump saw was the the number of whiny whites had grown to a point where they had become a voting bank that nobody was speaking to. He saw that the Democratic party had started ignoring these people, and not been giving them enough hand-outs. These people felt invisible. In the wake of the great recession, they were also scared. For 40 years, ever since early Japanese competition, people have been telling these cohorts that the world is changing and they'd better adapt. Many did. But, too many pouted and refused to adapt. As if the world owed them a living! Japan came, the Asian tigers came,...and there was blowback each time, but net-net the system adjusted. Then the Chinese came -- a billion workers. And these Americans, still competing mostly on their low-skilled labor -- and having not heeded a few decades of warnings -- were finally scared. The great recession was the final straw. These loser Americans were then looking for someone to blame for their folly. Trump saw that. And, trump is a master of blaming others. And truth has no meaning to him, so he was the right person at the right time. Hillary was seen as "status quo", so these unthinking Americans -- clueless about right and wrong political ideas -- wanted to kick out anyone conventional. A bit to his surprise, trump found himself leading. Being the zero-ego that he is, he was expert in reflecting back the emotions of the crowd. A populist in the worst possible sense. He does not represent self-reliance, self-esteem and independence. He won because he pandered to the whining low-middle class white voters who think the world owes them something, and who think any type of intellectualism is just trickery.
    4 points
  33. For those whom capitalism is still an unknown ideal, capitalism is the complete seperation of economics and state and that has never existed. This clear, non-foggy, definition of capitalism is the basis for Rand's argument, that Laika just led himself to discover, on the difference between economic and political power.
    4 points
  34. The following is a list of poems featured/mentioned in Poems I Like - and Why (lecture by Leonard Peikoff) ___________________________ LP's definition of poetry: "Poetry is the form of literature whose medium is the sound of concepts" Poems need not have events and characters Most suited to the eloquent, powerful statement of a relatively simple thought, sentiment or inspirational idea, an expression of love, a short story, a joke. Best suited to shorter works A cross between literature and music Like music scores, poems MUST be read out loud A poem must not sound like a poem - and yet it rhymes (must sound natural) Poems combine the sensory (auditory) field with the intellectual one; brain + ears, mind + body Two essential elements rhytm rhyme - "a repeated pattern of recognizable sounds at the end of the lines". Rhyming creates auditory expectations. The meaning can be a total twist - you hit the expected sound but it has a completely different meaning than what you anticipated ___________________________ METAPHYSICAL POEMS Richard Cory (Edward Robinson) - a malevolent universe poem with a punch Invictus (William Henley) - Byronic view of existence Say not the Struggle nought Availeth (Arthur Hugh Clough) - it looks bad, but stand back, we're winning The Gods of the Copybook Headings (Kipling) - the issue underneath the benevolent/malevolent universe premise: I wish vs it is. LP's top favorite. POEMS ON EPISTEMOLOGY Flower in the Crannied Wall (Lord Tennyson) - integration; the true is the Whole (Tennyson is LP's favorite poet) The Daffodils; The Tables Turned (William Wordsworth) - an opponent of reason and integration The Thinker (Berton Braley) - the theme of Atlas Shrugged POEMS ON MORALITY Two favorites of Ayn Rand, found in her papers: 1. Mourn Not The Dead (Ralph Chaplin) - on moral judgement 2. Short poem by 'A Nony Mous' (1960 July-August issue of Success Magazine) Why should you begrudge another The fortunes he does reap? Bless him, he's one brother That you don't have to keep! The Westerner (C. B. Clarke) - egoism and individualism. Ayn Rand had the last two lines of this poem in a placard frame. INSPIRATIONAL POEMS Poems that stress some virtue, such as strenght, heroism, persistence, courage. Columbus (Joachim Miller) - the virtue of persistence, Man the Hero If (Kipling) - a description of the Ideal Man (Ayn Rand's top favorite) LOVE POEMS To His Coy Mistress (Andrew Marvell) - what to say to a woman that won't put out... Sonnets from the Portuguese 43: How do I love thee? Let me count the ways (Elizabeth Browning) Love and Sleep (Algernon Charles Swinburne) POLITICAL POEMS Retaliation (Olver Goldsmith) - a thinker wants to go into politics A song: “Men of England” (Percy Bysshe Shelley) What is a communist? (Ebenezer Elliott) FUNNY POEMS Ogden Nash poems; The Pig; The Germ; The Duck; The Panther; The Ostrich; The Pizza; Which the chicken which the egg; Kind of an ode to duty (moral-practical dichotomy); Lines Fraught With Naught But Thought MISC POEMS The Lotos-eaters (Tennyson) - must be read in an increasingly sleepy way The Confessional (Robert Browning) - a tragic, compelling story Ulysses (Tennyson) - Man the Hero (white rhyme) Sometimes (Thomas S. Jones, Jr) - a man who betrayed his potential Dying Speech of an Old Philosopher (Walter Savage Landor) Do not go gentle into that good night (Dylan Thomas) Beethoven And Angelo (John Bannister Tabb) An Essay on Man: Epistle I | Epitaph on Sir Isaac Newton (Alexander Pope) The Arrow and the Song (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) The Song of Roland (translated by Dorothy L. Sayers) It's all a state of mind (Success Magazine, March 1963 issue) The Highwayman (Alfred Noyes) America for Me (Van Dyke) - an ode to America Drinking (Abraham Cowley) - or, as LP calls it, "The Metaphysics of Vodka" On a Girdle (Edmund Waller) Be Strong (Maltbie Davenport Babcock) Opportunity (John James Ingalls) Gunga Din (Kipling) - recommended by somebody in the audience Tennyson poems: Break, break, break; Crossing the bar; Rizpah (LP refused to read this one because it makes him cry) An ode to my mistress' breasts (mentioned during a Q&A session, LP might have referred to the girdle one by Waller)
    4 points
  35. I wanted to add my thoughts, as a parent who is currently working through The Fountainhead for the first time. I appreciate the quote that was given on Rand' and motherhood being a career that can become outdated. This can be applied to fatherhood as well - which at this point in my life is my central purpose. Thus, I would characterize one's central purpose in life not in terms of an unchanging career, but in terms of a single building that Roark might have built - in the sense of a stage of ones life. A rational, discrete accomplishment and goal that consumes one with passion and leads to flourishing. Everything I do at this point in my life is in the very broad context of my being a father - even my mental "breaks" from fatherhood (such as dates with my wife, studying philosophy, going to the gym - which I require to come back and continue being the best father I can be, rejuvinated with fresh energy and perspective.) My marriage, my philosophical studies, my health/fitness, my personal time, my job - all of this (at this point in my life) supports my central purpose of being a father. More to the point - Within the context of my knowledge, I don't do anything antithetical to being a father in the long-run. My current "building/structure" must integrate and not contradict the others I have built in the past - for example I will rely on my marriage, life experiences and health/fitness to support my next structure, so they all form a support of whatever my current building is. As Rand alludes to, at some point it won't make sense for fatherhood to be my central purpose...my structure will be completed (for the most part...I know I will always be a father) just like my competitive bodybuilding, my college degrees, my career, my romantic life, a stable home, etc have all been important structures in my life for me in the past (in that chronological order, actually). But the important point is the structures one chooses to build in life may change and this presents no contradiction with the objectivist conception of a flourishing life. This is the integration referred to in the title of this thread - and it is deeply personal, and individualistic. The structure of one's value hierarchy should properly be completely unique and personal for that individual. Ultimately, the moral rule is that one pursue a flourishing life of reason, purpose, and self-esteem. The number of ways one may do this is limited only to their imagination. But just as Roark had multiple buildings that he architected during his life, a person's highest values may change as well. And Roarks buildings, although discrete, did not preclude one another. There is no reason that they should. And if I may share something a bit more to the point, if not exceptionally personal: It brought tears to my eyes when it occurred to me that my children are my Stoddard Temple. And I know that I will have to unveil them to the world someday, and it breaks my heart, in a selfish way, that I can't keep them perfect and sweet and pure and innocent forever. And they will be vandalized, and judged improperly by those who don't deserve to even look upon them. I will build it my way, according to the very best within me, no matter what it takes, through sleepless nights and tears, but also through joyous highs and laughter. And I will let no one sway me from my path unless the reasoning of my own mind convinces me of a better one. And when the time comes, as it will, for me to move on and choose a new structure in my life to focus on - I will look back on my temple and know it was built according to my highest values and to the best of my ability. And properly, and egoistically, I will be a better person for having built it.
    4 points
  36. A good starting point would be OPAR ch. 1, which says “Science is systematic knowledge gained by the use of reason based on observation.” Science thus includes “specialized science” and philosophy. It differs from mere observation, which is not systematic. It differs from religion and emotion, which are not based on reason or observation. Philosophy (actual philosophy, not purported philosophy) is a science: again, OPAR ch. 1 “philosophy is a system of ideas. By its nature as an integrating science…”, Peikoff in “The analytic-synthetic dichotomy”: “Epistemology, the theory of knowledge, the science that defines the rules by which man is to acquire knowledge of facts…”. Rand says (“Philosophy: who needs it?”) that “Philosophy studies the fundamental nature of existence, of man, and of man’s relationship to existence. As against the special sciences, which deal only with particular aspects, philosophy deals with those aspects of the universe which pertain to everything that exists. In the realm of cognition, the special sciences are the trees, but philosophy is the soil which makes the forest possible”. In the broader context, “science” refers to systematic knowledge gained by the use of reason based on observation, but in the narrower context where philosophy is distinguished, we would contrast philosophy and special sciences. In the appendix to ITOE, “Philosophic vs. Scientific issues”, Rand begins by noting “Philosophy by its nature has to be based only on that which is available to the knowledge of any man with a normal mental equipment. Philosophy is not dependent on the discoveries of science; the reverse is true”. Philosophy is not “the art of just making crap up”. In this context (which presupposes the distinction between science and philosophy), the simple term “science” is used where elsewhere “special science” might be used. This second sense of “science” as special science, specialized knowledge, is what is ordinarily called “science” especially by people who haven’t read OPAR and ITOE. Philosophy is science, in the broader sense, but not in the narrower sense. “Evidence” is not, as far as I know, defined in Objectivism, but observation of how the word is used shows that it refers to knowledge in relation to a proposition – a fact supports a proposition, or it contradicts a proposition. A bit of knowledge can depend heavily on an immediate observation – “I just saw an eagle!” – or it can depend heavily on applying knowledge to previously gained knowledge (insert your favorite mathematical proof here). When people speak of “empirical evidence”, they mean knowledge that depends heavily on immediate observation. “Empirical evidence” brings us back to the axiomatic, because the distance from the axiomatic to the conclusion is shortened. All knowledge rests on observation, but some knowledge is separated by quite a distance from observation. It is true that some people treat philosophy as non-empirical, which allows patent nonsense to be promulgated as “philosophy”. You have to consider the concept “evidence” from two perspectives as well, depending on whether it has been evaluated. People often look at the observation as being the “evidence”, in which case since you can’t deny the axiomatic, you end up with a very goofy notion of “balancing” evidence, and seeing truth as scalar. Which, b.t.w., is poppycock. This notion that evidence is the raw observation is wrong. An observation has to be logically evaluated and integrated with all of your knowledge, before it becomes “evidence” for or against anything. “Uncontrolled observations” then are not evidence, because there has been no validation of the relation between the observation and the proposition that the observation stands in a supposed evidentiary relation to. How does that observation integrate with other observations (all other observations, not just the ones of interest to the advocate of the position)? The specific form of stupidity that you’ve identified is failing to consider alternative. There are alternative propositions that are consistent with the observation, and those alternatives are arbitrarily rejected. That means that the resulting emotion of “certainty” is achieved at the expense of acquiring knowledge.
    4 points
  37. softwareNerd

    Trump

    People love to hate politicians, and to claim that politicians are some particularly disgusting breed. But consider... a GOP acquaintance of mine was complaining about Obamacare. When I pushed, it turned out he wanted the government to somehow bring down rates, and wanted the government to help the poor who cannot afford healthcare. Yet, this person -- typical of the average voter -- has no clue about how the government should go about this. This voter simply wants stuff.... somehow. It doesn't matter if it is contradictory. Similarly, another acquaintance was talking about how she could not afford to retire. The discussion went to social-security, and it turns out she does not want SS taxes raised, did not want SS benefits curbed, and wanted the budget deficit to be lowered in the bargain. How? Well, that's not her problem... politicians should figure it out. A colleague is very conscientious about recycling, wants coal plants shut down, wants more regulation; but, also wants the economy to grow twice as fast as it is doing. Sorry, the fault, dear Brutus lies not in our politicians, but in ourselves, that we are whining, un-intellectual voters who have no clue about what government ought to be. So, we get the government we deserve. [Of course, by "we", present company -- and other more-intellectual voters -- are excluded. I'm speaking of the average-Joe American voter.]
    4 points
  38. I have read Spinoza's main work, the Ethics, and some secondary literature. I am by no means a scholar, though. I think the main difference between Spinoza and Rand is that Spinoza is a hard determinist and Rand believes in free will. The basis for this difference is how they each interpret the shared premise that everything that exists is necessary. Spinoza interprets this as meaning that everything acts according to strictly deterministic physical and mental laws, whereas Rand thinks that there is room for free will because free will follows from the nature of man. Spinoza is also a psychological egoist, or at least pretty close to it. He thinks that everything we do is done out of self preservation, which is related to his determinism. Rand would say that we can choose to act out of self denial, like when we evade or act according to false moral premises that we have accepted from the culture. James Taggart in Atlas Shrugged may be a good illustration of the difference, here, because if I recall correctly his basic premise turned out to be nihilism. Spinoza would say that such a person is as impossible as one plus one adding up to three. Spinoza and Rand agree that the goal of life is happiness, and they would agree that reason is the way to arrive at happiness. Their specific approaches are different, though, because they have different views about human psychology. Spinoza puts more emphasis on scientific and philosophical inquiry, because he thinks that they can help us achieve tranquility by grasping nature as a unified necessary system. Rand's ethics is a bit more action oriented. I apologize for any inaccuracies in this post, and I appreciate any further thoughts anyone may have.
    4 points
  39. Nobody should be surprised to see Atlas Shrugged recommended as a source for what Rand had to say. Anne Heller points out that the story, quite literally on the first page, salutes the skill of a bus driver. This scene leads straight into a dialog scene between a VP’s personal assistant and the company’s CEO in which the assistant clearly understands the company’s situation better than the CEO and cares about it more. Not long after that is a chapter entitled “The Top and the Bottom” which (unfavorably) contrasts a bunch of corporate higher-ups in a bar with the aforementioned assistant and an unskilled laborer in the company cafeteria. One could go on and on in this vein. Rand preferred as a novelist to write about people of extraordinary character, talent and accomplishment. In her novels, as in life, these qualities correlate imperfectly with money and status. The world would offer fewer storytelling possibilities (less conflict, less surprise) if the two matched up well.
    4 points
  40. Not all religions work that way. Islam, in particular, has an explicitly political component which mentions compulsory charity. The Catholic church also worked along similar lines before the Reformation (which, as Yaron Brook has observed, was an effect of the Rennaisance). Before the Reformation the Bible was recorded exclusively in Latin, and anyone who wanted to consult it had to go through a priest. Martin Luther risked his life by translating into German and then mass-producing it, so that everyone could read it for themselves. The ideas which were implicit in that are the ones which eventually came to be accepted as de facto parts of "Christianity". So it's really not a religious thing; it's part of the extremely Americanized sort of religion that survived the Rennaisance. Common knowledge of the scientific method has allowed so many people to reason with such clarity about facts. And make no mistake; what American kids learn in something even as simple as The Magic Schoolbus, is the basis of Objectivist Epistemology. A "rational evaluation", on the other hand, requires a whole different level of insight. Most people, if you asked them to judge and weigh some choice scientifically, wouldn't even be able to parse the meaning of that statement. It would seem like gibberish. They think of facts as things that are different from and incommensurate to values (which is why, for example, colleges divide their courses into the "sciences" and the "humanities"). So while a growing number of people are able to apply reason to Christianity's factual claims, most of them still can't process its normative claims in that way. Without that insight, they're left in this moral vacuum where it seems like the only possible conclusions are the ones they're already familiar with. This is why I personally consider people like Sam Harris to represent a monumental philosophical breakthrough. If 50% of the people in America could see that moral claims are subject to just as much scrutiny as scientific claims, and were open to discussing it, we'd conquer the world within a year.
    4 points
  41. Plus, it only works on idiots. What the sick and dying really need is a steady supply of good music and illegal narcotics. I know that's how I'll be going out, if I get the chance.
    4 points
  42. Till now, I think I've tried to make the case that some means serve conversational ends (such as persuasion) better than others, and that among these means are "tact" (or "diplomacy," or "civility") and, though I did not name it in my last post, I would add "patience." There is more that could be said on these topics -- and I plan on saying more over time -- but for now I just wanted to say that I think that learning how better to hold discourse is not an incidental topic. I think it's an important subject, for those who want to live in a world more characterized by reason. Those who have recently remarked on the size of this forum in particular... I think that these subjects are related. I believe that insufficient attention paid to the context of conversation -- why and how we talk to one another -- has had an effect on the growth of the community. Speaking more broadly, I think this subject speaks to the penetration of Objectivism in the wider world. Objectivism has reason and reality on its side. Of all philosophy and religion, Objectivism has the remarkable advantage of being correct. If I were in business and I had the best product on the market (the only product in its category which actually works, no less), but I was failing to achieve any significant market penetration, I would start to wonder about my marketing and sales efforts. Are we doing a good job in communicating the message? I would ask. Can we do better? I ask the same question of Objectivists, insofar as there is any interest in communication. To be clear, I don't insist that any man has the job of changing the world. But if Ayn Rand had any interest in showing others that there is a better way -- and I would argue that she did -- then I suspect that there are some of us who likewise have a similar interest, and who occasionally take some action to achieve it. When we do take action, can we do better? I say that we can, possibly in a few ways, and through this thread I say that we can do better by looking at how we communicate. I think that incorporating greater tact and patience in discourse will serve our persuasive ends and, speaking broadly, help to make the world a better place for us to live in.
    4 points
  43. The Atlas Society recently published a blog post about Objectivism and the family, in response to a Salon article that referred to Objectivism as anti-family. The salon article can be found here, and the TAS response here. This prompted me to read the original TAS article that the Salon guy linked to, found here. I found the account of Objectivism and family relations highly unsatisfactory, particularly as applied to sibling relationships, and I decided that I wanted to write up the response below. In her article on family relations and Objectivism, Malini Kochhar attempts to lay out a view of familial relationships based on Ayn Rand's trader principle: "This principle holds that we should interact with people on the basis of the values we can trade with them - values of all sorts, including common interests in art, sports or music, similar philosophical outlooks, political beliefs, sense of life, and more. Trade, in this broad sense, is the only proper basis of any relationship—including relationships with members of our families." However, in her application of the principle, she fails to consider several highly significant sources of value in family relationships. I will focus mainly on critiquing her comments from the perspective of sibling relationships, although many of my comments also apply to the parent-child case. In her article, she states the following: Thus, in her view, it would be extremely unlikely for one to have the same kind of deep relationship with a sibling that one would have with a very close friend. This is because we cannot choose our siblings the way that we can choose our friends, and therefore it would be mere coincidence if we happened to be close. However, this is emphatically not the only possibly application of the trader principle to sibling relationships, and in fact it is highly rationalistic and ignores the most common factors that create strong bonds between siblings. The core of many sibling relationships, including my own, is shared experiences. Growing up in the same household strongly lends itself to a high level of mutual understanding among siblings. I have two sisters, and we all grew up under the same roof. They've seen some of my worst moments, and some of my best. They've seen my growth, all the way from elementary school to the person that I am today. They understand me like almost no one else does. In Objectivist terms, they provide me with a kind of psychological visibility that only they can. Certainly, as we've moved out of the house and away from each other, we are no longer intimately involved in each others' day to day lives, and there are others who know aspects of me and my life much better than they do. However, their particular understanding of me is extremely important to me. And of course, this understanding runs both ways, with me providing this particular kind of understanding to them as well. Thus, the value provided by this sort of understanding is mutual, as per the trader principle. Despite this understanding of one another and our shared experiences of childhood, we have grown up to be very different people. If you were to list our core values explicitly, you would probably conclude that we don't have many in common. Our adult interests are extremely varied, and even as kids we clashed like only siblings can. We each care about very different things, and even have quite different explicit philosophies (leading to some strong political disagreements). In fact, if I were to walk into an Objectivist convention, I could probably randomly pick someone out of the crowd whose explicit list of 'core values' would be closer to mine than those of my sisters. That kind of similarity is simply not what our sibling relationships are based on. Nevertheless, they completely exemplify Rand's trader principle, in every aspect. Unchosen family obligations play no part whatsoever. This is the problem with clinging to 'shared core values' as the one and only indicator of a true and deep relationship between people. It overemphasizes explicit philosophical convictions and interests over other important aspects of relationships, such as mutual understanding and shared experiences. It allows Kochhar to set up a false dichotomy between a relationship based on shared core values (which he describes as a 'rare coincidence' when it happens to occur among siblings) and a relationship based on familial obligation. It is indeed unlikely that two people who didn't choose to be siblings would share the same explicit philosophical convictions or the same list of core values. If this is the sum of one's measure of an appropriate relationship, then one is forced to describe strong sibling relationships as 'coincidence.' If the relationship does not fit this description, it must then be based on a reification of blood relation and familial obligation. But the value that I get from my relationship with my sisters is not simply a coincidence, and neither is it an expression of duty that we feel. It is precisely because we are siblings who grew up together that we have this sort of bond. It was their role in my childhood, and in my life since then, that is the source of the value that I gain from them, and them from me. Now certainly, none of this is a necessary consequence of being siblings. There are numerous situations where siblings will not have this kind of relationship (most notably, when they don't grow up together). However, the factors that lead to such strong sibling relationships are much more common than Kochhar's 'rare coincidence' type of relationship will allow. The trader principle's application in this case is much broader than he paints it to be. It is sad to me to see Rand's trader approach to human relationships, which I believe to be the correct one, artificially limited by the kind of values that can be traded. Doing so excludes some of the most important relationships in life, and gives credence to the viewpoint that Rand's philosophy as a whole doesn't have room to accommodate these relationships. In my view, it does; when these relationships are healthy, they are indeed based on the trader model, where both people get true value from the relationship. The limitation comes simply from an excessively narrow conception of what kinds of values are in play.
    4 points
  44. JASKN

    Altruism Revisited

    If it's useful, is it altruistic?
    4 points
  45. In the debate, John Mackey charges that following a strict conception of self-interest will lead one to disregard any actions taken for others. He accepts the dictionary definition of selfishness and argues against living by it, saying that we should take others into account and balance our interests with those of others. Kelley responds by disputing this conception of selfishness, as he should, and immediately refers to his own work on benevolence and its relation to selfishness. In so doing, he gives a hypothetical of a neighbor's house burning down, and discusses self-interested reasons to help that person. Namely, he refers to 'investing in a social practice' that he himself might need some day. This rebuttal completely misses the central point that Kelley should address head on. There's a much simpler reason why you might want to help someone in that situation: because you care about that person. This gets to a central question that Kelley, astoundingly, fails to address. The question is, what role do other people play in our own selfish values? Mackey contends that, by and large, the two are non-overlapping spheres; there's acting for self-interest, and then there's acting for others. Thus, his example of extreme self-interest is a narcissist that never acts for others. The important distinction for the Objectivist to make is that a narcissist is someone who fails to value other people at all! Selfishness is all about pursuing your own values, and the question is: can other people be values to us? When put this way, the answer is obvious; of course they can! I care deeply about many people in my life. Their happiness helps to constitute my own; their happiness brings me joy, and their pain brings me sorrow. This is what ties acting for others into self-interest, far more so than furthering some social code of helping. We can put some more meat on this issue by considering its application to some real-life questions of how we should treat other people. This will help to illustrate why selfishness is important even when doing things for others. Let's consider a couple of (related) hypotheticals. In the first, I'm considering going to the hospital to pay a visit to someone who's been injured. In the second, I'm considering spending the night by their bedside in the hospital, to keep them company and reassure them. How do I decide what to do in either case? In either scenario, the central question is: what does this person mean to me? The reference point is me, myself, my life. It might sound unfamiliar (and maybe callous) to couch the question in these terms, but I encourage the reader to take a second and actually consider this scenario. I'm sure there are many people in your life to whom you would gladly pay a hospital visit if they were sick, or injured. Coworkers, acquaintances, distant relatives, any number of people that you know and like well enough so that you'd take the time to visit them and brighten their day if they were hurt or sick. However, for most of these people, you probably wouldn't put your life on hold and sleep in a folding chair in a hospital room just to keep them company. You might like them, but you don't like them that much. But there are some people that you would put everything else aside to be with. Immediate family, very close friends, certainly significant others. When people mean a lot to us, we're willing to do a lot for them, as well we should be. I hope Mackey would agree that this is an appropriate way to act and make choices when we're "balancing our self-interest" against other concerns. My point is, in order to act this way, we need to look to ourselves, fundamentally. We do (and should!) treat people differently based, not on some cosmic scale of importance, but on what they mean to us personally. To rephrase this, we should take actions for them to the extent that doing so is also pursuing our own values. We should help them when it's selfish, in Rand's sense, to do so. In the debate, John Mackey states that he's using the dictionary definition of selfishness, and that it's Ayn Rand and David Kelley's job to justify using a different definition. Well, here is my justification: the integrating principle behind how we should treat other people and how far we should go to help them is inherently a self-oriented principle. It depends on what they mean to us, their relation to our life and our values. If you're willing to acknowledge that other people can be values to us, just as our career or our health or other such 'selfish' values can, then self-interest provides an overarching moral framework that integrates our actions towards other people with the pursuit of our own values. Mackey suggests that we should balance these two things, and perhaps he has some additional ideas as to how to do that, but the truth is this: we should balance acting for others with acting for ourselves the same way that we make decisions between our 'selfish' values, by evaluating their importance to us and paying fidelity to our values.
    4 points
  46. 2046

    Public Education

    In logic, we can discount certain ideas immediately because they commit the fallacy of self-exclusion. This idea, no doubt having good intentions, after all you are only trying to preserve freedom and the prevalence of liberal ideas, excludes itself because you are advocating violating rights in the name of protecting rights. Expropriating property in the name of ensuring that property is protected doesn't make any sense, and therefore abandons the use of reason it was supposed to instill in the populace. But there are further problems. The main idea itself seems to stem from a mistrust that the market can provide education or that market education will lack in liberal ideas. But if the market can't provide a populace educated in the use of reason and instilled with a liberal culture, why is it assumed that engaging in a policy that explicitly flouts the laws of logic and the consistency very liberal ideas it is supposed to protect is going to result in the very liberal culture that was otherwise assumed to be impossible? If the populace doesn't embrace liberal ideas, it's hard to see why engaging in explicitly anti-liberal ideas is going to change their minds. Are we to believe that the public would be entirely unable to "use their consciousness to reason" unless you take their money from them and spend it for them? If the public is incapable of making rational choices, then how this same public is expected to suddently be able to make the right choices in running a public education system is unclear. In addition to the false assumption that engaging in illogical and anti-liberal policies would fix these perceived defects, the original assumption itself that (1) we would all be stupid, irrational, and incapable of making choices without public education, and that (2) the public will embrace anti-liberal ideas without public education, is not justified. It comes from the Marxian doctrine of historical development of capitalism, in which there is a growing number of poor, uneducated, unemployed proletariat, continually pushing against the verge of starvation as wages fall lower and lower, and all wealth is centralized into the hands of fewer and fewer capitalists. The dissatisfaction with the capitalist mode of production increases as "class consciousness" develops until such a level is reached that the working class demands social change. But this is nonsensical pseudo-science, as it is based on the fallacious economics, such as the "iron law of wages," and incoherent philosophical mumbo-jumbo, such as dialectical materialism. There is no reason to believe either (1) or (2), nor that the market is incapable of providing education services, nor that this in itself would result in more anti-liberal ideas being prevalent. Not to stop there, we can further criticize its method. You say that school choice is necessary, that privately owned schools are a necessary, and that the current curriculum is unacceptable. Well, if you plan on retaining choice in competition between producers, then how are you going to allocate your tax funds? You can't give it to any of the producers of education services, because that would be choosing for the consumers, and favoring one producer over another. Suppose, you say, let's give it to the consumers of education instead, and let them use it as a voucher to choose. But this doesn't make any sense. You are taxing the people, i.e. taking money away from them, then giving them the tax money back in order to spend it on education. What is the point in that? Why not just let them keep it in the first place and spend it themselves? But they might not spend it on education, or they might not spend it on education in liberal ideas, you say. But, you say choice is a must. This, again, contradicts itself. They are free to choose, but not to choose something you don't like. Suppose some Muslims send their children to strict Islamic schooling. Suppose some Christians send their children to orthodox schools. No, in the name of liberalism and freedom of choice, I am going to forcibly redirect your values and choices to where I want them to go. There will be less money for each individual's values, and instead the money will be taxed and redirected towards Nigel's values. But I only want to ensure liberal ideas! You say. "We are for free enterprise!" Dr. Ferris screams. But this amounts to saying that you want to seize money that doesn't belong to you, in order to dragoon the children in government run, or government approved schools, for the sake of instilling in them liberal ideas. I'm going to brainwash your children to be free, damn it! Whether you like it or not! In the name of freedom! Pay up or go to jail! The manifest incoherence and self-contradictory nature of this idea, should be readily apparent. Parents, in their role as consumers, are as sovereign as they are in the software and computer industries. A system in which families decide the best educational vehicle for each of their children and in which entrepreneurs, eager to earn profits, compete to best satisfy the demands on them is the only kind of education system compatible with the liberal ideas of freedom and choice.
    4 points
  47. Understanding requires more than just reading. Information doesn't merely get absorbed and you get it, with any misunderstanding being evasion. It has to be processed, integrated with existing knowledge; it's a whole big process. Reading anything Rand wrote only means you know what she said, not that you truly understand what she wrote. It's fine to present arguments about the existence of god and ask about an Objectivist-type response. Since ctrl_y is talking about an argument in favor of the existence to god as opposed to merely wondering what an Objectivist response would be, the debate forum is best. The debate forum can be a bit of a hassle if it's supposed to be open for anyone to reply, though. Anyway, if a disclaimer is given about what is intended, other subforums are fine to use. A disclaimer is fine for borderline cases, but cases of "extreme" proselytizing like "Christianity is the One and only True way, and I want to convert you" wouldn't be okay even with a disclaimer. As far as I can tell, ctrl_y primarily wants to know an Objectivist-type response and not much else.
    4 points
  48. Most people on this forum don't think with their nuts anyway.
    4 points
  49. Pyotr

    Osama bin Laden dead

    I watched a few minutes of Obama's speech and couldn't stomach anymore. It was obviously a campaign speech. He was pretending to be pro American and to have supported our efforts in the middle east all along. He even admitted that Al Qaeda was at war with America. He was clearly moving to the center out of desperation over his approval rating. But then Obama started masturbating to Islam and I had to turn off the TV. I am very happy that we got Bin Laden. But it sickens me that a President who has consistently opposed and undermined our weak efforts to protect this country would be taking credit for a victory like this and using it to get himself reelected. It also drives me crazy that he wants us to believe that Islam is not dangerous and getting Osama means we're safe. All of the terrorist attacks that have killed Americans over the last few decades - including Osama's attack - were sanctioned/ordered by Iran. And Iran is still out there and getting more dangerous by the minute.
    4 points
  50. Those interested in Whewell, and especially the debate he got into with John Stuart Mill over the nature of induction, may find interesting Reforming Philosophy: A Victorian Debate on Science and Society by Laura J. Snyder, the author of the SEP article. I wrote a review of it for The Objective Standard. For your discussion about the relevance of an epistemologist's metaphysical views, see especially the discussion on page 131 regarding Mill's idealism. He considered himself a follower of Berkeley -- "To be is to be perceived" -- and defined matter as "a Permanent Possibility of Sensation." There is now a book that examines the history of the debate over the substance, depth, and breadth of Whewell's Kantianism, Whewell's Critics by John Wettersten. I can't recommend the book generally, but it's a place to turn if you want to study this long-running debate about how Kantian Whewell was and whether it matters. Also, do not overlook that what makes Whewell so interesting in the history of induction is that he was the most mature in a line of thinkers developing Francis Bacon's theory of induction. Do not overlook Bacon's own Novum Organum and other works in the Baconian tradition, especially those by Thomas Reid and John Herschel. It's best to see Whewell as he saw himself, as a Baconian struggling with (what we'd call) axiomatic concepts and how it is that perceptions and not sensations are the foundations of human cognition and how it is that new concepts get formed. You'll understand Whewell better that way than if you read him as a Kantian and then try figuring out whether his deviations from Kant were fruitful or not.
    4 points
×
×
  • Create New...