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  1. 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
  2. A virus is an element of nature and an inherent risk of life on Earth, not a weapon that an infected person goes around assaulting people with. If you don’t have symptoms, haven’t tested positive, or knowingly been exposed to an infected person, it’s rational to assume you’re not infected and go about your business. You can’t live if you have to assume you are infected with a deadly virus. Each individual’s health and safety is his own responsibility. The onus to stay home and/or get vaccinated is on those who are at risk. Every medical treatment has benefits and risks. If you fear the risks of vaccination more than you fear the virus, you have an absolute right not to get vaccinated. No one has a duty to sacrifice himself by accepting potential bodily harm for the sake of protecting others. The ardent anti-vaxxer’s assessment of the risks might be incorrect, but it’s his judgment, and he has a right to act on it, even if others disagree.
    3 points
  3. In The Prince, Machiavelli speaks of how a ruler who needs to do something unpopular can simply get one of his subordinates to do it for him, and then, if worst comes to worst, he can not only deny responsibility, but make a public spectacle of punishing the subordinate. A government can not only use that to wield "unpopular" powers, but also powers that it is not supposed to have in the first place. In the United States, censorship is one of these powers -- and the subordinate in this case is the "privately owned" corporations, who "volunteer" to be subordinates because they have to, because the government wields various carrots and sticks. The government has figured out a way to get the practical effects of censorship while not doing it itself, thus having plausible deniability. This depends on allowing a few big corporations to have their hands in almost all speech -- and then the government "delegates" the power of censorship to them. I think it's actually is proper to call this "censorship," because, when it comes down to it, it is the ruling regime doing it -- indirectly. The corporations aren't really doing it of their own free will. If somebody puts a gun to your head and makes demands, then whether you agree with the demands or not doesn't really make any difference -- although the gunman might tell you that things will go better for you if it seems that you do agree. But it's a little different when the gunman is the government: people who really do agree might not mind the gun at their heads, because they figure, "the bullets in that gun are for other people, people who disagree... but I agree, I co-operate, so I don't have to worry about it." When the corporations become unpopular, the government can make a big spectacle of "trust-busting," and the showmanship on this has actually already begun -- but you'll find in the end that, even if the government theatrically breaks these companies up, it won't make any practical difference. A few new rules will be announced, nobody will go to jail, and if you end up with two or three Facebooks or whatever, they will all toe the same line. In a free market, companies would compete for people's business, and a company that started banning people for their political views would simply drive those people into the arms of the competition. A company in a free market wouldn't ban people for political reasons, because it's suicidal.** So why are companies doing it? Because they're confident that there is no competition for those people to go to. Why are they so confident? Because the government is guaranteeing it. We don't have a free market. Trump has failed to grasp the nature of this problem and thus is proposing incorrect solutions. However, once again we see some people claiming that there isn't really a problem at all, and that if people are being kicked out of the public sphere for their political views, it's just "the free market at work." That isn't true either. (Some Republicans are doing one other thing wrong -- when they see the power being wielded, they don't want to eliminate that power, they want to take it over for their own use. That's not right, either: some powers cannot be used for good, at least, if good is defined as "promoting human survival.") Over the decades, there have been a lot of people complaining, rightly, about smaller "public-private partnerships" than these, and how such partnerships somehow manage to wield government powers while simultaneously not being subject to any constitutional restrictions because "they aren't part of the government, they're privately owned." Well, now we're coming to the culmination of the trend: companies and government are, for all practical purposes, just aspects of the same thing. To save the free market we need to separate these things: the only ultimate solution to this censorship problem is a separation of state and economics, which would include the elimination of all of these powerful regulatory agencies, so that the regime has no way of compelling compliance with its censorship desires. ** This sentence isn't correct as worded. A magazine publisher, for example, is not "suicidal" if he only accepts certain kinds of articles for his magazine. A phone company, on the other hand, would be "suicidal" if it tapped in on people's calls and cancelled their service over their views.
    3 points
  4. The following is from a presentation of the Rand/Branden model of free will, by Onkar Ghate in the Blackwell A Companion to Ayn Rand. “Rand rejects any theory of volition that roots free will in a choice between particular items of mental content: whether to walk or ride the bus to work (selection between envisioned physical actions); whether to order the vanilla cheesecake because one is hungry or the bowl of mixed berries because one is on a diet (selection between desires or motives that will govern one’s physical actions); whether to admire Mother Teresa or Bill Gates (selection of values); whether to accept the psychological theories of Freud or of cognitive psychologists (selection of ideas). For Rand, all such matters are secondary and derivative: at root, free will is the power to activate one’s conceptual faculty and direct its processing or not. ‘All life entails and exhibits self-regulated action’, writes Branden in presenting Rand’s theory.” “An individual becomes both capable and aware of his power of conscious self-regulation as his mind develops. ‘It must be stressed’, Branden writes, ‘that volition pertains, specifically, to the conceptual level of awareness. A child encounters the need of cognitive self-regulation when and as he begins to think, . . . to reason explicitly. . . .” (“The Objectivist Theory of Volition” TO 5(1), 23) Rand and Aristotle remarked that higher animals are able to perceive more in sensory perception and to remember more than are lower animals. In modern psychology, the development of perceptual and memorial competencies in childhood has been greatly illuminated. I’d add to the Rand/Branden idea that the human conscious self-regulation emergences with the onset of conceptual abilities in children, add that: self-regulation of memory is also critical for the distinctly human abilities. “Remember this” we say to ourselves. Since the invention of sticky pads, I riddle my books with little strips of them. “The choice to ‘think or not’ is not man’s only choice, according to Rand: it is his primary choice. This choice sets a mind’s regulating goal. Sub-choices then arise to the extent that there is such a goal, and are the means of implementing it.”
    3 points
  5. https://youtu.be/ssvSsMqTtjo Kibbe on Liberty: Pandemic imprisoning and the culture war. Perspectives from Britain and the USA. Great conversation.
    3 points
  6. whyNOT Many legal born domestic Americans, which are spoiled, entitled, and lazy, are less "American" in the foundational and fundamental ways that matter, than are you. America is an idea, and they have lost it to the vices and weakness of childhood which they have not escaped... associated with the infantalization of the American adult.. leftism is a natural center of gravity for failed adults, manchildren, so the lurch to the left is almost no surprise. In any case you, as indeed Rand herself was, are more American in spirit, than the many unamericans born within America's borders.
    3 points
  7. Look around your home. Is there anything there that gives you energy? Validates your consciousness? Reminds you of the unique manifestations of your identity? Any song, book, film, tactile object that resonates with the possibility of a goal worth aiming toward? Is there something you could put on your wall that will add a spring to your step, or release the tense confusion of a recent argument because it resonates with a problem solving mindset? As one works toward building a solid foundation in reality, aesthetics is where humanity has a chance to evolve creatively through the contribution of each individual. It takes a great deal of personal resilience to create something that is true, to the epic depths of your mind, regardless of whether another person might recognize some universal appeal.
    3 points
  8. Boydstun

    Facebook

    I joined Facebook originally in order to get access to particulars of certain Objectivist gigs that, some years back, were being announced outside of Facebook, but to get the particulars you had to be able to get into the link to Facebook, which in those days required FB membership. I had not intended to do any socializing there. I had used my real name, and after a few months of being on there, a long-time real-life friend found me and made Friend request to me, which I accepted. Next thing you know, I got Friendy with other real-life friends. Then a deluge, becoming Friend to people I've known only online. It is a distraction from other projects, but I've so enjoyed it these last seven years or so. I make the rounds to the Page of each of my Friends and see what they've been up to or have had to say. The variety of purposes to which people use their Page is interesting. Many have much interest in politics. Also cats or dogs. My Friends consist of family, philosophy/libertarian types, high school classmates, and gay friends known from when we lived in Chicago. Sometimes I get a Friend request that I accept, but then it becomes evident over a few months, that they were just gathering audience for doing their political spiels, never responding to what I post on my own page, and I unFriend them. Another neat thing about FB that enables one to have the sort of social experience one wants there, is that you can Block a person (whether Friend or not) such that you and they no longer see each others posts, even when you are both posting at the page of a mutual Friend. That's effective: if someone is saying nasty things to you, usually over political differences, just block them, and continue to participate in peace thereafter. We retired to Lynchburg, VA in 2009, and ever-better internet communications have made it possible to continue or begin anew being with friendly acquaintances of all sorts from across a lifetime. At my own Page, I don't write about politics, culture wars, etc.---plenty of opportunity to discuss those things at other people's Page. The most wonderful thing I use at my Page is the area they have provided under Photos called Albums. I have created several Albums, friends and family really appreciate them. Me too, and if later on in life, I can no longer remember on my own who I was or my loved ones or what had been my life, I hope there will be someone who will lead me to my Albums.
    2 points
  9. William and Doug, Electromagnetic waves are not composed of electrons, but of photons. The former are fermions (which cannot be in the same state as another fermion, including particle location), whereas the latter are bosons (which can be in the same state with another boson, including particle location). E-M waves, including radio waves, are quantum waves. They can interfere which each other, as waves, and thereby degrade the ability of the carrier wave of radio broadcast to carry information. (Also, if I remember correctly, in cases of waves in matter, such as ripples on the surface of otherwise still water, interference of waves with each other [cancellation or other alteration of each other] is not essentially due to the impenetrability of molecules [fermions].) Of related interest: Energy Wave Theory
    2 points
  10. The interviewer in the preceding is Eiuol.
    2 points
  11. Dealing with radiation: Optimal Radiation Shielding of Astronauts on a Mission to Mars
    2 points
  12. I would suggest that instead of a brief, concentrated rite of passage, we need an ongoing process of pointing children in the right direction by precept and example. Bad ideas do a lot to hold people back from the conceptual level. As better ideas spread, we will get better results. To the extent that we also write and talk, we will help the process along.
    2 points
  13. As if saying it enough times will make it so, Dennis Prager has written yet another column asserting that a secular society is -- somehow -- also therefore a less free one. Somehow? you might ask. Well, you tell me:Image by Alex Shu, via Unsplash, license.Here is something any honest person must acknowledge: As America has become more secular, it has become less free. Individuals can differ as to whether these two facts are correlated, but no honest person can deny they are facts. It seems to me indisputable that they are correlated. To deny this, one would have to argue that it is merely coincidental that free speech, the greatest of all freedoms, is more seriously threatened than at any time in American history while a smaller-than-ever percentage of Americans believe in [God] or regularly attend church. [bold added]Does this not seem like an odd way to open an argument about secularity ... Gosh! what is that word? -- necessitating? ... the decline of freedom in our great republic? In case your'e having a hard time putting a finger on why it does, let's consider an uncontroversial phrase that I would have thought was also familiar to almost any educated adult and certainly should be to any intellectual:Correlation does not imply causation.Prager frequently equates the left with what he calls "secularism." I personally think the left looks more and more religious by the day, and "nature" is a strong candidate for one of its gods. Be that as it may, let's run with Prager's assumption for a moment that religion necessarily implies belief in a god of the Judaeo-Christian sort. If so, then I completely agree with him on both counts: America is both less religious (in that sense) and less free, and those facts about our culture are likely correlated. But so, too are US spending on science, space, and technology -- and US suicides by hanging, strangulation and suffocation, from 1999 to 2009 -- according to the web site, Spurious Correlations. Those numbers are facts and so is the correlation. But I don't think even Dennis Prager would seriously argue that one of these causes the other. Prager's article says not a peep about causation, but that's something we really ought to consider. America has become less free and less observant of traditional Western religions over the past century. Anyone who values freedom would do well to ask that question. Prager, oddly, just assumes -- or seems to want the reader to assume -- that less religion somehow causes less freedom. At least one thinker I am pretty sure Prager has heard of, Ayn Rand, would beg to differ, as her greatest student, Leonard Peikoff, once outlined in some detail in his essay, "Religion vs. America." Within, Peikoff argues in part:Point for point, the Founding Fathers' argument for liberty was the exact counterpart of the Puritans' argument for dictatorship -- but in reverse, moving from the opposite starting point to the opposite conclusion. Man, the Founding Fathers said in essence (with a large assist from Locke and others), is the rational being; no authority, human or otherwise, can demand blind obedience from such a being -- not in the realm of thought or, therefore, in the realm of action, either. By his very nature, they said, man must be left free to exercise his reason and then to act accordingly, i.e., by the guidance of his best rational judgment. Because this world is of vital importance, they added, the motive of man's action should be the pursuit of happiness. Because the individual, not a supernatural power, is the creator of wealth, a man should have the right to private property, the right to keep and use or trade his own product. And because man is basically good, they held, there is no need to leash him; there is nothing to fear in setting free a rational animal. [bold added]If the case for liberty is actually secular, then something other than an some woozily-implied causation of less freedom by an absence of Christianity might be causing the two cultural trends Prager brings up, but doesn't seem very serious about understanding. To wit: His "opposition to slavery was based entirely on the Bible," even if true, does not imply that without religion, we would all advocate slavery. As witness the oath of Ayn Rand's most famous character, "I swear by my life ... and my love of it ... that I will never live for the sake of another man ... nor ask another man ... to live ... for mine." As for what might be causing the two trends, my note about the left becoming more quasi-religious should offer a clue, but a more full explanation would come from Rand's and Peikoff's extensive analyses of the baleful influence of Immanual Kant -- whose mission was to save Christian altruism from the Enlightenment -- on our culture over time. In short, our society continued moving away from Christianity, but also, thanks to Kant, began moving towards a duty-based ethos and its anti-freedom political correlate of statism. -- CAVLink to Original
    2 points
  14. To confuse risk of physical force with initiation of physical force is to confuse a potential with an actual. The whole mandatory vaccination position depends on a Parmenidean worldview in which all that exists is fully actual, combined with disregarding the need to obtain sufficient information to blame any one person for anything. It is the same fallacy employed by advocates of anti-immigration, gun control, and environmentalism. Thank you for helping to make that connection.
    2 points
  15. The experience of your own reaction is your payment for your understanding or misunderstanding of the world. Rationality/Justice counsel proportionality, not only for those others whom your sentiments are about, but for your own "experience" of other people, which you put yourself through. Hatred is the most vile and extreme sort of emotion which takes a toll on the experiencer which has to be paid for by the benefits of the extreme action it urges one toward... be it elimination of a mortal enemy, or complete disassociation with a thoroughly toxic and irredeemable person in whom no value whatsoever may be found... but make no mistake it does not leave one unscathed, whether any action, appropriate or not, is taken in response. Upon reflection, you may find disappointment, sadness, regret, lowering of esteem are more rational for you to subject yourself to as an experience and more Just and proportional a response to others. Be rational in your assessment of the whole person, be it your brother or your father. Also, final responsibility for an adult person of sufficient intelligence lies with that person alone... fault the father a lack of fatherhood as a factor but you cannot negate the son's final responsibility in making his own soul.
    2 points
  16. I also recently heard some more arguments: 1. There are other societies that had even more slavery like Haiti or Brazil that did not do as well as the United States in their economy. 2. To say there was zero labor cost is false. The "owners" had to give a minimum standard of living to have viable workers. That included lodging, food and southern government had to spend a lot to maintain the system i.e. catch runaways. This expense was constant 24 hours a day even when there was no "work" to be done. 3. The fact that the slave could not go looking for job meant the areas of the economy that needed the most labor could never attract the labor, therefore never achieving maximal efficiency. 4. Slavery in general serviced the wishes of the owner, as in the pyramids which were built by slaves, and pyramids don't do much for an economy.
    2 points
  17. Boydstun

    Existence, We

    (Click on image.) This image displays the title and subsection titles of my paper to be published in The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies this July. I developed the metaphysics debuted in this paper over a period of about five years, working on it in the morning hours of each day, beginning before sunrise. An apt name for the resulting philosophy would be Resonant Existence. The image is a pre-dawn look out back at our place, a look to the east. On my way to coffee, I glance out as I’m saying to myself words from the Rig Veda: “So many days have not yet broken.” To those words, I import the meaning “What shall I yet create? What will humankind yet create?” The new metaphysics is more indebted to the metaphysics of Ayn Rand than to any other. Mine is a transfiguration of hers at the deepest level. In this paper of over seventy pages, differences and commonalities of the new foundational framework with Rand’s are explicated and argued. Rand’s fundamentals and mine are set in their relation to others, from Plato/Aristotle to the present. Anyone who would like read this work should get a subscription to JARS at this time. The most basic differences from Rand’s system are my retuning the conception of consciousness, redrafting the definition of logic, addition to Rand’s fundamental axioms and corollaries, replacement of Rand’s contrast class for concretes, and replacement of Rand’s categoreal scheme, her entity/attribute/action/relationship. Those last two innovations promise new understanding of the dividing lines between and distinctive natures of logic, mathematics, empirical science, and philosophy—the continuation of this work I tackle each morning, for future publication, hopefully for years to come. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I’ll return to some posting on Objectivism Online shortly.
    2 points
  18. Similar history here. I heard the story as gossip and found it too weird to believe, so I didn't until BB's book came out years later. The two published In Reply to Ayn Rand a and sent it to the Objectivist subscriber list. He said that what finally, irrevocably broke them up was his telling her that the age difference was "an insurmountable barrier to a romantic relationship". We took it to mean that she wanted to start it, not revive it. The text used to be at his website and perhaps in one of his books.
    2 points
  19. This is a question of terminology. I'm trying to distinguish words and ideas from reality itself. If you hold that a "fact is a type of claim" then you lose (or at least muddy) that distinction. What is a fact a claim of? What do you call the thing out there in reality? (A statement is a complete sentence, not just a noun. So if a statement is "factual," i.e., true, the underlying fact, out there in reality, must be more than just a "thing" like a rock or whatever, it has to be a thing doing (or being) something, even if only existing.) As evidence that my distinction here is not mine alone, I offer this: if I say something, and someone replies, "Is that a fact?" they're asking about the state of things "out there" in reality; they aren't asking for a mere categorization of my utterance (which could be determined entirely from the utterance itself, and from a knowledge of how to categorize utterances, as opposed to looking at whatever I'm talking about). If a fact were a type of statement then asking, "Is that [statement] a fact?" would be the same sort of thing as asking, "Is that statement using an intransitive verb?" Another thing to consider is context. All statements are made in a context. The context can be used to resolve ambiguities and to specify meanings. If I say, "That book is on the shelf over there," it would have to be the context that would make it clear which book and which shelf. Some contexts are broader than others. The broadest context available is the context of "all human knowledge," but smaller contexts are frequently useful and necessary, so you can have your own personal context, e.g., concerning whatever is in your immediate vicinity, and distinguish that from other contexts. A statement has to be put into a context in order to be judged as true, false, or arbitrary (or "possible," "probable," etc.). Further, the same statement can be true in one context, false in another, and arbitrary in yet another, although this might hinge on certain words that have different meanings in different contexts. (I should also point out that in the case of a "word salad" which isn't even grammatical, there's no use trying to put it in a context, because context doesn't make any difference...) I did make a distinction between a statement which is "arbitrary in a particular context" and one which "would be arbitrary in any context." The latter, I think, is what most people here mean when they state that something is "arbitrary." The examples of arbitrary statements given by Peikoff seem to be of that latter type; they seem to be those where the claimant is deliberately trying to insulate a claim from evidence. I think such a statement, "detached from the realm of evidence" as Peikoff describes it, is very different from a claim that merely lacks evidence. A claim that lacks evidence is merely useless; a claim that's impervious to evidence is another sort of beast -- and the statements Peikoff makes about the arbitrary being "an affront to reason and to the science of epistemology" would make more sense applying to the latter.
    2 points
  20. Boydstun

    Existence, We

    My paper Existence, We which I worked on from 2014 to 2019 is now published.
    2 points
  21. Boydstun

    Brainworks

    On Human Perception of a Starry Sky "For millennia, humans have looked to the night sky and chosen star groups to name. But why does Centaurus comprise that specific set of stars rather than some other? We hypothesize that the perception of star groups (constellations) can be explained by a simple model of eye movements taking a random walk along a network of star-to-star transition probabilities. The walk is biased by angular distances between stars, preferred angular distances of human eye movements (also known as saccades), and stars’ apparent magnitudes. To derive predicted constellations from the random walk, we employ a free energy model of mental calculations that maximizes the accuracy of perception while minimizing computational complexity. The model transforms the true transition probability matrix among stars into a perceived matrix, in which star clusters are evident. We show that the statistics of the perceived star clusters naturally align with the boundaries between true constellations. Our findings offer a simple explanation for the identities of the 88 standard constellations."
    2 points
  22. "Fictional problem", in the sense that a "paradox" must involve some disconnect with reality. Reality has no problems, the problems are thus fictional. No hypothetical shape, event, situation, process, system, etc. which is obvious and behaves exactly as "expected" or "intuited" was ever called a "paradox". Neither was anything which was judged too new or too complex to understand. Differential geometry is not a paradox to a musician, it's just something he/she does not have training in and does not understand, but he has no reason to suspect "paradox". A paradox requires an experience that something is amiss... but there are no contradictions in reality (no matter how many opposing forces, collisions or disagreements) there is only existence and existence is identity. So the "problem" is fictional, in the same way an illusion introduces a fiction... reality is what it is, but something about what we see, and should understand, is off kilter, and we know it. At least for those who experience the particular paradox... the feeling of paradox requires a certain thinking process to get a person in the wrong place to sense that disconnect, and in truth, different people are often led in different directions... I think in a sense the more something appears or seems opposite of what one assumes it obviously should appear or seem like, the more paradoxical it is. Since reality is NOT at fault, our sense and assumptions of what things obviously should appear or seem like, IS.
    2 points
  23. Thank you Boydstun & StrictlyLogical for clarifying this. Here is my summarized understanding after having read both your replies. The assumed context here is that man survives by a particular method of thought and action.You cannot evaluate an object when it is obtained by irrational action because it is moral principle that sets the context (a commensurable standard) for evaluating that object in relation to your other values. You can evaluate the method as good or bad, i.e., this is for my life or against my life, but not the object. Similarly, in epistemology, a proposition accepted on faith cannot in some sense be evaluated on its own, but in terms of method. An example with StrictlyLogical's breakfast: If I obtained the breakfast by cheating a shop keeper and he later hits me with a rock does it make sense to say the breakfast was good because I enjoyed it while it lasted? Or what about if I suffered no immediately perceivable consequences but began obtaining more things in the future through fraud? In either case I can't really make sense of the situation by looking just at the breakfast (evaluating the object in terms of my other values) but only by looking at how I obtained it (against moral principle, bad when evaluated in terms of action or method).
    2 points
  24. Boydstun

    Form v. Matter

    George Walsh - “If you talk about the glass merely in terms of the macroscopic level, then don’t you need some concept of ‘dispositions’?” Rand - “In what way? How?” Walsh - “Because the glass is not acting now, it’s not breaking into pieces.” Peikoff - “Well, what’s wrong with the Aristotelian concept of ‘potentiality’? An entity has the capacity to act because of its nature.” Walsh - “Well, the reason I was bringing this up was because I thought you rejected the concept of ‘potentiality’.” Rand - “No. . . .” Walsh - “I have memory or a misremembrance of someone saying that Objectivism does not accept the Aristotelian concept of ‘potentiality’.” Rand - “Specifically, that wasn’t me. Unless it was in some context of what Aristotle makes of it, as in regard to his matter-form dichotomy.” ITOE Appendix 285-86 ~~~~~~~~~~~~ A good help on the Aristotelian metaphysical distinction in being between matter and form is here.
    2 points
  25. MisterSwig

    Derek Chauvin Trial

    This trial was televised. I watched every second of it. I have a better claim than the jury. One, the jury had to remember testimony, they weren't given transcripts, whereas I could watch the testimony repeatedly on YouTube and also pause it to facilitate copious note taking. And two, statistically I'm probably more intelligent than most of those jurors, though I don't put much weight in statistics, so mostly my objective advantage comes from point one.
    2 points
  26. William and Scott: A contribution to get the ball rolling. Harking back to earlier days, and how much has changed and hasn't. One could start at the 25min mark if time-constrained.
    2 points
  27. I, too, am disappointed in the guilty verdict. Providing the epistemic justification requires being able identify and guide others through judicial landscape presented. Thanks for providing the summation. It was nice having it in one place, unfolding as you presented it.
    2 points
  28. I mentioned this upstream, but thought I'd show more of it here, hoping to encourage more of the scholarly-inclined to get this book and make it one of our tributaries to discussions here. (I personally cannot imagine why or even how I would think and talk philosophy questions---at Rand's level of address or beyond---without places for written exchanges such as here and without finding out what other hard-study and hard-thinking minds have come to on the issue and its surrounding issues throughout the history of philosophy and the contemporary scene of professional philosophers. It's just that philosophy in my own head is tied to that community of mind across the centuries and across the world of minds today, like we're in this adventure together and are helps to each other. Different from making poetry in that way, I notice.) Darryl Wright contributes Chapter 7 "'A Human Society' Rand's Social Philosophy" to the Blackwell A Companion to Ayn Rand. The subheadings to his paper are "The Trader Principle and Benevolence" / "Man as an End in Himself" / "The Question of Conflicts of Interest" / "Individual Rights" I attach a portion of the section I put in red. This book is much rich thought and store of references for many of us interested in Rand's philosophy.
    2 points
  29. Boydstun

    Atlas Shrugged

    For the New Intellectual Three years after Atlas Shrugged was published, Rand penned the essay “For the New Intellectual.” It is interesting to compare and contrast the analysis of philosophical and psychological archetypes in Galt’s Speech—Mystics of Muscle/Mystics of Spirit—with the types Attilas/Witchdoctors in FNI. In the present note I’ll not take that on, and I’ll not take on their relation to the broad philosophical types Peikoff frames in his book DIM. Certainly, in FNI and in Atlas, Rand was affirming, against many philosophies, the equal reality and virtuous unity of mind and body. There is much that is interesting and much that is suspect in Rand’s FNI story of the history of philosophy and in her account of how philosophic ideas move the world. That’s something else I can’t address just now. I want to suggest in this note only that in FNI, Rand articulates one profound way in which her philosophy is a corrective to philosophies boosting Attila/Witchdoctor tendencies and in which her philosophy is a profound intellectual defense of humans as rational workers, producers, and traders. There is a cohort of that way, a second profound way of Rand contra Plato and Aristotle and contra much other philosophical thought to our own time, a second line in thorough defense of rational worker, producer, and trader. I want to notice that second way. Rand’s first way is the Primacy of Existence.* By that phrase, she meant (i) the universe exists independently of any consciousness and (ii) things have natures independently of consciousness. Along with that idea is her Existence is Identity. This restriction contracts the Existence she would have as primary, contracts from traditional Being, where the latter comes in two forms qualified and unqualified. There is no such thing as the unqualified existent in Rand’s view of widest reality. So an older philosophy committed to primacy of being over mind (say, over over human mind anyway) could be very far from Rand’s picture of the primacy of existence over (any and all) consciousness. The second way, of which, in my view, Rand does not make enough hay in her critique of the course of philosophy from the Greeks to today is her: Primacy of Physical Life over Value. (Bertrand Russell noted somewhere I cannot recall that philosophies can be divided between those giving primacy to value over existence—Plato and Kant for sure—and philosophies to the contrary, such as his own.) Rand realized explicitly that her positive proposal for the basis of value and her scheme of morality drafted upon that basis was ready for adoption by anyone coming to realize the primacy of existence with respect consciousness, including valuation-consciousness, human or divine. But when looking at classical philosophies in contrast to hers, I think there is rich work not yet done: explicitly laying out their contrast with her primacy of physical life over value.
    2 points
  30. Boydstun

    Existence, We

    Once more I’d like to encourage anyone interested in seeing my fundamental paper “Existence, We” (EW), setting forth my metaphysical system and its relation to Rand’s and to others, to get your subscription to JARS at this time. I’ll post here a section of a paper that was to be a follow-on to EW and which—as the follow-on project has been redesigned—would no longer fit the follow-on paper.* This posted section is indeed built onto of the frame developed in EW. It gives a taste of some of what goes on in that fundamental paper. The material below uses that frame and some technical terminology introduced in EW (and some ordinary terms such as situation which as part of this framework have a specialized meaning specified in EW, where also are my proofs for axiomatic standing of such statements as “existence is situation”) that I’ll leave opaque here, which may further encourage readers here to get a subscription to JARS if you don’t have one. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ PRIMACIES OF EXISTENCE Ayn Rand spoke of the primacy of existence, and by this she meant primacy of existence over consciousness, which meant (i) the universe exists independently of any consciousness and (ii) things have natures independently of consciousness.[1] Identity is primary over Identification, and concretes are primary over abstractions. My metaphysics is of the primacy-of-existence genre, but more generally than Rand’s. My primacy of existence means primacy of existence over of-existence. This entails that concretes with their formalities are primary over abstractions. Actualities and potentials are primary over recognitions and possibilities. Necessity-that of existence is primary over the necessity-for in consciousness.[2] Then too, existence being primary over the of-existence that is living existence and the latter being (I say with Rand) the residence of all value, existence is primary over value. Rand’s primacy of existence to consciousness runs with Aristotle,[3] but for the countercurrent of his hierarchy of being in which formal structure is not only explanatory, but causal, and in which formal, teleological cause is ultimate being.[4] Primacy of existence runs against Descartes in first philosophy.[5] It runs against Descartes’ forebears Henry of Ghent and Bonaventure who took the first adequate object of the human intellect to be God. It runs with Aquinas, Scotus, and Suarez who took that first object to be being or whatness (quiddity).[6] Primacy of existence runs also against Kant when he writes that “apperception, and with it thought, precedes all possible determinate arrangement of presentations” (KrV A289 B345).[7] Against Kant also, and in step with Aristotle, Rand writes: “‘Things as they are’ are things as perceived by your mind” (AS 1036). She means in context not only things as perceived by your mind so far, but as perceivable by your mind at any stage, and she means not only your mind, but any sound human mind. Rand’s primacy of existence to consciousness runs against all idealism, of course. It runs also against Husserl in his bracketing of “things in themselves” and against Sartre’s starting point (subjectivity) in his archaeology of being and against the adequacy of Quine’s “to be is to be the value of a bound variable.”[8] Rand spoke in that passage against Kant of “things as they are” and not of “things in themselves.” She was right to avoid the latter phrase because of the well-known shading of it. That latter phrase, down from Kant, intimates a systematic inaccessibility of mind-independent Existence with its Identities by our cognitive faculties. In the same vein, rightly she would reject talk of the transcendental object or talk of noumena and their comprehensive contrast to phenomena, the latter a foul concept when transplanted from its use in Newton—phenomena as physical patterns in observational data, where those specific patterns suit only a specific form in the character of their physical cause—to fundamental ontology and to subject-object relations.[9] Talk of “things in themselves” meaning things free of any situation is talk of nothing. “Things in themselves,” meaning merely all that they are, is a sound sense of the phrase and not Kant’s sense when he is contrasting things in themselves with those same things as they are in their external relations such as in their relation to human consciousness. Things in all that they are are what we know part of and know that our known is only part of the all there to be known. Further, existence of a thing is nothing more than—indeed, it is identically the same as—existence of all that a thing is.[10] Existence per se and in its totality is more fundamental than living existence or conscious existence. By experience and conception, we know that of-existents are not and cannot be the only type of existents. Primacy of existence in my philosophy departs from Rand’s primacy of existence in that I mean primacy of physical existence, which in our scientific comprehension is spacetime, mass-energy, angular momentum, molecules, heat, photosynthesis, synapses, and so forth all in play together. Further, it is in my system not only knowing physical existence as necessary requirement for consciousness of physical existents, but knowing we ourselves are physical existents and that that physical status is a necessary requirement for existence of our life and consciousness. The focal sense of existence is existence actual and concrete (and mind-independent, though susceptible to actions such as human discernment and utilization).[11] Existence actual and concrete endures, and enduring existence is all of enduring.[12] Existence in the focal sense is not without time and number and some formalities, and these accompaniments are in no way prior to existence.[13] As I mentioned in EW, all potential existents are attached to actual, concrete existents. Existence actual and concrete, in whole and in every part is ever with potentials. That is not to say every part of existence has causal powers; no potentials, only actualities, have causal powers, and potentials are part of existence, concretely so. Future existents, unlike past ones, are not yet actual, only potential. Future existents without present discernment of alternatives concerning them have no present causal power. Abstractions include recognitions of formalities of concretes. As with the concrete existents that are potentials, formal existents themselves or abstractions themselves have no causal powers.[14] Any concrete actual existent, with all its potentials and all its formalities, is actual by way of antecedent actualities and their potentials. The potential for a future actual concrete existent coming to be so is not a potential belonging to it, but to its antecedent actuals. Every concrete actual existent shy of the whole of existence is a contingent existent in its emergence from among potentials of prior actuals, but it is necessary in its possession of all its own potentials and formalities. Potentials not only belong to present actuals, their potentiality consists only in their potential for future actualities from present ones.[15] Co-existing present potentials, furthermore, are often not jointly capable of future actualization. Potentials, I have said, are concretes, whether or not they become actuals. Moreover, I hold contra Avicenna, that potentials are not less existing than actualities.[16] Cognitive possibilities, I should reiterate, are subordinates of facts of existence, whether facts of actualities and their potentials, facts of concretes and their formalities, or facts of Entities and their passage, situation, and character. The primacy of existence over of-existence does not entail that existents not also of-existence are more existing than existents that are also of-existence. Passage, situation, and character are not more existing (or less existing) than experience or recognition of them. Concretes and their formalities are not more existing than experience of them or conceptual grasp of them. Now passage, situation, and character are no less reality than the Entities to which they belong. And formalities are no less reality of existence than the concretes to which they belong. As I said in EW, there is nothing common between existence and nonexistence; the latter is only a lack of standing in the former, a mere lack noted by us, by us in and of existence.[17] Further, A is A in the application nonexistence is nonexistence is only item-keeping in thought and makes nothing but nothing of the item. Any thought of a priority of existence, metaphysically most fundamental, over nonexistence or thought that the former is in some metaphysical sense greater than the latter is derailed thinking. Only within Existence is priority and the greater. Notes [1] Rand 1973, 24; Kelley 1986, 7–43; Peikoff 1991, 17–23, 243–48, 419–20. [2] Cf. Fine 1994. [3] On Aristotle’s primacy of existence, see Owens 1978, 133–35n108, 138. Rand rightly did not accept Aristotle’s conception of the mind as “becoming all things” and the mind’s doing so by assimilation of the forms of existents extracted from a metaphysical composition of form and matter constituting any existent. On infirmities in the primacy of existence in Roger Bacon and his Arab forebears, see Tachau 1988, 11–16. But for doctrines of faith, Blasius of Parma in 1385 leaned towards primacy of existence in constitution of human mind by arguing all human intellectual and moral states to depend on the human body (via prime matter) for their existence; see Pasnau 2011, 108–9. [4] Aristotle, Ph. 198a32–99b31; Metaph. 1041a25–b8, 1071b20–a21, 1074a35; Ferejohn 2013, 163–76. [5] Rand 1961, 28; 1973, 24; Kelley 1981; Peikoff 1991, 17–23; Gotthelf 2000, 39; Boydstun 2019. [6] Aertsen 2012. [7] Kant is represented rather differently in the Jäsche Logic in declaring (i) that general logic, though independent of its use in concreto, could only be found by observation of such use and (ii) that logic in application to a particular science would be futile without acquaintance with objects of the science (1800, 17–18). [8] Owens 1978, 133–35n108; Quine 1939; Armstrong 2004, 23–24; Crane 2012, 64–65; Koskinen 2012. [9] Newton’s theological conception of space as the sensorium of God joined other Christian theological pictures in drawing Kant to his grand division of reality into the phenomenal and the noumenal. On Kant, see Bird 2006, 335–38. Cf. Heidegger in Han-Pile 2005. Cf. Sher 2016, 166, 172, 181, 259–60. [10] See further, Baumgarten 1757, §§15, 37; Kant, KrV A324–27 B380–83. On Kant’s severance of “thing in itself” from its external relations to human consciousness, see B 69, A139 B178, A190 B235, B306–9. [11] Cf. focal meaning in Owen 1960, applied to substance (ousia) as focal meaning of being in the metaphysics of Aristotle; Owens 1978, 38n126, 119; Ferejohn 1980; Kirwan 1992, 80; Barnes 1995, 76–77; Lewis 2013, 90–92. [12] Descartes does not get that far, but he is correct when he writes: “Existence or duration in a thing which exists and endures—should be called not a quality or a mode, but an attribute” (1644, §56). A mode in his terminology here would be a modification of a substance, and a quality is at hand when a modification enables classification of a substance as a certain kind. With attribute he means our thinking of what is in a substance in a more general way. In fact Descartes thinks of duration as an attribute of all created substance, which are fundamentally two: thought and extension. (See further, Alice Sowaal’s entry ATTRIBUTE in Nolan 2016.) Similarly, though with metaphysical substance expelled from our metaphysics, as well as the creation of all temporality and all existence, Rand with I could say enduring of an existent is not a modification of it or a quality of it. [13] Cf. Aristotle, Metaph. 1017b17–21; Avicenna 1027, I.2.24–29. [14] Contra Aristotle, essences or forms as causes or constraints not concrete is misconception. See Lewis 2013, 290. [15] Aristotle, Metaph. 1049b13–17. [16] Cf. Rand ITOE App. 284–86; 1968, 531, 534. Actualities have priorities over potentials on account of their patterns of dependency I have stated. Even were we to count these priories of actualities as amounting to actualities being “more existing” than potentials, I should not concur with Avicenna (1027, 4.2.34) that this priority is also a higher rank in metaphysical nobility or perfection. There are no such things applicable to general metaphysics; nobility and perfection can only pertain to existents that are living existents (include conscious existence) and only within that living mode of their existence. [17] Contra Kant 1782/83, 29:811; 1790/91, 28:543; 1794/95, 29:960. Cf. ITOE 58, 60–61; Branden c. 1968, 28. References Aertsen, J. A. 2012. Medieval Philosophy as Transcendental Thought. Leiden: Brill. Ameriks, K., and S. Naragon, translators, 1997. Immanuel Kant – Lectures on Metaphysics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Aristotle c.348–322. B.C. The Complete Works of Aristotle. J. Barnes, editor (1984). Princeton: Princeton University Press. Armstrong, D. 2004. Truth and Truthmakers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Avicenna 1027. The Metaphysics of The Healing. M. E. Marmura, translator (2005). Provo: Brigham Young University Press. Barnes, J. 1995. Metaphysics. In The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle. J. Barnes, editor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Barnes, J., Schofield, M., and R. Sorabji, editors, 1979. Articles on Aristotle – 3. Metaphysics. London: Duckworth. Baumgarten, A. 1757 [1739]. Metaphysics. 4th ed. In Fugate and Hymers 2013. Bird, G. 2006. The Revolutionary Kant. Chicago: Open Court. Boydstun, S. 2019. Foundational Frames – Descartes and Rand. The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 19(1):1–37. Branden, N. c.1968. The Basic Principles of Objectivism. In The Vision of Ayn Rand 2009. Gilbert: Cobden Press. Cottingham, J., Stoothoff, R., and D. Murdoch, translators, 1985. The Philosophical Writings of Descartes. Vol. I. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Crane, T. 2012. Existence and Quantification Reconsidered. In Tahko 2012. Descartes, R. 1644. Principles of Philosophy. In Cottingham, Stoothoff, and Murdoch 1985. Dreyfus, H. L., and M. A. Wrathall, editors, 2005. A Companion to Heidegger. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. Ferejohn, M. T. 1980. Aristotle on Focal Meaning and the Unity of Science. Phronesis 25(2):117–28. Fine, K. 1994. Essence and Modality. Philosophical Perspectives 8:1–16. Fugate, C. D., and J. Hymers 2013. Introduction to Metaphysics – A Critical Translation with Kant’s Elucidations, Selected Notes, and Related Materials. London: Bloomsbury. Gotthelf, A. 2000. On Ayn Rand. Belmont: Wadsworth. Haaparanta, L., and H. J. Koskinen, editors, 2012. Categories of Being – Essays on Metaphysics and Logic. New York: Oxford University Press. Han-Pile, B. 2005. Early Heidegger’s Appropriation of Kant. In Dreyfus and Wrathall 2005. Kant, I. 1781, 1787. Critique of Pure Reason. W. S. Pluhar, translator. 1996. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing. ——. 1782/83. Metaphysik Mrongovius. In Ameriks and Naragon 1997 (AN). ——. 1790/91. Metaphysik L2. AN. ——. 1794/95. Metaphysik Vigilantius. AN. ——. 1800. The Jäsche Logic. J. M. Young, translator. 1992. In Immanuel Kant – Lectures on Logic. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kelley, D. 1981. The Primacy of Existence. The Objectivist Forum 2(5):1–6, 2(6):1–6. ——. 1986. The Evidence of the Senses – A Realist Theory of Perception. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. Kirwan, C., translator, 1993. Aristotle’s Metaphysics – Books Gamma, Delta, Epsilon. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press. Koskinen, H. J. 2012. Quine, Predication, and the Categories of Being. In Haaparanta and Koskinen 2012. Lewis, F. A., 2013. How Aristotle Gets By in Metaphysics Zeta. New York: Oxford. Nolan, L., editor, 2016. Descartes’ Lexicon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Owen, G. E. L. 1960. Logic and Metaphysics in Some Earlier Works of Aristotle. In Barnes, Schofield, and Sorabji 1979. Owens, J. 1978 [1951]. The Doctrine of Being in the Aristotelian Metaphysics. 3rd ed. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies. Pasnau, R. 2011. Metaphysical Themes 1274–1671. New York: Oxford University Press. Peikoff, L. 1991. Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. New York: Dutton. Quine, W. V. O. 1939. A Logistical Approach to the Ontological Problem. In The Ways of Paradox and Other Essays. 1976. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Rand, A. 1957. Atlas Shrugged. New York: Random House. ——. 1961. For the New Intellectual. New York: Signet. ——. 1966–67. Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. In Rand 1990. ——. 1968. Of Living Death. The Objectivist. October. ——. 1969–71. Epistemology Seminar Transcripts. In Rand 1990. ——. 1973. The Metaphysical versus the Man-Made. In Rand 1982. ——. 1982. Philosophy: Who Needs It. New York: Signet. ——. 1990. Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. Expanded 2nd ed. H. Binswanger and L. Peikoff, editors. New York: Meridian. Sher, G. 2016. Epistemic Friction – An Essay on Knowledge, Truth, and Logic. New York: Oxford University Press. Tachau, K. H. 1988. Vision and Certitude in the Age of Ockham. Leiden: Brill. Tahko, T. E., editor, 2012. Contemporary Aristotelian Metaphysics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    2 points
  31. When has this happened? I mean, it seems like the Magnificent Seven remake was the forgotten one... And if the original was forgotten, it's not because it was canceled. The logic seems to go like this: 1) companies that are rational make money 2) companies that are not rational don't make money 3) therefore companies that make money are rational 4) since it is not rational to make parasitic movies, the companies that make such movies won't make money 5) therefore the companies make these movies for reasons besides money 1-3 is circular (Why they rational? Because they make money. Why do they make money? Because they are rational.) 4 misses the fact that you can make money this way. 5 indicates a hidden premise that no one who is irrational tries to make money or will always fail to make any money. Sometimes it's hard to accept that companies can be manipulative. You can make money off of marks and do quite well. The progressives are the marks.
    2 points
  32. I saw it now. I assume some Prager people will have to integrate the fact that they are supporting an atheist with the fact that "Even though atheists have a bad record". It was very politically correct, no mention of selfishness or knowledge without God. It's nice that it was published and some may be swayed. But I see a trojan horse in this project. I hope it belongs to Objectivism. But yes, provided by a generous donation from "The Objective Standard Institute". Who knows, the next ally of Objectivism may be the church of Scientology. They believe in Capitalism too and they may sway some people too.
    2 points
  33. "[Reality] is something that humans actively participate in producing when their minds interact with their environments." That's 11 minutes in just about. It wouldn't be so insane if he meant something like "the society people live in is shaped by the way minds interact with the environment". That would be true, but obviously that doesn't mean each society is literally a different reality... It's like he forgot that when people say "ancient people lived in a different world" they don't literally mean a whole separate reality. My conclusion: Never go full subjectivist. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wVagQ_LVd4 I find that he really was attempting to give a basis to say that indigenous people deserve respect. In a way, he sees the indigenous people (especially those exterminated by the Spanish) as offering worthless ideas and were thoroughly primitive, so the only way he could offer any value for them is to say that they lived in a literally different reality. They are so worthless to him that he has to create a whole separate reality for them. The truth is, people like the Inca had great ideas as well as bad ideas even compared to Europeans. He doesn't have to dismantle objective reality: If he actually cared about indigenous people, he would be telling us about what they got right about reality, especially the things that Europeans could not figure out.
    2 points
  34. Has anyone come up with a more precise characterization of who or what is or is not being suppressed than "rightist" or "leftist"?
    2 points
  35. I highly recommend this paper by Tara Smith. It is as an argument about anything we've discussed here, it's a paper about a conceptual cleanup regarding terms used when discussing freedom of speech. The Free Speech Vernacular: Conceptual Confusions in the Way We Speak About Speech
    2 points
  36. That's awesome. I'd like to think my reference to the other stink juice inspired it.
    2 points
  37. But your own philosophy, which you live by every day, certainly is. And if one must arrive at precisely each conclusion Rand ever put into writing (including, as the OP'er pointed out, homosexuality) then there has only ever been one Objectivist and I doubt there will ever be another one. On a purely personal note I find the "student of Objectivism" or "admirer of Ayn Rand" terminology extremely self-deprecating and sad. It's one thing if you can't bring yourself to actually LIVE the philosophy, but if you're doing everything you can to live up to your own ideals then I think you deserve to say so. As I intend to! No. Fundamentally, each of us has a right to the freedom of movement (including international movement) so long as we're not doing so for any nefarious purpose (such as terrorism). There are no two ways around that. And while it's true that we can't simultaneously have open borders and a welfare state, one of these things is already strangling the West to death regardless of WHAT we do with our borders. This is neither to say that O'ism is a "closed" system (which I don't believe) nor that anyone who advocates for closed borders automatically ceases to be an O'ist; only that certain tenets of the philosophy are more essential than others, and that Rand's conception of individual rights is a rather core component of it. If you remove or alter that part then it ceases to be the philosophy of Howard Roark or John Galt and becomes something tangibly different. That being said... While we should have "open" borders that allow any civilized person to live wherever the Hell they want, it does make sense for us to have some sort of screening process to ensure that potential immigrants are, in fact, civilized people who aren't planning on manufacturing sarin gas or instituting Sharia law as soon as they arrive. And since we should be trying to constrain the welfare state as much as we possibly can, it seems prudent to also say something like no immigrant can ever qualify for any sort of government handout, for example. Once we had something like that in place we could then start trying to talk about whether we should really be giving handouts to anyone at all. The Objectivist position on borders is that they should be open - within reason. Incidentally, I wouldn't say that you can't still call yourself an Objectivist if you disagree with that position - just that you're currently wrong. But that happens to us all. Do we know that, though? I once knew an immigrant couple from Nepal who, despite not speaking the best English, acted like some of the most American people I've ever met. The one time I made the mistake of referring to them as Nepali-Americans I was swiftly told on no uncertain terms that they were full-fledged Americans like myself. That couple took about two years to become almost entirely integrated (with the exception of some slight accents that I'm sure they've ditched by now). I bring them up, not to say that transplantation is quick, but simply to point out that it depends on whom we are talking about transplanting. Some people drag their feet while others are eager to get it out of the way ASAP. And those who drag their feet about it, and set up little miniature versions of their respective homelands - do they actually want to BE American (or British)? If not then what we should really be asking about are their motives for trying to enter our countries in the first place. I also know a number of Somali immigrants to my area who have no intention of ever integrating, learning English or getting a job; they came to America for the handouts. Handouts which should not exist in the first place. And yet children do not automatically inherit their parents' philosophies (as I am living proof of and suspect that you probably are as well). Could you elaborate on what you mean by that? Objectivism doesn't deny the existence of feelings (including hunger, fear, sexual desire, etc). All it really has to say about them is that not all are valid (i.e. some feelings are not worth paying any attention to) and that they aren't a method for decision making. They can be perfectly valid data on which to base your decisions, but the method should consist of rational thought. So I'm not quite sure what you're trying to point to. The majority is lucky to inhabit MY world with me! PS: Too much of a focus on politics is not good for you. I know it can be very hard to focus on anything other than politics nowadays (I've been struggling with it quite a bit since the start of the COVID era) but the trajectory of your own life is much more important. If you rationally think that the country you're in will only continue getting worse then you should move. And (although I don't think you've actually said this I'll just mention) what most people accept as their own philosophy should certainly have ZERO relevance to what you accept as your own. Furthermore (as in the above music video) the best way to get others interested in your own philosophy is to actually make something of yourself and show them there's something of practical value to it. Hyperfocusing on the beliefs of the majority is a path to the dark side.
    2 points
  38. People interested in how a leading religious (Jewish) conservative thinks can watch Dennis Prager chat with Craig Biddle. They cover some hard topics and find common ground. I hope more Objectivists get on more conservative shows like this.
    2 points
  39. There is much more integration (not just coherence, but mutual reinforcement and support) between modern conservatism and Marxism and postmodernism, than there is between Marxism and postmodernism. For just one of many examples, one of the current leading and most influential conservative philosophers Alasdair MacIntyre continues to argue, using Aristotelian and Thomistic methods that Bernstein blathering on about in peak Objectivist mode, that modernism (aka the Enlightenment) is a failed project precisely because of its liberal capitalism, scientific rationalism, and individualism, and to invoke Catholic social teaching (here and now, not 12 century) for a substantial collectivist vision that engages with key Marxist and Thomist concepts. Macintyre further argues that Marxism "achieved its unique position by adopting the content and function of Christianity." Again, this is one of the top living conservative philosophers (although I'm sure someone will spew some banality in order to avoid the uncomfortable cognitive dissonance.) Jordan Peterson taught them to say "postmodern neo-Marxism" in the same way the left was trained to use "white supremacists Nazi": it's a contentless stand in for "thing I don't like." In the same way, Randians programmed each other to say "Thomas Aquinas" and "Enlightenment" and "rediscovery of Aristotle" as a filler for a wider manichean drama of the forces of light historically prevailing over the bad philosophers without ever having actually read anything about it.
    2 points
  40. I took my girlfriend to the mountains to see Neowise. We saw it with the naked eye and through binoculars. She even got a decent photo of it with her phone's camera. Sometimes I watch Bob the Science Guy on YouTube. He does amateur astronomy and posted an educational video on Neowise. He even mentions the sort of professional-amateur collaboration that was done with data from the NEOWISE space telescope to find new objects and create maps.
    2 points
  41. I selected a Bushnell 18-1561 as a gift option for 10 years of service. Shortly after receiving it, Jupiter and Saturn were available for viewing prior to midnight's. After considerable effort, the telescope was aligned to take in my first personal sight of 4 of the moons of Jupiter. My disappointment came shortly thereafter with the need to re-align the instrument every 2 minutes to maintain an active view. Not long thereafter, Saturn was available for viewing. The "smudge" I was rewarded with came with the realization that to pursue the activity in any meaningful way would require a better telescope equipped with tracking capacity. I tried sighting the recent comet NEOWISE by heading a bit north to a darkened vantage point. I had not brought the telescope, being informed that I would be able to see it by the unaided eye. Alas, it was not to be for me. I treasure having seen the moons of Jupiter. After reading of Galileo's memoirs of the same, it gave his report substantially more body, having shared the experience.
    2 points
  42. In 2016 I was still teaching. Just after the election one of my students asked me if I voted "for Satan or the orange". I said that actually Satan was Immanuel Kant, not any politician. I overheard him ask some of his fellow students "Who??".
    2 points
  43. The mere existence of germs, poison, fire, etc. does not constitute physical force on anyone's part. Imposing them on another is physical force. Spreading germs can easily do physical damage to a person's body. Spreading ideas does not do physical damage. If the ideas play a role in a person's choice to do physical damage, that is the responsibility of the person taking the physical action. I considered "physical aggression" to be a reasonable shorthand for the initiation of physical force. I was substituting "aggression" for "the initiation of force". I am sorry if this caused any confusion. One thing that got me into this habit is the idea that in attempting to communicate with non-Objectivists, saying "physical aggression" might make communication easier than saying "the initiation of physical force". A necessary condition for something to be physical force is that it do physical harm of some kind. No. People are responsible for their own actions.
    2 points
  44. If there's any one thing Rand would've supported, I'm sure it's mob violence in the name of lies at the behest of an authoritarian against democracy...
    2 points
  45. Hermes

    Light Pollution

    I serve as vice president of our local astronomy club. We received a general inquiry from a reporter for a culture magazine. My comrades on the executive committee were all in favor of taking this opportunity to speak out against light pollution. I started a reply, but did not send it because there was nothing I could gain from the engagement. However, the questions are worth considering. ------------------------- We do not have the same perceptions with light that we do with sound. You can close your eyes. You cannot close your ears. So, we have laws against noise. We do need a rational theory of law to address noisy light. But not all light is pollution, any more than all noise is bad. After all, most people enjoy the sound of children playing and most so-called “light pollution” is equally benign. Moreover, you can see a lot from the city if you know where to look. I live in the city of Austin, one mile from South Park Meadows, a major shopping center. From my backyard, I can show you the Andromeda Galaxy. On hobbyist discussion boards, I have shared my views of binary stars. This is an endeavor that many hobbyists pursue, seeking out stars that look like single points to the naked eye, but which a modest telescope will reveal to be two or even four. We backyard astronomers know the book, Turn Left at Orion by Guy Consolmagno, SJ, Ph.D. He had a doctorate from Harvard and taught at MIT, but never knew the sky the way an amateur does until a friend showed him the stunning yellow-blue double star known as Albireo at the head of The Swan (or the Foot of the Cross). His friend did that with a small portable telescope from within the glare of New York City in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Turn Left at Orion was written for the urban or suburban hobbyist. One of our local leaders is a sun-watcher. With a special telescope costing four times more than a nice hobbyist instrument and ten times more than an entry-level telescope, he views our Sun, the closest star, and a very average star. Viewing in broad daylight, he never worries about light pollution. Astronomers also complain about “constellations” of artificial satellites, clusters and strings launched by private companies for communications, natural resource monitoring, economic research, and disaster response. When disaster strikes, we all want our cellphones to bring the responders to our exact locations by GPS. That convenience comes with a cost. Apart from the hobby, serious astronomy has been carried out for 50 to 70 years with radio telescopes, or “dishes.” First investigated by amateurs just before World War II, radio telescopes receive wavelengths that are not blocked by light pollution (or rain). Today, radio astronomy continues to be a pursuit for some amateurs. It is a spin-off of ham radio. Other leading edge research in astronomy is performed from orbiting platforms such as the Hubble and Hipparcos satellites. As enthusiasts of space exploration, the backyard astronomers do not complain about the consequences of building giant rockets to carry giant telescopes into orbit. It is true that amateur astronomers collaborate with professionals. One way is by reviewing the data in computerized “warehouses” of numbers and images. We have more data than university professors can analyze. So, they turn to amateurs. Those hobbyists work from the comfort of their homes, consuming electrical power, and other resources, that also create light pollution. Amateurs also build their own remote-controlled observatories and monitor the views on high-definition video screens. Those installations are hundreds of miles from their homes where the amateurs enjoy the benefits of civilization. Even deeper into the wilderness, some impassioned hobbyists travel to the darkest skies at state and national parks for their star parties. There, many of the instruments are custom-built, huge, complex telescopes, some of which need their own trailers to be hauled to the campsite. At those events, deep sky stargazers pursue “faint fuzzies” the galaxies and nebulas at the limits of viewing. For them, the planet Jupiter is light pollution. At a dark sky site, with no other competition, our solar system’s largest planet is bright enough to cast shadows. In the large “light buckets” built to gather the faintest glows from the farthest objects, the glare of Jupiter washes out the sky. So, one astronomer’s target is another astronomer’s light pollution. The same is true of the Moon. Some hobbyists do study it. It is not a dead world. But generally speaking most suburban hobbyists consider the Moon to be light pollution. I am not insensitive to the problem. I believe that a correct political analysis begins with considerations of property rights. A couple of years ago, I wanted to arrange the loan of a large hobby telescope to a co-worker who recently moved into a rural area. Sadly, he declined the offer because his neighbor had just installed a security light, a mercury-vapor spotlight that illuminated her land, his, and much else. If the light waves were sound waves, she would be blasting rock ‘n’ roll at 2:00 AM. That is a problem that is easy to understand and any number of local ordinances (if not common sense and common courtesy) would put a stop to it. We all want clear dark skies full of beautiful bright stars. Backyard astronomers also want telescopes, which are mass-production manufactured items, mostly from China. Even custom-made hobbyist telescopes two feet in diameter costing near $10,000 are built from precision glassware made in China. Backyard astronomers here do not mind if China's skies are polluted. I admit that it was at the Austin Astronomical Society's dark sky site 80 miles away from Austin that I first saw the Milky Way from horizon to horizon. It was worth the drive. There is no shortage of dark sky for anyone willing to make an effort, invest resources, and put up with some minor inconveniences. That being so, absent the amenities of civilization, daily life 80 miles from a Level One trauma center could be precarious should you break your arm or have a heart attack. Like telescopes, modern hospitals are another product of our industrial economy. What formal logic calls the law of the excluded middle is commonly expressed as, “You cannot have your cake and eat it, too.
    2 points
  46. Biden Nannyism, good. Trump Nannyism, bad. A variation on "If you don't like dad's answer, ask for mom's answer instead."
    2 points
  47. Well, even if we fully buy into the "good provider" theory, that is an evolutionary theory. In other words, it deals in men as they lived before specialization (as hunter gatherers, where you proved you are a good provider and protector through behavior, rather than any achievement or possession. And it was a very specific set of behaviors, because there was only one way to be a good provider and protector: be strong, fit, assertive, but also loving, open and honest. Specifically, EMOTIONALLY honest. This is what the "Red Pill" crowd fails to understand: being honest, being willing to put yourself out there (not being guarded, but rather being willing to take the risk of being hurt), being caring and genuinely curious about a woman's deepest emotions and experiences, etc. is just as attractive as being confident, strong and decisive...and to be attractive beyond a first few short encounters requires you to be both, and be so genuinely. Not play the role of the "nice friend who listens to her boyfriend problems", but be genuinely interested, and know how to make her comfortable to share those things with you. Also, you gotta know WHO to become genuinely interested in. If you're gonna insist on chasing after someone who rejected you, that's not "alpha male" behavior (I'm using it in quotes because it's a stupid term, I prefer to call it "selfish, confident man"), that's the very definition of a needy man who can't handle the rejection and must validate himself by changing this woman's opinion of him. An alpha male actually wants a woman to make her own decisions (by putting his honest self and his honest intentions, without any stupid tricks and games), and happily respects her decision, whichever way it goes. As for the reason why so called "good providers" get dumped: it's because they're only good providers materially. Not emotionally, not intellectually, and not sexually. They just bring home the bacon, and think that's good enough. So when the, again so called, alpha male comes around and knows how to make a woman feel sexually desired (which is a HUUUGE turn-on for women, probably the biggest), has interesting stories about people, travel, adventures, AND in general is a guy willing to take risks emotionally and connect on an emotional level, he's everything the bacon bringer-homer is not, in all the ways that actually count. Also (according to the theory), women aren't specifically attracted to a "good provider", but rather to a "potential good provider". Someone who proves that they have the ability to be good providers. Let's take two identical twins, who were separated at birth, and are now both age 20: The first one, Mr. A, is a billionaire CEO. He wears the same T-shirt and jeans everywhere he goes, he has a bland haircut, he spends 14 hours a day working, has a very serious demeanor, he hates talking about his personal life or his emotions to anyone except maybe his therapist or one or two of his closest friends. And he gets embarrassed any time someone openly talks about sex...especially if there are women present. He speaks well, but softly, and prefers to stick with a few of his favorite subjects, mostly work, politics, technology and his wood carving hobby. The second one, Mr. B, is a college kid who lives in a dorm, and has no material possessions or marketable skills. He has the same haircut as the dude from Vikings, he has cool tattoos, a leather jacket and clean but torn jeans, a V-neck Queens of the Stone Age T-shirt, dogtags and rings, and a big smile on his face. He's loud but friendly, gets along with people despite the fact that he never tries to cater to anyone's needs unsolicited. He'll help you out if you ask, but only if he likes you, and only if you have something to give back. He loves talking about himself, he's open about his emotional and sex life. Annoyingly open. He also doesn't take himself particularly seriously, he's actually a little dismissive about his own problems...he mentions them, but not to complain. Just as a matter of fact. Guess who is perceived as the "potentially good provider" by women. That's right, mr. B. Because 100,000 years ago, Mr A would've been a terrible provider and protector, while mr. B would've been excellent. Also, not much changed in 100,000 years. Mr. A has a lot of learning to do before he could be a truly good provider, even with billions in the bank. Because money is not enough, if you're not emotionally and physically available to your family. Meanwhile, Mr. B would do fine, if he decided to settle down and have a family. He doesn't want to do that, but that doesn't change the fact that he could if he wanted to...so he's attractive to women.
    2 points
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