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  1. 4 points

    "Coming out"

    Thanks for all the thoughtful responses and new insights. I appreciate them all as they gave me a strong conviction that it was necessary and important to do now, not *sometime* in the future. I took them out for dinner last night and told them. My mom started crying lol, which is actually I think part of what I was dreading (this is what I meant by dramatic, but it was kind of funny and endearing at the same time). I fought through all the discomfort and kept a clear head on the objective - I allowed them to say what they wanted without objection and thanked them for always supporting me and loving me. I feel pretty good as now I feel I can finally have a more authentic relationship with myself and the rest of the world. I think not telling my parents is what sort of kept me from really reaching my potential as I was always hesitant to be open about myself as it might get back to them. This was a weird psychological hurdle for me. Anyways, I feel more free and excited about what is to come. Thanks again. 😎
  2. 4 points
    I'm not so sure I've acted in my self interest raising this issue... Also, I have misunderstood and/or been negligent in honestly seeking the motivations of Merlin... justice demands an apology when treatment does not match desert... so Merlin I apologize for making this an issue, I have no excuse or justification.
  3. 3 points

    Late Term Abortion

    Geez if this is her position then it's illogical (I never thought I'd say that about something she said). There is *zero* difference in what the child *is* depending on what side of the woman's, um, body parts it's currently at in the span of minutes or hours of it being born. A child doesn't magically transform into a rational animal in a short time span based on what side of a vagina it's currently at.
  4. 3 points

    National Borders

    Do you take any of those points seriously? People who make those points are either rationalizing or using them to try win an argument. Their real argument is that they don't want more than a certain number of immigrants each year, because it dilutes existing culture and brings competition for jobs.
  5. 2 points
    50 years after the event, Dr. Harry Binswanger has decided to reveal the identities of all of the workshop participants named in the appendix to the second edition of Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. This has been a mystery for quite some time! I'll quote the key section, and you can visit Dr. Binswanger's public blog to see the rest: https://www.hbletter.com/objectivist-workshop-participants-identified/
  6. 2 points
    Well let's hope they don't "behave like Objectivists" because most people running calling themselves that are dumb as hell. But it's not really clear what the question is. There's like 5 or 6 different questions in there. One thing is, it doesn't really follow from "the world is nothing like X, and never has been" to "mankind can never achieve X." That's just bad reasoning. It's not really clear what we're supposed to be inferring here. It's also not really valid to use a premise about how many people are rational or irrational from the armchair. Unless you're just speaking anecdotally, you're going to need some social science research. Industrial societies haven't been around that long. Individualism is still pretty widespread. More people are being lifted out of poverty and ignorance than ever. There was once a time when all "great" countries were monarchies. There was once a time when slavery was widespread in every country. The Soviet Union used to control half of Europe. What got these things to change was, partially, people changing their ideas and seeing what worked and didn't work. I mean if we're going to say everyone is just in principle irrational and can do no other, then no political philosophy is going to be acceptable. Another approach would be to figure out why people believe what they believe, and do the things they do, and try to then account for that, and that's part of what we do in political philosophy and poli sci, economics, etc.: Finding workable solutions to political problems that takes into account what human beings are actually like and what motivates them. But overall, I mean, modern democratic liberalism is pretty good as a political system, if you ask "compared to what" in human history. Markets and peaceful cooperation brought about by liberalism didn't happen by an absolute monistic conception of politics that the Western world overnight suddenly read a single book and then decided to adopt. Liberal institutional arrangements are themselves spontaneous order mechanism that facilitate discovery processes to the things that make human flourishing possible. And things change on the margin, little by little, for the most part. You're not going to beat people over the head with Atlas Shrugged, silly.
  7. 2 points
    Delving a bit deeper into Objectivity in this 121st post, a definition which was requested and provided as the 41st post in this thread, a complimentary passage can be found in Who Is The Final Authority In Ethics. It is obvious that the root of such questions ["Is it intellectual plagiarism to accept and even to use philosophical principles and values discovered by someone else?"] is a certain kind of conceptual vacuum: the absence of the concept of objectivity in the questioner's mind. Objectivity is both a metaphysical and an epistemological concept. It pertains to the relationship of consciousness to existence. Metaphysically, it is the recognition of the fact that reality exists independent of any perceiver's consciousness. Epistemologically, it is the recognition of the fact that a perceiver's (man's) consciousness must acquire knowledge of reality by certain means (reason) in accordance with certain rules (logic). This means that although reality is immutable and, in any given context, only one answer is true, the truth is not automatically available to a human consciousness and can be obtained only by a certain mental process which is required of every man who seeks knowledge—that there is no substitute for this process, no escape from the responsibility for it, no shortcuts, no special revelations to privileged observers—and that there can be no such thing as a final "authority" in matters pertaining to human knowledge. Metaphysically, the only authority is reality; epistemologically—one's own mind. The first is the ultimate arbiter of the second. The concept of objectivity contains the reason why the question "Who decides what is right or wrong?" is wrong. Nobody "decides." Nature does not decide—it merely is; man does not decide, in issues of knowledge, he merely observes that which is. When it comes to applying his knowledge, man decides what he chooses to do, according to what he has learned, remembering that the basic principle of rational action in all aspects of human existence, is: "Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed." This means that man does not create reality and can achieve his values only by making his decisions consonant with the facts of reality. This provides some rationale why volitional adherence to reality is prudent. It does not cover the fact that spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean or of the Rocky Mountains exist. It does point out that in any given context, only one answer is true, thus trying to decide in a vacuum, i.e., trying to make a contextless decision, would be a departure from objectivity. If you do lift the corner of the aforementioned rug, could you check to see if this was inadvertently swept under it as well? "Do you cry that you find no answers? By what means did you hope to find them? You reject your tool of perception—your mind—then complain that the universe is a mystery. You discard your key, then wail that all doors are locked against you. You start out in pursuit of the irrational, then damn existence for making no sense. — This is John Galt Speaking
  8. 2 points
    Eiuol (Lev) and I (William) have created a new show on Youtube called Welcome To Reality! It is devoted to respectful debate and discussion. We will cover various topics that interest us and try to apply our understanding of Objectivism to moral and political action. The first episode is on the use and morality of recreational drugs, such as alcohol and psychedelics. We hope you'll check out the program and subscribe to our channel. Thanks! https://youtu.be/aDWd-b2xEB0
  9. 2 points

    I am a bit confused...

    This strikes me as a form of empathy. If your buddy gets beaned in the groin with a baseball, you might unthinkingly grimace and say, "Ouch!" Likewise, when he hits a home run, you cheer and share his pride in himself. It's not that you take on unearned pain or pleasure. It's that you express your shared grasp of reality. Getting hit in the privates hurts. Hitting a home run feels good. You're letting your buddy know that you two are alike and feel the same way about things.
  10. 2 points
    Alternatively: "A Botanist and an Objectivist walk into a Bar" Imagine you are a brilliant botanist and geneticist and that you have created a hybrid apple orange tree ... and you created only one. Now suppose because of your brilliance you can, from its unique genetic makeup, and all your knowledge, predict and completely understand its requirements for life and flourishing, some requirements similar to apple trees others similar to orange trees, other requirements common to both, and yet other requirements new and dissimilar to those of both apple and orange trees. You have chosen that your goal is to keep it alive which logically entails a goal of maximal flourishing and all that implies. Soon it will be transplanted outdoors and your gardener will be tasked with its care. You aim to write a guide to action, recipe of care, a standard practices manual, whatever you call it, for your gardener, using all your knowledge. As you set off to do so... you think to ask your friend, who is an Objectivist and an all around smart guy, how to formulate such a thing. Of course you meet him at a bar. Upon hearing of your problem, he smiles and tells you that he has all the answers you are looking for. Apparently, he knows all about this sort of thing because Rand discovered morality for people, and he could apply her logic to the analogous goal of keeping your tree alive. He excitedly says to you: "Your book or manual for your gardener is, in fact, a code of values to guide the choices and action of your gardener in the care of the tree aimed at its flourishing! Although I am no botanist, the general principles which guide how you write your code (to guide choices and action) is a no brainer" First he observed that your manual, or guide, etc. must be formulated according to some standard to ensure it is to be successful. The content of your proposed chapters, paragraphs, etc. should be evaluated against that standard to ensure that what goes into the code is proper, in other words, the code will actually guide choices and actions which lead to the "good", the goal of the tree's flourishing... flourishing being the maximal state for current and future long-term life (and maximal against unforeseen setbacks, like a storm or a drought). He interjects, that Botanists like you know that subjecting a plant to wind and the elements "hardens it" for long-term longevity, in comparison to sheltering a plant overmuch which might lead to fast growth short term, but which threatens the plant's long-term ability to survive... A little puzzled at why he should emphasize this short-term long-term nugget, you know your gardener is not an idiot who would trade the plant's long term health for short term showiness... you nonetheless nod in agreement. Your first contribution is to say, "Well, I plan to use all my knowledge derived from and consistent with all available knowledge about apple trees and orange trees which includes all relevant knowledge about apple trees and orange trees, trees in general, plants, living things.. and all I know about "entities", as well as all my special brilliant knowledge as a geneticist about the specific nature of this hybrid. In that sense, I will be guided by all abstract knowledge I can apply (as a finite non-omniscient human) which leads to flourishing". You smile, keen to see the reaction on his face to your use of "finite" and "non-omniscient" in the conversation... words you have oft heard from him. Instead of greeting your reference with a smile, your friend, with some disdain says: "Sounds to me like you are going on the premise of using the individual tree's life as the standard of value for your code." This puzzles you quite a bit. You point out... "Well the individual tree's life is the goal of the gardener's choices and actions... and that tree's potential and actual flourishing over the long term must therefore must be the standard by which that code is to be written. If something in the code leads to ill health or destruction of that tree it does not meet the standard for being chosen or done and hence does not meet the standard of being included in the code, and if something in the code would lead to good health, flourishing and life of the tree then that would meet the standard for being chosen and acted upon i.e. it would meet the standard for being included in the code... No?" He looks at you and says, quite solemnly: "The correct formulation is: Tree's life is the *standard* of value for that code--and that specific tree's life is the purpose of the code. Not that tree's life, Tree's life. Any other standard is subjective" You try to hide your utter shock, keeping a straight face, and reply: "What the heck are you talking about? Tree's Life?" He replies: "Why yes of course. Basing your code on what is best for that specific, concrete, particular tree, is "self-referencing" and circular. Effectively the code says the tree is its own standard a conclusion which is ultimately subjective (and leaving one adrift from a "standard of value" to which to adhere)." Practically, this will be acted out as: whatever "the gardener" chooses and decides to be a value to the tree, is a value because "the gardener" chose it. ... that makes him sound a little unreliable but you get my point... and well I mean... how will your code apply to other trees?... your code will be missing something if it's only for your tree... it...needs more.... something else... well you get my point." With a frown you try to tell him that he is incorrect, and that the code would in no way be subjective. It would be formed from objective knowledge of the nature of the thing to which the code is directed. The gardener would have no reason to depart from his goal which is to take care of that tree and your code has nothing to do with other trees. Your aim is not to start a movement for growing apple orange tree forests and you have no interest in sharing your code with anyone other than the gardener for any purpose whatever. Your code is for your tree... that tree, full stop. After a moment, you ask for him to explain how the code for the gardener would ACTUALLY read differently, if based on all of your knowledge, as you previously outlined, of what would be best for this particular tree, i.e. using the individual tree's life as the "standard", versus writing a code for the gardener which had as its standard "Tree's life"... whatever your friend means by that. Your friend the Objectivist, after taking a moment to gather himself, then outlines clearly and exactly how that code, your manual, would differ when written with "the tree's life" as the standard of value versus when written with "Tree's life" as the standard of value, and carefully explains how the former would NOT be the best manual, would not be the best code to follow, for achieving your goal of your tree's flourishing... NOW, WHAT HE SAID WAS.... [PLEASE REPLY to this thread by filling in what he said.... once we have enough honest attempts at the argument he presented, I propose we discuss and rank the results to choose a winner] You do not immediately indicate agreement, preferring to keep the meeting friendly... after nodding in acknowledgement and your thankfulness for his input, you quite deftly change the subject.
  11. 2 points

    Favorite Book(s) of All Time

    Frankenstein by Mary Shelly.
  12. 2 points
    I think the title for this thread represents the dichotomy you've set here. I don't see a clear attempt to integrate anything. Frankly, I find your replies to be unfocused, evasive, and poorly written. I've made a real effort to contribute something, because you're investigating a very tough and fundamental question. But it doesn't seem like you're actually interested in criticism ("gripes"?!). It sounds like you want to rant. So I'll leave you to it.
  13. 2 points
    Yes, that was a kind of typo. Peikoff's "inductive proof of causality" is the subject under discussion. Yes, and by the way proof is also a method of integration because what is proved is related to other knowledge. Yes, the fact that you can contemplate the axioms and relate them to each other is a form of integration even though Peikoff would deny there is proof or derivation or deduction happening. The order of Existence, Identity, and Consciousness has methodological (epistemological) significance in order to affirm Primacy of Existence and deny Primacy of Consciousness, but each is a mentally abstracted facet of existence which exhibits all three simultaneously. Causality merely appears to come "after" Identity in that it is easier to understand or imagine some object as static and then add the dynamics but in reality everything that exists is always acting (even if slowly). Understanding Identity as static omits the greater part of an existent's Identity, how it acts.
  14. 2 points
    This book provides transcripts of many of Peikoff's podcasts. I've bought the Kindle version and I'd say it's pretty good. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07P5TWX4J/ref=nav_ya_signin?#reader_B07P5TWX4J
  15. 2 points
    William O

    Favorite Book(s) of All Time

    Les Miserables by Victor Hugo was the last novel I read, and it was a couple of years ago now. I don't read a lot of novels. It is excellent, though. The most recent book I finished was Hitler: A Study in Tyranny by Bullock, which was excellent. (I read the abridged version.) Right now I'm reading A World Lit Only by Fire by William Manchester, which is about how awful the Middle Ages were and how we got out of them. Manchester is good in terms of philosophy of history - he thinks every historical event leads to the next in a logical, comprehensible fashion. I don't know how factually accurate the book is, but I'm enjoying it. Good thread!
  16. 2 points

    Favorite Book(s) of All Time

    How improbable is it for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams to be left out of this listing?
  17. 2 points


    Nonsense. The value of discussion is to work out things... not to bandy about things one has already worked out. You belong here as you are. First, I only attributed rationalists with such a motive... there are many scientists who do not fall into that category... Second, I was mostly being colorful, in reality the mistake is an honest one, especially for rationalists, although being fooled by the fool who fools himself creates the same result only by a slightly different route. My point is that the sham evaporates when you see the simplicity and the mechanistic brute force of fake intelligence.. I agree that until we understand consciousness when we look at a real intelligence it will be baffling but once we have a science of consciousness we’ll be able to identify its fundamentals. I do agree with most of what you say and perhaps now believe we are in agreement in principle. I’ll not concede but state (i was never in disagreement with you on this) that the thing I think you see is that things are what’s they are and the properties they exhibit, how they act etc is in accordance with their nature. This is solid Objectivism... in principle and in reality the fake behemoth will never exhibit everything a real consciousness does... the PRACTICAL problem with a text interface is that it is an EXCEEDINGLY poor instrument for identification of things in reality. Only a real Monet would look like a Monet to an expert under bright lights and close up... enough for people to pay Via Sotheby’s millions based on that assessment of reality. But a common person wearing a partial blindfold at 100 feet in a dimly lit room?... well now that’s not a fair test is it?
  18. 2 points
    When government manages property or something like property, then regardless of the rights and wrongs of that underlying situation, it should do so in a way that respects rights as much as possible, including the right to freedom of movement.
  19. 2 points


    I managed to snag a hardcover version with all three in it for $7.24! Started to read it today and had to get over being inundated by the Dramatus Personae. If HD doesn't thank you later for suggesting it, I might just have to, especially if the terminology I have to keep looking up keeps panning out like it has thus far.
  20. 2 points

    An Objection to Open Immigration

    So like, not only is this wrong, but wrong according to just about every moral theory I know of, except maybe Hobbesian absolutism (where the dictator or sovereign establishes right or wrong by its will.) Wrong according to utilitarianism, deontology, virtue ethics, liberalism, Randianism, Marxism, nationalism, whatever. And that's because most theories require that you actually have to have done something wrong, or met some probable cause standard of doing something wrong before the police can accost you. Almost every moral theory thinks that pre-crime is wrong. Moreover, if you can restrict someone for what "some dude might" do, it can't be denied that some babies being born might go on to commit crimes. All childbirthing must be restricted on those grounds. Or someone might be moving from the Bronx to Brooklyn, and this dude might have a bomb that no one can see. All movement from the Bronx to Brooklyn might be restricted on those grounds. Etc. Why is it that these arguments are so bad? It seems like every time some argument is made, and shot down, another one pops up. First it was the old "clubhouse" argument, or the US as some collectively owned entity, then it's pre-crime, next it's going to be "because foreigners don't have the same rights," or something else. We've already seen the "culture argument," the "they're going to vote wrong" argument, the welfare argument. Why do the goalposts keep shifting? Once these arguments are shown to fail, if you keep believing in them, you're being dogmatic. The Simpsons character Nelson punches Ralph. "Why are you hitting me?!" exclaims Ralph. "You're breathing my air!" answers Nelson. This "you're breathing my air" is really what the argument boils down to, and why the every shifting goalposts never seem to land on a coherent argument that doesn't beg the question. There is widespread anti-immigrant bias. Whether that bias is racism, xenophobia, or just dislike of different people, some people just have a priori decided they don't like immigrants, and they have bad arguments.
  21. 2 points
  22. 2 points
    Why do you limit my reactions, developers? Who is to say how many "lols" or "hearts" I may have in one day? And by what right?!
  23. 2 points

    Ayn Rand's Popcorn-tradiction.

    Holy hell, I did get something out following this thread.
  24. 2 points
    Ah, you want to communicate through music? Well, at this point I'm willing to try anything.
  25. 2 points
    Now that "Dishonest Jose" is gone, here is a little script with "Honest Joe"... Here, HonestJoe, although he made errors in the past, is intellectually honest and actually willing to think. SL: Suppose I say Rand is correct that in reality "contradictions are impossible" (1) AND Rand is incorrect that in reality "contradictions are impossible" (2). Is there anything wrong with that? HonestJoe: Well first, I understand what you have said, but it is nonsensical. That's what is wrong with it. You are saying one thing and then another thing which is its opposite. You cant say A and not-A. SL: Well I can say it, and I have. So what is wrong with what I did say? HonestJoe: The sentence opposes itself... therefore it doesn't mean anything. SL: The parts (1) and (2) in the sentence each refer to something in reality. If both CAN be true at the same then the sentence is NOT meaningless, it simultaneously identifies those two truths. It opposes itself... but it must in order to reflect reality... HonestJoe: Well, they CANT both be true in reality. They are exact opposites, either Rand was wrong or Rand was right about the issue.... not both. Those two parts of the sentence are not identifying two separate things about the universe they are saying the opposite about a single thing, Rand's correctness. SL: OK. Why can't a single thing be at once two opposites in reality? Why can't "Rand correctness" at once be two opposites at the same time and in the same respect? HonestJoe: But that would be nonsense... that would mean "Rand's correctness" in reality would be A and not-A at the same time and in the same respect. It's either A or not-A, not both. Both would be nonsense... Rand cannot in reality be correct and incorrect at the same time and in the same respect ... that would be a contradiction. SL: So, who says contradictions can't exist in reality? Who?....
  26. 2 points
    * * * * * Split off thread - Ayn Rand's Popcorn-tradiction * * * * *
  27. 2 points

    There Is No "Thing-In-Itself"

    From a recent discussion: "Nietzsche also rejects the need for a world beyond the world of appearances (the thing-in-itself)..." Rand does not merely reject the "need" for noumena. She regards the very concept as invalid: "But 'things-in-themselves' as separated from consciousness and yet discussed in terms of a consciousness—is an invalid equivocation" (Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Appendix Discussions). It is an equivocation on "consciousness" because in order to metaphysically sunder an object from its appearance, and posit corresponding gradations of Being (letting the "thing-in-itself" alone participate the Real), the form of conscious awareness must be taken to constitute its object - there is precisely nothing else to be aware of - and more this formatic apprehension must be taken as the "disqualifying element" (Rand's terminology) in coming to know the Real. In other words, in order to make sense of "separated from consciousness" or a principle of absolute unknowability, we have to make recourse to this appearance-object distinction which is itself a form of coming to know the object that is the apparently Real relationship between consciousness and existence ("everything is done from the human perspective" - Rand). Awareness is always awareness of something somehow, and there is an equivocation in treating awareness or identification of the Real with the Absolute - out of all relation to awareness - as something not also thereby distanced from the Real. For it treats of awareness as both capable and not of grasping something independent of what it constitutes - beyond the bounds of representation - just like how Rand sees "consciousness" (in the aforementioned quote) being used to capture a principle of separation and not. In truth, it is simply a category error to speak of "things-in-themselves" or "things-as-they-really-are" - let alone have them alone participate the Real - because the form and object of perception are incommensurable; to offer the objects of perception as "things-as-they-really-are-not" is to completely fail to grasp that there is no magically privileged perspective on anything whatsoever, and no standard of veridicality which does not grip the world with a specific identity. Attempts to evade, subvert, or negate these facts are attempts to judge or re-write the metaphysically given. ... Unfortunately, Kant does not posit the relation of his transcendental schema to the world as an accidental one, or some potentially interesting hypothesis. The principle of transcendental idealism is not merely offered as a reflection on phenomenal awareness simpliciter. Kant must be committed to the knowability of the self-in-itself as beyond mere representation if he is indeed to affect the reality of a world of representational content (which is "nothing but representations, and they cannot exist at all outside our minds.” Critique of Pure Reason, B235) whose subject is the seIf-in-itself, i.e., the noumenal mind, which he attempts to establish only indirectly by deduction or inference more generally. But inference is radically dependent upon causality, and for Kant causality is imposed. One does not and can not properly infer the simple existence and operation of those activities which are already a necessary precondition of any right to the concept, performance, and meaning of inference - this is simply another consequence of the illicit character of Kant's epistemological vehicle(s). Indeed Kant is not even allowed some unknown explanans as the cause of the unity of experience precisely because causality is not something to mediate the phenomenal and noumenal worlds. To be imposed is to be of one. To infer the so-called activities of the self-in-itself is to make use of them here, so there is no way to make sense of the notion that their cause could be something beyond representational content, beyond the mere elucidation of an explanatory schema. Knowledge is a causal relation, and the utter incoherence of Kant's transcendental psychology is a consequence of him holding the mind to be constitutive of its contents except where those contents concern the cause of constitution, so as to be offered as something beyond the mere recognition of representational content. The distinction between noumena and phenomena is not synonymous with nor as innocuous as proclaiming the metaphysical independence and priority of the object of awareness, something all realists do. For the realist, form and object are naturally commingled, and the form of awareness is the identity of that specific relationship between consciousness and its objects, the somehow of being aware of something. Think for a moment about the contrapositive of this principle and just how perverse it is to understand the means of awareness as a metaphysical bar to awareness of the Real - that in order to be aware of the Real, of things as they "really" are, you would have be aware of it nohow (I am well aware that Kant doesn't regard our knowledge of the phenomenal world as something delusory). This fashioning the domain of the Real as metaphysically outside the purview of experience and reason is fundamentally Platonic in spirit, and its ruthless philosophical opposition is the basic spirit of Aristotelian epistemology - an unrelenting acquiescence before the evidence of the senses, and a principled recognition that "consciousness is the faculty of perceiving that which exists" (Atlas Shrugged, John Galt's Speech). To quote Marc Champagne: "Aristotle was able to make change intelligible because he shunned facile recourse to 'appearances' and made it a sort of methodological compact to always strive for concordance with the data that set his inquiries into motion. By our lights, this is the aetiologic posture all philosophers should adopt: to eschew ladder-discarding." [emphasis mine] And from Leonard Piekoff, who Champagne quotes immediately after giving the above quote: "According to Aristotle, the question to start with is not: What must reality be like in order to make it possible for us to acquire knowledge of it? But simply: What, as a matter of fact, is reality?" For Rand there are no boundaries of pure intuition. There is no such thing as anything "in-itself", no das Ding an sich Selbst betrachtet. Objectivism does not hold that we perceive things as they really are because there is no such thing as something as it "really is" or "in itself". Things as perceived by your mind - to paraphrase Galt - are not things as they really are but simply things as they are. There is no such thing as the noumenal world, or the completely unknowable Real. Knowledge is prior to ignorance and skepticism for the same reason existence is prior to consciousness; the latter in each case is itself a relational phenomenon, having meaning only in virtue of being commingled with or otherwise actualized through the former. As such, queries like "is knowledge possible?" or "can we be aware of reality as it really is?" are completely invalid. There is no vehicle for these questions that, to be a vehicle - to have weight, does not necessarily depend upon some form of knowledge and some prior apprehension of the real. There is always and everywhere substance before the void, and all voids are simply an absence of substance. Epistemology is never properly about the possibility of entangling the real, of asking when and how our "ladders" can be "discarded", but only of that entangling's norms and reproduction. Recognizing that we have consciousness or knowledge of the real is the starting point of true and efficacious cognition in general. Consciousness is a faculty of knowing reality; consciousness is conscious.
  28. 2 points

    Of Peripheral Randian Interest

    In Oak Park IL on Thursday the 11th, a rare chance to hear the music that inspired We the Living in the building that inspired Roark's Stoddard Temple: http://www.utrf.org/operetta-in-exile/
  29. 2 points

    Late Term Abortion

    I know there are a lot of abortion topics on this site, apologies if this is a duplicate - I didn't want to get lost in an old thread and didn't want to read through all of the old topics. I wanted to get some thoughts on this. For an argument against late term abortion and birth as the clear line: there is a point, maybe around 6 months(ish), where a mother has a moral (and legal - ideally) obligation to carry out the pregnancy, given that her health isn't at risk. At around 6 months (ish) or however far along the process it is determined, the fetus is developed enough to be considered human - it experiences consciousness, feelings, could live outside of the mother at this time if given the opportunity, etc. At this point, the mother has a responsibility to carry out the pregnancy because it is by her action that the cells were able to develop inside her body to the point where it actualized into a human being deserving of rights. Although it is the mother's body and she has the right to do what she wishes with it, she does not have the right to kill another human being after initially extending an invitation (I mean this metaphorically, though I suppose it will be a point of contention, especially using the word invitation). The fetus is "trespassing" at this point, but that does not give her the right to kill it when it depends on her for life. She had a responsibility to abort the cells before it developed to the point of a human being deserving of rights. I liken this to when you invite someone on a boat and travel into the ocean. You are cannot get upset with them in the middle of the ocean and claim that they are trespassing as it is YOUR boat and demand that they get off your property (i.e. jump in the ocean, leading to their death). In the same fashion, you cannot demand a fetus get removed from your body after you have implicitly invited them through inaction. I'm not stuck on this argument, I just was thinking about it and wanted to get some thoughts.
  30. 2 points

    "Coming out"

    Imagine a world where conceiving a gay child is a parental consideration not much different than having a boy or a girl -- it's just a fact that may or may not occur, and once known, childrearing is just adjusted somewhat. Being gay would have been in the DNA (so to speak) of your upbringing, totally normal and not with extra consideration of any kind as you grew up. A sit-down talk with anyone about being gay now would be as bizarre as "coming out" as a boy (gender politics aside). But, we don't live in that world yet (though it's surprisingly near). You described the current context instead yourself - your parents were/are very uncomfortable with homosexuality, enough so to be vocal about it toward their children for years. Your parents were raised in a society more hostile toward homosexuality even than your upbringing. It's baked into their brains, and now it requires of them conscious, consistent mental processes to undo. Even as a gay person, you may have had to do some of that yourself. And that is not easy, and is a lot to ask of someone, even if it's the "just" thing for them to do. So, I would say cut your mother some slack. Having a conversation with you about being gay is probably part of her trying to become OK with the idea of gayness herself, which is a positive step in the right direction. She cares enough about you to try to undo her lifelong viewpoint toward gays, and all of the associated mental habits that went along with it.
  31. 2 points


    Defender of the faith? How Ukraine’s Orthodox split threatens Russia A rather lengthy article, covering the topic over time, comparison to similar events and providing a synopsis at the end of the chronology cover as well as the key players Here is the Summary provided at the beginning of the article: The Orthodox Church in Ukraine this year became ‘autocephalous’ – meaning it is no longer answerable to the Moscow Patriarchate Church. Autocephaly is of huge symbolic importance: for Ukraine, as a sign of political independence; for Russia, as a sign of political loss. The Kremlin and Russian Orthodox Church enjoy a close relationship, but both are biding their time and deciding what to do next. The uncertain course of events means that issues arising from autocephaly may not be settled for many years. The domestic consolidation and international recognition of the new church will not be easy or quick, but this is an irreversible change – Moscow is unable to overturn it.
  32. 2 points
    Maybe the problem is that this should be in Member Writing. My impression is that Misc Topics is for single topics that otherwise don't have an appropriate forum. While I'm here, I'll suggest adding a couple lines of description or opinion with each forum post. This might help stimulate interest or debate. Just posting a link potentially kills a thread later on, if the link goes dead. Having some substance in the post itself will keep the thread viable, even if the blog disappears.
  33. 2 points
    I appreciate all the links Merlin makes to his blog entries. They are informative, and convenient for me to go to from here. I don't get to follow up with comments usually, because I'm on other things for in-depth assimilation in these years of my life. Merlin's professional background and continuing study of economics and of philosophy are a lucky stream into this site. I'm delighted to see that such an old, old man is still learning. I remember 25 years ago when he and I together studied philosopher after philosopher concerning theory of truth. I'll try to link to some of his essays on that and on other subjects naturally of interest to learners who have an interest in the span of topics Rand undertook. I had not heard of this book and social theory of Walzer's until Merlin conveyed notes on it to us in this modern medium. Makes me kind of feel like being back with Merlin in hours after our business jobs, plodding our way through Spinoza. (I'm not kidding; to us that is interesting and very worthwhile.) I see that Merlin has summarized Waltzer through chapter 2 and that there are several chapters more he might think to convey notes on to folks here who might well be interested in modern theories of justice. Perhaps he will have some evaluations and Rand-comparisons at the end. Good research and thinking from Merlin in these finished products: Imagination and Cognition Theories of Truth I II III On Probability Pursuing Similarity Perhaps some participants here would like to talk to Merlin right here in this thread about some things he wrote on these topics. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ PS - I first met Merlin, as I recall, listening to tape lectures being played at Northwestern in 1977. That was The Philosophy of Objectivism which had been recorded the year before in New York. (It was by Leonard Peikoff, and Ayn Rand participated, a fine experience.) It's quite possible one could get acquainted with this learned guy by attending OCON 2019. He and wife reside in that vicinity, and I know he attended OCON last year.
  34. 2 points

    Buy gold and silver?

    The typical advice from financial advisers to clients is to put their money into an index fund, getting a combination of: low commissions and lowered temptation to try an beat the market. In general, this is still good advice. but... ... it is based on a key assumption that the future U.S. performance will be pretty much like the past. Stocks can be hurt by inflation, but their prices inflate too. And, couple that to an unwritten assumption that statist governments have an incentive to subsidize the most common vehicle of investment. A true hyper-inflation type scenario is different. But, since such situation has not really occurred in U.S. history, a financial adviser will never advise you to plan for it; not qua financial adviser. A few economists might be willing to predict hyper-inflation in the U.S., but they're basing their advice on a theory that has not been borne out for a century. One can compare the DOW vs. Gold, but looking at the DOW "priced in gold", how many ounces of gold would it take to buy the DOW. Source: https://www.macrotrends.net/1378/dow-to-gold-ratio-100-year-historical-chart A big problem with this raw chart is that the price of gold was fixed in the U.S. from the great depression all the way to Nixon. So, the relatively bad performance of the DOW during the 1970s was gold shooting up in price from many years of pent up legal binding. Given that legal context, one really ought to look at post-1980 data. Which gives us this portion: Since 1980, the only time when one could have bought gold and still be better off than the Dow today was the years between 2000 and 2008. Notice that this is pre-Great recession, pre-housing-crisis, not post. Why? because the factor at play was the DOW rather than gold. It was the DOW that was shooting up. Since 2009, the DOW has shot up again, far beyond its previous highs. Since about 2012, the price of gold has not followed. Consequently, the DOW has risen significantly in gold terms. if you think the DOW is in a new bubble, then that might be an even better (as in history-based) reason to buy gold than a hyper-inflation scenario. However, betting against the stock market averages is something that a typical financial adviser will not recommend because it is usually a way to under-perform. My personal view on gold is that if I own it, it will likely under-perform the stock-market over most multi-decade periods. Personally, I don't see a complete break down of the U.S. system during my lifetime. I'm also aware that in a complete breakdown, either the government or some thug is likely to take my gold from me, and to prevent that it may become necessary to hide it and not actually use it... making its value theoretical. But, as I said, I don't expect anything even close to this scenario in my lifetime. I think gold is a decent multi-generation asset, if you want to buy some to leave to your grand children. Even here, buying something like a rental property is likely to have better returns, because it is a true investment. Finally, if you do buy gold, beware of the scammers out there. Companies that hype the coming inflation etc. are dicey. Many of them try to convince their customers to buy coins that are not near 100% gold. So, if you do buy physical gold, stick with regular U.S. Gold eagles and the like.
  35. 2 points

    Gravity Threads are Real

    To say something is possible means that you have some evidence for its existence. I don't see any evidence for gravity threads. There is clear observational evidence of various individual falling objects creating parabolic paths through the air. And the fact that everything free falls back to Earth suggests a force coming from the Earth. But where is the evidence that Earth creates gravity threads? When I asked about this, you said it hasn't been discovered how Earth creates them, but we know about them because of the way things move. Isn't this arbitrary? Why not imagine projectile elves that live in every object and guide it according to elven magic, which happens to make parabolas that fit with the math? That seems just as possible as gravity threads which mysteriously emerge from the Earth.
  36. 2 points

    Gravity Threads are Real

    What's wrong with the theory? It appears to be missing a spool. For the thread to take the shape of a parabola, the spool would be needed to unwind the initial thread and provide the initial involute. If only a portion of the entire involute is considered, it might get conflated with a parabola. The more developed involutes more closely resemble a spiral. Rather than traveling along the thread, what is being described is the endpoint, and the course it makes as it becomes unraveled from the spool, where if properly wound, serves as an excellent example of a helical coil. The specific gravity, in this case, might be derived from the weight granted to the original development in the vacuum of having left out the spool around which the original thread was packaged and subsequently unraveled from thereafter.
  37. 2 points
    In general, we know patterns of inference as codifications of regularly successful mental policies. In particular, we know logically valid inference patterns as means to certain conclusions, the denial of which results in contradiction. But seeing as conceptual knowledge and method are indivisible, valid forms of inference are less what we may know than that by which we know (conceptually). The knowing of logic and of basic inference patterns are in large part the faculty of knowledge turning back in on itself, and stating the implicit causal relations by which one knows as explicit propositional forms or rules for one to know. Modus ponens is an explicit statement of the indivisibility of cause and effect, a principle implicit in every mental consequence as caused by the apprehension of some object of consciousness. "p therefore q" underscores the premise behind all valuation and recognition, for it is in recognizing the necessary connection between q and its cause that motivation may find real purchase.
  38. 2 points
    “If p, then q” is taken in logic texts to be identically equivalent to “Not (p and not-q).” “Not (there is a naturally evolved bird with talons, and it is not a bird of prey)” is identically equivalent to “If there is a naturally evolved bird with talons, then it is a bird of prey.” It seems that we know up front that this “identically equivalent” relation holds however much our knowledge of birds increases; it cannot be found false. Whether there are presently unknown conditions under which this particular “If p, then q” can be found false is open, though until specific prima facie plausible conditions of that sort are proposed (at least in a sketchy way), that open possibility is a vacuous possibility, a degenerate, impotent sort of possibility, whether the if-then concerns nature or mathematics. The nature of birds is a matter of identity, but it seems a wider sort of identity than that in the “identically equivalent” relation. And the latter would seem to be something one learns about later than the former, although maybe the latter is already present in a precursor way in prelinguistic action schemata (eg. there’s more than one way to get attention, more than one form under the schema get attention). In his book How We Know, Harry Binswanger takes syllogistic inference to be a case in which what is already implicit in the premises is drawn out and made explicit in the conclusion. That is a common perspective on deductive inference. The syllogism is a form of “If p, then q” in which p is a conjunction of two propositions: “If r and s, then q.” For r and s to be true and to bear implicit truths, of course, r and s both have to express awareness of facts (254–55). This viewpoint is smooth with the views of Rand that logic is a form of identification and that existence is identity. In his book Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, Leonard Peikoff remarked: “The method of logic . . . does reflect the nature and needs of consciousness. It also reflects the other factor essential to a proper method: the facts of external reality. The principle which logic provides to guide man’s mental steps is the fundamental law of reality” (120–21). There are no contradictory facts in reality, I should add, to be thought in conjunction if thought is aimed at fact. To put forth without evidence or design for evidence the thesis that there are naturally evolved birds with talons that are not birds of prey contradicts evident facts without resolving the purported contradiction with other (not-adduced) evident facts. I suggest that denials of modus ponens should be understood as that sort of denial under the basic conception of logic in Objectivism. Logical validities are never independent of all facts of reality. Some excerpts from Nathaniel Branden’s lectures The Basic Principles of Objectivism: “Logic is the tool of reason. Logic is based on facts, on the fact that that which is, is; but it is not a science of facts. It is a science of method (75).” “One proves a proposition by demonstrating that it is logically necessitated, that its denial would contradict facts already known to exist. . . . . “Until one has grasped that A is A, and that contradictions cannot exist, there can be neither proof nor the concept of ‘proof’. . . . “The Law of Identity is a genetic root of the concept of ‘proof’. . . . (73, transcription in The Vision of Ayn Rand)
  39. 2 points

    Life as a pattern

    The relationship between brain or DNA and “pattern” is not “is a”. A brain is an organ composed primarily of neurons and secondarily of glial cells, and it has the potential to do certain things, at least when attached to a living being. DNA is a molecule with a particular structure, just as sucrose is a molecule with a particular structure. DNA likewise has the potential to do certain things, and that potential is less tied to the organism being alive. In comparing your definitions to Rand’s, I notice that Rand’s are very focused and minimalist: they concisely say what the essential characteristics of “life” are. Your definitions say much more, which is a disadvantage. The purpose of a definition is to reduce the difference between two sets of referents to be distinguished, and befitting its cognitive function, it should be a minimal statement of what makes life distinct from anything else. A definition is not a catalogue of all or most knowledge about an existent. You expand Rand’s definition of life to include having “the ultimate purpose of flourishment”. Why should this be part of the definition? What, indeed, is flourishment? What necessitates this complication of the definition of life? We can still reach conclusions about rational goals and flurishing even if we don’t complicate the definition of life – see various works of Tara Smith on the topic, who adheres to the classical definition of life.
  40. 2 points

    The Only Possible World? (Leibniz)

    A possible world makes sense if and only if it refers to a future state of the one real world. Other ways I've seen it used are gibberish.
  41. 2 points

    Law of Identity and Evolution

    The argument here (identity precludes change) first showed up in Parmenides ca 500 BC. From the Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology: On the former path [i.e. of reason] we convince ourselves that the existent neither has come into being, nor is perishable, and is entirely of one sort, without change and limit, neither past nor future, entirely included in the present. For it is as impossible that it can become and grow out of the existent, as that it could do so out of the non-existent; since the latter, non-existence, is absolutely inconceivable, and the former cannot precede itself; and every coming into existence presupposes a non-existence. His writings give us the first example of an explicit premise-and-conclusion argument. Much of Aristotle's metaphysics amounts to an explanation of what's wrong with that argument.
  42. 2 points

    Late Term Abortion

    So you are in favor of the right of mothers to have a baby in an alley and leave it to death? I say death, because that is what will happen most likely, without any assistance from third parties. What if the mother has a baby in the desert or in a rural mountain town in Colorado, where third parties aren't around? Can we leave a baby in the snow to fend for itself because it is a 'physically independent entity' that has a self responsibility to gain 'the values it requires to sustain its own life.' The baby is physically dependent on the mother because of its undeveloped nature, and the mother has a responsibility to the child (until adulthood or transfer of that duty) because she is the one who brought the child into the world. Despite what you say, babies would not be able to survive very long in this world without someone taking care of it (proof is meet any newborn and read the stories of babies that ARE left to fend for themselves - spoiler: the ending is usually tragic). The mother brought the baby into the world and, therefore, she has the responsibility to make sure its rights are protected. She cannot expect anyone else to take care of it.
  43. 2 points
    Yes, and it was magnificent. Indeed. I don't know how else to square your responses in this thread. Do I really need to recap them? (Technically you should be able to read them over again for yourself, but I don't know that I can trust you to do that honestly, either.) You argued that people should not be allowed to advocate for socialism; I questioned whether that was consistent with Objectivism (or at least with Rand's views), and I provided quotes to demonstrate that Rand supported free speech, specifically including that for communists/socialists. In direct response, you claimed consistency with Rand and that you were not arguing against free speech. The implicit dishonesty involved in such a thing is just staggering. I don't know whether "Orwellian" or "Trumpian" would be more damning, but they both apply -- it is doublethink, pure and simple, on par with 1+1=3. A month on, fresh off of a vacation, and I'm still blown away by it. So I'll put it this way: perhaps it goes too far to say that you have zero respect for reason (how could I possibly know such a thing to such a degree?)... but if you do have any respect for it, that respect will drive you to understand your incredible error, and the disregard for reason and reality it conveys, make amends for it, and try to root it out from all future conversation -- because it is the kind of error that renders all such conversation worse than worthless (to say nothing of what it portends for your thinking).
  44. 2 points
    Ben: That must not be a recent pic in your profile. Clearly, you've had the word "SUCKER" tattooed across your forehead. You do not know what another person is feeling; you only know what they tell you. (Read that statement 40-100 times until you get it.) When a person demonstrates in action that they have no integrity — when they are willing to lie to and deceive people whom they claim to love — why would you believe them about anything? It can be a challenge to remain in objective control when your feelings are overwhelming you. If you heard the kinds of statements coming from this lady spoken by anyone else, would they make the slightest bit of sense? What would it would mean to remain in a romantic relationship out of a sense of "obligation"? I have a suspicion that this lady is a master of having her cake and eating it, too. Don't tell me about a person's positive qualities when they're a deceptive liar — particularly in the romantic realm. Integrity is fundamental; to the extent she has brains and is likable, that only makes her more dangerous. You're sexually gone over this woman and it's frying your intellect.
  45. 1 point

    Critique of Ayn Rand’s Ethics

    The important thing to recognize is that Rand didn't address this question. Maybe she would have a good response to you, maybe she wouldn't. I'm not aware of anyone besides Tara Smith trying to address it. I'm sure some people have tried to from Rand's perspective, I'm just pointing out that it's not front and center. So the way SL answers your question would probably be different from me (even though I'm sure we would agree with what the moral implications are when we do choose to live). So don't think of this answer as replacing his, and I hope he doesn't see my response as trying to drown his out. You're right that her ethics have whim at their basis (choosing to live can be made for any reason at all without undermining her ethics), although I imagine someone here would disagree with me. I don't think this is problematic because this doesn't undermine or ignore that there is a such thing as a fact. In that way, reason is relevant, even if there is no ethical purpose for reasoning prior to the choice to live. After all, Rand considers epistemology hierarchically prior to ethics. You would have some sensation about the world around you from the moment you were born, or sensation within you, which is at least some dim awareness that there is such thing as reality. On some level, I don't know if Rand would accept such implications. She starts a sound a lot like Nietzsche. It says if the choice to live is equivalent to will to power. Will to power doesn't mean willing to show power over others. It means a will to show some kind of power over your individual life. There is no rational basis to such a will. If anything, we could call it will to reason, to point out that Rand still sees reasoned thinking as always relevant (distinct from rational thinking that assumes an end goal has been selected). Rand herself thought of her philosophy as a philosophy of reason first, not a philosophy of rational selfishness first. By the way, EC was referring to rationalism (lowercase 'r') with the definition that Peikoff uses in his lecture "Understanding Objectivism". It usually refers to talking about abstractions with absolutely no effort to concretize them or ground them.
  46. 1 point

    Immigration restrictions

    I wonder if unreasonable search and seizure is not becoming a red herring. After all, a physical "search" at the border isn't the real point; what IS the "need to know" by immigration officials, is: "Who are you?" The minimum requirement for an individual rights-affirming nation ought to be identification of the unknown individual. Then would follow the question, do you have any objection to a check run into your past records? I argue, this is not "unreasonable" information to "search" for.* His/her answer, at the very least, would display the good intentions of a prospective immigrant. If he grants his permission, he is implicitly proclaiming he has nothing to hide: he's prepared BY HIS FREE WILL**, to undertake the process leading to citizen status. The value of immigrants and of one's benevolence to incoming citizens, isn't arguable. But I caution not to be naive and intrinsicist about "who" and what some people can be in reality. (And individual rights are "objective" rights, not intrinsic rights). *Checked this once, and assiduously, I'd think the gratuitous and unpleasant harassment of random people in public could mostly be avoided and stopped. **What about those citizens now present, who'd earlier got away from authoritarian states, or organized crime and gangs, or Sharia laws, and so on? Does their "free will" count less than that of the illegal migrants (whose free will Yaron Brook admired)? Their rights, safety and peace of mind, from the identical threats they once knew, and seeing the same bad aspects of their native land following them 'here' -- seems to be overlooked.
  47. 1 point
    Fine, but a rant is neither rational nor persuasive nor interesting. If your frame of understanding and reference is Left versus Right, then there isn't much I can say. It really only ever came from the French Revolution to distinguish between those who supported the monarchy and those who did not (more or less). It wasn't that bad of a distinction for a while because so much of European political reality was monarchy. But by these days, it's all kinds of confusing. Not to mention Objectivism never tried to be a left or right philosophy (which is how it can actually have elements of leftist politics). Even if the article is wrong, nothing sought to support authoritarianism, control over lives, skepticism as a theory of knowledge, collectivism, things like that. Being critical of a theory does not tacitly support every single adversary of the theory.
  48. 1 point

    Charles Tew

    Merlin For a more in-depth treatment of Math being about the world (nothing to do with Tew) see Robert E. Knapp’s book. https://mathematicsisabouttheworld.com/ I’m slowly making my way through it. In the first chapter I find his style awkward and repetitive (this might change in later chapters) but the substance so far, once distilled, is illuminating. I can’t wait to get to the chapter on group theory.
  49. 1 point

    Late Term Abortion

    The fact that things have changed and made it safer makes it even more likely that Ran would agree with full-term abortions. Also, the simple fact that she said -- albeit off the cuff -- that the line is drawn at birth. I'm always a little wary of arguments that go "this is what Rand would have thought"... because its basically speculation and -- much more importantly -- it does not matter a great deal to whether the conclusion is right or wrong. So, it almost always becomes two sides contesting what is ultimately an appeal to authority. So, both sides end up arguing that they themselves are the ones who are committing that particular logial fallacy. Your point about more freedom necessitating more responsibility. I see it as an arbitrary statement, unsupported by any facts or reasoning.
  50. 1 point

    The Trolley Problem

    You action caused the death of an innocent person. Regardless of the reason. You intent was also to kill the innocent, so you cannot claim ignorance or accident.
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