Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Leaderboard

Popular Content

Showing content with the highest reputation since 07/25/20 in all areas

  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. 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
  3. As America prepares to certify our next President, a large band of hooligans have taken upon themselves to storm the Capitol. This in the name of Freedom? Are these hooligans striving to look for their Fuhrer? As a footnote, something like this happened in fiction- in Atlas Shrugged.
    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. I launched my blog on 2 January 2011. The title was inspired by Gregory Browne’s Necessary Factual Truths (University Press of America, 2001). I met Dr. Browne at Eastern Michigan University in the fall semester 2007. Waiting for a class in police operations, I was walking the halls and heard him lecturing. It was obviously a philosophy class and he sounded reasonable. I looked in and saw “Ayn Rand” on the blackboard closing an array of philosophers in historical sequence. A couple of weeks later, I heard him actually mention Ayn Rand. So, I introduced myself. And I bought the book format of his doctoral dissertation. It derives from a refutation by Leonard Peikoff of the Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy. https://necessaryfacts.blogspot.com/2021/01/ten-years-of-necessary-facts.html
    3 points
  8. 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
  9. 14 January 2021 We will crush their violence enacted under their feast of self-delusion and contempt for our Constitutional rule of law. The republic will prevail. The citizens on both sides are armed if it should come to that, but I expect the organized force of the American government will succeed in defense and in bringing the violators to commensurate penalty. Tony: Indeed the American citizens overwhelmingly are not so stupid as to buy into Left-tarring of the bulk of Republicans as fascists and white-supremacist. And they are overwhelmingly not so stupid as to buy into the Right-tarring of the bulk of Democrats (and Biden/Harris) as socialists or communists. Many of my relatives and friends voted for Donald Trump in 2020. Most of them have detested his behaviors with regard to the election result. What they had in common with Trump voters who bought and sold the BIG LIE of a purported Trump/Pence win of this national election being STOLEN was only a preference for that ticket over the Democratic one. It is not the case that those who showed up for the fateful Trump rally are representative of the majority of citizens who voted for Mr. Trump. ~American Republic Forever~
    3 points
  10. Boydstun

    Anthem

    Ayn Rand’s novella ANTHEM, published in 1938 and revised in a 1946 edition, is set in a fictitious collectivist community, one smaller and simpler than Kira’s historical setting in WE THE LIVING. Rand’s ANTHEM is presented as a journal kept by her protagonist whose name is Equality 7-2521. He records that he dares to choose, in the secrecy of his own mind, work he hopes to do when leaving the Home of the Students. He loves the Science of Things. He hopes he will be selected to be a scholar, but the authorities appoint him to be a street sweeper. The technology of his isolated community is very primitive in comparison to an earlier lost civilization (ours). His people have candles, but not electricity. He discovers a subway tunnel from the ancient civilization, and he begins to experiment with electricity in secret at night. In his own community, each refers to himself as “we”. Of his secret work at night, he thinks: “We alone, of the thousands who walk this earth, we alone in this hour are doing a work which has no purpose save that we wish to do it” (1946, 23). In his love of the science of things, he is similar to Kira, and to Howard Roark and to John Galt, the principal protagonists of Rand’s later fiction. He is similar to Kira also in her “wanting to learn a work I like only because I like it,” and he is similar to her in standing against society made collectivist. Comes a moment to Equality 7-2521: “This moment is a sacrament which calls us and dedicates our body to the service of some unknown duty we shall know. Old laws are dead. Old tablets have been broken [by me]. A clean, unwritten slate is now lying before our hands [my hands]. Our fingers are to write” (1938, 125–26). The talk of breaking old tablets is an echo of Nietzsche’s “On Old and New Tablets” (Z III). However, the moral principles Equality 7-2521 would replace are the ones he had known in his one and only society, not the ones of wider world and history. He is not on the brink of writing principles entirely different from ones known in the ancient times, the times of the reader. His task of moral philosophy is not the task of the God of Moses nor the task of radical and continual transvaluation and self-overcoming that Zarathustra gives to human creators. Rand wrote ANTHEM (1938) in the summer of 1937. In her manuscript for ANTHEM, she continually tries to suit ideas of Nietzsche to her story, then scratches them out (Milgram 2005; Mayhew 2005). Naturally, I wonder if she was not also, in some of those same strokes of the pen, writing down ideas of Nietzsche that she had seen attractive as truth, or at least promising as truth, then rejecting them as inadequate to her own grasp of the truth. Writing one’s ideas down and reading them helps one think better. Near the end of the fable ANTHEM, our true searcher Equality 7-2521 announces: “And now I see the face of god, and I raise this god over the earth, this god whom men have sought since men have come into being, this god who will grant them joy and peace and pride. “This god, this one word: ‘I’.” (1946, 90) In his community of origin, Equality 7-2521 had wanted to know the meaning of things, the meaning of existence. He had wanted to know the secrets of nature, and he had come to suspect there is some important secret of human existence unknown to all. After fleeing his collectivist society, he becomes alone the live-long day. He comes upon an uninhabited fine house and learns from its books many wonders of the advanced science of the ancient civilization. He discovers the word “I”. That is, he discovers that word and attains the concept “I” distinctly and firmly set. He no longer writes “we” or “we alone” or “we alone only” in his journal to refer to himself. A new chapter begins. He writes: “I am. I think. I will” (1946, 86). With this fundamental discovery, Equality 7-2521 has become a Prometheus, whose name he takes for his own. He continues: “What must I say besides? These are the words. This is the answer. “I stand here on the summit of the mountain. I lift my head and I spread my arms. This, my body and spirit, this is the end of the quest. I wished to know the meaning of things. I am the meaning.” (1946, 86) There is one word “which can never die on this earth, for it is the heart of it and the meaning and the glory. / The sacred word: EGO” (1946, 98). That last quotation is the close of the story. At the time this story was written (1937), there were no atomic weapons, no nuclear arsenals, and I think it was an ordinary assumption among people not Christian that human kind would continue effectively forever on the earth. Consider too that ANTHEM is a poetic work, and in poetic expression, as in dreams, conjured images condense multiple associations. In the case of poetic expression, the suggested associations are set up by the wider text. To write that the word “ego” and that which it names cannot be eradicated from the earth might be playing on multiple meanings of “earth”. One meaning is the third planet from the sun; another is the dwelling place of mortal men, as distinct from mythological realms of immortal beings; another is the collection of human inhabitants on the planet. Rand’s uses of “earth” with talk of ego in ANTHEM can rightly carry those three meanings simultaneously. I think the most salient of these meanings in Rand’s use here is the second one. She is not only making a statement about the endurance of ego among all possible societies (the third meaning). She is most saliently making a statement about ego in relation to all the earth, to all the abode of human existence. At the core of ANTHEM, her manifesto of individualism, Rand sets a foundational sequence of thoughts: “I am. I think. I will.” Although Rand lists “will” as third in her 1938 foundational sequence, third in sequence of philosophical reflection; she awards “I will” some preeminence over “I am,” which she characterizes as self of truth, and over “I think,” which she characterizes as protector of self (1938, 128–29). Of words, “only three are holy: ‘I will it’” (129). Further: “Where I go, there does my will go before me. My will, which chooses, and orders, and creates. My will, the master which knows no masters. . . . My will, which is the thin flame, still and holy, in the shrine of my body, my body which is but the shrine of my will.” (129) This opposes 1 Corinthians 6:19–20, which would have the body of a righteous individual be temple of the Holy Spirit and would deny self-ownership of one’s body, which has been bought by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Prometheus’ line “Where I go, there does my will go before me” says I go only where I will, but expresses it in echo and in substitution of various King James biblical passages saying God is with one and goes before one to subvert threats or create lights in one’s path. Moses says to Joshua: “And the Lord, he IT IS that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee” (Deut. 31:8). Additional parallels (anti-parallels) between ANTHEM and the Bible are observed in Simental 2013, 100–105. I do not think that the preeminence of “will” in Rand 1938 is a tuning to Schopenhauer or Nietzsche. It looks to be, rather, a bannering of liberty. In her 1946 edit of ANTHEM, Rand posed ego as stay of the earth not because ego is earth’s heart, spirit, and glory, but because ego is the earth’s heart, meaning, and glory. In ATLAS SHRUGGED, Rand would leave off all talk of man or ego as stay, heart, or meaning of the earth. But in her 1946 rendition of ANTHEM, “meaning” opens a new possible interpretation of its closing line. Without a meaning maker, there is not meaning in the world. It is similar to the situation with truth and fact. Without holders of truth, there is fact in the world, but truth is absent. This is actually more than a parallel. Meaning could be taken as a blend of truth and value. With no holders of truth or value in the world, meaning is absent from the world. With no truth, value, or meaning in the world, the world as human abode does not exist. That angle suggests an enhancement to the sense of “earth” as the human abode in the original proclamation. Ego brings heart and spirit to the character of the human abode. Ego brings spirit-life. Ego brings into the world what preciousness, what value, there is in the world. Without spirit-life that comes with human being, the world as human abode does not exist. Earth in the sense of the dwelling place of mortal man is not the only sense of “earth” suggested in Rand’s statement that “ego” is “the word which can never die on this earth, for it is the heart of it and the spirit [or meaning] and the glory.” Rand drew a picture in ANTHEM, and again in FOUNTAINHEAD, in which individual human being in his or her desiring, thinking, willing self is the final end of the earth in all its components, in all its minerals, seas, and forms of life. This teleological order of things is not portrayed as being there with the earth devoid of man, but as there with man upon the earth, making it his own. Beyond that, the further suggestion that the earth in the plain full sense depends on human ego is a discomfiting line of thought and one to be deflected. That problematic further suggestion in the closing line of ANTHEM points to an inadequacy of Rand’s philosophical foundation put forth in that work. However adequate for the internal context of that fiction, that foundation is inadequate to full philosophy for human life in the actual world, ours today, fully real. “I am” is not necessary to all fact even though it is necessary to all truth. A foundational philosophy aiming to uphold realism and objectivity must take its most basic truths from most basic facts, and “I am” does not fit that bill. “Existence exists,” Rand’s axiom for her mature philosophy (1957), is the better base and necessity. Early Rand and her Kira stood solidly for objectivity, which is attacked in the Red student speech. Rand’s protagonist in ANTHEM is given these lines: “All things come to my judgment, and I weigh all things, and I seal upon them my ‘Yes’ or my ‘No’. Thus is truth born. Such is the root of all Truth and the leaf, such is the fount of all Truth and the ocean, such is the base of all Truth and the summit. I am the beginning of all Truth. I am its end.” (1938, 128) This sounds subjectivist, like the ancient God-sayings it echoes and would replace. It might seem that Rand was climbing down, between 1936 and 1938, into the Nietzschean cavern of subjectivity or at least was stepping down into the Kantian ravine. I think, rather, she is only affirming in this passage that all judgment of truth is individual and that all truth we render from the world is for our own final value. Those lines in ANTHEM (in 1938; excised in ’46) are preceded by these: “It is my eyes which see, and the sight of my eyes grants beauty to the earth. It is my ears which hear, and the hearing of my ears gives its song to the world.” Something is seen, and with the subject, it is rendered beautiful. Something is heard, and with the subject, it is rendered song of existence. Something is given, and with its recognition, it is rendered truth. Rand does not create a superhuman for the meaning of the earth. Does her Prometheus create a meaning of the earth? His namesake does not invent fire. Rand’s protagonist unlocks a type of human that finds the meaning of human existence; not in super-terrestrial personages and their affairs, but in complete human individuals on earth. “I am a man. This miracle of me is mine to own and keep, and mine to guard, and mine to use, and mine to kneel before!” (1946, 87). ANTHEM does not teach humans to create (or to beget) the meaning of the earth, but to discover it. “This spread of naked rock and peaks and moonlight is like a world ready to be born, a world that waits. It seems to us it asks a sign from us, a spark, a first commandment. We cannot know what word we are to give . . . . We are to speak. We are to give its goal, its highest meaning to all this glowing space of rock and sky” (1946, 84). I really do not see Rand setting up some sort of Fichtean or Nietzschean perspective on the relation of ego and world. She is saying that whatever goals there are in inanimate and animate earth, they reach their final end in their crowning glory: the individual human knower of joy and living; the individual judge of truth; the individual will free over his or her ends; in a word “ego”. Notice that at this stage of Rand’s development only sentient living processes, specifically, human ones, can be ends not for the sake of something else. And these final ends are human, not superhuman. In actual development, we begin to use the personal pronouns “I, me” at age two. Knowing one’s proper name and knowing how to use first-person pronouns does not yet include realization of the deep fact “I am an I” or “I am me” or, as Dolf Kohnstamm 2007 puts it, “I am I”. At age two one can construct scenarios with dolls or other figures representing individual persons. One can make up dialogues, not only participate in them. The ability to converse with oneself as if between two characters is a plausible step necessary for coming to the insight “I am I”, where the first “I” is self as patient, actor, and controller, and the second “I” is self as in contrast to any other self (Kohnstamm 2007, 164, 174). Thinking “I am I” importantly includes thinking the identity of those two characters. Rand’s Prometheus accomplishes the same recognition as part of the thought expressed by his newly found word “I” whose meaning is explicated as his unique and uniquely possessed body, shrine of his unique spirit, and explicated by his triplet “I am, I think, I will.” It will be recalled that Equality 7-2521 had been seeking some word and concept that had been excised from his society. People there are missing the personal pronouns “I” and “me” and the possessives “my” and “mine.” Each refers to himself or herself by proper name or as “we” and refers to another individual by proper name or as “they” (or as ”you” taken as plural). The discovery of “I” by Equality 7-2521 is an episode of exhilarating liberation and profound fulfillment, though also overwhelming sorrow for mankind in its state of not knowing “I”. Given the spontaneous, untutored character of the “I am I” episodes in real persons displayed in Kohnstamm’s book, one might wonder whether the absence of the pronoun “I” in the fictional society that was Equality 7-2521’s cradle is really possible. Probably not, though it is a neat ploy to Rand’s purpose of showing the importance, the preciousness of man the individual, as against the collective. For thoughts of Kohnstamm on “I am I” in a couple of actual collectivist societies, see his pages 175–80. Equality 7-2521’s native society is without mirrors. Were we to bring one into their village, they would soon comprehend themselves in it, just as Equality 7-2521 does later in the story, seeing his face in water, and just as each of us did before age two. Earliest comprehension of mirrors and one’s body in them does not entail the comprehension “I am I” (Kohnstamm 2007, chap. 4). Similarly it is in the journey of Equality 7-2521. He has not yet roundly and profoundly grasped “I” and “I am I” when first seeing his reflected face. Equality and his fellows had been trained to deflect awareness from the self and direct attention to the group by saying “we” where we should say “I”. Forbidding the word “I” with its meaning attained in the understanding “I am I” would be idle without currents of the forbidden within subjects under the law. Such currents are on show to the reader in the person of Equality 7-2521. I suggest, however, actually, “we” in the indoctrinated sense of a joint singular life and will and thought of the collective can only have meaning to one who has gotten “I am I.” The author of the fictional adventure knew the reader would come equipped with that grasp. References Kohnstamm, D. 2007. I AM I - SUDDEN FLASHES OF SELF-AWARENESS IN CHILDHOOD. Athena. Mayhew, R. 2005. ANTHEM: ’38 & ’46. In Mayhew, ed., 2005. Mayhew, R., editor, 2005. ESSAYS ON AYN RAND’S Anthem. Lexington. Milgram, S. 2005. ANTHEM in Manuscript: Finding the Words. In Mayhew, ed., 2005. Rand, A. 1938. ANTHEM. Cassell. ——. 1946. ANTHEM. Pamphleteers. Simental, M.J. 2013. The Gospel According to Ayn Rand. THE JOURNAL OF AYN RAND STUDIES 13(2):96-106. In this photo are the lights in Colorado Springs and Pueblo and in the mountains---a bit of our human world lost in the world inherited by Rand's Equality 7-2521. One very beautiful aspect of Rand's story I did not touch on was the love story developed all along the way. There is also a very important philosophical point in this work---a viewpoint carried forward into Rand's mature philosophy---I did not mention. I think that particular stance of hers a profound mistake. I'll try to return to this thread and address that error after the fundamental paper for my own Rand-related philosophy has been published this summer, which framework includes the fix of this error.
    3 points
  11. I am not trying to provide an explanation of all his behavior, in every instance, but pointing out that having a hostile and prejudiced Press (from the very start) against one has to have something to do with his actions. It meant that not a single Executive decision would ever meet with approval or a fair debate. He took them on at their own game, and I don't believe this was always smart or principled. I don't fault his unconventional methods in foreign policies, keeping enemies guessing and showing they can voluntarily make good choices: a carrot or the stick. My position is the over all positives for the country, not the personality/style of the president. This isn't a Mr Congeniality Contest. There is no such thing as perfection in a political leader. The Objectivist "good" - for whom and for what purpose? - surpasses that mystical, intrinsicist notion, anyway. In short, you make best use of what you're given, making constructive criticism. The alternative on offer to any standards of freedom and self-responsibility - and a thriving US economy/employment which did enable and encourage those moral goods - until this year - does not bear considering. Not necessarily in Biden's time in office, if that should happen, but veering further Left is being planned after him, no doubt.
    3 points
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. Boydstun

    Existence, We

    My paper Existence, We which I worked on from 2014 to 2019 is now published.
    2 points
  15. In July 1986, I was with my first life-partner Jerry (d. 1990) sitting in the bleachers that had been set up in Manhattan along the Hudson. We were watching the Tall Ships sailing by. In the evening, the President would throw a switch, sending a laser beam across the river to activate the illumination of Liberty, which was reopening after a long refurbishment. The night sky would be filling with glorious fireworks on and on as if an umbrella over Manhattan. That afternoon was sunny, as the ships sailed by. There were smiles and friendliness all around. Behind us a woman wore a classy T-shirt with a stylized line drawing of the Statue of Liberty, with only the word Forever. A day or two before, the US Supreme Court had handed down their decision affirming the constitutionality of States criminalizing same-sex sex acts. Oklahoma, for example. That was one of the reasons we had moved from our native Oklahoma to Illinois (where Jerry became an attorney), where we were legal. That sunny day with the ships was so sad to me. The photo below is from 2002 (photo by native New Yorker, my husband Walter). In another year, the Supreme Court would reverse, and thereby make same-sex love-making legal throughout the land. I always remember that I learned of the 2003 decision while I was at Logan in Boston, learned from a newspaper headline. And I always remember my first thought was of Jerry and me that day with the Tall Ships. Tomorrow belonged to me, these todays, each a “smiling day to be free to kiss in the sunlight and say to the sky ‘behold and believe what you see, behold how my lover loves me.’”
    2 points
  16. "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
  17. 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
  18. 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
  19. 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
  20. 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
  21. 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
  22. How many masks do you wear? I chose to present and ponder this topic as a Metaphysical and Epistemologcal exploration of identity. This thread is not so much to argue the benefits and safety of the mask. Another thread seems to do a thorough job in favor of the mask: https://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?/topic/34048-rebloggedit-is-not-self-interest-to-take-illness-lightly/&tab=comments#comment-368272 I wear the mask every day, I had Covid in February, never been more sick in my life... I definitely don’t want my three grandmothers in their 90’s to die from it, and I miss hugging them terribly. I've been seriously trying to figure out how I might be able to quarantine for two weeks just to have the privilege of being in the same room with each of them. You can submit to the mask and still hate it and still speak out against how dehumanizing it can be. As well as give careful attention to the ways opportunistic power struggle groups seize upon fear. The Chinese Congress spent $2 Billion for covid in the U.S. That is $40M in each state… Money from China is slave labor money. The money seems to be spent on social media ad campaigns promoting their agenda. You can spot the underlying theme in a deluge of memes that try to alienate, belittle, polarize, dehumanize, take for granted, and intellectually cripple America for respecting freedom and success. If you are faceless, what identity do you have?
    2 points
  23. 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
  24. 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
  25. 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
  26. 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
  27. 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
  28. 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
  29. 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
  30. 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
  31. 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
  32. 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
  33. 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
  34. Simply, dark moods happen. As with anyone experiencing periods of deep introspect, it's personal. But, as it relates to the arts, certain music is appropriate in such moments. Some authors are more appropriate. When I read Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven, it is helpful to find a virtual friend in shared experience. Nietzsche, as I understand him, was a guide to those who recognize the more frustrating aspects of modern life. His "man going under" is the man who is only able to rise above man, to becoming the "superman." Well, if one is going to be exhausted or depressed as times, one may as well rise above it stronger for the experience. I think there is a great body of works in our times that channel the introspective individual downward, but not necessarily guide him back to focus on any constructive purpose. I'm too old to appreciate Goth culture, but I understand the appeal. I only hope for the sake of such individuals who stare into the abyss that they find the strength to rise again. That's why I read Ayn Rand.
    2 points
  35. Repairman

    National Conservatism

    I read the article. It's great. I've been witnessing this transition toward integrating Church and state for years. Back in the day, I was willing to ignore it. I considered the evil of a leftist/socialist agenda to be the greater threat to American prosperity and stability. The left-wing agenda continues to be a monstrous threat. In 1980 and 84, I cast my votes to Ronald Reagan, believing that his support from the Moral Majority would not escalate to the threat to individualism and reason that it is today. The radical Christian conservative agenda now stands as large and menacing as a rival monster, eye to eye with the mystic monster of the Left. For this reason, I have abandoned my support for nearly all Republicans who exploits Christian value voters. My rejection of Trump doesn't mean that I support Biden. I vote with my conscience, and any third party candidate that presents no threat to individual liberty is fine by me. I show up at the polls, the respectable candidates have not. The American crisis of confidence has only radicalized the semi-literate electorate, playing on their fear and other emotions. Obama was a perfect example. I think very important issues were addressed in the past four years; some of Trump's policies were helpful. Some of his suggestions, (particularly his muted criticism against revisionist history in public schools), may yet have long term positive results. But overall, the recklessness of his language and management, his open displays of intimidation, his preference for authoritarian world leaders, I think the good does not outweigh the bad. It's quite unfortunate. Some good might come from all of this. I can only wait and see.
    2 points
  36. I have enough superstition about me not to want to declare that we've survived this, just yet. But despite everything, it looks better to me today than it did yesterday, and it's the first time in a while I've been able to say that. That said, we are far, far from anything approaching good, and we could lurch towards the worse at any moment. Or towards the worst. Trump is an authoritarian and a statist. He has been searching for a way to overturn the election for months, and the only way we have yet preserved our system is because other people (to varying degrees) have frustrated him in his efforts. The fascistic assault on the Capitol was a logical and predictable result of everything Trump has said and done, for years. He made it possible, incited it, encouraged it (and, I am certain, applauded it in private) -- but he did not do this alone. The people who have supported Trump share in that guilt in varying measures. They support, wittingly or otherwise, what he represents, which includes a hostility towards democracy and the liberal virtues which make it possible. They have blood on their hands. And they have deeply wounded our country which, with all of its flaws (and they are many), remains the best extant guardian of individual liberty. Their support for Trump is thus in itself an assault against liberty. Objectivists who support Trump have profoundly lost their way, and work in direct opposition to their stated interests. It troubles me greatly -- as it should trouble everyone else here -- to witness the degree and depth of conspiracy theory-type thinking which has infected this site (and the country). Objectivism proclaims support for Reason and Reality and is supported by them. To sunder this primary relationship in either direction is to leave Objectivism entirely untethered, to turn it into a mockery. Trump has displayed a consistent and utter disdain for truth, and he has embraced and promulgated a litany of lies in support of his power-lust. Lying has flourished around him accordingly, and I do not fault individuals who have been deceived, per se. But it is time, and past time, and far past time to wake up to the reality of the situation. Rand once remarked (in my memory of it, at least; I am open to correction) that once it was perhaps respectable or understandable to have an honest interest in socialism, but that following the horrors of the 20th century, the evidence was too overwhelming. The evidence is in on Trump. He is a would-be dictator. And those who continue to support him should find the courage to admit who and what he is, and by extension, who and what they are, too.
    2 points
  37. Also there's an argument to the effect that, well look, the representatives in Congress deserve this. While, strictly speaking, this is correct, it doesn't follow merely from that fact that this is the right thing to do. Every member of Congress deserves to be huddled in their home in fear, as they would have the rest of us do the past few months. But part of a virtuous action is that it is done in the right way, at the right time, for the right reason. Consider someone performing some courageous act to impress an onlooker. Such an action isn't merely "doing the right thing for the wrong reason," it's literally not doing the right thing. This is an aspect of all agent-centered virtue ethics. The agent has to be in a certain state while performing the action. They cannot be counted as virtuous someone who does something by accident, in the same way consulting tea leaves and guessing the correct thing doesn't make some belief knowledge. See Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics II.4 for details. So it's possible to believe that the "demand side" if you will, the "getting what you deserve" might be good in some small way. I mean it certainly is funny to see the viking at Pelosi's desk. However, the "supply side" if you will, is people yearning for a dictatorship and indulging in epistemic vice. The "demand side" wasn't even substantial enough to change anything about lockdowns other than, people now screaming about "sedition" and "insurrection." Expect more bipartisan surveillance, policing, internet censorship.
    2 points
  38. Okay, Joker. If you mean also Republicans who wanted to "stop the steal" as well, sure, everyone got what they deserved in the end (I think all of Congress is pretty responsible for the overall distrust throughout America). But to correct anything in the future, this is bad. "There are goblins on Mars that study Hegel's dialectics" is metaphysically possible, but without any kind of evidence to say that this claim is true, it is arbitrary. You need something in reality, something observable, not just possible stories you came up with. This is not a valid way of thinking. You need to make a connection with the past event in a causal way, not just merely correlations. I don't care what you provide, you just need to provide something. Then hop to it, make the connections with reality that you can observe. Partial evidence is fine. If I doubted that she had evidence, I would say that her claim was arbitrary. If it was a conversation, I would do the same as with you: I would ask for some more evidence. And she would provide it. She would never mention the word hunch. Problem solved. All you have to do is the same thing, but give me some verifiable concrete evidence. Some observation to work with about this event. I can understand if you don't want to explain all this in the first post you made. But now I am asking. This is completely subjective. This is not evidence. I don't have trouble believing this, so it proves nothing. This is not evidence either. Even if something is stupid, it is nothing to do with if it's important. Give me something somebody said or did in this case.
    2 points
  39. Arbitrary. You need some kind of evidence here. The best you have is that "one time, there was an attempted kidnapping, it turned out they were antifa type people". That's not evidence for your claim. What you said amounts to "it's possible!" Because of that, anything else you say is storytelling. I have some wild and fantastical ideas as well that would really expand on what we saw today. I'm not going to pretend they are anything other than flights of fancy. They aren't hunches, they are fantasies. You are definitely one of the more rational minded I've interacted with here, so I'm especially confused as to why you are trying to present an arbitrary theory as to why the events happened today. You are forcing facts into a theory, rather than creating a theory based on the facts and events. At least with your post about the election results, you cited evidence and facts. Here you cited a hunch...? What are you trying to accomplish? Give the evidence, don't say "they had every reason" without giving one reason. Here's a reason they wouldn't: Biden won the election fairly (or at least as fairly as any other election the past 20 years), they didn't need to encourage or manipulate anything. Not enough people were going to call into question the electors. Here is a reason that Trump would: he claims that he won the election in a landslide, and when the protest started in full force by breaking into the building, he didn't Tweet a single thing to condemn what happened. You know, condemned the way he has other things like antifa. He has never been shy before, he would not be shy now. Here's an unambiguous statement that he could have given: the people who broke into the capitol are guilty of treason.
    2 points
  40. Boydstun

    Physical Space

    MS & SL, I like the idea of space as a potential for occupancy. Potentials of nature are real things in my book and so are potential things that might be invented and gotten a patent on. Potential are distinct from mere possibilities in my usage. Possibilities are things in the mind that is engaged in thinking. Potentials are already out there as it were, and together with actualities, they compose existence. Potentials, hence space of the world is real. Space, even unoccupied space, is real, is an existent. However, potential for material or field occupancy is not the only potential that space is. There is a line in space right now that will become coincident with, a week from right now, the spin axis of the earth, and the spin axis of the earth would be the spin axis of the earth (a line in space) even if there were an empty cavity all the way through the earth along its axis of spin. MS, one reason I speak of physical space is to allude to the distinction of (i) geometries that are only abstract from (ii) the abstract geometries that are instantiated in particular situations in the physical world. In the last two centuries geometries came to be discovered (by the methods of mathematics) that are valid geometries, but so far as we know, they have no physical instantiations, no applications. Some of the new geometries are ones for which we have found physical application. These can be 3D like Euclidean geometry, but be a geometry in which, for example, triangles sum to more than 2R or to less than 2R, among other differences they have with Euclidean geometry. They are hard to visualize except by looking at how their 2D surfaces look when embedded in 3D Euclidean geometry. The reason we were able to discover these geometries in mathematics is because Descartes and Pascal figured out the beginnings of how we can represent curves on surfaces or in space by algebraic equations (analytic geometry). Such algebraic representation can be made of the visualizable geometry that we learn in high school in Euclid's Elements. That is, analytic geometry can represent synthetic geometry (the sorts of proof we do in high school geometry class and that the Greeks did are the methods directly dealing with synthetic geometry), and indeed through manipulating equations of curves, new discoveries of relationships in Euclidean synthetic geometry were made. There are synthetic geometric relationships that can be found for Non-Eulidean geometries via analytic representations of those geometries that cannot be visualized (in 3D or higher), yet have been found to have physical application. (Now I don't want to leave the natural impression that we can make up any sort of geometry we like as a new abstract geometry. Mathematics has its criteria for what constitutes a geometry, even a merely abstract one that, for all we know, may not have any physical instantiation anywhere. Just now, one of the books I'm studying pertains to those mathematical constraints; it's title is Geometric Possibility.)
    2 points
  41. EC

    2020 election

    I don't understand why you guys dump on Trump for not being a perfect defender of individual rights but hand-wave dismiss the Democrats and Biden's complete dismissal of individual rights as essentially as "Democrats being Democrats". The majority of their ideas and policies are completely evil, while only a smaller portion of Trump's policies are explicitly evil. That's why I voted for him and semi-support him over Biden.
    2 points
  42. If anyone is still interested in the goings on at the Ayn Rand Institute, Yaron Brook has come out strongly in support of Biden for President: Yaron Brook Show The article “Biden is Our Only Hope” comments on this in detail. You can find it by searching on biden yaron "christian right" using Google (Bing and DuckDuckGo won’t work); “christian right” must be in quotes. You will learn that after Brook’s comments it became known that Leonard Peikoff had donated $250 to Trump’s campaign. So far Brook hasn’t commented on having once said that no “Trump apologist” should call himself an Objectivist.
    2 points
  43. I don’t agree with this. Explaining why requires two distinctions. - Dictatorial about government policy versus dictatorial to the USA’s people in general. - A dictator personally versus a dictator institutionally. Trump shows a strong desire to control government policy. However, his desire to control people in general doesn’t seem strong to me. Indeed, a prime counter-instance is the health insurance mandate. Obamacare made the mandate – that people in general (with a high enough income) must purchase health insurance, and they will be penalized (“taxed”) if they don’t. Trump got rid of the mandate, calling it the worst part of Obamacare. Joe Biden shows little desire to be a dictator personally. However, it seems he has little reservation about having in his orbit others who are very dictatorial, e.g. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, AOC, Kamala Harris. If elected, his cabinet appointments will be very revealing. Another reason I say this is his persistent desire for higher taxes, even more spending, and more regulations. Implicitly or explicitly, he views a better world coming from government activism. Trump does not. On the campaign trail, he has touted the “public option” regarding health insurance. If elected, I would not be a bit surprised to see him flip-flop to backing some form of Medicare for All (advocated by Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris when they pursued the presidential nomination). Biden explicitly proposes to transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. Of course, the transition will be forced via government intervention – regulations and subsidies. How often have you heard Biden praise private industry or advocate individual liberty?
    2 points
  44. Boydstun

    2020 election

    Tony, this horse we children would ride out in the country belonged to that man I spoke of who went to school only through the third grade. He was the second husband of our mother. He was a cattle rancher; paratrooper and aircraft mechanic in North Africa and Italy during WWII; he knew his Catholic catechism. He read newspapers and did his own thinking. He did not need any advice in discerning a con man or discerning human depravity or goodness or in determining who would get his vote. Neither did the children on that horse in their adulthood.
    2 points
  45. I think it is important to remember two contextual factors regarding concepts. First, every concept is a mental integration… which means, it’s in your head. Second, proper concepts in your head arise by applying logic to valid conclusions, given some premises, so to the extent that the facts out there are the same, we all learn the same concept “dog”. Concepts are objective, not subjective. The science of psychology is concerned with the nature of a concept in the brain, whereas philosophy is concerned with the abstract nature of concepts which anyone can grasp using reason. Epistemologically primary concepts are those that can understood through direct experience, words with ostensive definitions (“That is a dog; this is yellow”). Philosophy is usually about very high-level concepts such as “cause”, “rights”, “logic” and so on, things that you can’t just point at. Because the connection between a word and what it refers to in philosophy is much more distant, explicit definition and deeper scrutiny of logic is necessary in order to establish that there exists a valid path. Ayn Rand engaged in that enterprise and thus had a valid logical connection between axiomatic propositions and conclusions about the concept “rights”. A number of others have also studied this and now grasp that same relationship. Pretty much everybody has some concept of “rights”, but the definition and what it integrates varies wildly in the English-speaking world (insert alternative words like droit and Recht to expand the range of definitions). Objectivism presents an integrates theory of existence under which we can say what a “right” is and show why that is a valid conclusion, but the same cannot be said for the theory that “a right is that which I want to have”. Even though that analysis has already been done (can be objectively presupposed), you should do it too. You too should discover the fundamentals and how logic and experience yield conclusions about “rights”. (Within limits: I don’t advocate that everybody should validate the concept “neutron”, “electron”, unless you’re a physicist, or have lots of spare time). Again, there is an essential difference between the abstract nature of logic and knowledge, which is the domain of philosophy, and the practical methods of gaining knowledge, which is the domain of the science of psychology. It is not very common for a person to actually create a concept from the ground up, instead we are generally faced with the task of understanding a concept that was already created by someone else (hopefully, by induction). Infants start by first learning the label, words like “dog”, “ball” and so on, and then use contextual experience to arrive at conclusions about what “dog” refers to. The psychology of infant learning is a very difficult scientific subject, but we do know what they end up with – it’s just unclear how they got there. Infants do not induce the (adult) concept “rights”, “inference”, “elaboration”. The logic of concept formation, as set forth in ITOE, is that similarities and differences are perceived, leading to the conclusion “these things have something in common that distinguishes them from those things”, and eventually that concept is assigned a name. The overall point that I’m making here is that knowledge and concepts need to be studied from two perspectives, the logical and the psychological, that is, how do we actually learn this stuff. Regarding the words versus sounds question, you respond “So learn and master sounds first before proceeding because they are the fundamentals which everything presupposes, on which you build mastery of the language”. Yes and no, in a way that relates to the preceding. You cannot first learn the sounds and then learn the words, but that is a fair description of the existential nature of sounds and words (the logical relation between words and sounds). From the psychological perspective – how do I learn this – you have to start with some words. Not all of the words, some of the words. That is a basis for reaching initial conclusions about the sounds of the language. You then learn some more words and validate – or correct (elaborate) – your conclusions about the sounds, and the words. This is a cyclic process, where you continuously increase your knowledge by increasing your axiomatic experiences (hearing the language) and make non-contradictory identifications. So, not only is it impossible to learn all of the words and then draw higher order conclusions about the sounds, it is impossible to first learn the existential primitives (sounds) free of the context where they appear (words), and then learn the words. As an aside, I’m currently working on a paper that explicates the nature of the cyclic, integrated system of reasoning for discovering the sounds of a language. To summarize my points, there is a hierarchy of concepts and propositions that constitutes your knowledge. You do not learn the elements of that hierarchy by starting at the bottom and seeing how e.g. quarks lead to the concept of proton or neutron, which lead to atoms, which lead to molecules, then cells, dogs, mammals and living being. The entry point into this logical hierarchy, in Objectivism, is not the quark or the concept “living being”, it is the directly perceptible – the dog, and then dogs qua concept. Sounds are the atoms of words (and they are actually made up of smaller stuff, just as atoms are not indivisible existential primaries). Words are the epistemological primaries – the things that we directly experience.
    2 points
  46. Of related interest: "A Metaphysics for Freedom argues that agency itself-and not merely the special, distinctively human variety of it-is incompatible with determinism. For determinism is threatened just as surely by the existence of powers which can be unproblematically accorded to many sorts of animals, as by the distinctively human powers on which the free will debate has tended to focus. Helen Steward suggests that a tendency to approach the question of free will solely through the issue of moral responsibility has obscured the fact that there is a quite different route to incompatibilism, based on the idea that animal agents above a certain level of complexity possess a range of distinctive 'two-way' powers, not found in simpler substances. Determinism is not a doctrine of physics, but of metaphysics; and the idea that it is physics which will tell us whether our world is deterministic or not presupposes what must not be taken for granted-that is, that physics settles everything else, and that we are already in a position to say that there could be no irreducibly top-down forms of causal influence. Steward considers questions concerning supervenience, laws, and levels of explanation, and explores an outline of a variety of top-down causation which might sustain the idea that an animal itself, rather than merely events and states going on in its parts, might be able to bring something about. The resulting position permits certain important concessions to compatibilism to be made; and a convincing response is also offered to the charge that even if it is agreed that determinism is incompatible with agency, indeterminism can be of no possible help. The whole is an argument for a distinctive and resolutely non-dualistic, naturalistically respectable version of libertarianism, rooted in a conception of what biological forms of organisation might make possible in the way of freedom."
    2 points
  47. The views of capitalists and liberals historically developed out of opposition to things that came before them. Locke developed the natural rights doctrine and laid the foundation for liberalism, but was a bit of a mercantilist in economics. Late 17th and early 18th century thinkers like North, Cantillon, and Quesnay began to develop free trade movements out of opposition to mercantilism and utilized Lockean and generally Enlightenment-influenced arguments about "rights of man" and "laws of nature." The physiocracts and French liberals in the 18th century were among the first to mix laissez-faire and free trade economics with anti-slavery doctrines, foremost among them Mirabeau. The Manchester School and the American individualists in the 19th century also combined abolitionism and free trade as basic positions. Thomas Jefferson, if anything, is representative of a movement that certainly did exist mainly in America that combined rights-and-free-trade-talk with pro-slavery views. See Calhoun for example. The point there is simply that these just wouldn't count as genuine liberals precisely on those grounds. There, a distinction could be drawn between rhetoric and deeper value structure.
    2 points
  48. 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
×
×
  • Create New...