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  1. 4 points

    "Coming out"

    Thanks for all the thoughtful responses and new insights. I appreciate them all as they gave me a strong conviction that it was necessary and important to do now, not *sometime* in the future. I took them out for dinner last night and told them. My mom started crying lol, which is actually I think part of what I was dreading (this is what I meant by dramatic, but it was kind of funny and endearing at the same time). I fought through all the discomfort and kept a clear head on the objective - I allowed them to say what they wanted without objection and thanked them for always supporting me and loving me. I feel pretty good as now I feel I can finally have a more authentic relationship with myself and the rest of the world. I think not telling my parents is what sort of kept me from really reaching my potential as I was always hesitant to be open about myself as it might get back to them. This was a weird psychological hurdle for me. Anyways, I feel more free and excited about what is to come. Thanks again. 😎
  2. 3 points
    SL, Poetically said, I think the poetic manner is a singular way to condense and express this unbelievable totality of life and one's life's existence. There are wonders here, how this animal made of star-stuff could become consciously rational and aware of its consciousness which ~almost~ seem mythological or religious. "Lest we be mythologizing ourselves" - of the species and of the individual being, I don't know of how one cannot. Obviously, without the supernaturalism. That autonomous "I" unique to you was who could observe, will to think those things, question them and marvel. This recalls, I like that old "You are a child of the universe: no less than the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here". We are "right" to be here and right for "here", without any intention of the Universe. And another, from that song: "I sing the Body Electric ... I toast to my own reunion, when I become one with the Sun".
  3. 3 points
    Eiuol (Lev) and I (William) have created a new show on Youtube called Welcome To Reality! It is devoted to respectful debate and discussion. We will cover various topics that interest us and try to apply our understanding of Objectivism to moral and political action. The first episode is on the use and morality of recreational drugs, such as alcohol and psychedelics. We hope you'll check out the program and subscribe to our channel. Thanks! https://youtu.be/aDWd-b2xEB0
  4. 3 points
    Adrian, I'm re-reading Atlas Shrugged for the third time, 10 years since my previous reading. I found that she repeats the same point a lot upon my first reading, and perhaps the second reading, but I don't find it anymore. The repeating is necessary, to make it more convincing and dramatic. To stress the importance of the point. You know, the principle that altruism is evil can be summarized in one sentence, but it's the role of fiction to put the principle in as many concrete terms as possible, making the reader to discover it for himself. It's the principle of "show, don't tell." By the way, do you find "War and Peace" as repeating the same point many times? Rereading Atlas Shrugged for the third time, I'm dumbfounded by this book. It's remarkable on so many levels. For one, it is cross genre, it defines categorization. Is it a science fiction, a romance novel, a detective story, a self-help book, a philosophical treatise, a political satire, a prophecy, an action adventure, a poetic hymn (like the Greek myths)? Second, many books are spoiled if you know the ending, or if you know the hidden secret. But, this book reveals a secondary meaning and depth only if you know what's coming at the end. You say that the dialog is not as developed: the dialog is ingenious because every sentence is first understood as metaphorical, while on a repeated reading (once you know the secret), it's read as literal! She hid things in plain sight.
  5. 3 points
    Returning to the initial question, I’m going to say “No, it would not be helpful”. It would be helpful to clearly articulate a real problem which in principle could be solved, but that has nothing to do with BLM. The problem is not that Richard Spencer has his ideas, and the propagation of his ideas cause some other problem. The problem that BLM is addressing is the “rampant and deliberate violence inflicted on us by the state” (their words). As they say, “Our intention from the very beginning was to connect Black people from all over the world who have a shared desire for justice to act together in their communities”. Given these fundamentals as a raison d’être, there is no reasonable connection between their purpose, and intellectual engagement over wingnut ideas about race. You do not need to inform Blacks that Spencer is intellectually wrong: that is experientially self-evident. BLM is at its core an anti-intellectual “progressive” ideological movement, which has become the quasi-official spokesperson controlling discussion of a broader issue. Their success as a movement is, very simply, that they connected emotional reactions to poorly-understood problems in race relations in the US with an ideology that most people don’t bother to analyze, using a slogan as the glue.
  6. 2 points
    I'm not sure this was covered yet. I think of consciousness as specifically general awareness with mental states. A process, as was mentioned before. Self in this context would be the entire history of that conscious activity. Memories of your life, history of mental states, cognitive development, things like that. A self would be more complex, because it requires directed thinking. A relatively simple consciousness like a beetle can be vaguely aware of things like the presence of food, but it doesn't direct its thinking in terms of values or memories.
  7. 2 points
    Warning: The following is to be taken as poetic rather than literal... Religio - re connect or re-linking back Identifying the self with the universe, or the planet... is in the direction of mythical or religious thinking... because although you are in and of these things, you are not identical with them... being unseparated from them and indeed embedded in them.. it is a natural direction in which mystical thinking points... we are star stuff... made from elements formed in supernovae... in a literal "tree of life" billions of years old... each a node on an unbroken branch of ancestry and direct physical, chemical, biological causality ... the eyes, ears and minds of the Earth, the solar system... this is religion and myth... and so perhaps such is going too far. So too perhaps, identifying the self, the "I" with the whole person, an undivided individual, is mythical thinking. Those far flung parts of our physical bodies not under voluntary control even indirectly: secreting, pumping, and processing, just as the stars whirl, the planet spins, and the continents drift. So too, identifying the "I" and "self" with the body is going too far into myth and religion. So too even with identifying "I" with the whole of the brain and its doing, in identifying with the whole of its processes... where so much occurs autonomously, in the background, subconsciously, or in the depths of sleep. So much is unbidden and out of our conscious control that we should treat them as foreign as all the rest... lest we be mythologizing ourselves... and such would be going too far. Perhaps finally then we might hold onto the "I" as only that tiny portion of all that which is the first-person view of willed conscious experience... whose range of will is a feeble and fleeting "focus or not"... perhaps a rejection of anything mythical or anything religious is to identify only with that one little spark and its feeble range of direct causative power... And yet there is room for something more akin to mythologizing the self... perhaps... for that tiny spark can be the root cause of whole civilizations, and one day, cause continents or even planets to move ... and perhaps there also is room for a re-linking to those things with which any "I" participates and is enmeshed: in a complex relationship as literally as old as time and as wide as the universe... identifying the "I" and the "self" with the Objective experience of the nigh infinite whirling whole through but one of many of its utterly unique center points about which it all goes round and round and round.
  8. 2 points
    Of course some Objectivists, choose to be activists for the philosophy, but that in no way means the philosophy itself IS activist, and people interested in the philosophy should not think that it is. In considering Objectivism as a whole, I am confronted with distractions... not in the form of ideas, but in the form of personalities, of movements, of factions... and yes, a little bit of activism. Rather than looking outward and inward to my center.. I find myself sliding my eyes sideways at metaphorical others... whose presences, in the realm of my engagement with ideas, are inappropriate and unwelcome. As time goes by, I become more keenly aware that to my mind, philosophy is not FOR society even though the act of instituting a correct political system IS for society AND such is contingent upon the political philosophy of the individuals instituting it, philosophy (even political philosophy) pertains to knowledge which, although referring to things like societies, in the end is something only attributable to an individual's brain and wholly dependent upon self-responsibility to properly attain. [I realize colloquially, recorded information societies have collected are referred to as knowledge... but no collective brain contains a dusty room in which those old pages are kept... and I am not using the term knowledge in this loose sense] I see many persons, institutes, and even Rand herself at times, was activist in the sense that there is an urgency to share which is a direct reaction to the state of others' actual or perceived ignorance. There is a sense of a battle, as Leonard Peikoff put it, between Aristotle and Plato. This desire to correct, to fix minds out there, runs through it all ... and this was no different in myself. But early on I began to feel it was wrong, and I gravitated toward the idea (emphasized also in Objectivism) that philosophy serves the individual who choses life... and that it is essential to have the correct philosophy to understand reality and act in furtherance of one's life. Life is not about preaching to others... no matter how much I wish the others did not think or feel as they do. Somehow, with the ever increasing insanity in the world, I am seeing SO much more clearly that philosophy is a deeply personal thing, and I find myself wishing for an Objectivist writer who could take the reader on a journey through ideas which is focused on the positive substance thereof rather than the negative absences or flaws in other schools of thought. One who focuses overwhelmingly on what Objectivism IS rather than what it is not, and one who shows what is correct while relying very little on differentiating it from what is wrong. One who does, by way of the occasional warning, point out pitfalls of wrong thinking but shrugs them off, one who warns of vice throughout the world but with a feeling that "it only goes so deep". One who makes the reader really feel the sanctity of one's own life as paramount, and any desire to influence or persuade others as not even secondary but only remotely moderately important. [Ironically, such a writer, insofar as they perfectly hold philosophy as primarily personal, might only be interested in studying philosophy and accordingly have no motivation to write about it at all.] A reader with such a sense of the sanctity of one's own life, would have no desire to convince anyone else of anything... would not flinch at the utterance of even the most absurd of irrationalities, certainly not out of any insecurity or fear of any mismatch with others' ideas. Of course, as with all things, philosophy is a subject which one wishes to share with others he values and cherishes, and to the extent of that intimacy, it is natural to wish to have that play and engagement with something common to both. But the idea that one needs to have common ideas with people generally in society is not tenable, and probably never has been. My sports friends need not like the same music I do, nor my concert going friends like the same visual art I do... and if they say something as ridiculous as I hear in the fake news, on youtube, or the Twitverse, it should affect me no more than a 4 year old calling me a "poopy head"... I'll smile and redirect the interaction... "oh really... say, you like icecream don't you?"... "ha... hey that reminds me .. do you still like that quarterback playing for..." "thanks for sharing... hey, what do you think of the edge control used in the shadows of this portrait... isn't it sublime?"
  9. 2 points
    SR, There are concrete things that can only be identified by abstract thought. An example would be an electron or the magnetic field it generates if the electron is moving. An attribute such as the electron’s electric charge or it ability to produce a magnetic field are attributes. I suggest that faculties are just functional attributes. Functional items arise only in a biological setting. The mental is only within the biological. Those are positions of Rand (me too). As you know, in the ITOE, Rand called out a category of primary existents which she titled entities. Here other basic ontological categories called out there were actions, attributes, and relationships. In your quotation, she is saying that consciousness is an attribute, not an entity. By “certain sort of entity” she would mean certain animals. The attribute consciousness is a functional attribute, and such would seem reasonable to call faculties, continuous of a philosophic tradition of speaking of mental faculties. Faculties are powers, I’d say. If we spoke of the faculty of walking, we would not mean anything but the ability or power to walk. I imagine it’s just traditions of talking to typically say ability to walk or faculty of thought. It would be natural within Rand’s metaphysics, I’d say, to take primacy of existence to consciousness to be statement about a relationship. All of Rand’s fundamental categories—entity, action, attribute, and relationship—are existents. The latter three, as you know, are dependent on the first one, the primary form of existent. Rand took the solar system to be an entity. The biological consciousness-system could be an entity, and this is natural to call mind. It can be an entity set within a larger entity, just as the solar system. But mind is a functional system set within a larger array of functions of the animal. A self is that mind. Consciousness is sometimes not awareness of an awareness. It is just awareness of things not itself sometimes and most fundamentally. Some animals could have consciousness-selves without awareness of their consciousness-selves, I think. The question of how one identifies what constitutes one’s mind is something I’ll have to leave. For the answer, I’d look both to modern developmental cognitive psychology and to history of philosophy on the constitution of the mind: the Greeks, Arabs/Scholastics, early Moderns, right on through philosophers to now. Big project, that one! I think it is right to see consciousness as action, as attribute, or as to relationships. These fundamental categories do not have the exclusivity had by Aristotle’s categories. The can all be true characterizations of a thing, appropriate in different contexts of consideration.
  10. 2 points
    Might seem off topic, at first. I was reminded last night catching a glimpse of the film I'd seen before, The Pursuit of HappYness. I don't know how it slipped through the movie moguls' attention, but here's a rare movie that encapsulates America. I.e. A black man who is not a victim. In this fortuitous passage I watched, the character played by Will Smith, despondently muses to himself after a particularly trying day coping with his little boy (heroic, too) and two jobs: WHY did Thomas Jefferson come up with "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness"? Did he know that it was only to be "a pursuit", never achieved? (Roughly). He by dint of energy, values and application eventually realizes his ambitions (based on true life story of a man who built up his own insurance company). I first considered, now here's a man who could never tolerate a Jefferson statue be torn down. And, "freedom"? that's what you make for yourself. Wherever there is no "systemic" restriction put upon you, in a free nation. Irrespective of past injustices. Very smart topic, this, and extremely incisive responses made; beginning from an innocuous product it touches all bases of present 'Social Metaphysics' experienced in every country.
  11. 2 points
    "The famous image of Aunt Jemima was based on the real image of Nancy Green, who was known as a magnificent cook, an attractive woman of outgoing nature and friendly personality, an original painting of which sold for $9,030 at MastroNet. The painting was rendered by A. B. Frost, who is now well known as one of the great illustrators of the Golden Age of American Illustration.[13]" This quote is from the Wikipedia article covering the life of Nancy Green, the original celebrity personality representing the soon to be discontinued brand, known as, Aunt Jemima. I hope there is common ground among the other contributors to this thread regarding the nature of the decision of the Quaker Oats company. Their decision is a meaningless gesture pandering to the Social Justice Warriors, who will, no doubt, glow with pride for their valiant campaign to retire poor Aunt Jemima. Quaker Oats can breathe easier now. But, I can't truly cooperate with any sort of boycott of Quaker Oats products, as I can't remember the last time I've purchased any. Pancakes and syrup are a little too rich for my breakfast diet. This has all been somewhat educational; I was unfamiliar with the story of Nancy Green, until yesterday. I have been aware of the very controversial "mammy stereotype," or archetype, which every you prefer. According to the available resources, Nancy Green made a success from her personality, as well as her apparent abundance of other virtues. Whether or not one might approve of her persona, it served her well, as it served the needs of industry marketing of a fine product. She was born a slave, but she chose to be the person she became, with the help of free enterprise. She was not forced to cook pancakes; she was a free woman. I don't know how much money she made, but she didn't die in poverty, as far too many other African-Americans of her generation did. I think it would be reasonable to promote awareness of her life story, as well as other early-twentieth century African-American celebrities and entrepreneurs. Regardless of the means of her success, Nancy Green deserves some credit for not only achieving the American dream, but for her efforts in promoting the dream to others. I stand by my position that it seems pathetic, silly, and wasteful to try to persuade others to believe in the heinous nature of a harmless logo. The heinous nature of racism will never be properly understood, when SJWs waste their 15 minutes of fame trying to harpoon red herrings such, "plausible" racism found in marketing logos. How will the conversation be taken seriously as this goes on? The mammy-image of Aunt Jemima had been revised for years, but some people will take offense at anything. You can remove the image of every human, anthropomorphic animal, vegetable and/or extraterrestrial alien from children's cereal boxes, and it won't make a damn bit of difference in progress toward changing the justice system. If you'll indulge me a slippery-slope argument, we may all be satisfied, if not thrilled, when the food products available arrive in plain beige containers, marked, Brands X, Y, and Z, after all mascots have been deemed unlawful. And the only place you'll find a representational image of slave-holder George Washington will be the statue on display in Trafalgar Square. And that's about all I have to say about that. Eioul, go ahead and pick all of the nits from my statement you want until your heart's content.
  12. 2 points
    This is all part of the cleaning up of past history as if it never existed. A statue offends one or only a minority of individuals in one group, tear it down. An innocent image on a box by another, the same. This has a little to do with people not wanting to offend some others too delicate to handle reality, but mostly to do with mind control for political power. You can hardly blame a company's flip-flop marketing strategy, their profits are at the mercy of activists' mass action. On the broad front, all capitalist enterprise can end up 'owned' by the people. Marxism wins without a shot fired. We, the people, deserve what we get when we perceive symbols as reality and substitute feelings for free minds. How far men sink into apologism for their very existence is yet to be seen.
  13. 2 points
    I do not equate philosophy for living, and living one’s life with anything like political activism. Life requires knowledge and a philosophy, so having “skin in the game” is to take it seriously and to live by it. You only have one life and it’s yours to live. Some “activists” of a quite different political flavor from myself feel quite strongly that “real life” is lived in the political sphere... the body politic, society as a collective endeavour... and hence participating in life is measured by them by how loudly one shouts and how many likes one receives. These activists of course define and identify themselves not as individuals but literally as parts or units of groups. On the contrary, I tend to see the choice to live life and the philosophy by which one lives it, as much more profoundly and intimately personal and individual than anything those “activists” could even imagine. I dare say, a private individual life well lived in accordance with proper knowledge i.e. correct philosophy, has more real skin in the game than any activist could hope to have. Of course their whole goal is to change others and change the world, but they are oblivious to the fact that they are so focused on everyone else’s lives that they are bystanders of their own lives. I think most Objectivists have skin in their game, in the reality of their own lives, and I also happen to think most Objectivists are not Activists, nor do they believe in Activism.
  14. 2 points
    In older days there'd be a lynch mob to take a (suspected) culprit out of custody before trial and string him up. The mentality hasn't changed much: "someone" must suffer for an injustice. Who else are easily accessible but shopkeepers and their properties? Added bonus, for many violent rioters the store is a symbol of capitalism. "Repressive Capitalism", that is, to those of Leftist conviction.
  15. 2 points

    Entity and Ousia

    Entity and Ousia Contrasting Roark with many other people, Mallory remarks to Dominique of those others: “At the end there’s nothing left, nothing unreversed or unbetrayed; as if there had never been any entity, only a succession of adjectives fading in and out on an unformed mass” (GW V, 485). Consider in Rand’s full metaphysics the finer structure in her conception of the law of identity: "Whatever you choose to consider, be it an object, an attribute, or an action, the law of identity remains the same. A leaf cannot be a stone at the same time, it cannot be all red and all green at the same time, it cannot freeze and burn at the same time. A is A (AS 1016). Rand clearly intended here, in Galt’s Speech, that what is proposed for objects is to be generalized to entities. Every entity is of some kinds that are exclusive relative to other kinds of entity. Rand used the term entity in the paragraph preceding the object examples of leaf and stone. That is, she uses entity in the initial statement of her law of identity: “To exist is to be something, . . . it is to be an entity of a specific nature made of specific attributes” (AS 1016). On that page, it is clear that she takes for entities not only what are ordinarily called objects such as leaf, stone, or table, but micro-objects such as living cells and atoms, and super-objects such as solar system and universe. Now we have a modest problem. If we say “to exist is to be an entity of a specific nature made of specific attributes,” we seem to say that attributes are either entities or are not existents. Consider for attributes “the shape of a pebble or the structure of the solar system” (AS 1016). To avoid the patent falsehood that the shape of a pebble does not exist, shall we say that not only the pebble is an entity, but its shape is an entity? Rand reaches a resolution by a refinement in her metaphysics nine years after her first presentation. In 1966 she writes “Entities are the only primary existents. (Attributes cannot exist by themselves, they are merely the characteristics of entities; motions are motions of entities; relationships are relationships among entities)” (ITOE 15). In Rand’s view then, we have that to exist is either (i) to be an entity consisting of particularities and specific attributes and a specific nature or (ii) to be some specific character in the nature of entities or among an entity’s particularities. Philosophers often use the term entity to mean any item whatever. That is one customary usage and perfectly all right. Rand decided to take entity into her technical vocabulary as something more restricted. She went on to name some fundamental categories that cannot exist without connection to entities: action, attributes, and relationships.[1] As with Aristotle’s substance (ousia), where there is any other category, there is entity to which it belongs.[2] Though Rand held entities to be “the only primary existents,” she did not suppose entities could ever exist without their incidents of action, attributes, and relationships. To trim away, in thought, all the internal traits of an existent as well as all its external relations should in right thought leave no existent. Out of step with Aristotle, Rand did not maintain there is such a thing as an entity that is a what, yet is without any specification by other categories of existents.[3] Entities have relations to other entities, but not the belonging-relation (inherence) had to entities by the categories not entity. The entity that is the sofa is in a region of the living room and it is in a force-relation with the floor. But it is not in anything in the way its shape and mass and stability and flammability are in it. Though she held actions, attributes, and relations to be incapable of existing without the entities of which they are incidents, Rand did not import to entity Aristotle’s concept of substance as somehow imparting existence from itself to the other fundamental categories. In Rand’s view, all of those categories have some instances in concrete existents. Actions, attributes, and relationships are not entities in Rand’s sense. To qualify as an entity, I say and think Rand could have been brought around to say, an entity has to do more than be able to stand as the subject of predication (or as the argument of a propositional function). Running or oscillation can be the subjects of predicates, but they can do so as actions, not entities. Fraction and containment can be the subjects of predicates, but they can do so as relations, not entities. Twill and vesicular quality can be subjects of predicates, but they can do so as attributes, not entities. Rand’s entity as primary existence parallels to some extent Aristotle’s ousia as primary being. Entity as subject of attributes, actions, and relationships parallels Aristotle’s ousia.[4] Substance has been the most common translation of Aristotle’s ousia, when used as the fundamental form of being. Joseph Owens argues that the traditional translation of Aristotle’s ousia is poorly conveyed by substance and is better expressed by entity.[5] Joe Sachs argues for the more Heideggerean translation thingness for ousia.[6] In whatever English translation, Aristotle’s full conception of ousia in his Metaphysics is far from Rand’s conception of entity. Entity does not stand as of-something. In that respect, it is like Aristotle’s ousia. Unlike his ousia in Metaphysics, entity as such is never the essence of something. Also contra Aristotle’s being that is ousia, the existents that are entity can have parts that are entity. Furthermore, as noticed earlier, unlike the accidents of Aristotle’s ousia in Metaphysics, the existence of incidents does not derive from the existence of entity.[7] Existents of the incidents are coordinate with existence of entities, not derivative from nor secondary to existence of entities. In contrast with Aristotle, Rand’s entity, primary form of existence, is only of this whole of existence, our spatial-temporal world, with both its actualities and its potentials, and our understanding over it. That is the all-encompassing reality. Contraction of being to existence includes a denial that there are metaphysical perfections and denial that there is such a thing as unqualified being. Such perfections, and unqualified stuff, when added together with existence per se constitute Aristotle’s being. Aristotle has Rand’s entities as occasions of ousia, at least prima facie, and these he calls natural ousia.[8] Aristotle’s primary ousia, fundamental form of being, I should add, is always an individual, a this something, though not always a concrete.[9] “Substance is on the one hand, matter, on the other hand, form, that is, activity” (Metaph. 1043a27–28).[10] Shape, such as shape of a bronze statue, is not all Aristotle means here by form (mophê). That which explains the coming to be of the statue from unshaped bronze is here included as form; then too, form is here determining principle of which the bronze constitutes this statue rather than any other being. Bronze of itself is determinate matter, but as matter of this statue, it is this form’s matter in consideration of its potential to be another form’s matter. For Aristotle explanation of substance requires both matter and form. Like most all moderns, Rand and Peikoff reject Aristotle’s fundamental form/matter division of all beings.[11] Aristotle had ousia not only primary in account of the kinds of being, but prior in time to them.[12] In the shift from being to existence as most fundamental and in the shift from ousia to entity as most fundamental category of existence, we do not conceive of entity as temporally prior to attributes and relations. For the move from being to existence as most fundamental is move to existence already with identity. If existence is identity and most fundamentally concrete, then entity is identity and most fundamentally concrete. Let us say further that entity is identity, essential and inessential. Essential identity of an entity is identity without which the entity would not be the kind it is.[13] To say that entity is essential identity might seem close to Aristotle’s view that ousia and its essence are one.[14] Rand’s principle existence is identity has greater scope than Aristotle’s ousia is its essence. For her existence is identity has comprehensive scope: it spans not only entity and its essential attributes, but its entire suite of attributes, as well as its standings in actions and relations. For Aristotle capturing what is a specific ousia—where ousia is the primary form of being and the subject of attributes and alterations—requires formulating its definitions such that the essence expressed in the predicate (definiens) has a uniquely right necessary tie and has explanatory tie with the subject (definiendum). Without that essential trait, the ousia defined could not be the kind of ousia it is. Furthermore, if no such trait can be found, the subject is not an ousia, a what-it-is, but a depending quantity, quality, relation, time, location, configuration, possession, doing, or undergoing.[15] In Rand’s modern metaphysics, capturing best what is a specific entity requires formulating its definiens such that it has a right, necessary, and explanatory tie with the subject entity. The unity of essential characteristics with existence of the entity to which they belong are not absolute in the way Aristotle’s specific essence belongs to specific ousia. His is an ascription right independently of context of knowledge. Rand’s theory of essential characteristics for definitions allows for evolution as our knowledge context grows.[16] Furthermore, unlike Aristotle’s theory, the unity of the essential in definitions of existents is just as tight where those existents are attributes, actions, or other relations as when the existent being defined is an entity. The essence of Newtonian force is expressed in its definiens, with specific mathematical defining formula relating certain physical quantities. Special relativity recasts that fundamental defining equation of force, the old equation imbedded in a more elaborate one taking newly learned factors into the account of force.[17] Contrary Aristotle, existents not substance and not entity can have essential characteristics, and these are a function not only of what is so, but of what it is we know of what is so. Although Rand made essential characteristics dependent on context of knowledge, these characteristics are real, the dependencies (such as causal or mathematical) other characteristics have upon them are real, and the explanatory character of essential characteristics vis-à-vis other characteristics is objective. Additional likeness and difference in the metaphysics of Rand and Aristotle are the following. In the metaphysics of Aristotle, when we grasp the essence of ousia, we become that essence; such an assimilator is what is a mind.[18] In Rand’s metaphysics, our grasp of an essence is an identification of an identity; such an identifier of identity is what is a mind, although essence is not the only identity of the existent determining mind, and as mentioned, entity is not the only category in which there are essential aspects. Furthermore, unlike the metaphysics of Rand and other moderns, the metaphysics of Aristotle has it that essence is only in kinds of ousia (kinds of substance/entity) such as the kind man. The essence of man—rational animal—exhausts the kind man. Aristotle recognizes, naturally, that the individual man is more in particulars and specifics, more than the essence and ousia. Rand has it rather that the kind is only a class of individuals, each with all their identity, and essential characteristic(s) of the class concern causal and other explanatory relations, identities that are categories not only the category entity. Rather than her loose and overlapping categories of action, attribute, and relation, Rand could have conceived of them as mutually exclusive categories by confining attributes to traits not essentially in relation to other things and by confining relations to features not monadic and not action. It would remain, however, for her selection of fundamental categories that electric current, for example, could be (a) an attribute of an active conducting wire, manifest by shock or by resistance heating of the wire, and (b) a flow of electrons within the wire and (c) a source of the magnetic field around the wire. Assignment to a Randian category, unlike an Aristotelian one, should, I think, remain dependent on the physical situation under consideration. In the present example: (a) attribute, (b) action, (c) entity. In Rand’s fully developed theoretical philosophy, as I mentioned, essential characteristics, though factual, are functions of the human context of knowledge.[19] If we extend functional dependence of essential characteristic to context of consideration, then multiple highest genera of an existent is not problematic, unlike the circumstance for Aristotle with his metaphysically absolute essences, ever the same whatever our level of knowledge and context of consideration. Notes [1] AS 1016; ITOE 7, appx. 264–79. [2] ITOE appx. 157, 264; Aristotle, Cat. 2b3–6; Metaph. 1028a10–30. Aristotle maintained two sorts of substance, primary and secondary. The former would be an individual such as the individual man Parmenides; the latter would be the species or genus of such an individual. Rand’s entity is always only a concrete individual. [3] Aristotle, Metaph. 1028a30–b3. See further, Pasnau 2011, 99–102. [4] ITOE 15; Aristotle, Cat. 2a14–19; Cael. 298a26–b3; Metaph. 1028a10–b7. [5] Owens 1978, 137–54; see also Gotthelf 2012, 8n11. What is traditionally translated as being in Aristotle, is sometimes translated as existence; Barnes 1995, 72–77. Here again, we must not let that dull us to the differences between Aristotle and Rand on the concept in play. [6] Sachs 1999, xxxvi–xxxix. [7] Aristotle, Metaph. 1045b27–33; Lewis 2013, 13–15, 91. [8] Cael. 298a26–b3; Metaph. 1017b10–15, 1028b9–32, 1040b5–10, 1042a7–11. [9] Cat. 3b10–23; Metaph. 1028a12, 25–30. [10] A. Kossman, translator. [11] ITOE appx. 286. Koslicki 2018 offers a modern defense of Aristotle’s hylomorphism. [12] Aristotle, Metaph. 1028a32–33. [13] Top. 101b37; Metaph. 1025b11, 1029b14–16 ; ITOE 42, 45, 52. [14] Metaph. 1031a28–1032a5; see also Top. 135a9–12; further, Witt 1989 [15] Cat. 1b25–2a; Top. 103b20–25; Metaph. 1028b1–3. [16] ITOE 40–52. [17] What force is in our contemporary physics is also informed by the setting of force in relation to Hamiltonian mechanics, a more general classical mechanics having natural joins with quantum mechanics. Newton’s gravitational force, whose definition requires its fundamental equation, is also recast by situating it in the deeper successful theory that is general relativity. [18] Aristotle, De An. 429a10–430a26. [19] ITOE 43–47, 52. References Aristotle c.348–322. B.C. The Complete Works of Aristotle. J. Barnes, editor (1984). Princeton: Princeton University Press. Barnes, J. 1995. Metaphysics. In The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Gotthelf, A. 2012. Teleology, First Principles, and Scientific Method in Aristotle’s Biology. New York: Oxford University Press. Koslicki, K. 2018. Form, Matter, Substance. New York: Oxford University Press. Owens, J. 1978 [1951]. The Doctrine of Being in the Aristotelian Metaphysics. 3rd ed. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies. Pasnau, R. 2011. Metaphysical Themes 1274–1671. New York: Oxford University Press. Rand, A. 1943. The Fountainhead. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill. ——. 1957. Atlas Shrugged. New York: Random House. ——. 1966–67. Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. In Rand 1990. ——. 1990. Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. Expanded 2nd ed. H. Binswanger and L. Peikoff, editors. New York: Meridian. Sachs, J., translator, 1999. Aristotle’s Metaphysics. Santa Fe: Green Lion Press. Witt, C. 1989. Substance and Essence in Aristotle. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
  16. 2 points
    Disagree here. "Retaliatory force" is not sensibly distinguished from "force used in retaliation." There may be legitimate and illegitimate uses of retaliatory force, but "force used in retaliation" is, as grammar would seem to have it, "retaliatory force." And further, vigilantism may not be "legitimate" in the sense of legal, but it may yet be moral depending on context. Our sense of law and legal "legitimacy" comes from pre-legal/extra-legal understandings that retaliatory force may be morally proper, in a given situation. "Initiation of force masquerading as retaliation," is not, on the other hand, retaliatory force, by definition. I disagree that "right of retaliation" exists only in the "victim." If someone attacks my wife or my child, I reserve full right of redress/retaliation. Delegation of that to some other authority, like government, is often a fine strategy to better effect justice. But in some given context (like in a place where government's reach is poor or nonexistent, or where government is corrupt), I may have to act myself in the name of justice -- on their behalf. Or on the behalf of my friend or neighbor. Or on the behalf of someone I've never met. Ultimately, I receive an attack on an innocent anywhere as an attack against myself, insofar as I am likewise innocent of the initiation of the use of force. This is really where this "governmental power" comes from. There's no formal delegation or surrender of power, or of the "right of retaliation." But the idea of this "delegation" is a general acknowledgement that retaliatory force is proper, in certain situations, and need not be carried out by the victim (and may in fact be better served when not carried out by the victim). The use is "legitimated," thus, by virtue of being proper and correct -- by being a redress of wrongs against the guilty, in the name of the innocent. When the government acts improperly, it is illegitimate, and anything considered initially "delegated" may be taken back by the individual. I have no moral duty to surrender anything to government, or anyone else, if that does not actually serve my individual interests. When a police officer is kneeling on your neck, killing you in fact, you have no moral obligation to allow it. If you witness an officer doing this to another, you have no moral obligation to permit it -- and perhaps quite the opposite. Yet there are institutions, and we do recognize that they may be to blame for various crimes or actions -- do we not? This is how and why we recognize a street gang, or the mafia, for what it is, its criminal character, arising out of yet distinct from a particular accounting of the individual crimes of its members. And when we take down the mob, we take down the mob. It is clear to me that there is a failure at some point: in the present controversy (though how many others are there?), for instance, of the four officers present someone ought to have intervened; it should not be left to the civilians to tell the officers to relent, to let the man up as he's dying under their weight, and to be ignored. People are outraged rightly, because it is outrageous. As to where that failure lies...? Perhaps it is in initial screening, perhaps in training, perhaps it accounts in part to the individual... or likely, actually, it is all of these things -- the problems we're facing are many and deep, and yes: the institution itself is in part the initiator of force. I know that most Objectivists don't like speaking (or thinking?) in these terms, but I find it helpful to remember that US law initiates the use of force constantly and regularly against its own citizenry, and that the police are individuals who have signed up to assist in that effort. They commit themselves personally to using force against innocents on a routine basis; this is how they make their livelihoods. They have opted in, and they continue to make this choice, again and again. It should not be a surprise that there are "bad apples" among the bunch. Actually, it should be surprising to find someone moral in such a role -- and I have long believed that the truly moral would not be able to stomach such a thing for very long. The most committed to truth and justice, to fighting against the evil in society, would be the first to be sickened and enervated by the reality of his situation. I don't think he could last. But you should ponder why persons arrive at their conclusions, at length and to the best of your ability: if you mean to do something, anything to benefit society, then understanding other people is essential. In any event, the correct conclusion is, in part, that our policing needs to be overhauled. The culture of silence and mutual protectionism must be dismantled, and measures need to be installed to give greater civilian oversight and transparency. We should work to demilitarize (which includes a change in law and priority, too, like ending the "war on drugs") and de-escalate, so that the police can work with their communities again, instead of as an occupying force. We must commit ourselves to rooting out the remnants of racism and other cultural detritus, and upholding personal accountability so that no one may act with impunity (from the President down). Until these sorts of fundamental changes are begun, we can expect these same essential results, again and again and again.
  17. 2 points
    I go to Ford to purchase a new car. I buy a car with all the latest features, but I get home and the car is missing some features. I go back to the Ford dealer and summoning my best Karen, I ask to speak to the manager. I bought the package with all these features, but my car doesn't have these features, I say. Ah, but you bought the car from StrictlyLogical and Merjet. They were your salesmen. And they're not here. They're gone. Sorry, you're out of luck. And they won't be in tomorrow, or the next day. In fact, they're saying home and we're shielding them. And you can't get reimbursed from Ford because, see, you only have the right to get reimbursement from those who sold you the car. No such entity "Ford" sold you the car, see? SL and MJ sold you the car. And you will never see them again. Now begone! If I were to do some cliche Randian analysis, beyond just peppering every other sentence with boilerplate jargon like "objective" this and "metaphysical" that, would probably conclude that this is the "concrete-bound" mentality. I would probably conclude that it is the refusal to abstract. And the reason for that is because organisations and institutions are groups of people, and these various people are representatives of the organization. And they know that, they're just being an insufferable pedantic.
  18. 2 points
    Regarding "retaliation" Ayn Rand wrote: "Men have the right to use physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use" (Lexicon). So violence against a Minneapolis police officer who was not on the scene of the George Floyd incident would not qualify as "retaliation" in her view.
  19. 2 points
    A Guide to Effective Study, by Edwin A. Locke, sports the following contents. Part I. Study Methods 1. Introduction 2. What is Studying? 3. How To Do Abstract Reading 4. How To Do Abstract Integrative Reading 5. How To Identify and Designate What Is Important 6. How To Program Your Memory: The Nature of Memory 7. How To Program Your Memory: Specific Techniques 8. The Physical Context of Study 9. The Social Context of Study 10. How To Manage Time 11. How To Take Lecture Notes 12. How To Prepare For and Take Exams 13. Study Monitoring Part II. Study Motivation 14. Motives for Going to Col3ege 15. How to Cope with Fatigue and Boredom 16. Blocks to Mental Effort 17. How To Cope with Test Anxiety 18. How To Cope with "Failure" 19. Motivational Monitoring 20. Autobiographical Portraits of Two Self-Motivated Students. Here is a breakdown of the bold type headings: 3. How To Do Abstract Reading Techniques of Abstract Reading Establish the Proper Mental Set Formulate the Ideas in Your Own Words Form General Mental Images Break Down The Material Into Smaller Units Common Errors in Abstract Reading Overconcreteness Vagueness "Cheating" on Yourself The Problem of Time Summary Exercises Evaluating You Answers While this book may be out of print, Study Methods & Motivation: A Practical Guide to Effective Study by Edwin A. Locke is listed over at the Ayn Rand Instititue e-store, and is likely a revamped version.
  20. 2 points

    Feynman And Ayn Rand

    Lawrence Edward Richard, firstly, welcome. I wondered if you are related to the Lawrence Edward Richard who died in 2011, because a Facebook man of that name stopped posting there at that time and recently that page has started again having posts under that name. I wondered if perhaps you were his son or other relation. Anyway, welcome to Objectivism Online. I enjoy your posts, as so many others here. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I think Rand, as any person in a sensible moment, would squarely object to the statement of Feynman’s as stated, which William Hobba rightly disputed, at the root post of this thread. In its context, which is unknown to me, we might see some better sense to Feynman’s remark. To the remark as it stands here, I would add to Mr. Hobba’s remark that Newton’s definition of Force, as well as its expanded formula by Einstein/Planck, is precise. They are both precise. That the later one is wider in correct application and contains the earlier one in the appropriate physical limit, does not make the later one more precise, but more widely correct. On and on, there is precise definition in physics. The definition of what are canonically conjugate pairs of dynamical variables is precise. The indeterminacy of their precise joint values in the quantum regime is precise. The definition of what is a Feynman Diagram is precise. Rand praised modern science a lot, but had criticisms of a number of general things being said about science by ’57, quoted from the fictitious book Why Do You Think You Think? (AS 340-41). Also in Atlas Shrugged, she made a couple of criticisms of some particular modern science. Most famously, she criticized Behaviorist psychology, which critique she extend in a later essay concerning Skinner. She indicated what was by her lights a wise attitude towards QM, with its “Uncertainty Principle” so salient with the educated public at the time, through words of the fictional character Dr. Stadler (346). She never returned to QM physics stuff herself, but she put her stamp of approval on all the contents of Peikoff’s 1976 lecture series “The Philosophy of Objectivism” which included his understanding and critique of the “measurement problem” in QM. Rand’s rejection of Behaviorism and (with Branden) of human instincts (under some prominent meanings) and the subconscious (under some prominent meanings) was under her view in what is usually called philosophical psychology. Her conception of What is a human being? was at odds with those quasi- or pseudo-scientific psychology schematics. Rand carried in The Objectivist a serial article on epistemological issues in biology that was authored by Robert Efron, a distinguished neuroscientist (Christoff Koch was a student of his). The title was “Biology without Consciousness” (1968). Rand savaged a paper by philosopher of science Feyerabend in her 1970 essay “Kant v. Sullivan.” Rand’s philosophy has also had some interface with science in her conceptions of what sort of thing could or could not be a cause anything.
  21. 2 points


    Welcome to the forum, Giemel, Your experience seems similar to my own. Reading through the many posts, you will find that there are as many differing views contesting to be the most rational point of view. I wouldn't worry too much about trying to identify as Objectivist, as I would see it more as an aspiration, rather than an identity. Most people I've discussed ideas with have never heard of Ayn Rand, let alone any philosophical school of thought. Most people are religious and anti-intellectual. There's little you can do about it. In conversation, I usually identify as "rational egoist," if that's any help to you. If they wish to know more, they need to listen, or it's their loss. In any case, it's a comfort to know our ranks are growing.
  22. 2 points
    Atlas Shrugged was published on 10 October 1957. A brief interview with Rand by Lewis Nichols was published in the New York Times three days later. On the writing of Atlas Shrugged she remarked: “‘It goes back a long way. I was disappointed in the reaction to The Fountainhead. A good many of the reviewers missed the point. A friend called me to sympathize, and said I should write a non-fiction book about the idea back of The Fountainhead. ‘While I was talking, I thought, “I simply don’t want to do this. What if I went on strike?” My husband [Frank O’Connor] and I talked about that all night, and the idea was born then. ‘. . . From the first night idea of the thinking people being on strike, it was natural to move to the mind on strike. With this as a theme, I decided to touch on industry, and to use a railroad as the connecting link for the story. . . . ‘In front of the desk I had a plain railroad map of the country, and marked in the Taggart lines on that. There also was a furnace’s foreman’s manual, which I studied for steel making, and I had one very pleasant ride in the engine cab of a train.’ ‘. . . The greatest guarantee of a better world is a rational morality . . . the collectivist cause is really dead. The capitalist case never has been clearly presented. . . . The doctrine of Original Sin is a monstrous absurdity, a contradiction in terms. Morals start only when there is a choice. . . . ‘The fault of the American system goes back to the Constitution. It is so vague on general welfare that the looters get in.’” “Looking into the future a bit, into the new world beyond page 1168 {the last page}, Miss Rand would see the Taggart lines being rebuilt, first between New York and Philadelphia, then, in ten years, across the continent. . . . “And Miss Rand herself? She will be sitting still for a long time, now, resting and playing records. Not her invention, the Halley’s Fifth Concerto, which runs like the Third Man Theme through Atlas Shrugged, but Rachmaninoff.”
  23. 2 points
    If one holds it that way, the only choice available will be to be separate from everyone, be a hermit. The key was that he knew what he wanted very clearly. Far more clearly than most of us do. He was not distracted because he was so grounded in his "knowing". If you make it primarily about "other people", you already lost the game. Your wants, your goals have to originate from you. Sometimes it is hard to identify "was that my idea (desire) or someone else's" and we admire Roark for not being confused about his priorities. I didn't care about how people felt about me most of my life and I regret it. Social interaction is a part of a satisfying life, just don't loose yourself (in them).
  24. 2 points

    Rand and the Greeks

    I wrote this and originally posted it online in 2010. Rand and the Greeks In the “The Objectivist Ethics” Rand stated: “Aristotle did not regard ethics as an exact science” (14). “He based his ethical system on observations of what the noble and wise men of his time chose to do, leaving unanswered the questions of: why they chose to do it and why he evaluated them as noble and wise” (OE 14). Insofar as Aristotle’s approach was indeed as described in the preceding quotation (see e.g. NE 1140a24–25), Rand stakes ethics in a dramatically different way. Rand aims to ground an ethics in something more firm, namely, in biology. In the soul, Aristotle marks three divisions: passions, faculties, and states. He argues that excellence, or nobility, cannot be a passion nor a faculty, and so must be a state. In particular excellence “will be the state which makes a man good and which makes him do his own work well” (NE 1106a22–23). More particularly still, excellence “is a state concerned with choice, lying in a mean relative to us, this being determined by reason and in the way in which the man of practical wisdom would determine it” (NE 1106b36–1107a2). A number of thinkers sympathetic to Rand’s rational, life-centered ethical egoism have argued that, in a variety of ways, her ethics is closer to Aristotle’s than she had expressly gauged it to be. One of the additions Rand made to the exposition of her ethics in “The Objectivist Ethics” beyond the exposition in “Galt’s Speech” was her introduction of the phrase ultimate value. Rand rejected the Aristotelian conception of vegetative and non-conscious animal activities as being due to some sort of “teleological principle operating in nature” (OE 16). Like the early moderns Descartes, Hobbes, and Spinoza, like we moderns today, Rand held the domain of Aristotle’s final causation to be confined “only to a conscious being.” Final causation in its only reality is “the process by which an end determines the means, i.e., the process of choosing a goal and taking the actions necessary to achieve it” (CvD 99). Taking that modern layout for understood, Rand wrote: “In a fundamental sense, stillness is the antithesis of life. Life can be kept in existence only by a constant process of self-sustaining action. The goal of that action, the ultimate value which, to be kept, must be gained through its every moment, is the organisms life. “An ultimate value is that final goal or end to which all lesser goals are the means—and it sets the standard by which all lesser goals are to be evaluated.” (OE 16–17) The only such ultimate value, the only end in itself, is the life of the individual organism, in Rand’s view. In the vegetative and appetitive organizations within the human animal, that end is supposed by Rand to be their healthy overarching one. Those systems run that way automatically. But the human individual is fundamentally free to choose how far he keeps his mind and actions set upon that same ultimate end, the preservation and fullness of his own life. There is a parallel here with Aristotle’s conception of the mature human ability to craft deliberate virtues upon natural virtues (see Lennox 1999). Then again there is the glaring difference that Rand would not have philosophical contemplation to be the overarching end driving a human life taken to be happiest of all other human lives (NE X, 7). In his 1975 work Human Rights and Human Liberties, Tibor Machan argued that “only if a specifically human goal can be identified—one shared by all people just in virtue of being the kind of thing they are—could an identifiable standard for moral valuation be found. If there is nothing on that order that human beings ought to achieve, no summum bonum, then the idea that they ought to achieve it could not be meaningful” (71). Rand had argued that “it only an ultimate goal, an end in itself, that makes the existence of values possible. Metaphysically, life is the only phenomenon that is an end in itself: a value gained and kept by a constant process of action. Epistemologically, the concept of ‘value’ is genetically dependent upon and derived from the antecedent concept of ‘life’” (OE 17; see also Den Uyl and Rasmussen 1984a, 65–67). What goes for value goes as well for the Aristotelian coins excellence, success, and doing well. Life—the physical phenomenon of life—is their original and perpetual grounding context (cf. Kelley 1992, 58). Professor Machan went on to endorse an argument by function-explanation put forth by Eric Mack (1971) to the conclusion that “the end of the objective function” of an individual’s choices and actions “is the sustenance of his life” (72). Machan then linked Rand’s summum bonum, as defended by Mack, with Aristotle’s idea that “the proper goal of each person is his own success as a human being, his own happiness” (72). Tightening the link, Machan observes: “The happiness discussed by Aristotle is far broader than what people usually mean by the term ‘happiness’. It is closer to what Ayn Rand has characterized as ‘a noncontradictory state of joy’. The main feature of this state is not pleasure, fun, or excitement. Instead it is a self-acknowledgement of worth, a sense of being a successful living entity of the kind human beings are” (73; see further, Lawrence 2006). There is considerable difference, nonetheless, I should say, between what Aristotle and Rand conceived the human mind and life to be and between what they took as the source of ethical norms (see e.g. Long 2000). Aristotle argued for happiness as the unique final end; Rand found life as final end-giving end of happiness. Moreover, Rand conceived happiness, with its self-sufficient quality, to be integral with, not aloof from, the pleasure of human animal life (see Frede 2007, 264–67, on Aristotle; cf. Saint-André 1993, 152, 159–66, and Branden 1964, on Rand). Among others stressing the kinship of Rand’s ethics to Aristotle’s would be Jack Wheeler in his contribution “Rand and Aristotle: A Comparison of Objectivist and Aristotelian Ethics” (1984). Similarly, Peter Saint-André stresses that Rand’s project, and Aristotle’s too, is “at root metaphysical,” both projects dealing with “‘what is possible’ to the human individual” (1996, 209). He objects to Rand’s representation of Aristotle as only “sifting through what the noble and the wise say and do” to uncover norms. That may be what Aristotle sometimes says he does, but, Saint-André would have us look at Nicomachean Ethics I, 6–7, “wherein Aristotle investigates the ontological status of the Good and derives the nature of happiness from the ergon or ‘characteristic work’ of man quo man” (1996, 210). In his 2005 paper “Ayn Rand as Aristotelian: Values and Happiness,” Fred Miller observes that Aristotle’s presentation is open to interpretation among noted scholars. John Cooper, Terence Irwin, and David Reeve read Aristotle along the lines read by Machan, Den Uyl and Rasmussen, and others, which allows one to see Aristotle as near Rand in pattern of meta-ethical reasoning. Gabriel Richardson Lear reads Aristotle along those lines in her deep study (2004, 121–22, 145–46). Sarah Broadie dissents from the Grand End reading of Aristotle (1991), though she takes Aristotle as having practical reason discern right action, rather than constituting it (2006, 348). John McDowell finds Aristotle more like Rand found him: “Rather than giving a criterion that works from outside the ethic, [Aristotle] says that such things are as the virtuous person determines them to be” (1998, 35; quoted in Miller 2005). In any case, biological existence is not among the candidates for external ultimate criteria for ethical norms various scholars have drawn from Aristotle’s text. Professor Miller draws attention to Rand’s remarks on Aristotle a couple of years after her critical remarks on Aristotle’s ethical theory. Rand approved of Aristotle’s conceptions of life and knowledge as naturalistic facts. She viewed Aristotle as giving “living entities, the phenomenon of life,” a central place in his philosophy (1963, 10). “Life—and its highest form, man’s life—is the central fact in Aristotle’s view of reality. The best way to describe it is to say that Aristotle’s philosophy is ‘biocentric’.” (The same can be said for Protagoras, who influenced the Cyrenaics and Epicurus, I should note.) Rand continues: “This is the source of Aristotle’s intense concern with the study of the enormously ‘pro-life’ attitude that dominates his thinking” (11). When it comes to his ethical writings, however, I do not find Aristotle bringing biology expressly to bear. I do not see he has any understanding that the physical phenomenon of life, and its continuous self-generated struggle for continuation, is the source of all value. Happiness is not ordered to life by Aristotle in the express and deep way it is ordered to life by Rand. “Just as the pleasure-pain mechanism of man’s body is an automatic indicator of his body’s welfare or injury, a barometer of its basic alternative, life or death—so the emotional mechanism of man’s consciousness is geared to perform the same function, as a barometer that registers the same alternative by means of two basic emotions: joy or suffering.” (OE 27) “The maintenance of life and the pursuit of happiness are not two separate issues. . . . When one experiences the kind of pure happiness that is an end in itself—the kind that makes one think: ‘This is worth living for’—what one is greeting and affirming in emotional terms is the metaphysical fact that life is an end in itself.” (OE 29) Aristotle recognized that there is no desire, no valued thing, where there is no life (EE 1281a26–27). That is short of seeing that and how the concept value, or goodness, presupposes the concept life. Aristotle observed that pleasures complete competent activities “as an end which supervenes as the bloom of youth does on those in the flower of their age” (NE 1174b31–33). Life is desirable, and pleasure completes the activity that is human life (NE 1175a10–21). Moreover, the life of the virtuous is pleasant, and its pleasures are harmonious because they are pleasures taken in things that are by nature pleasant (NE 1099a6–14). But Aristotle does not proceed expressly from pleasure to joy to happiness, and on the steps life, life, life. Aristotle held that eudaimonia is a complete thing, an end in itself (NE 1097a30–35; 1176a36–1176b5; EE 1219a24–39; see further, Richardson Lear 2004, 69–71). He held it to be something of a self-generated achievement (NE 1114b30–1115a3; EE 1215a15–19). One barrier to Aristotle fully seeing happiness as emblematic servant of life itself, morality’s true ground, is perhaps this: Although he recognized the self-generated dimension of life, he “did not clearly identify that a living organism’s existence depends on this activity” (Smith 2000, 119n11). Born nine years after Aristotle and living five decades beyond him was Epicurus. He promoted a form of eudaimonistic hedonism, directed by the reins of physical life, which life dwells in a world devoid of Aristotelian natural teleology. That Epicurus keeps ethics close to biology is fast upon his view that “the soul is a body [made up of] fine parts distributed throughout the entire aggregate, and most closely resembling breath with a certain admixture of heat . . . . All of this is revealed by the abilities of the soul, its feelings, its ease of motion, its thought processes, and the things whose removal leads to our death” (Ltr. To Herodotus 63). Human nature “was taught a large number of different lessons just by the facts themselves, and compelled [by them]; . . . reasoning later made more precise what was handed over to it [by nature] and made additional discoveries” (H 75). Good and bad arise only within sense experience. So death cannot be the root of that which is bad (Ltr to Menoeceus 124–25). “The wise man neither rejects life nor fears death” (M 126). Among natural desires, “some are necessary for happiness and some for freeing the body from troubles and some for life itself” (M 127). As for the first two, Epicurus writes: “The cry of the flesh: not to be hungry, not to be thirsty, not to be cold. For if someone has these things and is confident of having them in the future, he might contend even with [Zeus] for happiness” (Vatican Collection 33). Epicurus held to a conceptual primacy of pain over pleasure—the latter is only the absence of the former—although plenty of harmonious pleasure is possible in life if one keeps ones desires limited to what is necessary for a modest style of life (M 128–32; Principal Doctrines III–V). “One must not force nature but persuade her. And we will persuade her by fulfilling the necessary desires” and the natural but unnecessary ones, provided they are not harmful (VC 21). Epicurus anchors happiness to absence of bodily pains and harms. This suggests he takes physical life to be the basis of right desires. In addition, as seen in the paragraph before last, some right desires are necessary “for life itself,” in the view of Epicurus. I do not find in Epicurus the insight that it is the concept of life, with its fundamental perpetual alternative, that makes the concept of right desire possible. Still, it should be clear that on the relation of moral values to life itself, there are precursors of Rand’s pages in the writings of both Epicurus and Aristotle. (See further, Shelton 1995, 1996, and Saint-André 1996.) (Coming in a few weeks: Salmeiri 2020.) References Aristotle 1984. The Complete Works of Aristotle, volume 2. J. Barnes, editor. Princeton. Branden, N. 1964. The Psychology of Pleasure. In Rand 1964. Broadie, S. 1991. Ethics with Aristotle. Oxford. ——. 2006. Aristotle and Contemporary Ethics. In Kraut 2006. Den Uyl, D. J., and D. B. Rasmussen 1984a. Life, Teleology, and Eudaimonia in the Ethics of Ayn Rand. In 1984b. Den Uyl, D. J., and D. B. Rasmussen, editors. 1984b. The Philosophic Thought of Ayn Rand. University of Illinois. Epicurus 1994. The Epicurus Reader. B. Inwood and L. P. Gerson, translators and editors. Hackett. Frede, D. 2006. Pleasure and Pain in Aristotle’s Ethics. In Kraut 2006. Kelley, D. 1992. Post-Randian Aristotelianism. Liberty (July). Kraut, R., editor. 2006. The Blackwell Guide to Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Blackwell. Lawrence, G. 2006. Human Good and Human Function. In Kraut 2006. Lennox, J. G. 1999. Aristotle on the Biological Roots of Virtue: The Natural History of Natural Virtue. In Biology and the Foundation of Ethics. J. Maienschein and M. Ruse, editors. Cambridge. Long, R. T. 2000. Reason and Value: Aristotle versus Rand. Objectivist Studies. No. 3. The Objectivist Center. Machan, T. R. 1975. Human Rights and Human Liberties. Nelson Hall. Mack, E. 1971. How to Derive Ethical Egoism. The Personalist (Autumn):736–43. McDowell, J. 1998. Some Issues in Aristotle’s Moral Psychology. In Mind, Value, and Reality. Cambridge. Rand, A. 1961. The Objectivist Ethics. In Rand 1964. ——. 1963. Review of Randall’s Aristotle. In The Voice of Reason. 1990. Meridian. ——. 1964. The Virtue of Selfishness. 1964. Signet. ——. 1974. Causality versus Duty. In Philosophy: Who Needs It. 1982. Signet. Richardson Lear, G. 2004. Happy Lives and the Highest Good. Princeton. Saint-André, J. P. 1993. A Philosophy for Living on Earth. Objectivity 1(6):137–73. ——. 1996. Epicurean Pleasure and the Objectivist Good. Objectivity 2(4):205–11. Shelton, R. 1995. Epicurus and Rand. Objectivity 2(3)1–47. ——. 1996. Parallel Metaethics. Objectivity 2(4):213–25. Smith, T. 2000. Viable Values. Rowman & Littlefield. Wheeler, J. 1984. Rand and Aristotle: A Comparison of Objectivist and Aristotelian Ethics. In Den Uyl and Rasmussen 1984b.
  25. 2 points
    50 years after the event, Dr. Harry Binswanger has decided to reveal the identities of all of the workshop participants named in the appendix to the second edition of Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. This has been a mystery for quite some time! I'll quote the key section, and you can visit Dr. Binswanger's public blog to see the rest: https://www.hbletter.com/objectivist-workshop-participants-identified/
  26. 2 points
    Well let's hope they don't "behave like Objectivists" because most people running calling themselves that are dumb as hell. But it's not really clear what the question is. There's like 5 or 6 different questions in there. One thing is, it doesn't really follow from "the world is nothing like X, and never has been" to "mankind can never achieve X." That's just bad reasoning. It's not really clear what we're supposed to be inferring here. It's also not really valid to use a premise about how many people are rational or irrational from the armchair. Unless you're just speaking anecdotally, you're going to need some social science research. Industrial societies haven't been around that long. Individualism is still pretty widespread. More people are being lifted out of poverty and ignorance than ever. There was once a time when all "great" countries were monarchies. There was once a time when slavery was widespread in every country. The Soviet Union used to control half of Europe. What got these things to change was, partially, people changing their ideas and seeing what worked and didn't work. I mean if we're going to say everyone is just in principle irrational and can do no other, then no political philosophy is going to be acceptable. Another approach would be to figure out why people believe what they believe, and do the things they do, and try to then account for that, and that's part of what we do in political philosophy and poli sci, economics, etc.: Finding workable solutions to political problems that takes into account what human beings are actually like and what motivates them. But overall, I mean, modern democratic liberalism is pretty good as a political system, if you ask "compared to what" in human history. Markets and peaceful cooperation brought about by liberalism didn't happen by an absolute monistic conception of politics that the Western world overnight suddenly read a single book and then decided to adopt. Liberal institutional arrangements are themselves spontaneous order mechanism that facilitate discovery processes to the things that make human flourishing possible. And things change on the margin, little by little, for the most part. You're not going to beat people over the head with Atlas Shrugged, silly.
  27. 2 points
    Delving a bit deeper into Objectivity in this 121st post, a definition which was requested and provided as the 41st post in this thread, a complimentary passage can be found in Who Is The Final Authority In Ethics. It is obvious that the root of such questions ["Is it intellectual plagiarism to accept and even to use philosophical principles and values discovered by someone else?"] is a certain kind of conceptual vacuum: the absence of the concept of objectivity in the questioner's mind. Objectivity is both a metaphysical and an epistemological concept. It pertains to the relationship of consciousness to existence. Metaphysically, it is the recognition of the fact that reality exists independent of any perceiver's consciousness. Epistemologically, it is the recognition of the fact that a perceiver's (man's) consciousness must acquire knowledge of reality by certain means (reason) in accordance with certain rules (logic). This means that although reality is immutable and, in any given context, only one answer is true, the truth is not automatically available to a human consciousness and can be obtained only by a certain mental process which is required of every man who seeks knowledge—that there is no substitute for this process, no escape from the responsibility for it, no shortcuts, no special revelations to privileged observers—and that there can be no such thing as a final "authority" in matters pertaining to human knowledge. Metaphysically, the only authority is reality; epistemologically—one's own mind. The first is the ultimate arbiter of the second. The concept of objectivity contains the reason why the question "Who decides what is right or wrong?" is wrong. Nobody "decides." Nature does not decide—it merely is; man does not decide, in issues of knowledge, he merely observes that which is. When it comes to applying his knowledge, man decides what he chooses to do, according to what he has learned, remembering that the basic principle of rational action in all aspects of human existence, is: "Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed." This means that man does not create reality and can achieve his values only by making his decisions consonant with the facts of reality. This provides some rationale why volitional adherence to reality is prudent. It does not cover the fact that spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean or of the Rocky Mountains exist. It does point out that in any given context, only one answer is true, thus trying to decide in a vacuum, i.e., trying to make a contextless decision, would be a departure from objectivity. If you do lift the corner of the aforementioned rug, could you check to see if this was inadvertently swept under it as well? "Do you cry that you find no answers? By what means did you hope to find them? You reject your tool of perception—your mind—then complain that the universe is a mystery. You discard your key, then wail that all doors are locked against you. You start out in pursuit of the irrational, then damn existence for making no sense. — This is John Galt Speaking
  28. 2 points

    I am a bit confused...

    This strikes me as a form of empathy. If your buddy gets beaned in the groin with a baseball, you might unthinkingly grimace and say, "Ouch!" Likewise, when he hits a home run, you cheer and share his pride in himself. It's not that you take on unearned pain or pleasure. It's that you express your shared grasp of reality. Getting hit in the privates hurts. Hitting a home run feels good. You're letting your buddy know that you two are alike and feel the same way about things.
  29. 2 points
    Alternatively: "A Botanist and an Objectivist walk into a Bar" Imagine you are a brilliant botanist and geneticist and that you have created a hybrid apple orange tree ... and you created only one. Now suppose because of your brilliance you can, from its unique genetic makeup, and all your knowledge, predict and completely understand its requirements for life and flourishing, some requirements similar to apple trees others similar to orange trees, other requirements common to both, and yet other requirements new and dissimilar to those of both apple and orange trees. You have chosen that your goal is to keep it alive which logically entails a goal of maximal flourishing and all that implies. Soon it will be transplanted outdoors and your gardener will be tasked with its care. You aim to write a guide to action, recipe of care, a standard practices manual, whatever you call it, for your gardener, using all your knowledge. As you set off to do so... you think to ask your friend, who is an Objectivist and an all around smart guy, how to formulate such a thing. Of course you meet him at a bar. Upon hearing of your problem, he smiles and tells you that he has all the answers you are looking for. Apparently, he knows all about this sort of thing because Rand discovered morality for people, and he could apply her logic to the analogous goal of keeping your tree alive. He excitedly says to you: "Your book or manual for your gardener is, in fact, a code of values to guide the choices and action of your gardener in the care of the tree aimed at its flourishing! Although I am no botanist, the general principles which guide how you write your code (to guide choices and action) is a no brainer" First he observed that your manual, or guide, etc. must be formulated according to some standard to ensure it is to be successful. The content of your proposed chapters, paragraphs, etc. should be evaluated against that standard to ensure that what goes into the code is proper, in other words, the code will actually guide choices and actions which lead to the "good", the goal of the tree's flourishing... flourishing being the maximal state for current and future long-term life (and maximal against unforeseen setbacks, like a storm or a drought). He interjects, that Botanists like you know that subjecting a plant to wind and the elements "hardens it" for long-term longevity, in comparison to sheltering a plant overmuch which might lead to fast growth short term, but which threatens the plant's long-term ability to survive... A little puzzled at why he should emphasize this short-term long-term nugget, you know your gardener is not an idiot who would trade the plant's long term health for short term showiness... you nonetheless nod in agreement. Your first contribution is to say, "Well, I plan to use all my knowledge derived from and consistent with all available knowledge about apple trees and orange trees which includes all relevant knowledge about apple trees and orange trees, trees in general, plants, living things.. and all I know about "entities", as well as all my special brilliant knowledge as a geneticist about the specific nature of this hybrid. In that sense, I will be guided by all abstract knowledge I can apply (as a finite non-omniscient human) which leads to flourishing". You smile, keen to see the reaction on his face to your use of "finite" and "non-omniscient" in the conversation... words you have oft heard from him. Instead of greeting your reference with a smile, your friend, with some disdain says: "Sounds to me like you are going on the premise of using the individual tree's life as the standard of value for your code." This puzzles you quite a bit. You point out... "Well the individual tree's life is the goal of the gardener's choices and actions... and that tree's potential and actual flourishing over the long term must therefore must be the standard by which that code is to be written. If something in the code leads to ill health or destruction of that tree it does not meet the standard for being chosen or done and hence does not meet the standard of being included in the code, and if something in the code would lead to good health, flourishing and life of the tree then that would meet the standard for being chosen and acted upon i.e. it would meet the standard for being included in the code... No?" He looks at you and says, quite solemnly: "The correct formulation is: Tree's life is the *standard* of value for that code--and that specific tree's life is the purpose of the code. Not that tree's life, Tree's life. Any other standard is subjective" You try to hide your utter shock, keeping a straight face, and reply: "What the heck are you talking about? Tree's Life?" He replies: "Why yes of course. Basing your code on what is best for that specific, concrete, particular tree, is "self-referencing" and circular. Effectively the code says the tree is its own standard a conclusion which is ultimately subjective (and leaving one adrift from a "standard of value" to which to adhere)." Practically, this will be acted out as: whatever "the gardener" chooses and decides to be a value to the tree, is a value because "the gardener" chose it. ... that makes him sound a little unreliable but you get my point... and well I mean... how will your code apply to other trees?... your code will be missing something if it's only for your tree... it...needs more.... something else... well you get my point." With a frown you try to tell him that he is incorrect, and that the code would in no way be subjective. It would be formed from objective knowledge of the nature of the thing to which the code is directed. The gardener would have no reason to depart from his goal which is to take care of that tree and your code has nothing to do with other trees. Your aim is not to start a movement for growing apple orange tree forests and you have no interest in sharing your code with anyone other than the gardener for any purpose whatever. Your code is for your tree... that tree, full stop. After a moment, you ask for him to explain how the code for the gardener would ACTUALLY read differently, if based on all of your knowledge, as you previously outlined, of what would be best for this particular tree, i.e. using the individual tree's life as the "standard", versus writing a code for the gardener which had as its standard "Tree's life"... whatever your friend means by that. Your friend the Objectivist, after taking a moment to gather himself, then outlines clearly and exactly how that code, your manual, would differ when written with "the tree's life" as the standard of value versus when written with "Tree's life" as the standard of value, and carefully explains how the former would NOT be the best manual, would not be the best code to follow, for achieving your goal of your tree's flourishing... NOW, WHAT HE SAID WAS.... [PLEASE REPLY to this thread by filling in what he said.... once we have enough honest attempts at the argument he presented, I propose we discuss and rank the results to choose a winner] You do not immediately indicate agreement, preferring to keep the meeting friendly... after nodding in acknowledgement and your thankfulness for his input, you quite deftly change the subject.
  30. 2 points

    Favorite Book(s) of All Time

    Frankenstein by Mary Shelly.
  31. 2 points
    I think the title for this thread represents the dichotomy you've set here. I don't see a clear attempt to integrate anything. Frankly, I find your replies to be unfocused, evasive, and poorly written. I've made a real effort to contribute something, because you're investigating a very tough and fundamental question. But it doesn't seem like you're actually interested in criticism ("gripes"?!). It sounds like you want to rant. So I'll leave you to it.
  32. 2 points
    Yes, that was a kind of typo. Peikoff's "inductive proof of causality" is the subject under discussion. Yes, and by the way proof is also a method of integration because what is proved is related to other knowledge. Yes, the fact that you can contemplate the axioms and relate them to each other is a form of integration even though Peikoff would deny there is proof or derivation or deduction happening. The order of Existence, Identity, and Consciousness has methodological (epistemological) significance in order to affirm Primacy of Existence and deny Primacy of Consciousness, but each is a mentally abstracted facet of existence which exhibits all three simultaneously. Causality merely appears to come "after" Identity in that it is easier to understand or imagine some object as static and then add the dynamics but in reality everything that exists is always acting (even if slowly). Understanding Identity as static omits the greater part of an existent's Identity, how it acts.
  33. 2 points
    William O

    Favorite Book(s) of All Time

    Les Miserables by Victor Hugo was the last novel I read, and it was a couple of years ago now. I don't read a lot of novels. It is excellent, though. The most recent book I finished was Hitler: A Study in Tyranny by Bullock, which was excellent. (I read the abridged version.) Right now I'm reading A World Lit Only by Fire by William Manchester, which is about how awful the Middle Ages were and how we got out of them. Manchester is good in terms of philosophy of history - he thinks every historical event leads to the next in a logical, comprehensible fashion. I don't know how factually accurate the book is, but I'm enjoying it. Good thread!
  34. 2 points

    Favorite Book(s) of All Time

    How improbable is it for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams to be left out of this listing?
  35. 2 points


    Nonsense. The value of discussion is to work out things... not to bandy about things one has already worked out. You belong here as you are. First, I only attributed rationalists with such a motive... there are many scientists who do not fall into that category... Second, I was mostly being colorful, in reality the mistake is an honest one, especially for rationalists, although being fooled by the fool who fools himself creates the same result only by a slightly different route. My point is that the sham evaporates when you see the simplicity and the mechanistic brute force of fake intelligence.. I agree that until we understand consciousness when we look at a real intelligence it will be baffling but once we have a science of consciousness we’ll be able to identify its fundamentals. I do agree with most of what you say and perhaps now believe we are in agreement in principle. I’ll not concede but state (i was never in disagreement with you on this) that the thing I think you see is that things are what’s they are and the properties they exhibit, how they act etc is in accordance with their nature. This is solid Objectivism... in principle and in reality the fake behemoth will never exhibit everything a real consciousness does... the PRACTICAL problem with a text interface is that it is an EXCEEDINGLY poor instrument for identification of things in reality. Only a real Monet would look like a Monet to an expert under bright lights and close up... enough for people to pay Via Sotheby’s millions based on that assessment of reality. But a common person wearing a partial blindfold at 100 feet in a dimly lit room?... well now that’s not a fair test is it?
  36. 2 points
    When government manages property or something like property, then regardless of the rights and wrongs of that underlying situation, it should do so in a way that respects rights as much as possible, including the right to freedom of movement.
  37. 2 points


    I managed to snag a hardcover version with all three in it for $7.24! Started to read it today and had to get over being inundated by the Dramatus Personae. If HD doesn't thank you later for suggesting it, I might just have to, especially if the terminology I have to keep looking up keeps panning out like it has thus far.
  38. 2 points

    An Objection to Open Immigration

    So like, not only is this wrong, but wrong according to just about every moral theory I know of, except maybe Hobbesian absolutism (where the dictator or sovereign establishes right or wrong by its will.) Wrong according to utilitarianism, deontology, virtue ethics, liberalism, Randianism, Marxism, nationalism, whatever. And that's because most theories require that you actually have to have done something wrong, or met some probable cause standard of doing something wrong before the police can accost you. Almost every moral theory thinks that pre-crime is wrong. Moreover, if you can restrict someone for what "some dude might" do, it can't be denied that some babies being born might go on to commit crimes. All childbirthing must be restricted on those grounds. Or someone might be moving from the Bronx to Brooklyn, and this dude might have a bomb that no one can see. All movement from the Bronx to Brooklyn might be restricted on those grounds. Etc. Why is it that these arguments are so bad? It seems like every time some argument is made, and shot down, another one pops up. First it was the old "clubhouse" argument, or the US as some collectively owned entity, then it's pre-crime, next it's going to be "because foreigners don't have the same rights," or something else. We've already seen the "culture argument," the "they're going to vote wrong" argument, the welfare argument. Why do the goalposts keep shifting? Once these arguments are shown to fail, if you keep believing in them, you're being dogmatic. The Simpsons character Nelson punches Ralph. "Why are you hitting me?!" exclaims Ralph. "You're breathing my air!" answers Nelson. This "you're breathing my air" is really what the argument boils down to, and why the every shifting goalposts never seem to land on a coherent argument that doesn't beg the question. There is widespread anti-immigrant bias. Whether that bias is racism, xenophobia, or just dislike of different people, some people just have a priori decided they don't like immigrants, and they have bad arguments.
  39. 2 points
  40. 2 points
    Why do you limit my reactions, developers? Who is to say how many "lols" or "hearts" I may have in one day? And by what right?!
  41. 2 points

    Ayn Rand's Popcorn-tradiction.

    Holy hell, I did get something out following this thread.
  42. 2 points
    Ah, you want to communicate through music? Well, at this point I'm willing to try anything.
  43. 2 points
    Now that "Dishonest Jose" is gone, here is a little script with "Honest Joe"... Here, HonestJoe, although he made errors in the past, is intellectually honest and actually willing to think. SL: Suppose I say Rand is correct that in reality "contradictions are impossible" (1) AND Rand is incorrect that in reality "contradictions are impossible" (2). Is there anything wrong with that? HonestJoe: Well first, I understand what you have said, but it is nonsensical. That's what is wrong with it. You are saying one thing and then another thing which is its opposite. You cant say A and not-A. SL: Well I can say it, and I have. So what is wrong with what I did say? HonestJoe: The sentence opposes itself... therefore it doesn't mean anything. SL: The parts (1) and (2) in the sentence each refer to something in reality. If both CAN be true at the same then the sentence is NOT meaningless, it simultaneously identifies those two truths. It opposes itself... but it must in order to reflect reality... HonestJoe: Well, they CANT both be true in reality. They are exact opposites, either Rand was wrong or Rand was right about the issue.... not both. Those two parts of the sentence are not identifying two separate things about the universe they are saying the opposite about a single thing, Rand's correctness. SL: OK. Why can't a single thing be at once two opposites in reality? Why can't "Rand correctness" at once be two opposites at the same time and in the same respect? HonestJoe: But that would be nonsense... that would mean "Rand's correctness" in reality would be A and not-A at the same time and in the same respect. It's either A or not-A, not both. Both would be nonsense... Rand cannot in reality be correct and incorrect at the same time and in the same respect ... that would be a contradiction. SL: So, who says contradictions can't exist in reality? Who?....
  44. 2 points
    * * * * * Split off thread - Ayn Rand's Popcorn-tradiction * * * * *
  45. 2 points

    Ayn Rand's Popcorn-tradiction.

    It does no such thing. You can create two entangled black holes that exist at opposite "sides" of the universe but are the same space inside of the event horizon of either. Entangled particles share the same exact feature because ER = EPR. There is no contradiction involved; you just don't understand the science.
  46. 2 points

    Life as a pattern

    The relationship between brain or DNA and “pattern” is not “is a”. A brain is an organ composed primarily of neurons and secondarily of glial cells, and it has the potential to do certain things, at least when attached to a living being. DNA is a molecule with a particular structure, just as sucrose is a molecule with a particular structure. DNA likewise has the potential to do certain things, and that potential is less tied to the organism being alive. In comparing your definitions to Rand’s, I notice that Rand’s are very focused and minimalist: they concisely say what the essential characteristics of “life” are. Your definitions say much more, which is a disadvantage. The purpose of a definition is to reduce the difference between two sets of referents to be distinguished, and befitting its cognitive function, it should be a minimal statement of what makes life distinct from anything else. A definition is not a catalogue of all or most knowledge about an existent. You expand Rand’s definition of life to include having “the ultimate purpose of flourishment”. Why should this be part of the definition? What, indeed, is flourishment? What necessitates this complication of the definition of life? We can still reach conclusions about rational goals and flurishing even if we don’t complicate the definition of life – see various works of Tara Smith on the topic, who adheres to the classical definition of life.
  47. 1 point
    Human, you seem to see things as they are, without considering an optimistic vision of the way things could be. While I commend you for your grasp of the predicament facing Western Civilization, your emphasis on the multitudes of collectivist irrationality, my best counter-argument is that until the worst outcome is manifest, the best within each of us must continue the struggle to achieve the best outcome, by whatever definition you hold as the standard of the "best overcome." And so it is true. We make the best use of our freedom to exchange information, to innovate or engineer, and to create our own enterprises. I recommend to you to try to disregard the masses and their collectivist agenda. When conditions allow, argue the best case for reason to those who know only how to follow. Perhaps they may find new leaders one day. You may never "convert" some people, but if one individual begins to doubt his/her beliefs, you might make them aware of the fact that there are alternatives to mainstream myopia. Objectivism celebrates the great achievements of capitalism, and other movements advocating personal prosperity, constructive purpose, and entrepreneurial success are gaining popularity. Using our freedom of communication, you could create a video exposing the absurdity of the socialist agenda. This is a very important question: A regular cycle of history, or a Second Dark Age??? So many modern nation-states have experienced the pains of reforming runaway socialist economic systems. If we learn anything from it, I'm fairly confident that the USA will not have to endure the worst privations that have resulted in the failure of other economic systems. If they're unaware of the causes, they will only continue to treat the symptoms. It sure would be a shame, and it'll be wild ride to the bottom. Either way, the men of the mind may go on strike for a period, but eventually a few of them will emerge, and the arch of history marches on.
  48. 1 point
    There are different types of predictability. We do, after all, live in a causal universe. Your "Tangled Webs" melody had a stanza that repeated while the harmony played off it nicely with 3 or 4 chord changes. Are you familiar with Parker changes? It is an identifiable pattern intended to support or background jazz improve by basically repeating it. Music draws from the same set of notes. As repetitive as those notes may be, it is aspects like which particular notes, in what particular order, and in what durations, etc., that the fact that the same set of notes are being over and over fades into the background.
  49. 1 point
    Perhaps "falsifiability" is being used as a stolen concept. It depends on the impossibility of contradictions, yet it's being used to challenge that fact.
  50. 1 point
    Perhaps Jose meant to say "entanglement and information..." Jose's reasoning is as follows 1 Rand held that there are no contradictions in reality. 2 modern science proves contradictions are possible hence it is proved by contradiction, that Rand was wrong. Observe that Jose depends on the premise "no contradictions exist in reality" in order to form a proof by contradiction. any proof relying upon this technique presupposes no contradictions... that is how a contradiction proves one of the premises are false. So Jose's proof is relying on a premise he is at once refuting. As such he has to abandon "proof" Rand was wrong... and in fact abandon any kind of proof whatsoever. After all, if contradictions are possible Rand can also be right, in the same respect and at the same time... and no conclusion can be made with any certitude, and certainly not any relying upon a proof by contradiction.
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