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Everything posted by Hal

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Objectivism_(metaphysics) (although this is incredibly badly written) etc The word 'objectivism' is used in various different fields to describe theories which roughly assert that certain phenomena are 'objectivive' (ie independent of subjectivity, although what this actually means in practice isnt always clear) - for instance objective metaphysics, moral objectivism, objective theories of meaning in philosophy of language, and so on. It is sometimes fairly synonymous with 'realism' (a realist theory of (eg) universals or mathematics will insist that universals/mathematical objects actually exist, which normally means they are human-independent in some sense). Specific examples of things I would personally refer to as being objectivist theories include Platonic/Aristotlean metaphysics (universals have mind-independent existence and are 'perceived' by our higher intellectual faculties rather than being created), Kantian ethics (the moral law is universal and independent of any particular human or group of humans, just like that laws of logic), and Fregean/positivistic philosophy of language (sentences have some kind of intrinsic meaning/'sense'. which can be specfied in advance and relatively independently of context). As this list probably shows, objective doesnt always mean 'good'. edit: the distinction isnt always clear or well-defined, and often the same idea can seem either objectivist or subjectivist depending on how you look at it. Kantian metaphysics/epistemology is a great example of this, with some people being adament that his approach subjectivises pretty much the whole of human reality, with others being equally insistent that his ideas are unrealistically objectivist/universal. The Objectivist (Ayn Rand) theory of concepts, and other broadly conceptualist approaches, dont really fit nicely into either category, since they are based on the (subjective) creation of concepts, guided by similarities that in some sense exist independently of humans.
  2. I dont claim to know that much about the history of Islam, but I was under the impression that the destruction of Baghdad in the 13th century was the most significant single event. At the time it was taking significant strides towards secularism, with a thriving community of artists and scientists - probably close to being the Arab equivalent of Athens, and certainly far ahead of anything in the Christian world. And then it disappeared pretty much overnight, a blow from which the Muslim world never really recovered.
  3. Well yeah, bad poetry sucks. But that's got nothing to do with free verse - theres plenty of crappy traditional poetry too. Ultimately the thing that makes a poem good is going to the message/image/feeling it conveys and the way it conveys it - its not essential that it has a cute rhyme scheme or satisfies some formal structure. Limericks rhyme and are highly structured but I hope youre not going to suggest that "There was an old lady from Kent" is high art, just like I'm not going to claim that this has any artistic merit.
  4. What is wrong with free verse? I think that Eliot and Pound are bad* (as is most 20th century poetry), but this has more to do with the horrors of modernism than free verse. The 'art for arts sake' mentality led to terrible work in pretty much all fields it touched - including poetry, music, and painting. The real problem with Eliot and Pound was their bankrupt idea that poetry should be 'difficult' purely for the sake of being difficult, and the number of pointless allusions they made in their work that turned deciphering it into something like reading a detective novel. But despite the bad stuff produced by those 2 (and those that followed), theres still no obvious reason why poetry should have to rhyme or obey predetermined 'rules' - theres some free-verse stuff that I enjoy (perhaps moreso than traditional verse) and as long as the poem is actually good, the fact that it lacks rhyme/meter isnt especially important. * Although having said that, I quite enjoy Eliot's "Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock", which was written before he met Pound.
  5. I'm not sure I'd agree with that. I dont know much about ballet, but I was under the impression that it was far less plot driven than opera and film. If I had to make a comparasion, I would probably be more inclinded to compare a ballet to a modern 'music video' than anything else. Its a sidenote, but the term 'art music' is unnecessarily pretentious and fairly misleading, since it suggests that only one genre of music is (properly speaking) 'art'. However, there are works of 'popular music' (another term I hate) that have just as much artistic merit as a lot of 'classical' pieces - I'm thinking along the lines of John Coltrane, Godspeed You! Black Emporer, Dream Theatre and so on. If you just want to use the term 'art music' to describe anything that passes some degree of complexity (whatever that means in practice) regardless of what genre it happens to be, then thats fine with me. But in that case, it would be useful to have a new word to describe music that's in the same 'genre' as people like Beethoven and Rachmaninov, and the word 'classical' is as good as any, since thats what it means in popular use anyway. Then why are movie soundtrack albums so popular? I find something like Kitaro's Silk Road to be a beautiful stand-alone piece of music, and I havent even seen the series it was composed for. I assume that most people who buy film/tv soundtracks have similar views. Also, what is the word "(properly)" doing there? Why does film music have to be the way that you claim it should be? How about Bollywood cinema, which often straddles the line between film and musical? (not that I'm holding up Bollywood as a great piece of music or cinema, heh. But theres a lot more that can be done with the medium of film than is done in most standard Hollywood films, which are ultimately just live-action novels) Again, if the term 'contemporary art music' is to have meaning, it will include the work of Miles Davis, Thom Yorke, Yngwie Malmstein, and so on. Your comments about 'incidental music' are well-taken though, and I largely agree.
  6. But its so hard to do that! Theres just too many variables to consider. For example, what if Winston Churchill had never been born? Would Britain have surrendered to Germany, and would they have won WW2 as a result? And what sort of effect would that have had on history? It seems to me that this would have been one of the most important things to ever happen, but I dont want to say that Churchill was one of the 20 most important historical figures because of this. How about if that commander of the nuclear submarine who possibly averted a nuclear war between the US and the Soviet Union had never existed, and it was someone else who had been in the sub. Would we today be living in a post-apocalpytical world, and if so, is there a case for including him on the list?
  7. I think your list is too biased towards philosophers and other intellectuals, rather than leaders and politicians (no Napolean or Alexander?). It also seems to be largely 'good' people rather than people who had significant negative effects (Ghengis Khan comes to mind). My historical knowledge is fairly lacking so I dont have much faith in this list, but I'd tentatively suggest (in no particular order). Jesus Paul Napolean Plato Mohammed Alexander Julius Ceaser (dont know much about the Romans so I pretty much picked him at random) Aristotle Euclid Queen Victoria Hitler (althuogh his importance is probably overstated just because he was 'recent' - I dont think WW2 had much effect on history compared to (eg) the conquests of Alexander or the Mongols. he did kill a few million people, but I doubt many people will care about that 500 years from now, just like most people today dont care about the millions killed by the Mongols. Now if Germany had won WW2, then _that_ would have probably changed history). Newton Einstein Hegel Ghengis Khan Hulagu Khan (the destruction of Baghdad in the 13th century is perhaps one of the biggest 5 events in terms of the effect on history') Galileo Washington Martin Luther Ramesses II (dont know much about him, but felt I needed a token Egyptian). I've deliberately made this a 'most influential in the West' list since I dont know anything about Eastern history. My list is also far too biased towards the modern world and Greece, but thats because this is what I know most about. I think a more educated list would have people like Wittgenstein and Hitler replaced with (eg) Egyptians/Arabs/Bablyonians/etc. I think my list is also too focused on intellectuals, but thats because I'm far more familiar with intellectual history than I am with political history, which I dont really know that much about. Im also being incredibly biased against artists by not including Goethe, Beethoven or Shakespeare. I'm leaving out most inventors on the ground that even if they didnt invent whatever they did, someone else probably would have done it anyway. I assume that if Gutenberg hadnt been born for instance, the printing press would still have been invented within 100 years - it was just too good an idea to not happen. To be honest you can omit a lot of great scientists for similar reasons (Darwin?) - in many cases the scientific community was groping towards their theories and they just happened to be the ones who got there first (eg Leibniz developing calculus independently of Newton). However in the case of Einstein and Galileo their work was just such a massive conceptual revolution that you cant automatically assume this (someone else would probably have created special relativity since a lot of the groundwork was in place anyway (eg the Lorentz transformation), but its not obvious that anyone else could have been able to create general relativity). Also, I'm not sure about Euclid - he didnt actually contribute much to mathematics in terms of new results and Gauss is far moe deserving, but the structure of the Elements has provided the archetypical model for what 'math' should look like ever since. My list also leans heavily on Christianity - Jesus, Paul and Martin Luther are all Christian thinkers, and the only reason I include Plato is because neo-Platonism provided the grounds for Christian beliefs (I think his actual philosophy is vastly overrated in terms of importance). But then, I think Christianity was the single most influential movement in known history. edit: the more I think about it, the more I feel compelled to include Hegel. I'll be honest and swap him with Wittgenstein who I had on the list previously.
  8. Isnt there an argument that films are the modern day equivalent of 17-19th century operas? I mean I doubt most great artists would want anything to do with Hollywood unless they desperately needed money, but theres plenty of smaller independent studios where they could get more creative control over their work. The thought of a maverick director like (eg) Orson Welles teaming up with a great composer is mouthwatering. I'm not thinking of a big blockbuster that is 'soundtracked' by music like Jaws or Starwars, Im thinking of a piece that straddles the boundary between a film and a musical, where the music is an integral part of the story, like "All About Lily Chou Chou", if anyone's seen that. I dunno, maybe even something along the lines of Sin City. Definitely not a 'conventional' film with a deep, complex plot anyway - more something which is a piece of 'art first', and a 'good story' second (again, like classical opera). edit: although having said that, Braveheart is a fantastic example of how music could/should be used in a conventional film.
  9. I think this is connected to whether ignorance is a valid excuse. If you want to do something which requires someone else's permission, but you dont think think they would give you it, then it may be tempting to just do it anyway and claim that you made a mistake. An example might be if you hadnt bothered finishing a college project on time, and wanted to extend the deadline by one day. If you ask the professor if that's acceptable then you know theres a good chance he'll say "no", and then if you hand it in late youll be screwed since you'll have explicitly disobeyed him. But if instead you didnt bother asking and just handed it in late anyway, claiming that you made a mistake and thought the deadline was actually the day after it was, then theres a reasonable chance that he might not care and just tell you to be more careful in future. Basically, if you ask someone and then say 'no', then you rule out the possibility of claiming ignorance, and people will sometimes accept ignorance as being a decent excuse if they believe its genuine. Obviously the best solution would be to actually finish the project on time though. A related idea is "dont force people into giving you ultimatums". When a person tells you that you "must do X" (eg "you must hand this project in on time") then they will generally get angry if you disobey, since they lose face - if they let you away with it then they would look weak. But if they havent explicitly told you that you 'must' do X, then they may be less annoyed if you dont do it since it doesnt necessarily look like youre disobeying/disrespecting them.
  10. Oh, fair enough then. I only know the absolute basics about Keynesian economics but if thats what he actually said then it does sound dubious. I've only seen the term 'artificial demand' used in the context of particular goods - for example an artificial demand created for <consumable_good_X> via a massive advertising campaign, or an artificial demand for military goods due to government spending, and so on. An 'artififcial demand' for everything doesnt really make sense so again if that's what Keynes said then it also sounds silly.
  11. Its not really the same as focusing because one of the key points of Freudian theory is that the events in your subconscious are not generally available to you through introspection. For instance, people may have no conscious memory of being molested as children, possibly due to repression, and this memory will perhaps only come out later in their life (perhaps as a result of hypnosis, or a traumatic event or something). Similarly for Jung, the archetypes of the unconscious arent meant to be things you can see just by closing your eyes and thinking about them - he observed that various themes seem to come up time and time again in the art/theology/thought of isolated cultures and postulated that there was something hidden far 'behind the scenes' which would explain why. The fundamental idea is that events 'stored' in the subconsious are not available through standard introspection and need to be brought out by special procedures, generally involving prompting by a psychoanalyst, which was where dream analysis/free association and the like came in. If youre just talking about aspects of your mental life which you dont normally think about (eg that youre 'evading'), then these are not sub/unconscious in the Freudian sense of the term.
  12. I disagree with this. I think there are some dogmatic Objectivists, and this isnt really related to what they believe, or how much certainty they have or claim to have. There are people I would describe as being 'dogmatic' about views which I share, and am sure are correct. Dogmatism is more of a general attitutde towards intellectual thought. For example, I'm under the impression that you are pretty much in agreement with all/most of Objectivism and have a lot of certainty about it, but none of your postings on this forum are remotely dogmatic. The same applies to many others here. And yet there are some people who obviously know far less about Objectivism, yet who say things which could easily have been written by some bizzaro Objectivist pope. I would tentatively identify the following things as being characteristic of dogmatism (none of them are related to any particular belief system - theres no such thing as an intinsically 'dogmatic set of beliefs', its all in the attitude that some believers have towards them): 1) A dislike/mistrust of philosophical problems. Dogmatists generally try to explain away potential problems as quickly as possible, even if this means missing the subtelty that they have. The normal outcome of this is a complete misunderstanding of the issue in question, and a very simplistic 'solution' which can be picked apart in seconds. Nietzsche once spoke about "philosophizing with a hammer" and while he didnt mean this in the obvious way, the literal interpretation does describe the general dogmatic attitude (and they use a sledgehammer) 2) A refusal to submit your beliefs to serious scrutiny. This is the major one. Its not about certainty - its possible to give your beliefs a serious examination and come to the conclusion that they are correct, and this is not dogmatic. However the key word here is _serious_. It means actually reading and engaging with other views, and giving them proper consideration rather than just constructing absurd strawmen every time you hear something you dont like. It means approaching new ideas with a willingness to examine them fairly and learn about them, rather than just trying to 'prove to yourself' that they are wrong/evil (compare to someone who has heard Rand was an evil woman who hated poor people and thought it was fine to kill others if it made you happy, and then picks up a copy of one of her books with the intent of hating her, skims through it in an extremely uncharitably manner, and comes away with the impression that all the bad things people say about her were right. Ditto with someone who does the same to Kant). If you pick up a book already convinced that its going to be bad, you'll normally manage to interpret it in a way that supports your expectations. And this is not an honest reading. 3) A general persecution complex. This one is really bizarre, yet it's very common among certain ideologies almost to the point of being built into them. Marxists are probably the best well known example ("if you disagree then youre part of problem!"), as are radical feminists and (in my limited experience) followers of Lyndon Larouche. Any belief system which has devices built into it to 'explain' why people disagree is likely to produce people with this complex - examples are Freudians who believe those who disagree are repressing, Marxists who believe that anti-Marxists are just suffering from false consicousness, and Objectivists who automatically assume everyone who disagrees is 'evading'. Some people may well be evading (just like some may be repressing or suffering from false consciousness), but assuming this straight away and using it as an excuse to avoid seriously analysing their ideas is a cop-out. 4) The desire to treat all debate as being a battle which must be won at all costs, rather than as something to learn from. This is often connected to an inability to seperate an honest challenge of your beliefs from a personal attack. Some radical left-wing ideologies are really bad for this at the moment, feminism being the most obvious example, as well as anything else where disagreement is liable to get you immediately branded as a reactionary conservative regardless of the form it takes. 5) Claiming to have the ultimate truth about a subject when you dont really know much (/anything) about it. This is the big one after 2), and is probably a direct result of 1) and 2). This is best illustrated by examples, so some paradigm cases would be Objectivists who are adament that modern physics is fundamentally wrong despite having never taken a math class beyond high school level, Christians who believe evolution is wrong despite never studying biology, LaRouchians who believe in a bizarre revision of intellectual history wihtout ever actually learning the 'standard' one, anyone that is convinced global warming must be lies/a conspiracy without bothering to study the evidence of both sides, Marxists who claim that <some_academic_disclipline_X> is really just a bourgeois conspiracy, someone who's sole exposure to academic philosophy has been a 1xx level class yet claims the whole thing is bankrupt, and so on. Again, the dogmatism isnt due to people challenging widely accepted ideas (Michael Behe isnt dogmatic despite being a Creationist and steven_speicher isnt dogmatic despite writing a lot of threads on this forum that challenge various aspects of modern physics), its when people who know pretty much nothing about a subject act like they are experts. If you want to criticise something, learn about it first (and just 'reading a book about it once' doesnt really count, if youre serious about the issue).
  13. If the demand for a certain type of good increases, then production is likely to increase also (if people start wanting lots of pencils, someone will probably start diverting his resources into increasing pencil production in order to satisfy the market). Similarly if demand for a good decreases, then production will tend to decrease also (noone is going to make pencils if they arent selling). Since people in different economic classes sometimes have different buying patterns, any change in the distribution of money between classes is going to increase the consumption of the classes involved, and hence increase production of the goods they buy, for reasons given above. If banks start granting large loans to people of low economic class, then you would expect to see a rise in the consumption of goods aimed at poorer people, and the associated changes in production that comes with it. None of this is Keynesian economics, its just common sense. If people with blue skin like to eat caviar but cant normally afford it, and banks start randomly giving blue skinned people money, you would expect the caviar market to change. I agree that 'artificial demand' is generally an invalid concept though, but its still true that markets can be significantly (and deliberately) affected by unsustainable short-term trends. The latest pop-star or 'must have' Christmas toy are good examples of this (taamagotchis/furbies and so on), as is the dot com crash on a slightly larger scale. One context in which 'artificial demand' is definitely valid is when it comes to government interference. If there was a law saying that everyone had to own at least one red hat, then this would be a fairly good example of artificial demand (on a less ridiculous level, theres probably an artifical demand for college education today, since the large number of students getting government subsidies means that most people end up going to college, with the result that you pretty much have to go to college if you want a decent job).
  14. Isnt Turkey relatively secular, despite being almost entirely Muslim? I mean its not a bastion of human freedom or anything like that, but its hardly comparable to Iran either. You cant just say "there are X million Muslims in Europe" without considering what type of Muslims they are - what percentage are fundamentalists, moderates, etc? Gadhafi is obviously a lunatic though, but then Libya arent really a major threat to anyone at the moment so I suppose he can pretty much say whatever he likes without anyone bothering to retaliate. In any case, I doubt that killing him would help to stop the spread of Islam in Europe. I think European countries tend to have problems with immigration in general, especially in places which have a history of being almost entirely homogenous (white people only). Its not like America where you have a fairly racially diverse culture with a lot of people being third-fourth generation immigrants - there tends to be fair amount of scepticism towards those who come in from elsewhere in Europe, especially when they arent white. Many people in Britain seem to be absurdly racist at the moment for example, and in a recent election one of the mainstream parties (Conservatives) pretty much based their whole campaign around reducing immigration levels. And in the other direction, a lot of immigrants do seem to isolate themselves from the rest of the culture and make no real attempt to integrate - religion is probably a factor here when it comes to Muslims, since its one of the things that does tend to bind a culture together strongly. In any case, I would say that immigration and cultural integration are perhaps two of _the_ big European issues, and this may be hard for Americans to understand since I believe that the situation over there is quite different, and not as much of a problem. As such, I'm not sure that you could single out Muslims as causing trouble any more than black people for instance - I'm under the impression that immigrants tend to be responsible for a disproportionate amount of crime regardless of their religion, although I dont have stats offhand to back this up. I would also assume that this is closely related to poverty - if most Muslims (/immigrants) are poor then you would expect them to be responsible for a higher than average level of crime regardless of their religious beliefs. I dont want to discount specific cultural factors entirely since they may indeed be an issue (the part about Muslim attitudes towards women in connection with rape is interesting for instance), but I would guess its a lot more complicated than "Muslims cant fit into Western society!" or whatever. Id be interested in seeing statistics that broke things down in terms of how immigrant crime levels compared to native people around the same income level, or how they differed between first and second/third generation immigrants and so on.
  15. Sex with a condom is foreplay?
  16. Yeah, seriously :/ I could sort of understand it if he was a notable philosopher or something, but I cant personally say that I've ever heard of him before (and he doesnt seem to have publications in any major philosophy journals, or notable books). The whole thing looks hilariously cranky and including a chapter on Objectivism at the end of a book on Kant seems rather random. I can only assume that he's trying to appeal to the popular market, since Rand is fairly widely known. His constant berating of Rand for not being a 'real' philosopher is ironic given his apparent admiration of Continentals like Deleuze/Lyotard/Derrida, who wouldnt really be classed as 'real philosophers' either within several anglo-American philosophy departments (remember the widespread oppositoin to Derrida being granted an honorary degree by Cambridge). The label of 'real philosopher' tends to be fairly arbitrary and based largely on current academic fashion - Heidegger was not considered a 'real philosopher' by many people back in 1930, and several would oppose Nietzsche being classed that way today. It's obvious that Rand wasnt doing philosophy in the same way as most modern academics (in the sense of rigorous focus on very specific, highly technical problems that sometimes struggle to find real-world relevance) but its nonsense to imply that this was a "break with the tradition" or 'not real philosophy' - I think Rand was more concerned with a more wide-scale cultural criticism and in that sense there's an obvious continuity with people like Voltaire, Diderot, Nietzsche, Kierkagaard etc (if you _have_ to make comparasions). If anything, the over-specialisation of philosophy departments in the 20th century and their seperation from the rest of the academic world was the real "break with tradition", and it would have been alien to most people writing in the 17-19th centuries, not to mention Greece. I realise that this I'm largely attacking his credentials rather than his points, but its hard to reply in any other way since he doesnt really provide anything substantive. Most of what he writes is one extended ad hominem, and when he does provide points of actual criticism, he tends not to expand on them and instead returns immediately to the adhoms. His continual focus on "existence exists" is especially puzzling - he makes it sound like Rand repeated this multiple times on every page of her published work, whereas in reality she mentioned it a couple of times and then got on with doing actual philosophy. Peikoff does tend to over-emphasis it in OPAR, as if anyone notable in the history of philosophy had seriously disagreed, and I can fully understand why someone would object to the first chapter of that book, but Peikoff isnt Rand. edit: also, the fact that an admirer of Nietzsche would criticise someone for lack of rigour and 'continually misunderstanding philosophers" is hilarious,
  17. I'm currently in the middle of exams and have no time or inclination to get involved in an extended debate. But even if I wasnt, I'm not sure what the point would be. I think I've been posting here long enough for most people to have a reasonable idea what my opinions are (like I think I do with most other regulars here) so I doubt anyone would gain much from, or be interested in, some sort of ego-massaging "What Hal Thinks" thread. In any case, I think you'd struggle to find many posts I've made on this forum that actually disagree with Objectivism (other than in a few of the free-will threads from a while back), as I generally try to make sure my posts stay within the forum rules. As I said, if I thought the majority of moderators/admins (or even regular posters) didnt want me here then I'd happily stop posting, but I havent been given any indication that this is the case.
  18. I think this way of speaking only really makes sense if you have a picture in your head of fundamental particles being something like extremely small little balls, rather than (eg) localised wave packets or fluctuations in a field (which is how they are actually treated in current theory). I dont think theres any good reason to assume in advance that the fundamental constituents of the universe 'must' have a size, and if you think that anything else would necessarily be incoherent then its possible that youre still thinking of them as being like tiny solid balls. I believe that within our most current models of particle physics, the most fundamental constituents of the universe do not have size. There are other models though (for example, the strings of string-theory are not pointlike). Having said that, I'm not 100% clear about the precise meaning of 'point-like' in the context of theoretical physics and I wouldnt be surprised if it meant something slightly more subtle than 'being a geometric point'. As far as I know (and I freely admit to not knowing much about physics, so take this post with a large grain of salt), the actual story is that although fundamental particles are pointlike, their associated wavefunctions are smeared across space. Also even if fundamental particles did have a size, its not obvious that we would ever be able to measure this accurately, due to the uncertainty principle. I believe the Planck length is something more subtle than that, and doesnt imply that space is actually discrete. One theory of quantum gravity, Loop Quantum Gravity, does predict that space is discrete on the planck scale, but this is not widely accepted among physicists. But even if this trned out to be true, I dont think it would mean Zeno was right. "Being right" should imply more than just making a lucky guess. There was no good reason for anyone 2500 years to believe that space was either discrete or continuous, given that cutting edge physics today is still undecided on the question (and anyway, he wasnt arguing that space was discrete, he was arguing that movement was illusory). If you need to refer to highly technical details of science in order to settle a philosophical argument, I think this is a good sign that something has went wrong somewhere along the line.
  19. I post here because, although I openly admit I dont agree with all aspects of Objectivism, I agree with enough of it to get a lot out of discussions with several people here. As far as I know, youre an administrator on this forum so if you dont want me around or think I'm "working against Objectivism", youre free to ban my account, or ask me to leave.
  20. Hal

    Defining Art

    Well, Ayn Rand sometimes referred to logic as the "the art of non-contradictory identification". I'd say that there are 2 distinct (but related) meanings of the word 'art', both within Objectivism and common language. I do think that the English language is poorly equipped here though, the Greek use of "techne/episteme/poiesis" does seem to make finer distinctions than we do.
  21. This seems like a contradiction. 'John Smith' isnt an original name, so you cant trademark it. It doesnt matter whether youre John Smith the plumber or John Smith the world-famous novelist - the name is still not original and hence cannot be registered as your trademark. I dont really have a problem with you preventing people from discussing the work of "John Smith of 435 West 34th St., New York, NY", but if they referred to you as just "John Smith" then they arent violating your rights.
  22. Indeed. And as such, it would be wrong to claim that the developers of Nazism were unable to create, or that their philosophy isnt original. A person who creates a destructive system has still created something. A lot of the individual elements of Objectivism have historical precedent (the metaphysics lies firmly in the realist tradition, the epistemology has its roots in Locke, the ethics were influenced by Nietzsche and Aristotle, and the politics are classic liberal), but this doesnt mean that it isnt original; an integrated system is more than the sum of its parts. He was original in proposing the transcendental ideality of space and time, which was the fundamental aspect of his philosophy, and provided the departure point for the German Idealism which followed him. His seperation of the priori/a posterior distinction from the analytic/synthetic one was original (Hume conflated the two) and was important in the history of mathematical logic since Frege took this as a starting point for his work. Kant's deontological ethics were original since noone had approached morality in that manner before (to my knowledge) - his conclusions arent that different from the classic "Golden Rule", but the way he arrived at them was new. His realisation that existence wasnt a predicate was also very important in the development of modern logic, through Russell and Frege, although admittedly this wasnt a central part of his work. Also, whatever his faults, Kant wasnt a subjectivist, and I'm not an 'anti-Objectivist' (whatever that means).
  23. I think this is a bad example, since theres legitimate debate over what Plato actually meant at various points where he wasnt especially clear, as well as arguments over which pieces of his writing represented his own views and which were the views of Socrates, and so on. Similarly, there are problems with saying "Kantianism is the philosophy of Kant". Which particualar philosophy is that? "Well, the philosophy that Kant wrote about in his Critiques". But which interpretation do you mean? Kant scholars regularly disagree over what he actually meant - theres no real consensus about what a 'noumena' is for example - so its not clear how you would decide who is really a Kantian in a case where you have 2 scholars who dont agree about his work. Unless you have some foolproof method of interpretation that lets you find out exactly what a particular thinker meant, youre likely to have serious problems answering these questions. This isnt as much of an issue for Objectivism though, since AR was normally fairly clear about what she meant (especially compared to Kant or Plato) so you dont generally have radical divergences in interpretation. Its like saying "Christianity is what is written in the Bible". Catholics and Protestants think the Bible says different things, and this difference in opinion is probably underdetermined by the book itself.
  24. I like to think of myself as a realist. If you start auctioning off attractive young womens to the highest bidder, with the promise that they can do whatever they want to them, then its extremely likely that youre going to end up with rape. Its not a 'remote possibilit'y, it would pretty much be guaranteed to happen. Even if the buyers didnt purchase her with that purpose, they would still know that they could do whenever they liked to her and it would be likely to happen eventually. Another situation in which youre almost definitely going to be promoting torture is when you auction off prisoners who have been found guilty of comitting a crime which people get highly emotional about, such as anything relating to women or children (hitting a girl, rape, paedophilia, etc). In this case, it also seems very likely that they would fall into the hands of vigilantes who would take great pleasure in torturing them. At the end of the day, there are sadists out there, and you would definitely end up providing them with victims, especially since they would be able to pick up one of the prisoners youre about to murder for a couple of dollars. No, but it means that we shouldnt stand back and let it happen. Under your system not only could prisoners be tortured, but you wouldnt be able to bring charges against the torturers if you caught them. I woudlnt trust them to be competant when it comes to something that can have such disasterous consequences. Mistakes happen. Anyway, you already admitted that there would be convicts who noone would buy, so if there is only one bidder, hes going to get her. So how are you deciding upon the length that the period of slavery/torture should last for? If theres no 'objective' way to decide on the type of sentence, theres surely no 'objective' way to decide on the duration either. If youre going to say "shoplifters should be slaves for a week and murderers should be slaves for 10 years", then why not just say "shoplifters should be fined $500 and murderers should be imprisoned for 10 years"? Why is the latter any less 'objective' than the former? edit: Actually as far as I can tell, the whole motivation for your system is based on the alleged impossibility of determining punishments in an objective manner. So in that case, I assume all criminals will receive equally long periods of slavery?
  25. Just to make sure I've got this right, would it be possible for someone to buy a hot 16 year old girl who was guilty of shoplifting and use her as a sex-slave (ie raping her repeatedly), since she had (quote) "lost all of her rights as an individual"? I suppose you'd have to pay a fair bit since there would be a lot of competition, but you could always put in a joint bid with some mates and share her afterwards. Also, the mixed martial arts school I train at has quite a lot of punchbags, but they dont really prepare you for the sense of impact you get when hitting other humans, so they might want to buy a few cheap prisoners so students can get used to the feeling of beating the crap out of someone until most of their bones are broken. Would this be acceptable?
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