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Everything posted by Nigel


  2. I have applied for admission to graduate programs in psychology, seeking to research the cognitive nature of learning. My goal is to study Objectivist epistemlogical principles in the context of learning. Specifically, I want to study the nature of concept formation. My goal is to study the conceptual basis of learning from a cognitive psychology/human development perspective. Last week, I had a series of interviews with many faculty members at a one of the best psych programs in the field for which I have chosen to enter, However, somehow I have been backed into having a final interview next week with a neuroscientist who uses fMRIs to study the nature of learning. This interview is the final interview that I will have before the admission committee meets. My question is what in the world should I talk to this guy about. How can one examine neural underpinnings to attempt to support Objectivist epistemology?
  3. OMG I'm here. I still can't believe this.

  4. I was not insinuating a problem. I have high self-esteem, as I said, and hold my head high. We are simply debating the philosophical merits of peoples' predispositions towards certain physical characteristics.
  5. The problem with this statement is women are not an object to be conquered. A relationship in which one must be conquered is not a healthy equal relationship. The sharing of values, the recognition by both of you that you have this deep connection should draw both of you together. This mutual understanding causes the development of a relationship to flow naturally. The conquering is not an effort ridden pursuit, the sense of conquering lies in the knowledge that your ego, self-esteem, is of high enough quality to equal the ego of the highest possible women. The satisfaction of conquering is driven by rational emotion and recognition of your own ego. The mind is the fundamental though. Without the sharing of values, attraction is meaningless. Yes, we find attributes attractive in the opposite sex, but a sharing of mind must be present in order for that attraction to be worth acting on. While physical attraction is certainly a necessity in a relationship. To say that it is rational for some aspects to be an absolute deal breaker is not always rational. While some attributes may be absolutes, like obesity, there is an objective basis for this. You have yet to provide an objective rational for height to be an absolute deal breaker. In fact, I will argue the contrary. The notion that height is attractive is a subjective culturally based norm. There are cultures in the world that value shorter men and taller women. For it to be rational to call a physical attribute a deal breaker, you must have rational justification. For example, it is rational to say that you would not date a smoker. This is an unhealthy habit and can be objectively justified as a deal breaker. I will not date a heavy drinker. Drinking heavily is an escape from reality. Height, while perhaps a factor in overall attractiveness, cannot be an objective deal breaker. THIS IS THE WHOLE POINT OF THE ARGUMENT. You will accept certain attributes that you perhaps find less desirable up to a reasonable point. You recognize that if your sharing of values is justified, it is worth while to be somewhat open minded in physical characteristics. I am not saying you should date someone who you do not find physically attractive. Simply, you are willing to consider the persons physical attributes on the whole before forming your opinion, if the value connection exists.
  6. Before beginning this whole discussion, I considered biological elements. Nutrition does effect a person's height. But this effect is insignificant compared to genetic elements. Research shows that nutrition, except in extreme cases, only results in height changes of fractions of inches. A male that is, perhaps a foot shorter than the average human male can perhaps attribute an inch to an inch and a half to this difference. However, a male that is only 6 inches shorter than the average can only attribute, at most, fractions of an inch to this deviation. Now there are emerging ideas in genetics that may lead to a change in these research findings, this is what current research states. Looking at the Dagny quote presented: before accepting the situation, she is recalling her relationship with francisco, equating her sharing of values with him to her feeling about Gault. It is not until she recognizes Gault for who he is that she accepts the situation. This is similar to, and I am surprised no one has yet focused on this, the first sexual encounter between Roark and Dominique. Roark is very aggressive in this encounter, but it does not occur until after both participants understand that they share a commonality upon which they can develop feelings for one another. This conversation has become a focus on actions, but I am trying to focus on the emotional, the psycho-epistemology that leads to these actions. My point is not that these actions are acceptable or unacceptable, my point is that actions must be presupposed by the sharing of values. Look at Francisco, Gault, or Roark, all three have been with very few women in their lives, one. This is because it not always easy to find that heroine to share their values with. My point is, the rarity of that true connection upon which two people can share such values should not be further delimited by an over focusing on height. Being able to take control, in a healthy manner, within a relationship can only come as a result of forming the relationship or sharing values. Moreover, we must recognize that completely domineering and taking the occasional dominant role during sex are 2 completely different things. One is short lived and healthy, the other is not. Basing selection of a partner on the ability to feel dominant is a psycho-epistemological error. The feeling of dominance, while perhaps enjoyable, has no bearing on whether or not the relationship will be successful and sharing of values. Life requires one partner suggest or take responsibility for planning ways in which the relationship can be enjoyed. Planning activities and etc. This is undeniable. The question at hand is is there a rational basis for the emotional need to feel dominance or safety via your partner in a relationship.
  7. After reading Eiuol's response, I have interesting question for discussion. How does the need or desire to feel safe relate to a woman's self-esteem? I understand Alfa's reasoning, and his points. But, are these desired emotional feelings a resultant of one's sense of self and self-esteem? Can one pass judgement on another's level of self-esteem, on either a man or woman, for expressing the need to seek safety or demonstrate masculinity with another person? Is this a contradiction of man being an end within himself? Does this contradict the principle of sex being a selfish act? If man is seeking a strong minded women, a heroine, does the desire to choose a physically smaller women for the sake of feeling as a dominant protector contradict this? Or, is that once a man finds this heroine, after recognizing each others values, only then the roles of dominance and submission may occur as a means of further enjoyment? If the latter is true, my premise is that this role of dominance and submission only serves to enhance enjoyment, and is not a primary means of enjoyment in and of itself. The formation of the relationship, the sharing of values, and the development of love presupposes the dominance/submission enjoyment. Thus, again, I conjecture that seeking a mate based on height solely--or as a major determinate--is irrational since height can only serve to enhance enjoyment after a relationship has formed. Moreover, the sharing of values is still the ultimate determinant and there are many other ways to increase the enjoyment received from being in a romantic relationship.
  8. Alright, I am a 28 year old male. I am 5'4", I am pretty short for a guy. I have always been 5'4" since I have been an adult, so its really nothing new. However, a couple of years ago, when I was about 25, I stumbled upon this idea that people actually take note of another person's height. I never realized that height mattered to anyone. I have pretty high self-esteem, and I think of myself as pretty intelligent. Growing up, even before finding objectivism, I always thought man's greatest asset was his mind. I never gave any thought to physical size (except for acknowledging that I wasn't built to play basketball). In high school, I dated girls that I found attractive, height was never a topic of conversation. In college, I heard a girl say for the first time that I was too short for her to date (it actually happened several times). I just brushed these instances off as the female having some unresolved personal issues for her to get caught up on such a minor detail. Frankly, I equated it with it being like me saying that a female's breasts were just too small for me to date her, and I still feel that this is an adequate comparison. There is much more to a relationship, and a woman, that is more important than her breast size. Anyways, it wasn't until I was about 25 that actually realized that people really did think height matters, and I finally realized that I was short. So I am still trying to understand this, and I am thinking back over my whole lack of realization that people actually care about this. Frankly, if I find a female attractive, I find her attractive for the sum of her attributes, no single thing sticks out as an absolute deal breaker and height has never been an attribute that I have given any attention to. To me, I just can't get my head around how such a characteristic is rationally elevated to such importance. Other, than being short, I am very masculine. I am just confused. In addition, I have had my male students (I am a teacher) on several occasions ask me if people used to mess with me in school because I am short.I looked at these students like they had 3 heads. People didn't pick on me because I was short; and if someone did mess with me, I was always smart enough to get the better of them in one way or another. Finally, I was watching some news show where guys were going through excruciatingly painful leg extension surgeries to become taller. Now did I just completely miss something here? How is height, in any way, a measure of a man? Dammit, we are not giraffes trying to reach the leaves at the top of tree, we are smart enough to build a ladder to climb the tree. This is why our mind is our greatest asset. I mean humans surely aren't overly strong, fast, or tough compared the rest of the animal kingdom. Can some one explain how any of this might be construed as rational?
  9. looks good. When I first read your post title, I thought you were going a slightly different direction with this. I think it might be interesting to explore in more detail how philosophy is applied to specific work related tasks and everyday situations. For example, I am a teacher. I use applied philosophy when I choose what and how to teach in a given lesson. My philosophy affects how I approach and handle my students in different situations. As a science teacher, I frequently read about the philosophy of education and the philosophy of science, and I apply rational concepts from these philosophies. I would be interested to see how others apply philosophy in everyday tasks in different careers.
  10. The real issue here is that there has to be the added protection so that parents can parent. I am not a parent myself, so I cannot speak personally on this, but parents should be actively involved in their childs life, and know what there child is doing. There should not have to be some control to prevent kids from gaming, parents should be capable of this. What good is blocking a game from a kid, if the parent is not around, or not involved, to ensure some sort of other meaning full acctivity ensues? Like you mentioned, the child will either get around the block, or the kid will be left to find other vices, perhaps much worse ones. The problem isn't the game, taking away the game solves nothing.
  11. If a man is wrongfully convicted of a crime that he did not commit and later found innocent, is he entitled to restitution for his suffering? Who is responsible for paying this restitution? If a man is jailed and awaits trial for a lengthy period of time before being found innocent, is he entitled to restitution for his suffering? The accused frequently wait months to somtimes years before a conviction is rendered. Regardless of time, the consequences of being tried for a crime in which you are innocent are far reaching and go beyond the short lived time spent in jail; loss of job, income, etc. Must man be willing to sacrifice his freedom upon accusation in order to achieve the social goal of a safe, just society? At what level is it acceptable to deny a man's freedom by force in order to ensure the safety of society? Is "beyond reasonabale doubt" enough certainty to justify the denial of a man's freedom? What is reasonable? I know this is a lot of questions, sorry. Maliciously accusing someone is not what I am getting at here. I talking about a person who has been accused based on some level of concrete (though false) evidence.
  12. In my opinion, as someone began learning about objectivism in a similiar manner that you are, is get some basic principles down; then, if you really want to understand objectivism, focus on metaphysics and epistemology. Objectivism is built on these 2 areas of philosophy and everything else stems from them. O-Epistemology goes into evaluating arguments and making logical assertions. personally, I really liked peikoff's "the philosophy of Ayn Rand for learning about metaphysics and going deeper into epistemology. I know others have critiscized it elsewhere in the forums, but I found it useful.
  13. You need to go to the root of O ethics. O ethics isn't based on "thou shall nots..." , its not a list of rules. It is based on the value of man's own life. Self sacrifice and hurting others are contradictory to valuing a man's own life. The act of knowingly, blatently contradicting or the act of blatently refusing to think and consider ones actions is wrong, and probably evil. The valuing of man's own life must be the basis from which to judge morality. Altruism is the devaluation of an individuals own life. The choice to practice altruism or the practice of altruism out of chosen ignorance, does not hurt others per se. However, the practice of altruism, by its nature, requires the altruist to affect other members of society. The altruist cannot act altruistically in a vacuum, they must give the mouse a cookie. And if you give a mouse a cookie, he usually asks for a glass of milk. This makes the practioner of altruism (given the conditions above) evil. Teaching children to believe in altruism is the advocation of the unethical. Teaching children to act against their own self interest is evil, pure and simple. This does hurt children, it impairs their ability to grow up into mature, self valuing adults.
  14. You are missing the idea that knowledge is conceptual and definitions are contextual. Your reasoning is good though. All knowledge is conceptual (stored in the brain as concepts). So if you are trying to define the word pen, you have a concept of what a pen is. You can name numerous examples and characteristics of pens: used for writing, contain ink, felt pen. quill pen, and so on. All these connected ideas relating to pens are contained within your conceptual understanding of a pen. This is not subjective. When you attempt to turn this concept into a verbal deffinition, there is a best way, objectivist way, of doing so. Frankly, I don't feel like going in depth into epistemology right now, but you can find a whole chapter on defining concepts in Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology (if you want to learn the details of ojective definitions). So, there is a correct objective way to define a concept; however, that does not mean that a definition is rigid and universally applicable. Definitions are contextual. Depending on the circumstances in which the definition is being given, part of the definition may be changed. The concept being defined is still the same concept, the pen is still the pen, but different attributes of your concept of a pen are used in creating the definition.
  15. Just to piggy back on others. Psychology is a diverse field with several different disciplines. In general, psychology typically observes human behavior and then works backwards to tie these observations to our understanding of the human species. Conversely, neuroscience examines biological processes and ties these to resultant human behaviors. There is still a disconnect between psychology and neuroscience, but both fields have made strides in furthering our understanding of human cognition and behavior. Ayn Rand was very critical of behavioral psychology, and rightfully so. This is just on of several disciplines within the field of psychology. Ayn Rand's earlier works generalize this criticism across psychology since behaviorism dominated early 20th century psychology. However, the second half of the 20th century is considered the cognitive revolution in psychology. During this time, cognitive psychology became a more pervasive discipline--and still is. Cognitive psychology is a vast improvement on behaviorism and takes a more scientific approach to psychology. In my opinion, cognitive psychology does have a great deal to offer to our understanding of cognition--its not perfect, but there are many positives. To say Rand is against psychology in general is not true. Behaviorism takes a very concrete approach to how the environment affects individuals. Behaviorists believe that we are severely impacted and hindered by environmental conditioning. On the other extreme, the claim that genetics limits or can be solely attributed to one's achievements is also wrong. In truth, emerging research shows that the brain is extremely adaptable and capable of change. Hindrances caused by genetics or upbringing can be overcome and are not limiting factors in ones life--unless one allows them to become limiting factors. The argument is not do genetics or upbringing play a role in cognitive performance, they do. The argument by objectivists is that differences in genetics and upbringing ultimately do not limit an individual's ability to achieve. This argument is corroborated by our current understanding of neuroscience and psychology. (though some in theses fields deny this theoretical view point, in part because it is also political and dogmatic). Your Genie example poses some problems. First, O epistemology should not be applied to extreme outlandish examples. Conceptual integration is and all of O epi assumes that we are addressing the functioning in healthy human beings. For example a psychotic cannot perceive true reality. In this case, the girl was abused and tortured. Psychology admits that psychosis and many other ill-effects result from such treatment. To use this extreme as your example would be to accept a false premise. The idea that poor upbringing can be overcome is not negated by this case since torture and abuse result in psychosis. Conversely, someone raised in poverty or educated in poorer performing school or what have you can still overcome this upbringing because their ability to properly perceive reality has not been destroyed. I argue that the brain is far more adaptable than many want to believe. The problem is that it takes effort to think, use your brain, and grow intellectually, and many people don't want to exert this effort. The genetic argument is a cop-out. It is an excuse for the lazy, and an excuse for schools that do not know how to correctly teach children to think. Look at IQ scores. An individual can take the same IQ test and score very differently depending on current mood, sleep, etc. The idea that cognitive ability is fixed within a certain range is nonsense. Another example, one of my best friends was labeled as learning disabled and ADHD in school. He received special education services since middle school. He is graduating with a masters degree next month, does not take ADHD meds any more and did it all on his own. He is going to law school in the fall. He grew intellectually through his own efforts, its possible,
  16. Read: "How an Economy Grows and why it Crashes" by Peter Schiff Its a really good book if you are just starting to try to understand economics.
  17. I think I am going to add a section on "rational selfishness". it seems fitting. feel free to edit my changes.
  18. Happy groundhog day!

  19. I need to send my dog to Richard Simmons to lose weight.

  20. My student's pickup line: "girl, you thicka then a snicker". I might have to borrow that line.

  21. [Mod's note: Merged with earlier thread. -sN] I have been recently looking into evolutionary psychology and I find this to be a means of fraudulently representing the true science. Does anyone else have any knowledge/thoughts on this psuedo science? Is this area of psychology in any way meaningful? Can one use a cross-cultural analysis of human behaviors in order to theorize evolved human behaviors? I see huge flaws in this methodlogy, but I want to know if others think that this methodology can possibly produce a reliable interpertation of human behaviors.
  22. I just read Garet Garrett's book Ex America, previosly published under the title The People's Pottage. The first essay, The Revolution Was goes into great detail about how Rosevelt usurped incredible power. Basically, Garrett argues that the control of the economy, in addition to fear and the use of "economic emergency" in place of war, was essential. The taking of the people's gold and control of the money supply was absolutely essential. Garrett argues that Rosevelt, Hitler, Lenin, and Mouselini all used inflation as a means of control, and without this these governments would not have been able to shore up their control over the people.
  23. Yes and no. The constitution allows for states to legislate laws in this regard. The right of the state to infringe on individual rights was allowed as a compromise for the ratification of the constitution, hence for example slavery was left to the states. The morality of this may be questioned, but the legality is clear. Unfortunately, the constitution does not fully protect what was putforth in the Bill of Rights.
  24. NO! First off, science is theory... Everything that is important or worthwhile is theoretical. Read up on the philosophy of science if you are interest. Anyways these things that are claimed to be know as fact are actually theoretical. We cannot directly observe atoms, they are theoretical (though atomic theory is very sound and plausible, it is still by nature theoretical). We develop theories based on observed reality. There are ways to evaluate the plausibility of these theories, but to accept theories to explain reality is not contradictory to embrassing reality.
  25. Thank you everyone!

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