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Everything posted by punk

  1. What's this "vast majority" stuff? Every person in the world lives under a government that disrespects individual rights and property rights. America has substantial room for improvement.
  2. The book "No Logo" (as I recall it) is primarily about the phenomen of "branding". This comes down to two basic (and interesting) issues: 1. The goal of branding is to have the brand itself replace the product where the brand becomes a "life style", "philosophy of life", "statement of personal identity", and a person buys into the brand itself more than the particular products sold under the brand name. This is basically an issue of advertising (and propaganda, as arguably political propaganda is a form of "branding" as above). 2. The post-modern brand company whose sole purpose is to maintain the viability of the brand itself, but doesn't actually produce anything (instead buying things from other companies and doing no more than stamping the brand to it). So Nike (for example) exists to maintain the power of the Nike brand through constant maintenance through advertising but purchases the actual shoes it sells from other companies. Of course we all know now that of the money a consumer spends on Nike sneaker, after removing profit, much much more goes to paying for the brand advertising for Nike sneakers than goes to the raw materials and labor which produced it. I think though a clearer statement of point 1 above could be gotten from Jaques Ellul's book "Propaganda", and remembering that what we call "propaganda" was nothing more than the application of advertising techniques to political discourse beginning in WWI. Point 2 is interesting if you want to go out and create and exploit your own brand and you want some idea what that means and how it should work.
  3. There is a saying to the effect that: Whoever only knows about one society knows about none. In a similar vein one could say that whoever knows one philosophy really only knows none. In studying philosophy which you do not agree with you will reach a better deeper understanding of the one you do agree with, and you should approach alien philosophers in that spirit. An example. If you read enough you will read some thinkers who will be presented as great and influential but will strike one as giving little more than a series of trite platitudes. This will happen when a thinker is so influential on a society that their ideas know make up the "common sense" of the culture. At this point it is really difficult to truly appreciate what they are doing. If you start to appreciate alternative ways of thinking enough (by reading and understanding philosophies that contradict theirs) you will actually be able to read that influential thinker and see what they are really about. And moreover you will see that the influential thinker's thought goes far beyond what was taken up as "common sense". So you end up with a much deeper appreciation through reading contradicting thought. So in the case of Kant. If you read Kant and make a genuine effort to understand Kant fully, you will be able to see much more deeply what Rand is doing. Think of it this way if I have a white object on a white background it is harder to make out the object's features than if I superimpose it against a black background.
  4. The implicit goal of objectivists (as I understand it) is to bring about a more rational society. Raising awareness of branding (which clearly works on a large segment of the American population) is in fact a promotion of rationality. In fact "branding" as a phenomenon is beginning to dominate what passes for political discourse in America. As this last election showed, presidential politics is increasingly about selling the "Republican" or "Democrat" brands to the people with very little actual content being discussed. A rational population that doesn't fall for branding might actually force the parties to start discussing issues in some sort of depth again. If one is going to write off a large segment of the American population as "weak minded" then one had better be prepared to say that they want America to remain the irrational morass it is today. Or do you prefer that America stay that way?
  5. The conventional view in science is that if any physical "law" has sufficient observational data to be held as "valid", then some new more general theory which is intended to replace it should be able to derive the old "law" in some appropriate limit. So one test of General Relativity is the ability to derive Newton's Law of Gravity in the appropriate non-relativistic, low energy limit. In that sense the old "law" was an "approximation" of the more general theory. I dont intend to imply an infinite regress to approximations, although I do admit it was a rather loose way of speaking. At any given time we will always have a finite set of data points in a limited range from which to construct a theory. Given this, we should always assume that the best theory we have is not the grand theory of everything (because we would now need an infinite amount of data points to prove this). So we are always in the position of supposing that there is a more general theory out there than the one we currently have. So we always suppose the current best theory is an approximation to something else. Of course this leaves open the chance that we might find the theory of everything, but we'll never be totally sure that we have it. But this is more of an epistemic question and far beyond the original topic here.
  6. NOTE: Nothing below should be construed as opposing the right of a company to create and market a product as they see fit. Adbusters is a mixed bag. On the one hand it has elements of the anti-corporate anti-globalist movement.... enough said there. The other side is an attempt to raise awareness of the phenomenon of "branding". This is an issue of how consumers ought philosophically to approach products they may or may not buy. It is one thing for a consumer to approach a product (which they have been made aware of by advertising), and make a rational decision as to whether this particular product meets their needs (in price, style, performance, etc.) It is an entirely different thing for a consumer to approach a brand looking for the brand to represent a "life-style" they want to be a part of. Put in other words, the phenomenon of "branding" is to present a series of products falling under the brand name as comprising a "life-style" or a "philosophy of life" or a "world view", which the consumer is to buy into (literally). In more practical terms it is find if one buys a Nike sneaker because it meets their footware needs, but it is another to buy it because the Nike life-style of "Just Do It" is who they want to be. In this second sense Adbusters is doing some good in raising awareness and freeing individual minds to be rational in purchasing decisions, and not being irrational slaves to advertising hype.
  7. True enough, I concede your point. Also the French Revolution didn't pan out as many would have hoped (and the American Revolution had its own Terror after all). I think though that people are too quick to write off religious movements of the pre-modern epoch as barbaric and irrational. Many of them were really social movements against an existing tyranny cast in a more religious language than we would ever use today.
  8. Brouwer rejects the law of the excluded middle because he is giving a non-standard interpretation of "true" in a mathematical context. Brouwer is reading "true" more in the direction of "it is provable that" (not exactly right, but good enough). So given a statement A, Brouwer reads A or -A along the lines of: it is provable that A or it is provable that -A. Since it is possible that neither is provable, the law of the excluded middle does not apply. I am resurrecting this because it seemed to stop at the crucial philosophical question: What does it mean to be "true" in mathematics? One's view of the Axiom of Choice really rests on this question. The conventional notion of "true" in mathematics is basically Platonic in nature. That is a mathematical statement is true just in case that is the way the universe is (or more mythologically, because when we go to Plato's heaven, the statement is there, so it is "true"). Brouwer rejects this in favor of a more functional definition of truth.
  9. Another interesting case is that of Pure Land Buddhism in medieval Japan. It was a movement against the institutional and corrupt temple structure. The feeling was that Temple Buddhism had become just another means of oppressing the people (and more importantly taxing them), so the movement just broke away and ignored the temples. Thereafter Pure Land Buddhism was something peasant groups rebelling against the oppressive aristocracy (and clergy) rallied under. A more similiar group to this in Europe than the Lutherans would be the Anabaptists. The Anabaptists were the group that the rebelling peasants in the "Peasants Rebellion" in Germany rallied under. Luther opposed the popular uprising and sided with the aristocracy. Thereafter it was clear that Lutheranism was going to play the same role in Northern Germany that Catholicism played in the South. Lutheranism was really more of a schism with Catholicism than a true reformation. The real reformation was in the Anabaptists who were trying to free the people from an oppressive clergy.
  10. Philosophy provides the structure by which one approaches the problem. Consider science. The scientific method requires one specify certain things before science can procede: 1. What exactly constitutes a scientific observation 2. How one analyzes data 3. How one extracts a result from the data set 4. How one establishes confidence in the data set etc. These are fundamentally philosophical questions which are prior to scientific inquiry.
  11. Coulomb's law breaks down for very short distances and very high energies. Or in other words: Coulomb's law doesn't apply in the situation of nuclear fusion. Every physical "law" should be stated with a domain of validity. If you are discussing any situation outside of that domain, the law does not apply. Put another way, every physical law should be thought of as an approximation to a still more general law. In the case of Coulomb's law, contemporary physics would view it as a mean field approximation to Quantum Electrodynamics, which is itself an approximation to Quantum Electro-weak Theory. To really look at nuclear fusion you would have to go to the Standard Model (Electro-weak Theory plus Quantum Chromodynamics).
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