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Everything posted by Severinian

  1. Some prominent Objectivists were open to the possibility. 'Most members of my survey panel believe that the human soul passes into complete non-existence after death. This is the hypothesis one would expect from the atheist perspective. But a few respondents expressed a slightly more agnostic view about the human afterlife. Chris Matthew Sciabarra says: "Who knows? I've not experienced it yet." Nathaniel Branden replies: "What happens? Well, I really don't know, do I? But I'm inclined to believe it's pure non-existence." Barbara Branden confesses: "I would love to believe in reincarnation, so I could come back and live again and again and again, as long as it was as a human being like myself. But since there are so many contradictions in the idea of reincarnation, I suppose I'll have to do without it. And I would love to believe in an afterlife, so that I would once again be with the people I love who have died. But apparently I'll have to do without that, too. Yet, since energy is not destroyed, perhaps one's soul is not utterly destroyed; perhaps it continues to exist in some form; it is so wondrous a possession that it seems wasteful of reality to allow the soul to cease to exist. But that would be of no use to me unless the form in which it continues to exist remains myself. So perhaps the best answer is, 'Who knows?'" ' Rand herself stated that she would instantly commit suicide if she believed in the afterlife, in order to see her dead husband. But keeping in mind that that's based on the idea that your memories, personality, etc follows. That's not necessarily what we're talking about. Just your qualia. https://www.atlassociety.org/post/dying-of-the-light
  2. Your conclusions don't seem to follow from your premises. How is it relevant that there are different kinds of infinities? Nietzsche's eternal recurrence does seem logical, assuming that it's physically possible for things to turn back the way they were. After all, eternity is eternal... So sooner or later, it will happen. But that's also a separate issue than the question of life after death.
  3. I realize that the standard objectivist answer is that the afterlife/reincarnation is arbitrary, but is it really? After all, we know that consciousness is real, and we don't have the scientific explanation for it yet. Isn't it then at least a possibility that, if there's an entity which contains the essence of your consciousness, that entity might later come into a physical formation that gives you a life as a living being again?
  4. I originally posted this as a question to Leonard Peikoff for his podcast, but he never got to it before his podcast ended. I want to know what you think. What if someone with the moral character of John Galt was the heir to a dictatorship? What would he do? Would he just leave the country, or would he take the position as dictator and try to subtly govern the country towards a more Western society, or at least prevent it from getting even worse?
  5. In this podcast, Peikoff says that animals in slaughterhouse should be treated as humane as is economically viable: Doesn't this imply that it's irrational to care about the suffering of others, unless preventing it is a means to another end? (A premise I don't agree with) What if it's more economically feasible to slaughter them in painful ways, but you don't want to inflict such suffering on others, so you're willing to go home with a slightly lower paycheck? I don't see anything irrational about that.
  6. That's the way in which some people use the term nihilist, but as far as I understand, Rand (and others, like Dostoyevsky and Nietzsche) used it to mean hatred of the good for being the good. I.e. the mentality of a drunk obese man who beats his wife into a pulp if she's laughing.
  7. In The Fountainhead, I got the impression that Gail was supposed to be a semi-good, life-loving person who simply made a philosophical mistake, and this made him crave power. However, in Galt's speech, it seemed like Rand's position was that all powerlust came from subconscious nihilism? (I.e. hatred of the good for being the good)
  8. I'm currently living in a condo in an urban area, but I fantasize about living "off the grid" when the time comes for upgrading to my own house. By that, I don't mean living in a primitive house with no electricity like a hippie, but just a house without reliance on public piping, electric cables, etc. Also, no immediate neighbours. Maybe even a spot where it's possible to grow food, even though I might not do that, so long as I can buy it from the grocery store. Now, of course, this is a bit unpractical, since it will be more expensive and one can't have shops, malls and so on in the immediate vicinity, so I'm wondering what the psychological cause of this desire is? Do you have any ideas? Is it irrational? When reading The Fountainhead, I got the feeling that there were some clues about this, with Dominique and Wynand both desiring places where Roark or Wynand's house could be untouched by the world, etc.
  9. "A fire broke out in a sweatshop employing thirty young girls. Two of them perished in the disaster. Mary Watson, one of the survivors, gave the Banner an exclusive story about the exploitation they had suffered. It led to a crusade against sweatshops, headed by the best women of the city. The origin of the fire was never discovered. It was whispered that Mary Watson had once been Evelyn Drake who wrote for the Banner. It could not be proven." This is after many such instances of things that "could never be proven" are listed. Page 425.
  10. Maybe Roark didn't know since he wasn't so interested in what was going on in the world, except for architecture, etc, but still, Rand should have addressed this, don't you think? Wouldn't a person like Dominique ever mention it?
  11. Wouldn't Roark inquire Wynand about the murders before he became his friend? Early in the section about Gail Wynand and his career, it said, when all the shady bribery and crimes of Wynand's early career was listed: (paraphrasing) "Noone could prove that the Wynand Papers were behind the fire that burned down the clothing store and killed 3 young women."
  12. What exactly happened to Toohey at the end of The Fountainhead? He's in an interview for a position in a new newspaper, and tries to find out about the owner's weakness, and the paragraph ends with "In the radio room across the hall somebody was twisting a dial. 'Time,' blared a solemn voice, 'marches on!' " I don't understand the significance of that last part. Is it simply saying that Toohey will just go on as he always does?
  13. Ayn Rand had an interesting hypothesis as to why people cry of joy. She said that it's actually a sadness over the fact that such beautiful moments are such a rare exception in life. In other words, it comes from philosophy and experience, and it's not the joy per se that makes you cry, but the grief that it's rare. It has the ring of truth to it, after all, you don't see children cry of joy that often. But what do we make of this video, of a mother singing to her baby, which is crying silently? Are we simply "projecting" and assuming that it's crying "of joy" like an adult person, when in reality, it might cry because of something else?
  14. I might be wrong on this, but I think the NAP comes from libertarians, and not from Rand. If she coined it, it's certainly meant as a guideline, something to draw wisdom from in 99,9% of situations. If you predate on others, they will do the same to you. But it's not unethical to break into someone's house in a snowstorm. Regardless, if innocents are killed in a war, the war was still initiated by their host country, not the defenders. So it doesn't violate the NAP, as far as I understand the principle, but obviously, some libertarians disagree. It's irrational to hold NAP as the fundamental, unbreachable premise instead of egoism.
  15. It was Howard Roark, so I doubt it's due to a lack of self-esteem. Regarding nude art, I must have remembered wrongly what Peikoff said in this answer, I guess he's talking about the act of masturbating here: http://www.peikoff.com/2014/03/24/i-am-dating-a-girl-that-is-an-internet-cam-girl-meaning-she-strips-and-masturbates-via-web-chat-for-money-i-like-the-fact-that-she-fakes-having-a-good-time-with-other-men-but-is-really-attracted-on/ Still, I don't understand why Roark, as a rational man, should feel ashamed, why should he care whether irrational people can't appreciate his work any more than if a dog didn't?
  16. "Sometimes, he was asked to show his sketches; he extended them across a desk, feeling a contraction of shame in the muscles of his hand; it was like having the clothes torn off his body, and the shame was not that his body was exposed, but that it was exposed to indifferent eyes." What do you make of this line? Why should being exposed naked to indifferent eyes matter to a rational person? If he or she had self-esteem, it shouldn't matter that some people won't see beauty in it. Just like you wouldn't feel ashamed if an animal saw you naked. I have a feeling that the answer to this explains why Objectivism is also against nude photography, which I've never quite understood.
  17. I don't think it's irrational to be motivated by fear. Fear, if it's based on something rational, is telling you something important, for example that you might die if you don't do anything about it. Schopenhauer was motivated by pain only, but I'd say a truly rational person is both motivated by fear/pain/etc and also the good things in life. The attitude of the people I'm talking about seems to be of the latter, "I don't care, it's gonna happen anyway, my death won't make that much of a difference, I don't mind the idea of oblivion", etc. That sounds very Schopenhauerish to me.
  18. Exactly. That's what I'm wondering, because some of my friends and potential love interests have taken this stance. But feel free to discuss any other aspects of life extension, objectivist views on death, etc as well.
  19. "There are plenty of people alive today who would welcome death rationally given their conditions." True, but that's because of some physical or emotional pain. And so if people say that they are perfectly comfortable with oblivion in general and wouldn't want to halt their aging, if they're that apathetic about their own survival, I think there must be something really bothering them deep down. Maybe it is some great value they lost that hurts every minute of their life, maybe they're scared of something, etc.
  20. First of all, as far as I can remember, Rand wrote something contradicting this in TVOS. But more importantly, this is not about dogma, we know that happiness is the ultimate goal, and if an immortal being can increase its happiness, then obviously it has values and meaning.
  21. I highly disagree that an immortal person would have no need of values, and I think that quote is taken out of context. Survival is not the ultimate goal, happiness is. If you were immortal, you could still enjoy new places, new art, revisit/reconsume old places and art, enjoy life's physical pleasures that you never get tired of, etc, you would never have to be "tormented by boredom".
  22. When talking about the issue of life extension, it shocks me that a lot of people who don't believe in life after death don't really fear dying, and even say that they wouldn't want to use a cure for aging if it was possible, because they want oblivion at some point. Put aside the point that a non-senescing person could still commit suicide, how can some people possibly welcome oblivion? Imagine never existing anymore, ever, that is horrible! I don't understand these people, and they can't really explain why to me. The only possible explanation I can think of is that there's some fundamental pain, fear, guilt or sorrow that is constantly bothering them deep down, which is so strong that they would actually prefer to not exist than to bear it. Maybe they see joy as a mere relief from this fundamental pain, and at some point, they run out of "distractions from pain", and therefore, they would prefer oblivion, like Schopenhauer. Isn't this the only explanation? If one welcomes oblivion, the alternative must be worse? What can be worse than experiencing nothing? Experiencing something painful. As an aside, when, in Atlas Shrugged, Rand writes about people who hate existence. I guess she's talking about these people? Maybe some nihilist nutjobs even think they're doing people a favor by killing them, if they believe that everyone else must have the same painful experience of life, and that oblivion is best for everyone. She said that most Americans are incapable to fully grasp the nature of these people's psychology, because of a different sense of life. Thoughts?
  23. "It'd be moral to leave the Matrix, not for the sake of some abstract devotion to "reality" or "real people" or anything else that's based on the idea of a perfect illusion (which is the Kantian skew), but to avoid living your life at the mercy of whatever happens outside." What if this "Morpheus guy" could convince you that the machine was far more safe from destruction/tampering than you would be in the real world if you went outside into the real world? Maybe you could even leave the virtual world and see it for yourself, that the machine was perfectly hidden and secure, but everywhere where there were people, the risk of murder or other horrible things was high. If you then had the choice whether or not to go back, would it still be best to live in reality, even though it was more unsafe? It seems to me that in order to have a meaningful relationship, the subject of your love must be both conscious and "beautiful" to you. You would always feel a tiny bit of a fundamental loneliness with a "robot" even if it seemed 100% human. On the other hand, you don't love anyone just because of the fact that they're conscious. You don't love a mosquito, and you won't care that much if it turns out that they suffer greatly because it's hard for us to sympathize and empathize with an insect's suffering ("The Bambi effect"). Likewise, if your girlfriend was turned into an insect permanently, you wouldn't love her that much anymore, even if it would be her qualia in the insect. (I know the example is bizarre, but just bear with it)
  24. Ayn Rand classified her novels as romantic realism, and for the most part, I think that's correct. However, when the "saint" is burned alive in Anthem with a smile on his face, or when John Galt can take the most extreme torture and just laugh in their faces, I don't think that's realistic. I know we have free will and can shift our consciousness, but there are obviously limitations. I'm pretty sure that absolutey noone in real life could be burned alive and still be able to smile and bear the pain, unless of course he had one of these rare conditions when one is immune to pain. It's simply biology, at a certain point, the pain will be unbearable, one could not smile and one would do anything to be relieved from it. Thoughts?
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