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  1. Like
    Skylab72 got a reaction from andie holland in Unknowability   
    Good thread. I must add that starting a philosophical discussion with reference to Quantum Mechanics is fraught with pitfalls. First among them from a objectivist point of view (actually from scientific point of view as well) is the concept of identity. When Maxwell Planck derived the equations defining the minimum rate at which a black body could radiate energy, he was drawing a line in reality. Above this line you can have things, below this line  you cannot. Below that line you can have energy behaving similarly to a thing on occasion, but keep watching and it will be just energy. So when you contemplate sub atomic "particles", remember they have the same kind of "identity" that a curl traversing the bonsai pipe-line has. When I am in the curl I know all about it's speed and direction, but I have no idea where the beach is, beyond "not here".
  2. Like
    Skylab72 got a reaction from dream_weaver in Is Objectivism an Open or Closed System?   
    LOL, given how far afield some folks seem willing to go to have something to fight over, you may have a point.
    However, as someone so old as to have actually had a face to face conversation with Ms. Rand, I can assure you she was one of the most sincere people I have ever met. So much so, it frustrated her no end that her attempts at marketing, (both herself and her work), were actually hampered by her devotion to truth. It seemed to her the general public was obtuse, because the LAST thing she wanted to respond to her effort was gullibility.
  3. Like
    Skylab72 reacted to Morality_Today in Tax bothers me so much. How can I deal with it?   
    The most productive people I know are not motivated solely by money. No, we shouldn't condemn people who are, but money is a means to value, not a value in itself. There is intrinsic value in work that cannot be taxed, and it is the intrinsic value that motivates workers who truly enjoy their job. It's unfortunate if you haven't found that yet.
  4. Like
    Skylab72 reacted to Nicky in Arizona Bill 1062: The Right to Discriminate for religious reasons   
    Imagine the female Senator who co-sponsored this bill walking into a shop in her neighborhood, getting called a whore and being thrown out for not being appropriately covered up or accompanied by her husband, because the owner of the store is a Muslim.

    I wonder if she'd be OK with that. I doubt it. I bet she'd be outraged, and on the Senate floor the next day sponsoring an exception to her own law.
  5. Like
    Skylab72 reacted to Devil's Advocate in The first cause argument   
    I would only add that the lack of proof makes the question just that much more interesting.  Given the reality of causality as we experience it, we can deduce that a first cause would be like every cause that follows with one exception; the first act would necessarily be uncoerced, i.e. free-will.
  6. Like
    Skylab72 reacted to tadmjones in Bill Gates becomes a Philanthropist   
    Is capitalism of the laissez faire variety , or the completely free market anything other than a description of mutually beneficial voluntary trade en masse? Or is there a point in or level of societal complexity that requires control to ensure that individuals are aware of the differences between the services provided by an excavator and a proctologist? Ya know somehow to make sure we keep the ideas of a hole in the ground and our asses seperate?
  7. Like
    Skylab72 reacted to softwareNerd in Integrating Wealth and Health   
    There are all sorts of reasons to watch news programs. Some people watch Hannity and Sharpton get confirmation of their version of the truth. Others watch them to get confirmation of how stupid the "other side" is. Some watch in order to make a judgement about them, one way or the other. Perhaps there are some who watch in an attempt to ignore the rhetoric and glean the underlying news and issues that are current. And, then there is the viewer who is just fed up of equally inane drama shows, "reality" shows, but the sleeping pills aren't working yet. You can watch Fox if you like. Watch it a little or a lot. The same with MS-NBC and CNN. The same with the Daily Show or Stephen Colbert, Rachel Maddow, Rush Limbaugh.
    Voting is somewhat the same. You can avoid doing it altogether, as a waste of your time, or you can throw in your lot and decide if one poison is truly better than another. It is up to you to decide if you want to vote for people who will boss other people around about whom they marry, whether they get high, whether they can have abortions, whether they can be kept out of land their own ancestors came to a few generations ago; or, you can vote for people who will boss other people around about whether they will eat salt, whether they can choose a school for their kids, whether they can keep a little more of their money, whether they can choose their own health-care, etc. And, while voting, remember that both sides are fairly sympathetic to the others in many areas where the other is primary. So, both sides are willing to cross over and boss people around in areas that are somewhat secondary to them.

    And do not confuse this bossiness for a purely pathological psychology or a purely emotional thing. That would be to make the same mistake you have accused others of committing: of ignoring reasons and of assigning impure motives where reasons lie. No, make no mistake that it is ideology, and a desire to help others, and the desire to have a society that is more and better than those others, that drive the bosses. They see society -- as you do -- as being more primary and fundamental (in ethical terms) than individuals. What matters it if some billionaire has one less luxury car if a poor person can be given a bowl of soup; what matters it if some middle-class kid has to do without a computer for his high-school years, until we have money to give computers to all high-schoolers. They also see the social consciousness as more wise than the individual. Silly individuals might think that salt is okay in their meals, but the wise scientific consensus knows better, and the individual is helped by forcing him to do what others think is rational, and perhaps we can even hypothesize that we are helping him fight his own emotional, irrational desires. The whole is bigger than the parts and ought to be wiser, say these T.V. pundits and those who are voted into power. The argument is about the means. Jack-boots are so old-fashioned, and the plebs will rebel. The modern pundits advocate "nudges" instead.

    In other words, if you look a few levels deep, the worst examples on Fox news and the worst examples in the tea-party share their deepest ideology with the worst among their opponents. But, what is more, they share that level of their ideology with you!
  8. Like
    Skylab72 reacted to softwareNerd in Bill Gates becomes a Philanthropist   
    This is the critique that "Occupy Wallstreet" and some libertarians use against companies like Goldman Sachs. However, merely dealing with government via lobbyists and campaign contributions does not mean a businessman is primarily culpable. While a small minority use political pressure as a major business tool, most do what they think they have to do. Among this range, Microsoft hardly used government at all. Here's some info.
    The true villain of the Microsoft story is the average Joe complaining about monopolies, but meaning companies like Microsoft who dominated the PC software market with almost no help from the government. This is the average Joe who complains Microsoft is a monopoly, but won;t shell out the extra bucks to buy a Mac; the guy who does not put up or shut up, but instead wants to be served. If you want to visualize larger villains, I present two: Senator Orrin Hatch and James Barksdale of Netscape. Barksdale was a happy, willing participant in the persecution of Microsoft. Why should Microsoft make things easier for Netscape? In the end, the statist ideology won the day. Gates rolled over and pretty much gave up: Hatch and Barksdale won the day.
    Business-wise, Microsoft was in the classical bind of not wanting to hurt their cash-cow products by innovating. Technically/product-wise, Microsoft missed the internet switch and played follower ever since. Any blocking of downloads was just silly. Many of my non-computer pals had downloaded other browsers, or had acquired them from the many free-disks that came in the mail and were using them with no help from Microsoft. At worst, you can say it was silly idea, but it pales in comparison to Netscape's use of governmental force to change the game.
    More broadly, realize that when companies do get involved in politics, it is often secondary. The entrepreneur reaches a stage where he realizes that he has to play or lose. If you see Googles' involvement with government, it followed the same trajectory. 
  9. Like
    Skylab72 reacted to Devil's Advocate in What is a libertarian?   
    Political libretarianism is best represented by Ron Paul's agenda, and generally supports Objectivism except as a means of getting votes.
    "The central tenet of Paul's political philosophy is that 'the proper role for government in America is to provide national defense, a court system for civil disputes, a criminal justice system for acts of force and fraud, and little else.'" ~ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_positions_of_Ron_Paul
  10. Like
    Skylab72 reacted to hernan in Free Markets are for Sissies   
    I'd say in many ways including that. One thing I most appreciate about Rand is that she demonstrated a philosophical appreciation for practical things. That shines through in Atlas Shrugged. She made practical men and women heroes and those opposed to practical thinking vilians. 
  11. Like
    Skylab72 reacted to Devil's Advocate in How Do Men of Faith, Who Consider Themselves Objectivists, Reconcile t   
    This thread demonstrates the wisdom of "don't ask - don't tell" regarding discussions related to Faith in God in Objectivist forums.  While I appreciate the invitation you presented in the OP, the fact remains that God isn't one... yet.  Similarly, it's equally good advice for "Men of Faith" not to respond to assertions that "God doesn't exist"; as I learned by being ejected from THE FORUM for Ayn Rand Fans for "inciting a riot".
    Nevertheless, I've enjoyed the discussion thus far and will continue to respond to legitimate considerations of knowledge vs belief vs faith.
    Peace be with you...
  12. Like
    Skylab72 reacted to Devil's Advocate in Wyatt's Torch: Should there be limits on ownership of natural reso   
    Wyatt's Torch was unable to be extinguished. Imagine BP in the Gulf creating an unstoppable spill... intentionally. If anyone here can justify the intentional creation of a perpetual environmental disaster as the result of a right to property, I'd love to see it...

    Forever is a long time, but in terms of legal inheritance... yes.

    I believe John Locke was essentially correct (even without reference to God), that property rights, in terms of finite real estate and natural resources, ethically depend to some measure of conservation. One is entitled to acquire as much land and resources as one can own by efforts to improve it, but one is not entitled to intentionally waste common resources such that others can no longer acquire and use them...

    "Sec. 33. Nor was this appropriation of any parcel of land, by improving it, any prejudice to any other man, since there was still enough, and as good left; and more than the yet unprovided could use. So that, in effect, there was never the less left for others because of his enclosure for himself: for he that leaves as much as another can make use of, does as good as take nothing at all. No body could think himself injured by the drinking of another man, though he took a good draught, who had a whole river of the same water left him to quench his thirst: and the case of land and water, where there is enough of both, is perfectly the same." ~ John Locke, Second Treatise of Civil Government, Chapter 5

    Wyatt was certainly entitled to turn his property into a wasteland as the Owner of his property, however the air above and resources beneath (that extended beyond his property lines) remained common to his neighbors. His action to create a perpetual environmental disaster, that was not delimited to his own property, was an act of aggression against his neighbors and undermined his own right to property by dismissing theirs.
  13. Like
    Skylab72 reacted to Devil's Advocate in Animal rights   
    Yes, I have raised the issue of domestication as being an example of trader principle between man and beast, e.g., goods for services, earned and exchanged by individual labor.  The trader principle cannot be applied between master and slave for obvious reasons, but this only underscores a selfish advantage on the part of human traders to base their working animal partnerships on some model other than the slave trade.
    Yes, you can beat an animal (or a human) into submission on the premise that the life of a beast is undeserving of ethical consideration; indeed this is what men commonly do with their "property".  And consistent action on this premise promotes the infliction of pain and suffering for want of compassion; compassion being presumed wasted on a animal that will bite the hand that feeds it.  But where is the ethical right to intentionally inflict pain and suffering on any living creature?
    To assert that a animal has no ethical right to life as a property inalienable to it, and only ought to be treated kindly when it suits a man to do so, is a vaguery of ethics that only undermines a man's right to life, which in practice then makes a virtue of cruelty.
  14. Like
    Skylab72 got a reaction from Harrison Danneskjold in Can a Preemptive Strike Be Self-Defense?   
    Oh, and Harrison, for the record I have read The Quran, The Gita, The Torah, The Roman Catholic Bible, The King James Version, Jefferson 'Bible', and an equal volume of other derivative works with various esoteric slants, and best I can tell, they are all talking about the same thing. Moreover, the followers of every particular persuasion all make the same error. The "I know 'God' and you don't." logical fallacy, then assume they have the mandate to initiate the use of force to 'help out' an all powerful' all knowing' deity who really does not need their help. The followers are the problem not the religion. You touch on the real issue, metaphysics, but seem to miss that a consistent metaphysics demands the acknowledgment that your framework is incomplete. Ref: Kurt Gödel
  15. Like
    Skylab72 reacted to theestevearnold in How Do Men of Faith, Who Consider Themselves Objectivists, Reconcile t   
    Dearest Devil's Ad,

    AR's ethics is a practical theory. It's not either or. Only irrational theories can't be applied to reality.

    And without a way to validate the rights you call fairly straight forward, they can crumble to the first evil philosophy to proclaim the morality of rights baseless. What happens when a dictator insists that all property should belong to the state? Do you have an argument reducible to the axioms? Or do you say, "Everybody knows it's wrong to have to give your property to serve the "greater good."?

    The "self-evident truths" of the Declaration are still in dispute, & losing ground, because they never did the work needed to prove why rights are right. Those great men left the concept of rights undefended, because they failed to validate it.

    Miss Rand did.
  16. Like
    Skylab72 reacted to Devil's Advocate in How Do Men of Faith, Who Consider Themselves Objectivists, Reconcile t   
    Agreed, to the degree that numerous consciences suggest parts of a greater whole, or a universal consciousness if you will.  What we can say is that consciousness depends on matter to exist, and there's nothing particularily unique about Earth's matter.  But to address the more thorny issue that divides theists from athiests, is God necessary?  Specifically what would go missing if God was substituted by recognizing Nature as the source of life??
    I tend to agree with Voltaire's assertion that, "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him."  Self awareness leads to the awareness of other selves, and for many, an awareness of (or suspicion of) a greater self.  An unconscious Nature creates a vacuum, and as is said, Nature abhors a vacuum.  There, I think I've given you enough rope to hang myself with... 
  17. Like
    Skylab72 got a reaction from Devil's Advocate in How Do Men of Faith, Who Consider Themselves Objectivists, Reconcile t   
    Now this is a challenge I can sink my teeth into. Thanks Repairman for the succinct question. I wish my answer could be as succinct.
    Reality is real. Existence exists. A is A. The identity property reigns supreme.
    I admit to agreeing with Ms. Rand's epistemology and philosophy more than any other I have come across. But I am also a self described "theist". I am therefore one of your targets for this query.
    Begin at the bottom. De Carte, "Cognito Ergo Sum". Think therefore AM. Not as is oft translated (not wholly incorrectly, context may imply the speaker) "I think therefore I am", more as, One who thinks, must from only that evidence Exist. DeCarte, as do many others, thought that irreducible. Other threads on this forum have tamped that turf hard enough to leave it at that.
    I think. I perceive. I use mathematics to describe what I perceive. I stand on the shoulders of hundreds of years of Giants who have done the same. The scientific method is one of my most useful tools. I find however, that as useful as it may be, it always falls short. 
    Mathematics has extended the range of our perceptions to the point we suspect the volume of our reality is expanding far faster than our species ability to explain. I/we turned to math to chart what to do, to define a system within reality which would be both consistent and complete. For two hundred years we worked on the problem. Then in the first quarter of the twentieth century, a young upstart in an elite German school, proved it could not be done. No finite system, can be both consistent and complete. In order to prove a system consistent one must prove it incomplete. In order to prove it complete, one must prove it inconsistent. It is no accident quantum theory also sprang from this era.
    I have great confidence Reality (note the use of caps) was exposed in Gödel's completeness theorem. It took a while to absorb Kurt's work but when the implications became clear, thirty plus years of Agnosticism/Atheism melted away. Like many Rand fans I find it easier to deal only with what I know, and that certainly is useful, but there always comes a time when one has to deal with the unknown and the uncertain. I'd long believed man "invented" gods to explain the unknown. So here at last I had a concept worthy of the name. So my god became God, defined as, That System which is Infinite, Complete, Consistent, and Unary (The first two properties require subsuming all others).
    So with this epiphany I went back to revisit all the "god literature" with my newfound conviction. Then I found Rand (again). (This next sentence is a long one, so wherever I say 'translation' think 'English translation') After visiting three translations of the protestant Bible, the approved translation of the Catholic Bible, the only translation of the Greek Orthodox Bible I could find, the Jefferson Bible, two translations of the Quran, two translations of the Torah, Three translations of the Bagivad Gita, twenty six translations of the Tao (it is short), eight English volumes purporting to be the teaching of Buddha, seven volumes focused on the teachings of Confucius, and three translations of The Five Rings, after all that, it was Rand who integrated it for me. "There are no contradictions. If you think you've found one, you have found either a faulty premise or a logical error.", Ayn Rand.  
    When I simply took these works as a whole, and threw out all the contradictions (there are fewer than you might think), the remainder is a gold mine of pithy wisdom for living. Actually read the Jefferson Bible sometime, it is a national treasure. These works all said the same things, over and over.
    It had long been my belief that all the earths mythology originated from the same urge, to explain the unknown in such a way as to promote behavior consistent with man's nature and promoting the welfare of the largest groups the authors of these myths could hope to convence. During this exercise I found nothing to dissuade that point of view, they all use the same concepts, and in many cases the same situations and constructs to reveal their truth. The difference with Rand was she just saw the results of the industrial 'revolution' before she set out to write, ( IMO more clearly than most.) and unlike the others she consciously avoided any argument except the logical one. But in every case, there are followers who morph and corrupt the teaching until much of it's Truth is obscured. So it shall be with Rand, given time it is inevitable.
    The laws of physics however are not going away, Reality is Real, Existence Exists, and A is A. One hundred eighty six thousand miles per second is God's law. Thou shalt not steal is a natural consequence. It is hard for some folks to understand the difference. So let them bind what morality they can find, in terms they are comfortable with. To me God is Real, because the cosmos is unfolding as it should, not the other way around. Now as I struggle to grasp Grigori Perleman's work, I dream of building meaningful maps of the cosmos with it, so we can travel farther and learn even more, in order to survive both as individuals and as a species. We still struggle with the unknown because what you don't know, eventually, will kill you, you are finite. Reality is not. I stand before you, a theist objectivist. I have 'faith' in thousands of things I personally cannot prove, I stand on the shoulders of giants. I 'pray' because I find there are creative capabilities at my disposal triggered by visioning 'the world as it should be' under under an infinite sky. My God is an infinite N-dimensional manifold of three core properties that are weakly reflected in the three core equation sets defining the basic forces of the standard model, Strong Molecular, Weak Molecular, and Gravity. That is all I have to say about that, I am too stupid to go on.
  18. Like
    Skylab72 got a reaction from Harrison Danneskjold in Simple questions of right and wrong   
    tjfields must be working on his reducto ad absurdium merit badge. Why is it so hard for folks to see the absurdity.
    The method, when done well, will push you back to your epistemological roots. When done antagonistically, just gets stupid.
    Pardon me son, but I'm gonna cut you off at the pass. A little epistemology:
    Cognito ergo sum. That is Latin, it means think therefore am. Logical extension; to be aware of existence something must think. When consciousness constrains itself to nothing but that beness, there must be some entity to be. Ergo I think therefore I am, and by extension to continue to be I must think. Therefore my first choice is to be or not to be. I choose be, to live, my base value is life. If you disagree expect mortal animus.
    Next thinker discovery, my perceptions seem to indicate I exist in some sort of environment, I call it reality.
    I discover entities in reality that seem aware of me, and some of those seem also able to think, in varying degrees. I also note things that seem completely unaware and seem to never think, but continue to exist anyway. I find the inanimate things remarkably consistent. The animate ones remarkably less so. I find that when the thinking ones and I share a goal like staying alive, and cooperate, the goal is more readily achieved. I value life, all life, my own is simply the instance of it most valuable to me.  If you disagree expect mortal animus.
    I find consistency promotes my value. I find awareness promotes my values. I therefore value the trustworthy and knowledgeable among the sentients. If you disagree you gain potential threat points.
    In order to promote these values and my life to the maximum I can, I logically must consistently behave in a manner supportive of their logic. Imagine what you will, you do not exist in a vacuum tj. Your desert island is simply an attempt to resurrect the brain-a-vat argument, and it consistently breaks down as much more difficult to support logically than admitting that reality exists. A is A. Believing that it is O.K. to kill anyone without a very good reason to kill them, is to me, adequate reason enough to kill you. Is that clear enough? 
  19. Like
    Skylab72 got a reaction from mdegges in Is it moral to kill leaders of the environmentalist movement?   
    Why do so many people seem to think it is O.K. to kill a man simply because you disagree with him? It is neither fun nor prudent. I do not recommend starting fights you cannot finish without a good exit strategy, your intended victim may have friends who agree with you about killing people. 
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