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bill harris

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    bill harris
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  • Biography/Intro
    I'm a free-lance writer with a masters in Philosophy from the 1970's. 'Hope i can remember enough to keep up!
  • Experience with Objectivism
    I've read Atlas and Fountainhead. I've also read a bit of Objectivism on line.
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    U Paris
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    semi retired, writer.

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  1. Thanks, Greg. I suppose that my relevant point, going in, is that having various philosophical beliefs do not necessarily pre-determine success and failure in any endeavor. Thx, Bill
  2. To the extent that i understand your cryptic response, i disagree. Statistics don't replace replace a certainty as much as describing real situations in which randomness and variance naturally occurs. For example, while you can say that the results of any particular coin flip is random, the boundary conditions are set by sidedness (2) and long-term evenness of outcome based upon the equal weights of the two sides. What frustrates many people is the extension of this into QM. Elementary particles really do behave in sort of a random manner. BH
  3. Harrison, Permit me to respond by paragraph, 1 to 5: 1& 2-- My belief is that philosophy is important in developing ideals and values for life. That said, there are three possibilities for any individual to take. 1) ideals direct my life 2) ideals influence my life as a first step 3) ideals are nonsense. As an analogy, pretend you're trying to get to the Bahamas in a sailboat from Miami, whcu is 90d directly due east. You set your compass accordingly. Well, good luck if you don't adjust for wind and current! My point is that both a non-directedness and a refusal to interface with empirical reality will get you to Cuba. Or try swimming: how helpful is a diagram? Better with than without, but having learned it alone will not keep you afloat... For you, with all due respect as an enormously erudite individual, Objectivism over-directs. You really do seem to want to 'live' by ideals and values; I simply contend that this is impossible. 3,4&5-- Rand's justification for capitalism is that it's about moral agents acting out of rational self-interest. The math of their interaction seems to indicate that 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions'. So yes, you're at a point where you have to choose: intent versus outcome. Here, I'll add a point that 'ethics' in a large sense is not so much 'doing good' as to what part of 'goodness' includes choosing by good intent, while knowing all along that the outcome of this choice will be bad. Because this scenario is absurd (as Rand must have realized), she was obliged to find an economic theory which would demonstrate that the outcome wasn't bad after all.. In other words, at some point, markets will have to be shown to produce something more than bad outcomes. Surprisingly, she rejects both Chicago and Hayek. The former is based upon strategic 'rational expectations', which was not proven false during her life. The later wrote that markets produce participatory democracy, regardless of its chaotic nature; so just put some controls on the system & you'll be okay. Finally she settles in on Mises, who talked of 'choice' as if the actors were rational actors. My name-laden expostulation tries to show you that in no ense can it be said that markets produce rational outcomes. By choosing unfettered markets in the name of personal freedom, you're choosing chaos. So yes, be very afraid. --Bill
  4. I was referring to # 121. Must I provide line-by-line citations?
  5. Buddah, As I mentioned in another post, situating Rand's epistemology in the company of those who you cited was meant as a complement. For my own purposes, i'm trying to figure out where she fits in. Therefore, your knowledge of these philosophers would be of great benefit. With anticipatory thanks, Bill
  6. Newton was able to extend his Optics into a viable general hypotheses through what we now call 'abduction' . So if this is what you want to call 'philosophy', then fine. But Newton also believed in alchemy, so what's that called? Or how about his belief in god? Babylonians and Greeks both had mathematics. For the former, it seemed to have been a grab-bag of methods applied to certain problems. As fr the later, we're well aware of certain philosophers' apparent desire to convert lots of how -to's into a few axioms, or 'worthies'. That's just what philosophers do, ostensibly a Greek invention. At its birth, chemistry had to prove the viability of molecules. Then came an explosion of knowledge, particularly in Germany, that occurred so fast that Americans had such a hard time keeping up with the translations that many simply went and learned German, instead. The advent of Physical Chemistry and Quantum Analysis was due in great part to Pauling's solution to the benzine-halogen problem in the 20's. As even Einstein couldn't understand the solution as personally explained, it's rather obvious that Chemistry was employing certain quantum techniques not universally known in Physicsworld. No, I don't believe the 'knowledge hypotheses' as anything more than its accumulation overtime. For example, the 'roots' of Bessemer having figured out how to cheaply inject carbon in to iron was based upon the access to huge quantities of coal, iron, and labor. in other words, what made the new industrial revolution of steel was not the understanding, which dates to the 1400's at least, but how to do it better, more efficiently. BH
  7. >>>You really haven't read Rand, have you?<<< >>>For it to be said that an INDIVIDUAL has obtained objective knowledge, what is required is that he has - to the best of his ability - reconciled and accounted for any known, contradictory information.<<< If this is all that Rand is saying, then She's said nothing at all that's remotely interesting: who would not agree with the above? In other words, although yes, I've read her Epistemology, one would not have to read it to have agreed with her on the above. Perhaps my gloss, then, is either putting words in her mouth or making her appear far more profound than she was. After all, i'm trying my best to place her in the company of Aristotle, Russell, Kripke...while you're reducing her to a melange of Ken Wilbur, Dr Phil, and Sarah Palin. At the very least, we can agree that you're using 'objective' in a rather louche sense. All it really means is 'subject independent'. So now you're offering up gravity as a 'subject-independent' idea? Wow! How insightful! My 12 year old niece can do better by citing Peyton List's 'gravy theory'. BH,
  8. In math, the definition is simple: a non-predictable outcome.
  9. My own evaluation is implicit in my text: orthodox Randism has offered no shred of real evidence as to why its ideals, so stated, have any realistic bearing on how people really live. 'Concepts', as used, is just a fancy word for what the mind devises on its own, with or without a grounding in lived reality. The Greeks called this 'noite' , and Hume, 'the imagination', as did Kant. This is not to say that the pursuit of concepts is wrong. Rather, only a sophomoric enterprise when said coneptualizing replaces the awareness of real life. What one should never be afraid of is to inquire of others' 'concepts', can you offer me a concrete example of what you're talking about?" For example, if you believe in 'free markets', are you afraid when I challenge you to provide me evidence that markets actually work the way that you claim that they do? Or, being afraid that they don't--because all empirical evidence demonstrates contrary-- do you hide in fear behind the principle of individualism, thereby kicking the rhetorical can away from economics as such? Or, out of fear, do you resort to childish name calling? BH
  10. >>>scientific knowledge (which logically depends on philosophy) can be used to gain additional insights into philosophy.<<< You can, I suppose rig up a daffy-nition of 'philosophy' which satisfies this statement. Perhaps, metaphysically, "Nature' is mind-independent." Wow. Obviously, the problem is that said statement is not limited to doing science as such. Rather, it informs our daily lives every minute. The second issue is that various scientists have held various metaphysical views of reality, yet have worked side-by side. perhaps the best example is Wigner, who actually believed that the grater part of QM was mind-dependent, D- matrix and all. Lastly, we have the in-the-face-reality of Bacon's New Method', which explicitly rejects Aristotle for the sake of creating a new metaphysik consistent with his own method. BH
  11. There are only several logical possibilities: * Aristotle: Words adequately describe any object. In other words, there is no real epistemological issue in so far as our senses tell us the truth about what's out there. Therefore, the relationship word/thing is 'natural'. * Kripke: words cause objects. Therefore words serve as causal referents because nothing exists without a name. Otherwise, we're dealing with what Aristotle called huile, or indistinguished matter. * Russell: words describe everything that might be said about a thing. Indeed, these descriptors are not only infinitely regressive, but also contradictory. * Wittgenstein: words only define things within a frame of reference (Bild). Words outside said frame are meaningless. It's more or less assumed that Rand's position was Aristotelian (Machan). That's because, again, of her mind- theory of "perception >> thought". In other words, the mind produces a representation of what's really out there: We absorb sensory data, we bundle, we process by thought, we produce concepts by abstracting sensory particulars...etc.... What isn't accounted for is error and the stark reality that other people (a) take the same sensory data, but derive other accounts of abstracted truths and ( the process of selective perception gives different individuals different data, therefore different truths. Of course, this isn't new: Kant cited the above in Hume as to why he was shaken out of his dogmatic slumber. Rational skepticism, then, begins with the discovery that other people use reason, too, but derive different conclusions. Therefore, what you seem to be offering of Rand is a hedge. Condensing ' all referent properties' means (a) all that the mind possess at the time of condensation and ( all properties understood by the mind to be 'true' referents, as opposed to those that aren't. Lastly, again, the Randian assumption is that the mind works like an inductive machine by forming few generalizations (abstractions) from many sensations (perceptions). Then, concepts ...w Well, only half true, as pre-existing thought guides what's perceived, after all. BH
  12. Wow. if you can't see that there's a difference between expressing feelings for your particular object of affection and what, in the abstract, feelings represent and their origin, then you're a hopeless solipsist. In other words, consenting adults whose minds mature beyond that of the average 13 year old gurl, do occasionally discuss the social and psychological basis of love. And who knows? maybe even the Socratic pena kai pora as cited! Wow, indeed! That you obviously haven't speaks volumes; perhaps it's a lack of spinal column? BH
  13. What's your point? These are all proper names...is Rand not worthy of mention?
  14. No, my request is that the Austrians should come up with some quantifiably testable hypotheses on their. own. Otherwise, their case is about as strong a girl wandering into a sports bar with a mini skit, no panties and a tee shirt that say's 'rape me'..yet files a complaint that she was...raped. BH
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