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Peter Morris

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Everything posted by Peter Morris

  1. I literally chuckled. Haha. Yes, I realize the irony. And yeah, I have stopped frequenting and relying on these forums myself. Most of us are not even really Objectivists. *gasp* I said it.
  2. Honestly, my first thought is that she probably gave it little thought. To Rand, death was the basically equivalent to the world ending. "I will not die, it is the world that will end." I've been an Atheist my whole life, and I always figured I would get buried. This is the first I've even heard of burial having any mystical significance.
  3. No. You have a very wrong idea about Rand's philosophy. It absolutely is not. If you think this has anything to do with Objectivism then you are completely mistaken. And I mean in a very deep way. No where in Rand's writing did she even come close to calling less skilled workers useless moochers. Rand's fiction focuses on great men. Her philosophy and morality, on the other hand, is for everyone of any ability. Her fiction also does not cast people of lesser ability as unworthy, immoral moochers. In Atlas Shrugged, there are passages such as this: 'He saw a bus turning a corner, expertly steered. He wondered why he felt reassured' This is a nod to the skill involved in driving a bus. If that is what you have chosen to do, and you do it well, then you are entirely moral. The same goes for electricians, plumbers, and all other trades. They are all moral, rational careers for people. They are skills, and they take a thinking mind when done right. Important to whom? To society? To themselves? And what does rich and powerful have to do with anything? Rand's heroes are not the rich and powerful, but the rational, skilled and highly capable. I don't know how this can be missed in Atlas Shrugged without reading the book and deliberately ignoring anything to the contrary. If you cannot see this, simply recall that James Taggart is rich and powerful and is in fact the president of the rail road, (Dagny Taggart is vice president) and he is a major villain. John Galt, the ideal man, the major hero, does not have much money at all. It is not in Rand's morality to judge things by social usefulness. However, if you were to do so, the people of greater ability - especially businessmen - are more important and lift everyone up higher than otherwise possible without them. Of course, without electricians there would be no lights on, but without the businessmen and scientists who run the businesses, the electricians would have nothing to do, and would not be able to perform the same task. Atlas Shrugged shows exactly what would happen if the men of great ability went on strike. Eddie Willers is left to wander the train track as a symbol of what happens to moral, good men without the men of greatest ability. But this is irrelevant to morality. Each individual's life is their own greatest and most important value. Whether you are a genius or below average, you can be morally perfect within your own sphere of ability. Moochers are people who do not rely on the efforts of their own mind, but rely on other minds. It has nothing to do with ability. By the questions you ask and the misunderstandings you show, I have to assume you are new to Objectivism, and that you have gleamed a few basic things by have not done any real deep investigation as to what it's all about. You may have also taken in false ideas propagated by enemy's of the philosophy. I would suggest reading Atlas Shrugged and reading a few Objectivist texts. I suggest Objectivism: the philosophy of Ayn Rand by Peikoff, and also audio lectures available at the aynrand estore. Also, try not to get too much information from forums like this, but instead from actual source texts by Objectivists like Rand, Peikoff, etc. (http://www.peikoff.com/tag/miscellaneous/page/427/#list) Once you've done some reading and/or listening you will have quality questions to ask that are based on a more accurate, developed idea of Objectivism, and not based on (what seems to me) a caricatured, misrepresented idea of Objectivism.
  4. When we call something a fact is different from whether it actually is a fact. Hopefully if we did everything correctly, what we call facts actually are facts, and we have methods to check. But sometimes we fail. But if you have the right method and logic, errors make themselves known because contradictions arise. When some proposition is actually a fact, and someone thinks it's a fact, then they actually know the fact. But if you can't go around thinking, 'but how do you know that you know that you know that you know.... (that you know) ad infinitum ... that it's a fact. Like Newtons laws of motion. In the context they were discovered, are facts. Now when I say, 'They are facts.' I'm making the claim that they are facts. I think they are, but me saying so doesn't make it so. And there were people who disagreed! Who thought that they weren't facts. So it's not subjective, but each person has their own set of beliefs about what are facts. You can know a fact, and you can think you know a fact. Only you don't know when you hold a false fact to be a fact that it is not a fact. If you did, you wouldn't hold it any more. A fact is an objective thing in reality. The belief is in the mind of each individual. Thinking something is a fact doesn't make it a fact so it's not subjective. Being certain doesn't make something a fact either. It's irrelevant. You're muddling people's beliefs with what facts are. You're muddling calling something a fact with it actually being a fact. Those are separate things.
  5. You're imagining that the universe itself exists within a universe where time exists. The universe itself doesn't have the attributes of the things within it such as time and space. It's hard, but try to only ever think oft he universe from within the universe, you cannot imagine it as this ball of galaxies with you standing outside of it looking in. It's important to note that Ayn Rand, as far as I know, thought that the universe was an eternal, finite plenum. That there was no part of the universe where nothing was (true metaphysically empty space - void of any physical existence - does not exist, because where there isn't anything, there isn't anything, so it's nothing, and nothing does not exist), and that it had always been. Honestly, it used to bother me, until I realized it doesn't matter. I'd rather focus on my career and life. This stuff is fun to speculate about but it's not really important. The important thing philosophically is that you know existence exists, and you know that time exists, you know that within the universe things have a beginning and an end, and that A is A meaning things are what they are and have definite existence, within the universe. Your understanding of reality, your metaphysics, is sufficient to live. If you'd like to learn more about the philosophy of physics though, I'd highly recommend listening to David Harriman. He helped clarify a lot in my mind on questions of space and time. Here is a taste.
  6. That has nothing to do with Objectivism, so I don't know why you'd call it Neo-Objectivism. The ideas themselves are just assertions. "inborn inner pressure to do what is right." No such thing exists, and if it does, prove it. And if you can prove it, having an 'inner pressure' to do something does not mean one ought to do it. The Christians have a history of trying to integrate good and rational philosophy with their mystic philosophy. But of course, such a thing cannot be done.
  7. If you figure this out, please let me know! What is needed is practical step by step advice. All I've gotten is 'think about what you like and then try things out'. It's not very useful.
  8. What are the arguments for intrinsic value? You don't prove a negative. You disprove the positive arguments for a proposition. Value is objective. It's neither in the thing itself nor in the eye of the beholder. It's both. It's the objective nature of the thing being valued in relation to the objective nature of the living thing that values it for its survival.
  9. I'm friends with a philosophy PhD student who holds opposite views to me on many philosophical questions. We talk and discuss different ideas. I don't see why he can't be my friend even though his views are so different from mine. We share an interest in ideas and philosophy. We also talk about girls, lifting weights, life in general. Extract value from people where you can. Sharing a common explicit philosophy is not the only reason to be friends with someone, and it's a poor reason in itself. Just avoid friendships with people who are clearly irrational and nutty. Most of my friends have no idea about my interest in philosophy, and I don't talk to them about it. Philosophy is for me.
  10. All wealth is achieved that way, not necessarily all money. Ayn Rand distinguished between the money maker and the money appropriator. http://aynrandlexicon.com/ayn-rand-works/money-making.html (I've listened to this probably 10 times. I highly recommend it.)
  11. Welcome to the adventure. I suggest you read with an active mind all the basic Objectivist literature, and also get some recordings from http://estore.aynrand.org/. For purpose, I highly recommend 'The Value of Purpose' by Tara Smith from that site. (but that lecture may be beyond you at this stage, it might require more an advanced understanding to grasp it properly.) I also highly recommend Nathaniel Branden's work on self esteem. This stuff goes deep, deeper than you may realize, and it is enormously powerful to improve your experience of life. Whatever philosophical ideas you end up adopting, they are powerful and necessary, it's not about Objectivism per se, but about gaining an accurate understanding of reality on which to base your values, the guidance of your thinking, and the course of your life.
  12. Of course, it's impossible for people to privately coordinate large projects for profit...
  13. No way. It may actually be the most perfect introduction to physics ever written. Harriman explains all the details, and there is very little mathematics involved. I felt for the first time I could actually understand physics, not only what it was, but the actual physics, and I also felt a true appreciation for what the early physicists had done. The history of science is actually like a fascinating mystery story, but academia manages to make it into a dry process of boring calculations and memorization. Just to name a few things, I understood for the first time in my life what a vector was and why it was important, why it had to be invented, and why a circling body is actually accelerating. I finally understood what F = ma actually means. I grasped the non-intuitive nature of 'mass' and why it had to be invented as a concept distinct from weight or 'heaviness'. None of that ever made any sense to me in high school or later. It was so simple and actually ridiculously interesting.
  14. You would have to go through an infinite number of 'I'm not's if you had to assume the negative of any arbitrary assertion. Just throw it out wholesale. Don't even go looking for evidence that you are 'not in the matrix'. There can be none. If there is any evidence that arises that suggests you are in a matrix, then you can look into it, but until then you should not even consider it. But we can know that an objective reality does exist somewhere. Even if we were in the matrix, that means there are computers in the real world that simulate it. I think many people are implying that reality itself does not exist and that maybe reality is just a simulation, but that makes no sense.
  15. This. This person gets it. This is the exact response I had in mind. All arbitrary hypotheses must be thrown out. Bingo. Is it correct to say that there could be a white porcelain teapot orbiting the sun between the Earth and Venus with a little pink heart on one side and the Chinese character for 'Happiness' on the other side of exactly 750g in mass and 50cm in diameter. Is it correct to say that there could be an intelligent parasite species that lives in all our brains that alters our sense data such that we behave in ways that are beneficial to it and that we cannot percieve it. The answer is actually no. Is it correct to say that there could be an infinite number of arbitrary facts? No. There is no evidence for their probability. If you have no evidence to suggest it, then it is not a probability at all, cognitively speaking, it is arbitrary. A maybe or a 'could' requires some evidence. I can think of several ways I can be misinterepreted here. Language is so frustarting. It is possible that evidence exists that we do not have. But we cannot know of what we do not know, and speculating about it is invalid. And now probability in terms of a dice role or the like is different. A probability of a certain outcome may exist metaphysically, but unless we have evidence to suggest it, we are invalid epistemologically in considering it a possibility. (We may get a result we had no idea was even possible. It was always possible metaphysically, but we had no reason to suggest it was possible.) So you have to remember what is metaphysical, actual, and what is epistemological, or cognitive, based on knowledge and the proper rules of thinking. I am talking here about the epistemological 'could'. But we are locked into that, so we cannot not then go and say, 'so it could be that it could be'. Ad absurdum. Once again we have no evidence. Distinguish between a metaphysical probability, a dice role/the actual reality, and an epistemological probability. (The proposition about reality: this could be/there is a probability for this.) It's very easy to fall back into the old pattern and then think 'OK, so it could be that it could be...'. That's epistemological though, so you cannot do it. Our statements of reality and reality itself are different concerns. Since we cannot think or discuss reality without making statements about reality, we can get lost.
  16. I agree with the article. I literally just read that article before logging on here. Focusing on politics and who to vote for to me is a gross mis-allocations of one's time and effort. You are better off focusing on your interests. I plan to donate to people spreading good ideas like reason and self-interest. Democracy is a farce. It's a show. Your vote is nearly worthless. If you do vote, you should vote for the person you actually want in, not the party you think 'has a chance' of winning. Your vote doesn't matter anyway. People actually have the fantastic delusion that their vote has more worth if they vote for one of the two major parties. I cannot change the world. I cannot save people from their own irrationality and self-destructive path. I only focus on what I can do for myself, and I treat government like the weather, something outside of my control that I have to deal with, plan for and accept. Suppose they held an election and nobody came.
  17. She completely rejects the implicitly underlying accepted morality and proposes almost the opposite. That rustles feathers. She is also misrepresented in popular culture which is where most people are getting their information about her.
  18. Oh, I see what you mean there. Reality itself is a primary without explanation because it would basically require explaining it in terms of something outside reality. Agreed on that point.
  19. False. Babies don't evaluate pleasure as good. They don't sit there and go, this is a feeling I'm having, I wonder if it's good, well let me work that out, yes, I think I will evaluate this feeling to correspond to an objective good. No that's not how pleasure works. Pleasure simply feels good. Once again you have talked in circles. "because the neural mechanisms simply make it feel that way (good)" My question is how could it do that? And by the way, your ice example is inappropriate too. The reason ice melts at ice melts at 32 degrees is because the intermolecular forces between the H2O molecules which keep them in place in ice is not sufficient to keep them in place when they are given that much energy which causes them to slide past each other, thus the phase transition to liquid. And we can even go into reasons for the strengths of the intermolecular forces. But this is a physical question. We can look at neural mechanisms, but we see no 'good' anywhere in the nucleus accumbens, we see no 'good' in oxytocin or dopamine. They are just chemicals. How can pain feel bad, and how can pleasure feel good? Even before we have any conception of good or bad. Even animals seek pleasure, eat more tasty food, fornicate, enjoy being stroked, etc. They have no conception of 'this is good', it's just intrinsically experienced that way. And the question is how? Edit: I think I'm stumbling into a question of what philosophers call 'qualia', which I'd heard of, but not looked into much. I have a lot of reading to do. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qualia
  20. "We consider it good if we like it." - That's talking in circles. Why do we like it? Because it feels good.Why does it feel good? Because we like it. It doesn't answer the question. The nature of any set of neural mechanisms doesn't have any goodness or badness in them. They just are. So why are they experienced as either good or bad by their nature?
  21. Something I'm grappling with lately is how it is possible for physical pleasure to be an intrinsically 'positive' experience. Likewise, how pain is intrinsically experienced as a negative, unpleasant, bad experience. A baby likes the taste of sweet and dislikes sour. A baby cries due to pain and laugh at funny faces. A baby has no conception of 'life as the standard of value'. This is also true of most adults who have no conception of life as the standard of value. Pleasure is just an end in itself, as 'happiness' is. Now I've heard it said that pleasure is supposed to be 'rigged' such that pleasure is a reward for an action that benefits one's life. But actually, evolution would have rigged it such that it was rigged to reward an action that benefits the propagation of one's genes. And that still does not answer why it is experienced as good. How could any chemical in the brain just be good in our subjective experience? Moreover, when an adult takes a drug, the pleasure pathways in the brain are activated, and people experience pleasure and positive feelings completely devoid of any cause. And the pleasure itself is experienced as good. The question to me is how and why? This may be more of a neuroscience question, but I cannot see how identifying which chemicals, which pathways and which parts of the brain are involved can explain why they are psychologically experienced as good. It is perplexing to me.
  22. I made a thread about this on Objectivist Living. I thought I'd get opinions here, since I've been informed they are the pro-Barbara Branden camp. I thought that 'The Passion of Ayn Rand' was just a vanilla biography. I didn't know there was a rift amongst Objectivists about it. I only knew of the Peikoff-Kelley Open-Closed rift. I found it at my university library and got hooked by the first page. The book itself is well written and engaging, and the first page draws you in. I found myself lost in the story. The first part about 'Alice' was very good and very interesting. It seemed well researched and objective. But towards the latter half of the book, I started to feel an eery sense that something was not quite right. I started to think, 'how could Ayn be this irrational?'. It seems absurd. She was denouncing people morally for choices in music and so on? She was getting 'angry' all the time. I felt like this is not the woman of the first half of the book. Ayn didn't seem to be preaching the Objectivism that I know. And I have learned a lot of it from Peikoff, through lectures I bought, his books, and his podcast - Objectivism straight from the orthodox horses mouth. I started wondering to myself, quite innocently, could this be blown out of proportion? Could this be bent truth? How would I even know? Then I got to a passage about Ayn Rand's Donnahue interview. I've watched two of her Donnahue interviews many times, loving Ayn throughout. The passage claims that Ayn 'got angry' and the show was a disaster when a woman said 'now that I'm more educated, I don't agree with you.' This is when I suddenly felt that every time Barbara claimed Ayn 'got angry' was blown out of proportion. Ayn got upset, but I would not have called her 'angry'. And she was not being irrational or unreachable. I would say she was calmly offended. If you call that getting angry, then it throws into doubt every other time in the book you claim she was angry. Then I thought, Ayn was willing to be friends earlier in her life with a conservative woman who believed in mystical nonsense, but towards the latter half she suddenly became unwilling to be friends with anyone who she deemed immoral for being irrational or having different tastes in music, etc? What? So I did some searching and sure enough found another book that apparently gives another side to the story. (The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics: The Case Against the Brandens.) And I read some of Diana Hsieh's writings, and she pointed out both of those things. Now if I picked them out not even knowing the book was a controversy, I have to wonder. (Edit: And I did also notice, as Hsieh points out, that there was a fair bit of psychological analysis going on.) I don't know who is telling the truth or not, but the 'Passion of Ayn Rand' towards the latter half seemed mighty suspicious. I found myself really disliking the supposed Ayn Rand in the latter half of the book. I felt that she had totally lost touch with the love of life she was supposed to have, and that she had fallen into pure rationalism, not willing to consider facts, trying to deduce everything about music, psychology and so on purely from first principles in her philosophy. Emotional repression. And the part about Nathaniel not being allowed to have a life apart from her? I find it hard to believe she said it. I had a hard time believing that's what became of her. It's possible that it's all true, and that Ayn lost her marbles, but in her late interviews, she didn't seem that way. Anway, I guess I got sucked into the whole drama. I realize I'm digging into some old stuff that has been flogged to death. I just thought it was interesting that I felt the last part of the book was a bit suspicious even though I had no reason to other than the book itself.
  23. Well, I have roughly two ways of handling it. If I do engage, I do so in a quite detached way. I make sure not to feel angry or frustarted. I accept that I won't be able to change anyone's mind, so I only do it as an exercise in fleshing out my own understanding. If the person is clearly irrational or emotion or angry or abusive, then I simply stop. I have no interest in going further, I don't feel frustration. If I felt frustrated, it meant I thought they should change their mind and that they have to and I can't make them. That's totally wrong. Just live your life, don't worry about them. Their not getting it doesn't change you, your life, or how you live. Be content with your own understanding of reality. And occasionally, someone will point out a lacuna or contradiction in your thoughts, and that is a real delight! And secondly, I simply avoid it or I talk around it. That is what I do 95% of the time. I just don't care. People will believe what they believe. I have mentioned only briefly to my own girlfriend my own interest in philosophy and objectivism. Even she has really very little idea about it and about my interest in it. She was surprised, after two years dating, when I said the point of life is to be happy. She had not imagined I would think that, and she was very pleased. I found that amusing. I'm an individualist in every sense. I want to understand reality. I don't care about others. Write a blog post if you want to get your ideas and arguments out of your head. Writing is really the best way to spread your ideas because people who are interested will read, agree or disagree, respond or not, and that's that. Release them into the aether, and leave it. Polemics sucks. I have occasionally felt guilty that I have exactly zero interest in engaging in politics. But it soon disappears into contempt for the whole thing. My life is too short to spend any minute of it on politics. I will donate some money to people who like doing that kind of thing when I'm able to, and that will be my futile contribution. Besides, I'm much more interested in how people can find happiness, a career they love, joy, pleasure, interesting careers and that sort of stuff. I'm a firm believer that people should just focus on themselves. Most people don't want to be right. They want to win the debate. They have their self esteem wrapped up in their ideas and so being corrected is an attack on them personally, that is why they get angry and will not see clear contradictions in their own arguments. Most people were raised in public schools that fail to teach children proper methods of thinking and of arguing. Moreover, many, many people are second handed and care about appearances rather than reality. Once you identify a person is like that, just stop. Smile, stop talking, and move on.
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