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William O

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Everything posted by William O

  1. Aquinas' commentaries on Aristotle are available in print and online. I do not know whether the online editions are made available legally or illegally, and I don't have time to check right now. I have a few in paperback, and I have found them helpful and insightful.
  2. So I'd like to start with an observation: Nobody who has decided to commit suicide is going to care about any of this. Right? They're just going to kill themselves. They're not going to be interested in "debating the issue." Nor will they care whether their action is "self-contradictory," or "implies a contradiction," or "cannot be rationally justified," or "cannot be morally justified." They're done: "That's nice - bye!" I think the mistake in your argument is regarding the choice between life or death as a "conclusion" in the first place. I don't think that construal matches the logic of Rand's argument or passes the test of introspection. The logic of Rand's argument makes the choice between life and death the fundamental alternative, on which all others rest. One side of that alternative is the choice to live, which leads to morality with all of its requirements. But there is another side to that alternative, the choice to die, in which case nothing in morality is applicable, including the virtue of rationality. Since this is the fundamental alternative, there's no alternative beneath it that it could be a conclusion from. If I check introspection, this makes sense. My motivation (I do not say "reason," but "motivation") for wanting to live isn't an academic argument or sequence of words, but a picture of how I expect my life to go, or of how it could go. I just look at that picture and say "yes" to it. I don't see how I could expect someone who looked at their future and said "no" to it, after due reflection, to continue living. Frankly, that seems like a callous and unfair expectation. In conclusion, this all reminds me of the old story about the law criminalizing suicide in the USSR. The punishment? Death.
  3. @Jeff Kahl, Objectivists tend to like Durant's history of civilization, which has volumes on the ancient Oriental world, Greece, and Rome. I can say that his writing is superb. He may be substantially out of date. Dr. Leonard Peikoff has a list of recommended history books: History Reading List « Peikoff I can say that I read McNeill's single volume history of the world, and I really liked it. I am nothing resembling a historian, though.
  4. Respectfully, this seems a little rationalistic. Why couldn't the particles rotate around one another within the solid mass to move?
  5. I'm averse to that term being connected to Objectivism because I view Christian Presuppositionalism as a dishonest and ludicrous concept, due to having interacted briefly with some proponents of the apologetic and read some Wikipedia pages and such. These are people who use difficult, fundamental epistemological problems to undercut any challenge to their religious dogmas and shut down rational discussion of them. Like, if you say the resurrection can't have happened because it violates physics, they'll say you can't know anything without the Bible being infallible, so your challenge fails. It's deeply dishonest. So yes, I am strongly averse to connecting Objectivism with this line of Christian "thought" in any way. Among other reasons, doing so can only make people think that we are dishonestly attempting to shut down discussion. It also illegitimately associates our arguments on free will, which determinists already smear as a mystical concept, with religion. There's just no reason to use that term when there are multiple better terms available.
  6. I sometimes call this kind of argument "retortive." Alternatively, you could use the phrase "re-affirmation through denial," as in "the axiom of identity can be shown to be an axiom by the technique of re-affirmation through denial." The latter is used in HB's HWK, as I recall. Christian Presuppositionalism isn't something I've studied, but I know that the basic idea is that the infallibility of the entire Bible and all of orthodox Christian doctrine is basically a giant axiom. Like, you can't deny that God is Triune without contradicting the preconditions of knowledge. It's not an honest approach. My desire to avoid terms frequently associated with non-objective philosophies is not "desperate" or "pathological," etc. That's an unnecessarily insulting way of stating your disagreement - let's keep things civil, shall we?
  7. @intrinsicist, Presuppositionalism is a school of Christian apologetics, not a "form of argument." Even if Presuppositionalism were a form of argument, I would never use that term for an Objectivist argument in discussion or debate due to the high likelihood of confusion. The phrase "transcendental argument" also has Kantian and Christian connotations to many people, so I would not advise using it.
  8. This is not a "valid deductive argument," per @2046's post. You'd need an additional premise that an entity ought to perform the function it was created to perform to make the argument deductively valid.
  9. According to Harry Binswanger, who worked with Rand for ten years, "that which one acts to gain and/or keep" was intended by Rand as an initial characterization of value rather than as the definition of value. If you have an HBL subscription, Binswanger explains this at length in the thread entitled "Defining "value"--a common misconception among Objectivists", which is post 12067. I think copying and pasting an HBL post to a public forum may violate the terms of use for HBL, so I'm not going to do that. I'm not sure Objectivism contains a definition of value, strictly speaking.
  10. I really liked this book, and I have every reason to believe the userbase here will know of other, similar books of which I am ignorant. On reflection, the reasons I liked the book were that it's Aristotelian, very confident of our ability to know the truth objectively (in this case, in metaphysics), informative, well written, seemingly well argued, and has a lot of inspiring quotes scattered throughout. That sounds like an ad for the book, but it's not. It's just a description of the sort of book I'm looking for. Here's the back cover: So basically, I'm looking for more books by Aristotelians or neo-Thomists that you liked or think an Objectivist would like. Thanks in advance.
  11. If we acted deterministically (or at random), there would be no free will. It would not matter whether the deterministic (or random) elements forcing us to act as we do could ever be isolated by scientists. Moral principles would have no authority in the counterfactual scenario you are proposing.
  12. I do not spend much time thinking about the Bible, let alone applying it to economics. There are legitimate academic reasons to study the Bible. It also contains the occasional sensible idea, since it is a primitive hodgepodge of superstition and common sense. That said, I would not go to the Bible for "truths," for any number of obvious reasons. Did you have some reason for posting this?
  13. If you're comfortable sharing your age here, that would help people give you advice. Some young people go through a "Howard Roark phase" upon first learning of Objectivism which can make them unpleasant to be around. (I know I did.) I don't see any specific reason to think that that's happening in your case, but I thought I should mention it. I have a couple of pieces of generic advice. First, if you want to talk to someone about a deeply held belief like socialism that they have a personal attachment to, it's good to approach it by asking them polite questions rather than by arguing against it directly. That way they are less likely to get defensive, and they can put the pieces together on their own after the conversation is over. Second, if you want to talk about ideas, I'd suggest seeking out a philosophy club or sitting in on a philosophy class (some professors will let you do this for free - email them and ask). People who study philosophy are sometimes more used to viewing their ideas as things that there are legitimate alternatives to, so you might get better discussions in that environment. Philosophy professors are basically paid to take ideas they disagree with seriously, particularly while teaching. Lastly, this forum isn't as active as it used to be, but it's a good place to talk to intelligent people who are sympathetic to Objectivism. You should stick around!
  14. Accounting and singing technique both involve learning skills which are best acquired by extensive practice. So, the best way to learn those particular subjects would presumably be to practice the relevant skills repeatedly rather than to (only) read about them. Edit: I can think of other subjects that I know for a fact are like this (I'm not that familiar with accounting or singing). Reading about how to program without actually doing any programming is almost a waste of time, for example.
  15. Your disproof reminds me of Parmenides. Respectfully, though, I think a more "Objectivist" approach would be to start by asking why you're trying to disprove something that there is no reason to believe in the first place.
  16. It would have been useful for you to know that most of the studies on religiosity and happiness have been done in the United States, which is a predominantly religious country where atheists are often discriminated against. That's the concrete-bound, empiricist rebuttal. I feel like there should be a more principled rebuttal here, but I can't see it. Maybe check out Branden's essay on religion and self esteem in The Virtue of Selfishness.
  17. I don't have much helpful advice to give you about how to accomplish that, except to study very hard for a long time. To do what you want to do, you need a firm grasp of history, politics, and philosophy, as well as the rhetorical skills to express yourself clearly and convincingly. There are probably other fields that you need to be adept at. A week and a half is almost certainly not enough time to prepare by several orders of magnitude - see the aforementioned ten years estimate. This is especially true if you're rusty on Objectivism, which is what I take from your saying that you "studied Objectivism a long time ago."
  18. I don't think compatibilism is a big issue for Objectivism. Compatibilism as a philosophical position usually comes up after determinism is already accepted, with the idea being "okay, we don't have libertarian free will, but can we nevertheless preserve some sense in which moral responsibility exists?" Objectivism's refutation of determinism just renders the whole debate moot. I would advise against classifying Objectivist positions under academic labels like compatibilism or libertarianism, though. I would certainly advise against any attempt to do so quickly. Academic labels often come with connotations that aren't consistent with the Objectivist position, so care is needed.
  19. The level of understanding of Objectivism required for one person will differ from that of another, depending on their other goals. A full understanding of Objectivism requires about ten years of serious study, according to what I've heard from Objectivist intellectuals. That likely won't be worth doing for most people who aren't professional philosophers. If you don't want to be a professional intellectual, I'd suggest aiming for whatever level of understanding will enable you to know what you are doing in life. Get a basic grasp of the principles, then return to philosophy when you sense that you're not clear about their application to something that you are doing. You write that the goal may be "to integrate from the axiom of existence exists to capitalism in such a way that is both local, abstract, clearly understood by other people, and entertaining enough for people to want to comprehend." That sounds like you're aiming at becoming a professional Objectivist intellectual or a popularizer of the philosophy. Is that correct?
  20. I would flat out deny the premise of the question. It's possible to pursue youth as a value by funding scientific research aimed at enabling us to live indefinitely in young bodies. If the research is successful within your lifespan, you could have the body of a 20 year old at the age of 200. (Obviously you'd still get "older" over time here in one sense, but that's a crude equivocation.)
  21. @itsjames, the Ayn Rand Institute has an audio lecture course you can buy called "Charles Babbage and Induction in Computer Science" by Martin F. Johansen. It is Johansen's work rather than Rand's, but Johansen is influenced by Objectivism, and the course is very relevant to your interest in the history of computers. Very cool thread!
  22. 50 years after the event, Dr. Harry Binswanger has decided to reveal the identities of all of the workshop participants named in the appendix to the second edition of Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. This has been a mystery for quite some time! I'll quote the key section, and you can visit Dr. Binswanger's public blog to see the rest: https://www.hbletter.com/objectivist-workshop-participants-identified/
  23. To me, an "expert" on Objectivism would be an orthodox Objectivist with a PhD in philosophy or comparable knowledge. I can't immediately think of anyone on OO.com that I would consider an "expert" in that sense. Most of the regulars here are intelligent, reasonably well educated, much more interested in philosophy than the average person, and much more sympathetic to Objectivism than the average person. If that's who you want answers from, great, but keep in mind that you need to think carefully about what they are saying, myself included.
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