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  1. Hey all, Sorry for showing up late. Here's my chewing of the first two weeks worth of reading. Ayn Rand began early as a hero-worshipper and someone who did not waste her time (218). She was drawn to action-packed fiction, and wrote during classes that bored her. A valuer from the get-go. At twelve she became curious to answer why questions (219). She wanted to know just what she like, but what about certain things led her to liking them. Her answers to such questions were in the form of generalizations. From an early age she was interested in complex causal connections, and in discovering general, high-level, answers. These general answers were always grounded in evidence. "Principle" was a term designated to the general answers she found; "reason" was the process of looking at evidence to discover such principles. A stringent thinker from the get-go as well. Note that the drive behind such thinking was to further her current knowledge and pursuit of her values. I think this points to a crucial aspect of Rand and Objectivism: the importance of value and reason is inseperable. Going along the evidence-based trend, she studied history "to acquire facts about man's past development" (221). Going along the principle-finding trend, she "also studied philosophy to develop clearer definitions of her broadest values" (219). "Her goal was to improve the use of the [English] language...." so that she could show "the character of an ideal man, and, by implication, the philosophical ideas that guide his actions (223). To this end, she got a job as a junior screenwriter (222). She also journaled extensively, wrote letters, and started writing short stories (223). This stands out as an integrated and purposeful organization of career and hobbies. Distilling abtract ideas into characters was one of Rand's great literary strengths (personal opinion). It is interesting to note that the coupled relationship of abstractions (ideas) and concretes (people, actions, things) is fundemental to her epistemology (226).
  2. Thanks softwareNerd; I enjoyed those theads. While many opinions there echoed my own about how and why one should judge others, I'd still like to delve into the more metaphysical-nature-of-man based level of validating those judgements. Again, if anyone has thoughts to share about that, I'd appreciate reading them.
  3. I have often heard, and agree with, the Objectivist answer that a failure of knowledge is not a failure of principle. But what about people who do not grasp the proper principles of thinking? They are destined to come to many false and bad ideas, and if they really believe them and act accordingly will act badly. How does one judge them? When people followed untrue beliefs--like the belief in god--earlier in human history it seems more excusable. In today's modern and western culture, however, it seems much less so. Are there cultural and time-based standards of what someone should believe due to the type of evidence around them? Are there similar standards for the type of intellectual methodology one should have? I ask these questions because without them, it is hard for me to see the justification for me judging an ignorant person as evil without knowing why they are ignorant. More broadly, I guess I'm asking: is there a basic level of knowledge of proper epistemological methods (in an implicit or explicit sense) that Objectivism assumes people should develop? If yes, why? If no, does one judge certain ignorant people as bad? If yes to that, what's the justification? Any thoughts on the matter would be appreciated. I've been chewing this problem for a week and haven't gotten very far.
  4. I will participate. I am a senior at Vassar College. I study cognitive science, and I am planning on pursuing a career in robotics and/or AI. I've thouroughly enjoyed Mr. Laughlin's blog, and have wanted to read some of his bigger projects. Eventually I want to read the entire book, but out of this study group: I want to learn how Ayn Rand's ideas were receieved when they first came out, discuss current reception of those ideas, and relate those receptions to potentially effective activism.
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