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Everything posted by jacassidy2

  1. SPECIAL LEARNING EXPERIENCE After writing the above OP, I received a personal message from a forum member (he can reveal himself if he chooses). He responded personally because the moderators thought his answer to me, in the thread, was a little harsh and they dropped it. It was a little harsh and I understand why the moderators made their decision. BUT . . . The poster wanted me to explain why I would seek out the ideas of others and then substitute them for my own thoughts. I thought this question was valid and so I'm answering it here in the open along with my thanks to the moderators who tried to protect my sensibilities. Here it is: *************************************************************************************************************************************** Jon, I thought your message didn't cross the line and I'm happy to respond, but the moderators don't want this site to become filled with emotion like other philosophy sites. You're right to be suspect of people who appear to ask for the judgment of others as a substitute for their own. But most often on this forum, you are dealing with people, like myself, that are not so sensitive to the ideas of others because people know here, that their opinions are secondary, and they must provide the reasoning for others to analyze their conclusions and reach there own. In this context, we are actually a little freer in debate here, because we don't expect people to agree with conclusions - we tend to offer data, experience, or reason - all in support of a conclusions. So, with lots of experience in metaphysics/epistemology, and lots of emotional responses to the work of certain actors/directors/editors, but with no experience analyzing my favorites in the wider context of romantic art, I asked for the experience of others on this forum. I would not have asked this open-ended question on a general philosophy or art site. But here I am more likely to have people who have knowledge of Objectivism, and I was enlisting those with more experience in the visual arts than me. I'm less interested in their conclusions then I am with the reasons they have reached their conclusions. On this forum you are more likely to get that kind of response. Does that help?
  2. Truth and facts - Reasoner's OP laid out the path in it's first sentences. He recognized that truth and facts (based in existence and identity) exist independent of the evaluation of consciousness. So his question is worthy of evaluation and the silliness of "open" and "closed" issues between Rand and Branden become nonrelevent side issues. He then brings in the relationship between all existence and its notice by consciousness. He suggests that the fact of consciousness (more specifically perception as a form of consciousness) may, by its identity, modify the perception of the object and that, therefore, the result is subjective. REASONER- Find a reference for Peikoff's analysis of sense organs. Reasoner's question is a really good version of a common argument. I don't have time tonight to write a clear essay, but I can enumerate the metaphysical and epistemological issues needed for integration. REASONER: 1. Do you agree that truth and facts of reality are based in existence and identity independent of perception? 2. Do you agree that consciousness is an existent whose identity has a specific, eventually understandable nature? 3. Do you agree that human consciousness is composed of varied sense based data evaluated by a reason function that works by recognizing attributes of things in reality and can create independent (from their referents), cognitive ideas that integrate these facts into concepts? 4. Do the sense organs of conscious beings have a specific identity? 5. NOW, stop and think. The people who gave you the idea you proposed in this thread, are asking us to overcome skepticism by expecting A MYSTICAL PERCEPTION DEVOID OF IDENTITY. Stop and consider. They propose that perception is skeptical BECAUSE it has a specific nature. They propose that a perception that can be described and metaphysically identified, is subjective because of its identity. Think of biological evolution as the engine, and then ask yourself if this position makes any sense at all? So, subjective or objective becomes a matter of volition not metaphysics or epistemology. Did you get it right or not, based on the evidence of your senses and the evaluation of your reason? The objective value of Ayn Rand's thoughts are, curiously, wrapped up in the idea of human fallibility. Knowledge is not automatic or mystical, it is hierarchical through time based on the nature of discovery in a sense based environment enhanced by concept formation thru abstraction in the faculty of reason. Whatever your question - you can't go wrong if you start with the facts that existence is primary to consciousness and human consciousness is composed of sense organs providing data for a mental capacity, called reason, that can integrate seemingly incongruent identities into new cognitive ideas.
  3. I have almost no experience in evaluating movies as an art form in the context of their aesthetic value. What is Romanticism, what is naturalistic - I can only judge the most obvious distinctions unless I decided to embark on a study of an area I choose to leave for entertainment only. I spend my time on metaphysics and epistemology and my further philosophical interest on ethics and politics, but movies have become a more widely accessible reflection of the culture and I enjoy many of them. I know they must reflect ideas in the culture. If I list some of the movies I especially enjoy, would those of you who have the knowledge of this art form analyze and comment on my choices? And then recommend movies that might provide the same celebration? My movies are "Mr. Holland's Opus," "On Golden Pond," "Out of Africa," and "Lion in Winter." I may be fooled by superlative examples of acting, editing, music, etc. In my limited experience, these movies make me feel good vicariously or directly. Thanks for your time and knowledge in this endeavor. Jack
  4. Budda, txs, I agree the historical knowledge of epistemological trends is important in understanding their meaning and your treatment is correct. I think my error, in the context you presented, was that I was concentrating on the mixed up behavior of the average person with little knowledge of western philosophy, and their way of discussing concrete issues. But it was a great original post, eh?
  5. This short essay is not original ideas. It is a restatement of Objectivist ideas in a language that may grab the interest of a person who has only limited familiarity with Objectivist ethics/politics. Ms. Rand called them the "Mystics of Spirit" and the "Mystics of Muscle" to describe the categories in history of irrational human beings attempting to dominate the people in their lives rather than producing wealth for themselves. For my purposes in this OP, I would like to summarize these types of people into one easily understood category. BULLIES. Bullies are people who find value in controlling others for any number of irrelevant reasons. "Bullies of spirit and bullies of muscle" is a corollary to Ms. Rand's ideas. I substitute "bullies" for "mystics" because while "mystics" is conceptually better for the arguments, "bullies" is the most common, concrete expression that people are familiar with in their everyday lives. Mystics/bullies are a fact in the range of human, sense-of-life, identity and these people are drawn to governing in private associations and public government The primary, natural, purpose of instituting a government is to insulate citizens from the effects of bullies, but bullies are attracted to the organization of a governing body because the governing body is given the power to control with sharply reduced requirements for justification. The above being the natural evolution of communities and nation states among reasoned individuals, it should be obvious, that giving a governing entity any function over and above protection of citizens from force and fraud, opens the governing entity (and the bullies attracted to it) to the misuse of the power they are given by the citizens. Ignore these clear facts and you end up with crony capitalism at best or Nazism/Stalinism at worst.
  6. Is anyone else surprised that a thread about a subject that is so close to the fundamentals in metaphysics and epistemology could last for 237 posts in explanation and debate? You have free will, within the limits of metaphysical identity, and as humans, you have choice/volition as relates to the amount of focus you will apply to any issue. Pretty simple.
  7. Reasoner has laid out the logical contradictions in simple skepticism as well as the correct method to deal with it - that is, move toward basic epistemology and metaphysics, and away from the concrete issue the skeptic used to make their point. Skepticism, to me, is the current and ultimate debate manifestation and method of Pragmatists, and the person espousing concretes within the context of these philosophical concepts is often not aware of either skepiticism or pragmatism as a cognitive idea. Reasoner's post is a wonderful expansion on a simple idea expressed by Ms. Rand and Dr. Peikoff - arbitrary assertions, based in the mind of a skeptic or pragmatist, without evidence in reality, are not a valid subject of philosophical debate. The only worthwhile position to take in opposition, is to reduce to fundamentals (concepts vs. concretes), or to walk away. Thank you for your time in your discovery of these thoughts and the time to express it here.
  8. Wow, I'll need to study the double quote in the last post because this is complex stuff - but, the idea of causality being a relationship rather than a specific "thing" seems like an important way to express this idea. Isn't causality a relationship between entities, moderated by their identities? It's like Peikoff's discovery that the silly subjectivism some people find in sense perception is a failure to recognize that an identity like color is a relationship between light, the chemistry of the object, and the biology of the sense organ. Objectivism, at this level where philosophy overlaps with science, is about discovering the amount of truth that is currently available in the hierarchy of knowledge. Too many scientists and way too many philosophers speculate beyond sense perception, even elevated by technology. Yes, speculation opens areas for future exploration, but treating speculation (as Kant, Hegel, Russell, Chomsky, etc.) like knowledge is just bad academic form.
  9. Please validate me.

    1. JASKN


      Jack, check the PM I sent to you just now.

  10. Teri - there is a fairly minor, but influential philosopher named Schopenhauer. His influence brought in the idea that human life is a struggle and a real bitch. This idea is common today and has led to a desire for safety over liberty and self-agency. Many people are willing to surrender their rights if they receive comfort and safety in return. These people do not want to change any aspect of their material existence to gain safety, so they surrender their liberty when their leaders say they will be safe.
  11. This has been a great learning experience for me. Thanks to all the posters who took the time to contribute. I hope others will benefit by reading the OP and then the great comments. In answer to one poster, no, the errors in my essay were not planted, they are my own real errors. I feel like I just got a valuable peer review by other Rand/Peikoff scholars. Thanks again.
  12. The following is a post I made in another philosophy forum. I post it here for students of Objectivism to look for mistakes I may have made. Posted Aug 8, 2015 - 9:27 PM: Subject: Axioms are Tautologies When philosophers discuss axioms, they are almost always referring to three or more ideas in metaphysics that appear to be so basic as to be self-explanatory. Detractors with varied ideas and historical sources agree that axioms, as tautologies, provide no knowledge because axioms, logically, fold in on themselves. They are propositions that, in logic, are true by necessity as "analytic" truths are. That is, these truths are simply restatements of the concept definition. The axioms most commonly referred to are: existence exists, consciousness exists, and identity exists. Restatement: things are there, consciousness is one of those things, and all these things exist as one with their characteristics. One method of confirming the truth of these three premises is that any attempt to disagree with them, requires their use in the disagreement. Another confirmation is the use of your consciousness' sense capacity, and that these premises are immediately perceivable without reference to any other idea. This is the most important argument in philosophy because the entire history of western philosophy is an attempt to find some truth in reality and some validation in human cognition that is valid in the absence of these axioms. (This was for thinkers who dismissed religious mysticism as an unknowable answer.) I propose that the argument that axioms are simply tautologies is not a disqualification from truth but a proof of their truth. Tautologies in derivative ideas send up a flag of caution. But, tautologies at the basis of all knowledge (ideas like being, thinking, and metaphysical attribute) is what you would expect and hope to find. These three most basic axioms provide no knowledge because they are so true as to be the basis of all knowledge. They are knowledge stripped of the influence of epistemology. If they were not tautologies, THEN, you would have a problem in philosophy.
  13. The recent nuclear deal with Iran is the most recent and clear example of the philosophy of pragmatism. What US negotiators did, was separate out the idea of Iran's nuclear ambitions from all other aspects of the character of Iran's leaders since this country became a theological dictatorship. For pragmatists, the facts of Iran's lies, duplicity, and violent statements of ultimate intent are not important considerations in the light of a possible wedge in Iran's nuclear ambitions. If you ignore principles, ignore recent history, you can arrive at the view that, regardless of all other knowledge, it makes sense to enter a nuclear agreement with Iran. You are pragmatically raising the fear of nuclear consequences above other knowledge - your knowledge that Iran doesn't honor treaties and that Iran specifies their goal of punishing Israel and the US has no reality in the context of the nuclear fear to politics and politicians grounded in pragmatism. What will Iran do with the windfall of resources released after the financial embargo? They are the major source of funding for radical Pseudo-Islamic terrorism - what do you think they will do? More importantly, what is to become of a nation (the US) when the citizens generally don't see the clear truth of cause and effect in the pragmatic decisions of their leaders? The most dangerous aspect of this current event is not Iran, it is the pragmatist philosophy at the basis of a treaty with an entity you know will not honor the agreement. And the citizens go about their lives.
  14. Nice metaphor - the similarities and distinctions. Txs.
  15. This is an easy one, as you can see by the previous two great posts. If you met a person who claimed to understand Objectivism and also thought a government should ban trade unions, you have gained an important piece of information about that person - they do not understand Objectivism. Objectivist political philosophy is based on a specific view of ethical philosophy, which in turn is based on a specific view of epistemology and metaphysics. (Don't misinterpret my use of the word "view" to mean "one of many equally legitimate positions). The truth of Objectivist political philosophy is founded in an accurate analysis of epistemology and metaphysics. Unlike the opinions of most Rand detractors, who have generally read only a portion of her fiction, Objectivist political philosophy does not seek to favor any person or group in the governed population. Individuals and groups, workers and employers are free to make any legal agreement they voluntarily choose, individuals or groups. The historic problem with trade unions, as already pointed out, is the same as the problem with some business owners in history. A Socialist could ask the same question as this OP about the groups that business owner's form, and the Objectivist answer would be the same. That shared and common problem is called "crony capitalism." Real capitalism does not allow special access or legislative favors for any individual or group. I'm sure I will eventually find an exception, but so far, every clear abuse I have found in US history, whether originated by labor or management, was caused or motivated by a fact or expectation based in crony capitalism. The problem in the US economy, now and thru history, is not the actions of private individuals or groups, labor or management. The problem is the natural evolution of giving a governing body tasks above and beyond the natural function of protecting citizens from force and fraud in exchange for the right to use force. When you give a government additional tasks you attract the worst in human characteristics, the bullies.
  16. I agree with the point you are making about decisions being made by individual minds and that there is no "us" as a unique metaphysical existent. There can be agreement among the components of "us," but the presence or absence of agreement presupposes individual parts of "us" individually making decisions. We, us, and so forth are abstract concepts of human cognition that stand for a number of specified individuals in some context. My dog and I walking down the street is "us," and you can see that "us" has nothing to do with our ability to sign a document.
  17. Thanks for getting me back on track. The answer is an Objectivist government would honor, and perhaps uphold in a government-organized civil court procedure (or recognize in a private civil arbitration procedure) whatever legitimate agreement was made between the parties. The definition of "personhood" is a derived issue, secondary because it is based on more fundamental issues. Example, if a legitimate business-entity organizing document says certain people can commit the business by making agreements, an Objectivist government would honor that agreement. The only other possible issue that may have a bearing is the language of the founding document of this republican form of government. Objectivist governments would not impose an artificial structure not based in the metaphysical identity of the entities involved. My point is that several of you are sincere in your questions in this thread, but are finding small disagreements. When this happens between reasonable people in a political debate, the answer is to reduce the meaning of each of your premises to ideas in ethics generally, and then to epistemology and metaphysics. You will then find agreement on the basic ideas and proceed to what people call a compromise (but is not) but is actually fundamental agreement.
  18. I think a person is a person and a legal entity given derived status as a person standing in for a legally recognized corporate entity is what it is. My point is that much of the argument fails to recognize that all the things are what they are independent of the word or term you use to describe them. Much of concept formation in human cognition takes place without thinking about it, but when you are debating the meaning of verbal-auditory icons (words) it's easy to lose sight of the fact that they represent the end of a process that starts with the truth of what is being describe or discussed.
  19. This thread is a wonderful example of why understanding the process of abstraction, and its use in concept formation, is so important - the basis of any concrete argument or investigation that requires a reduction to ideas in epistemology. Didn't some of what was said by people like Descartes and even Hume and Kant seem true when you were young and first thinking about philosophy? Why did these guys get it so wrong in the end? Part of it is the legacy of mysticism; another part is the failure to successfully investigate and define the process of human reason at the clear level of observable facts - that process is concept formation. Existence is primary to consciousness, but studying these subjects requires a look at concepts in epistemology before you can think clearly about, the even more basic, metaphysics. Ms. Rand understood this - notice she wrote ITOE first in the fundamental investigation she began to formalize in the years after publication of her landmark fiction.
  20. Plasmatic is correct. Ms. Rand draws an important distinction between doing what you want on a whim and selfishness. Real self interest is not the silly whim worship that most people use to define it. What is really in your best interest, what a rationally selfish person should choose, is based on reason. In your example, not caring about how you dispose of your waste (especially in the context of modern dense populations) translates to ignoring the property rights of your neighbors, and that's not reasonable.
  21. I like the innocent and positive sense of life in this post. But examine the last phrase in the final sentence of the OP - "shouldn't be pursued." I ask, pursued or not by whom, and the decision imposed by whom? The problem with these kinds of questions is that they assume one of two incorrect premises. Either decision making is a group experience rather than an aspect of individuals, or, that some supervising body should make and then impose the decision. And so, the question is outside the Law of Identity as related to human beings.
  22. The group does not have rights, although the individuals in the group may share common rights. EXPLANATION - A GROUP is a derived concept, the concept "group" has none of the attributes/characteristics of the specific referents it depends upon except by reference in reduction to the individuals that make up the group. Thought, sense perception, reason, values, etc. are not identities of a group, although, these identities may be shared by the individuals may share common attributes.
  23. Great posts by Harrison. Here's another observation. Jesus the Christ tried to change the fundamental dynamic of human interaction - think about how the other person thinks before you act. It was an attempt at empathy which is a good, but without a foundation in metaphysics and epistemology it turns into altruism after bullies have their way over hundreds of years. Also, of course, the metaphysical foundation of mysticism is flawed. This idea spread and became institutionalized after Constantine. The fall of Rome gave men an opening to create another empire under the philosophy of Christ. But who is drawn to being in charge instead of just the joy of making a living? It's the same story, repeated over and over until present times - the bullies rise to the top. The men drawn to lead (instead of living) are bullies, they should be immediately suspect. A government without a strong and specific republican (not the present US political party) constitution will attract the bullies, though they may be cloaked in the blanket of helping the poor or weak. You cannot give the power to use force to your government, unless you decide that all other social functions you desire, will be placed in the private sector. The power to initiate force, given the total spectrum of human identity (including the bullies), cannot be given except for the function of countering force against the citizens. America almost had it, but not quite.
  24. Great analysis, thanks. Your take on this information is an additional reason in support of the view that understanding concept formation is critical to so many philosophical investigations. Think about the history of western philosophy - an earlier explanation of concept formation would have pre-empted so many attempts to find an answer to replace religious mysticism. So many thinkers were looking for a false aspect to human cognition - omniscience and infallibility. In their absence, they could only see subjectivism and skepticism because they had no system to explain the nature of concepts.
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