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Posts posted by KyaryPamyu

  1. Despite Rand's insistence that she made her point as clear as humanly possible in Galt's Speech, there are a lot of diverging views about what she really meant. One writer actualy lists five different camps:


    1. Life-Happiness Correspondence - pursuing life necessarily renders the attainment of happiness.
    2. Survivalism - life is the "standard." All other values, including happiness, must be instrumental to life.
    3. Life-Happiness Duality - both life and happiness are seen to be independent sources of value.
    4. The Happiness Ethic - happiness is the "standard," and all other values, including life, must be instrumental to happiness.
    5. Man-Qua-Man Deontology - life as constrained by deontological rules is the standard

    I have to say that I completely agree with everything DonAthos has written in the main post. It is my personal view, and I also believe it was Rand's. Plenty of examples come to my mind. 

    • When Francisco asks Dagny what she would say if he asked her to leave her railroad, she answers: "What would I say if you asked me to consider the idea of committing suicide?". 
    • The famous John Galt quote about killing himself over his top value (Dagny): "If they get the slightest suspicion of what we are to each other, they will have you on a torture rack — I mean, physical torture — before my eyes, in less than a week. I am not going to wait for that. At the first mention of a threat to you, I will kill myself and stop them right there."

    Work and Sex have almost deity-status for certain Objectivist thinkers. When Ayn Rand used the term 'highest values', she was literaly referring to those two. Leonard Peikoff goes as far as comparing them to your left eye and right eye. Notoriously, Peikoff also said that he would not condemn people for commiting suicide over, say, losing their ability to enjoy sex or even a career in ballet (can't find the ballet one, but if my memory is correct it was about suffering an accident that prevented you from pursuing your dream of being a ballet dancer).

    My own view is that the standard of value is indeed pleasure, but definitely not in the Epicurean sense. Rand's revolution in the field of ethics was her concept of rational self-interest. This means that, as Tara Smith puts it in a lecture available for free on the ARI Institute Campus, selfishness is not transparent. It requires a lot of thinking, including: choosing pleasures that do not kill you in the long run, finding ways to secure them over long spans of time, comparing different choices and so on.  I also disagree with any pretense at moderation for its own sake when it comes to pleasure, and I would only justify any moderation if excess would lead to negative consequences. So I regard the 'happy life' as a standard of value, not merely 'Life'. 

    Regarding Rand's view:

    • If by 'Life as standard', Ayn Rand meant the happy/pleasurable life, then our reverence for romantic love, sex and even child rearing makes sense (she did not have children but a mother is present in Galt's Gulch, and she said many things about parenting).
    • But if Rand regarded love, sex and children as stemming from the standard of survival/survival of consciousness, then she is wrong, but on scientific grounds not in her intention. Reproduction is a key source of pleasure in living beings. I'm always stunned to turn on the TV and see male Praying Mantises getting their heads eaten during mating, or female polar bears making extraordinary sacrifices for their offspring.

    Regarding the role of reproduction in ethics, Harry Binswanger covered this in a PhD thesis that has probably the most boring title ever, which is on my reading list for a long time. I'm curious about what he has to say about reproduction.

    Bottomline, if there wasn't any pain-pleasure mechanism built in humans, or if the things that helped us survive gave us pain rather than pleasure, I would echo Peikoff's spirit from a lecture in which he talked about whether staying in focus - the precondition of morality - requires 'excruciating effort'. His answer was something like: "if that were the case, then to hell with morality!" If life would be a painful or emotionless affair, the proper reaction to it would definitely be: to hell with it!

  2. If anybody is interested in other philosophers or movements apart from Objectivism and Aristotelian philosophy, you are welcome to share your experiences here. What attracts you to those ideas? Do they influence your own thinking or philosophical positions? For the sake of the topic, these presentations need not necessarily point out the similarities/divergences with Objectivism.

    My first encounter with philosophy was a long time ago in primary school. After scrambling in my aunt's book collection, I found a Romanian philosophy textbook from the communist era. It was full of pictures and it probably covered every major philosopher known at the time, from Thales to the moderns. Marx and Engels where the only ones that had full page photographs.

    At the time I didn't understand much of what I was reading, but being a philosopher seemed like a really prestigious thing. Upon reading that the history of philosophy can be described as a duel between materialist and idealist points of view (as it's commonly taught by marxists), I promptly declared myself a materialist, because idealism struck me as an extraordinarily bizarre point of view. Nobody I knew subscribed to the primacy of consciousness view. (Objectivism is the only philosophy I know of that is not monist or pluralistic in some way, although there might be many others). My first encounter with the world transcendental was on the page about Immanuel Kant, and I quickly used it afterwards in a test paper at school (it was not a philosophy test, obviously). I didn't realy know what it meant, apart from reading the dictionary definition and considering it to be one of the coolest words in my vocabulary. After the grades were announced, the teacher asked me what transcendental means and, after I blurted out the dictionary definition, she said that she just wanted to make sure that I'm not using words without knowing what they mean.

    Until about half an year ago, when I started to study Objectivism seriously and I read Atlas (I knew about Objectivism much earlier than that, and I read The Fountainhead three years ago), philosophy seemed to be no less pointless than religion. After all, with all the advances in science and psychology, what could philosophers possibly bring to the table? Objectivism provided interesting answers to this question, and I am sympathetic to a lot of Objectivist positions (most strongly in metaphysics). I also emphaticaly disagree with some points, from Rand's denial of human instincts all the way to her claim that Dali's paintings portray an 'evil metaphysics'.

    Lately, I remembered about that old gang of philosophers who called themselves the Idealists and decided to see exactly what line of reasoning brought them to their philosophical claims. I'm not really interested in Kant since his version of idealism is nowhere as weird as that that of his succesors (he still believed in a noumenal world), but I do have a strong interest in Fichte, Schelling and Hegel. Even without believing much, if any, of their speculations, it's still fascinating as hell to read about their philosophy as a classical musician. Romantic classical music composers were inevitably inspired by the contemporary trends in German philosophy; Wagner was notably a follower of Schopenhauer, although S. is a bit too Kantian (and Buddhist) to grab my interest. Speaking of Buddhism, my first encounter with detailed information about it (meditation always fascinated me) was also in a communist book of my aunt's, titled Questions and Answers Pertaining to the Atheist Education of the Youth.

    If I have to take something good out of German Idealism, it's definitely the enthusiastic, creative and imaginative spirit that was its trademark (and was also present in the arts). Apparently Fichte and Schelling were extremely charismatic teachers, managing the feat of being university teachers and superstars at the same time. Hegel was notorious for his classes, which people attended without understanding a single word of what he was saying. His system is absolutely gargantuan, and nobody since him attempted such a feat. His famous claim, 'The truth is the Whole' is quoted at the beginning of Leonard Prikoff's OPAR (systems were the big trend of German Idealism)

    As much as I like Rand, I have to say that the whole Romantic Realism thing never appealed to me as strongly as the movements and genres that feature a great deal of fantasy, myth, even the supernatural. And I'm an earthly guy. It seems to me that this type of art does something that Romantic Realism does not: it's a concretized presentation of some of the more 'metaphysicaly adventurous' parts of ourselves: myths, the dream world, imagination, altered states of consciousness. It also inspires me to study the broader nature of consciousness, apart from its perceptual and reasoning faculties.

    I leave you with this beautiful romantic painting, The Chancel and Crossing of Tintern Abbey, Looking Towards the East Window, by JMW Turner. Exploring the visual arts of the Romantic era is also on my current to do list.


  3. 20 minutes ago, Nicky said:

    Here's the full post you were responding to.

    Nicky, you posted that as a response to a very specific claim I made on sexual arousal. Hence, it appeared that you were refering to 'common psychology' in the context of sexual attraction. I put those brackets when I quoted you back, in case you might object to my understanding of your post. Since you didn't say anything I asumed that it was indeed what you meant.

    No hard feelings about your 'policy'.


  4. 12 hours ago, Nicky said:

    From your own link: "Some suggest that psychological sexual arousal results from an interaction of cognitive and experiential factors, such as affective state, previous experience, and current social context "

    So your own link lists everything except "human nature" as the cause of a psychological reaction, directly contradicting your claim.

    In proper context, the purpose of the link was to contradict your claim that sexual arousal is not part of the things studied by the field of Psychology, as quoted below:


    Not sure how you got from there to the field of Psychology...which doesn't claim anything of the sort.

    Since then, your views seem to have evolved from your original claim of sexual arousal being:


    an automatic physiological response (caused by human nature, coded in our DNA) to physical or visual stimulation.

    ...to also calling it a psychological reaction. Although you were merely describing the contents of the link, so you might or not have agreed that sexual arousal is part of Psychology.

    Did I make claims about human nature? no. If you read through my posts, you'll see that I was always talking about Psychology. I think I made it clear that my definition of Psychology is the same as Eiuol's.  I am quoting it from his post:


    Human psychology refers to the nature of the human mind. One's psychology is a different concept than psychology the nature of human thought.

    I used the phrase 'human nature' only once, and only because this term is in the name of the popular debate that's going on right now about whether the mind has any innate cognitive structures, such as those that decode cues of female physical attractiveness (not to be confused with Kantianism).


    Besides, you still haven't explained what sex has to do with your claim that valuing scarcity is "human nature".

    I have not claimed that valuing scarcity is "human nature". Here's the actual claim:


    In brief, it's part of human psychology to value things that are scarce.

    And regarding the connection between sex and valuing scarcity, I will have to repost the contents of the previous post in which I adressed your claim:


    Just to be clear, I am not tying the sexual response to scarcity, as some of you thought. I'm adressing the broader question of what can be properly classified as human psychology, which studies a lot of different things. If you really want to know what the field of human psychology has to say about scarcity, read on wikipedia about the Scarcity Heuristic.


    On 31.12.2016 at 9:05 PM, softwareNerd said:

    I see that we've hijacked the main topic here! 

    Back on the main topic, there's a "Twilight Zone" episode "A Nice Place to Visit" that tries to visualize what heaven might be like. Worth watching, since art is often better than a series of syllogisms.


    Thanks for reminding me of that episode, softwareNerd. It's an absolutely brilliant take on the pursuit of happiness.

    MisterSwig, some insight on Microphone girl. Her name is Jennifer Lien and she played the alien Kes in Star Trek: The Voyager. Here is a picture of her during the Star Trek days, but I warn you... don't look at it if you believe in marriage: fd51a9a65a521f6cb665bd6920320c21.jpg

    6 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

    But with a little effort I could at least send KPP flowers, a card, and boxed chocolates through her agency, and then with some extra effort I could attend her next public event and try to kidnap her. 

    Don't you dare touch my woman :)

  5. Quote

    Claim 21. Existence exists. That is, the concept represented by the predicate “has existence” exists.

    'Existence', in this context, is a collective noun, referring to the sum of all existents. It's more common to simply refer to this axiom as 'existence'. 

    A thing does not have existence, the same way a tree has branches. A thing exists. Existence subsumes every object or quality or event that exists, but is not itself a quality.


    Claim 22. A is A. That is, the concept represented by the predicate “has identity”

    A is A actually means 'a thing is itself', not 'a thing has identity' - Galt’s Speech (For the New Intellectual), 125

    "Ayn Rand offers a new formulation of this axiom: existence is identity. She does not say that "existence has identity" - which might suggest that identity is a feature separable from existence (as a coat of paint is separable from the house that has it) [...] When men have several perspectives on a single fact, when they consider it from different aspects or in different contexts, it is often essential to form concepts that identify the various perspectives" [the concept of identity is formed by direct observation] Leonard Peikoff - OPAR, p. 6-7

    You are trying to use axiomatic concepts as predicates. "Things that exist but have no identity" is an invalid concept.

  6. Hey SpookyKitty, I have not read the paper, but if my understanding of Rand's theory is correct, axiomatic concepts are not arrived at by the process of concept formation, but by direct perception and experience. They are identifications:

    "...of a primary fact of reality, which cannot be analyzed, i.e., reduced to other facts or broken into component parts. [...] It is the fundamentally given and directly perceived or experienced, which requires no proof or explanation, but on which all proofs and explanations rest." (Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, 55)

    "The units of the concepts “existence” and “identity” are every entity, attribute, action, event or phenomenon (including consciousness) that exists, has ever existed or will ever exist. The units of the concept “consciousness” are every state or process of awareness that one experiences, has ever experienced or will ever experience (as well as similar units, a similar faculty, which one infers in other living entities)." (Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, 56)

  7. 23 minutes ago, Nicky said:

    I'm sorry, what? You claimed that humans value scarcity because of "human psychology". Sexual arousal is an automatic physiological response (caused by human nature, coded in our DNA) to physical or visual stimulation. What does that have to do with humans VALUING (NOT an automatic response, coded in our DNA, as far as you have proven) scarcity?

    Visual stimulation precedes physical stimulation, if you're talking about sexual arousal. It depends on who touches you! Sexual arousal is an automatic psychological response to a stimulus, but not all visual stimuli produce the same sensations. The presence or absence of attractiveness cues greatly influences the effect of the stimuli. In other words, 'sexy-time' starts in the head, when your brain figures out, based on the visual information provided by your eyes, that you have a Class-A Sex Bomb in front of you.

    What does this have to do with valuing? Something called taste, preference. It's no secret that physical attractiveness is a key factor in choosing a mate.


    Not sure how you got from there [automatic sexual response] to the field of Psychology...which doesn't claim anything of the sort

    It does.

    Just to be clear, I am not tying the sexual response to scarcity, as some of you thought. I'm adressing the broader question of what can be properly classified as human psychology, which studies a lot of different things. If you really want to know what the field of human psychology has to say about scarcity, read on wikipedia about the Scarcity Heuristic.


    How many women go around holding a big microphone. Like two or three in the whole world, right? Extremely exotic. How do I get her number? My loins are on fire.

    Heh. She's not at all my type, no matter how exotic. I prefer the ol' fashioned hot mamacita.

    I have a slight doubt that this thread made more than a slight departure from the original topic. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the power of women.

  8. 1 hour ago, softwareNerd said:

    ...objectively, not knowing anything about either model, neither I nor a female observer would be able make a proper judgement. We'd just have to say we do not know. All we have is two photos. So, the only value we can derive is the value of the visual: the way one does in art, with an anonymous model. 

    That's alright. I should have made this clearer, but the point is only to figure out whether:

    • men have any innate, universal visual preferences - such as health, clear skin, hip-to-waist ratio, facial symetry - that transcend even cultural standards of beauty
    • if visual preferences can be changed by subsequent knowledge, conceptual thinking, culture, connotation (e.g. by knowing about the characters of the two women).

    If I read correctly, Nicky agrees that a picture of MEG can cause automatic pleasure responses and that a preference for the japanese singer can be manipulated via visual cues such as makeup, clothing, the quality of the photos - he does not, however, endorse the field of Psychology.

    SoftwareNerd, when you talk about changing your preference, which type are you refering to? Romantic preference, or visual preference? If you showed a picture of MEG to the second woman's husband, and the husband was madly in love with his wife, I think he would still be able to say that the pop singer is visualy superior, even though he romanticaly prefers what he already has.

    In regard to whether visual preferences can be changed by subsequent knowledge, connotation and extra-visual elements: I doubt it, because of that dreaded "volition-destroying" monster which is Human Psychology. 

  9. 8 hours ago, Nicky said:

    Don't confuse automatic sensations like physical pleasure with values.

    Sexual arousal is part of human psychology, which studies much more than the 'thought-content' of your mind. This is the meaning I was using.

    8 hours ago, Nicky said:

    A man liking a picture of KPP wearing that outfit has nothing to do with values. You're feeling sexual pleasure because you're being visually stimulated. Don't confuse automatic sensations like physical pleasure with values.

    Automatic sensations? Careful, lest somebody here calls you a Kantian, then proceeds to lecure you on there being no innate 'instincts' and that all pleasure responses are created by your internalized, chosen value judgements, since man is a conceptual being, and a conceptual being does not automatically know that hot young women are more desirable than older, less fertile ones. 


    If you want a value judgement, the people to ask would be women (since they wouldn't get the physical reaction the first photo is intended to cause in men).

    It's important to ask a very objective woman, since pictures like these tend to get on their nerves...


    And even then, it's an unfair comparison. The second woman doesn't have the team of stylists and professional photographers the Japanese pop star in the first image has.

    Precisely. A handful of stylists and professional photographers go a long way to influence our automatic... whoops - our conceptual, personaly chosen value responses which we have subconsciously habituated. I know they have a knack for tickling mine.


    [just as a note: I know a little bit about the girl in the picture. Her name is Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, and she works hard to create a very interesting image for herself. I even like some of her songs (check out Fashion Monster on youtube, that's probably her best video).

    I might have confused some of you with my nickname. The girl in my avatar and in the comparision photo is a japanese singer that goes by the stage name MEG. She also has great music. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and Fashion Monster are, of course, awesome. 


    Which one is more scarce? That's all that matters to me. I'm attracted to endangered women.

    In terms of looks, the first one. For me it's also very important that a woman shares some common interests of mine but hey. To each his own.


    Human psychology refers to the nature of the human mind. One's psychology is a different concept than psychology the nature of human thought.

    Exactly, Eiuol. I rarely see people use that term to refer to specific thoughts, like Nicky claimed. Saying that this would imply a collective consciousness is like saying that, since people have bodies that are very much alike - eyes, legs, arms, physiological reflexes etc. - the only way to make sense of this is by assuming the existence of a collective human body.


    What psychology shows, Kyary, is that people have an innate capacity to recognize scarcity. Scarcity is a major basis to decide value, because it is so easy and notable to recognize. As far as philosophy, this doesn't say -why- life should or does have meaning.

    Agreed. I was responding to this particular point because a great deal of objectivists tend to be skeptical about the human mind having a nature and innate capacities, such as the one to recognize scarcity, sexual and genetic fitness, beauty and so on. They find this claim to be a fierce attack on free will, because, according to them, this would 'plant' thoughts into their minds without their volition, alla determinism.

  10. 3 hours ago, Nicky said:

    So, when I read that something is part of "human psychology" (singular, no less, not "human psychologies"), the only way that makes sense to me is by assuming some kind of collective consciousness.

    We don't share a psychology. We share a biology, and we develop our own psychologies.

    This is the blank slate/tabula rasa vs human nature debate. I'm not arguing against free will. I totaly agree that you can develop your mind in a way that makes you immune to marketing tactics. Especially if you go to marketing school. But is absolutely everything a matter of your choice?

    Let's say a man sees the picture below and makes a snap judgement that he greatly prefers the first woman. How much time would it take him to change his psychology in order to prefer the second woman?  Let's imagine that he also finds out that the first woman is irrational, dull, her character is terrible, she doesn't have many hobbies. The second one is incredibly intelligent, rational, nurturing, her character is flawless and she has the same tastes in art as the man does.

    tabula rasa.jpg

    Important note: the character traits I suggested are made up for the sake of the experiment. They're not a real assesment of the women in the pictures.

  11. 12 hours ago, epistemologue said:

    @KyaryPamyu, so what is your take on the original questions of the thread exactly? You don't think that death gives life meaning, or that struggle/suffering is necessary for happiness, because happiness and the meaning of life is about more than bare survival?

     In brief, it's part of human psychology to value things that are scarce. I think a lot of people wouldn't care that much about making the most of their lives if they knew that it went on indefinitely. None of their time would ever be 'wasted' on anything, since they have an infinite supply of time at their disposal. 

    This is not to say this would make them suicidal, since the struggle for survival is not the definition of happiness. Here we are confusing the metaphysical with the psychological. Metaphysicaly, when we fulfill our needs, we are maintaining or improving our capacity to survive and reproduce. But psychologicaly, we are not after either of these, but after pleasure, which is the physiological incentive to pursue those needs in the first place. If we didn't have emotional feedback mechanisms, there would be no reason to survive since emotions are our means of enjoying life. 

    Regarding whether the struggle for survival is necessary for happiness, and whether happiness is defined by the struggle to survive: it's true that every human need has some effect on either survival or reproduction, but not all of them require 'struggle' in order to get fulfilled. Solving the survival problem is the basic precondition of happiness - namely, the security of food, shelter, clothes and financial stability. Many people, especially those in first world countries, are well past this stage. People like that are freed to pursue less urgent needs that are nontheless essential to happiness. Is acquiring friendship, romantic love, making or consuming art, ordering pizza, working on your earth-shattering philosophical system a struggle? Those things might pose different levels of challenge, but it's a pleasurable and fulfilling kind of challenge. 

    The only people to whom survival is a struggle is those who actually need to toil day and night for their basic survival needs. Those people cannot be said to be happy, because their other needs go unfulfilled. Now, about longevity: who wouldn't want that? But people don't want to lenghten their life unconditionaly, they want to do it because it's like extending their stay in Disneyland.


    if we were immortal and survival weren't a struggle that would be a load off of my back, I could settle into just pursuing the things that make me happy, without needing to worry about this survival problem.


  12. Ayn Rand declared 'Life' to be the standard of value, but I highly doubt her account was survivalist. A key idea in Galt's speech is that a moral man is primarily motivated by the desire to gain values, not by the desire to avoid of suffering, i.e. his ultimate goal is pleasure derived from things that enhance his life, rather than from momentary pleasures that will kill him in the long run. 

    Imagine a fictional world where all things that preserved us - food, sleep, exercise and so on - gave us pain rather than pleasure. Would that be a life worth preserving? I believe Ayn Rand would not hesistate to say that what makes life worth living is happiness, not survival at any price. If the pain-body mechanism was skewed like that, life would cease to be a value. Galt's talk about commiting suicide over losing Dagny strongly suggests that Rand did not regard all life as worth preserving, only a life where happiness is possible.

    Here's where I agree with Rand: human beings have a vast array or needs, physical and psychological. Some of them are unique to us (art, philosophy, variety, challenge) and some are common in the animal world (food, sunlight). But here's where I disagree: her trying to box-in every human need into either the 'preservation of body' or 'preservation of consciousness' category.

    My objection springs from a point of view that is not popular with objectivists, namely that human beings, like all animals, are genetically programmed to feel pleasure from things that enhance both survival and reproduction. Sex, romantic love and child rearing are utterly useless for your survival, but produce intense pleasure and spiritual fulfillment within people. Why? Because that's the nature of your body.

    Does this view contradict Rand? This view denies that all human needs are tied to survival. However, it does not contradict the essence of what Rand is saying, namely that man's moral purpose is happiness. Rand went to great lenghts to point out that life is the standard of value, not happiness, because only a course of life-preserving values will actualy lead to happiness. But the point remains that happiness and pleasure are the stars of the game, and that the entire reason why we pursue life at all, is because life is very fun to live. If happiness requires struggle, then that struggle becomes eclipsed by how amazing happiness is.

    In other words, if we replace 'Life' as the standard, with 'Happy life' as the standard, we get closer to what Rand herself meant, but her view that reproduction is merely 'a characteristic' of living organisms, and that every single human need serves a survival role, only confuses this part of her ethics.

  13. I forgot to mention than an emotion can be triggered by a purely musical event. For example, a dominant seventh chord is a combination of sounds that, when played togheter, create a sense of tension in humans. If you resolve the tension to a tonic chord, you feel a sense of relief. This is because your brain wants complex frequency ratios to be resolved to simple ones. This does not mimic any event. It is the event that is happening right before you, and you respond to it.

  14. 3 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

    Thank you. I made this my Christmas morning gift to myself. I have many classical albums. Peter and the Wolf reminded me of Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals, which I'm listening to now. It's another masterpiece of mimicking animals in musical form.

    I played it a few years back with my university orchestra. If I recall correctly, Saint-Saens avoided publishing it during his lifetime in order to maintain his reputation of being a serious composer.  He had a lot of fun with it though.


    Music has sound and motion. So with some conceptual guidance, as in the sort these two composers provide, we can objectively connect the musical sounds and motions to objects in reality that make analogous sounds and motions, and thus imagine an artistic representation of reality. But without such conceptual guidance, we might be abandoned to our own completely subjective fantasies.

    I completely agree with you, but mimesis and connotation are just one aspect of music. Before you have any type of music, you need the building blocks. Some musical scales simply don't sound good, while others do. This has to do with the ratios of frequencies you are using. The overtones and frequency ratios also determine which intervals or chords sound consonant, or dissonant, or happy (major triad) or sad (minor triad). For music to sound good it must also contain a tonal gravitational center. A melody has to follow certain rules.

    A purely musical piece focuses on melody, phrase, form, harmony and rhytm. Musical mimesis is the manipulation of those elements to suggest animals, behaviours, human character, water riples and so on. Sound design suggests emotions or events in a non-stylized way, i.e. without regard to melody and form, only with conveying emotions (such as fear, suspense or conflict).

    All music is more or less a combination of those three cathegories. Some genres, like symphonies, tilt strongly to the pure music side. Program music - pieces that are based on stories or poems - tilts to the mimesis side. Certain parts of movie sountracks tilt a lot to the sound design side. But all pure music necessarily has mimetic elements, and program music usualy incorporates all cathegories. 

    • A Brahms symphony is an example of pure music (he was very much influenced by the 'pure music' trend in the philosophy of his time)
    • Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet is a great example of all three elements combined. It moves effortlessly through character themes (melodies), suggestions of sunrise (mimesis), and moments such as that famous dissonant chord at the beggining that could scare anybody (sound design).
    • Perhaps the perfect example of pure music is found in art music, which adds another layer: abstract construction and form. There's no way to fully appreciate a concerto or symphony without learning about the sonata form, because the entire musical content is dictated by abstract rules: when to modulate, how many themes to put where, when to develop them and so on.
    • Opera takes it a step further by combining many other arts such as stories, texts, dance, acting, and crafts such as dress design. 
  15. 5 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

    And how would it happen? You talk about a "gradual process." What's that process?

    Culture is constantly growing and diversifying. Two musical genres (cultural infrastructures) might blend togheter in order to create a third genre, with the first two genres remaining in circulation. People might blend elements from the culture of an invading tribe into their own culture.


    Yes, and that little girl had already been taught a language and was not trapped on an island.

    Well, can you think of something that you can teach somebody without using verbal or sign language? And what would stop the meme from spreading on the island, as opposed to a kindergarden playground?


    Transmission of cultural units requires that there first be a shared language and second a cultural unit to transmit.  

    Animals have culture and distinct forms of language. As far as humans go, two thirds of all human communication is non-verbal. This type of communication evolved before language. Lastly, language itself is a cultural unit, not the thing that makes the creation and/or spreading of every single cultural unit possible, although some depend on it (e.g. stories and myths).


    man works with concepts, not modules.

    Why can he work with concepts, while a cat cannot? Unless you propose that the ability to form concepts comes from somewhere outside of your nervous system, the answer is that man's brain is structured in such a way as to give him this ability - unlike the cat's brain. Concepts are a small part of the story. People create languages with an interesting talent for distinguishing 'verbs', 'adjectives', 'nouns'. Without even knowing those terms, or what they mean.

    I might be wrong, but you seem to suggest that all cognition is based on language, and for some reason, even music apreciation. But humans think without language - they translate their thinking into verbal language, sign language, visual mental images, painted pictures and so on. If you destroy the parts of the brain that deal with language, you can't create language. If you do the same with the music-processing parts, you can speak but you will experience Beethoven just like a cat does: as gibberish, random sounds.

  16. 7 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

    Yes, that's where I disagree. I don't believe in "music processing modules." I think the author made them up (or borrowed the idea from Kant) to provide some basis for his conclusion in the "desert island experiment."

    Not really. He takes the theory from scientific literature, which is thoroughly cited in the 'Notes' section at the end of the book. To say he makes it up to prove a thought experiment is absurd and a skewing of what he actually writes.

    The human brain, like the brain of all animals, has a specific identity. Blank slate or tabula rasa proponents seriously think that the nature of the brain is restricted to emotions, language, concepts, memory, connotation, sexual arousal and the subconscious. The brain has far more adaptations than that. If the brain has identity, this doesn't discredit volition.


    Stroke victims develop acquired or receptive amusia if they suffer brain damage to modules that process music. If you develop amusia this way, you can recognize the lyrics of a song you had known before you acquired amusia—but only when somebody speaks the lyrics to you. If they sing the lyrics, you can no longer recognize the tune. You have a hard time grasping or perceiving music. You can’t follow a melody, identify the sounds of various musical instruments, or make sense of chords.

    The author makes a thought experient in which a population of kids is raised in total social isolation, but the kids can somehow raise themselves (yes, it's impossible, but so is Ayn Rand's indestructible robot thought experiment. That's why it's an experiment). The thing is, those kids would create a language and culture. But by culture he is not referring to 21st century New York, or German Romanticism or even late Paleolithic era culture. What he means is: basic customs, traditions, mythology. It wouldn't happen in one generation. It would start very modestly as a gradual process spanning many generations; but it would happen nontheless. I believe Richard Dawkins illustrated this is a video I saw way back where he teaches a game to a little girl during kindergarden recess. He predicts that the game will soon spread to the entire group of kids and sure enough, it does (games like that are what he calls cultural memes).

  17. 2 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

    Thanks for the link. I like that the author rejects postmodernism and acknowledges free will in the development of music. But I'm concerned by the implication that music predates language. I don't think the author grasps the importance of a conceptual consciousness in the origination of music. This is probably due to the belief that music is half-instinctual and half-learned, which I reject as nonsense.

    By 'innate', the author is refering to the music processing modules within the human brain. What he means in the part you quoted is that, while musical universals are innate in the brain, they take many different forms within culture, and the particular tastes and preferences in music that you have are partly influenced by your culture and peer group (the half and half part). Pop, rock, classical and jazz sound very different from eachoter, but they are merely various ways of using musical universals such as repetition, rhytmic and melodic patterns, melodies made of sequences of proximate pitches and many more. If you violate those musical universals the brain does not recognize what it hears as music, or, if some musical universals are present, it sounds like a very alien and bizzare form of it. Contrary to modernists, you cannot 'condition' your brain to like Schonberg. The reason people prefer Mozart is not a matter of conditioning, but pertaining to the identity of the human brain.

    If I remember correctly the author does cover language in depth, including mentalese, so check those parts out.

    Edit: I just remembered the perfect piece to illustrate mimesis in music: Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf! 

  18. On 21.12.2016 at 1:51 AM, MisterSwig said:

    What is music? What purpose does it serve? Can it be objectively understood?

    This entire chapter of How Music Really Works covers those questions and many more. This is probably the most mindblowing songwriting textbook ever attempted. The chapter on lyrics is unique in all of music literature. You can read the first six chapters online.

  19. Quote

    Good morning, I really enjoyed your post and all about it, I love it, even when I do not agree with some parts of the analysis.

    of Rand's virtues?


    I wanted to ask, what if the person doesn't have the opportunities to achieve those virtues?

    You don't need opportunities to be virtuous, you are virtuous in order to create your opportunities. Objectivist morality is a guide to pursuing your long term self-interest. It will maximize the amount of success you can extort from your particular life situation by teaching you to work for the betterment of your life and to avoid mistakes that might hinder you. Many people don't have a rosy life situation, but if they're ambitious they can rise to great heights. It does take a long amount of time and work, but if you really want to be happy then it's all worth it.


    What if that person doesn't know anything about ethics?

    Objectivist ethics boils down to one virtue, rationality, all the others are applications to various areas of our lives. Randian heroes such as Howard Roark or Hank Rearden do not know anything about ethics or Objectivism but they implicitly practice it because of their two ruling qualities: they're self-interested, and they know that happiness cannot be pursued in any manner - only by making decisions that will actually pay off in the long term, i.e. being rational. 


    I'm interested in knowing how a person can change his way of seeing life and how to develops those virtues when you always had been a miserable person.

    Your emotions largely come from premises held in your mind - from the way you interpret the events around you, what your motivations and philosophical positions are etc. If you're really interested search the online Ayn Rand Lexicon for "sense-of-life", "benevolent universe premise", "malevolent universe premise" and "Byronic view of existence".

  20. On 07.12.2016 at 1:35 AM, MisterSwig said:

    Thanks for the tips. After you wake up from a lucid dream, is your recall of that dream any easier or clearer than after having non-lucid dreams? Thanks. 

    Since lucid dreams are an unusual occurence (for people who don't have them often), they tend to stick in your memory. But if you want to remember your lucid dreams very vividly, you have to practice your ability to recall dreams in general. For this reason, many people who learn lucid dreaming start a dream journal in which they document their dreams upon awakening.

    When I started my journal I really struggled with remembering dreams, they would dissapear from my mind almost immediately after awakening. I remember having to lay still in the position I woke up in and forcing myself to replay the dream in my mind.

    I only did the dream journal thing for a few weeks, about 8 years ago, but since then my dream recall is pretty decent. I can effortlessly recall most of my dreams upon awakening, and if the dreams are really interesting or scary, they stick in my mind long after that. As I type this it's almost midnight and posting this made me remember the gist of what I dreamed of this morning.

    I definitely remember my first proper lucid dream ('proper' means I didn't wake up upon realizing that I was dreaming). One sunny morning I woke up from a dream and rolled lazily to the side of the bed to check my mobile phone. It seemed like an overkill to pinch myself but I did it anyway. That's when I realized I had a 'faux awakening' - I was actually still dreaming. After that I got up and started exploring my appartment. Everything was incredibly realistic - I felt the texture of the rug under my feet, the furniture was placed exactly as it was in real life etc. It never became a big interest of mine, but I'm sure there are resources on the web that can turn anyone into a lucid dreaming master.

  21. I have lucid dreams once in a while. The trick I use is to pinch one of my index fingers whenever something weird happens in real life. Sometimes I carry this habit to the dream world, and it makes me realize that I'm dreaming, because if you pinch yourself in a dream you don't feel physical pain.

    The tricky part is to remain conscious of your 'discovery'. Sometimes I don't really care that I'm dreaming and just go back to an unconscious dreaming state. Since you can control what you do in a lucid dream, many lucid dreamers learn this skill in order to experience flying around like Superman, or dream-sex, but I never really had any specific things I wanted to do in my dreams.

    Another challenge is to not wake up once you realize that you're dreaming. There are many techniques for this, such as rubbing your hands togheter, which makes the dream more vivid and anchors you to the dream state. With practice you can make most or all of your dreams lucid, but this is definitely a niche interest.

  22. 11 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

    I know what you mean - don't live off the unearned. But it's not a sign of laziness to receive money for assistance. Is there another way to say this?

    True, there are many situations where it's proper to receive assistance, but as I mentioned at the beginning of my post, I am not adressing the possible exceptions. I wrote this to make it clear to myself what the Objectivist ideal looks like and what to strive for. That particular line is the existential half of the virtue of independence, which I've judged to fit very well near the virtue of productiveness (which opens the statement).

    As for my rendering of Pride, I see exactly where the awkwardness stems from, but the original post can no longer be edited. Nevertheless, the rendering is accurate.

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