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Lawrence Edward Richard

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  1. Like
    Lawrence Edward Richard got a reaction from William Hobba in Can Self-Insufficient Millennials become real Objectivists?   
    Hey there Bill, I know exactly what you mean. I look at my earlier permissiveness and assumption of good intent from other people as an automatic given, with depression.
  2. Like
    Lawrence Edward Richard reacted to Eiuol in Reblogged:Is There Now a De Facto $15 Minimum Wage?   
    They can be actually. To subsidize means basically to provide financial support. Financial support through public funds is not the only meaning of subsidize.
    I think many libertarian minded people have a genuine hard time understanding that just because something is a voluntary market transaction does not mean that transaction is morally good. It is also possible to accept a transaction without endorsing the transaction as completely fair, especially in the short term. I think this especially applies to internships.
    Generally, I think paying employees what looks to be very small wages is often due to the employer failing to acknowledge the value that an employee provides. Suppose I hire an employee for $10 an hour, and they would accept it. If I hire them for $15 an hour, they would accept it. An employer has to make a decision about the wage they want to pay above the bare minimum that the employee would accept. I don't imagine that the moral way to make this calculation is simply to figure out what is the lowest wage that the employee would accept. The moral way to make this calculation is to think about the value that an employee provides - not merely the monetary value. 
    As far as full-time employees, at really any job, I can't see a reason to say that an employee should be paid less than $15 an hour. That is, a full-time employer should have enough respect for their employee that they pay a living wage. 
    This is just a long way to say that I agree with you. I mean, they might be financially viable businesses, but I wouldn't call them morally viable. 
  3. Haha
    Lawrence Edward Richard reacted to whYNOT in Those Lockdown Protests Across America   
    And if a cameraman had shot you in that situation, inadvertently mixing with neo-Nazis? Such a sleazy old media trick, I'm amazed the public falls for it still. If the Press wants to destroy someone's character they have taken or pull out an old photo of him/her in the company of notorious scumbags and publish it. That's a simple variation on "guilt by association", guilt by proximity. The short attention span and 'symbolic' mindset of readers and viewers does the rest. He/she will always carry that slur on their public reputation.
    No different to the guilt by association technique here,  that suggests very different people, conservatives and supremacists, protesting the lock down, lumped as one 'group'. For what reason?  Why should the media make that play? Obviously some have a vested interest in keeping the economy from recovering. 
  4. Haha
    Lawrence Edward Richard reacted to RadCap in Free State Initiative   
    CF - exactly. The project is just a blank-check support of an undefined and unidentified political platform that mouths vague platitudes about achieving 'liberty' - but without providing any intellectual basis (or even definition) for that liberty.
  5. Like
    Lawrence Edward Richard got a reaction from Boydstun in Feynman And Ayn Rand   
    Hello Boydstun
    Nice of you to say hello and the friendly feedback.
    I became in as much as it is my main consideration in rational argument and used in my Substance Misuse Worker career an Objectivist in 2019 after reading the Fountainhead around Easter of that year. I picked it up in a Charity Shop in North Wales and cherish this battered old book. NO other book has given me so much beauty. I forced my way through Atlas Shrugged over a long period. I remain unconvinced grand political theories and live in much cherished social housing and value my NHS. For a while after reading Fountainhead and beginning Atlas Shrugged I couldn't understand why I kept coming back to a book that said to me (left wing as I was) such shocking truths, or why I found Dagny so beautiful and Hank and Eddie so relatable. In the end I gave in to the fact that beauty exists and to try to treat everyone like they have goodness and good intentions is futile. It also made me value people around me a lot more for their virtues.
    The joke is in any conversation I have with my wife, who doesn't read Rand at all, she MAKES RAND'S arguments as if Rand has possessed her. I find her very beautiful anyway, but when I hear her passion when she speaks about right and wrong it is gorgeous.
    I had to accept in the end that what I loved turned out for too long to have been told to me rather than realised by me.
  6. Thanks
    Lawrence Edward Richard reacted to Repairman in Hello   
    Welcome to the forum, Giemel,
    Your experience seems similar to my own. Reading through the many posts, you will find that there are as many differing views contesting to be the most rational point of view. I wouldn't worry too much about trying to identify as Objectivist, as I would see it more as an aspiration, rather than an identity. Most people I've discussed ideas with have never heard of Ayn Rand, let alone any philosophical school of thought. Most people are religious and anti-intellectual. There's little you can do about it. In conversation, I usually identify as "rational egoist," if that's any help to you. If they wish to know more, they need to listen, or it's their loss. In any case, it's a comfort to know our ranks are growing.
  7. Thanks
    Lawrence Edward Richard reacted to Eiuol in Did this “price gouger” do anything wrong?   
    Clearly not. It's just shorthand for saying "the people in charge of running the business who decide which values should be promoted in the operations of that business". 
    We don't need to go "back to basics", you and I are both trying to use Objectivist standards of judgment here. 
    So, the proper beneficiaries are first the individuals running the business, and a consideration within that (for themselves) is about the values that their actions promote in society. But you already know this. 
    It's fine to promote products that you personally would not use (there could be many rational reasons someone would use a product that you just haven't thought of, or things that don't fit into your life for whatever reason), the problem only comes in if you deliberately try to create demand through the irrationality of others, through ends or motivations that you know are immoral. And of course I don't mean a contextless absolute - I'm referring to immoral actions that are immoral for anyone by virtue of being human, like being second handed. In this case, with the so-called price gougers, the ends and motivations are positive.
    I had a typo in the bit you quoted, I fixed it now just in case that caused any confusion for some reason.
  8. Thanks
    Lawrence Edward Richard reacted to Boydstun in Beauty - Francis Kovach   
    I composed this three-part essay five years ago. This sector of OBJECTIVISM ONLINE is a natural spot for it.
    Beauty – Francis Kovach
    Part I
    The author of Philosophy of Beauty (PB) was my first philosophy professor Francis Kovach. Beauty is “that which, in sole virtue of a knowledge of it rather than its usefulness, delights its knower” (PB 24). What is “that which”? What is beauty?
    A sense of beauty can be companion to other feelings engendered in a work of art. “Pure beauty merely delights; the sublime delights and awes; the tragic delights and saddens; the comic delights and makes one laugh; . . .” (PB 29). Michelangelo’s Pieta: pathos with beauty. Bernini’s David: power and determination with beauty. Brancusi’s Bird in Space: suspension and sweep with beauty.
    Ugliness crafted in art is craft of the contrary privative of the positive value beauty (PB 250–64). Ugliness has been taken as a privative since Plato, although, since the nineteenth century, there have been dissenters.
    One version of a positive interpretation of ugliness “seems to go back to Winckelmann, who ventured to assert that expressiveness was one of the primary characteristics of classic art, whereas Lessing held the more traditional view, viz., that beauty is the main purpose of classic art. Schlegel, at the end of the eighteenth century (1797) declared that the main concern of modern art is not beauty but the characteristic or the interesting, and the characteristic or the interesting may be, among others, the repulsive or hideous, i.e., the ugly.” (PB 255)
    The kind of beauty in art is what Kovach called material beauty, “the integral unity of a multitude or variety of proportionate parts” (PB 185). Integral means the capability of the parts to contribute to the whole of the beautiful work, where “these parts, through their presence, actually ensure and constitute the wholeness of the beautiful material being” (185). Proportionate means capability of being put together with the other parts and of being united with them into the whole of the beautiful work of art (185).
    In any “obviously well-arranged whole” there can be found “integrally proportionate and unified parts” (PB 185–86). The integrity of such an orderly material whole is the principle of its order. Integrity is “the property in virtue of which order has all the parts necessary and no parts unnecessary for it” (190). (I notice in passing that having all the parts necessary does not preclude there being alternative necessary parts; necessary part of a piston engine could be spark plug or fuel injector.) Such an artistic whole damaged or never completed, or composed as if those were so, frustrates the viewer. It frustrates fulfillment of the natural cognitive desire for and cognitive delight in the fully knowable. A full integrity renders things fully knowable with the delight that holds, and thereby, integrity is a true principle of beauty (193).
    The esthetics of my Prof. Kovach, who was very learned in the history of esthetics, has considerable affinity with that of Rand. In much of her thinking about art, she was not alone. What Kovach says about integrity and integral unity in the work of art fits well with Rand’s writings on esthetics in The Fountainhead and in her nonfiction.
    The proportionate “is intuitively intelligible and, thereby, cognitively delightful; whereas that which is disproportionate is, as such, intuitively puzzling, upsetting, disturbing, even displeasing to the beholder” (PB 195). Suppose a man “is listening to a lullaby, and suddenly he hears drums sounding fortissimo. . . . He will instantly intuit the unsuitability of the loud sounds of the drums to the soft sounds of the other musical instruments in the lullaby” (195).
    The role of proportion is to render intelligibility and its delight intuitively. Unity in the work of art, or in a machine for that matter, “unity, as such, is intelligible; multitude, the privation of unity, is not. Inasmuch as the unity of a material being is intuitively, effortlessly intelligible, the knowledge of it is delightful, and the thing itself is cognitively delightful and, as such, beautiful” (PB 195). Kovach goes on to argue for the presence of integrity, proportion, and unity in all material things. That we do not encounter beauty in all of them is due to the order in some being not directly perceivable by us or not intuitively knowable by us or relatively inferior or conspicuously defective or so frequent that it cannot delight. The artist aiming to realize beauty, for cognitive delight of the beholder, will be concerned with composing details in right definite relations to the whole she has in mind, or at least selecting among particulars according with a whole emerging in mind. The order in her representation, if beautiful, will be an exemplification of the three principles of order of material being, concretely intelligible and, therewith, immediately delighting (198–208).
    Francis Kovach belonged to the Scholastic tradition in philosophy. He took their view that beauty is objective. Beauty is there whether or not it is discerned. He argued for that view and, furthermore, he argued that beauty is a property of being the Scholastics called a transcendental property of being. Such a property is convertible with being and with other such properties. The distinction between being and its transcendental properties is only ideational; in reality they refer to the self-same thing. (Here I shall stay with the customary name transcendental property, though I think merely cohort is a better name.)
    In Rand’s metaphysics, identity is such a transcendental property of being, where being means any and all existence, actual or potential, physical or mental (AS 1016–17, 1035–37, 1040–41, 1054; ITOE 56, 82, App. 240). The oneness or unity of each existent is also a transcendental in Rand’s metaphysics. Or, at least we can say that the oneness or unity of each entity, which is the primary and fundamental category among all existents in Rand’s metaphysics, is also a transcendental in that system (ITOE App. 199). The convertibility of unity with being is from Aristotle (Top. 127a27–28; Metaph. 1003b22–23; cf. Aquinas ST Q.11 A.1). Rand’s convertibility of identity and being was most fully seen before her by Avicenna with his addition of the transcendentals “thing and something, meaning definiteness and otherness, respectively” (PB 240). Avicenna was adding those specifically to the Plotinian set of transcendentals: unity, truth, goodness, and beauty.
    In the thirteenth century, there began efforts to systematically derive the transcendental properties, and those various efforts led to a variety of sets of the transcendentals. The set and derivation of Thomas Aquinas came to be quite influential among modern Scholastics from mid-nineteenth century on. In his early work On Truth, Aquinas set out the following system of transcendental properties, as summarized by Kovach:
    “Considering being absolutely, one can pass this affirmative judgment on it, ‘Every being has an essence’ or ‘Every being is something definite’—a judgment which leads us to realize the transcendentality of ‘thing’—‘being with a definite essence’, and the abstract transcendental of ‘definiteness’. Next, still considering being absolutely, we can pass a negative judgment on it, ‘No being is actually divided’, that corresponds to the judgment, ‘Every being is actually undivided’, and leads the mind to the recognition of the transcendentality of ‘the one’ and its abstract correlative, ‘unity’ or ‘oneness’. In the next steps, one may consider ‘being’ relatively. In so doing, and relating it to non-being, he can realize the truth of this proposition, ‘Every being is other than non-being’, which is the recognition of the transcendentality of ‘the other’ and the abstract ‘otherness’. If, next, somebody relates being to the first unique power of the human soul, the intellect, he can discover the truth of the following proposition, ‘Every being is intelligible’ or ‘true’, and thereby the transcendentality of ‘the true’ and of ‘truth’. If, on the other hand, one relates ‘being’ to the second unique power of the human soul, the will, he may recognize that it is true to say, ‘Every being is desirable’, and, through this judgment, the transcendentality of ‘the good’ and ‘goodness’. Summing up, we may say that there are exactly five transcendental properties of being in such a way that definiteness is an affirmative absolute transcendental; unity, negative absolute; otherness, negative relative; and truth and goodness, affirmative relative. (PB 241)
    Aquinas latter expressed his belief that beauty also—in accord with Plato, Plotinus, and others—is convertible with being. Kovach argues for incorporation of beauty into Aquinas’ system of transcendentals. Consider intellect and will not separately, but jointly. Then, affirmatively and relative to that combination, we can say, “Every being is cognitively delightful,” which, according to Kovach, we have reason anyway to think true, outside its consideration in connection with Aquinas’ system. Then beauty is a transcendental property of being, for “we call a thing beautiful precisely if and when it delights upon becoming known to us” (PB 242).
    Now Objectivists should be ready to correct and adapt this objectivist theory of beauty and artistic beauty. The Scholastic objectivist is on the right track in taking the intelligible and the good to be affordances of existence for human cognitive and evaluative powers. However, firstly, in Rand’s system, the fundamental affordance for truth is not truth, but fact (cf. Metaph. 993b30; ST Q.16 A.3). Truth is recognition of fact, which latter is a cohort of existence. Secondly, the affordance of goodness in existence is not fundamentally for will or desire, but for life. All occasions of value are confined to relationships of existents to life, including distinctly human forms of life, and to derivatives of life. Value and goodness are not cohorts of existence in Rand’s system (contrast with Aristotle’s NE 1096a23–29). Then beauty is not a cohort of existence; though if a sense of beauty is cognitive delight, sensed beauty is yet a function of the true and the good and can be objective in a new mix of the definite ways in which the true and the good are objective. Then too, whether an artwork crafts an illusion capable, in right conditions of the beholder, of eliciting cognitive delight by its concrete integral unity of held truths and values is an objective matter in an elaborate sense.
    In her literature, Rand had bannered an objectivist view of beauty, with ugliness as its antithesis. The range of things she called beautiful was considerable, from the beauty of human face and body to the beauty of countryside and city skyline, to the beauty of an evening of formal debut composed by a mother for her daughter, to the sense of beauty a young woman would have for familiar items in the surroundings of her occasions with her lover, which occasions had carried “a feeling greater than happiness, the feeling of one’s blessing upon the whole of the earth, the feeling of being in love with the fact that one exists and in this kind of world” (AS 108).
    The character Lillian Rearden, in a lecture to her husband, says that telling a beautiful woman she is beautiful is a gift of no cost. “But if you tell an ugly woman that she is beautiful, you offer her the great homage of corrupting the concept beauty” (AS 305). In Fountainhead Peter Keating accepts a commission to build a home for the successful writer Lois Cook, who tells him she wants it to be the ugliest house in New York. “’The . . . ugliest, Miss Cook?’ / ‘Sweetheart, the beautiful is so commonplace!’ / . . . / ‘Keating, where’s your courage? Aren’t you capable of a sublime gesture on occasion? They all work so hard and struggle and suffer, trying to achieve beauty, trying to surpass one another in beauty. Let’s surpass them all! Let’s throw their sweat in their face. Let’s destroy them at one stroke. Let’s be gods. Let’s be ugly!’” (ET IV 256)
    In oral reply to a question in 1976, Rand maintained that beauty is a sense of harmony. A beautiful face, body, sunset, image, or object will have parts that are harmoniously integrated to the whole unit. “If there are contradictions and clashes, the result is marred or positively ugly.” Consider a face you find beautiful. It is beautiful because all its features “are harmoniously integrated, . . . they all fit your view of the importance of all these features on a human face.” A sunset or landscape will be regarded as beautiful “if all the colors complement each other, or go well together, or are dramatic together.” Rand went on to say that this was an objective definition of beauty (in her particular relational sense of the objective) and that to maintain it as a universal standard of beauty, you need to “define the terms of the objects you are going to classify as beautiful and what you take as the ideal harmonious relationship of the elements of that particular object. . . . It is true, of course, that if there were no valuers, then nothing could be valued as beautiful or ugly, because values are created by the observing consciousness—but they are created by a standard based on reality. So here the issue is: values, including beauty, have to be judged as objective, not subjective or intrinsic.” (Beauty in Binswanger 1986; see also Hospers 2001, 322–23; PB chap. V)
    There are some ambiguities in those remarks, but there is clear enough fit with Rand’s writings, and it is a little surprising Rand never committed those remarks on beauty, polished perhaps, to writing. Three observations: She spoke of the harmoniously integrated. Yes, integration is at work in Rand’s analysis of beauty and at work in several ways in her whole theory of esthetics. She spoke of importance (relative importance), and this does have definite work in selections made in composing an artwork, including literary work, but, I say, not in analysis of the integral unity of the parts of a beautiful face. She spoke of harmony. That is a species of proportion, that is, harmony is one of several ways by which parts may be joined with other parts into a whole that is beautiful, a whole whose knowledge delights (PB 207). Notwithstanding that last point, Rand’s view of beauty as a whole had by harmoniously integrated parts is subsumable under my Thomist professor’s wider definition of material beauty: the integral unity of a multitude or variety of proportionate parts.
    In those oral remarks, Rand spoke of the positively ugly. I do not take that as an affirmation of the views of some modern estheticians that ugliness is some sort of fundamentally positive antithesis to beauty, another, equally positive reality. (On history, analysis, and resolution of the issue, see PB 250–59.) It would seem most natural in Rand’s philosophy to see ugliness vis-à-vis beauty as parallel evil vis-à-vis goodness (AS 1024). That is, ugliness would be lack of beauty and not equally a positive reality, but a real lack and, moreover, a positive opposition to beauty.
    Rand’s principle of the harmonious for the beautiful should be widened to the proportionate. I should note, however, that her conception of the harmonious was not confined to the tranquil, for she spoke of dramatic composition of colors, and her own art form, the novel, required dramatic conflict. Harmony for Rand could not plausibly be confined to accord. Perhaps Rand’s conception of the harmonious was synonymous with the proportionate. Perhaps her definition of beauty did not differ from Kovach’s definition in that element (cf. PB 205).
    The view of beauty defended by Kovach is an intrinsicist one, which in common parlance and in philosophy has been called the objectivist view. He defends the position that everything is beautiful, though by contingencies of our minds, we do not always experience the beauty there. One way in which Rand’s view of beauty needs to be objective in her special sense, not intrinsic, is as follows.
    On the beautiful, I propose a Randian contraction in comparison to the conception of Scholastic objectivists. Similarities given in perception are there whether or not this were a world in which sentient life such as we had arisen. Integral unities of multitudes or varieties of proportionate parts are not something that exists outside the context of life. Only with the entry of life into the world is there entry of the proportionate. It is only the concept life than makes the concept proportionate possible, just as it is only the concept life that makes the concepts value or problem possible.
    Magnitude structures are in the world. Ratios are in the world without our putting numbers on them. Proportions are in the world and can be an element of the proportionate. Proportions, however, are not enough to constitute an occasion of the proportionate said of a multitude or variety of parts forming an integral unity, which type of unity is beauty.
    There is a complication of expression. The noun correlate of the adjective proportionate is proportionateness. That is ugly, and one seldom sees it used. One sees instead proportion used as the noun correlate of proportionate. That is a broader sense of proportion than I mean in saying proportions are an element of the proportionate, and in such cases, one could substitute the proportionate for proportion. For example, instead of saying harmony is a species of proportion, I would better say harmony is a species of the proportionate.
    Life is the force of beauty. Even the singular stillness and quiet around thought of a loved one deceased has its faint, shadows-beauty by life and our knowing it. We may not know how our visual, motor, intelligent, and affective systems have evolved such that we delight in perception of the intense pattern of a butterfly wing, evening soar of swift, or display of fireworks. But of beauty as integral unity of multitudes or varieties of proportionate parts, we know life is the force of beauty.
    (To be continued.)
  9. Like
    Lawrence Edward Richard reacted to whYNOT in How would an Objectivist Based Government have Dealt with Covid-19   
    The guiding principle: "A private individual may do anything except that which is legally *forbidden*; a government official may do nothing except that which is legally *permitted*". [The Nature of Government]
    That for me simply answers "how would an objectivist based gvt ...   etc."
    What is "permitted" is when a government should and must act unilaterally under specially pre-defined and delineated conditions, i.e. in a state of emergency.
    The 'what, why, when, how and for whom?' will specify objectively what ARE emergency conditions. Basically, what is the threat (and its magnitude) to the lives and freedom of citizens? At a pre-specified stage (when the standard of normality is regained) that government must relinquish its permitted powers. The objectively legal details of what constitutes "normality" in a given context  - when does a war or natural disaster - end? - would have to be thrashed out.
    (hello Lawrence).
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