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    Andrew Brannan
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    McMaster University Alumni
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    Registered Nurse

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  1. I have a dusty old copy of Nozick's "Examined Life" sitting on my bookshelf. I tried to read through a couple chapters that looked interesting but could not get into it. His writing style is exactly as DPW described. Basically, from what I remember, his ethical and political views are deeply rooted in a subjectivist view---not surprising considering he is a libertarian.
  2. That's too bad about your experience with Binswanger. I wonder if that is out of character for him? I generally consider him one of my favorite Objectivist intellectuals. For my brief experience on HBL, I found him to promote a climate that harbours a wide range of dissenting opinions from the nature of consciousness to drug use to gun control to the Iranian threat -- an experience that confounds your experience of him being dogmatic or stifling. Not that I'm doubting your experience with him, but I'm not convinced that you can take that experience into a wide generalization.
  3. Dave, I think you are quite accurate in your analysis. In fact, I still find myself frequently doing exactly what you describe: I preface many of my statements with "I may be wrong, but.." or "From my perspective" or "Some may disagree, but..." It's a tough habit to shake. I'm sure there's a context for those statements, but when it dominates your discourse I think it becomes a problem. That was a great summary Hal. Shortly after learning about Objectivism, I went to the bookstore and bought books by Bertrand Russell, Kant's CPR, Locke's "Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding", even a book on Foucault, among others such as a books on the History of Philosophy. I found this rewarding and have enhanced my understanding of philosophy to a great extent. However, this requires a lot of time and effort. Is it realistic to expect many people out there to actually do this? How can a cultural/philosophical revolution happen without expecting everyone out there to become philosophy scholars yet also prevent Objectivism from becoming the next Feminist or Environmentalist movement with regard to becoming mired in irrational dogma?
  4. aleph_0, on your definition of dogma you said: At what point does someone, after reading Rand and agreeing with her works, achieve the status of non-dogmatist? I think you would be hard-pressed to find an Objectivist who didn't agree with the notion that one can only properly achieve a proper understanding of Objectivism by first hand knowledge. By what means can you distinguish between someone who has obtained their conclusions from observing reality vs. just reading Rand alone? If I read "The Objectivist Ethics" and find that Rand's ethical formulations fit within my context of knowledge, attained over 25 years of life, and instantly agree with it, does that make me a dogmatist? Or, does it require more observing reality? Basically, your labelling of dogmatism is based on specious grounds. Dogmatism, as you've defined it, can be attributed to anyone across the intellectual spectrum. I'm not just directing this at you aleph_0, but why is it so pervasive that Objectivists get labelled as dogmatists for having an integrated set of ideas, yet that charge is not directed as equally across board to other belief systems (that truly are dogmatic) such as environmentalists, multiculturalists, or even Kantians for Gods sake! Categorical Imperative? 'I had to deny reason in order to make room for faith' -- that truly sounds like dogma.
  5. What nonsense. In response to this question: He says: . Because you are not omniscient, reality is unknowable. How then does it follow that freedom could only be an illusion if objectivity is connected to you? Totally unexplained and arbitrary.
  6. I'm not sure if anyone picked out this error in the interview, but he refers to a character called "Peter Toohey." I don't recall a character called Peter Toohey in the Fountainhead. dark_unicorn: Concerning your discussion on "academic philosophers" I would have to say I agree with you. It was probably due to the fact that Rand was outside the confines of academia that she was able to be so productive in the way that she was. Another thing is that I find it interesting how critics can attack Objectivism as leading to some sort of totalitarianism because (presumably) of its absolutist approach to all branches of philosophy. I'm trying to wrap my head around the logic on this one, because it's not the first time I've heard it. If anyone actually reads Rand, it becomes strikingly clear that she was an absolutist for freedom -- how one derives tyranny from this, I fail to understand. Talk about "assumptions" and unsubstantiated claims.
  7. It's interesting. In response to this question: He says: In his critique of Rand's statement "existence exists," he says: This seems, to me, a blatant contradiction. He "assumes" the primacy of existence in his previous statements but then blathers on about how "existence exists" makes use of too many assumptions. I agree that Rand did not meet the criteria of an academic philosopher. By using his pre-conceived Kantian criticism, he can attack Rand. But why should I be convinced of his analysis? After all, there is no realm other than subjectivity. He basically admits that his statements have no universal meaning. To him, asserting that something is true or objective is ipso facto irrational religious dogma that is one step away from totalitarianism. What a bunch of rubbish.
  8. Again, I think you are reiterating an unnecessary dichotomy. In the context of human life, concern for the welfare of your offspring ought to be rooted in the egoistic premise that your children are of profound value to you . Having children, and being concerned with their welfare beyond your own lifetime is an entirely selfish emotion. The fundamentals of Objectivism and the ethics of rational egoism sweep aside the false dichotmy between concern for oneself vs. concern for others. Based on the premise that there is a natural harmony among men's interests, there is no dichotomy between concern for me during my lifetime and concern for others in the future. In fact, adherence to the principles outlined in Objectivist ethics -- such as the virtues of productivity, independance, rationality -- and their corollaries as applied to Capitalism, are the only way to ensure a bright future beyond an individual's lifetime. To say that none of the Objectivist writings place importance on the future beyond one's own lifetime is such an abject falsehood, I don't know where to begin. For the sake of brevity, I will say that concern for the "future" can only properly exist as a consequence of one's own values, ie. the values of an individual. What is meant by "the future"? Does the "future" have some intrinsic value apart from and above an individual's own values? I suggest a thorough reading (or re-reading) of OPAR, The Virtue of Selfishness, and ITOE.
  9. Dionysus, Interesting thread; a critical analysis of the fundamentals of Objectivism is certainly important, but this thread is very confusing. Perhaps if people would sweep away some of the verbiage in their propositions it would be easier to understand. Also, Dionysus, I think it would help if you took some time to properly punctuate your sentences because it would facilitate comprehension of your arguments -- I find many sentances long and convoluted. Have you considered reading some of (Objectivist) Harry Binswanger's material such as "The Biological Basis Teological Concepts" or "Life Based Teleology as the Foundation of Ethics"? Perhaps there are some answers contained in those materials. I've read the latter and found it to be very helpful in my understanding of Objectivist ethics. I read over Ian's response and it seems consistent with what I remember from Binswanger's material. In your last post you reiterated that Rand's proposition -- that the self-generated processes of living organisms are directed to the single goal of maintaining life -- is false. You claim that, since many biological processes are not geared towards maintaining life but lead to other ends such as reproduction (among others), Rand's proposition is false and therefore upsets the foundation of Objectivist ethics? My question is, are you creating a false split between life and other concepts that are hierarchically dependant life? For example, I would say that since species may have reproduction as their ultimate end, yet reproduction is dependant on the existence of living organisms, creating a dichotomy between reproduction and life as ultimate ends is a false dichotomy. Cheers, Andrew
  10. I've been doing a little introspection and I've come to the conclusion that a large problem lies in the fear of being wrong. It's a fear of confrontation as well. I've always been terribly aversed to confrontation of any kind -- I think this is why I never played sports growing up. I'm willing to concede another person's point of view, or unjust criticism of me, or whatever, out of fear of confrontation. I realize that this is irrational and a potentially dangerous principle to live by, but change comes with a lot of challenge. It's usually after-the-fact that I usually say, "I should have said x" or "I shoudn't have let that person corner me like that and make me feel intimidated." I think I'm improving over time, and as I said before, Objectivism has helped me alot. Having an intellectual basis for asserting my own moral worth is extremely important. I've become much more assertive in defending myself in intellectual discussions, but it is everyday situations ie. at work or among friends and family that I find myself shrouded in a weakness that I don't possess in the intellectual realm.
  11. Thanks for the suggestions. I see Dr. Hurd has a book recommendation right at the top of his list on assertiveness. The "influence" book looks good too. I agree: it takes small steps.
  12. I realize this is a broad topic, but I want to learn to become more self-assertive. Specifically, becoming more assertive in the workplace. To make it more concrete or to give some context: I find myself steeped in cowardice when I work with other people who have strong/dominant personalities. Personal career advancement can be quite difficult when you are afraid to assert yourself in important situations. Deepening my understanding of Objectivism and reading Rand's fiction books has helped me plenty -- Roark is the quintessence of how to be properly self-assertive in my opinion. However, beyond that I find it difficult to find good material on becoming more self-assertive. Any books, article, or website suggestions? Thanks Drew
  13. In response to Pekoff's point, a question would be, "how can we determine cause and consequence with regard to man's enjoyment of life on earth and his ideas about death?" What I mean is, how do we know that since we are born into a culture and society full of opportunity and affluence that our rejection of religion and afterlife are not a mere convenience -- a luxury for those of us who do not face the hardship and suffering that dominated much of history and dominates the current world? I hasten to answer my own question, however, I would say that our affluence, opportunity, and happiness are a consequence of embracing the correct premise -- namely, the primacy of existence. When debating people with a theistic premise, I find that the above question is often implicit in their arguments. It's an argument from intimidation and also an argument for determinism, and therefore invalid. If you think about it, theists often try to undermine an atheistic premise by appealing to emotion, ie. "you say you don't believe in god, well wait until you face your own death, or face the death of a loved one... then we'll se how convenient your athiesm is."
  14. JMeganSnow: It's not that I wish there was an afterlife because I understand in rational terms what this means ie. the alternative life and death that gives rise to the concept "value" etc... However, I have to be honest in saying that integrating that rational understanding into my subconscious is quite difficult. It's like deep inside, any remnance of nominal religious belief that has not fully faded away still pulls at my emotions and creates a desire for things like "heaven" and "afterlife". Regarding your point on working in a tissue bank, your point is well taken. The only difference I would say, when it comes to my perspective, is that in my position I often deal with patients when they are living, conscious, and awake, and then they die in my presence. To see a living person, to see them suffering, to see them die, and then to see the family and all the grieving, it hits you pretty hard sometimes. Not to diminish the emotional impact of what you do, please don't take it that way. The difference I find when dealing with corpses is that they tend not to evoke the same emotional response -- it's so much easier to look at a dead body and see it for what it is: inanimate matter. B. Royce: That poem was awesome! Very touching and it contained plenty of meaning. I really, really liked it.
  15. Interesting thread topic. I have been meaning to start a thread of this sort for a while now, but have not had impetus to start one. Personally, I am much like yourself $Prometheus$, in the sense that I have felt successful at the integration of Objectivism into my life and have been rewarded by living according to the proper philosophic principles -- not to say I still don't struggle with my own psycho-epistemology at times (which is an ongoing process). My trouble with death comes to me due to the nature of my profession. I am a nurse and I work in critical care where I see death occur regularily. Not only death, but the seemingly sheer injustice that people face: suffering, pain, anguish, grief, hopelessness. (I realize the invalidity of attributing "injustice" to reality -- reality is what it is and has no volition). Unlike many philosophies, and especially religion -- which is still very dominant in our culture -- Objectivism doesn't offer any consolance such as promise of "going to a better place". Since many of us acquired an Objectivist view of life and death after many years of implicitly accepting the notion of God and afterlife, I think that death will remain a very difficult thing to deal with because deep in your mind you wish it were true -- that is, you wish there really was a heaven in which justice takes place beyond this life.
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