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Everything posted by drewfactor

  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.
  16. If anything, the spectacle of Alan Greenspan being associated with Objectivism probably does an enormous disservice to Objectivism. Think about it this way. To the anti-capitalists out there, Greenspan is an arch-villian -- the evil business person in cahoots with Washington controlling the military industrial complex. To the pro-capitalist and admirer of Ayn Rand, here you have one of her formerly close associates and contributer to the body of Objectivist literature who -- when in a position to put his words into action -- does a complete 180 and acts to repudiate almost everything Objectivism stands for. Could it be true that when Greenspan became chairman of the fed he realized that the ideas he ascribed to were bogus, impractical, and unrealistic therefore providing proof for the ignorance and naivite of Objectivists? Or, is Greenspan (just as people accuse Nathaniel Branden) dishonest and immoral? What do people think?
  17. Just a couple quick points. I believe these are relevant due to the scant application of concretes into this debate, while it remains dominated by rampant emotionalism -- on both sides. If ARI was dominated by intolerant dogmatic authoritarianism, why would ARI members regularly appear on obviously libertarian radio shows like The Peter Mac Show in which the ARI people engage in benevolent and rational discussion. Even when people like Yaron Brook, Alex Epstien, and Andy Bernstien engage in profound disagreement in discussion with Leftists like Thom Hartmann, an air of benevolence and camradarie is always maintained. Check out some audio archives at www.petermacshow.com and from the ARI website. My second point is for those of you who belong to the Harry Binswanger list (or for those who don't -- sign up!). I have been engrossed in some of the most interesting discussion/debate by reading those posts over the last few months. If anyone wants proof that ARI affiliated Objectivists (ranging from formally to nominally associated with ARI) regularly engage in rational discussion, disagree on application of Objectivism while maintaining an air of decorum and tolerance (within a proper intellectual context) -- this is it. For me, the whole notion that ARI and Objectivism is like some cult is such a myth. It is so unfounded and spurious that it seems so sad to see Objectvism being hindered more by people calling themselves Objectivists than by those who hold ideas antithetical to Objectivism.
  18. I just did a trip on my own down to Southern Florida a couple weeks ago and took a pic of myself wandering through the everglades. What a fantastic place! I'm now back in Canada suffering in this incessant winter season! Hope this works.
  19. On the topic of Hugo Chavez, isn't it interesting how all the eco-socialist/green zealots get hysterical over the prospect of drilling in ANWR, yet their hero (and Dubya's nemesis) is proposing a massive oil pipeline through the pristine Amazon? I work with someone who comes from Venezuela and he left that country for a reason -- in order to work in a freer country where he could pursue his life and happiness. Hugo Chavez is a thug who terrorizes his own people by promising lavish social benefits to gangs of youth who are his own little militias. The left still hasn't learned their lesson after supporting murderous thug nations and dictators over the past century. When will they ever learn? When?
  20. This is so true. I am quite cynical about this, because I can't see how it can be sustained. Every new drug or technology that comes out, no matter how much it costs relative to its efficacy, is deemed to be a right for everyone to have simply because he "needs it." I know this sounds cold and heartless coming from a health care provider whom is supposed to be all compassionate, but the truth is that a total 3rd party payment system -- whether it's the insurance mandates in the US or public health care in Canada -- cannot sustain itself without some type of inevitable collapse. I see it sort of like the collapse of communism (aside from the obviously same collectivist-altruist premises at the root of communism) because years and years went by in which intellectuals lauded the Soviet Union for its supposed moral and productive superiority, meanwhile the intellectuals and the Russian leaders blinded themselves to the truth until the whole thing collapsed. I realize you can't predict the future, and it's not exactly the same, but I see many principles applying.
  21. Off hand, the only organization I can think of is the Fraser Institute which is based out of B.C. Check out their website and their report on Health Care. A world wide comparison of health care systems shows that Canadians essentially get the the least "bang for their buck" when compared with health care systems around the world, all of which include some form of privatization. Regarding "American style health care", it is interesting to note that most Canadians are ignorant of the fact that the US has an extensively gov't controlled and highly socialized health care system. In fact, the US instituted gov't paid health care before Canada ever did. It is the degree of freedom that still remains in the US health care system that allows it to still be a world leader in technology and pharmacological advancements, yet it is also the degree of mixtures (between freedom and controls) that also makes it one of the most complicated, expensive, and seemingly unsustainable. One thing I notice working in Health Care, and it is one of the ultimate causes of the inevitable downfall of "universal health care" is that every new advancement in health care becomes a new alleged "right" for everyone to have. There is absolutely no objective way to determine where to draw the line and say, "ok, this new technology costs $100 000 to use, it has little known efficacy, so we can't spend public funds on it." You can only infer inevitably rising costs with every latest therapy. There are no market forces that work in all other sectors (ie. look at the dropping prices of plasma tv, wireless technology, etc...).
  22. Somewhat related to what you're saying, I just had an experience with a colleague at work. We were having a conversation about the election, and it was stated by this person that she is "very very afraid of Stephen Harper getting into power." I asked her what she means. She responded by saying, "he wants to make us much more like the America, and I hate Americans." (Her emphasis was on the word hate). This utter and complete irrationality is very common in Canada when it comes to America. People don't even know what they hate, they just have this deep seated hatred for this unidentified and undefined idea about the US. I can't emphasize to any Americans that might be reading this how this is not some aberration from some ignorant quack, but the common sentiment among supposedly intelligent and educated Canadians. I hear it very frequently. This smug elitism, which people don't even see in themselves, is so pervasive up here. When people make comments like the one above, I usually ask, "what if I said I hated black people, or I hate Italians, or hate muslims? Do you not see the fact that your comment is completely illogical by making such a broad and sweeping judgement of a whole nation of individuals?" This is when the evasiveness sets in, and some excuse is made about how the Americans are the world's "bullies" or something. Urghh!! Here's another example. My girlfriend had an Ayn Rand book at work (she's a school teacher) and one of her colleagues saw her with it and said, "urgh, Ayn Rand? I hate her, she's just too American for me." I have to stop my rant before I have an aneurysm or something. The most frustrating thing is that you can't even begin to debate these people. They don't offer a premise, a thought out idea, or even open themselves to persuasion. It's pure and unadulterated emotionalism. The truth is that our political leaders (on the left of course) cash in on this. It's not the same situation, but it's the same principle that allowed Hitler to cash in on the anti-semitism in prewar Germany. Not that Canada is heading inexorably towards dictatorship, but the Canada is ripe with the demagogic, hateful, and irrational sentiments toward America and Americans. Besides, Canada barely has a military and we still depend on the US for "hard power" as some recent news reports from Afghanistan tells us.
  23. As someone who works in health care, who works in the "trenches" (so to speak), I can assure you that the pressure to maintain the monolithic status of our public health care system does not come from the majority of doctors and nurses (or patients for that matter). The political machine comprised of intellectuals, pressure groups, unions, and professional organizations wield so much influence over the public, everybody is scared to death at the prospect of "privatization" in health care. "Privatization is not in the public good" they say. Whose good? The public. Who is the public? Their infallible and omnipotent spokesmen: the politicians and statist intellectuals. I've been blogging on some health care issues here: http://therationalnurse.thinkertothinker.com
  24. I too will be voting conservative in the election Monday. A sad choice considering the other options: Socialism and Socialism lite. For anyone interested, here's a website for a new Canadian party, "The Freedom Party of Canada." http://www.freedomparty.ca/htm/en/home.htm. They claim to be the only party that stands up for pure capitalism, as defined by Ayn Rand. Check out their platform, it contains quotes from Mises and links to Fraser institute etc... They will be running candidates in 2008 apparently.
  25. I find Dr. Peikoff's writing to be incredibly lucid. In fact, I find all Objectivist writers write with such clarity. I'm not sure if this is the writing style that Ayn Rand originated and Peikoff has only improved upon and/or used his own style. Referring to "The Art of Nonfiction", Ayn Rand makes it pretty clear that the primary focus of nonfiction is to write with clarity and objectivity and the style will follow. All one has to do is pick up other philosophy books only to realize how truly excruciating some of them are to read.
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