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The Laws of Biology

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  1. I have decided to buy old fashioned paper printed versions of Ayn Rand books. I'll just underline and write notes in the margins, as people always did, and will type out any passages I especially want to preserve and pass along to friends. I just don't trust e-books. They can disappear so suddenly.
  2. I saw the 1955 "East of Eden" film starring James Dean and directed by Elia Kazan (who also directed "On the Waterfront" as his defense for his ratting out Communists in Hollywood to the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities). I don't recall that "East of Eden" film having any theme of heroic individualism in the vein of Ayn Rand. I thought that "East of Eden" film was expressing a tragic sense of life, with people torn apart (torn from each other and divided within themselves) by their passions, greed, sexual lusts, violence, egotism, lies, secrets, and the desire to keep up appearances so as to stay in good graces with old fashioned Christian religious folk who tended to lead the local community. The newly discovered mother of the two young men perhaps is depicted as an individualist, somewhat in the mode of an Ayn Rand character. But I didn't think the film presented her as especially or necessarily heroic or moral. I seem to recall that she owned and ran a house of prostitution. And so, I was surprised to see that text above, from the Steinbeck novel, that does seem like it could almost have been written by Ayn Rand. I always assumed that Steinbeck's novels promoted some sort of Socialism, or at least New Deal Liberalism, and not any sort of individualism. This all throws a bit of monkey wrench into my assumptions about John Steinbeck.
  3. CYNICISM & PRAGMATISM VS. IDEALISM & THE DISCIPLINE OF REASON The problem of the political double standard regarding moral standards and moral judgements is a problem and concern only to those persons who take seriously philosophy, reason, logic, thinking, morals, and ethics, and who think that one's entire life should be shaped, guided, disciplined, motivated, and inspired by philosophy, reason, logic, thinking, morals, and ethics. Ayn Rand is someone notable in history for taking seriously philosophy, reason, logic, thinking, morals, and ethics. Some ill-informed people image that because Ayn Rand promoted Capitalism so strongly that she must be a promoter of Social Darwinism (an ethics of cutthroat competition for scarce resources; an ethics of survival of the fittest). But that wrong conclusion comes to their mind only because they think Capitalism is inescapably a Social Darwinian system, and that capitalists are inevitably cynics and immoralists. But if such ill-informed people would just study Ayn Rand's writings, they would discover that Ayn Rand was a profound idealist and a rigorous moralist. Ayn Rand is the opposite of a cynic or Machiavellian. But I think most politicians and most voters are cynics and pragmatists. I believe it is correct to say that the vast majority of politicians and voters (all across the political spectrum, left, right, and middle) do NOT take seriously philosophy, reason, logic, thinking, morals, and ethics. I believe it is correct to say that the vast majority of politicians and voters (all across the political spectrum, left, right, and middle) prioritize winning, by any means that will work. Yet, all is not lost. For those who wish, they can study the best of philosophy and live their life according to reason and according to profound, empowering, fulfilling, liberating ethical principles. Ayn Rand: "The truth is not for all men, but only for those who seek it."
  4. On the one hand, I do understand that publishers sometimes restrict the ability of the e-book buyer to electronically copy and paste from e-books, since they are worried that scofflaw types will post the whole book on the Internet. That's a real concern. That would be illegal, and it should never be done. Copyright owners have a right to prevent their texts being indiscriminately disseminated. But, on the other hand, when I pay for an e-book, I would very much like to be able to copy and paste portions of the book for purposes of personal study and note making.
  5. What makes any e-book edition superior? In my view, these features make an e-book edition superior: Easy to add highlight marking to the text. Possible to electronically copy all or much of the text, for private use only. I see that both "The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged" are available in Kindle e-book format, for sale on Amazon. But I haven't liked Kindle in the past. It seems to forbid or severely limiting electronical copying and pasting. Also, what is the best online store to buy the best e-book edition of "The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged" and other books by Ayn Rand?
  6. Aristotle: “All men by nature desire to know.” (Metaphysics, book by Aristotle) Furthermore, given Ayn Rand's importance as a philosopher, I think every word she ever wrote is of interest. When she filled out U.S. government immigration forms, in order to enter the U.S. (1926), and in order to become a lawful permanent resident (1929), and finally in order to become a U.S. citizen (1931), she would have had to write or type answers to questions such as: "What is the purpose of your entry into the U.S.?" and "What is your occupation?" I think many people would find it interesting to see what Ayn Rand wrote in response to those and other questions on those forms. Also, it would be interesting to see if Ayn Rand faced any difficulties with the severe limitations established on the number of Russian immigrants allowed by the 1924 Immigration Act. Ayn Rand is world historic figure. Everything about her is of interest, I think. How she went from being a citizen of Russia and the USSR to becoming an American citizen is perhaps a little story in and of itself, and I think it could be interesting. But I would agree that the most important thing is for people to study the philosophy of reason and then strive to live a reasonable life.
  7. I think we have entered a period of American history in which the practice of unreason (via the practice of a political double standard regarding moral principles) is almost universally viewed as bold, ballsy, courageous, hip, & cool. The "heroic" thing now is to be willing to, in a manly manner, forcefully bust through all boundaries (moral, legal, logical, factual, and physical boundaries). The new political ideal is represented by the Viking marauders and the NFL lineman who engages in illegal holding every time he thinks he can get away with it. But here's what Ayn Rand said: “In the issue of rights, as in all moral issues, there can be no double standard.” (from The Virtue of Selfishness) “Courage and confidence are practical necessities . . . courage is the practical form of being true to existence, of being true to truth, and confidence is the practical form of being true to one’s own consciousness.” (from Galt’s Speech) “Reason is man’s only means of grasping reality and of acquiring knowledge—and, therefore, the rejection of reason means that men should act regardless of and/or in contradiction to the facts of reality.” (Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution) “Thinking is not an automatic function. In any hour and issue of his life, man is free to think or to evade that effort. Thinking requires a state of full, focused awareness. The act of focusing one’s consciousness is volitional. (from The Virtue of Selfishness) When will this feverous period of unreason end and the reign of reason resume?
  8. I have seen, on Wikipedia, detailed information about the immigration, from Scotland in 1930, of Mary Anne MacLeod, who became Donald Trump’s mother. She became a U.S. citizen in 1942, says Wikipedia, fourteen years after arriving the U.S, and six years after marrying Donald Trump’s father. Here’s part of what Wikipedia provides regarding the immigration of Mary Anne MacLeod: “She was issued immigration visa number 26698 at Glasgow on February 17, 1930. On May 2, MacLeod left Glasgow on board the RMS Transylvania arriving in New York City on May 11 (one day after her 18th birthday). She declared she intended to become a U.S. citizen and would be staying permanently in America.” Given all the detailed information provided on Wikipedia regarding the immigration of Mary Anne MacLeod Trump, I assume that immigration documents must be available to the general public, at least for deceased persons. Therefore, I wonder if the U.S. immigration documents of Ayn Rand have ever been obtained by any of her biographers.
  9. A TEST TO DETECT A POLITICAL DOUBLE STANDARD I propose a thought experiment to detect a political double standard in the application of moral principles: Take any political scandal or controversy and simply replace the name of the accused person with a person from the other political party or other racial identify group. For example, regarding the 2 impeachments of President Donald Trump, replace the name Donald Trump with the name Joe Biden or the name Hillary Clinton. Then what would be the moral and legal judgment of Mr. Trump and his supporters concerning these matters? Or regarding the presently ongoing criminal trial of Hunter Biden (son of Joe Biden), replace the name Hunter Biden with then name Eric Trump (son of Donald Trump). Then what would be the moral and legal judgment of Mr. Trump and his supporters concerning this matter? If, on Jan. 6, 2021, Democrat voters and activists had broken into the White House, had physically attacked Secret Service agents, and had set up a gallows for Mr. Trump, would Mr. Trump and his supporters call those rioters "political prisoners" after they were arrested and convicted and imprisoned? Imagine if the Michael Brown who was shot and killed in Ferguson has been a white teenager and the police officer who shot him had been a black man. Then what would be the moral and legal judgment of leftist activists concerning this matter? Will America ever come out of its present era of the Bolshevik-like politicalization of absolutely everything--the politicalization of even reason and of the mind itself?
  10. Because the philosophy of reason promoted by Ayn Rand so strongly promotes Capitalism, many philosophically ill-informed people assume that Ayn Rand's philosophy of reason has a Darwinian code of ethics (or non-ethics) in which (to quote Coach Vince Lombardi), "Winning isn't everything; it is the only thing." But of course, the ethics (or lack of ethics) stated in Coach Lombardi's famous quote are NOT the ethics of the philosophy of reason promoted by Ayn Rand. "Winning at all costs" and "No holds barred" and "If you ain't cheatin' you ain't trying" are not reasonable and not moral according to Ayn Rand. Though it is not widely known outside of Objectivist circles, the philosophy of reason promoted by Ayn Rand is profoundly moral and ethical. Such a philosophy requires a dedication to self-discipline of the mind and speech. "A is A" and "Man is Man" requires personal self-discipline to apply moral standards in a consistent and non-contradictory way for all persons, without exception. Ayn Rand made negative judgments about President Ronald Reagan, despite the fact that he was, in general, a supporter of Capitalism and limited government. I think this is because Ayn Rand put a priority on philosophy over partisan politics. Nothing is more anti-reason and anti-philosophical than the use of moral principles to politically wound and defeat one's political rivals, while refusing to apply the same moral principles in passing judgment on oneself and on one's political allies. Will American ever return to the commitment to philosophical and moral integrity seen generally among the Founding Fathers?
  11. For a long time in American history, I think it was a point of pride of American leaders that they did not practice a political double standard regarding the application of moral principles. I think one sees this stance clearly in men like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Theodore Roosevelt, FDR, JFK, Ronald Reagan. Now, it seems like in the last 9 years or so, we've entered a new era of the absolute politicalization of everything, such as was present in the infamous Bolshevik government and in the infamous National Socialist government. The Black Lives Matter movement was based on the falsehood that Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. was the victim of a racist attack by a police office. In fact, all the evidence shows that Michael Brown assaulted the police officer just a few minutes after having assaulted a convenience store owner. The Obama Birth Certificate controversy was a falsehood invented and spread entirely for partisan purposes. Will American culture ever return to a state in which applying a political double standard regarding moral principles is viewed by leaders of both parties as dishonorable, unreasonable, illogical, and shameful?
  12. My primary concern is philosophical, not political. I find it strange and surprising that so many people, who repeatedly and publicly assert their own dedication to moral principles, do not hesitate to apply moral principles with a political double standard. Mr. Trump and Trump supporters condemn Mr. Biden and the Democrat Party for carrying out the partisan corruption of the New York State criminal justice system. But Mr. Trump and his supporter found (and still find) nothing objectionable whatsoever when Mr. Trump clearly attempted to carry out the partisan corruption of the Ukrainian criminal justice system. In the end, everyone is morally free to support whichever party or candidate that they perceive as promising the most good or the least evil. But does anyone have the moral right to systematically apply a political double standard regarding moral principles? When the public sees leaders applying a political double standard, doesn't that breed and spread cynicism about philosophy, about reason, about logical, and about moral principles? A is A and Man is Man seem applicable to this matter. Also: What's good for the goose is good for the gander.
  13. The Immigration Act of 1924 was “a federal law that prevented immigration from Asia and set quotas on the number of immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe.” (Wikipedia). I get the impression from Wikipedia that this law’s quotas specifically applied to immigrants from Russia. Also, Wikipedia says that the “permanent residence” status for non-citizens was part of the Immigration Act of 1924.
  14. Because some of the government officials, who made the decision to prosecute Mr. Trump for making false representations on government forms regarding the "hush money" paid to his past extramarital sex partners, are members of the Democratic Party, Mr. Trump and his supporters allege that there was necessarily a Democratic Party conspiracy to charge him with crimes that he (Mr. Trump) either did not commit or which were crimes of such minor significance that in most cases no criminal charges would have been brought. But, beyond the fact that the some of the prosecutorial decision makers were Democrats, there is no evidence of a conspiracy. So, in effect, the allegation is of a Democrat conspiracy is truly just a mystical "conspiracy theory." For a moral and logical person, there can be no legal or moral presumption that ALL members of the Democratic Party are corrupt, and that all their actions are corrupt. Yet that seems to the logical premise of the argument being made by Mr. Trump and by his supporters. A logical comparison seems in order: During his former presidency, Mr. Trump openly admitted to applying financial pressure (in the form of military hardware assistance) to the president of Ukraine in order to get the president of Ukraine to announce that he was opening an investigation into criminal wrongdoing by Joe Biden, who was then expected to be Mr. Trump's main rival in the upcoming U.S. presidential election. So, while there is no evidence of Democrats engaging in corrupt acts to dictate partisan actions by the government of the State of New York, there is plain and abundant evidence of President Trump engaging in a corrupt act in order to dictate partisan actions by the government of Ukraine. Apparently, it was only due the moral integrity of the president of Ukraine that no baseless investigation into Joe Biden in Ukraine was ever announced. Isn't illogical for supporters of Mr. Trump to condemn, without evidence, Democrat officials of the State of New York for supposed partisan corruption of courts of New York, when supporters of Mr. Trump all gave their complete approval of Mr. Trump's well-documented and undeniable attempted partisan corruption of the courts of Ukraine? I don't believe that Ayn Rand would approve of a political double standard in which morals, logic, reason do not apply to all persons equally.
  15. The Ayn Rand Lexicon and Wikipedia provide the following information: http://aynrandlexicon.com/about-ayn-rand/timeline.html 1926: Departs Leningrad (January 17). Arrives in Manhattan (February 19). Hired as movie extra by Cecil B. DeMille (September) 1927: Hired by DeMille as junior screen writer (circa June 11) 1929: Marries Frank O’Connor (April 15). Hired by RKO wardrobe department 1931: Becomes U.S. citizen (March 13) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayn_Rand “While working on The King of Kings, she met the aspiring actor Frank O'Connor; they married on April 15, 1929. She became a permanent American resident in July 1929 and an American citizen on March 3, 1931.[31][32][f]” I have done some Googling, but so far have not been able to find any detailed information on my primary question, which is: On what legal basis did Ayn Rand in 1929 obtain the status of a lawful permanent resident (“green card” holder) of the U.S.? I assume that Ayn Rand was originally admitted to the U.S. as a tourist. I think I read that somewhere, but I’m not sure of it. Maybe at some point she also obtained a temporary work visa. A second question: Upon what legal basis was Ayn Rand able to be employed in the USA in the period from September 1926 to July 1929 (when she obtained her “green card”).
  16. It's a fake quote, I see now. My sincere apologies. I see that I got this from Goodreads.com and assumed it was an honest, accurate quote, especially since a number of other websites also attributed it to Ayn Rand. Now, after some further checking, I see that Ayn Rand never wrote this. I guess this whole question should be deleted, don't you think, since the very title might mislead people. I would delete it myself right now. But the website won't let, or at least I can't see how to do it. I hope the moderator will delete this question. Thank you
  17. This quote is from Ayn Rand's book The Romantic Manifesto. I assume the same quote appears in the 1969 issue of the "The Objectivist" newsletter. I don't have handy the book or the newsletter. On several websites I have found a little bit of the larger context of the quote from the book, which is as follows: “The pursuit of truth is not important. The pursuit of that truth is important which helps you in reaching your goal that is provided you have one.” Wikiquote also give the following additional quote from The Romantic Manifesto: "Art is a selective re-creation of reality according to an artist's individual value-judgments." In light of that, could the quote "pursuit of truth is not important" be another way of saying that art is a "SELECTIVE re-creation of reality"? In other words, maybe Ayn Rand is saying that that the artist/writer ought not strive to depict human reality as it really is in general among the masses, but rather aim to depict and valorize a better world and a better type of individual that arguably can be manifested by at least some exceptional humans via deliberate acts of reason, courage, and free will. But if that's what she is saying with the quote “The pursuit of truth is not important," I still find it odd and strange that Ayn Rand would ever use the term "truth" to mean "reality as it typically is among the masses." I just can't see Ayn Rand using "truth" to refer to the reality experienced by dismal, drab, bland, commonplace, mundane people. So, what is she talking about? What does she mean "The pursuit of truth is not important?" What is the context of this quotation in her larger argument? A part of me wants to ask if Ayn Rand is making a sort of argument from pragmatism, as per the way that William James (1842-1910) and Jordan Peterson justify religious belief? Ayn Rand’s phraseology sounds, to me, a bit like pragmatism in this part of her quote (already quoted above): “The pursuit of THAT truth is important WHICH HELPS YOU in reaching your GOAL…” I.e., that quote seems to be saying that some belief or conception is to be regarded and treated as “truth” (even if, objectively speaking, it is far from describing real, objective reality) if it helps you carry out the pragmatic objective of reaching your goal. I don't think she's making an argument from pragmatism, since I have always viewed her as having a metaphysical absolutism that would inherently rule out philosophical pragmatism. As I understand it, philosophical pragmatism says that, for psychological and sociological purposes, there is no real objective truth, only subjective truth, but that we humans inevitably and necessarily treat subjective truths as objective truths, since "noble lies" (Plato's term) help us survive, thrive, win in competitions, achieve our goals, and attain states of happiness (at least for periods of time). Well, thanks in advance for any explanation of Ayn Rand's argument involving this quote, "The pursuit of truth is not important" within The Romantic Manifesto.
  18. Whereas most or much of the world views the word and concept of "selfishness" as a vice and a sin, Ayn Rand reversed 6,000 years of history (at least the predominate philosophy therein) and declared "The Virtue of Selfishness." So, I wonder: Is there implicit in Ayn Rand's Objectivism a similar reversal of values regarding the term and concept of "narcissism." Ought one be proud to be viewed (by oneself and/or by others) as a narcissist? Does being viewed as a narcissist simply mean that you are living ethically, that is, as a person who refuses to sacrifice his/her happiness, survival, or well-being to the demands of the mob (the collective, or the government) or to the demands of family members, and that you are living as a person who regards themselves as the sum and center of his/her own universe and experience, and that you are living as a person who regards his/her personal excellence as the most important thing. I have been unable to find any writing or speaking by Ayn Rand that uses the terms "narcissism" or "narcissist." Perhaps those terms were not much in wide circulation during Ayn Rand's lifetime. In sum: Based on the principles of Objectivism, can we legitimately suppose that Ayn Rand would approve of the phrase "The Virtue of Narcissism"?
  19. The following excerpt seems to explain how Ayn Rand obtained from the Soviet government a travel visa to visit the USA. The following excerpt is from a 2004 biography titled Ayn Rand, by Jeff Britting. Page 29 “With the fear constantly in mind that Rand's vocalization of her frustration could put her in prison, Anna Borisovna [Ayn Rand’s mother] — to Rand's eternal gratitude — proposed a visit to Chicago by her oldest daughter. The timing of this suggestion was fortunate: Lenin's "War Communism" had been replaced by the more liberal New Economic Policy (NEP), and travel restrictions for students wishing to study abroad had been temporarily eased. In addition, the Rosenbaums learned that their American relatives owned a theater exhibiting silent films. The official purpose of Rand's visit would be to study the film industry first-hand and then to return and contribute the fruits of this research toward the advancement of Soviet film. This stated purpose, however, was a ruse; Rand planned to make her American visit permanent, "crossing over the lake" (in the words of her mother) to Canada, if necessary, to avoid returning to Russia. Her goal was first to establish herself as a screenwriter, thereafter "graduating into literature" — as she would later put it in her 1936 unfinished "An Attempt at the Beginning of an Autobiography"…”
  20. I suppose the broader question of interest, to me, is whether any researcher or biographer, who is fluent in Russian and lives in Russia or has traveled to Russia, has conducted searches in the government document archives of the old USSR, to see what, if anything, can be found about Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand's 1925 application for a travel visa to leave the USSR for a visit to relatives in the USA might still exist in some file somewhere. As a point of general comparison, regarding the discoverability of old government documents, I have seen an online scan of an original letter written in German by Friedrich Trump (Donald J. Trump's grandfather), in which he appeals the decision by the German government to deport him. The year of that letter was 1905, I believe. Some researcher found that letter in the archives of the German government.
  21. According to Wikipedia, Ayn Rand got her visa in 1925 and left in 1926. Lenin died in 1924. Stalin was the main leader in 1925 and 1926, but I believe Stalin had not yet consolidated his dictatorial powers yet (that happened in 1927, according to Wikipedia). Nevertheless, I had thought it was always hard to escape the Soviet Union. I always thought that the Soviet Union was like George Orwell's novel "1984," with no one free and everyone afraid and a slave. And yet, Ayn Rand apparently escaped the USSR with great ease. She got on a ship and got off in New York City. From there she made a stop in Chicago before heading to Hollywood. How many Soviet citizens got on a boat to Hollywood? Not many, I suspect. That makes me wonder: How did Ayn Rand escape the Soviet Union with such great ease? Were Soviet authorities trying to get rid of her because she was known in her university as being anti-collectivist? Wikipedia says this about Ayn Rand: "Along with many other bourgeois students, she was purged from the university shortly before graduating. After complaints from a group of visiting foreign scientists, many of the purged students were reinstated in the university. Rand was among these reinstated students and she completed her studies at the renamed Leningrad State University in October 1924." Or is is possible that that some Soviet official, perhaps a relative of Ayn Rand's, or a friend of the family in the pre-Soviet days, broke the Soviet rules to give Ayn Rand her visa to visit the USA? I just watched the 1965 movie "Dr. Zhivago," and early in that story (based on true events) the main character, Dr. Zhivago, is granted a travel visa due to the intervention of a Communist Party member and police office who was Dr. Zhivago's half-brother and childhood pal. That visa allowed Dr. Zhivago and his wife and father-in-law to leave Moscow and resettle somewhere past the Ural Mountains, at the family's country estate near a very tiny village. Later in the movie, Dr. Zhivago's wife and father-in-law (who were very wealthy in the pre-Soviet era) seem to gain permission from Soviet authorities to permanently resettle in France.
  22. Given that Ayn Rand/Alisa Rosenbaum was a Russian emigre who became very famous in the U.S. for denouncing the political philosophy of the government of the USSR, it sure seems like the government of the USSR would have tracked her actvities, at the very least.
  23. I apologize. I do see that I have let my emotions run amuck. I regret that. I appreciate the reminder about basic courtesy. I did need it. If I post again, I will try to do better. Best wishes to all.
  24. I hate it when people ask others in discussion forums to explain things that might take many hours and many pages to explain. So, I'll do my own research on this question. I suspect that Ayn Rand or Leonard Peikoff have addressed this issue. The fact that I am unaware of how they addressed it is the fault of me alone. So, I will investigate. I have seen Ayn Rand write that the duty of honesty is not a social duty done for the benefit of others, but is rather a duty to oneself, a striving to maintain one's personal integrity. But I wonder if that really provides a sufficient justification for Objectivism's doctrine of Universal Rights. But, as I've said, I will educate myself on this matter, and draw my own conclusions, to the best of my ability. I fully admit that I am insufficiently educated in the field of philosophy. I often don't know the right terms for things.
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