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Everything posted by Felix

  1. I don't like mushrooms and raw tomatoes. I have no idea why. I just don't like them. I also prefer chocolate ice cream over lemon flavor. If you combine milk and multivitamin juice it tastes pretty good but looks rather strange. I could certainly come up with wonderful rationalizations why mushrooms and raw tomatoes are bad or why chocolate is superior to lemon. But even though I could do that, I still think it would be utter nonsense. Doing the same regarding sex is not better.
  2. I don't think this has to be the case. What a person finds attractive is a function of that person's beliefs and preferences. I don't see a relation between attraction and self-esteem. I'd say that in regard to attraction to humans, which character a person finds attractive says something about their beliefs, not necessarily about their self-esteem. (It could be but doesn't have to be the case.) But (to get back to the actual topic of this thread ) there's obviously more to attraction than character. The very existence of a huge cosmetic industry should be proof enough. And how prefering redheads over blondes has a relation to self-esteem is even more beyond me. You can't nail down every belief to self-esteem. Doing so would result in rationalisations worse than Freudian dream interpretation. As Freud himself (who was known for seeing phallus symbols everywhere) said it so eloquently: Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
  3. That's true. I have never met any sodomite or necrophile. But I've been talking to people who are into weird sex practices (SM for example). They lead happy lives and are reasonable people. This sort of sex just turns them on. They couldn't give me a reason except that they tried it and liked it. I would never have guessed they would do that. They don't do it out of self-loathing or some other mental issues. For some the pain -they explained- gives them some sort of relief and relaxation and increases their sexual pleasure. Others just get a kick out of doing something "forbidden". The point is: They like it. And they are not nuts or unhappy. So I just thought that necrophilia and sodomy are similar. A lot weirder, sure. But I just put it in the same category. It could be that people do it out of self-loathing, as a way of self-punishment. That's not what I doubted. And I also think there can be people who are into weird sex out of some strange sort of compulsion and mental problems even though this doesn't always have to be the reason. What I seriously doubted was the idea that self-esteem changes what you're attracted to. As far as I know it doesn't. The way Maarten presented it, it didn't make sense to me. He made it look like people become attracted to animals or dead bodies because their self-esteem is low. That is what I challenged. It could be that they loathe it and do it for self-punishment. But they don't become attracted out of low self esteem. I don't become attracted to ugly mass-murderers when I have a bad day. My point was that attraction is unrelated to self-esteem. That people have weird sex to punish themselves certainly happens. But it's not the only reason one can think of. They can do it for pleasure. I have no direct proof that this goes as far as bestiality and necrophilia, but for less extreme sex it is certainly the case and therefore it could well be that people do these stranger things for pleasure, too. I doubt I'll ever get further than this, because I don't think people would admit to these practices since they are a taboo in our culture.
  4. Well, there are also several sexual practices of which I can't understand how anyone could like to do them. I have no clue what makes someone be attracted to animals or corpses. It's way beyond my worldview and I think it's beyond the worldview of anyone on this forum. That's what makes these things very hard to discuss. It's a bit like blind people talking about colors. It would be an indicator of low self esteem only if that person accepted our belief system to start with. That was my point. It's not necessarily a matter of thinking one wouldn't be good enough for any kind of human being. Besides I don't think self-esteem could fall that low. I also can't think one would pick animals then. Also, one wouldn't be attracted to animals, but the thought would be as repulsive to them as it would be to us. I don't know what makes someone be sexually interested in animals or corpses. I've never met someone like that and I doubt I ever will. But I seriously doubt it's a self-esteem issue. Self-esteem doesn't change what you're attracted to. It merely changes what you aim for. That was the point I wanted to drive home.
  5. I used to believe that, too. But I wondered. Why would that be true? Do people of low self-esteem actually lust for sick stuff? Or are they (for example) attracted by health and beauty and don't think they are worth it and settle for less. I think the latter is the case and not the former. I don't think the self esteem-sex-connection holds water. People can be attracted to pretty much anything without it having a relation to their self-esteem. What can happen is that it may be against custom. Given that people are actually attracted to animals and dead bodies (and who knows what else the human mind can come up with), I can't see a real limit here. Attraction, then, is merely a function of belief. Based on this model, I could think of a person lusting for animals but not doing it out of low self-esteem. You start with a belief structure part of which is sexual attraction. If that person considers his attraction as conflicting with the rest of his beliefs it will (like any incongruency) then lower his self-esteem. David had a good question by turning mine upside down: Why is sex moral? It pointed straight to the core of the issue. My basic premise of considering sexual pleasure as inherently good. It is -at its root- a hedonistic premise: Sex is best if it is had in alignment with your beliefs. What these beliefs are, then, would change the sex, but not the pleasure. I still consider sex drive a natural thing that just finds its way to fulfillment in accordance to a person's beliefs and I still consider it better to do so since it's natural, no matter which attraction structure the rest of the belief system may give rise to. So what one has to consider here from a moral point of view is not the sexual pleasure or its fulfillment, but the beliefs it would display. And this is what one can then consider immoral or not. The belief system the attraction reveals. The question would then be: What should one consider attractive? And it also answers the question of why (or better: when) sex is moral. Given the nature of man as a rational animal, I'd say that considering health, beauty, intelligence and success in humans of the opposite sex as attractive is the right thing to do. Maybe there's even some bias towards that ideal, even though this can obviously be overcome by a sufficiently strong belief system. Even some animals are homosexual after all even though there's no biological reason for that. But still, I could imagine a successful person who just happens to be attracted to animals. And the only problem he would have would be cultural taboo. I don't see what effect attraction to something strange would have on the rest of the life of a human being. Maybe that's the problem. I don't see it as having an effect on happiness or survival. It would only make sense if one adds reproduction to the picture as far as I can see it now.
  6. Okay, I agree on the unsanitarity. I also consider this stuff gross and sick. But I can't come up with a real reason why. What's the "other slew"? I share the knee-jerk reaction. Not exactly sure why exactly I have it, though. However, I'd like to postpone a possible discussion till after the holidays. Don't want to ruin my appetite.
  7. Hm. Good question. As far as I can see if one considers my argument bestiality and sex with corpses would be part of that "other stuff". I can't come up with a real reason why it would be any more harmful than watching a movie. All my feelings tell me that there's something wrong about it, but rationally I didn't find anything. With animals and corpses the question of consent comes into place, making this more complicated (depending on the nature of the animal, and I think one would need the consent of the person who is dead to, well, use it) But I doubt that this was where this question was aiming. If anyone can come up with a reason why it's immoral, tell me. Nice topic for Christmas time, btw.
  8. I don't see why not. As long as it remains nothing but pleasure(that is: if there's no emotional involvement or addiction that could cause pain in the future), I can really not find a reasonable basis for considering it immoral. The same applies, as you said, to porn and strip clubs and whatever other stuff there may be. The argument could be made, though, that satisfying urges with lesser means necessarily makes one lose the motivation they create to really go for the higher value (a real loving relationship). The danger of being content with the lesser value would then be there. In this case, I think this negative effect would depend upon the sex drive and the willingness to go for the highest value in the first place. I don't see a serious problem here. Hence my position regarding this topic. If you're in a relationship, this is a sacrifice. If it's not (and this would include going for someone who is not your current partner) it is a sign of dishonesty and the relationship shouldn't have been entered to begin with.
  9. (Bold mine) Okay, just to be clear we're talking about the same thing here. There's a (negative) judgement, which is something you just think and there's a condemnation which is sharing your final (negative) judgement with someone else. I completely agree with both of you on the importance of the judgement for your own life. But I still seriously doubt the value of the condemnation. I think it has a negative effect. I've already stated my reasons. Why do you think the condemnation (without its rational support) is good? What purpose does it serve? I still don't see the answer. It doesn't do any good. But what good does it to condemn them? Also, to lighten things up a little, here's my experience with a communist board: I posted the question why they believed anyone would work if all of his work was taken away from him and distributed. The first answer I got was: They will willingly work for the betterment of the society and thorugh the goodness of their heart. I couldn't help but reply: (1)You mean they work for the betterment of others without pay. (2)What about those who don't? (3)How's that good? I was banned immediately.
  10. It doesn't have to be told. It has to be proven. That's my whole point. Just calling them evil without providing the reasonable grounds is just throwing an unconnected fact into free space, ungrounded in reality and devoid of reason. If your morality is supported by reason and your goal is to spread the word, just stating it as a truth without providing proof is a very poor way of accomplishing your goal, actually I'm certain that it backfires. And it does because it's the wrong way to do it. You can post your proof on a forum and leave if you don't find a partner for a reasonable discussion. But just stating something as truth without providing a reasonable foundation for that statement is the realm of religious fanaticism. It doesn't matter what the content is; if it's provided without rational support it's worthless. You can arrive at the fact that 2+2=4 by making two errors on the way that "correct" one another. If you want to make a point, then make it with all you have. And if the only resistance you find is pointless chatter, just move on. Have people tell one another they're evil without supporting their alleged wisdom with reason and you're back in medieval times. That's why I'm so opposed to moralizing. There is truth and there are moral values, but you betray them both by just stating the results of your thoughts without revealing how you ended up there in the first place.
  11. Then the judgement doesn't have any effect just as I stated. Condemnation to me was always emotional flaming. I see what you mean now.
  12. Not loved ones. I think I put this one wrong. I explained later in my post to which degree I actually try to convince these people of a different viewpoint. I judge their viewpoint as stupid and if I care about them I try to change their point of view and try to do so very carefully. I see condemning as writing them off. You say: "They're evil." and that's it. End of case. Stupidity, on the other hand, can and should be fought, but this doesn't happen by just shouting "evil", but by pointing out the underlying error and showing how to fix it. The article you linked to is an example of that. I think we have a different understanding of what condemnation is. If condemnation is seeing a behavior as immoral or intellectually attacking on an idea, I'm all for it. But I see condemnation as a statement like "You did something bad and deserve the worst." without explaination or help. It's that which I refrain from doing and which I consider remnants of religious nonsense. I'm not against criticism, I just think it should be reasonable. It doesn't make the actions any better, that's right. My point was that just standing by and shouting "You're evil" doesn't really help because very often it doesn't even reach the person for the reasons I have stated. The judgement itself doesn't have any effect if you don't help the other person to understand that judgement, too.
  13. I have a simple solution to this: I don't call people who act against their self-interest immoral. I call them stupid. It's the same thing (stupidity in this sense is not defined as lack of intelligence, but avoidance of known facts). I don't condemn them or even think too much about them. I think all this moral bashing doesn't help anyone. It has its roots in religious belief and that's where it should stay. It leads nowhere. Know the principles and live by them. I'm hesitant in calling people stupid, too. The problem of false positives is an easy trap. And I've found that most people are open to reasonable discussion if you actually give it a try and listen to them first. But then there are those who don't even listen, know what you're saying before you say it and refuse to take a look at the world because it could threaten their current model of it. These people are usually hopeless. They are also the ones that resort to force where reason doesn't suffice. So I think a mental split between taking immoral actions and being an immoral person is justified. A person may be wrong in his judgement while believing he's right and do things that hinder his well-being and therefore commit immoral actions. But as long as he is open to reason and willing to consider arguments, I refrain from calling them immoral or stupid. They're just wrong. It's -at its very basis - an epistemological error. The moral problem (the stupidity) begins when they stop thinking. It's also understandable to me that someone who has spent a big part of his life believing in an idea is usually unwilling to even consider it to be wrong, especially, because it's become such a part of his identity that attacking the idea is perceived as an attack on himself and his life. I wouldn't do it and I hope I will never do this out of error. You can't talk people into thinking about something they consider immoral to start with. I think that it's easier for most people to condemn something than to learn something. They start to "know" stuff they don't really know and confuse their assumptions for facts. I'm still not sure why it happens, but that it does is a sad fact.
  14. My mother tongue is German. But I can talk and think in English quite well, too. The funny thing I realize sometimes is that I can express some things in English that I can't say in German. The most obvious such things are puns, which is the only stuff that comes to mind right now as I try to think of a good example. Edit: got one! For example there's no word for "mind" in German. All I could say is "spirit, imagination, ghost, thinking, thought, imagination, ...", but there's no word with the meaning of the word mind. Another thing is that in German there's only one word for both happiness and luck (go figure what the consequences are). Language is a tool one uses to think better. This tool, however, can also ruin your thinking if you don't understand that it is one. Or as Maslow put it: "If all you have [and know] is a hammer, every problem is a nail."
  15. These videos almost drove tears to my eyes. I'm glad there's actually someone on TV to announce stuff like this. Dawkins attacks religion as incompatible with reason and shows how all religions share the common trait of demanding faith which he calls the root of all evil. With stuff like that in the media, there's still hope. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1...+evil&hl=en http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=63...+evil&hl=en
  16. I do. The reason is that I tend to see other people's stupidity as a source of great entertainment. And this is a wonderful example. I don't see any value in getting furious and everything about such stuff. I mean, all I would achieve would be that I'd ruin my day with that and to me this just doesn't sound very reasonable. The cool thing about free will and the ability to control your thoughts is that your mood doesn't have to be determined by your environment. I mean, when presented with such an occurence of stupidity, I have a simple choice: Either I get all furious and repeat thoughts like "These fucking idiots! How on earth can anyone be that stupid!" and ruin my day or I look at it from another point of view and just laugh at these guys utter stupidity and have a lot of fun for a while. And regarding the problem of not getting your questions answered, the reason for your anger is not others' stupidity but your demand that they should understand what you are saying and should help you in understanding. Well, some people just don't. There's no reason at all to make your emotional state dependent on what other people should or shouldn't do. What makes you angry is not their stupidity, but your belief that nobody should be that stupid and that it's horrible if such people exist, namely the irrational notion that such people shouldn't exist (even though they obviously do): I instead have the belief that some people are just stupid and that they can be a wonderful source of entertainment when you can watch how they make complete asses out of themselves. Basically it means accepting that there are things in the world that are not like I think they should be and just living with that and getting on with your life (which generally deals with making the world a bit better). Still there's no need to ruin your day with irrational demands about how the world should be when it apparently isn't. You can and should try to limit the amount of stupidity in the world, but getting furious about it won't really help you much in this pursuit nor will it add to your general well-being. You have to accept what is or you'll just make yourself miserable. It's not only about accepting that some things can't be changed but that for the things that can be changed, change takes time. It's not that your wish for them to be changed makes the change happen nor does your anger make it happen any faster. It's pointless. Drop the idea that the world should be different than it is and that it should change right now (how?) and work on changing it to be better in the future (and recognize that any other wish would be irrational) and your impatience and anger will disappear. On top of that some people will choose to remain stupid for their entire life for beliefs they themselves find very very convincing and you cannot possibly change that, because if there's one thing that's beyond your influence, it's another person's mind.
  17. It's my favourite movie. And it's the movie that made me an Objectivist (or at least made me seriously consider becoming one). This is especially funny because I got the recommendation in a book by Robert Anton Wilson.
  18. Hm. I've seen a report where they put little boys into girl's clothes and girls into boy's clothes and then had adults play with them, who of course tried to play with dolls with the boys and with cars with the girls and utterly failed and frustrated the little kids. I'm not sure which age the kids had. But as far as I remember the kids couldn't speak, yet.
  19. Hm. You'd have to know how exactly the components work. You'd need to have a map of the entire circuit. And from there on you'd have to get through all the states the circuit could be in, which rises exponentially with the complexity of the circuit. So unless you can build simpler models for parts of the circuit, I'd say that for complex circuits, you're basically screwed. So to analyze the brain you'd have to find out how certain clusters of neurons act and build a model for that that's simpler than just a model of mixed neurons. Then you try to build a simpler model for larger clusters based on that, etc. ... I think the objectivist term for this would be "concept formation to beat crow-epistemology". For something as complex as the brain this is a daunting task.
  20. Okay. First of all, you can only measure voltage or potential difference. There is no absolute zero-potential. This is chosen on a case by case basis just for simplification. It's just a mathematical model. You can't measure potential. Also, the entire idea of using a potential-difference-model to describe voltage only applies to Electrostatics (when there are no moving charge carriers). To explain how exactly a voltmeter works, I'd have to dig up the script in my basement. I can do that if necessary, but hopefully someone else will tell. What you basically do is measure the accumulated effects, charges have on one another, usually forces charges apply to one another, if I remember correctly. From these effects you can judge back to which voltage must be there to cause such an effect. You can't really measure voltage in the strict sense. All you can do is measure effects. Again, we're in Electrostatics, the electrical field results from the position of charges in space and so does the potential field and therefore also the potential field difference or voltage. So any voltage between two points has to be the result of the position of charges in space. Since you can pick the point where the potential is zero, you can say that a charged wire has zero potential and an uncharged wire would therefore have a (non-zero) potential. The voltage between the two, however, would remain the same no matter where you put the zero potential. Electromagnetic waves. Electric and magnetic fields change inside the wire over time according to Maxwell's laws. Please note that this question relates to Electrodynamics and no longer to Electrostatics. I think that this is what causes most of the confusion. In electrostatics, there is no change of fields over time, therefore nothing spreads. Electrostatics is an idealized model to explain simple electrical effects where charges don't move. One assumes that any time-dependent effects have already taken place and that you now have no change anymore. I hope this helped a little.
  21. Well, what I mean with this difference is the following: Let's say that you are in an emergency situation. No matter what you do, you will die very soon. In this situation, according to the state-definition, you are alive. According to the process-definition, you are dead, because you are incapable of taking self-sustaining action. The process of taking self-sustaining action to ensure your survival can't be kept running. The process-definition is more long-term than the state definition. But this is nothing to focus on in this discussion, because it is essentially about something else, as you have already said. I just wanted to shed some light on where Rand's definition comes from. Just so that I understand what you're saying: Your point is not to say that reproduction is the ultimate goal, but rather that an organism has by its nature two goals (survival and reproduction) none of which can be picked as the ultimate?
  22. One of the problems here is the Objectivist definition of life. I'll try to untangle that a little: The main problem one faces here is that the Objectivist definition differs from the definition pretty much every other person on earth uses to define life: as the state of not being dead right now.The Objectivist definition goes beyond that. Here life is defined as "a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action." (Ayn Rand Lexicon) This includes quite a lot when you talk about human beings, which is where all this trouble comes from. Note that life doesn't simply describe a state as it does with the common definition. According to Rand, life is a process and not a state. This explains the different view on many issues concerning life. Another quote reveals the view concerning the problem of "Isn't reproduction the reason to live?": "There is only one fundamental alternative in the universe: existence or non-existence- and it pertains to a single class of entities: to living organisms. ... It is only the concept of "Life" that makes the concept of "Value" possible." (Ayn Rand Lexicon) The reasoning goes like this: You have one fundamental choice: Living or dying. Therefore life is at the top of the chain regarding values and its very source. The last sentence in the quote is crucial here. "Life" is considered as the concept that makes "Value" possible in the first place. So the idea is that you can't even talk about offspring and reproduction without accepting life as the ultimate value first. Everything else is derivative by definition. Ifat, if I understand you correctly, you challenge the definition of life Rand provides. And - in fact - if one accepts the definition of life as something like: survival with the goal of reproduction to keep the species from extinction (which is common among biologists today), it follows logically that creating healthy offspring is a goal superior to sustaining your own life. This is where the problem lies: Which definition of life is correct? If this question is answered, the answers to all the other questions fall into place.
  23. Hm. I'd think that from early ages, superstition and irrationality were the norm and not the exception. It's not that man was rational and reasonable from the start and then fell from grace. All of what we call advanced knowledge and even the scientific method to reach it are rather young inventions in history. I've borrowed a book with excerpts from philosophers from pre-Plato Greeks till today. And it's very hard to even understand what the guys before Plato wanted to say in the first place. I don't even recall what they were saying specifically, but I remember that it was a wild connection of random facts. The amount of a decent scientific education among the masses is still lousy. So I'd say that even today preaching irrationality falls on very fertile ground. There's much truth to the statement that the advancement of mankind happened due to the work of a select few.
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