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Everything posted by Randrew

  1. Randrew


    Maybe I should re-cast this post in the form of a survey, such as "Do you believe that a potential person becomes an actual person with rights at point A, B, C, D, or E?" (Perhaps A=conception, B=1st trimester, ..., E=able to talk.) Hmm, so did Miss Rand ever state where she drew the line, or did she leave it to future generations to determine the difference between potential and actual?
  2. Randrew


    I do recall from The Lexicon (though I haven't seen it in years) that Ayn Rand basically asserted that a fetus has no rights. But when is it a "baby" (i.e. a new human) and no longer a fetus? It seems to me that the clearest defining line would be: after the umbilical cord is cut. But I'm not sure if that opinion of mine is consistent with rational philosophy and with the facts of science. Is there another "appropriate" line, such as when the brain is fully formed? Or does it depend more on the context of the pregnancy? I KNOW that there is already tons of discussion here on this topic. However, when I attempted to read through it, most of what I saw was too elaborate and contained many snide remarks and high tempers. My current view on the issue is not set in stone--I'm really have little personal bias on the issue, and am curious to know where others draw the line (and where Ayn Rand drew it, if she ever mentioned it.) Thanks.
  3. In spite of the underlying Christian themes, this movie renewed my desire to fight for my values (as did Lord of the Rings.) Did anyone else feel the same way? I'm not exactly sure how to pursue this fight, other than continue being happy and pursuing excellence and achievement. I do want to fight for political values, although I never do well in debates. I suppose at the very least I can "fight with my vote." (Anyway, I'm digressing here.)
  4. Thanks for all the replies on such short notice! I'd forgotten how eager the members on this forum are, having been inactive myself for awhile now. Groovenstein: I agree wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, I do not know much about the particulars of government and economics, so I could easily get out-debated by those who do. Ultimately I just have to accept that I can't solve everyone's problems, so I just have to do my best to induce others to at least consider different ways of thinking. I believe in an earlier political thread, titled "Taxes: How does Govt Fund itself without taxes," Michael Smith (user "AisA") gave an extensive response to this specific question: he outlined the typical costs of proper government functions, and showed that credit transaction insurance alone would suffice to pay for this. (Here is the link to his post. Scroll down to post #83.) My difficulty is in understanding which kinds of transactions will *almost always* want to be insured by the parties in question. About the example on house/termites: Hm, well...I suppose you could have a contract that says "I swear that my house does not have termites or any other major structural or maintenance problems", but it would surely include lots of fine print; and who takes the time to read all the fine print these days? It just seems to me that most people wouldn't bother with these kinds of transaction insurances. But maybe enough people would get them to fund at least the courts. Which brings up another issue: shouldn't the contract enforcement fees pay solely for the courts, i.e. for contract enforcement?
  5. So I’m trying to convince a few of my friends (and my mother) that it is possible to successfully fund the government without coercive taxation. I mentioned the ideas of government lottery and donation, but those quickly fell prey to the typical cynicism. Anyway, it seems that much more has been said about the method of insurance payments for contractual fraud protection, both in the well-known VOS essay and in various threads here. But I do not understand precisely why people would want to pay these fees. (Once again, I apologize for my naivete.) Specifically: could someone give me some examples of how one could be defrauded in transactions? Furthermore, even if one were defrauded, couldn’t the offender be sued and also be required to pay the court costs?
  6. I apologize for my ignorance, but could some one tell me what the definition of a flat (income) tax is? Does it mean that everyone (i.e. every taxpayer) pays the same percentage rate of their income, or does it mean that everyone pays the same amount, period? I assume it means the former, since the latter, if taken literally, is impossible: you can't say "everyone pays $5000 a year," since then people who make only $5000 a year will have nothing. However, I was wondering if anyone has considered a system in which everyone pays a fixed percentage up until a certain point, after which the tax amount is the same? For example, everyone pays 10% of his income as taxes unless he makes at least $10,000/yr, after which he only pays $1000/yr, no matter how much he makes. I don't see how a sales tax is, in theory, any "less immoral" than a fixed-percentage income tax. My reason for this is simple, albeit possibly naive: the more money you make, the more money you will spend. Therefore, people with higher incomes will still end up paying more taxes anyway. Under the system I mentioned above, however, everybody pays the same.
  7. Oh, and one thing I forgot to mention: poor Luke! Sure, he was kind of annoying, but I'd say he got the proverbial shaft as well, and undeserved. If only the nearly-overcomplicated plot could have included his hooking up with Rebecca at the end :-)
  8. I just finished this movie 5 minutes ago, and I absolutely loved it, though I did have one major problem with it: I emphatically do not agree with this statement. SPOILER ------------ Why, why, WHY did the film writer include the character of Rebecca (name?), the woman Matthew was planning to marry at the beginning of the film? This film could have EASILY been made without her, but her presence almost completely ruined the ending for me. She did NOT deserve what was done to her. Now, the focus was supposed to be on Matt and Lisa--would any honest, introspective viewer of this film NOT realize that Matt, in spite of his joy at having found Lisa, will have to live with guilt issues over what he did to Rebecca? The film sort of sluffs off her situation: she gives Matt some typical "I hate you/who the hell do you think you are" line, then abruptly exits his life forever. Matt, seemingly unperturbed, walks to Lisa and finishes off the movie with an otherwise lovely scene of being reunited with Lisa. Damn it, the film was SUPPOSED to focus on the drama of the Lisa-Matt-Alex triangle, but this part really threw off my emotions at the end. Anyway, I will take away from the movie what was good. And yes, I agree that Kruger would make a good Dominique (opposite Brad Pitt??), provided she can mask her (sexy) accent.
  9. Rational_One: Ok, I'll look into it more deeply, as previously I only skimmed them. Hmm, are you trying to imply that I've read *only* the Cliff's Notes? No, no, no, I have read AS at least 2.5 times by now. Your statement reflects what I thought when I first considered the Cliff Notes: "What good could they possibly do *me*? After all, I've read AS several times thoroughly." Do not fall into this psychological trap: if you have questions about the Eddie situation, I really think Bernstein's essay in here can help you clear them up (and the rest of his essays are great, besides.)
  10. Dominique: I am aware that the "Eddie Willers situation" has been discussed at length in several threads on this forum. The reason I haven't read into them too deeply is that I think Dr. Bernstein's aforementioned essay made Eddie's role and what he symbolized abundantly clear. I cannot reprint the whole of the essay here, as that would be copyright infringement, but I will give the concise answer: the purpose of Ayn Rand's leaving Eddie's fate open-ended was to show that the well-being of "the common man" depends on the freedom of trade and production of great industrialists, regardless of how "disproportionately" wealthy they may end up. In any case, if you still have confusion over Eddie, I highly recommend that you purchase the Cliff's Notes to AS and read Berstein's many essays within. Now, back to the topics of this thread. Inspector: The phrase Bernstein uses is "intellectual ability." An example to illustrate my point: the more college courses you take (and work hard at) in a particular subject, the more intellectual ability you will have with respect to that subject. (Let's consider a subject such as engineering, where the "ability" you develop will be more or less directly proportional to your ability to accomplish a given task efficiently and superbly.) This kind of "ability" is something that one earns. This is not to say that genetic factors cannot enhance this, only that the amount of it one possesses is "within one's volitional control." That said, I am assuming that Dr. Bernstein is referring to genetic factors, as that is the only context in which his statement is defensible. I just wish that he had been specific about what he meant. Perhaps my central question is more of a comment (with an invitation for discussion): although genetic factors influencing intelligence may very well exist, either dwelling on them or viewing them prematurely as roadblocks in one's personal development is flirting with determinism, and thus a bad idea.
  11. In Andrew Bernstein's excellent essay "The Role of the Common Man in Atlas Shrugged" from the Cliff's Notes to AS, he makes the following questionable statement: "The achievements of Rearden, Dagny, Galt, and the other thinkers dramatize the claim that reason is the primary cause of progress. But intellectual ability isn't within a man's volitional control. The ability of his brain is something that a man is born with, but he chooses whether he uses it. Eddie's consistent choice to accept the responsibility of thinking is the hallmark of a virtuous man....[etc.]" (122, emphasis added.) Now, it is my understanding that ability, in the sense of valuable skills, is something that one develops and earns. I think what Dr. Bernstein is referring to here is something along the lines of IQ or any other kind of "natural ability" that one inherits genetically. Although such natural endowments (or lack thereof) are a fact of life (e.g. click here for information about the so-called IGF2R "smart gene"), I have to wonder: how does one discover one's maximum potential for intellectual ability? More importantly: is it even possible to know when such a potential has been reached? It has always been my paradigm that, in order to "become smarter" (i.e. become well-versed in a difficult abstract science or academic endeavor), one need only apply enough discipline and creativity, i.e. study harder and study smarter (by employing methods appropriate to the subject of study.) Some people seem to learn some things faster than others, but whether you attribute this to genetics or to superior study habits and methods seems to me open to debate. This may be another reason why some shy away from Objectivism: they identify their "natural" intellectual ability more with Eddie's than with the heroes', and, although they recognize the importance of a rock-solid foundation in primacy of existence, their position as a person without the potential for greatness makes them feel a sense of disappointment in the knowledge that they can never measure up. That last thought brings up another important question: does Eddie have the same capacity for happiness (joy) as the heroes? I looked in OPAR, but could find no evidence supporting the idea that one's capacity for happiness is proportional to one's natural intellectual potential (or even a hint at this idea), although I may have missed something. I recall that Americonorman brought up this very question in this thread (his claim being the Aristotelian idea that a philosopher has the greatest potential for happiness), and I believe it was discussed briefly for a few replies. Anyone else have any thoughts on the matter?
  12. Welcome, Count. Sweet, me too. You rated? I'm an active C-B player at local clubs & tournaments, when I'm not busy with school and work.
  13. In general, should universities (private or public) be allowed to fire professors for expressing evil views? I suppose it would have to depend upon the job description. If a professor were hired solely for the role of teacher, then I think he could only be (morally) fired if, say, it could be proven that his teaching style were heavily biased (as that would mean he is not doing his job well.) On the other hand, if a professor were hired as both a teacher and a writer of academic papers and/or speaker, the issue gets more complicated. What do you all think about this (especially those of you who work either as professors or college/university administrators)? Btw, Byan: I'm from Denver, too (Golden, actually.) Are you involved in any of the local Objectivist groups? I usually attend the "Meetup" lunches @ Racine's on Sherman, and there will be one this Saturday. If you want info, check out http://aynrand.meetup.com/42/events/4084593/ .
  14. Ok, TG and AR fans, answer me this: Which Ayn Rand character is Terry Goodkind's Dalton Campbell (book 5, "Soul of the Fire") most like? A) Gail Wynand Andrei Taganov C) A little bit of both. Campbell liked to "work the crowd" (i.e. sought power for its own sake), and this eventually backfired on him. (Similarity: Wynand.) Also, Campbell finally saw the depravity of his "ideals" when his wife, who believed in them consistently, whored herself out to the "Sovereign." (Similarity: Taganov. Sort of.) I think I'd have to go with A, mostly. And the best part: the brief conversation between Richard and Dalton at the end: Dalton: "I think we could have been friends, had circumstances been different" (kind of like Roark and Wynand.) ... Dalton: "You may kill me now, if you wish." Richard: "No, I'm going to do something much worse: I'm going to leave you to the consequences of your own actions." (AS, italics mine.) My thoughts on the series: the first two were excellent, the third, fourth, and fifth were terribly boring (except for the psychological profile of Cambell in #5, discussed above), and the sixth was like a new presentation of Atlas Shrugged (in other words, no original philosophy, but still worth reading for some of the plot and dialogue.)
  15. That movie sucked. It was totally a "Rushmore" wannabe. (Can I get an "Amen"?) "Rushmore," on the other hand, was a hilarious and witty film about a young man with much creative potential, but who had difficulty applying himself academically. I haven't yet made a serious critique of the movie, but, then again, it wasn't really a serious movie. Any other opinions?
  16. CF, This is another possible way I considered to resolve my conflict (that is, if a conflict between life and knowledge arose, life should take preference, so life must be the highest value.) However, I was not able to come up with any such conflicts. Can you give me some examples of what you might mean? Part of the idea I wanted to present in this thread was that, although knowledge could be the highest value, sustenance and flourishment of life are necessary preconditions for achieving such a goal, and they must be dealt with first. It seems like a pretty simple progression to me, although maybe I'm not being concrete enough.
  17. Dominique, Take an Objectivist engineer, for example. His highest value is his own life, but knowledge is *not* his purpose. His purpose is design/implementation/etc., and the knowledge he obtains is a means to the end that is the ultimate product. What I'm talking about is people who pursue knowledge that is not yet applied, that can (supposedly) be enjoyed for its own sake. I don't have OPAR on me now (I'll cite it later), but Peikoff (summarizing Rand) specifically states that knowledge can be an individual's central purpose in life so long as he realizes that the knowledge is not something to be gained for its own sake, but must be applied somehow in order for his work to have had meaning, i.e. to have served the ultimate end of life in some way. CF: This is a good point, except that the question I'm raising in this thread is "why is life the only ultimate goal?", as opposed to life's being a means to another end. I'm examining the very issue of ultimate goals in the first place. Which raises another question: do people have a choice in what their ultimate goal is? In other words, does an "ivory tower" scholar/scientist who thinks he's pursuing and enjoying knowledge for its own sake actually have life as his ultimate goal, whether or not he admits it to himself? I would think the answer to this would be "no, men do have a choice in what they take as their ultimate goal (and, perhaps, there is only one proper ultimate goal to choose.)" I am open to other considerations, as I just thought of this now. Also, CF: Very interesting . I will certainly consider this as a possible root of my conflict.
  18. Dominique, The idea I was considering was that the purpose of life would be to gain more knowledge and enjoy the knowing (the "enlightenment," so to speak.) Meaning, life is necessary in order to obtain knowledge, it is a precondition for gaining knowledge, but it is only a means to an end. But life requires a constant process of sustainance. Does that nullify its ability to be an end in itself? Like I said earlier, I think it is possible to enjoy the knowledge for its own sake. What you said is a part of Objectivist philosophy, but it presupposes that life is the only end in itself, which is the very claim I'm questioning right now.
  19. One question that bothered me before I studied Objectivism, and still bothers me today, is: can knowledge be considered the highest value, the end goal which all other goals support? Specific kinds of knowledge I have in mind are physics (e.g. the nature of matter, energy, fundamental forces), biology and evolution (so that we may better know the origin and nature of Man), and Mathematics (the topics here are too numerous to list.) Objectivism gives a pretty clear answer to this question: no, life is the only end in itself, the only ultimate goal. From my readings in VOS and OPAR, I think I have a decent understanding of the arguments supporting this claim. Additionally, when I try to write down my argument to support the idea of knowledge as the highest goal, I find that I never even had an argument in the first place, just the "feeling" or "intuition" that it might be true. Since I am now aware of the dangers behind using such feeling/intuition as a tool of cognition, I will accept the Objectivist theory until I can either A- come up with an argument in favor of knowledge as the highest value (if such an argument is even possible), or B- get to the root of the emotions that would even lead me to accept such a thesis in the first place. My questions in this thread are: 1) Has anyone else struggled with this same question, and 2) Does anyone have any psychological insight as to why I (or anyone else) would believe in the idea that knowledge is the highest value/goal?
  20. You demand that we think about writing a good response? But force and mind are opposites Speaking of which, I have a "demand" of my own: could someone please explain to me how to insert both the name of the person I'm quoting and a link to the quote when I quote someone? I feel kind of bad that I'm not doing this in my posts, but I really have made an honest effort to figure it out on my own, with no success. Thank you very much. Wow, I never heard about this in any of my history books/classes. Is there really solid proof of these? (I do know that he had warmongering tendencies, but the rape and child molesting?) Also, could you cite some references to said proof? Thanx.
  21. Peikoff was on O'Reilly?! When was that, and what was the subject of discussion? (Btw: Anyone know if/when Brook is re-scheduled?)
  22. Thanks for all the replies. I think the most important thing, aside from general health, is what Burgess suggested: having clear motivation, purpose, and (in my case, at least) a clear plan (for the day, week, etc.) Earlier this semester I was having a few bouts with my old nemesis Depression, but now that my goals in career and hobby are becoming clearer, I've been doing mostly 5 to 7 hour nights, with no naps! (I did several 5-ers in a row, but it eventually caught up with me.) A few things I think I'll experiment with: -Nap techniques (i.e. disciplining myself to take "power naps," sleeping no more than 20 or 30 minutes, maybe an hour, if I do need a nap.) I think this might only be necessary later in my life, though, from what I hear here and elsewhere. -Switching from a single cup of coffee in the morning to several cups of tea throughout the day (green tea is probably healthier than coffee, too, though perhaps not for the colon.) I also might consider diet changes later, for I did not know that a low fat, low protein diet will require less sleep (although now that I think about it, it makes sense, for fat and protein are "energy storage" molecules, or building blocks. Hence, the body requires sleep in order to construct/reconstruct organs etc. with these.) For now, I'll stay away from the drugs. (Of course, caffeine is one, too, but not in the pharmaceutical sense of the word if you only take it through basic drinks.) Hmmm..."enjoy" sleep? How could I enjoy being unconscious, when there is so much life to be lived? But I realize that I should not *worry* that some sleep is required. It is a necessity of life, not to be escaped, and so I shall "enjoy" getting the minimum amount required in order to live.
  23. Really, I thought this was a joke when I first saw it. I mean, they guy claims not to have read PWNI, yet his avatar is the very cover of the same book! (Perhaps he got it somewhere online, though, without realizing its origin.) Plato: Was your question "Why do we need the branches of philosophy besides ethics" (e.g. Metaphysics and Epistemology, as it is easy for a student of philosophy to get fed up with these as mere "intellectual acrobatics" as you said. That happened to me when I was studying things like Analytic Philosophy, Kant, Hume, etc. prior to reading Ayn Rand, so in this case I can definitely sympathize with your frustration. But don't give up on it just yet.) Or is your question more along the lines of "Why is Eithics necessary?"
  24. Oh--my--god. I think we have a record here! Seriously, West: how did you do it? Were you lucky enough to have parents who wanted to teach you about Objectivism, or were you just one of those precocious young-uns who devours every great book he can get his hands on? Which reminds me: are there any parents out there who have (successfully or unsuccessfully) introduced their children to Objectivist literature, and if so, at what age? I'm sure it depends on the child, but I would think that the best time would be right before high school. Oh, and about the speech: I am one of the 90%. Then again, when I got to the speech, I was listening to it on tape during a long car drive. Needless to say, that was NOT an easy task, so I had to skip most of it on first reading. Besides, I already had the "feel" of the philosophy, and I couldn't wait to see how the story ended! I don't think there's anything wrong with skimping on the speech on first reading, with the understanding that the reader will then go back and read it in detail, as I did. It is indeed a literary "tour de force," containing an excellent summary of the philosophy and such brilliant lines as "...reversing a costly historical error, declare 'I *am* therefore I'll think.'" When I first saw it, I thought it was long, but after the fact I actually think it's *compact.* (Btw: when you quote someone, as I did above, how do you insert the informative blurb about who said it and when, and how do you add the little target arrow to the side? I couldn't find this info on the forum site.)
  25. Ok, so we all know that Gail Wynand "rarely slept more than four hours a night during his adult life," and that "the boys" (Ragnar, Frisco, and John) went many sleepless nights at the University. They are fictional, though, so let me throw out a few real-life examples: 1) The great 20th-century mathematician Paul Erdos, who frequently slept only five hours a night. Then again, I think he regularly took speed or something like it. Even so, he still managed to live to 80. 2) Napoleon Bonaparte. (Hmmmmmmmmmm....note the similarity between him and Wynand. Power over others must be really intoxicating!) 3) The legendary Johann von Neumann--mathematician, inventor, and economist extrodinaire. I think he had mostly four-hour nights as well. So, my questions are: 1) How many of you out there can (and do) function fully on, say, six hours or less a night? 2) I understand that sleep needs vary with age and among individuals, but what are some general techniques (i.e. regular habits) one can employ to minimize the amount of sleep one needs? I think keeping in shape helps, although too much exercise (esp. weight training) actually require more sleep. (Though I'm pretty sure that Erdos and von Neumann weren't really big into exercise. How they did it, I just don't know.) Ideas?
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