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Thomas M. Miovas Jr.

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Everything posted by Thomas M. Miovas Jr.

  1. I haven't read this whole thread, but here's my take on Paul Ryan as VP with Romney: http://www.meetup.co...925312#80683292 There is a very interesting story about Paul Ryan and Objectivism now that Ryan has been chosen to be the Vice-Presidential candidate along side Mitt Romney for President come this November election cycle. In the story, it is claimed that Ryan has rejected Ayn Rand in favor of Thomas Aquinas to be his intellectual guidance for national policy. When Ryan first announced that he liked Ayn Rand, the Marxist / Leftist jumped all over him trying to get him to drop her in favor of the policies of the Left -- which is more Socialism and a government run economy. Looks like to some extend they succeeded in that Ryan has explicitly dropped Rand as an intellectual guidance position. However, Ayn Rand still had some influence on him and he has spoken out in favor of capitalism due to this influence. That Ryan has chosen Thomas Aquinas as his new intellectual leader is also encouraging, in that it was Thomas Aquinas who brought mankind out of the Dark Ages and into the Renaissance, where reason was held in high esteem for the first time since Ancient Greece and Athens. I'm not really sure if Aquinas would have been in favor of capitalism or not, but he was most definitely in favor of reason as an absolute, bringing forth the argument that God gave you a mind and that it is important to use it to understand His Creation based upon the evidence of the senses which give us a direct connection to the Beauty and Rational Operations of God's Universe. And Aquinas helped to re-introduce Aristotle to the West, thereby setting up the grounds for a rational culture based upon reason and reality. These positions did eventually lead to The Age of Reason and The Enlightenment, and to the founding of the United States of America and the full recognition of individual rights. So, Ryan is in great company to defend capitalism and man's rights qua individual against the collectivism and unreason of the Marxist Left, even though he will waver a bit here and there due to his dropping of Ayn Rand as an explicit guide. But even if Ryan does waver in his support of individual rights and capitalism, the very fact that he was once in support of Ayn Rand will help to bring the ideas of Objectivism to the forefront of intellectual debates this election cycle. The Leftist will bring it up against Romney and Ryan in order to throw selfishness into their face, but they will bring it up. This will give Objectivist intellectual activists a great setting for exposing more people to Ayn Rand and to hit upon key issues that might be made more explicit due to the mud slinging. And I certain encourage admirers and followers of Ayn Rand and Objectivism to take full advantage of the intellectual debate that will ensue due to this attempt to cower Romney and Ryan into dropping capitalism in favor of socialism. Added on Edit: In this context, it is worth noting that The University of Dallas, my Alma Matter, and a staunch Catholic university, has a pretty decent Masters of Business degree program. While I was living in the Dallas area, I often thought about joining that degree / career course, and my career would have been entirely different had I done so, but the costs and the fact that I thought getting a degree in Physics and Philosophy might get me into management without an MBA prevented me from taking advantage of this course. Besides, I didn't really want to get an MBA from a Catholic perspective, but the point is that at least they do have a business oriented degree program.
  2. Wow...I just realized that the title of the thread was misrepresented. It should say, Batman and Justice -- Symbolism over Substance? SN, can you correct that error? Thanks!
  3. http://www.appliedphilosophyonline.com/batman_and_justice.htm Batman and Justice Symbolism over Substance? Thomas M. Miovas, Jr. 08/11/2012 It was with a great deal of interest that I went to see the new Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises,” after some of my online friends, including Objectivists, highly praised it. I do think the characters were well drawn out and clearly defined insofar as Nolan presented them, especially the bad guys – Bane and the Rabble he roused from the prisons of Gotham City. The struggle of Bruce Wayne / Batman was well worth seeing, since he starts off as a man who has given up on everything, including his business and his campaign for justice, and doesn’t even have the strength to catch a jewel thief who walks into his bedroom to steal a pearl necklace. It is from this beginning that we see Batman having to rebuild his love of justice to combat the strongest villain he has been up against, Bane, who not only has great physical strength, but the motivation to destroy Gotham City based upon the egalitarian principle that no man ought to be permitted to rise above another. Consequently, Bane releases the violent criminals to tear down the societal hierarchy of Gotham, including putting political leaders and businessmen on trial for taking their positions and their wealth from the people. Bane and the Rabble make this exceedingly clear in several open statements as to their motivation. My disappointment with the movie (and in fact the whole Batman Trilogy) is that neither Bruce Wayne nor Batman give any type of counter statements to the Rabble. This makes the movie and interesting case of symbolism versus substance. I fully acknowledge that throughout the history of Batman that he represents a man of justice – a masked avenger against evil as it attempts to take over Gotham City and become too much for the police to handle. In the Batman Trilogy, Batman takes on environmentalism, nihilism, and egalitarianism, insofar as these ideologies – if taken to the extreme – will lead to the total destruction of Gotham. Certainly, the symbolism of a man dedicated to justice fighting off these evil ideologies ought to be appreciated – the very fact that a Hollywood writer considers these ideologies to be evil (in the extreme) and seeks to present their battle with justice is encouraging. And one can take the attitude that it is about time *someone* saw these as evil and against proper justice. However, these are ideologies and have been presented to the world as ideologies, with scores of books written in their favor and having a long history of philosophical grounding all the way back to Plato and Kant, who put justice and the concerns of man into some other dimension having nothing to do with reality. In fact, it is precisely because they have little or nothing to do with reality that makes them so appealing to some, who would rather not think about real life and who fantasize that in a better world plants and animals would be superior to man, or that everything is nothing and ought to be destroyed, or that the man of talent and skills ought not be permitted to earn his better life. But Batman has nothing to say against these ideologies! He’s willing to fight their progeny to the death, if necessary, but he has no words against their intellectual positions. If taking an intellectual stance is a form of substance, then Batman did not present any substance against the evils confronting him and Gotham City. One reason these ideologies are spreading throughout the world – destroying capitalism and America in the process – is that no one has risen to challenge them intellectually: To show with logic and facts that the position of those fighting against man’s happiness on earth is evil and to offer a better alternative. The Objectivists, those following Ayn Rand, certainly do this, and can ground their ideology firmly to the facts and back it up with reason; but very few others can. And Objectivists also know that the primary battle against the man-haters does not require physical combat, but rather a counter-ideology that will put evil on the defensive once again. It is because these evil ideologies have not been confronted intellectually that they are so virulent and come across as unstoppable. In this regard, it is good that a symbol of justice was shown to be combating them in the Batman Trilogy, but it is going to take a great deal more than the Batmobile and the BatCopter to lock up those ideologies hell-bent on ruining everything for the rational man. And I sincerely doubt that any marginal environmentalist, nihilist, or egalitarian would be swayed by the Batman Trilogy to check their premises and to find a better ideology, or be cowarded into not taking their explicit positions because Batman is against them. So, while I can say that the Batman Trilogy was good – insofar as even symbolic justice can be encouraging to those of us on the right side of the issues – it is not good enough to change the trends – not without an explicit pro-man, pro-reason presentation of justice. “Justice is the recognition of the fact that you cannot fake the character of men as you cannot fake the character of nature, that you must judge all men as conscientiously as you judge inanimate objects, with the same respect for truth, with the same incorruptible vision, by as pure and as rational a process of identification—that every man must be judged for what he is and treated accordingly, that just as you do not pay a higher price for a rusty chunk of scrap than for a piece of shining metal, so you do not value a rotter above a hero—that your moral appraisal is the coin paying men for their virtues or vices, and this payment demands of you as scrupulous an honor as you bring to financial transactions—that to withhold your contempt from men’s vices is an act of moral counterfeiting, and to withhold your admiration from their virtues is an act of moral embezzlement—that to place any other concern higher than justice is to devaluate your moral currency and defraud the good in favor of the evil, since only the good can lose by a default of justice and only the evil can profit—and that the bottom of the pit at the end of that road, the act of moral bankruptcy, is to punish men for their virtues and reward them for their vices, that that is the collapse to full depravity, the Black Mass of the worship of death, the dedication of your consciousness to the destruction of existence.” [from Galt’s Speech, Atlas Shrugged, a novel by Ayn Rand]
  4. I'm not entirely sure, but it's something I've heard over the years. Besides, I don't want to confuse the local club with The Ayn Rand Society which is also in the Pittsburgh area.
  5. Sorry for the explicit anger, but this is the third time I am posting an update to the link to my local club. Someone has been deleting it the past two times. I have decided to change the name of the club to Pittsburgh Objectivism Society so as not to be confused with another local professional association, The Ayn Rand Society hosted out of Pittsburgh, and so as to not run afowl with "Ayn Rand" being a registered trademark of the Ayn Rand Institute. Thank you!
  6. I'm not going to get into yet another discussion about free will, but I thought of something today which states my position succinctly: While cutting little strips of cardboard all day at work today, I had to occupy my mind with something, so I chose to think a little more about determinism. I've concluded that determinism is a primacy of consciousness approach to the nature of man. In Objectivism, one starts with what is observed, and what is observed is that we have control of our consciousness and can direct it and make choices. Determinism denies this basic fact of human consciousness by referencing ordinary matter, stating that since matter doesn't have volition, neither can man, because he is made of matter. When push comes to shove, they will give you a whole spiel on how the universe is made of subatomic particles that get configured into observable matter, and no one has figured out how it can go from that to volition in man. In other words, their lack of knowledge is considered proof that we do not have volition. They cannot figure out how it all works, and therefore it cannot be true. This places an act of consciousness above existence, hence making determinism a primacy of consciousness approach.
  7. I've decided to start my own local Objectivist oriented study group and perhaps get involved in intellectual activism, but mostly to meet local Ayn Rand enthusiasts. Pittsburgh Ayn Rand Society I may permit non-locals to participate on the Meetup forum for the group, depending on how it goes; but mostly looking for local participation. I do have to wonder, though, if I can use the title that I have chosen. There is an Ayn Rand Society centered in the Pittsburgh area run by Dr. Allan Gotthelf, but it is a professional organization connected with various universities (which we would not be associated with). Also, I realize "Ayn Rand" is a registered trade mark of ARI, so I'm not sure I can use that name or not in the title of my organization. I guess I will find out if I get any feedback from them saying I can't use it.
  8. I meant "rein in" above, not "reign in" when it comes to the purpose of a civil society.
  9. A further elaboration of the above: On Civil Society By Thomas M. Miovas, Jr. 07/14/2012 I’ve been having more discussions with anarchists and anarcho-capitalists, and they have a fatal flaw in their argument that will not support the protection of individual rights. That fatal flaw is their desire to be able to use force at their own discretion (either themselves personally or via their private defense service). The whole point of a civil society (of civilization at large) and of proper government is to eradicate the use of force (or fraud) to settle disagreements with others – of upholding the use of reason and not force to settle disagreements – of subordinating might to right. This means that even though you firmly believe that your individual rights have been violated, you do not have the right or the authority to settle matters on your own by using force against the supposed violators of your rights. The whole point of having laws, the police, and the court system is to make it necessary and obligatory that you must make your case to impartial observers that your intent to use force can be justified on rational grounds. And if it can be justified, then the proper authorities ought to be called upon to use force against those seeking to initiate force against you. To open up the use of force to the discretion of anyone and everyone in a society is to state that the use of force is the ruling standard and not reason. It is only in the case of actual life-threatening emergencies (a hold-up man or a house break-in, for example) that one is justified in defending oneself immediately with deadly force. Otherwise, one must make a case using reason that your intent to use force to correct a violation of your rights is justified. Some anarcho-capitalists make the claim that since people operate according to reason, then we can basically trust the use of force as carried out by the rational man. Or that such private defense agencies will operate according to proper business ethics and seek profit and will not run-amuck with their use of force because it would be unprofitable in the long-run and they would go out of business. But following reason or discarding reason is a matter of choice – one’s fundamental choice – and so even the discretion of the rational man to use force must be nullified. It is not possible to know beforehand if he who wants to settle matters with force is rational or irrational, or that he will seek exacting justice according to rational principles. In this regard, the very fact that he seeks to use force to settle a disagreement must be held in suspicion and prevented in the name of living under civil terms of a proper society (one based upon reason as an absolute). The point is to reign in the use of force – to eradicate force from society so that the rational man can prosper. The fact that under such a system the irrational would also be protected is of a secondary consequence. The primary purpose and function of a proper society with rational laws and a rational court system and police is to guard the rational man from the initiation of force. But this also means that he cannot use force to settle disagreements at his sole discretion, not if he wants to be protected from the initiation of force. To hold otherwise is to invoke a contradiction to the principle that individual rights ought to be protected. That is, even the accused has a right to be so defended against the use of force, and can thus seek protection and to have his side be heard by impartial observers. It has to go both ways if reason as an absolute will be the ruling factor of a proper society. Under full capitalism, yes, it would be possible and even proper to have private security guards or even private arbitration specialists, but these cannot be permitted to become a law unto themselves in the greater society – that is, it cannot be left up to their sole discretion when and where to use force to settle disagreements. That is, your private security guards could be paid to protect oneself and one’s property, but they could not be judge, jury, and executioner against those believed to have violated your rights. Likewise with private arbiters, who can be called upon to settle disagreements over contracts. In the long-run, these, too, cannot become a law unto themselves, but must make their case to the law courts with impartial observers making the final determination if terms and agreements spelled out in the contract have been violated or not. Otherwise, there is the implication that one can use force at one’s sole discretion, which would be a violation of the terms that must be set to subordinate might to right. In short, I am against the anarcho-capitalists on moral grounds, as their policies do not subordinate might to right, and do not uphold reason as a moral absolute. http://www.appliedphilosophyonline.com/on_civil_society.htm
  10. The whole point of a civil society is to eliminate the use of force to settle disagreements at the sole discretion of he who believes that his rights have been violated. Yes, you have the right to self-defense and the right to use your own mind to further your life by rational principles. That's the whole point. But this does not mean that the Founders gave you the right to bear arms so that you could settle disputes on your own without going through the government (police or the courts system). This is the fatal flaw of all anarcho-capitalist "solutions" that I have seen -- ultimately, they want the "freedom" to settle matters on their own with force; and NO, you do not have that right. What makes a rational civilization possible is the reigning in of force as a means of settling disagreements; along with the protection of individual rights in an institutionalized manner (proper government). Those of you advocating for the use of force to settle disagreements via some private defense force operating at your discretion are violating that principle, and I don't care to have anything to do with you, hence the blocking of Leonid. Under capitalism, it is the rational man who would be protected from the initiation of force as a primary grounding for the concept of individual rights. While the irrational man would also be protected from the initiation of force, this is only a secondary consequence and is not a justification for individual rights.
  11. What objective laws? If the government is operating under objective laws, then NO, you would not have the right to use force at your own discretion.That's the whole point of having objective laws -- to reign in the use of force. But since you continue to evade this fact, I will have nothing else to do with you, as I grow tired of arguing round and round with you. Good bye, I'm blocking you.
  12. You are both dropping the context of an emergency situation (a house break in) and evading the fact that not everyone acts according to his own self-interest, so if everyone could use force at their own discretion, it would not be the peaceful outcome you project.
  13. You are making two different arguments: the right to self-defense and the proper role of government. What the Founders were against was the idea that the government ought to have the authority to take whatever it wanted from the people it was governing. When the government of Great Britain stepped beyond the bounds of what the Founders thought was proper government (Locke et al), they fomented a revolution and overthrew the tyranny. Good for them, and yes, that can happen here as well. However, you do not offer a viable alternative.For while, yes, you have the right of self-defense, in a civil society ***you do not have the right nor the authority to use force at your sole discretion***. That is the whole point of a civil society -- to outlaw the use of force to settle disagreements in the general society. Yes, you can have your security guards, but No, you cannot use them to settle differences with other via force against them using your service. It doesn't matter that you believe your rights were violated, you cannot use force to settle the issue, not if you want a civilization beyond the range of the immediate moment. If you want to live that way, then move to Somalia, where no government authority will prevent you from using force against others at your sole discretion.
  14. There are actually a lot of unchecked premises behind the idea that the universe is expanding, especially since non-Big Bang theorists can find other explanations for the so-called effects of the post Big Bang era. But if one could show that it was the internal energy of the universe that was leading to the expansion, then in a sense the energy of the universe could be used up or so defused that there would not be energetic areas within the universe (no hot spots). But no one has been able to show that and according to the latest theories that even claim that, it would be something like 10 trillion years before the universe expanded so much that "everything would stop". So, if you think they can predict out 10 trillion years, then have at it. The point is that even for entropy, one must be losing energy somewhere for the machinery to slow down and to stop, or the energy must become so dispersed that there is no longer any place for high energy to move to low energy areas. And like I said, maybe after 10 trillion years, so I'm not going to take them at their word for that one. One reason I am not going to take their word at that is the fact that given our current advanced knowledge about how the solar system began and how it behaves using the latest mathematical models, they can't even predict other solar systems, which are turning out to be very strange according to our models. I'm not faulting scientists for this lack of knowledge, considering they have only had one solar system to study over the past 300 years, but it just goes to show that it's reality first, not mathematical models first.
  15. Your whole argument is self-defeating: If the laws are objective, and made by the government, then there would be no need to fight them, except in cases to show you did not violate them. So, there would be no need for a private defense agency, since what would its purpose be? Sure, maybe if you are famous and have a lot of enemies, OK, you can hire private security guards -- people do that all the time -- but these operate within the confines of government approval and cannot be used to fight rights violators of the hiree without approval of the government. But that is not what you are talking about. You are talking about having the right to protect yourself from all rights violators (in your estimation) whether they be your neighbor or the government. Otherwise, why do you need them at all? And how do you get those objective laws in the first place? Only by having a rational culture based upon a rational understanding of individual rights. And that can only come about via education as to proper rights and how laws ought to comply with that principle. Once that has been established -- i.e the Age of Enlightenment -- then you can get a government like the original United States and there is no need for private defense agencies, because the government takes care of rights violators.
  16. It's BS because at one and the same time you want objective laws to uphold how defense agencies will operate, and yet you want them to ignore laws they consider to be non-objective and to be able to use counter-force against government agents that you and they deem to be a violation of your rights by your personal judgement. In other words, the law would not be the final arbiter of force, you and your agencies would. Now, maybe you would be careful and only hire those who would defend your rights, but it is an issue as to how they would do this. If your neighbor supposedly violates your rights, you could turn to either the government or the defenses agency to "set things straight" with or without having to go through the law courts to settle the dispute. So, you guys pull out your guns, and your neighbor pulls out his guns and the government pulls out their guns, and OK, you have a standoff and this will end things peacefully. Total BS. In other words, you would wind up with perpetual civil war because you have decided to use force at your discretion. No, you do not have a right to do this. The whole point of having a civil government is exactly so this sort of thing does not happen.
  17. Yes, you insist on applying a *delimited concept* to the universe as a whole. The reason the roller skate slows down above is due to friction with the sidewalk and the fact that the sidewalk takes up some of the energy of the skate.This cannot happen to the universe as a whole as it is not "rubbing" against anything. We do not live inside a box and the galaxies et al rub against the sides of the box and will thus slow down. Ain't happening and never will happen, because that is not the nature of the universe. Again, within the universe, as one thing slows down something else speeds up.There is no way to stop everything.
  18. Personally, I think it is a bunch of BS if you think a lot of private defense agencies will be motivated not to infringe on individual rights....why? how? by what law? And force against the government should only be used as a last resort and only when there are no more options. We may well reach that point, as the Supreme Injustice basically ruled that the government can order us about at will, so long as they use the tax code to do it. So, I am not going to pretend that we have those in our government who are currently insuring our individual rights are protected. But the Founders gave us many options to deal with them -- including the second Amendment as a last resort (revolution), but you are not offering anything better than our current Constitution, so I won't be following you.
  19. No, I totally disagree. One cannot have a proper society -- a civilization -- if one is going to have various agencies public or private aiming guns at each other and stating, in effect, that if you make a false move I am going to shoot you. It is not the threat of force that would keep a proper government in line, but rather the fact that the bad guys can be voted out of office and if they violated rights, their laws can be overturned and in extreme cases they can be impeached and thrown in jail. But you cannot have militia A overseeing government agency B overlooking criminal C. The monopoly on the use of force does not mean that the government can get away with whatever the hell it decides to impose upon the populous. The checks and balances of our Constitution is a great way of handling this whole issue -- we can get the bad guys out without having to resort to violence in the streets, by voting them out and changing the bad laws. That's one reason why living in the USA has been so peaceful and not having that revolution every twenty-odd years the way Jefferson predicted or advocated. The people have to know clearly what their rights are and be eternally vigilant not to let the rights suppressors into office or kick them out if they do get in. That's it.
  20. No,it wouldn't be perpetual motion, because that term is delimited to a specific machine, let's say, that cannot continue in motion without some input of new energy (primarily due to friction). This concept does not apply to the universe as a whole. Motion (or momentum) is conserved -- that is, while one thing is slowing down the lost energy is being transferred to something else. So, it is not as if you can have a universe with all of the entities slowing down at once because where would all that energy go? What would it be transferred to? If you have a roller skate and push it, it will continue to roll until friction stops it, but that motion is not lost, it was transferred into the concrete sidewalk in the form of heat (the molecules of the concrete get more agitated). Similarly, if, due to the interaction, of say, the Earth and the Moon, the Moon began to slow down, either the Earth would have to speed up or the energy would have to go somewhere else and that thing would speed up. The universe as a whole was never at rest and as a whole will never be at rest, if one is talking about things inside the universe being in motion relative to one another.
  21. No,it wouldn't be perpetual motion, because that term is delimited to a specific machine, let's say, that cannot continue in motion without some input of new energy (primarily due to friction). This concept does not apply to the universe as a whole. Motion (or momentum) is conserved -- that is, while one thing is slowing down the lost energy is being transferred to something else. So, it is not as if you can have a universe with all of the entities slowing down at once because where would all that energy go? What would it be transferred to? If you have a roller skate and push it, it will continue to roll until friction stops it, but that motion is not lost, it was transferred into the concrete sidewalk in the form of heat (the molecules of the concrete get more agitated). Similarly, if, due to the interaction, of say, the Earth and the Moon, the Moon began to slow down, either the Earth would have to speed up or the energy would have to go somewhere else and that thing would speed up. The universe as a whole was never at rest and as a whole will never be at rest, if one is talking about things inside the universe being in motion relative to one another.
  22. You missed the whole point I was making about a **proper** government. A proper government is there to protect your rights. It is not a gang, and it does not order your or anyone else around unless individual rights were violated. You are making the same mistake they are -- you are going by your inductive experience of how governments currently operate and are not taking the Founding of this country into account nor projecting what the protection of individual rights entails.
  23. Actually, I would not agree with Betsy Speicher's response to you, and she and I have gone round and round on this topic for years. In Objectivism, the term "causality" does not refer to something coming into being or getting into motion by something else. Your whole premise is based on the assumption that everything was at one time at rest or at one time didn't exist and was either brought into being or set into motion by something else. However, there is no evidence that everything was once at rest and therefore need a first mover, nor is there any evidence that everything once didn't exist and therefore needed a first creator. Causality refers to the fact that an entity acts according to its nature (not according to something acting on it). Aristotle's efficient cause has many applications -- i.e. the que ball caused the eight ball to go into the corner pocket -- but this is not the final word on causation and does not cover everything. Causation simply means that an entity will act a certain way given its nature, whether it was pushed by something else or is self-propelled. So, basically, it is your false conception of causation that is leading to your conundrum.
  24. The problem with the Conservatives is that they will accept a government law -- maybe questioning it somewhat -- but will never let the Leftists pay for it fully by letting the whole issue become a big mess that cannot be worked out. They feel they have a duty to make it work out, no matter how insane. For once, I would like to see Conservative leaders tell the Marxists / Leftists that we are not going to get you out of this pickle this time. The full burden will fall onto the America people, and you will pay the price for it. Trouble is, if the meme posted earlier is true that it all came from the Conservatives in the first place, then they are covering their own butts by trying to make it work out. But of course, the Conservatives have not rejected altruism and feel the need to provide something for the wretched and the downtrodden, like find some way to get them health care.
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