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JASKN

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  1. Like
    JASKN reacted to Nicky in Jerry Seinfeld, interviewed by Norm MacDonald   
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JElnt-C4dI
    The part that made my day starts at 25:57. Only lasts 15 seconds, and I love how he never even had to think about it. Just a snarky "ehh", and a matter of fact dismissal of the whole basis for altruism.
    But the whole thing is brilliant, if you like comedy, or you just want to watch two really smart, well educated people, who respect each other, have an hour long conversation.
  2. Like
    JASKN reacted to Nicky in How much danger are we in? What can we do?   
    Yes, of course. Western countries are democracies. Ordinary citizens decide who runs our governments. We should vote for leaders who recognize basic facts about Vladimir Putin, such as:
    1. He is a murderer, behind a series of assassinations and assassination attempts both at home and in countries around the world (including Britain, which shows how brazen he is).
    2. He is fueling the Ukrainian civil war.
    3. His intelligence services hacked the DNC, and released compromising information to Wikileaks in order to prevent a Clinton victory. This was an unprecedentedly hostile act. While espionage, including hacking, is par for the course between competing world powers, none of them have dumped the information they obtained through espionage onto the web, to influence elections, before. As such, this is a new level of hostility, which warrants an equally hostile response.
    4. The DNC hack is part of a media and intelligence campaign aimed at destabilizing western countries. It is Russian propagandists (behind outlets like Russia Today) and intelligence services working together to sow confusion and poison western politics.
    In other words, we need  to elect leaders who recognize Vladimir Putin as the enemy, treat him and his government as such, and retaliate proportionally for every single act of aggression or attempt to interfere.
    And, of course, we need to speak up about these basic facts, whenever someone is willing to gloss over them and write them off as "the leftist media trying to justify losing the election". Not saying they're not doing that, by the way. But what the leftist media is doing doesn't change what the facts are.
  3. Like
    JASKN reacted to softwareNerd in How much danger are we in? What can we do?   
    The Soviets, and now the Russians, have been trying to influence U.S. politics for decades, primarily by influencing public opinion. And, not just U.S., they did the same all over the world. The most blatant way was to helping professors and intellectuals who were favorable to socialism. They would invite them to see how well their revolution was going, they would provide them with "data" about how well their economy was doing. It seems unbelievable now that Samuelson's widely used Economic text book kept projecting that the U.SS.S.r would surpass the U.S. in a decade a two... and continued to predict this through years of revisions. 

    Another thrust was the aiding of anti-war and anti-nuke movements all over the world. Along with that, they always had an eye out for disaffected groups in the west, and would help fringe groups if they were railing against the political system of the west. It did not matter if the ideology of such groups was counter to their own. In the eyes of a Russian KGB/FSB officer, a fringe group with a religious agenda or even with a radically free-market agenda is a potential asset. There's potential for such groups to spread dissent while never actually succeeding too much; but there are all sorts of related advantages in using local groups for cover and to lend an domestic legitimacy to other activities that may otherwise appear suspiciously Russian. 
    In the post Soviet era, semi-private organizations like RT work with this as their dual agenda. Social media opens another avenue. From their premises, the Russian FSB would be stupid not to use this new media, when it is available, and becoming the primary source of news for so many U.S. voters. It's also a place they have a slight advantage, because they are quicker to censor things they do not like. SO, they set up organizations to publish on social media, for a U.S. audience. Of course, "publish" means something different from traditional media. On FB, you have to create sock-puppet accounts, build networks of friends, build cred, and then start to send out the propaganda. 
    In the last election, the Russians seemed to have preferred Trump over Hillary, but that is in keeping with their usual playbook of disrupting the establishment. I doubt the potential policies of the two candidates was a big deal. And, apart from social media, they also influenced people in Trump's campaign, promising them dirt on Hillary, and possibly delivering. 
    U.S. Politics:  None of this implies that Trump won because of Russian influence. Is it possible that he did? Yes, of course. Given the razor thin margin by which Trump won the election (only certain states matter in this calculus), and given how big a role Hillary's negatives played, it is possible that a small percentage in swing states might have voted differently. Even those voters themselves would not be able to tell you; so, it is an impossible question to answer either way. The only thing that makes it "possible" and plausible is the thin margins and the nature of the positives/negatives.
    It is really bad strategy -- from the Democratic perspective -- to think that Trump won because of the Russians. If they truly think this, they won't address their actual weaknesses: the things that explain the bulk of the difference in votes. In my judgement, influential mainstream Democrats do not believe this. They understand that  people wanted to chuck them out, and that they had a candidate whose core message was "more of the same". However, most Democrats are willing to spread this narrative because it is the only explanation that many party faithful will buy. This is short-sighted, because their best long-term solution is to re-position themselves a bit, for which they need to explain the real reason they failed. Instead, they seem to be hoping that the country will tire of the buffoon in the White house in 4 years. it's a gamble; but they've been in this game for a long time, and understand how difficult it is to change their members' ideology.
    Back to the Russian menace: At heart, the problem with the country is the ignorant and confused American voter, who has mostly bought in to statism as a theory of politics. With such voters being the vast majority, they'll keep voting for statist politicians and cheering statist laws. Whether it's Trump or Hillary, ... that's not going to make any fundamental changes to the country.
  4. Like
    JASKN reacted to softwareNerd in Top 10 Life Tips for the Young You   
    Thanks for explaining.
    Something that's extremely common and universal is praising kids for some attribute while also implying that it is what they are, and not something they achieved. People will praise a say "you're so intelligent" and imply this is something in-born and praise-worthy. But, if it is really in-born, then it isn't praise-worthy. Many kids thus conclude that showing they do not know something is an admission of a weakness. This carries through to other aspects, not just "intelligence". Even something physical like being "pretty" is often not just about features one is born with, but about what one does with it.
    Praising in-born traits implies the relative devaluation of subsequent action/processes to change. Yet, that change and those processes are the really praise-worthy things.
  5. Like
    JASKN got a reaction from softwareNerd in Top 10 Life Tips for the Young You   
    In my teens, I put on a know-it-all front, but in fact I didn't verify much of anything at all for myself. This carried on until I found this forum, with its many exemplar users who didn't take any answer without some solid reasoning behind it, and a painful process of de-rationalization began after my sad mental habits just couldn't stand up any longer. The habits were deep, though, and for a while it seemed like I didn't really know anything about anything, because I realized I had really verified almost nothing.
    I'd thought it was good general advice, not just for younger me, but maybe I wasn't so typical and this is very obvious to most people from the beginning.
    Growing up, I did not focus primarily on my own desires, instead focusing first (or only) on what I "should" do. Then, for a long time I treated people poorly, generally. Maybe the first was due to religion and the second was a personal backlash, but I'm not a psychologist. The way I summed up this advice applies more in my 20s, since I wouldn't have heard or understood any version of it when the issues were at their worst. I see versions of these two problems in a lot of people now - confusion about why life isn't working out, when surface investigation reveals motives that don't start from within; confusion as to why things aren't working out, and then big surprise they have no consideration at all about the other person's perspective or objectives.
     
  6. Like
    JASKN got a reaction from softwareNerd in Top 10 Life Tips for the Young You   
    Just move on when it’s boring or when you’re stuck.
    Change what you can, accept what you can’t.
    Failures are inherent, but success is very likely over the long haul and makes trying worth it. It’s truly in your power to change things. Try, try again.
    Don’t take on debt without an honest plan to pay it back. Avoid. Uncontrolled debt is a life sandbag.
    People don't change unless they want to, and even then it's a process requiring diligence.
    Love evolves, not necessarily into something worse. The fairytale is only part of the truth.
    Dwelling on negatives punishes you first and worst.
    Are things really what they seem? You’d better find out.
    It’s all about you, really. But, it’s not just you.
    Worry is a negative default of an idle mind. Take a walk, it's not that serious, someday you'll be dead.
     
    An advice list will change depending on your target person or audience. These are the top tips 33-year-old me thinks would have most helped 18-year-old me (and up to 33, I guess). Youthful naivety prevents full understanding, and with blissful ignorance, so I tried to phrase it in a way that might have gotten my younger self thinking and thinking back again after some experience, or in a way to which I would have been receptive, especially since I was prone to rationalism. I suppose this list would work without the influence of Rand, but I found Rand right around that age... so, she's baked in by now.
    I wonder how a list like this might be different 10 years from now, as it won't be geared toward a flailing know-nothing who hasn't established mental habits of systematized truth gathering. Some other tips weren't as important to my younger self without first learning something about the other tips on the list, and they arose naturally afterward based on life experience. Life doesn't seem like a catch-up game anymore.
    What are your 10?
  7. Like
    JASKN got a reaction from Boydstun in Top 10 Life Tips for the Young You   
    Just move on when it’s boring or when you’re stuck.
    Change what you can, accept what you can’t.
    Failures are inherent, but success is very likely over the long haul and makes trying worth it. It’s truly in your power to change things. Try, try again.
    Don’t take on debt without an honest plan to pay it back. Avoid. Uncontrolled debt is a life sandbag.
    People don't change unless they want to, and even then it's a process requiring diligence.
    Love evolves, not necessarily into something worse. The fairytale is only part of the truth.
    Dwelling on negatives punishes you first and worst.
    Are things really what they seem? You’d better find out.
    It’s all about you, really. But, it’s not just you.
    Worry is a negative default of an idle mind. Take a walk, it's not that serious, someday you'll be dead.
     
    An advice list will change depending on your target person or audience. These are the top tips 33-year-old me thinks would have most helped 18-year-old me (and up to 33, I guess). Youthful naivety prevents full understanding, and with blissful ignorance, so I tried to phrase it in a way that might have gotten my younger self thinking and thinking back again after some experience, or in a way to which I would have been receptive, especially since I was prone to rationalism. I suppose this list would work without the influence of Rand, but I found Rand right around that age... so, she's baked in by now.
    I wonder how a list like this might be different 10 years from now, as it won't be geared toward a flailing know-nothing who hasn't established mental habits of systematized truth gathering. Some other tips weren't as important to my younger self without first learning something about the other tips on the list, and they arose naturally afterward based on life experience. Life doesn't seem like a catch-up game anymore.
    What are your 10?
  8. Like
    JASKN reacted to DavidOdden in Does Objectivism have the concept of a tautology?   
    To briefly get back to the original question, it is clear that Peikoff rejects the standard philosophical concept "tautology". The problem with the transcription which KyaryPamyu cited is that it doesn't represent what Peikoff wrote, it's what he said. In his writings, you can see that he abjures the term because he always puts scare quotes around it (plus, of course, what he says about so-called tautologies). It's possible but unlikely that he did air quotes when he said "tautology", and the quotes were not transcribed.
    "Tautology" is an invalid concept (though you may plead for validity, by removing the thing that makes it invalid). To be valid, there has to be a definition: it has to identify a specific range of things. We don't know what "tautology" refers to, and until we do, it's pointless to get into an extended discussion of it. Since the term is widely used in philosophy, I am inclined to attribute some meaning to it, thus I would more or less accept William O's initial quote from the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy: it is
    The pure form of these statements does not render them always true. A formula which is "always true" is something like "P ∨ ¬ P", but these are meaningless formulas. The proffered tautologies are not of this form. In the Cambridge examples, there might be a valid method of translating the statements into a symbolic form such that these are "tautologies". For example, you have to add a special stipulation of referential identity in these cases (see the last example: we must additionally assert that the first Socrates is the same individual as the second Socrates – we're not mixing Socrates the philosopher and Socrates my dog). Examples like "A brother is a male" is "tautological" not by dint of the form, but because of what we know of the referents of words "male" and "brother", and we know that experientially. It is particularly obvious that one cannot arrive at a formalization of "tautology" by simply inserting the definition of a word, when you are dealing with names, which have no definition.
    As for concepts and proper nouns, to quote ITOE, "A concept is a mental integration of two or more units which are isolated by a process of abstraction and united by a specific definition". A noun is the label by which we access a concept. A proper noun is a noun identifying units that name that name – they have no CCD. "Cow" identifies a range of existents with certain characteristics; "William" simply is a conventional label that some people have.
  9. Like
    JASKN got a reaction from Invictus2017 in How Nazis Recruit Normie Conservatives For Meme Wars   
    I don’t give a crap what Neonazis think or do to further whatever goals they may have, and likewise I don’t give a crap about people who believe those ideas or help to further those goals. Why would I accept or care about some idiotic new meaning given to normal English phrases by this group? What is the standard for accepting their “context”/meaning over common understanding? Is it a majority group of the US population? Isn’t this implicitly siding with “groupthink”?
  10. Like
    JASKN reacted to Mindborg in The value of apologizing   
    What you say is accurate, but I think the benefits of saying sorry are much bigger than what's being mentioned here.
     
    I find that when I say sorry on a frequent basis (and I make mistakes every single day), it inspires courage. I'm not afraid of being wrong, because I can trust myself to correct my mistakes. Because I know I'll make mistakes and can correct them, I can steam ahead and crash into walls and have the resiliency to get up very fast.
    I'm also not very worried about hurting people, because many times after I've hurt them and say sorry, the relationship to that person is actually improved. In other words, it's better to hurt them, acknowledge the mistake and fix it, then not taking any action at all.
    Saying sorry has so many benefits. Another is that the internal fear of being "discovered" goes away. "What if someone finds out" becomes a though of the past, and instead there comes the pride of "yes, I did this, and I stand by it, because I've corrected my mistake".
     
    So I'd say; make heaps of mistakes, learn from it, apologize, and go full throttle. Life is short, make the most of it. You cannot drive a formula 1 car with a lot of weights hanging behind it. Fix errors and move on.
  11. Like
    JASKN got a reaction from Craig24 in How Nazis Recruit Normie Conservatives For Meme Wars   
    "It's OK to be white" is what flashes through my mind when halfwit protesters scream that all white people are somehow guilty of anything and it gets ongoing attention from media organizations. It's not something I would think otherwise. And no, "the protesters" are not "black people." It's any screaming idiot.
  12. Like
    JASKN reacted to dream_weaver in Is "groupthink" an anti-concept?   
    Presumably the server of a valid conclusion has already integrated the material properly, and presents it in such a way that the recipients can integrate it on the basis of their own experiences and thinking.
  13. Like
    JASKN got a reaction from dream_weaver in How Nazis Recruit Normie Conservatives For Meme Wars   
    It doesn't matter how it sounds, what matters is whether I provided reasoning.
    When you're trying to make sense of anything, whether it's a news story or whatever, do you rest on mental shortcuts? Or, do you take those shortcuts for what they are, and actively update your thoughts when new information is found? Especially when you suspect you don't have the full story, you're not writing things off as concluded, right? A person who does otherwise is a non-thinking idiot to the extent they are instead fine with those fuzzy "conclusions." Even if they're "nice," "hardworking," or "non-racist" - they may be civilized, but it's not really their doing, is it? They're not active participants in their own lives, the groupthink will determine things for them instead. Thinking individuals shouldn't waste their time on groupthinkers.
  14. Like
    JASKN reacted to softwareNerd in Aristotle and the science   
    "All" ... haven't heard that; but, I have heard about the conclusions he based on very flimsy premises (what an Objectivist might call "rationalism"). On the other hand, he's known to have collected specimens, and attempted classification: which shows a respect for the study of reality. 
    Along with the Renaissance, came a real thrust to the "scientific method" and for experimentation (a move attributed to Francis Bacon in the Anglophone world). Before Galileo became controversial about astronomy, he was doing experiments in physics that were upending long-held beliefs in Physics. Yet, these were beliefs one could upend by an experiment that did not take that long. It indicates that people had not thought of actually experimenting about many things they took for granted.
    Consider a farmer in the 1500's who always used a particular amount of fertilizer for his vegetables. It is unlikely that he would say to himself: "let me vary this in a small experimental plot and learn from those experiments". (We see "gentlemen farmers" doing this post-Enlightnment). Of course human beings have been "experimenting" even before they were human, as animals do; but that changed to be way more purposeful.
    Reading about Galileo's controversy with the Church, I got the impression that the fear was not that he was overturning the Bible, as such; but, Aristotle: who had reached his conclusions nationalistically. So, from a certain perspective, one might say that Aristotle was partly responsible for Galileo being rejected and prosecuted. But, I don't buy that argument: it comes from treating Aristotle as scripture. Blame the faith-based epistemology of the church, rather than Aristotle.
    Imagine that the Wright Brothers had made some conclusions that would be proven true through the propeller age, but were actually false and would be proven false by the jet age. Imagine that this held back the jet age by a decade. Would we blame the Wright brothers for holding back the jet age? We (being ingrates) can criticize them for being wrong, but everyone else who agreed with them is primarily to blame. We should not follow and agree with all a person's ideas just because they have a lot of great ones: be they the Wright brothers, Aristotle, or Ayn Rand.
  15. Haha
    JASKN reacted to MisterSwig in Aristotle and the science   
    It's okay to be an Aristotelian.
  16. Like
    JASKN reacted to dream_weaver in How Nazis Recruit Normie Conservatives For Meme Wars   
    Even if a source of "groupthink" were hijacked, that in itself would not alter a general tendency for "groupthink." A far better course would be to identify the thinkers and gravitate towards the opportunities that offers.
  17. Like
    JASKN reacted to Nicky in What are you listening at the moment?   
    I've been into Johnny Cash' American Recordings, the last few weeks. Especially "Help Me", off his final album. It's a very religious collection of songs, this one especially...but just so ridiculously, brilliantly touching, from a man mourning his soulmate.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jv4i4t2hj2I
    It's one of his many Kris Kristofferson covers. I think Kris wrote most of his truly great songs. But John made them eternal...especially this song would've been totally forgotten.
  18. Like
    JASKN reacted to softwareNerd in Is there ever an excuse for rudeness?   
    Instead of "okay" why not start at "good"? Can rudeness sometimes be right & good, and -- in that context -- something other than rudeness be bad/wrong? (Is it true that you always get more bees with honey than with vinegar, when it comes to human interaction?)
    Can one achieve some end by rudeness that cannot be achieved otherwise? 
  19. Like
    JASKN got a reaction from softwareNerd in How Nazis Recruit Normie Conservatives For Meme Wars   
    Speak for yourself. I don't follow white nationalists in any way and imagine their agendas must be as dumb as they come, but I think "It's OK to be white" all the time to myself when I read the moronic public, racist displays of "black lives," "mormon lives," "women lives," or whatever else.
  20. Like
    JASKN got a reaction from CartsBeforeHorses in How Nazis Recruit Normie Conservatives For Meme Wars   
    Speak for yourself. I don't follow white nationalists in any way and imagine their agendas must be as dumb as they come, but I think "It's OK to be white" all the time to myself when I read the moronic public, racist displays of "black lives," "mormon lives," "women lives," or whatever else.
  21. Like
    JASKN reacted to Craig24 in How Nazis Recruit Normie Conservatives For Meme Wars   
    "It's ok to be white" does not mean "the white race is the finest race".  What this White Supremacist Church believes isn't my problem and it isn't yours either.  Like I said, if you encounter a group of neo nazis, tell them where they can go.  Use concepts honestly.  You know what the word "selfish" actually means.  Do you dispense with the term "selfish" because the broader culture takes it to be synonymous with evil?    
  22. Like
    JASKN reacted to Nicky in Popularizing Objectivism: Is it possible without compromising objectivity, truth and the good?   
    I would argue that satisfaction, for a rational person, comes from living a good life.
    Just to explain what it is I'm nitpicking about: "being successful" implies the achievement of a final, set benchmark (or at least crossing a set threshold). Living a good life implies continuity.
    You can only derive so much satisfaction from "being successful". But you can derive endless satisfaction from continuously living well. And you don't have to wait before you're satisfied. You can be satisfied with what you did today, even if you're not yet "successful".
  23. Like
    JASKN reacted to Nicky in Popularizing Objectivism: Is it possible without compromising objectivity, truth and the good?   
    I don't think philosophy is all that dissimilar to other ideas through history: man made flight, electricity, combustion engine etc., etc. All these ideas became popular because they resulted in worthwhile concretes. They weren't ideas the general public could've successfully been presented with, in theory alone.
    There was a need for concrete achievements, to go along with the ideas themselves. So that's the key: to go along with all the activism, people who like the ideas should live good lives, and that achievement will cause interest in the ideas that shaped that life.
    That doesn't mean activism is useless, but activists need to be conscious of the full range of their communication: both the intended and the unintended messages. For instance, an Oist activist focused on pointing out the flaws of the political system may think he's just communicating political ideas, but, in reality, to the average person, he projects a sense of isolation and even fatalism (us vs. them, as SN put it). When there's a contradiction between a more concrete and a more abstract message, people (rightfully) give more weight to the former. So that activist is hurting more than he's helping.
    To effectively control the message, and only communicate what he intends to, an activist needs to be well versed in communication and dedicated to the work full time. Even if you're naturally charismatic and an effective leader in your day job, it's not enough. Your message, no matter how convincing, can still be presented selectively, or misrepresented, by others (both in the traditional media and on social media). So you still have to be deliberate about everything you do and discerning about who you talk to...and that takes a lot of expertise and tedious research.
    Just to be clear: you don't have to be "fun", charming, or even nice and friendly, to be an effective communicator. Trump's an effective communicator...I doubt even his minions would ever accuse him of any of those four things. But you need to be aware of the times when you might be perceived as unhappy or a pessimist (as well as of the many other unintended messages we send out on a daily basis).
  24. Like
    JASKN reacted to softwareNerd in Popularizing Objectivism: Is it possible without compromising objectivity, truth and the good?   
    I think there are two separate streams of ideas here:
    Should Objectivists be having lots of fun? Can Objectivism be popularized without compromising objectivity, truth and the good? On Fun: No, definitely not. We should struggle stoically. Life is a challenge. LOL, just kidding! Of course, Objectivists should have as much fun as they can. However, fun is really not a great word to describe all the ways of enjoying being alive. You could use it that way, but many people do not: so there could be an issue in communication.
    As an example: I've occasionally worked with people -- just regular middle-class colleagues -- who consider the jobs they do to be more than  drudgery. They think of their jobs as draining their souls. Then,  there is the larger set who "like their jobs", because the pay meets their expectations and their colleagues are fun to hang out with, but when it comes to the job itself they do it competently enough but do not seem to have much zest to improve or to change. And, finally, one has the third set -- not insubstantial -- who seem to find a degree of purpose in their work, and try to improve how they do things, and to put in their best. People spend almost all their adult lives working. SO, the key to long term happiness is to be working somewhere and on something that gives you some degree of enjoyment. A 2 week vacation to Florida isn't going to do it.
    Westerners advise their kids to "follow their passion", whereas your traditional Easterner tells their kid that they should get a well-paying career and that money will bring them the happiness they need. None of them are talking about fun in its narrower sense. They would all advise fun. Even most Christians and a church social have lots of fun, in the narrower sense. But, the broader idea is: enjoy life. That's a place where Objectivist-inspired authors still have a role to play.
    Candidly, I wouldn't find it weird is people at a Christian social are having more "fun" in the narrower sense than folks at an Objectivist social. I would find it depressing if those Christians understand the broader value of seeking a purpose (and diving into that purpose, and feeling rewarded by achieving that purpose) better than Objectivists. That would be a true wake-up call.
    History: I think the history of Objectivism does support some of Cart's critique, but it's "so 1990s". Again though, the problem is not that fun was undervalued. More importantly, the focus was on politics; and the psychological feel was one of us-vs-them; never healthy. From me, this is a critique, and not criticism. I think the movement through a learning process where everyone, from Rand down to new readers had to digest what it all meant, in all sorts of aspects of life. As it grew, the many new people in the movement questioned some false assumptions and I think the late 1990s might have been a time -- the internet did it -- when the majority discarded various concrete-bound false ideas around the whole idea of fun. 

    However, I think too many Objectivists continued to be more outward-focused rather than focused on their values. That appears to have changed in the last decade or so. It has probably been a combination of on-going learning and maturity of the movement, and also the ability of the internet to allow people to come together, but also to selectively meet-up in real life and do things that have little to do with philosophy. 

    Job #1 is to maximize happiness: Still, this last bit is where more "work" is needed. It has to be done primarily by each Objectivist individually: turning a focus inward, understanding that some things outside are unlikely to change, and figuring out how to make the most of one's own life anyway. If one is living in the U.S., and most western countries, there's seldom an external excuse for not having a good, enjoyable life. There are exceptions of course. Some people fall afoul of "the system" and it chews them up. For others, it may be too late. And, for still others, reality might have dealt them a really bad hand: a debilitating disease, for instance. So, I'm talking about the typical Objectivist here.
    Spreading the philosophy: I'd start with asking: "why?" and, even more importantly, "are you going to focus on that at the cost of your happiness, or as something that would bring you great happiness under realistic assumptions about what you can achieve?" If the things you think you can achieve, and the process you have to go through to achieve them, will not bring you happiness, then why would you waste your time doing them?
    This is not to diss those who spend their time doing this. For instance, the Institute of Justice fights cases that take a small bar-grade ice-pick to an ice-berg. But, I think this could be enjoyable and purposeful and some lawyers could have a lot of fun (that word again) doing it. If they can put food on their table in the process, more power to them! Similarly, if someone makes it his mission to get a few thousand additional kids to read The Fountainhead each year, and they enjoy this, and can make a living doing this, I wish them well. 
    In the end though, most people have other career goals, and since work is such a large part of life, that's where they have to seek fun and fulfillment. The Objectivist youth organization that began as a campus newsletter, changed its focus. They figured out that their members could do more with their lives if they know a little less about Kant and Plato, and a little more about more immediate ways to make one's life a success, or if they had a way to network while looking for work, etc. 
    In terms of spreading the philosophy, I think it will take something similar. It won't take people having more fun as narrowly defined. It's more likely to take someone who can craft a coherent message that gives great advice about how to live one's life to the fullest. it would take someone who understand the best ideas of modern motivational speakers, evangelists and self-help writers. Someone who can throw out the bad, and keep the nuggets that make sense. Someone who can craft that into a coherent whole, and can do so consistently with Objectivist Ethics. That could be a a game-changer.
    Meanwhile, if you're not that person, I'd fall back to: get a life... where you can find the maximum happiness for yourself, and feel a sense of purpose. 
  25. Like
    JASKN reacted to DavidOdden in Making Freedom: A Proposal   
    The most important idea underlying the original post is this:
    The government would be designed from the ground up, grounded in Objectivist principles.
    I’ll name this The Central Political Goal, because it is important enough to have a name. There is an obvious connection between that desideratum, and the position that
    the Supreme Court decided that the courts were not to take into account the intentions of the Founders when interpreting the Constitution to determine the extent of government powers. With no principles to limit the federal government's power, it was only a matter of time before those powers became effectively unlimited.
    The floating-community proposal appears to be aimed at another goal: “to live as free a life as possible”. From the Objectivist perspective, the Ultimate Goal is to exist qua man. The goal of living as free a life as possible is necessary to reach the Ultimate Goal, and the aforementioned Central Political Goal is the method by which we might be able to live as free a life as possible.
    The reason why we don’t live as free a life as possible is not that we don’t have a floating city, gulch or asteroid somewhere safe from external interference: it is that we cannot objectively and convincingly articulate the nature of the Central Political Goal. Although we can say “we want to live as freely as possible, where government respects the rights of individuals”, we are not so good at saying what exactly that means. Very specifically, we cannot flesh out the notion of “objective law”. If we cannot do that amongst ourselves, we cannot reasonably hope to persuade others to embrace our general world view.
    The premise (if anyone actually holds it) that the US Constitution is exactly the foundational document that would be written by a set of Objectivist Framers is untenable. There are myriad flaws which could easily be repaired. If we cannot now identify the flaws and say exactly what that foundational document should say, and what the specific laws and government institutions should be, I don’t see how we can expect the general public to move in our direction.
    The notion (which is not the sole intellectual property of Objectivism) that a nation should be governed by law and not men requires that we say exactly what is forbidden, and what the consequences are of doing a forbidden act. Objective law is founded on exact statements of the forbidden, not subjective conjectures about the mental states of a group of earlier minds – the “intentions” of the Framers. Referring to Gibbons v. Ogden (I assume that is the relevant 1824 ruling), the court was absolutely correct that the Constitution does not contain any clause resembling a rule requiring strict construction. This is a mistake which should be remedied: how exactly should it be remedied? In what way is the Commerce Clause, as worded, not a license for the federal government to completely run interstate and international business? What was the intent of the Commerce Clause? How do we objectively establish that intent? How do we objectively codify that intent so that rights are protected? If we can’t answer these questions, we cannot expect to persuade others to adopt our viewpoint. It is not sufficient to adamantly insist on the end goal, we also have reveal the actual path.
    By way of sales pitch, Tara Smith has moved the enterprise in the right general direction, but as she herself recognizes in her objective law book, her work is only the very start of fleshing out the notion of an Objectivist theory of law. Politics is about the very short term, and an objective philosophy of law is about the very long term. Attention needs to be shifted from the politics of the week, to a philosophy of law befitting the nature of man as rational animal. Probably not everybody need to engage in this shift, but many more people do.
    I only address the political aspects of the problem and proposal. If you want causal explanations for political problems, you have to start with epistemology. How did we get to the current political situation? It’s because people decided to do things (voting, primarily) that had this consequence. Why did people decide to do those things? Because they have sub-optimal reasoning processes – a broken epistemology. How do we fix the problem? Fix the epistemology.
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