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Everything posted by KendallJ

  1. The Art of Thinking - Peikoff Objective Communication - Peikoff Introduction ot Logic - Peikoff Principles of Grammar - Peikoff Say's Law - Ridpath The Philosophic Corruption of Physics - Harriman Unity of Vitue - Lewis Productiveness: The Key to a Life of Success and Happiness - Lewis Objectivity in Writing - Tracinski Contact me via email at (kendalljobj at gmail dot com)
  2. Today at his final lecture of OCON 2010, Dr. Leonard Peikoff announced his formal retirement from philosophical work. There will be no more books, lectures, courses, or long treatises from him. He will continue to issue podcast episodes as he indicated that this work is a great enjoyment to him as a way to deal with the practical day to day application of philosophy to everyday problems. In essence he enjoys being the Dr. Laura of Objectivism. He received a standing ovation that lasted several minutes upon completion of his lecture, and I suspect that many others in the room were as emotional as I was becoming. I have only seen Dr. Peikoff twice, and I have never spoken to him, but that really is unimportant to me. In the mid-90’s when I was the only Objectivist in a small town in Michigan, and when I thought we were so few that I might never meet another one, it was his voice, and the knowledge he imparted to me through his courses that kept me motivated and kept me going. The Art of Thinking, Introduction to Logic, The Principles of Grammer, Introduction to Objectivism, Understanding Objectivism, Eight Great Plays; it was his confident voice, imparting rational ideas that was in inspiration. In my course on poetry this week with Lisa Van Damme, we studied what is already one of my favorite poems. Its theme seems appropriate to today and so I post a few excerpts from it, in honor of a man whose work, next to Rand’s, changed my life, and who helped me take an abstract philosophy out of the pages of the literature I loved and craft it into a practical method of living my own life. Thank you, Dr. Peikoff. from Ulyssess – Alfred Lord Tennyson … I am become a name; For always roaming with a hungry heart Much have I seen and known; cities of men And manners, climates, councils, governments, Myself not least, but honoured of them all; And drunk delight of battle with my peers, Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy3. I am a part of all that I have met; Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades For ever and for ever when I move. How dull it is to pause, to make an end, To rust unburnished, not to shine in use! As though to breathe were life. Life piled on life Were all too little, and of one to me Little remains: but every hour is saved From that eternal silence, something more, A bringer of new things; and vile it were For some three suns to store and hoard myself, And this grey spirit yearning in desire To follow knowledge like a sinking star, Beyond the utmost bound of human thought. … Come, my friends, 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world. Push off, and sitting well in order smite The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths Of all the western stars, until I die. It may be that the gulfs will wash us down: It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles4, And see the great Achilles5, whom we knew Though much is taken, much abides; and though We are not now that strength which in old days Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield. Cross-posted from Metablog
  3. It’s Wednesday morning and Session 2 has started at OCON. I’ve got a few minutes before the General Session starts and I thought I’d dash off an update. Session 2 finished strong. It seems that one or two of the lectures in each class for me contain the “ah-ha” points, and the lecturers are so good at essentializing their analysis that when those moments of discovery come, they are very forceful. You’ll many times exit a class, talk amongst the participants afterward and they all agree that a particular lecture was very impactful. The energy around those lectures is palpable. David Lewis finished off his course on Ancient Athens in 5 B.C. by looking at the intellectual factions within Athens, and the aggressive nature of the Athenian democracy which ultimately led to its downfall. Lewis is a marvelous lecturer with his dry wit, and a real excitement and passion for the power of history to inform us. Eric Daniels finished off his course on the Morality of Trade with another such lecture, comparing modern consequentialists theorists with Rand ethical basis, showing how a consequentialist view (trade is good because it results in the greatest good, or more efficient outcomes) necessarily leads to statism because it is unable to defend itself against any empirical argument. He then delved into Rand’s theory of trade, rooted in her objective theory of value, and ultimately man’s rational nature. Rand’s approach to a moral defense of capitalism is unique in that it focuses on the requirements of the process of trade, rather than attempting to justify trade based upon its outcomes. Yes it is true that capitalism may be the system that works the best, but that is not the fundamental basis to defend it. Leonard Peikoff continues with his series of Lectures on his DIM Hypothesis, that the fundamental trends in Western history can be looked at and determined by the way in which each culture viewed the nature of human knowledge. After two lectures completing his survey of ancient cultures, his last lecture launched into a fascinating discussion of the factors by which cultures shift from one mode of action to another. This lecture was incredibly dense and action packed as he attempted to survey all six major historical eras and review the change both coming into and out of each one. I was typing furiously the whole time. He’ll continue in his last lectures by looking at our society today and teasing out issues and factors that one needs to consider based upon this hypothesis. Beyond that, the conference has been full of social activities, catching up with old friends, and making new ones. I also had great conversations with Lin Zinser and Keith Lockitch. Lin helped me understand some of her plans for the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, and also differentiated ARC from ARI’s activities. Keith and I discussed our common interest in environmentalism, and in addition to helping me with some writing I’m working on, he also put me in touch with a few conference attendees who also have an interest in chemistry, the chemical industry and environmentalism. Hopefully those networks turn into a small nucleus of expertise in these areas. After a spa day at the pool yesterday which included some decadent lounging and a massage, I am ready for Session 2! Cross-posted from Metablog
  4. OCON is off to a roaring start this year! I’ve got a little time before the next lecture; I’m lounging by the pool as a hot desert wind seeps across the Red Rock resort in Las Vegas. The venue this year is one of the best I’ve seen for an OCON yet. Yesterday consisted of the opening banquet, and general catching up with old friends. Each year I come, the handshakes and hugs become more numerous, stronger, and the excitement of seeing old friends wells up greater. So many this year… OAC classmates, fellow Obloggers, and friends I’ve made over the years of interaction with Objectivists online; from California to Colorado, NYC to Michigan. OCON is as much about the social as the intellectual. My first session coruse schedule is a little lighter than in previous years (to make room for, well, lounging at the pool…) Thought not planned, it seems that I’m opening with a focus on the classical period. John Lewis Ancient’s course this year covers Athens in the 5th century B.C. This is the zenith of Athenian society and saw the establishment of Athenian democracy and of the advent of philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. And of course you can’t ask for a better lecturer than John Lewis, which is energy and dry wit. The general sessions are dominated by Leonard Peikoff’s second course series on his forthcoming book on the DIM hypothesis, his hypothesis that western society can be viewed in terms of it’s approach to human knowledge, and from this one can even begin to make predictive conclusions for the progression of societies. His focus this week will be on looking at early societies from the Greeks through the Medieval period through this lens. David Harriman gave a great general session lecture on the inductive method in scientific discovery, looking at science’s inability to characterize and articulate the essence of it’s epistomological method, and it’s suffering as a result of this inability. He then focuses on the effect of Rand’s seminal theory of concepts on the ability to accurately characterize the scientific process, and what this means for the future of scientific education. This is the focus of his recently released book, The Logical Leap: Induction in Physics, which represents collaborative work between him and philosopher Leonard Peikoff. I’m excited to read the book, and will be ordering it soon! Finally, Eric Daniels, in his usual witty style opened up his course on the Moraltiiy of Trade, examining this fundamental aspect of capitalism, and surveying historical views of trade. Today it was the Ancient’s characterization of trade. His intent is to look at various common objections to trade itself given by both opponents and defenders of capitalism. Tonight’s lecture is on the state of the Ayn Rand Institute, offering up an enthusiastic look at the progress the Institute has made in changing the culture over the past year. Afterward, a cocktail party with OActivists. Couple of notes. The Twitter hashtag #OCON is hot. Numerous attendees are tweeting and you can get great updates by the minute. The netbook is working wonderfully, and I’ve almost gone entirely paperless this year. I also wanted to give a shout out to my friends in Atlanta who have put together a budget version of OCON, called MiniCon, put on by the Atlanta Objectivist Society. As always there are so many Objectivists who I miss seeing each year. Here’s to you. Hope to see you at a future conference, and I hope that the various updates keep you tied in and make you feel like you were here, as much as we wish you actually were. All for now; onto the next event1 Cross-posted from Metablog
  5. I'll be there. Kel! What's the plan?
  6. What are you calling Primary Values? MBTI is predictive of behavior, but not sure that it's predictive of values.
  7. Thanks, handsome! I was disco incarnate on NYE!

  8. Ellen Kenner in Rhode Island, and Dr. ? Hurd. However, there is no "Objectivist psychology", or Objectivist Physics or any other science. However, I sense that they do evaluate methods from a rational perspective.
  9. Woops. I did find it. Although it's after Cortland was BLOWN UP, which would have made if very difficult for it to be material to Toohey's influence toward the decision to BUILD it.
  10. I'll take that back. I just read through it. Everything you say here ammounts to "Architecture is art, therefore the artist example is the only one that applies." Yet you've not made a case for why architcture has some aspects of art and some not. I think I've distinctly shown when it might be considered art and when it might not, and that includes an answer to the "Milli Vanilli" example which bring up again and which I already said would be an example of fraud. (intrestingly MV didn't have to write their own songs, they just have to sing them... What sort of artistic fraud is that?) None of my arguments apply to Milli Vanilli and I said as much. I'm not going to spend time refuting each of your points as they all don't get to the heart of the issue. Let me know when you're going to discuss the heart of the issue and I'll work with it. My examples about architecture not being art apply whether we're talking about Apple or some tiny firm, and Keating's previous prestige as a top-tier architect are only relevant if he's trying to charge the fees that one would. His pervious prestige does not confer any obligation to reveal or to author that his current status doesn't invalidate. Keating wasn't initially considered, and Toohey only did so because he begged him to. You haven't addressed injury or any other of the key issues that would make this a legal case of fraud. As for Keating claiming authorship to Toohey, you'll have to quote that. It's not there. He didn't represent himself as having designed anything to Toohey. Irrelvant anyway as I've already discussed. And as to the issue of governments being fractured entities. I didn't say that there was certainty that he wouldn't get a fair trial, and if you've never ever seen in the history of government that influence isn't peddled across boundaries, despite checks and balances, then you aren't paying attention. There most certainly is doubt that he will get a fair trial. Checks and balances do not confer complete compartmentalization across the various divisions of govt. Basically, all your quips are oblique jabs, and the only one, which you don't state is that you're rejecting my assessment of architecture as non-artful in this case. You dance around the issue.
  11. Oy, you asked for a specific sort of description. I gave it. You want parrallelism. Patents or trademarks that have been licensed have the ability to have the original patent or trademark holder to sue third party infringers. I'll get to the rest later.
  12. I've already analyzed the government as buyer, but you are making a big mistake here in lumping together wealthy private investors and government entities as buying entities. Everything you say about wealthy investors is completely true; however, it is not correct to characterize government this way. Governments don't pay top dollar for leading architects (at least not knowingly as matter of policy). They commonly portray themselves as servants of the people, and stewards of tax dollars, and they commonly buy frugally specifically in terms of aesthetics. There is no reason to believe that they would be doing so, especially for a low cost housing project. In addition it is ludicrous to suggest that that was the criteria here, and that Roark wouldn't have gotten hired for those reasons. Everything about the nature of governments as buying entities, and specifically in this case, suggests that aesthetics was the last thing on their minds. In this case, the government was accepting bids from anyone! This was an "open casting call", and "open audition". "Anyone who can solve this problem can bid and get the bid. (except that Roark guy we don't like him)" Yes, politicos were controlling who got reasonable consideration but this was not a "we're only accepting prestigous architects" sort of selection. You're going to really claim that authorship of the design is material here, and specifically expected? Yes, their decision woudl have been different, but it is not material in any objective way, and they certainly can't claim injury. Additionally, Keating is not a "leading architect" in any way shape or form at the time of the bid. He is all but washed up. His firm is tiny. They have no commissions. He has to go and beg Toohey to even let him have a shot at Cortland, which Toohey agrees to reluctantly. Cortland is the last building Keating & Dumont build. Keating is "Joe Blo Architects" at the time of the bid. I do appreciate your arguments Jonathan. A lot of what you say is plausible, and in certain contexts could be considered fully justified. You just don't go look at the details of the story very well to see if that context is actually the context involved.
  13. As a follow on to Jonathan. You've posted a response while I was finalizing my last post. I've addressed most of your key issues in my follow up so I'm not going to go point by point through your post. The ones I didn't address go more to your understanding of what I said, and I'm not going to reitereate those things. YOu havne't actually asserted something contrary to the argument I've made, just thrown in a quip that while it might lead to an objection, isn't one. Make and objection state your case and I'll address that point. As to 3rd party lawsuits, Here is an example: I buy a car. I get into an accident because the car has a faulty brake. The brake is not manufactured by the car manufacturer I bought the car from. It is found that the car manufucturer took all reasonable precautions to assure the brake worked but that the brake manufacturer was in fact negligent. I can sue the brake manufacturer for damages because there is an implied warranty of fitness. This is essentially a breach of contract between the brake mfg and the car mfg, but I can take the suit directly to the brake mfg. As I said, it happens all the time. I've explained in my subsequent post at length why the artistic angle doesn't apply here as regards authorship. It is most certainly fraud if authorship is relevant, as in a work of art. It might be relevant in some cases where injury could be claimed by falsifying it. It is not legally relevant here.
  14. Back. Alright to the issue of fraud. Jonathan has claimed that this is a case of legal and moral fraud on the part of Roark and Keating, in that Roark attempted to pass off his designs as "Keatings" and in doing so deprived the government of their right to refuse to work with Roark if they so choose. Jonathan uses the example of an artist who passes off his work as someone else's as an example of this type of deceit. In subsequent arguments this particular point is pretty critical as its used to essentially undermine the standing of the contract that Roark and Keating had. Jonathan says that LeRoux also claims that the contract with Roark and Keating was invalid, although for different reasons. Let's look at this aspect then. Is the withholding of information a case of fraud? legally or morally? I want to separate the legal vs moral distinction as the legal question goes to the subsequent legal justification that Jonathan and Leroux seem to think justifies in some way, the government's subsequent actions. That is, if Keating and Roark did not commit any form of legal fraud, that whole line of reasoning breaks down. If instead they committed moral fraud, but not legal fraud, one could claim Roark's actions immoral, but not illegal or criminal. Is this a case of legal fraud? Jonathan claims that Roark withheld information about his role in the design of Cortland and that Keating passed off the designs as "his" and in doing so obtained value and prevented the government from exercising their right to refuse to use designs that were designed by Roark. He then uses this example of an artist who passes off his art work as someone else's in order to sell it to someone who wouldn't have purchased it if they had known who the artist was. So let's work through this analsys. I grant that information was withheld from the government in their decision to use Roark's design. However, this in insufficient to claim legal fraud. All sorts of information is not provided to prospective clients when they make a decision about a product, both within and outside of the architectural profession without legal fraud being committed. Contrary to Jonathan's claim, a client is not usually and is not provide with a list of names that, and the architect is not obligated to provide that list. A client is not told with aesthetic decisions the owner of the firm might or might not have participated in. He is not told for instance that the owner chose a particular column, but that the interiors of the rooms were designed by employees or contractors. For it to be fraud, the information witheld must be material to the decision made. Jonathan said that Keating passed off the designs as "his". Certianly with the example of an artist we can see that there is intuitively some sort of plausibility to this sort of thinking. That is, when we buy something from an artist there is an expectation that the artist himself actually conceived the work, but most importantly that the artist himself actually executed the artistic portions of the work. For a work to be "his" the painter must have painted it, and the sculpture must have sculpted it. Even if the artists had assistants that assembled the canvas or say poured the final castings, the actual aesthetic portion of the work, in its entirely must have been executed by the artist. But does that analysis hold true for something like a building, which is the product of not a single individual, but a corporate entity? What does that mean to say that a design is "Keating's" when we're talking about the context of a company? And before I address that I want to make a clear distinction that we are not talking here about a choice about specific aesthetics or the design itself. One cannot be said to be defrauded because they didn't like the aesthetics of the work itself. Rather we are talking about the materiality of the knowledge of the authorshipof those designs. The aesthetics themselves are completely self evident in the actual physical design and in the case of Cortland there was no information withheld about the design of the building including the aesthetic components. The government knew in advance and with complete certainly what Cortland would look like. So we have Jonathan's discussion of the artist. And certainly there is some similarity between that and architecture. There are aesthetic components to a buildling. As well, those components are the result of some people making aesthetic design choices about the building. We know that some architects fancy themselves "artists" and that some clients buy specifically because of the aesthetic elements of a buildings design. But at the same time we know and are given evidence that there are also differences between works of art and works of architecture. First of all works of architecture, including the design of aesthetic elements may be cooperative efforts. That is, one person may make a design choice and another person another. We know that some architects design in whatever aesthetic style their clients want and may even let the client make aesthetic choices. We We also know that as a cooperative enterprise that there are multiple ways that various people contribute to the design. They may be employees of the firm. They may be contractors. They may be clients. All of this differs from the case of an lone painter or sculptor. So let's see if we can add some other examples of cases that draw in some of the differences as well. Here we want to look at the aesthetic components since that is still where the artist example feels like it has some plausibility. (I'm sure we all agree that someone can outsource drafting or manufacture and that is somehow not relevant to calling a design "his") I already gave the case of Apple's original design for the iPod, the aesthetic components of the iPod were designed by IDEO. Most peole don't know that, and no one would claim it's fraudulent to withhold that information. Even when Apple is specifically known for it's aesthetic designs. its certainly reasonable to consider that the product is "apple's" product. An even more start example of this comes from the story of the Porche 944. Some of you may remember this particular car, popular in the 80's. The entire car was designed and manufactured by... Volkswagon. The only thing "Porche" about the 944 was the logo that was slapped on it. This information was avialble, but generally not widely known, and Porche dealers were certainly under no obligation to tell every prospective buyer about that fact. Yet in neither case was fraud asserted. Note also that in the case of Apple, Steve Jobs is widely known to have a big say in the aesthetic design of the products Apple represents, yet somehow, his "authorship" of the product is not necessarily expected. Note that it would be no more the case if Apple was instead named "Jobs & Wozniak." In both cases, aesthetics can be said to be a critical part of the choice of the product, but where does "authorship" come in? So here we have examples of products with significant aesthetic components, like buildlings. These products are designed cooperatively, mabye not even by the company represneting them. Yet, it is NOT fraud to withhold the information about who actually participated in the design. So where does an architect and the buildings his firm designs actually fall?? The answer if we look around at the variety of firms both in real life, and as presented by Rand, is that "it depends." Some architects can certainly seem to fall more into the camp of artist, and some clearly fall into the camp of "building provider" in the same way that apple provides iPods, and Porche provides 944's. When you buy a Frank Lloyd Wright building, there is a signfiicant expectation that Wright designed the building himself. But when you go to Joe Blo Architects, and ask to have a building designed in teh Wright style, there is no expectation nor does one care that Joe Blo himself designed the product. Rather only that Jo Blo is willing to provide the product, and stand by it. In one case one might be able to make a case that the authorship of the design is important to the product in its aesthetic capcity, in another not. So it may be the context that determines the validity. So, in this case, what sort of architect is Keating, and what sort of buyer is the government? Keating designs anything you the client would like. He lets his employees make many times most if not all the aesthetic decisions. At the time of Cortland his firm has fallen from favor. No one is interested in buying a "Keating" design as a "Keating" design. Keating is hardly the sort of architect that places Frank Lloyd Wright in the category where aesthetic authorship of the design matters. What sort of architect would that be? Well, one that had a very particular aesthetic style, a unique style. One whose style is so unique that only he can add the aesthetic elements that make it so. One where neither the client nor an employee can make those decisions. That architect if it's anyone in The Fountainhead, is one like Howard Roark (ironically). So for other architects who are not "aesthetic authors", what does it mean when one says the building is his? Well, it can also mean that Keating is willing to put his firms name on the product, he will stand by the product, he will correct deficiencies in the product. These are all ways that a firm makes the producct "theirs." I submit that this the way that Apple and Porche made their products "theirs." IDEO designed the iPod, but Apple put its name on it, sold it, stood by it, and integrated it into their other products. The same is true of Porche. Given the kind of architect Keating is, cortland is most definitely "his". And there is every reasonable expectation that he will represent the design, see it built, and make sure it is build as promised. He did not withold any information to this regard. I submit that the exampe of a artist passing his work off as another's does not fit this situation. There is another way to determine this fact, and I'll return to it in a minute. And what sort of buyer was the government? Well, was aesthetic authorship their primary concern? It couldn't be. Why else would they solicit designs form any architect who would wish to submit a design? In fact one woudl reasonably claim that the government specifically would not go out of their way to get a design that was authored by a prominent "artist" style architect, because this would have increased taxpayer expense and when government does this it's generally considered wasteful spending. What was their central concern? The economics of the project. The cost efficiency of the design. How do we know this was the central overriding concern? Because we are told (when Toohey notifies Keating) that all other architects who would have submitted bids have done so, and none were able to meet the criteria of the government needs. And in regard to the cost effectiveness of Keating's design, no information was withheld about the attributes of this design in that regard. In fact, we know that the government chose it, because it did meet the economic criteria. So Keating is neither the type of architect nor is the government the type of buyer for whom authorship is material in any objective sense. However, we still know that it is reasonably possible that they would have still said no to Roark's submission had they known he authored it. This is purely a political decision and arbitary, (i.e. not based in any rational assessment of the design or Roark or Keating). But is this still enough to be fraud legally? Is it enough for the government to say, "we would have chosen otherwise, if we had only known" as Jonathan claims. The answer is: no. The fact that you might have chosen something different or even chosen not to buy had you had a particular piece of information is not sufficient to claim legal fraud. Why? A lawsuit for legal fraud requires a final element in order to have "standing" (i.e. in order to qualify as fraud). That element is: injury. You must show that you have in some way been injured or damaged by the fact that information was withheld from you. What sort of injury could the government claim in contracting with Keating to have him build Cortland with the designs he provided? The government wanted a cost effective housing project. They were given the designs for one. They were built what they were given. They have not been injured in any way. This is why it is very critical to ask why it is that the government wouldn't do business with Roark. If it is for no good reason, or for arbitrary political reasons, then legally the case will always fail the injury test. It is not legal fraud. This is exactly why it is not fraud for a Porche car dealer to withhold who manufactures the 944. You might hate Volkswogen, and would never buy one, but as long as you get a car that does what it says it does, and that Porche stands by it, the fact that your choice would have been different doesn't constitute legal fraud. So Keating's willingness to represent Roarks design does not somehow confer legal fraud. Roark is a contractor working for Keating. Keating has outsource the design to Roark, and Keating is quite willing and able to represent the design as competent, to build it, and to stand by it. This is perfectly legal. Roark did withhold information, and the government would have made a different choice if they had known, but this in no way constitutes legal fraud. (the question of moral fraud is still open) This also allows one to go back and concretize in another way why the "artist" example holds authorship as important. In the case of a work of art, or even a building designed by an architect who falls more into this "artist" category, the authorship affects the value of the work. Both the value that an artist asks for the work as well as the resale value of the work on the subsequent market. This fact means that in cases where authorship is important, we can also see that in the description of injury. That is where authorship is relevant, withholding information about authorship can be shown objectively to be injuriouis to the party, and as a result, withholding or falsifying information about authorship would be considered fraud. If a client buys a work of art from an artist, he usually pays a price comensurate with the value of that artists work, usually more than the going rate for works of similar effort. If a con man passes off his work as the work of an famous artist it is because he wants to collect the added premium that works by that artist fetch. The injury is the overpayment. Also, such a work cannot command prices on the open market if they are shown to not be by the artist claimed. This is another form of injury. So this would be an alternate way to test the assessment of whether or not a particular architect falls into that category or not. Does he charge higher fees than architects of his client base? Does he guard the aesthetics of his pieces rabidly? Do his works fetch higher than normal market prices on the open market. If so, then one has a case that falsifying the design is fraud. If not, then no, the architect falls more into the class of businessman repping a product. Hopefully I have shown that legal fraud is not an issue here. So, what of the issue of moral rather than legal. Here I think one has to agree that Roark lied and committed a moral breach. That much is obvious and clear. He helped Keating fake his reality, he removed the governments rights to make its own decisions, even arbitrary decisions. So what is important from the standpoint of evaluating the literature, in light of her philosophy which we know she was very consistent about. Well, I think two things are important. First that to really still have Roark maintain a very large "hero" status, that is breach not be too large. That is, Roark is a hero of very high integrity, but he certainly is not omniscient. For us to still retain that basic evaluation of him, he cannot have made a large obvious moral breach. Otherwise his integrity would be in question. I don't think this breach was of that large a moral proporation given his overall actionsn throughout the book. Second, he should learn from his mistakes. That is, to really remain a hero he must realize the moral errors he's committed. This he rightfully and clearly does (when he tells Keating): I think it's interesting to note that Roark sees his moral afront primarily toward Peter. He helped Peter fake reality. Relative to the damage done to Peter vs the govt this is really how the breach should be characterized. One final note, it is going to be easy for some to say that the law is not 'objective' and that's why it's not legal fraud, but it is a moral breech. They will want to say in essence that I "got off on a technicality." This all hinges on the legal idea of "injury". I believe that this idea is quite in line with objective ethics, and that it is essential to how we think about this offense both from a moral and legal perspective. That is, how serious of a moral breech it is. The law has to draw lines between what matters it will deal with and what matter it need not deal with. Many things can be immoral, but not illegal. The question is are the principles that are used to draw these lines objective. he idea of injury is most certainly in line with Objectivist principles. Why? Well, what gives rise to the idea of fraud being an example of force? The idea that just as when we are physically force, when material information it withheld we are prevented from using our rational faculty, and we need our rational faculty to survive, i.e. to flourish. When we are defrauded, while we still use the rational faculty, it has had material informaiton witheld from it, and this results in an inability to survive. That inability to survive is injury. Our decisions are poorer as a result. Our life, in that case that we our constantly defrauded, is significantly diminished. That is true in general, but it is true to more or lesser degrees depending on the level of injury. This is how we can think about rating the seriousness of the moral infraction. It is the objective way to do it, and the law uses this exact concept to separate between those cases that constitute legal fraud, even if they might constitute a moral breech. Anyway, all for now. I doubt I will give any replies the level of treatment I have here as I've already spent far more time on the discussion than any of my opponents, I'm quite sure of that; and I'm quite confident in the assessment I've given.
  15. That's not fraud. Keating actually had the rights to negotiate a contract with Roark's designs. The terms that Keating is bound to are imaterial, given that he offered terms to the government and they accepted those terms. Any party to a contract is not bound to disclose his degrees of freedom to the other party. He simply must proceed in a manner by which he is bound. There are all sorts of things that were not disclosed to the Cortland builders, and all sorts of things that are not disclosed to parties in a contract discussion. This does not constitute fraud, nor does it constitute misrepresentation. There are no false pretences here. I've already stated that. Your qualifications means that the only party which would satsify this criteria is another private party. Not at all. However, you don't get rights back free and clear, becuase part of the consitutents of a project were constructed lawfully. Cortdlant is not just the bricks or the real estate. As the building sits it is both a combination of the materials that went into it and the specific physical form in which is resides. How does this in any way change the fundamentals of the issue. What are you suggesting would be different?
  16. By Kendall J from The Crucible,cross-posted by MetaBlog Hey, Jen has the year end Round-up over at her blog. This issue is a “Best of 2009” issue. Don’t miss the extra-special Objectivisty goodness! Two of my most read posts are included in the mix. Cross-posted from Metablog
  17. By Kendall J from The Crucible,cross-posted by MetaBlog I’m sitting back after a wonderful Christmas spent with my sister, and feeling generally radiant about life. So rather than a heavy post on some intellectual topic I thought I’d pull something a little bit more personal out. This story is from almost twenty years ago, but I posted it to a private blog a year or so ago (original post date: 1/11/08) after pulling out my journal from the experience and reliving it through those words. I’m not too sure what it has to do with Christmas other than I think this time is a time to sit back and reflect on one’s life; to savor it. You’ll see how this ties into it if you keep reading. + + + It was 1992, and I'd decided to go on a backpacking expedition. I'd graduated college a year earlier and taken a two week trip to Colorado with Lori. Before that, the last packing trip I'd taken was as a Boy Scout in my teens. So I decided that I was going to do a solo trip and had chosen Maine's Hundred Mile Wilderness, based upon a review I'd read in Backpacker magazine. The Wilderness is the last 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail, ending at it's northern terminus, Mt. Katahdin. It is a contiguous, uninterrupted, rugged, foreboding hundred miles buried deep in the northern Maine woods. Once you start, there is really no way out but to finish, and for most of the trip one will be at least 50 miles from help. The idea of such a trip might seem like biting off more than one could chew, but for some reason I was drawn to it. Maybe it was a testosterone-laced sense of bravado, the need to prove something to myself after my breakup with Lori, or just plain stupidity. It was probably a mix of all those and more. So the decision was made. After arriving in Maine at midnight after a marathon drive out from Michigan, a brief sleep, and huge breakfast, I set out, with a 60 lb pack on my back filled with 2 weeks of provisions. The trip started horribly. I was carrying so much weight, that I was slow, and on my first day, I stopped several miles short of my planned camp site. Rain set in. Day 2 saw me still hiking at 10 pm, exhausted, headlamp lighting the way, stumbling along the trail, arriving in camp after most other hikers had gone to sleep. Also unknown to me, my pack frame had cracked and the weight of my pack was poorly distributed causing chafing that by week's end would have me plastering duct tape to my hips to hold together the patches of blistered skin. Day 3, the third day of constant rain. I was losing feeling in my feet as they had been wet and cold for a solid three days, and I was behind my hike schedule by almost a full day. The weight of the pack was wearing me out by lunchtime. I was cold and wet, and demoralized, and at times scared. Suddenly this trip had become a daunting demon staring me down, and I was quickly crumbling under its constant stare. I was considering quitting. There was one escape route about half way in that involved hiking out 15 miles on a logging road and then hitching a ride back to the start, and I was now considering taking it. But that was only one week of hiking and so I was also replotting my route to shorten each day so that I could stretch out the hike to a more respectable length. I hated doing it. I was ashamed. I was trying to grit every day out, and quickly crumbling and I had told everyone at home about my trip and they had been impressed. And now I was faltering. The trail was incredibly tough with wind-sucking, quad-burning climbs and root-littered, muddy trails. Several times I'd lost the trail and almost panicked at the thought of being lost in the woods. I felt alone and I felt like a failure, and worried about how I'd explain it all. There were hikers all over the trial of course, "thru-hikers" mostly, walking the entire AT for the last 5 months from Georgia to Maine, all with colorful handles (e.g. "Cotton Patch," "Silverback," "Seabear," "Wild Bill," "The April Fools,"), forming a little trail micro-culture. And there were others as well, people doing just The Wilderness. By the fourth day I'd seen many of them a couple of times and was starting to learn their names. They were all friendly, but I was despondent and not in much mood to talk. On night 4 I stayed in a shelter about 5 miles shy of a creek. My plan was to camp at the creek the next night, and then the next day to the jump off point. With me in the shelter that night were two hikers, one a chemist who'd recently been laid off from a pharmaceutical firm and was thru-hiking the AT before starting a new job, and the other a French Canadian named (of all things) Pierre. Pierre was hiking the wilderness only, and I'd already spent a night or two with him at other shelters. His english was poor and we'd spoken very little, but he was a friendly, calm, quiet type. That night the three of us talked over dinner. I confessed to them that I was changing my plans and that I'd not go all the way through the wilderness. I talked a little bit about my frustration and disappointment. The next day's hike would mean that even if I changed my mind, I had lost enough distance that I probably had no way of making Katahdin. I'd "lost the moon" as Tom Hanks would say in Apollo 13. The next day I was the last one out of the shelter and onto the trail, maybe trying to stretch my time since I only had a few miles to go before I camped. I reached the creek at about noon. Pierre was on the other side. He'd arrived a couple of hours before, and had taken a lazy lunch while he waited for his boots to dry out. I forded the stream and sat next to him and ate my own lunch quietly. I was through for the day. Half way through, Pierre got up, loaded up and turned to continue on the trail. I wished him well. He turned to me and said in broken english, "I see you at the shelter tonight." He didn't ask me; he just said it calmly as if it was simply the truth. And in those words he laid bare my options, my decision. He knew I wasn't planning on going to the shelter tonight, but he'd said it anyway. And as I finished my lunch alone I weighed it. In my fear and concern at what others would think, and my depression and my efforts to quickly make my journey easier for myself at the least trifle, I'd somehow overlooked what I was giving up. I had 60 miles to go. And I realized that those 60 miles were looming up at me as an impenetrable fortress. They intimidated me. I considered the pain in my legs and my back and my hips, and my fatigue, and 60 miles seemed impossible. But it was only 5 miles to the next shelter. If I continued on I was committed. I'd have to go the distance, there was no turning back. And at that moment, what other people would think ceased to matter; no one was there with me. I asked myself if I could go 5 more miles, and I asked myself if I was prepared to go the full distance. It was not the next step that was daunting. It was thedecision to take the next step. It was somehow finding the will to begin, knowing the journey I had in front of me. I'm not sure what broke then, but I thought of Pierre and what he had said so calmly, and in that instant I was the person he was referring to. I simply saw myself making it. I finished my lunch, and I put my boots back on deliberately, and I loaded up, and I started off. The trail was still as difficult, and although the rain had stopped, it was still wet and slippery. But I didn't falter. I was going to do this. The "escape plan" had evaporated and I was replotting camps and hikes in my mind order to make up time. My feet were still numb, but they carefully and deliberately put themselves one in front of the other for the next five miles until I reached the shelter just before sundown. Pierre was there cooking his dinner and he smiled and greeted me calmly as if he'd been expecting me. My trip changed that day as did my life. I learned that the way to conquer the seemingly insurmountable is not through strength, but through will, the courage to take the first step. That insurmountability is an illusion; a function only of your perspective. I learned where will comes from, from deep inside, motivated by self. The external does not motivate it, it must spark itself. And I learned what that spark feels like and what it takes to light it. But that was not the only lesson I was to learn on this trip. I continued on, the next three days, with daunting hikes each day. The first 60 miles of The Wilderness crosses 2 ranges of mountains. After that it spends 40 miles in the lowlands until coming upon Katahdin and the end of the AT. I spent the next 3 days finishing those first 60 miles. I gutted out each day. I saw many hikers during that time as well, and was moderately cordial to them. I was focused on the goal, and I was determined, and I had a schedule to keep. I took pictures during the first part of the trip but I can't say that I remember appreciating the scenery much. Even now that I had committed to Katahdin, I wasn't focused on it as much as the trail and my goals. The final peak in this segment was Whitecap mountain and as I crested it's summit, I was proud and happy. I could see Katahdin in the distance from the peak and I even though the path between here and there seemed incredibly long I knew that I would make it, one step at at time. I took a few pictures and descended to the next shelter at the base of Whitecap to camp for the night. I grabbed a spot in the shelter, and began unpacking my pack to make dinner and go to sleep. Several other hikers had already picked out their spots in the shelter and were doing the same. I heard a noise from the trail and looked up to see two women arriving from the trail headed in the opposite direction as I was. I was a bit amazed when I saw them, as one of them looked to be in her mid 60's and the other was more frail and seemed to be more like 70. They were walking slowly and chatting happily together. They came up to the shelter and stopped and said hi to every hiker in the shelter, asking their name and where they were from. Through those various conversations I pieced together their story. Aurelia Kennedy and Kakii Haudley were two retirees and best friends from North Carolina. They'd come from Katahdin!! I couldn't believe it. I then figured they'd be jumping off at the same mid-point I was planning on or that they were taking 3 weeks. No, they were doing the entire 100 Mile Wilderness in the same 10 days I planned! They backpacked regularly, and had the lightest equipment, in order to keep their packs under 25 lbs. In the spirit of thru-hikers they'd taken the handle of "The Carolina Blue Belles". They were friendly and bubbly, and infectious. After a while Aurelia unpacked her stove and began heating water for a late afternoon snack, while Kakii began scouting out a spot to pitch their tent. She decided on a spot next to the nearby brook after calling back and commenting to Aurelia how lovely the spot looked and how she loved to sleep next to a babbling brook. Their snack consisted of tea and reconstituted vegetables that Kakii had grown in her own garden and then dried for the trip. And they talked to each other and the other hikers, asking each about their travels. I asked them about the trail they'd just come on from Katahdin, and they went one about how lovely it was, and how their climb of Katahdin had been gorgeous and such a sunny day. They spoke about the lakes and rivers they'd seen and the various thru-hikers they'd met, some of which I'd also met earlier in my hike. I asked how they got along on the trail and they said it was fine. They packed light, started early each day, walked at a leisurely pace and made good time as a result. By this time I'd finished my dinner, and the sun was setting. I'd laid out my sleeping bag, and was talking to them tucked in my bag while they finished fixing their own dinner. I was amazed by these women. They were on a different kind of trip that I was. Not different in content for that was identical, but worlds apart in perspective. They had the same goals, the same "one foot in front of the other" perspective, for at their age they had to. But they were happy! They were living in this moment, soaking everything up, and appreciating every little thing they could. And they were infectious. They seemed to genuinely care about the other people they met, and take interest in their stories, enriching their own travels through their interaction with others. I on the other had, though having conquered my fear and set my sights on the goal, was "gutting" it out, stoic, focused. Aurelia then spotted a book under my sleeping bag, and asked what I was reading. I pulled it out and showed it to her. It was a book of poems by Robert Frost. I'd brought it with me from Michigan somehow thinking that my favorite poet at the time and the Maine woods would go together. Truth was, I had been too preoccupied and too exhausted to enjoy it, even though I dutifully pulled it out and tried every night. Upon seeing it Aurelia gasped and asked if I wouldn't please regale them with a reading of some poetry. She asked so sweetly, and in that wonderful genteel Southern lilt found in the Southeastern coastal states, that I couldn't refuse. They had infected me by that time and I was having the first good night of my trip, one not focused on sleep and pain, and planning out the next day's trip. So I read to them. They each had a favorite and I found it for them and when I asked them to read they said no, they wanted me to do it, and so I did. "The Road Not Taken..," "My November Guest," "Fire and Ice," "Stopping by Woods," "Mending Wall" and on. At the end of each one, they would say "Oh, how lovely," and ask me what I thought of it, and talk of which images they liked the best and recall some memory from their own lives that was similar. And we talked like that for an hour or more. I made hot chocolate, and they had tea, and it was wonderful. Then they packed up their gear and thanked me ever so graciously for reading to them and headed off to their tent. I sat and read Frost for another hour by the light of my headlamp and I loved it. I took in every poem I read and paused and considered it as they had, and the words seeped into my exhausted body until it finally reminded me that I needed sleep too. They awoke in the morning and made breakfast by their tent and broke camp. Before they left, they came over to the shelter where I was also packing up to head out. They thanked me again for the evening of poetry, and wished me well on my travel and ascent of Katahdin. Then Aurelia asked if I wouldn't like to read them one more poem before they left. They thought it would be a wonderful way to start the day. They asked if I had a favorite and I said I did, and they asked me to read it, and I did. They paused when I finished and said, "Oh my, that is a beautiful poem." And they thanked me again and I hugged them, and then they started off. When I finally donned my pack that day it felt lighter, and I knew that the reason was not that it was lighter than the day before. My back still ached, and my legs did too, but not as much it seemed. That day, I was in the moment too, and it was as if I was floating over the terrain I was so light. And instead of looking down at the trail in front of me, I looked up, and I finally saw the forest and the beautiful colors, the streams, and the ponds and lakes with moose grazing in them. The air was clear and sunny and fresh and I felt alive. It had all been burned away, all the inessentials and I was here, with myself, for myself. It was not about the goal now. I was the goal. And Katahdin was merely a means of expressing myself. It was not that I seemed insignificant to the world. It was that I was more significant than anything. The world seemed smaller and I seemed larger, and everything was calm and effortless. I walked 20 miles that day, if you can believe it. I scarce can. I hit my planned campsite at the 13 mile mark by 2 in the afternoon, and decided to press on another 7 miles to the next. The world was in technicolor, and I took it in, and I talked to everyone I met, and asked them at least one question about themselves, and I smiled when I left each of them and wished them well. Another 4 days to Katahdin, and there were some rough patches, but I carried those lessons with me, and the trials never seemed quite so hard as a result. I climbed Katahdin on October 1st, along with several thru-hiker friends I'd met in the last 4 days, and even witnessed a wedding of two thru-hikers at the summit. I was elated at the summit and so was everyone else. It was a wonderful feeling, pure and rich and floating. I have a difficult verbalizing how that trip changed my life. I'm certainly not in those perfect states all the time, but much more of the time now. When I came back I had this sort of calmness as someone coming back from war, who sees the trials of everyday life and realizes that they are insignificant compared to the past experience, and who handles themselves calmly and matter of factly. I look back among the posts I've written in the last few months and realize that these two lessons, the lessons of will and savoring the moment litter everything I've written about. For me they are two of the pillars of egoism, and I would see those characteristics purely expressed in the heroes of The Fountainhead, which I was to begin reading shortly after returning home. One cannot coexist one without the other, for it is value and purpose that give life it's meaning, that allow one to sit back and savor the accomplishment. Without value savoring is simply idleness, and without the savoring value is simply stoicism. Together they are pure joy. And that has made all the difference... A few of the many pictures here. Excerpts from my Journal Things I Learned 1. Carry a walking stick. It helps you through the tough spots and keeps your pace up when you're getting tired. 2. The secret to making good time or distance in a day isn't to go faster - it's to start earlier. 3. Treat each root, boulder, brook, rock slide as a new and challenging problem all its own. 4. Patience - slow and methodical wins the race and keeps you alive. 5. Instant mashed potatoes are the thru-hiker's "perfect meal." 6. Never overestimate what you can get done on the 1st day. 7. Never underestimate what you can get done through the long haul. 8. Wear gaiters every single day. They work! 9. If you have to rest, at least find a place that's pretty - kills two birds with one stone. 10. Don't step on the roots. Step over them. 11. If you follow rule #8, then you can just plow through the mud instead of picking your way across the slippery log bridges. Have fun with it! 12. Wear your boots when you ford a river. Much safer. 13. If you don't stop to take in a view, then why hike. 14. When you get to camp, unload everything you're going to need right away cause you're going to unload it sooner or later anyway. 15. Don't pack your stove after dinner. You never know when you're going to want hot chocolate to go along with good conversation. 16. Let other people have their triumphs. Congratulate them and get out of their way. 17. Take time for your own triumph. 18. Never be afraid to give a little. It comes back to you in so many ways. 19. Get more names and addresses next time. 20. Everybody who tries makes a difference. 21. Thanks to everyone I met, I will keep you all in my heart. Saying written in shelter logbook by AT thru-hiker What is above knows what is below. What is below knows not what is above. There is a manner of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw from above. One cannot always see, but one can still know... Kendall's poem for the Carolina Blue Belles to start their day Into My Own - Frost One of my wishes is that those dark trees, So old and firm they scarcely show the breeze, Were not, as 'twere, the merest mask of gloom, But stretched away unto the edge of doom. I should not be withheld but that some day into their vastness I should steal away, Fearless of ever finding open land, or highway where the slow wheel pours the sand. I do not see why I should e'er turn back, Or those should not set forth upon my track To overtake me, who should miss me here And long to know if still I held them dear. They would not find me changed from him they knew-- Only more sure of all I thought was true. Poem for a frigid Oct 1st 1992 ascent of Mt. Katahdin My November Guest - Frost My Sorrow, when she's here with me, Thinks these dark days of autumn rain Are beautiful as days can be; She loves the bare, the withered tree; She walks the sodden pasture lane. Her pleasure will not let me stay. She talks and I am fain to list: She's glad the birds are gone away, She's glad her simple worsted grey Is silver now with clinging mist. The desolate, deserted trees, The faded earth, the heavy sky, The beauties she so truly sees, She thinks I have no eye for these, And vexes me for reason why. Not yesterday I learned to know The love of bare November days Before the coming of the snow, But it were vain to tell her so, And they are better for her praise. Cross-posted from Metablog
  18. And by the way, since you've given your own blanket agreement 100% to Jonathan's last post, I'm sure you understand it well enough to be in a position now to refute my response to it.
  19. Look at you. If I recall right, you claimed I was in error on a citation of a quote from the book, only to find out later that you were using the movie instead, and hadn't read the book "in a long time." At least Lisa acknowledges what it is that she is unqualified to comment on. How about your acknowledgement. By the way, I checked the quote today, and it is exact in the book. Maybe you ought to brush up yourself. Double "Yikes!"
  20. But this is not why you said you were going to ignore me. Passive aggressive? First my "hostility" is a sign of my irrationality, and now my "passivity" is? And here I thought my passivity was just me calmly refuting each of your claims, rationally. (including your claim about the reasons why you ignored me) I mean, look, you have the right to ignore me all you want for any reason you want you can change that reason at any time, but when someone challenges about the reason that you explicitly claimed that you did, don't lie. Instead of saying "I ingonred him because he did this" (I did not do that, and your claim of it is a boldfaced lie), you should have said, "Oh, I said I was going to ignore him for this reason, but since he was being mean, I ignored him for that reason instead" Prefectly valid. Tell the truth to someone about the reason you do something. It'll help people to not think you're duplicitous. I am amazed that someone claiming to be an Objectivist, knowing full well the importance of honestly, would assert something about someone's actions that he knows is a complete lie.
  21. Yeah, spotted that trap from miles away. I addressed this before as well. The generalization does not work. The fact that Roark can blow up Cortland does not mean that he is not obliged to demolish Cortland. He certainly is having his rights violated but that does not dictate his only option for what to do. This is why I suggested that you need to understand why Yaron Brook for instance is arguing that immediate redress is not the way to work the problem, which you have yet to do. Is he saying that those who demand immediate repeal are morally wrong? Does he agree that his and others rights are currently being violated? We are being morally wronged, but we have valid options in deciding the next course of action. There is not a moral principle that helps us select among those options. It is instead a question of what will work the best. You should really work on this analysis some more. Maybe even by looking at the arguments that are made. So my claim is that you are morally within your rights to use force to revolt. Don't accidentally hurt me in the process, and have fun with that. What I will also claim is that given your position, and the state of the culture, you'll most probably not acheive your ends. We both agree on the moral evaluation of the situation. I simply think you have options bout what to do next. You seem to think that Roark if Roark is compelled morally to blow up Cortland, that that implies that I am compelled morally to revolt today against entitlements. That does not hold up.
  22. I am starting to enjoy this part greatly however. If you go back to the last post where I posted links for LeRoux, you'll see that in actuality he threatened me with an ignore only after I posted the links for the final time. I posted no more links subsequent. Thanks bluey for pointing that out.
  23. Oh, and as a very strong aside, since Johathan and LeRoux seem to be forming a mutual admiration society at their ability to effectively critique Rand. Neither I nor many of the people on this board are automatons defending Rand to our last breaths in spite of good argments to the contrary, and to take that position first, is to necessarily be very confident that you haven't missed anything. I've challenged all sorts of Rand's ideas in my almost 20 years of studying Rand, and I've been mostly humbled when I actually have understood the philosophy well enough to understand how very meticulous and exactly she was in her choices. The fact that I am quick to defend her is not that I simply evade the facts, but rather it is that I have learned very well over the years that while Rand might have made errors, I have yet to see a really fundamental one. And that most people claiming one don't realize that they aren't the first such person to do so. However, what I have seen in my time is punk after punk show up and claim he's discovered a glaring error in Rands thinking and then proceed to show so clearly his ignorance of the philosophy as to make his claim laughable. THis is why someone like LeRoux who comes in trumpeting that he has the truth in hand, and it's obvious, so obvious in fact that he doesn't have to do more than repeat the mantra from his first post to label everyone else "hostile for no reason" gets easily dismissed, and why the importance of showing yourself to be honestly interested in ideas (which is not something you can judge from 20 posts) is a critical aspect of participating in a social group like this forum. And make no mistake, the dismissal is also not a sign of evasion but rather a relflection of the fact that I am not under any moral obligation to stay with you until you fix your fucking thinking. That is the rub in social situations. If you want to have a discussion with me, you need to realize that you need to bring me some value for the value you get out of it. If a trader comes into a trade with little of value, he should not cry irrationality on the part of those who refuse to trade with him. Social interactions are spiritual trades. Get that right first and only then can we talk about debate and rationality, etc. I tried to explain that to him before but he seems to want to label all of us as irrational. He doesn't realize how really foolish he looks, and the fact that he's the 2,346th person to try that in my time here. This is really a very reasonable, and well-prepared bunch of people (well most anyway) and sticking around and getting to know us and vice versa is actually a rewarding experience for those who do it. If one shows up and asserts thing about our psychology that we ourselves know not to be true, don't be surprised if you get a hostile response. The mistake is thinking that it is "hostile for no reason," but since jerks don't actually think of themselves that way, I can understand the mistake. "Everyone is hostile because I'm a jerk" just is something that would never come up. General notice: Don't confuse my confidence with evasion and I won't assume your confidence comes form sheer ignorance.
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