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Ifat Glassman

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Everything posted by Ifat Glassman

  1. My opinion is not mysticism. Here is the difference: A mystic considers something to be true even it there is no evidence at all that it is. A scientist considers something to be possibly true, if some evidence exists to suggest that it is. The theory only becomes fact when it is tested against reality. I agree that there is no proof. And I said it a few times. Just because it exists in animals doesn't prove that it exists in human beings. But it strongly suggest that it might, since we share biological mechanisms.
  2. You misunderstand my position completely. Here is what I think (if you want it in more details+examples you can read my posts): Animals that are complex (like mammals) don't have automatic knowledge of actions required to get the things they need for their survival. They have drives that motivate them to achieve something, but they need to discover how to get it on their own: Either by learning from their parents, or by experience, and judgement. Example: animal hungry, wants food, but needs to figure out the way to hunt on it's own. I saw a real life example of this: a friend of mine gave a little kitten a can of yogurt. The can was too high for the kitten. It had to figure out how to get to the yummy stuff. Eventually it put it's paw into it, and then licked it, and so forth. It could also have flipped over the can like some cats do. Now, I'm pretty sure that cats are not born with hard-wired instructions on how to identify a can of yogurt and to use their body to get it. They had to figure it out. Instead animals have drives - desires for certain things like sex, food, sleep, survival of offsprings, survival of themselves. Those desires are age-dependent, and appear in the animal at different stages of life. Those drives are associated with some stimuli, which might be conceptual in essence. I do not know how this thing is accomplished on the brain level, but the fact is it is: animals don't attempt to couple with trees. There is a very good reason to believe that humans also share those mechanisms because we share biological mechanisms with animals. Those drives can be controlled, suppressed and over-ridden by humans since we have volition that animals don't. Most of our desires are a result of our philosophy, but some desires are a result of our biological nature. The proof that a separation exists can be found in brain research, and not in philosophy. So to sum it up: you said that "I can dismiss the option because every case of supposed human instinct has a counter-example". The problem with that is that you take instincts to be an automatic behavior (like hunting), and of course there is a counter example for that. It is not "automatic" at all: it is learned. That's why I said that the drives is what is hard-wired, and not the entire behavior. How can you prove that a woman's desire to protect her child comes solely from her philosophy and not from her biological nature? You can't. Even if you find a woman who is not interested in having children, she would not be a counter example since humans can repress their drives very well. What reason, then, do I have to think that this drive exists nonetheless? the facts that animals have it, and evolution (an animal without a drive for protecting it's offsprings would extinct).
  3. I never said that the knowledge of having sex includes the specific individual. I said it includes the series of muscle contractions required for sex, and that in animals the drive is triggered by an animal of the same species of the opposite sex. Human beings have control over how exactly to perform sex, but the sensations the body produces and the required motions to keep that sensation going are hard wired. A man can decide to stop this act at any time, but the nature of the act comes from man's biological nature. As for learning how to fall asleep... There might be a need to learn how to relax when one is not very tired yet still wants to fall asleep. But even if one does not manage to sleep, eventually their brain will just go into "sleeping" mode automatically (unless you forcefully try to keep them awake). This is the sensation of sleepy-ness that you (probably) experience when you are sleep deficit. Falling asleep will happen automatically by your brain when it needs it. First of all, I was talking about animals in my last 2 posts. And if you deny that animals take care of their cubs because of instincts then the second option you have is that they choose to take care of their cubs, by using reason and volition. Unless you have another explanation for why animals take care of their cubs? Then, I said that *I think* that humans have the same thing. I also said that more needs to be learned about the brain before there will be an answer for this question. The way these studies are performed on animals are by creating mutant creatures that don't express certain genes and examine how that influences their behavior. This cannot be done with humans, so I'm not sure when those answers will become available. As for the difference between furniture and sex (or having children) as a desired value: What makes sex into a value in the first place? The fact it brings pleasure. Why does it bring pleasure? Because our brain and body is set up that way. Sex would not have contributed to an individual's survival in any way (if it would not be pleasurable), so there is no point in saying that you use reason to figure out that sex is a value. If reason was all you had, and the rest of your brain was malfunctioning, you would think that sex is the most irrational thing, since it contributes nothing to an individual's survival. It is only the pleasure that it brings that makes it into a value, and the pleasure is built in us. Of course not all the things individuals derive pleasure from are metaphysical. An individual's philosophy determines what they would hold as values. The result of this might be valuing a furniture, for example. Moreover, an individual's philosophy might even repress their instincts (see anorexia, masochism, etc'). Sex is easy to identify as a value that is metaphysical so to speak. Having children and taking care of them is not so easy to classify as such, since it involves emotional pleasure, and not just a physical sensation, and it involves ability for conceptual thinking. This is exactly Felipe's question. But the fact is that this task (of connecting between a drive and a much more complex concept) exists: The physical sensation makes sex a strong motivation for action in animals, but the whole process of choosing a female (or male), figuring out how to get her, involve much more complex thinking. This just shows you that you cannot conclude that a certain desire can come only from philosophy, when you have examples that complex thinking mediates the fulfilment of some very primitive drives, which are drives generated automatically. Just because it seems too complex to exist, doesn't mean it isn't true. How then, am I going to prove that a desire to have children has an essential different source than valuing a furniture? That one is built in us and the other is not (even though both are conceptual)? By exploring the brain. But until a proof is available, you should not dismiss this option.
  4. Yeah... Nothing like a charming to brighten up my day...
  5. Of course that "f" would be describing something. I don't understand your point. What "question of validity" are you talking about? Do you understand what I said in my last post, about the difference between "1+1=2" is true and "f/\=x^2+8x+9" is a Definition (and that you cannot ask if it is true until AFTER the definition has been made)?
  6. Thanks How nice. I also found something about it in a site called codeproject.com
  7. Because while it is true that she probably has an agenda, if she is the woman of your dreams then she would value meeting you as well (because if you value yourself, and you value those things in another person too, then that person should value themselves and yourself too), and she would be interested in spending a minute of her time to allow you to keep in touch. Assuming that a person you value will not feel the same is pessimism. Yeah ok. But I wasn't asking about that. I asked how will being in a relationship becomes a value after you meet the ideal woman if before you met such woman, you would have no desire for such relationship at all. Because this would imply living your life according to what coincidences occur in your life and not according to your plans. You might be true to your initial plan though and let the woman know that you rather resume contact with her in a few years. But I find it hard to believe that once you already meet such person that you are charmed by, that you would want to stop talking to her... See the problem I was raising now? I really appreciate the last thing you said. It shows that you are truly interested in the value this person would give you, and not in the "status" or "position" the relationship would put you in (in other words it shows that you are not a second hander). But - why do you think that you would not be good enough for her? Me don't get it.
  8. Keira Knightley. Just stunning: Old style picture
  9. My browser uses mouse gestures, which means that I am making a certain shape on the screen with the mouse, and my smart web browser can identify the shape and perform the required action. What intrigues me is that it is able to identify that shape in all sizes, variations, and with a large amount of inaccuracies . For example, the gesture to close a tab is |_ (moving the mouse down and then right). It can also be recognized as that shape if one of the lines is substantially shorter, if the shape comes in a tiny tiny size, or all over the screen, if the line is not very straight, and it is able to identify it no matter where on the screen I am making the gesture. Can anyone explain to me (in simple words please) how is this task of identifying a shape is accomplished?
  10. Yeah, the problem was in my definition: I was working with a different definition than yours. I made my definition include the physical aspects of consciousness. This is why you don't recognize "activity of brain" as part of "itself" while I did. No, this is exactly the separation I just made: the signals in the brain are physical, they are not a part of "consciousness". But the images a living being sees and all the thoughts, emotions and experiences ARE the things that compose what a consciousness IS. No, I disagree. Dreams are definitely a part of a consciousness. Electrical signals are physical properties, so they are not. But the experience created by those random signals is a part of consciousness. You've put it in a very intelligent way, thank you. However, I did not argue about that. I agree that existence comes before consciousness. I was just arguing that a consciousness conscious only of itself will not contradict "existence exist" since I was using a definition that allows "consciousness" to be a part of existence as well. But if the only thing that is claimed to exists is not physical then that would be a contradiction in terms. But I think this leads to a discussion about the nature of existence (physical existents versus. existence of concepts).
  11. The very question we are discussing is whether or not such a thing as a consciousness without anything other than itself to be conscious of is a contradiction in terms. It left me no choice but to create a situation in which there is nothing in the universe except a consciousness (physical existence of a consciousness+the function of a consciousness). The consciousness is not defected in the case I provided, since the definition of consciousness does not include sense organs as well: "consciousness is the faculty of perceiving that which exists". it only talks about a capacity to perceive, and does not demand that the data to be perceived be supplied too, for it to be considered a consciousness. It has the means to hold knowledge, but not the means to acquire it, according to the definition. So as long as my brain is capable of electrical and chemical activity that represents entities that exist, it is not defected. I just want to make my point clear again: "A consciousness without nothing to be conscious of is a contradiction in terms". That is my starting point. Now, if the only thing that exists is a consciousness (which also includes the physical properties of it), then it is a part of existence, and as such it has something to be conscious of. However, if we define "consciousness" to be some functionality without a physical existence then I would simply say that such a thing (nothing but a consciousness exists) cannot exist. But I wouldn't base the reason for that on "conscious only of itself" claim, but about some other claim. It would be the same claim that I would use to say that a "table" cannot exist without having a physical body, or that "rain" cannot fall without having drops of water that exist physically. Not sure what that claim is though. Would have to think about it. Hmm. Maybe if we define consciousness as a functionality of perceiving things without any physical entity to support it, then this would solve the problem and I would agree that it would be a contradiction in terms if "itself" is a mere functionality with no physical existence.
  12. The question is inapplicable and has no meaning when asked about an equality of definition, but it does have an answer. Suppose you ask "Is it true that "7+1=8"? " The answer is: It is true because 1 represents a single unit, and since the unites cannot destroy one another or reproduce when put together, they are additive, in a way that 1+1=2, 1+1+1=2+1=3, n+1=(n+1) etc'. Suppose you ask "Is it true that "f=x^2+8x+9"?" The answer is: "Well, it depends on the definition. Is "f" defined to be "x^2+8x+9"?" So now I answer "But, what do you mean, "it depends on the definition"?, this IS the definition." "Hmm... I see. So tell me, is it true that "f=x^2+8x+9"?" (The other nagging person asks again) "As I said, it will only be true if it was DEFINED that way. There is nothing metaphysical that causes "f" to be "x^2+8x+9". And that is why you cannot ask whether a definition is true or false. It is, a Definition: it is what allows you to ask questions of true or false later on". "Hmm . I see. Thank you, it seems so clear now I wonder how come I didn't think about it myself." You cannot discover the value of 'A' from that: you don't have enough restrictions. You have 2 degrees of freedom. What you did was actually to define a different "f": a function of two variables. IF you wrote down f=0 or x^2+Ax+9=0 then you would have 1 DOF, and if you would write f=0 & x=1 you would be able to get values for all the parameters (x,A and f). But without giving more equations I don't see how you can try to "solve" "f=x^2+Ax+9".
  13. The only problem with that is that a brain with no sense-organs is still capable of sensing inner-signals, which are still generated in the brain. Especially if it's an already adult, well developed brain of an animal. I am aware that even after exerted from the body the brain cannot exist in a vacuum: there is still pressure on it, and if we decide to feed it, it does have a chemical interaction with the environment. However, those physical and chemical interactions are not sense-organs: They do not provide meaningful information about the environment, in a way that the brain can store and use. But as we know there is a mechanism in the brain that is capable of selectively triggering different parts of the brain (volition). That mechanism would still be active, even without sense organs, and the signals inside the brain are part of existence, and are detectable for the brain. So in this sense, you have a consciousness that is only conscious of itself (I think). There is a problem about this though: I am talking about a mature brain. But as I see it the process (or instance) "conscious only of itself" has to be a contradiction in all times and in all situations for it to be a contradiction period. I am laughing at my own claims though, as well, especially about the mental image of a brain floating in space in a vacuum... when nothing else in the universe exists... It is ridiculous in a new scale... almost feels like superman will be created in the big bang the moment after and save the brain in the next instance...
  14. eh? what do you mean by that "which specific dreams..."? Not to be rude or anything, but are you suggesting that sex without a relationship is good (or am I misinterpreting, or was it a joke)? As for "not ready"... it raises an interesting question. Suppose you do get to know this woman, and you discover that "wow, she really is my ideal woman", will you then tell her "I'll call you in a couple of years, when I'm ready for this" and not talk to her until then? I doubt that. But then, if meeting her NOW wasn't a high value before you met her, how would it become important value once you already know her? I meant an intense experience, and not just a good looker (and anyway I think that "physical" beauty should only be a minor criterion for choosing a romantic partner, when "physical" relates to traits like eye&hair color, bone structure, etc). Thank you for expressing EXACTLY the type of excuses that people would normally use to justify why they give up their dreams. First of all, I didn't mean to stop the entire bus, just to get off at the near station. Notice that you have a pessimistic approach: you assume that the woman would be disturbed by your approach, and would find it a "rude, presumptuous gesture". This assumption has no real basis in reality: the woman might be delighted to meet you. It might seem "logical" to you that she would find it rude, but that seems like a logical conclusion only because you are working with wrong premises.
  15. Since my first year on school, until the last year of high-school I was always taught one type of equality sign: = , to be used in all mathematical statements. On the first year in my university I was amazed to discover that some more intelligent equality signs exit, but are rarely used. The different signs are denoted by an added symbol on top of the "=", and they express the different meaning of the mathematical statement. When I learned about them I realized just how many problems and misunderstandings could have been solved if kids would be taught mathematics using the different signs. These are the types I know of: "?" on top of an "=" : Checking to see if the relation described by the equation is true (if eventually it gives 1=1) "!" on top of the "=" : Demanding that a certain mathematical relation exist, and discovering what are the conditions that have to be met for that relation to be true "/\" (a little triangle) on top of the "=": Equality that comes from definition, which is taking a certain mathematical entity (such as "x^2+8x+9") and naming it (like "f" or "g"). Generally, the meaning that "=" gives to both sides of an equation is "Those are the same", or "This statement is true". The problem created when teachers only use "=" is that all other types of mathematical statements are understood in the exact same way, to be true statements, which is not the exact meaning of the statement. So when I want to find the value of extreme points of a function, by demanding that the derivative equals zero, I am writing it as if I mean to say that the derivative equals zero (as in: "this is true"). This creates the question in the young mind of the student: "But how do you know it's true?" Because they interpret it in the same way like "2+2=4". Same thing goes for definitions: While the question "How do you know this is true?" applied to "7+1=8" or "7*6/3=14" has a meaning, it is meaningless to try to apply it to "f=x^2+8x+9", since "f" is just a name, and not a result. [if anyone understands the statement I was making in my last sentence, please let me know about it, because I've found that some people have a hard time understanding what I mean by that, and it would be great to see that more people are capable of understanding that statement.]
  16. Suppose you are taking the buss, and in the middle of nowhere-you-know you see in the street what you think might be the man/woman of your dreams (judging by the way they walk, their look in the eyes and expression). Would you attempt to get off the buss and chase them, or just keep on riding and tell yourselves it was probably not as good as it looked? I am quite confident almost all people would choose option B, and I wondered why. Anyone's got an answer?
  17. I found a painting that illustrates my point nicely: The artist is Rowena Morrill. (if the image doesn't appear try this link: Twilight terrors)
  18. Just to make my point more clear about "different regions of the brain designed to connect"... : During the process of puberty an animal, certain genes become active and start shaping certain regions of the brain in a certain way (create circuits in the brain between brain cells). Those circuits are known to be responsible for sexual behavior (muscle movements, response to courtship/courtship, which is also a series of certain movements etc'). The "information" about how sex should be performed (in terms of a sequence of muscle movements) is built automatically in animals' brain during puberty. However, the interesting thing is, that in order to perform that series of actions, a certain, very special stimuli must be introduced. And the stimuli is not something simple like a color, but something much more complex: it is a certain creature with specific features: that creature might come in different colors, and slightly different shapes, and be spotted in a different distance, but still, somehow the brain is able to integrate all those things into an identification of that specific being: a female, of the opposite sex. So we have one part of the brain that contains information about sequence of muscle movements, and another part of the brain that is able to identify a certain creature. And even though it is not certain that one of those parts will develop (since the second part is not completely automatic: basically our brain creates inner-representations of shapes that the animals is introduced to, but does not create knowledge of shapes and objects not introduced to the animal), still those two parts of the brain will become connected, and one will trigger the other. This just blows my mind. Anyway, hope I made clearer what I meant by "two parts": One is automatically built and stores information of sequence of movements (muscle operation), and the second is the part that is able to identify an object, and is not (at least entirely) automatically built.
  19. I actually didn't finish my answer to hunterrose's question: Yes, there is a philosophical significance for that. There is a need to know whether a certain tendency, desire, behavior is the result of the metaphysical nature of man of a result of their philosophy. For example, if one day it will be discovered that homosexuality is dictated by genes, then that will disqualify it from being a subject in man's philosophy or psychology. I also want to add a short explanation to how genes play a role in shaping our body and regulating it's functions (anyone who has more to add is welcome...): Genes are segments of DNA that exist in every cell in our body. The DNA is a mold that allows the cell to produce proteins and Polly-peptides. Our body contains several types of materians: sugars, fats, acids, proteins, ions, and other stuff. The regulation of our body's activity and the shape of our body is determined primarily by proteins. Proteins serve as enzymes (which regulate the rate of metabolism and other processes), they serve as neurotransmitters (such as Acetyl choline), they are involved in all processes in our body. The DNA also holds "markers" that "instruct" the cell which genes it should translate and which to ignore. Biological clock is accomplished by a protein that has a cycle of creation and destruction that lasts 24 hours, and this allows our body to "count" time, and to use this information in regulating relevant processes. In short our body relies on those little compounds quite a lot. I will also try to answer (or give my view of it) another very interesting question: It'll be easier to answer if we look at animals. As most of you probably know, some animals' sex drive is triggered by pheromones, which are chemicals exerts by the opposite sex. Felipe's question would apply here as well (even if we argue that identifying a female is not a demonstration of conceptual ability in animals): How can it be that a certain chemical triggers a certain behavior that involves the opposite sex, when it is not certain at all in the time that the animal is still an infant that it would eventually grow to recognize the shape of it's own species, or that it would even have a functional vision. The answer is: it relies on the probability that reality would supply those crucial stimuli to make the nervous system develop in a certain way. The perception of shapes is an automatic process in the brain of an infant: they have no choice about learning at that stage. So if everything goes well with the environment, those different regions of the brain are designed to connect eventually.
  20. The Gipsy kings Vanessa mae, especially "Storm" album. Tchaikovsky Rita (an Israeli singer) Madonna's "something to remember" album Tori Amos's "little earthquakes" album Mariah Carey's "music box", and other old songs Michael Jackson's old stuff Roxette (especially "The look") Annie Lennox (especially "Talking to an Angel", "no more I love yous") The sound of music soundtrack A song from the soundtrack of The fifth element: "The diva dance" And other songs of various artists
  21. There should be a separation between compensation and punishment, and those should be determined primarily by intention and type of mistake made by the (rights) violator which led to the occasion where rights have been violated, and secondarily by the consequences. the first question we must ask, is about the intention of the violator. Did he intend to cause damage? Yes? you should compensate and be in prison. How much time in prison? that depends on the severity of damage involved (when the standard is human life), chances of that person to continue violating people's rights if that person is free, and it depends on the severity of the damage of their possible further criminal activity. No? then: Second question we should ask is was the incident caused because of lack of concern for other people's rights by the violator: which means recklessness, not taking proper precautions when a risk of harming someone is involved, etc'. If the answer is Yes, then he should compensate and be punished. No? then the next question is: Could the violator prevent the incident from happening had they used their mind in a better way? Yes? Then they should compensate, but not be punished further. No? Then they should not be held responsible at all, not even to compensate. Here are examples (+ their corresponding principles): If I violated someone's rights by mistake that could have been prevented if I had used logic, then I should compensate them for their damage, but I should not be punished (further). If the damage was an inevitable accident (inevitable in regards to whether or not I could prevent it by using logic), then even if I was involved in the accident, I should not be compelled to compensate. Example: If I forgot the cooking gas on and it caused my neighbor's apartment to burn then I should pay. If I was cooking, went outside to the yard to pick a lemon, and all of a sudden had a stroke (which I had no way of predicting), and the neighbor's house got burned, then the damage to the neighbors' house should be considered as created by "forces of nature", and I should not be held responsible by law to compensate. [*]If I violated someone's rights by recklessness and neglect (which is more than just making a mistake, but involves deliberate evasion, then I should compensate, AND I should be punished. Example: Driving fast and not paying attention to the road and hitting someone. [*]If I deliberately violated someone's rights but it was an extraordinary event in my life, I should compensate, and I should be punished, but less severely than a person who is more likely to repeat the crime. Example: Catching wife cheating and beating her up, and it is the first time I beat someone up. [*]If I violate peoples' rights on a daily basis, as profession or to satisfy some perverted psychological need, then I should compensate and be held in prison until there is reason to believe I will not repeat that behavior if set free. Example: A serial killer/rapist, or professional bank robber. Now to talk about the amount: Compensation should be determined by the value of the ruined goods, and also according to sentimental value like DarkWaters suggested. Punishment should be determined according to the need to prevent rights from being violated, not just by criminals, but also by potential criminals. Which means that the punishment should not just be according to the likelihood that a person will repeat a crime, but also serve as a way to deter people from committing the crime/felony. The punishment should not be determined according to how evil or bad the deed is (though the two may overlap, and it is even logical that they would overlap). the purpose of punishment is to prevent violation of rights, or more accurate, to prevent damage. Everything I said so far is just a summary + conclusions from what was said, according to how I understand it, and does not represent my final opinion on this matter, because I think that there is something about this that I am missing, which is the relation of ethics to severity of crimes. An outcome of determining crime by the severity of the consequences is that a person might be punished very severely for something they did even if ethically, their action was not "very bad". Since there is no organized analysis/theory about degrees of evilness/goodness in Objectivist literature (which is a HUGE piece that is missing in Objectivism), there is nothing more I can add, until I understand that subject.
  22. The man in the supine position will not get devoured. No one gets devoured there, sorry to disappoint you . You really picked up the playful side of the painting (and other paintings, as well). It is exactly the purpose of the painting - to make that separation between the people who think the green monsters are cute, and those who find them completely disgusting and horrible. If I myself would sit in the audience, I would be afraid, but not mindlessly: I would examine the beasts and not run away immediately. And once seeing that they do not harm anyone, I would be willing to pet them later on, and even take them to the park . The interpretation is "wild fun". I tried to consider what is the speed required for the kid to "fly" like that. Can't get an answer though. I should consult an expert in Aerodynamics about this... The man holding the little chap's legs is his brother. They are sitting in the back of a truck that is going in a constant high speed in an open road in the desert, and the big brother decided to give his kid brother a bit of fun. Of course the big brother knows what he's doing and will not let any harm come to his brother. This painting is actually not finished. It'll take a while before I finish some of the paintings that I stopped working on 4 years ago. Thank you. Me too. I'm currently working on a new painting, but finishing this one is the next thing I'll do. I can't wait. Notice something interesting about it though: the only thing holding the Dragon are the chains, which are connected to the slender stick, that is held by the girl. Physically, not much of a hold-back for the Dragon. So there is a lot of humour about this drawing, which I am glad you enjoy. The witch is definitely flailing her arms to signify an emergency. Don't know if you noticed it, but as someone who knows all my works I can tell you that there is a line behind (almost) all the paintings you've mentioned, that is unique just to those paintings/drawings: They are more about "fun and humour", and involve imagination and are less "real-life" situations. I believe this line is also represented by Lady on rope, and Taimoon. All of those paintings/drawings are from the same time in my life, and represent that feeling I had back then, of wandering freely in the world with no pressure or urgent places to be in, just enjoying the sunshine and happy things that I could see around me.
  23. You say that the degree of "evil-ness" of an action depends on the consequences of the action, or on the intended consequences of the action (which one, BTW?). As I said, I never saw any literature in Objectivism that discusses "degrees of evil/good". Can anyone refer me to any? Or if not, present the basic ideas or premises in Ethics on which the hierarchy of "degree of evil/goodness" comes from?
  24. Yes there is. My view on this subject is somewhat unconventional, not just from an Objectivist point of view, but also from a scientific point of view. But I've given this subject a lot of thought and I'm going to present my opinion and the facts that made me reach those conclusions. First of all, I want to emphasize that I completely agree with what you said about the necessity of reason to survive. Not just when instincts are missing, but also when instincts are present. Ayn Rand referred to instincts as automatic knowledge, or actions that help the animal survive (unfortunately I don't have the exact quote, it's from the Virtue of selfishness). She wrote that because animals have automatic knowledge of what is good/bad for them (but humans don't), an animal, as oppose to human beings, does not need reason (actually, biologically even if it did need it, it still can't have it, but I'm looking at this from a philosophic point of view now). Since human beings don't have that automatic form of knowledge (instincts), they need to discover and learn everything on their own, by using reason. There is one problem and one mistake in that statement. The problem is in the definition of instincts. The definition includes a drive for something, and the actions needed to get it, Suggesting that the entire procedure of hunting that an animal goes through is automatic ("the killer instinct"), and does not require learning or reason. From watching National Geographic movies about animals and learning some things about the brain, I saw that the actions an animal takes when trying to achieve something are not automatic at all: they learn it, either from their parents or/and from experience. Learning from experience includes judging whether a certain action was good or bad in achieving their goal, it includes gathering information about the behavior of other animals that they hunt, etc. If you leave a baby lion on it's own, it will grow up to be as helpless as a human baby. The brain develops in two ways: genetic plan, and the stimuli from the environment. Some things the brain does not leave for coincidence, but builds automatically, like the connections between the sense organs and their location and stracture in the cortex, like the structure in our brain that is responsible for regulating tiredness, heartbeats, hunger etc, the structure that is responsible for coordination of movements, and more. And some things the brain allows the environment to shape: the kind of shapes that the brain will be capable of conceiving depend on the shapes the animal/human was exposed to when growing up. If a cow grows up in an isolated room with no corners or lines, when grown up it won't be able to perceive lines at all (or movement, or all other stuff, not to mention that it would not be able to identify "grass" from "ass", or anything else by using sight). This is why I think that the term "instincts" is very misleading. And I think that in fact the only thing that an instinct is is a drive for action, but it doesn't include an auto-pilot for performing what is needed to achieve that desire. I think that it's possible that some things happen automatically to help the animal hunt, for example, once the animal learns to identify it's prey as "food", then the thought and sight of the prey causes the brain to cause the kidneys to secrete adrenaline, which helps the animal hunt. So it might improve their performance, but the actions themselves need to be learned. To apply this to animals' sex drive: the need for sex is triggered involuntarily in the animal, and the connection between sex and the shape/sound/smell of the opposite sex is also hard-wired. The animals senses that it wants it. Next step is that the animals needs to plan how to get it. In this stage the animals uses it's knowledge and judgement (They might do things to separate a female from the herd etc), and in the stage of sex, reflexes are involved (the required movements, the sensations etc' are hard-wired). so to go back to the statement by Ayn Rand, the mistakes would be that: Animals don't need to learn and discover things on their own animals have an automatic knowledge of what is good or bad for them I think only a biologist is "authorized" to make such declarations, and that an outside observer who did not conduct an extensive research about the nature of animals might make innocent mistakes. When you see something works it's easy to say "it is performed automatically", however, it isn't necessarily so: you must watch the animal grow closely to know for sure what are the conditions needed for it to perform it's actions. Now, if we talk about instincts as "drives for something" and not as a package deal of drive+behavior necessary to get that desire, then humans beings certainly do have instincts: We have a sex drive, a drive to eat, and I believe a drive to look after one's babies (and maybe more). The instincts determine our basic nature (metaphysics), that which we have no control over, and reason is what we need to use to survive and achieve our goals, and we also use reason to determine our goals. Human beings have a lot of "room" in their brain to form new concepts, and store knowledge that IS NOT initially programmed into it. The basic mechanisms stay the same (sensation of enjoyment motivates for an action, and negative sensation motivates against it), but our brain allows us to hold a lot more knowledge and complex concepts than animals' brain. I think it could be thought of as a pyramid, when each stone in a higher level is a more abstract concept, and the lower ones are concretes. Well our Pyramid is much higher and branch-ier. That allows us to have a tremendous variety of ideas and desires, and to use abstract thought. But I think animals understand concepts as well, such as "food" "good for me" "bad for me" "my name = myself", and more, but it depends on the animal. Very simple animals have nothing but reflexes. There is a lot more to be said about human beings' nature and how it is different than animals, and about how does "free will" fit into all of this, but I'll do it in some other post.
  25. All of a sudden, he hears a cracking noise from the dark corner, then silence. "It is nothing" he tells himself, breathing faster, renewing his steps in a slower pace. He makes a step, stops to listen, then another one. He breathes with relief - there is nothing scary down here really. He takes a few more steps and faces the shelves on which the lamp is stored. He reaches out and takes the lamp, then gets rid of the disgusting spider webs that got stuck on his arm. He smiles and breathes deeply. It went alright. Suddenly, strong arms grip his legs, as a loud noise of wood cracking fills the basement. A horrible, red-eyed beast is emerging from under the basement wooden floor. It then grabs the arms as well, squashing them against the body, and the man then faces the beast, and sees it's huge, wide body, red eyes with black pupils looking straight at him, and asking: "Don't you wish you went back upstairs? Muhahahahahahahahaha!! (with an evil laughter)". "Mommy!!!!" the man cries with terror, but mommy isn't there to save him. No one is. The monster opens it's big mouth and swallows the man whole. The, there is silence again, as the monster goes back to lurking beneath the floor, to wait patiently for months for the next tenant to walk in. Silence and darkness fill the basement, and the shattered lamp reflects the dim light from the entrance... The End
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