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John McVey

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  1. That would never pass muster in Australia, just from the labour-law aspect alone. There are rules for the determination of what is a genuine contractor relationship and what is in economic substance an employment relationship pretending not to be. Look for similar rules in the US - I'd be very surprised if they didn't exist. JJM
  2. The point of Dr Reisman's model was to use it as a base from which to develop an understanding of elements, allowing one to expand it from there, one element at a time. Even as it is, without expanding it, one of the things it shows is that capitalism has (in Dr R's words) 'natural springs to profitability,' because when people are free the mathematics of the situation necessarily generates accounting profits in the aggregate, which when tied with the material world upon which accounting figures are based this has to mean physical profits as well. There are only two ways aggregate accounting profits could be zero for a given period - destruction of money and an increase in demand for money - but both of these events only have effects once for each instance, where prices then adjust and the aggregate accounting profits appear again in the next period - unless there is further destruction or demand. (The demand for money is not the desire to have a spendable income but the desire to hold cash unspent, resulting a net build-up of cash stores to higher equilibrium levels). As to Boris's posts, it is an old variant on an even older claim. The very old claim is that economic liberty necessily leads to crises and depressions - it is a view that goes back many centuries, predating Marx by a long shot (Adam Smith's WoN was intended to refute the mercantlists' claims on this score, and they were not the first either). The variant raised by Boris's article is the claim that accounting profits cannot be generated except by the creation of new money, and in particular through the use of debt as money via the financial sector. Thus this variant is that accounting profits can only be had by continual credit creation, of debt multiplied upon debt. (This should ring bells - with sledge-hammers for knockers, no less - for many with readers with sufficiently long memories.) Eventually there is debt overload, which causes the economy to crash. The crash wipes out the debt and hence allows the process to begin anew. Allegedly, this is the explanation for what is happening now, made inevitable by capitalism, and that we are approaching the crash phase. Naturally, the argument about the causes of what is happening today is bollocks. There is no need for an expansion of the money supply to create accounting profits, as Dr Reisman points out. Now, it is true that we are nearing a crash set up by a massive set of debts but capitalism is not to blame for this. Just in the private sector alone (ie leaving aside the sovereign debt crises caused by welfare-state profligacy and other things) the present-day multiplication of debt upon debt is the result of central banking, fiat currency, rafts of financial regulations, and various policies (eg various government guarantee mechanisms, such as FDIC & equivalents and the too-big-to-fail idea, plus artificially cheapened debt making yield income harder to get, and so on) that encouraged a degree of risk-taking that would never have been countenanced under laissez-faire capitalism. Governments caused this, not capitalism. JJM
  3. Found it. I think this link should work. If not, it is (at time of writing) the fourth entry to be found on the link I gave previously. JJM
  4. Boris: what you really need to do is get ahold of George Reisman's "Capitalism" and read chapters 12 to 18, because this covers in extensive detail precisely what you are struggling to understand (for a snapshot, see figure 16-2 on page 732). The clincher is chapter 16 (from whence that snapshot is taken), which discusses his Net Consumption Net Investment theory. The short answer is that you missed also the consumer spending that comes from dividends distributed to equity investors. They are NOT an expense, but the profits from prior years' efforts that sNerd is trying to tell you to consider. The initial source of these is the built-up savings that equity investors already have, out of which some personal expenditure is made (this, btw, is mistaken by Richard Salsman as making Dr Reisman's argument a type of consumptionism, which it is not). If those savings and expenditures are treated as though they did not exist then, as sNerd points out, you are working on a false premise and so can only "prove" an error. If you want it, I have an Excel spreadsheet I created (and have Dr Reisman's permission to distribute along with due recognition of his efforts) that shows his NCNI system in action. Money in matches money out, and there are consistent profits year after year. You can fiddle with it as much as you like, expanding it as you see fit to investigate. I'll have to go find it (it is buried deep in my archives somewhere) and then I will upload it to my Google Sites cabinet. Everyone else: you are missing Boris's point about monetary zero-sum - probably because that poorly-chosen term raises our hackles due to it being emotionally and ideologically loaded. He is not talking about non-monetary values, but the flow of units of media of exchange and trying to figure out where on earth the physical money for profits comes from in the absence of monetary expansion. The change in the real-world value of a unit of that money is a related but still distinct phenomenon. His point on this score is correct, even if he expressed it badly: in the absence of new money, money in must match money out, less that which is added to and plus that which is withdrawn from stores of cash. His problem is in failing to identify where a particular stream of monetary units comes from, and hence why he cannot properly identify the source for an outflow. The consideration of what happens when the money supply grows or shrinks is a later development. JJM
  5. Welcome to the October 6, 2011 edition of Objectivist Round-Up, number 221. Kate Yoak presents Preschool due dilligence: naps posted at Parenting is..., saying, "After first despairing when I learned about the forced naps while visiting LePort school, I learned that this issue is not cut and dry. Today my daughter attends a school where that is not an issue." Carl Svanberg presents Elizabeth Warren's Assault on Justice posted at The Cold Voice of Reason, saying, "Enjoy!" John Drake presents GTD Habits posted at Try Reason!, saying, "Its the habits, not the technology that make GTD effective. Here are the habits I'm working to improve." Rational Jenn presents The One About The Standardized Test posted at Rational Jenn, saying, "The decision about whether or not to comply with our state's standardized testing requirements for homeschoolers became a very interesting lesson in Civics, Government, and Ethics." Ari Armstrong presents Pajamas Reply to Elizabeth Warren posted at Free Colorado, saying, "Elizabeth Warren invokes a 'social contract' to justify higher taxes on 'the rich.' Does her case hold water? I argue no in a piece for Pajamas Media." John McVey presents OTI post #7 - Primacy of Existence posted at John J McVey, saying, "This finishes metaphysics, at least for the time being." Paul Hsieh presents Don't Blame Capitalism for High Health Insurance Costs posted at We Stand FIRM, saying, "I'm honored that The Undercurrent published my latest OpEd as part of their Capitalism Awareness Week project!" Santiago and Kelly Valenzuela presents Once Again, Immigrants Improperly Blamed posted at Mother of Exiles, saying, "Immigrants are being blamed for border crimes, but who is really to blame and are US border cities really as unsafe as conservatives claim?" David C Lewis, RFA presents Can Your Financial Adviser Pick The Best Investment For You? | Twin Tier Financial posted at A Revolution In Financial Planning, saying, "I discuss the feasibility of selling investment recommendations." Rational Jenn presents Parenting Thought of the Moment posted at Rational Jenn, saying, "A well-behaved kid isn't necessarily an obedient kid. (But there's more--go read the post!)" David Baucom presents Gary Johnson on Republican Capitulation and His Presidential Bid posted at The Objective Standard Blog, saying, "Gary Johnson on Republican Capitulation and His Presidential Bid - (Not from my blog but my contribution to the TOS blog) A single Q&A I had with Johnson prior to, and not included in, my TOS interview with him" Diana Hsieh presents NoodleCast #99: Live Rationally Selfish Webcast posted at NoodleFood, saying, "In Sunday's Rationally Selfish Webcast, I answered questions on fear of death, using the Do Not Call Registry, genetic influences on thinking, the morality of selling your body, and more. Listen to the podcast now, and join us for another episode on Sunday morning!" Jason Stotts presents It’s About Time posted at Erosophia, saying, "Some states are now moving for legislation that removes the felony charge against teen sexting." Gideon Reich presents Why I support Gary Johnson for President posted at Armchair Intellectual, saying, "My reasoning for supporting Gary Johnson for President." That concludes this edition. Thank you all for submitting articles. To have articles showcased next week, submit your blog article to the next edition of Objectivist Round-Up using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page. Our host next week is Rational Jenn. Share Technorati tags: objectivist round up, blog carnival. JJM Automatic cross-post
  6. Continuing to look at metaphysics, he are my observations and inductive reconstruction of the Law of Causality. Context The context for this is recognition of the three axioms for their content - <a href="http://jjmcvey.blogspot.com/2011/03/oti-post-2-existence-exists.html">existence exists, consciousness is conscious, and all existents are of definite natures - and the fact that they are axioms. This is implicit in the cognitive activity of a baby within moments of his first conscious state, and needs to be explicitly stated for students of philosophy. Basic meaning The Law of Causality is that all entities act according to their natures. Since that includes their reactions to influences of other things, we can also note that a given set of events plays out according to the natures of all the entities that were involved in or otherwise gave rise to those events. Further, looking at affairs from the perspective of events as the primary object of investigation and asking why they happened, another way of stating the law is that all effects have causes. That is, as was discussed in Dr Peikoff’s first OTI lecture, the world is orderly and lawful. Reduction of ‘entity’ I shouldn’t need to state anything other than that entities are particular things that exist. This includes rattles, hanging-toys, cot bars, pillows, blankets, mums, dads, cats, dogs, suns, snails, flowers, and so on. Further exploration was done during examination of the axioms above. Reduction of ‘act’ and ‘action’ The dictionaries I looked at only provide various synonyms of the word act, such as do, perform, and so on. Of my own formulation, a beginning for an objective definition is: to act (including react) is to change in identity. In the same vein: action is the progression of changes in identity. This also implies a reference to time, but I wont be getting into the controversial debate on that concept here. The identity in question is that of the entire observed state of affairs rather than just individual entities in isolation, which thereby includes the generation and destruction of entities. At one point in time the state of affairs within a particular context was X and at later point in time the state of affairs relating to the same context was Y, where Y is different to X and action is that process of X giving way to Y. Thus ‘to act’ and ‘action’ may take the form of a change in composition of an entity, or in the layout of an entity, or of the disposition of that entity in relation to another entity, or whatever. An apple was red, now it is brown. The flower was closed, now it is open. The sun was in that part of the sky, now it is in this part of the sky. In all three cases, action has taken place. Why it has, we don’t know yet - but that it has, we do. The concept of action is not first-level, just as the three axiomatic concepts were not. Rather, it is drawn from the lower-level concepts for types of actions. Thus we reduce action to swinging, rattling, falling, scratching, stinking, screaming, barking, yelling, and so on for all the kinds of actions whose concepts can be understood by children of single-digit ages. In turn, it is all the concrete instances of each of these that are directly observed and first-level abstractions made for. Perceptual roots Take note that it is always entities that are acting, ie it is always entities that are changing in some form either of themselves or in relation to other entities. There is much more to be said than that, but observe that, first, it is entities and their identities that we observe, and second, that it is changes in their identity that we also observe. One will never ever observe action that is not action of entities, and will never observe action other than by means of their changes. I could go back even further, showing how that definition covers observation even prior to the ability to perceive individual entities, but that’s belabouring things. And with that we have reached the directly observational roots of action. In school once we actually let an apple go rotten so we could examine it, I’ve seen for myself how flowers open and close (I’ve even teased some Venus Fly-Traps!); and finally, everyone - other than those who are strangers to the Big Blue Room, such as geeks and emos - has seen for themselves the sun rising and setting over the course of a day. Reduction of ‘cause’ and ‘effect’ So far, all we have is reference to observations of mere juxtapositions of actions with entities. We have observed the fact that there are temporal sequences, and indeed have begun to associate particular sequences and types of sequences with entities and types of entities under various conditions, and so on. BUT, we don’t know why those juxtapositions hold, and we can observe that sometimes they in fact do not hold: some seeds we planted did not sprout, the puppy did not come running when we clanked his dinner bowl, the glue we used to fix a toy didn’t hold properly, and so on. We need more than this. When we mean by cause and effect is that there are definite patterns and orders of the progression of total sets of identities. Cause-and-effect means that one particular set of identities will come to hold after an equally particular previous set every time that this previous set comes to pass; and, conversely, a particular set of identities did hold prior to another particular set every time that the later set held. It is in this overall system that we can distinguish the two words: cause is the set of identities at a prior point in time conditioning the sets to follow, while effect is the set of identities at a later point in time, conditioned by the sets that preceded. Hence when we invoke the law of cause and effect what we are doing is looking at the sets of identities at one point in time and then either inferring from those observations conclusions about what sets of identities will exist later or what sets of identities did exist previously. (Note that this also includes the generation and destruction of entities.) As with action, the concepts of cause and effect are not first-level abstractions. We do not associate causes with effects without observing particular causes and particular effects, given the particular natures of particular entities, and at and over particular points and ranges in time. In bouncing, for example, we can associate the flexibility of a rubber ball and its apparent determination to reassert a round shape in defiance of being pressed with its rebounding when dropped or thrown against a hard surface. This nature of rubber balls in general, coupled with the particular speeds that individual balls have and the solidity that surfaces have, causes the balls to rebound; and similarly, the rebounding is the effect of rubber balls striking sufficiently hard surfaces with at least some speed. We get used to this so readily with rubber etc that we have no difficulty in surmising the same cause and effect relationships on the part of the metal balls in Newton’s Cradles even though the departures from round are too tiny to see with the naked eye. We can do that because we can tie that with how we can bend metal bars, seeing how most of them want to return almost to their original shape but some them completely to their original shape so long as they aren’t bent beyond a certain point (a fact - called the yield point - that engineers et al have to work with). We contrast rubber and metal balls is say to a ball of dough or mud, which has no such determination to stay round, its flexibility is ‘one way only’, and which on impact with something just spreads out laterally or even breaks apart. We can extend those observations for all actions we can poke a stick at - including, I might add, the action of poking things with sticks and observing certain ranges of these things occasionally being none too pleased about it. Amongst other possible reactions to being poked with a stick (and each associable with different types of things), some things exhibit very little response if any, some go crunch and make us say “uh oh”, some go REEAAAAAOWWW and tear the hell out of the sofas they’ve been sleeping on, and others make noises that in turn makes mummy’s face go red and make her rush to clap her hands over our ears. After discovering and associating these causes with effects, sometimes we enact those causes again because we want to repeat the effects. Then we get new effects to ponder, such as smacks to our backsides. To a great degree we have come back to most of the perceptually observable roots of cause and effect. However, those examples of external cause-and-effect associations are by themselves just more juxtapositions of actions with entities. We’ve still not yet properly perceived evidence of causation. We infer causes for effects because we already have a nub of a notion of it. Where does that come from? To understand that A causes B, to be justified in inferring that something external to us causes effects likewise external to us, this has to be experienced physically. We must first observe ourselves making things happen and hence generating that nub of a notion through a rudimentary observation of our capabilities. It is we who cause provocations by poking things with sticks, we who cause our arms to move, we who cause our legs to walk us to where we want to go, we who cause our hands to flex, and prior to any of that, we who cause our heads and eyes to turn and look at what we are curious about, we who cause our eyelids to move at all. With that we now are finally at the core perceptual level of causation. Discovery of actions and cause-and-effect relationships What we start with is that we can observe action. We see, feel, taste, hear, and smell what is all just an incomprehensible blur at first, but from which we begin to identify patterns and start to become familiar with our surroundings. First, we begin to identify the fact that there are entities, and then that entities have attributes. These lines of investigation lead us eventually to existence and identity. Self-control and personal limitation Integral to that is discovery and development of some degree of control over the blur. We can shut out light by closing our eyelids, and we can stop the hurt on our hands and feet (which we as adults know comes about from them hitting the sides of our cots etc) by taking control of our arms and legs. We then become increasingly adept at motor control, becoming ever more able to move our eyes and our heads, to sit upright, to reach for things, and begin crawling, in manners as we choose to enact (including, to continue the previous development, learning to muffle the noises we hear by putting our hands over or fingers in our ears). Thus we start becoming active investigators of the strange world we find ourselves in rather than passive observers of it. What gets the ball rolling for our discovery of the principle of cause and effect, rather than just associations of juxtapositions, is not just that we can exercise control but also that there are limits on what we can do. We may want X to happen, but that may be beyond our capabilities. When we experiment with ourselves to see what we can do we find that we have only ranges of capabilities. We may want to reach for something but our arms are only so long, and we cannot squeeze through the bars of our cots or playpens. We may want to move some piece of heavy furniture to get a ball that rolled behind it, but we find that though we can move some kinds we can’t move others, even though we’ve seen the grown-ups do that all the time. From countless examples like these we get the first implicit notions of how we can make things happen how our powers are limited by our natures. Later, we find that our powers not only grow, but we can make them grow through practice. From recognition of ourselves causing we can project the same on the part of other entities. We see that our parents make things happen just as we do, and can do even more than we can. They can reach things we cannot, they can move furniture we cannot, and so on. We see other creatures also making things happen. From our own ability to dig holes or tear up paper or pick up balls, and seeing that a puppy can dig holes or tear paper or pick up balls too, we easily recognise that a puppy can make these things happen. And so on for cats and birds and ants and fish and etc. We recognise how those entities also cause things to happen, and can also see that they are limited. We find it amusing, for instance, to see cats try to jump for things and fail miserably, implicitly recognising the principle that there are limits to powers and mocking those who haven’t figured that out yet. Problem of anthropomorphism Before too long, however, we are inferring consciousnesses going about making things happen all over the place - and that’s a problem. Whenever mum brings out her cyclonic vacuum cleaner she may threaten to sic the Purple People Eater on us if we’ve been naughty - today we’re big enough boys and girls to be fairly sure she’s joking, but, given that “Roomba” thing that our friend’s parents have and also those robot movies our parents were watching that we’ve sneaked a peek at when we were supposed to be in bed, you never know... At the dawn of man, this anthropomorphism lead to animism, then more formal religion. Then there were the Greeks. The discovery that there was a distinction between intentional and non-intentional causation was momentous. This began initially by the same man who, in the same act, separated philosophy from religion: Thales of Miletus. By Aristotle’s time, a bit over two centuries later, what was being commonly spoken of amongst the leading thinkers in Greece in his day lead him to state as a seemingly uncontroversial conclusion that the source of the movement of natural objects was their own essential natures (Book V, Chapter 4). I’m not here to examine that progression, just to note that a problem existed for tens of thousand of years and that someone finally solved it and paved the way for our much more secular world. What the fact that this progression took place does, then, is allow us - as children now able to communicate with our parents - to investigate cause-and-effect relations without being tightly saddled with thousands of years’ worth of anthropomorphic nonsense at every turn. Cause-and-effect relations Over the same time frame as developing awareness of both self and other entities, we also observe that included in the attributes of things is that they act in certain ways. Initially all is and even http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9oxmRT2YWw. We do not know why these patterns hold, we know only that they do. Still, the headline is that we are actively using differentiation and integration to form pre-conceptual notions of types of entities and types of their actions. After recognising our own and other’s causative powers, along with linking the ranges of those powers to the respective capabilities of ourselves and others as entities, we now have a first and extremely crude notion of what ‘to cause’ means: to make something happen in a way that is limited by capabilities. Similarly, we understand what ‘to be affected’ means: to act in a way consistent with what sort of thing something is and in what particular way it was prompted to move. This parallels development in learning what action and reaction mean, where for these purposes ‘action’ means pro-active behaviour - we are a way away from learning about the more general concept action that subsumes both. We see directly an intentional causation on our own part, and we also easily infer the same again on the part of a wide range of other entities - that is, at least, of all the entities we later conceptualise together as animals. Now, without being saddled by others’ anthropomorphism, and with our parents saying things such as “It’s just a rock / some water / a cloud” etc, we have no significant occasion to develop our own proto-animism and run with it. Instead, after a while it becomes clear that there is also a non-intentional causation, too. We see that many objects are not themselves investigating the world like we do, that they are of themselves generally inactive though are reactive to external prodding. For instance, it is clear that http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dobcfo-eBRY. That paper only moves when we and other intentional beings supply it with power to move, but when we do we can identify it as reacting in certain ways by making sounds as we tear it or scrunch it or by being bouncy or roly-poly when it hits the floor, and so on. The ease with which these two sets of causations can become quickly taken for granted then allows us to have fun playing with the said cat and ball of paper. This treatment of objects that we do not suspect of being intentional causers soon becomes taken for granted for a wide variety of objects, such as http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5n7JroG5P4, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJY5BRCNAs4, and light-switches, all despite the absence of any knowledge of what makes these things tick. From here, working on this implicit notion of their being two broad classes of causative behaviour, growth is a process of building up a stock of more implicit notions of particular cause and effect relations. We learn to associate what we can and cannot do with things, and learn to look out for tell-tale indicators of what might happen if we treat something a given way. For example, we have to learn that touching hot things hurts us, and after being warned by our parents plus learning things the hard way (hopefully not traumatically) become careful when we see things we have reason to suspect are hot, such as oven doors or pots or steamy water. As for me, one memory I have is about how light globes are very hot and will melt one’s plastic blocks if placed on top of said globes. I also discovered that parents don’t like that, for some reason. Speaking of blocks - we also implicitly learn that things fall. I recall some experiment a few decades ago where they got one of the early models of a manufacturing robot with an AI that was sophisticated for its day and asked it to stack children’s blocks. This robot tried to proceed by grabbing blocks at random and placing them in mid-air in the location they were supposed to go. The blocks then of course fell to the ground, but the robot AI still could not learn to change its approach. Contrast this to a child doing the same. Long before he is even given any blocks to stack he learns through observation and experimentation that things fall when not supported, so when he finally comes to stack blocks he knows very well that he has to start from the bottom and build up from there. We also learn that various objects have characteristics that are not obvious to the hand or eye and instead are discovered by an active interaction. These require a little more active investigation, with the accumulation of the results adding to the implicit idea of action and reaction being correlated with that which acts and reacts. A personal example, as my parents tell me but of which I have no memory at all (honestly!), is that apparently I discovered that crystal goblets make a pleasing tinkling sound when smashed. One incident that I do remember is that I experimented with a self-inking rubber stamp... while hidden behind the lounge-room curtains and decorating the wall: *kaCLICK!*kaCLICK!*kaCLICK!*. And puddles! Kids love puddles! Parents don’t like muddy shoes, but, yeah, PUDDLES! When both our motor and intellectual skills grow better, we also become able to investigate more complex relations, involving multiple steps. For instance, we learn that there are different steps in baking that have to be done in particular orders, and also that changing the ingredients will give different results - sometimes this is deliberate, so as to make different kinds of breads or biscuits, for instance, or accidental, as in forgetting to put the yeast in and finding that the bread wont rise like it should. And, before we kick the puddle habit for good, we learn to take our shoes off prior to re-entering the house - unless we want to upset mum, which we now know an easy way to do. Reconstruction of ‘action’ and ‘cause and effect’ First-level concepts The use of words in all this follows along. Indeed, one of the earliest cause-and-effect relationships we learn of is that crying makes one or both of those big huggy food-bringing nappy-changing thingamajigs come to us and give us some attention. Then they try to get us to make strange noises with our mouths by rewarding us with that attention in a good way, whereas, once they start wanting us to make these noises, just crying instead makes them upset when they finally turn up. Soon enough we get the picture and use the special noises to get their attention. Then they teach us more of these sounds, and also what they mean. Then we start uttering these words non-stop and begin annoying the crap out of these “mum” and “dad” thingamajigs. After learning some words of pronouns and ordinary nouns, we learn the verbs for particular actions we see and are involved in. For instance, we learn what washing and cleaning etc mean, starting with being washed and cleaned while our parents speak the words. Then we learn about particular ways of doing things, such as driving to grandma’s house rather than walking, where we learn that cars are things used to drive in. Then as we become adept at doing things ourselves we get told to go wash and clean both ourselves and also other things such as dogs, dishes (a favourite of parents everywhere!), cars, and floors, as well as get ordered to do a whole bunch of other things like “pick up your toys!” “put your dirty clothes in the hamper!” “take the bowl back to the kitchen when you’re done!” and so on. Then we start learning adjectives. The first are those that describe attributes we can see right away, such as colours, but now we are also beginning to learn adjectives for attributes that can only be discovered by interacting with objects. and seeing how they react. Some of the earliest are partly active: heavy versus lightweight, for instance. We can tie in with how hard they hit the ground when they fall either on the floor or on parts of our bodies: a hammer dropped from waist-height onto our feet hurts more than a plastic blocked dropped from the same. This is related to how that the heavier things are the more effort it takes both to speed them up and slow them down, which later we come to know by the inertia of objects. Other attributes of entities require more direct action to discover. During more baking, for instance, we learn that eggs are fragile or breakable; we learn how toys made of plastic are also fragile whereas toys made of metal are tough, because some can survive a boy in his sandpit whereas others cannot. When we get older this includes further nuances, such as delicate (eg thin versus thick glassware). Similarly, with adverbs we learn that the actions themselves have definite natures, such as how movement can be quick or slow, how someone may act clumsily or skilfully, and so on. Note that the ascription of adverbs to actions can only take place to the actions of entities. For that reason the adverbs applicable to actions can lead to related adjectives applicable to entities undertaking those actions. Thus that an egg easily breaks on impacts is what leads us to ascribe fragility them, and so on. Sentences After a while we begin being able to describe whole cause-and-effect relations using full sentences. As part of that we learn what the word “why” means. Working from our implicit knowledge of cause and effect, we learn that the word is asking us to describe those relations in words and whole sentences rather than just pointing. Thus, as one mother told me of, a 4yo can understand just by having the words spoken to him how his failure to secure the latch on the rabbit hutch properly allowed the rabbit to get outside and then die of cold overnight (it point of fact, as she told me, the dog did the deed, but she said she wasn’t about to tell him that.) Likewise we find ourselves having to explain to disbelieving parents why the glass cup in the bathroom got smashed, and how it was because we had slippery hands when brushing our teeth just like they told us to. Then we face a barrage of further questions that we are expected to answer. We also learn about related words such as ‘because,’ and ‘happened’ and so on. The word ‘because’ is critical: we can begin to use it when we can to use words to link one clause with another to describe a chain of events. We can use it properly when we figure out that is used to explain in words how one set of affairs A caused another set of affairs B - that is, we can say “B happened because A happened first”. For instance, “the airconditioner is hissing out gas because I put a dart through a pipe” and “I put the dartboard on the nail under the airconditioner because there was nowhere else to hang it up” and “Dad grounded me for a month because I broke the airconditioner”. (I was 8.) This word is but a step away from the formal concept of ‘cause’ itself. Reconstructing ‘act’ and related concepts Concurrently with the above progress towards describing things in sentences, as a result of a history of both us and others being naughty and being told off for ‘acting up’, asked ‘why did you act like that’ and told ‘stop acting like a baby” etc, we get our earliest introductions to the express concept of ‘to act.’ Thus similar to how our first understanding of causing is of us making things happen, our first understanding of the actual concept of acting is in how we act. An actor and an intentional causer initially mean more or less the thing. The matching word to act, and which coincides with the non-intentional causer is ‘react.’ Our first introduction to the word ‘act’ is in descriptions of this kind pro-active behaviour by ourselves and by others we observe and see being talked about, such as how dad remarks to us in a mock-conspiratorial tone “Mummy’s acting silly, isn’t she!” It is later that we start to get more formal about the words action and reaction. We separate action from intentional causation, and instead begin to recognise it as being activity by an entity that happens prior to activity of that or another entity at a later point in time. We learn that the action of the gas flame on the water in the pot is what makes it heat up, and it is the action of the hot water that makes the eggs cook. Then, finally, when we’re older, we can start using the word action in the general sense to encompass reaction too, of treating how something ‘acts’ as similar to how something works, whether overtly acted upon or is the overt actor in any instance. Thus we know that paper boats don’t act like stones when dropped onto water, salt doesn’t act like sugar when it is heated up, and so on. From there, we can go back and forth between the general and the overt meanings with ease, as the context in each case requires. And similarly, in conjunction with learning about words such as inertia, note also that by this time we are in school, and have likely been introduced to the express idea of action and reaction as an integrated unit. Most likely all this will happen with reference to the same thing: Newton and his laws. A more scientific examination of action I leave for another time. Reconstructing ‘cause’, ‘effect’, and ‘cause-and-effect’ By this time a child already has explicit understanding of making things happen. It is a fairly easy task to abstract from “making a ball of paper fall off the table”, “making a cake”, “making your bed”, “making a mess”, etc, to understand what the word make means: to cause something or a state of affairs to be brought into being. One of the earliest examples of the latter that I recall is my brother, about age 3, stepping in front of a car which then came to a screeching halt with barely any room to spare. He turned around and, with a beaming smile on his face, said to our father “I made a car stop!” That wasn’t the only thing he made happen, of course, but that’s another story. It is later, as a part of the process of separating action from intention, the child understands that non-intentional objects can ‘make things happen,’ where ‘make’ starts to take on a more abstract meaning of “to cause a given state of affairs to come to hold”. Grammatically, this is the ability to understand verbs in their infinitive form. Thus hot water makes eggs cook, and so on. This is the stage, I think, when a child is about ready to understand the actual word ‘cause’ itself. I don’t think it really matters in what context a child first hears the word. For instance, he could hear talk about causes from parents or teachers or the radio or the TV etc, or he could be asked about why he “caused” someone or something to happen, or even perhaps (given the type of parents or school he goes to) the first he hears it is when the actual concept is trying to be taught to him. In any event, with a little abstracting on his part, he figures out what causing means, drawing easily upon his knowledge of what ‘making’ means in the broader sense, along with his knowledge of what ‘because’ means. For example he can now state that the cat caused the paper ball to fall off, gravity caused the ball to fall down; and also: heat causes things to cook, soap causes things to clean better than ordinary water, oil or water on the ground cause people or cars to slide around and have accidents, and so on. Soon he can come to understand the noun form, too. That is, he is now capable of looking at “a cause” as an abstract mental entity referring to either a single entity or a whole state of affairs relating to entities, which cause is an explanation of either particular events or as an explanation of why things act certain ways in general. It is even possible that a reference like this could be where he first hears of the word, such as similar situations of overhearing others or from TV or radio, this time with reference being to “the cause” in relation to accidents or motives for action. Similarly, as for ‘effect’, sometimes the first exposure to the word itself will be direct reference, such as asking what the effect of something or hearing about how effective or ineffective something is, and sometimes this will be the result of learning that it is synonymous with “result” and hearing that word first from situations such as worrying about test results, exam results, and so on. Another source of hearing the word is in reference to “special effects” of TV programs and movies, but that is a derivative application. In any event I don’t think it worthwhile to go into more detail because it is the counterpart to causing. Thus eggs being hard-boiled (or other food being cooked) is the result of being heated in some way, falling is the result of being dropped from a height or not flying properly any more, a slip is the result of there stepping on something wet or oily on the floor or trying to hold some objet in wet or soapy hands, and so on. The last step at this still-child-level progression would be to integrate this with recognition that every form of doing something is causing something to happen. Every doing-verb can be recognised as essentially describing a means of causing some state of affairs to change into another, to which there correspond shifts in the tenses of those verbs. Thus cooking is identifiable as the process of causing things to be cooked, walking and driving are processes of causing people to have walked or be driven from A to B, washing is causing things to get cleaned, and so on. The only verbs that don’t are those that ascribe attributes or otherwise timelessly describe states of being. Eventually, after this child builds up several years’ experience, a child has a large accumulated base of knowledge of particular cause-and-effect relationships, he takes the implicit notion of cause-and-effect for granted now (both acting accordingly and understanding what others do or say while equally taking that notion for granted), and he know what the words “cause” and “effect” mean. He has also likely to have even heard the phrase “cause and effect” itself, but if he hasn’t he soon will - most likely in school or some other more formal setting given the more formal nature of that phrase. And when he does hear it, by this time he is able to take to it like a duck to water. He knows this, either implicitly or explicitly, and with the words can have the latter easily: the principle of cause-and-effect is that everything that happens comes about because it is the effect of particular causes, and that these causes are the actions and natures of the entities involved. Reconstruction of the Law of Causality A child - or any non-scientist adult, for that matter - can live the rest of life with a perfectly good working knowledge of cause and effect, and can even talk about it with quite a degree of sophistication as his needs require, but he does not yet have a Law of Causality. All he has is, implicitly, a notion of cause-and-effect that is totally taken for granted in all action, and, explicitly (especially in response to the spaced-out or Jim-Jonesish natures of many modern “philosophers” young and old), an a-philosophically dismissive attitude towards doubt and which attitude is usually expressed in the form of attacks on the common sense of anyone who even thinks about asking deeper questions. That’s fine for day work, but for science that will not do. The reconstruction The full reconstruction of the Law, qua Law, follows easily on from the preceding reconstructions and to which is added intellectual integration of cause-and-effect and action with the axioms themselves: it is the first explicit discovery and then the intellectual acceptance of the axioms that are the hard parts, particularly among the mystics. Anyway, with the above in place, which will arise mostly just from growing up in the modern world, all the honest thinker need to is reflect on that process and expressly join the dots. That is, one simply formally recognises this progression: to get to the Law of Causality, observe that: - there is existence, - there is identity, - identities can change, ie that there are actions, - all actions are actions of actors, - all actions are of specific natures, - the specific natures of actions are entirely correlated with the natures of the actors causing them, - there are actions and reactions, leading to identifying that there are causes and effects, - all effects are caused by entities, and all effects are effects upon entities, - an entity’s full identity includes the cause-and-effect relations it can exhibit, under various circumstances as set by the influence of other entities to which this likewise applies, - the correlation of effects with causes is the same correlation of actions with actors, and - all effects are caused only by the full identities of the entities involved in the action. That final observation is the Law of Causality. In order to get to it, one has to integrate the fact of actions being actions of entities and being the consequence of the natures of those entities with the fact that existence exists and all existents are of certain natures. In short, as Miss Rand put it, now we can say plainly that Causality is Identity as applied to actions. This turns the working-knowledge of the ordinary man into a proper and defensible philosophical position. Then the young man can go on a ‘causality walk’ to just look around and think about what he sees, and be able to come back later that day to exclaim “there’s causality everywhere!” But getting there was by far a lot more work than simply saying that “causality is identity as applied to actions” suggests. There is no escaping the need for actual perception and all the forms of differentiation and integration required in the processes of concept-formation and induction, with or without the intent to get to the final philosophical exposition. Back-questioning With the knowledge of the Law of Causality and the understanding of it as a proper philosophical position firmly in hand we can now deal with the kinds of questions asked by the spaced-out types et al. In regards to causality, their questions come down to: why do certain effects follow? Our simple answer to that, is that this is because that’s the way the entities involved are. As A is A, so A does what A does. The question then becomes: why?? To that there is only one answer: existence exists, it had to exist somehow, this is the way it is, and that’s that - like it or lump it. JJM Automatic cross-post
  7. Financial barriers to entry will be a non-issue under laissez-faire, and to an extent already ARE a non-issue today. If you can prove that you have an idea for a bette product or a more efficient way of making an existing product then you can get all the funding you need from the financial sector. Billions of dollars worth of finance can be and ARE arranged in just months. This is precisely what happened in the early-mid 80's, and for which the Old Guard in the corporate world and the unions hated Michael Milken with a passion. Laws were passed to try to prevent this happening again (takeovers by formerly bit players), such as requiring at least 50% of funding for a take-over be funded by equity rather than debt. It is immoral laws like that which hinder competition by creating financial barriers, not "natural monopolies." JJM
  8. Of course *palm-forehead-smack*! I just realised - leftists look at the world of business and think it is a larger version of their tiresomely cliche` view of the schoolyard as seen in movies: brainless jocks at the top of the pecking order hoarding all the resources for their own interests, always bashing down the weaker but smarter kids, teachers/politicians dealing with insufficient funding unless they work in relation to the jocks' interests, etc etc etc. Heck, there's even at least one whiny song I know of explicitly about it - Simple Plan's "High School never ends". Update: second *palm-forehead-smack*... the Comprachicos. Simple Plan don't know the half of it. These movies and song etc are of course of the creations of other leftists, working from previous incarnations of the same mentality that set their premisses, and they so experience an echo-chamber that acts as psychological and psychepistemological reinforcement. That's the same lunatic mentality seen when they prattled on about how that the fake military letter about Bush at the heart of Rathergate was something that "bespeaks a truth" or whatever that commentary was even after the fakeness was demonstrated. Question: is there any connection of the above to the hateful reaction to the Atlas Shrugged movie (which I haven't seen) that is more than just about the sociopolitical content? Specifically, I am wondering if they instinctively realise that the Altas Shrugged movie - however poor it may or may not be as a stand-alone piece of art - could hinder that echo-chamber mechanism at the unspoken psychoepistemological level. I am not in any position to find out, at present. This question must therefore one more thing for others, more immersed in concretes than I, to follow up on if they judge fit. JJM Automatic cross-post
  9. I think it important to distinguish between individual instances of causal sequences and a causal connection as an abstraction, just as one distinguishes between individual entities and concepts for entities as abstractions. Induction for causality (IIRC) is not simply the identification of individual causal sequences, but recognising that the individual sequences one observes are instances of universals: all S does P under conditions X. It is not that individual event B happened to follow individual stimulus A, but that A causes B is a timeless principle of cause-and-effect that can recur again and again. That is, in induction you are looking at one or more individual causal sequences and recognising that each is a unit member of an open-ended class of such sequences, that each is identifiable a unit instance of the same cause under the same conditions having the same effect. One is dropping the measurements of each particular individual sequence observed and identifying a causal principle that unites them. So yes, induction, in forming universals from observations of concretes, is an instance of identifying individually observed cause-effect sequences as unit members of an abstraction. This is the same method applied to casual sequences as is applied to entities. The point about the unit perspective is not that only entities or classes of entities can be units, but that one is looking at something - be that an entity or an action of an entity - and recognising that it is an instance of an abstraction one can form. It matters not whether this abstraction is of classes of entities (eg men) or classes of actions of entities (eg running) or classes of connections between causes and effects (eg when men run they soon begin to sweat). As to reducing whole sentences to individual concepts, how is that necessary for all induction? It can be done as and when there is need - eg from "One element can be converted into another under the influence of high-speed impact or ionising radiation of the right kind" to "transmutation" - but I don't see this being a required element of induction for it to qualify as an example of the unit perspective. What need is there for a single concept to denote the act of typing into an edit box to recognise the fact that there are such things as edit boxes and there is a universal causal connection between typing into one and seeing what one types becoming published? Each individual act of you doing so and seeing the results is identifiable a unit instance of this causal sequence, a whole sequence that after a series of observing instances of it in action, becomes for us a universal expectation taken for granted every time we see one and have occasion to use it - ie those individual uses are identifiable as units of a rudimentary principle of end-user computer usage. Again, you could do so if you wanted to - eg I could say "John is about to postpublish" where 'postpublish' is a concept I just invented that refers to the action of typing something into an edit box and submitting it for publication on a forum, a concept whose meaning is dependent on knowledge of a now-common causal sequence using computers - but what is the point in that? JJM
  10. I take it that the two share the same fundamental root in measurement omission and the unit perspective. Concept formation applies this to entities to form classes of entities, whereas induction applies this to actions of entities to form classes of causal connections applicable to the classes of entities so observed acting. This indicates two things to me: first, that while measurement-omission is crucial to both, concept-formation has the primacy (just as Identity is hierarchically superior to Causality), and second, that after a short while the two must proceed together, often in lock-step fashion, where learning about cauasal connections increases one's knowledge about the entities these connections relate to and also make possible the identification of more abstract entities (eg learning the concept of society properly, as opposed to a collection of unconnected men who happen to be congregated together for some accidental reason, is only possible after learning about causality in the interactions among certain men as well as commonalities in social institutions etc). Thus I think that the need of discovering the method of concept formation before discovering the full answer to the question of induction comes from identifying their common root as part of the discovery of that method. Does this help? JJM
  11. This is fascinating - and telling... The cynical idea that religion and socialism are the only two alternatives. The fact is that one cannot establish a philosophic positive by demolishing a negative. Commentary like this shows that atheism alone is nowhere near enough to establish liberty - without reason and egoism being proudly promoted as essential parts of the secularisation of society the sense-of-life of religion - not to mention the false alternative of dogmatism versus skepticism - will continue to poison the ethical and political codes even even alleged athiests, and the consequences of the spectacle itself gives fuel back to the religious cause. The real enemy of man has always been religion, not socialism, for the latter feeds on the former and cannot survive long without its lasting influence. Religion must be despatched from this world - but the method of despatching it can only be by putting the greatness of "Reality, Reason, and Rights" in its place. JJM Automatic cross-post
  12. A question for various segments of alleged atheists (they know who they are): If you consider yourself truly to be atheist, why do speak and act as though emotions were some magical connection to an infallible source of truth and goodness that reason is impudent if it dares question? Don't say I am not looking at you: all those who posit subjectivism - of either the individual or social variety - are as guilty as sin in this regard. Emotions are essential for human life, without which life is neither worth living nor even capable of being lived. But emotions are not tools of cognition - they are not means by which one can determine "this is true" and "this is good". So, certainly, they have pride of place in human life - but cognition is not that place. Here's the dare: Find out how emotions arise. Then go find a standard of value without committing that sin in any shape or manner. And, once you've done that, question every value judgement you've ever made. JJM Automatic cross-post
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