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Everything posted by knast

  1. I would recommend three books: Economics in one lesson by Henry Hazlitt How an economy grows and why it crashed by Peter Schiff & Andrew Schiff Economic policy by Ludwig von Mises These will cover A LOT of ground, from so many different angles.
  2. It's fairly easy to see why murder is wrong. You don't have to be an Objectivist to know it. Murdering amounts to the destruction of massive actual and/or potential values. Other people are actually or potentially of a great value to us. This is something we know from direct experience in everyday life. That's why you don't have to be an Objectivist to be horrified and disgusted by the very thought of murder, or feel sorrow when reading about it, or feeling for the victim's family, etc. As for the second question, it is in our interest to let the strongest survive, but survival doesn't men thriving at the expense of the weaker by murdering or enslaving them. It means the intellectually strong being free to flourish in a free society through the production and trade of values. It means the flourishing of the intellectually strong such as Henry Ford or Steve Jobs. Notice that their rise is in the interest of everyone, including everyone above and below them intellectually speaking. We all benefit.
  3. Hi Clive, You are not alone. ITOE can be quite hard to understand. Could you perhaps be more specific. What is it that you have a hard time understanding? Because, depending on what it is, I might be able to recommend different types of courses. Salmieri's course might be helpful to you, but its focus is to give you an overview of the Objectivist epistemology, not a detailed chewing of concept-formation. Carl
  4. Peikoff says a lot of stuff in OTI which one should know when you're reducing and inducing on your own. For example, why the inductive hierarchy is different from the hierarchy in OPAR. So, while Inductive Quest's (more or less) transcript can be helpful, I just want to emphasize that there's a lot of valuable information and advice in that course, which isn't mentioned elsewhere. At least not to my knowledge.
  5. "The Inductive Quest" is more or less a complete _copy_ of what Peikoff is doing in OTI.
  6. An Objectivist is a person who is rationally convinced that the philosophy of Ayn Rand, Objectivism, is true and good - and who, therefore, consistently applies in his life.
  7. What is the Objectivist position on homosexuality? The answer is: at the end of the day, it doesn't matter whether it's a matter or choice or not, it's still not irrational or immoral. Let me just deal with some *myths* (based on ignorance and/or groundless speculation): Ayn Rand was *not* a "homophobe". She didn't held any irrational fear of homosexuals or homosexuality. People should not use words, if they do not know the meaning of them. Ayn Rand's views were not based on ignorance or the science of her time. It was based on her own observations of the psychological differences between men and women; a differences which are, at least in part, based on physical differences between men and women. (Her views were, as a result, non-philosophical. They are not part of Objectivism. They are not even based on Objectivist principles, more than very indirectly: she reached them by making observations and applying logic. They are, if anything, part of psychology.) I will not repeat her argument here, because it takes too long, and it is beside the point of me posting this. I might do it later, if I feel like it. Let me just note that nobody has, to my knowledge, been able to refute it. Nobody has even attempted to refute it, because they have not made any serious attempts to familiar themselves with the argument. Being "deep thinkers", they just guess and speculate that Ayn Rand was "ignorant". (Those who are interested in taking part of Ayn Rand's view can, as one possible source, listen to Leonard Peikoff's short lecture "Love, Sex and Romance". It *might* still be available here: http://www.aynrandbookstore2.com/prodinfo.asp?number=LP51C ) What, then, about Leonard Peikoff's views? I am not able or willing to repeat them all here. Let me just state that whatever his views, they too are only part of psychology, not philosophy. For what's it's worth, you can listen to his podcasts and see, clearly, that he's not "homophobic". He's does not think that homosexuals are immoral or anything like that. Let me just clarify one thing though: Even if you share the view that homosexuality was, ultimately, an irrational choice, it does not follow that it's immoral. Why? Because the choice was made and then so strongly automatized, so early on, that there's virtually nothing you can do about it. Therefore, it would be irrational and immoral to attempt to "change" your sexuality as an adolescent or adult. It would, likewise, be irrational and immoral to hate yourself or to give up sex, on the misguided premise that it would be wrong to indulge in sexual desires that *may* rest on a series of generalizations you made and have automatized when you were growing up.
  8. knast

    Objectivist Music

    For more information, read The Art of Non-Fiction edited by Robert Mayhew, where Ayn Rand elaborates on the distinction between a principle and a concrete, and how people who fail to make this distinction turn Objectivism into a religion.
  9. knast

    Objectivist Music

    I agree, "quibbling" over semantics is a waste of time. But it's NOT a matter of "semantics". It's a real philosophical point. Art is not (philosophical) propaganda. There is no such thing as Objectivist paintings or Objectivist music or Objectivist physics or Objectivist food. Etc. There is good and bad art, true and false scientific theories, etc., as evaluated by a philosophy. If you fail to make this distinction, you are slowly turning Objectivism into a religion. (But you apparently failed to grasp the point here.)
  10. 1. I take your question to be: "What if a majority turn into drug addicts, can't function in society, and society totally collapses?" First of all: How realistic is this? Has this ever happened in reality? I don't think so. If it happens, then it's a damn shame and you should, of course, move away from that society as soon as possible. It's not in your rational self-interest to live in such a society. You still have no right to stop people from destroying their own lives, as long as they don't violate the rights of others. You can start a campaign against drug use or you can move. At best, you could argue that many people are violating the rights of others if they fail to live up to their own contractual agreements with others. That is and should, of course, be illegal and you should suffer legal consequences from breaking such contractual/implicit agreements. One example are parents who are neglecting their children, because of their drug use. They should not only lose their children, they should also be put in jail. 2. "How can you protect animals from vicious people who abuse them?" Animals don't have any rights, so there is legally speaking nothing you can and should be able to do to stop people from abusing animals. I am sorry. What you can do, is that you can campaign against it, and you can engage in ostracism (as I described in my previous answer to you). Let me also say that I don't think there is anything morally wrong with killing animals for their fur. I do think, however, that you are evil if you torture and kill animals "for kicks". I would never associate myself with such people, because it makes me wonder what else they are capable of. 3. "I dont know if it's "real" or "unreal", but if it is, it has some weird implications." I've already answered this: one could maybe argue that people who get fooled or confused or manipulated by these people are the victims of fraud. 4. "I dont want women to not get jobs or build careers because they are carrying 'our' babies..." As I told you in my previous answer, the main reason this is a problem is because of government interventions which makes it potentially very risky and expensive for hire women. Get rid of these government interventions and many more businesses would stop discriminate against women, because of the fear that they might decide to become mothers. As for irrational discrimination in general, I've also answered you here: there is nothing you can do, legally, except let these irrational people suffer from their own irrationality by boycotting their businesses, them and the people they associate with. Discriminate them, morally condemn them in public, refuse to make business with them, etc. Make it hurt their bottom line. 5. "second hand smoking effects. If there is conclusive evidence that second hand smoking is a definite harm for any individual who absorbs it. What is the role of goverment there?" The government should, in that case, prohibit smoking in government buildings. But the owners of private buildings and establishments should be free to have their own policies. If you own a bar, you should be free to decide whether people can smoke there or not and if you are not willing to take the risk that second-hand smoking entails, then you are free to entertain yourself elsewhere. If most people don't want to expose themselves to second-hand smoking, then most bars would be smoke-free. The smokers would be among themselves. Simple as that. As for being exposed of second-hand smoke in general, it's the same principle as with pollution: you have to prove that a certain source is dangerous and/or that you have been harmed by a certain source. When people smoke outside, it's not dangerous for other people because they are barely exposed at all. It would be impossible to prove any harm.
  11. knast

    Objectivist Music

    There is no such thing as Objectivist music. See here: http://www.peikoff.com/2008/01/28/can-music-be-classified-as-objectivist-music/
  12. Hi Jake, 1. You don't lose your free will when you take drugs that make you "addicted". People can stop using them and they do. With or with the help from others. (Also, even if that were the case: So what? It's not your problem.) 2. Leonard Peikoff is against circumcisions. He thinks it's immoral and a violation of rights. It should be illegal. I agree and so does most Objectivists. I think it is the only position consistent with Objectivism. Peikoff on circumcision: http://www.peikoff.com/2011/04/25/do-you-think-the-legal-guardians-of-a-male-child-have-the-right-to-circumcise-him-before-he-is-old-enough-to-refuse/ 3. Peikoff has also made some comments on vegantarianism which you may find useful: http://www.peikoff.com/2011/09/05/what-is-your-opinion-of-vegetarianism/ 4. I think the possibility of subliminal messaging has been conclusively refuted. See here: http://www.skepdic.com/subliminal.html And here: http://www.csicop.org/si/show/cargo-cult_science_of_subliminal_persuasion As for Derren Brown, he does not use "subliminal messaging", he is just confusing the hell out of people, using techniques magicians always have been using. See more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derren_Brown#Criticism I think that confusing people to buy things, by various means, could arguably be considered a form of fraud and should therefore be illegal. 5. "I wanted to know if it's still your [Dr Peikoff] position" Leonard Peikoff does not participate on this forum, so you can't expect an answer from him here. But if you have a question to Dr Peikoff, then I would advice you to ask him directly. Visit his site here: www.peikoff.com and submit a question. Objectivism says: There should not be a law against this. You have a right to decide who you want to deal with or not. We discriminate all the time. Sometimes on rational grounds, sometimes on irrational grounds. The government should not step in when it believes you have discriminated on irrational grounds. If the government starts doing that, then it would violate your right to decide who you want to deal with. What to do about discrimination? We let them taste their own medicine. That is, we discriminate them, i.e., we boycott their business and we ostracize them in public, refuse to deal with them, invite them, say hello to them, etc. Furthermore, the market doesn't reward businesses who engage in irrational discrimination. If there is real talent here, other more rational employers will hire them instead and reap the benefits. One more thing, why do many women get into trouble? Because of government regulations forcing employers to keep them hired, to pay for their maternity leave, to pay for their vacation once they get back, etc. The government is the source of their trouble. 6. Why do you assume that a selfish person can't be interested in giving to charity or running a charity? Normal, happy, selfish people, who value human life, don't want to see people dying in the streets, due to factors beyond their own control. And we have, as rational egoists, many good reasons to value human life in general. To the extent other people, including strangers, are or can be good and rational, they are actually or potentially of a great value to egoists. (Remember that every friend was originally a stranger.) 7. "What is the place of goverment, dealing with environmental issues, like pollution, or companies that are subjecting the close environment to gases that level up the rates of cancer, or radioactivity and so forth?" The government's role is to protect rights. If you can prove that a factory is causing some real damage or real harm to your health, then you can sue the factory owner. The answer is, in other words, property rights. (There is more to this issue. More complications that I could go into, if you want to.) 8. I agree with Dr Peikoff that it was the wrong war for the wrong reasons. See his comments here: http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=reg_ls_america "Non-interventionism" is irrational, if it means appeasement and pacifism, which is the logical implication of Ron Paul's foreign policy. Carl
  13. Concepts are formed in a context of differences. Example: We would never be able to form the concept of blue if everything was blue. The concept of contradiction presuppose a reality of noncontradictions as the contrast. You would, therefore, never be able to form the concept of contradiction by merely looking at reality. Because in reality there are no contradictions. (How do we know this? The same way we know the grass is green. Through direct observation: there are no things out there which are both red and blue, at the same time and in the same respect.) No, the concept of "contradiction" is and was, as matter of historical fact, formed by observing how ideas (concepts, propositions, arguments, etc.) clash with each other and/or clash with reality.

  15. Let me also add that it can be hard to explain something in a satisfactory manner. I know people who have an "OK" understanding of the philosophy, but they refuse to talk about it, argue for it, etc. Not because they don't know the answer, but they just don't like to or feel comfortable when arguing for it in public. I know this for a fact, because later when I have talked to them, they know what to say. But judging on how they formulated their answer, I can see why they are not comfortable speaking in favor of their point of view in public. Being bad at or feeling uncomfortable at clearly communicating ideas, means nothing. How common this is, I don't know, but if these people prefer to refer people to the books, then I don't see anything wrong with it. I don't see how it would imply that people can't answer these objections. If they know the objections in question are explicitly dealt with in a certain book, then why not refer to that book? Let's say you don't agree with Objectivism. Now, if you are serious about ideas, then you would like to hear the Devil's strongest case (for, in this case, Objectivism). Then why not hear it, formulated as good as possible? Why not read the books in question, instead of just assume that there is no argument? Seems like taking the easy way out.
  16. Actually, I base that comment on ten years of "discussions" with people who just refuse to read and study the works of Ayn Rand. Yet they insist on talking about it. They insist on bringing up objections, even though they don't understand the theory they are arguing against. Which is why most of their objections consist of nothing but straw man-arguments. I think it's altruistic and, therefore, immoral of me to spend time on people who are not interested. Who are not willing to make any effort on their own. Who want me to spoon feed them, without getting anything out of it. Now, I don't exclude the possibility that you can read it, be intelligent, and still not agree or understand. That's not the point. You see, I do NOT expect anybody to necessarily be convinced after reading the works of Ayn Rand. That's NOT why I refer people back to the literature. No, the sole reason I think it's reasonable for me, and others, to demand that people read the works of Ayn Rand before having a conversation, is because it saves me a lot of time. Instead of having to give a small lecture, to just set up the context, we can spend our precious time on arguing or clarifying a specific point. (As a side note, I want to say that I have *never* *ever*, not even *once*, met a single person who has actually read and studied the works of Ayn Rand, et al., and then told me: "I don't agree and here is why...". I am still waiting. Quickly skimming through an essay or two, does NOT constitute serious studying. It almost doesn't count as reading at all.)
  17. Atheism is not a fundamental, it is a derivative. It does not say what you believe in, only what you do not believe in, namely God. The evils of collectivism, in the form of communism or nazism, do not stem from atheism. What are the basic ideas of these collectivist ideologies? Metaphysically, holism (the individual is not really real, only the group is). Epistemologically, mysticism (there is a source of knowledge beyond reason or in addition to reason: faith, intuition, instinct, feeling, revelation, etc). Ethically, self-sacrifice (sacrifice your life and happiness for others, e.g., the nation, the race, the economy, the future generations, or as an end in itself, is secondary). Politically, these ideas justifies and resulted, logically and historically, in the rise of totalitarianism in the 20th century. In terms of essentials, there is NO difference between these ideas and the basic approach of the world religions. The existential results are the same: the medieval period of Europe was, after all, dominated by the totalitarian Church of Rome. (The Middle East was for long dominated by the totalitarian Caliphat and now it is slowly sliding back into this old, Islamic order.) So you see, there is no mystery here. Ayn Rand hated collectivism, for the same reason she hated religion, because it rested on the same false and evil ideas, which give rise to the same massive destruction of human values, when enacted.
  18. "If smoking was not in the interest of her survival, and Ayn Rand smoked, was her smoking immoral (according to the morality of Objectivism)? If not, how do you reconcile survival as the metaphysical basis for morality with Ayn Rand's smoking?" First of all, survival does not merely mean physical survival. To live man needs more than the daily bread. Man also has various psychological (survival) needs. He has, for instance, the need for (rational) pleasure. In the absence of convincing proof that smoking is dangerous, one could maybe argue that smoking was like drinking coffee. And there's nothing wrong with enjoying a cup of coffee or ten. Ayn Rand did not think the science that suggested it was bad for you was any good. (She correctly rejected a bunch of statistical correlations as non-science.) By the early 1970s she was, however, convinced of the dangers of smoking. Her doctor told her to quit, so she did. She went cold turkey. Ayn Rand, therefore, not only lived up to her own philosophy; she also exercised unbreached rationality, which is why she was, morally speaking, perfect.
  19. 1. There is a difference between saying you are irrational (or even stupid) or that your ideas are false, and resorting to "ad hominem". Ad hominem means that you reject an idea as false, because there is something supposedly wrong with the person. This is a fallacy since there is no logical connection between the premise and the conclusion. Example: "You're a selfish capitalist, so your argument for capitalism is false". I don't think the use of ad hominem arguments is typical of Objectivists. 2. I have actually never witnessed this. Not even once. Not that it really matters, since it is true that this will not convince anybody of anything. I do not know if most Objectivists, ignorant of philosophy in general or not, "repulse" non-Objectivist philosophers. I know that many Objectivists admire, for instance, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, John Locke, and Friedrich Nietzsche. Even if they don't agree with everything. That includes me. 3. I think the main reason Objectivists refer to the books is because they think it is only fair that if you really care about the position you are trying to argue against, then you should at least make some effort to understand the position you are arguing against. The simplest and fairest way to gain that understanding is to read the relevant literature. It just implies that you are not very interested, if you are not willing to make that effort. So why should one care to engage you? I have had debates and discussions for over ten years now and I can only speak for myself, but after a while you get sick of *spoon feeding* the critics with information. For free. (What is really strange is that these critics seem to think Objectivism is wrong, yet they expect me to lecture them on the philosophy because they can't bother to do any reading of their own? Something is wrong with this picture.) Your example of the Republican debating a Democrat is, by the way, not very good, because in that case, they are both relying on a massive context that they and the audience both can relate to. But Objectivism is, contrary to what you may think, a revolutionary philosophy. It is radically different from every other philosophy out there. Therefore, you can't as an Objectivist easily go into any discussion without first establishing a totally new context, which itself is pretty controversial. But this is time consuming and, often, without any reward. Especially when you are having this conversation in a chat room, where people can interrupt you all the time with ten new questions, sidetracks, or objections... long before you have been able to set up the necessary context for the discussion. I would love to have a discussion with somebody who has seriously studied Objectivism. I love to hear good counter-arguments, good objections. That's why I love to play the Devil's Advocate with friends. But I refuse to waste time on people who can't bother to first study the ideas they are trying to refute.
  20. So some rich people can "afford" to make really expensive mistakes - and that's a flaw with Objectivism? I don't see how it follows.
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