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Everything posted by jimmay

  1. If capitalism is defined as the only form of society that is based on the recognition of individual rights, that means that any activity where no coercion is involved, is capitalistic by nature. That even extends to communes, which might be seen as anti-capitalist in spirit, but not in fact so long as individuals are not being coerced. That's the contradiction at the heart of all "communes" in free societies. If that condition is met, it's just a question of what makes the most economic sense, and in that domain I don't see how the concept of "anti-capitalist" can apply, assuming the context of a free society. It's all just means to ends at that point, and the moral questions simply pertain to the question of whether the chosen activity serves the relevant interests of the particular individuals involved. If those "interests" are altruistic, as appears to be the case with Mondragon, then you've got an issue, but that seems to be a problem with the stated ends for which a particular co-operative is formed, rather than the means chosen for those ends, which is the co-operative. It has always been my conviction that a truly capitalist society would give birth to many different forms of economic associations in addition to the normal ones we now take for granted. And many of them would not be "profit-driven" in the normal sense of monetary gain, simply because "gain", or purpose, is by no means limited to the monetary form in a capitalist society.
  2. Perhaps Thermopylae could be seen as a Doolittle raid... having its effect more by means of inspiration, of galvanizing moral conviction, rather than imparting any strictly strategic advantage.
  3. Which is more dangerous, the left hand of a mugger that has already wounded you heavily but is currently away from you -- or his right hand, which now suddenly holds the knife, scant inches from your neck? I remain unable to understand statements to the effect that the left as such is more dangerous than the right, or vice-versa. At the basic level we have got to stop making these distinctions, because we are still in essence dealing with a single enemy. By that I don't mean simply to recognize that they all come from the same philosophical source, I mean that we need to realize that these many manifestations of the same enemy, can interact and play off one another. If another major terrorist act precipitates the US Government into major advances towards totalitarianism, it will be due to the interaction between it and said encroaching statism. The pattern is there for all to see in 1930's Germany, as the terroristic brownshirts pushed the Weimar government into further and further acts of tyranny itself in attempting to combat Hitler. The problem is that our mugger, the philosophical Left, has two hands. The other one is their artificial opponent, the conservatives. Those guys have been galvanized by 9/11. They are the bomb to which terrorism is the fuse. They are the authors of the Patriot Act, don't forget. In three short years, 9/11 has precipitated the political equivalent of a quick feint, switching the knife from left to right hand. Are you going to stay fixated on the left? The political left has been slowed down quite a bit since the 1960's and 1970's, their last major period of advance. Today, while they still are making progress in a number of areas, in particular the assault on private property via the envirocult, they have been slowed down, stopped and even in a few cases reversed a bit (gun control). Some of the better secular-ish conservatives do a relatively good job of fighting on that front, and that might even be debatably attributed to some influence of Ayn Rand here and there. The last major leftist advance can be considered parried, if just barely. Because of that, the timescale of that danger is still measurable in decades. But Patriot Act II, III etc. can happen in a matter of months, weeks even, after another terrorist attack (or two). I believe that our efforts are best spent here, on two interrelated fronts: demanding military action against the remaining terrorists-supporting nations, and attacking the Patriot Act as not only destructive of freedom, but as bad military strategy. Knock out the supporting states, and the terrorists become no more dangerous than ordinary criminals -- which the existing enforcement structures and legal process can handle. The conservatives are therefore our most urgent target -- for support on terrorism (which means voting for Bush at this time) and for attack on Patriot. But this focus is not because the right is more or less dangerous than the left; it is because that's the situation we find ourselves at this moment in the fight for freedom. If we are going to win this, we have to deal with immediate threats as quickly and dynamically as they arise, but without forgetting that we fight one enemy. Follow the knife, not the hands. Parry the right, watch the left, and mind the enemy!
  4. I have always seen the right of a child as being the same as those of adults, with the difference that some of them are "nascent" and must be activated somehow. The metaphysical grounds of this are simply that a child has the rights of a human because they are humans, but are temporarily unable to exercise them due to conditions of nature beyond their control. I'd be interested in seeing some further enumeration of these nascent rights; for myself, these consist of the right to sustenance, and the right of contract. First, I don't see food, shelter etc. as a "right" in the same manner as the right to life, but are instead an obligation incurred by the parents when they performed a certain, legally defined act called "having a child". (At this time that doesn't address the question of orphans, stepchildren etc.) Second, the current test by which nascent rights are "activated" is an age of majority. I wonder whether it might be a good idea to make possible a test whereby a child can claim such rights earlier if he so chooses. The consequence of exercising the right of contract would be releasing the legal bonds of parent to child; the child is no longer subject to parental authority and the parents are freed of their sustenance obligations (i.e. the legally defined act of having this child is completed).
  5. I've been thinking of writing one myself. The current document's primary flaws in my eyes: 1. No definitions (with one such omission meriting its own entry below). 2. No direct codification of the purpose of government, referenced and reinforced in the "default" clause (that's the "any powers not hereby delegated" clause, which catches all unforseen possibilities... this is currently the Ninth and Tenth Amendments) 3. No "Consent of the Governed" clause dealing with the delegation of the right of retaliatory force, and the circumstances delineating the limits of the Government's moral authority to wield force. Here would be codified the inalienable rights of the sovereign individual, the moral authority by which the new Government is formed, and just as importantly, the principles and tests by which the Government can be considered forfeit of said authority. This is the "secession" clause some thought should have been written into the original Constitution, but geared to the secession of the individual rather than the states. 4. The failure to define "the people". From what I've read so far, the Founders did not see the necessity for defining exactly who "the people" are. I ascribe this to the limitations of the state of the political art in 1776. At the cusp of the Enlightenment, they could not anticipate the coming of the Left and their introduction of fundamental collectivism. With our added two centuries of history to draw upon, it is all too clear why "the people" as a collective and "the people" meaning the sovereign individual MUST be sharply distinguished, by use of specific terms if necessary. Related to this is the nasty conflation of "the people" with the states, the most egregious example being the Tenth Amendment, which sets the states and the people on one side versus the federal government on the other. The rational Constitution would only distinguish between all governments on one side and the sovereign individual on the other, with the division of powers handled in derivative clauses further downstream. While this is in part due to the particular historical circumstances surrounding the establishment of the United States, the idea of federation needs to be more tightly subordinated to the recognition of individual sovereignty.
  6. If America becomes a police state, it is destroyed by all the measures that matter. It would be just another empire in that case, commanding no loyalty from me. If there are any Tooheys in the Islamist movements, they know this. I know the core Left does.
  7. It has been said around this thread that Christians/the Bible say "turn the other cheek", or "Christianity doesn't give them a cause to fight for", or "The Christians are the uncertain, hesitant and malleable side." Forgotten Rome, the Crusades and Dark Ages already? Religion is plastic; it works just as well to rationalize violence and war as it does to rationalize pacifism. Before focussing so narrowly on Christianity's soft side, you guys need to examine their tough side. I suggest firearms forums. Here's two: Glock Talk Packing.org By all indications, the religionists are getting much more assertive, taking advantage of the vacuum obligingly created for them by the Left. And why shouldn't they? They have the Left's example, *as a secular faith*, to draw upon in their own assault against their enemy. And don't be fooled into thinking that enemy is the Left. Check your history -- religion's old nemesis is the Enlightenment. And where is it today? Betsy S. wrote: Hooboy, Betsy, you should read what I'm reading... Russell Kirk's "The Conservative Mind" (7th revised ed.) which illustrates how tenuous that retention really is. This book has been recommended as a definitive reference by quite a few conservatives I know. I hereby submit a few passages. Most of these are from Chapter 3, entitled "Romantics and Utilitarians", which is primarily concerned with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, whom Kirk upholds as one of conservatism's defining thinkers. As for conservatism's grasp of the Amerian Ideal, I submit these items: Notice that while modern conservatives rail against the hippies and tree-huggers, one of their definitive thinkers claims the philosophical fathers of the enviro-cult as part of conservatism's philosophical heritage? And I'm only three chapters in! This stuff isn't confined to Kirk, either. Modern conservatives are chanting "Freedom of religion, not freedom from religion", and attempting to twist the meaning of the establishment clause of the First Amendment as not specifying the separation of church and state. Individual conservatives might love America, but conservatism itself is *essentially* anti-Enlightenment and thusly, anti-American. Given that philosophic base, any conflict between religious and free-market conservatives will be won by the most consistent side -- the religionists. It is they who are untaming Christianity, resurrecting it "after its drubbing at the hands of eighteenth century rationalism" (Ibid. p136). Had I the vote, I'd also go for Bush, on the grounds Betsy cited... but fully mindful of how much a contradictory veneer is some conservatives' "respect for Enlightenment ideals". That being said, those contradictory elements do mean that dissent and independent thought might still be occasionally found amongst conservatives, unlike the monolithic Left. Besides, if the conservatives insist on borrowing from us, by all means assist them. Maybe, just maybe, we'll philosophically co-opt them from within just as the Left did to liberalism. If we do, then "conservative" will be transmuted to its opposite in this century, just as "liberal" was in the last. But that hasn't happened yet, and certainly won't by November.
  8. The purposes of "perfect reproduction" and "make it sound *good*" are not the same. That means that at some point, they will diverge. The recent resurgence in tube amps shows that all too well. So the answer to your question depends on whether the engineer seeks mathematical perfection, or want to sell a lot of amps. With the degree of precision now possible, the remaining variables all pertain to personal preferences.
  9. Here's an article by Lech Walesa regarding President Reagan, that I think is a good read -- especially the section towards the end about "cowboys". The Polish people, hungry for justice, preferred "cowboys" over Communists. "When talking about Ronald Reagan, I have to be personal. We in Poland took him so personally. Why? Because we owe him our liberty. This can't be said often enough by people who lived under oppression for half a century, until communism fell in 1989. Poles fought for their freedom for so many years that they hold in special esteem those who backed them in their struggle. Support was the test of friendship. President Reagan was such a friend. His policy of aiding democratic movements in Central and Eastern Europe in the dark days of the Cold War meant a lot to us. We knew he believed in a few simple principles such as human rights, democracy and civil society. He was someone who was convinced that the citizen is not for the state, but vice-versa, and that freedom is an innate right." -- Lech Walesa
  10. No he wouldn't. He'd start it as some sort of informal discussion group and nurture it to prominence, but he'd never head it up. Run it, yes, but always the cat, never the cat's paw.
  11. jimmay


    Well, that would shoot down was I was about to write, i.e. that non-citizens can't be drafted. I've never heard of such a provision anywhere in my various dealings with U.S. immigration, but I was 29 when I first came here. Moreover, I thought that the U.S. military was treated like any other employer from the standpoint of immigration law, i.e. that foreigners would need a visa to enlist.
  12. Since when? You, sir, just flunked Americanism 101. Individual rights are not contingent upon citizenship. At this point, the proper policy to follow is the same as that for criminals, citizen or not: if you honestly believe you recognized one of them, call the FBI. "Informers", like anyone else, should be evaluated by context; ratting out Jews to the SS is the moral opposite of informing the Air Force where bin Laden is hiding.
  13. I've always experienced deja vu as ZiggyKD describes... I always pursue it, but it never goes anywhere. I'm inclined to see it as some sort of false recognition echo... not half-recollected but falsely recollected. That would explain why attempts to consciously pursue it never bear fruit... because unlike ordinary memories, this "recollection" bears no associational connections to the rest of your knowledge... it's literally context-free. I also wouldn't doubt its connection to sleep deprivation. Once, I tried to do two all-nighters in a row to complete a project. In the wee hours of the second night, I started to experience the reverse of deja-vu... recognition failures and misfires. Examples included mistaking a flag waving for a giant hand with a handkerchief, and a car for an upside down boat. The last straw was forgetting where in the universe I was. I had the spooky feeling that there was "nowhere" beyond my range of vision. I had to consciously "rebuild" my sense of place -- and once that was done, I took the hint and hit the sack.
  14. "Now there's a man with an open mind - you can feel the breeze from here! " -- Groucho Marx
  15. When faced with that sort of claim, Ayn Rand simply said (paraphrasing) "Don't ask me what they mean by 'rational'; ask Immanuel Kant." The description that I use that seems to get the message across the fastest, is to describe the Objectivist view of reason as "unlimited". We do not grant that there is anything outside the reach of reason, and we use the exact same process to consider and evaluate ALL issues, including moral and spiritual ones. There is ONE all-encompassing form of reason. You will find that all those other "rational" types accept the division between reason and morality at some level, and vary only by what they do with it -- some toss morality and are amoral (the ones questioning the existence of good and evil), some cling to morality and ignore reality (religionists and like-minded Leftists) and many just arbitrarily switch between them on a case-by-case basis. That being said, however, I question the utility of coining a new term. What you are dealing with here is the same sort of semantical BS born of common terms that have been conceptually corrupted by the Left; you need to realize that the Leftish terms of thought are fundamentally different from ours, and you have to bear in mind that when they use the same *words* we do, they often don't *mean* the same thing. The term "selfish" is another good example. This has the effect of making communication really difficult, because it's like you aren't speaking the same language; to get any ideas into their heads you have to re-educate them to repair all the wrecked concepts upon which your idea depends -- and that's just to get them to understand, let alone accept, the idea. So, there is no point to coining a term for Objectivist versus non-objectivist rationality, simply because their terms of thought render the former completely inconceivable -- you can't get here from there. The "limited" view of reason is universal, yet is normally held at the subconscious level, so anything that operates from the basis of unlimited reason will be incomprehensible to them *until* that issue is brought to the fore. That's the entire goal and effect of Leftist philosophy, by the way -- to erase the Enlightenment from the culture by inoculating people against its concepts, making them utterly incomprehensible and unreachable to those trapped in their box. Observe, for example, the complete erasure of the idea of natural rights from the mainstream outside of America; non-Americans are baffled by our insistence on clinging to this notion, most notably that over the Second Amendment and firearms. It is not ordinary disagreement that is the big issue facing us; it is this crippling of the mainstream mind that gets in our way. Your new term would require the same sort of re-education as the process of redefining rationality would, so you aren't saving any work -- and after you're done, they will usually just re-construe your new term in *their* corrupt terms of thought and then blame your idea for the contradictions that result. So, I stick to my guns; I do not concede that they are "rational". Their conception of "rational" is corrupt. I then take the *epistemological* discussion from there, for those who stick around to find out what I mean. The rest are simply not worth your time.
  16. Green card holder here. The actual answer spans nearly all but the last entry; for some people it's a slamdunk, for others it can be a nightmare, for most it's in between. The paths to citizenship can vary wildly. I took the employment sponsorship path, which took about three years to GC and will end up taking eight years (total) to citizenship. A friend of mine here in LA married an American, and will beat me to citizenship by two years. If you have a U.S. parent, you can go straight to citizenship in relatively little time; if you are sponsored by a U.S. relative other than a parent, it can take a very long time, >5 years. The two big things that I can point out that matter the most are these: DO have a degree OR analogous work experience (this would include being published, and having your work lauded by peers), and DON'T have a criminal record. Past that, there's a lot of odd loopholes and difficulties; if you are a leftist intellectual who pillories America left and right *but is applauded by other intellectuals*, it counts in your favor; if you lack a degree and have not yet made a splash in your industry, getting in can be quite the legal hack (in my case, I had to spend $12kCDn on some classes in the States to upgrade my degree, and that was *with* a job offer from a well-respected company. And before 9/11). Once I had the visa and had proven myself to my employer, the Green Card process was long in the paperwork and legal fees (not borne by me, thankfully), but the actual entry interview was a trip to Montreal (consular processing, usually the best bet), three hours of waiting and then two simple questions in a small room, and done! (the agent actually said that this was going to be his shortest interview on record). Then some final extra processing at the entry point to lock in the new status, and fini. Regarding visas, if you are a Canadian or Mexican, there are certain special visas issued under NAFTA that do not have quotas. These are a good initial step, but a good attorney can guide you around the pitfalls. Absolutely, positively, have an attorney. One bad step can get you barred for a year or more. As for the bureaucrats, there is always the risk of tangling with one who sees terrorists under every rock or simply feels like throwing some weight around that day and he doesn't like your nose. But most of them simply do not like being knocked out of their routine by having to process exceptions. They don't like that. That means, don't forget to dot your i's and cross your t's, have every bit of documentation that is required, and be sure of every fact you give them. Help them pigeonhole you; that way their ass is covered if anything goes awry, and that's all they want as a minimum. I found that out the hard way going into Detroit, and that was just a business trip.
  17. You answered two key parts of my question, when you made clear that consciousness is non-physical and that it is volitional, i.e. not subject to physical determinism. Now I'm curious about what exactly *is* a non-physical phenomenon? If consciousness has identity but is non-physical, then we've introduced another idea new to me; that physical phenomena are only a subset of existence, that there exists another class of distinct phenomena that is not physical and does not reduce to it, but is nonetheless causally tied to it, both ways, possesses identity and is real. You also mentioned somewhere that consciousness is unique, the only such non-physical phenomenon of which we are currently aware, so that in our current context, the class of non-physical phenomena consists entirely of the phenomena of consciousness. Now, if I step a bit further and call this non-physical realm the "spiritual realm", the territory actually becomes more familiar; the Objectivist corpus is full of distinctions between physical and spiritual phenomena, and I never had a problem with any of that. So there isn't a problem, really, especially not after these clarifications. My question now would pertain more to where the mystical view goes wrong, which is likely outside the scope of the thread. Thanks for the effort Stephen, I appreciate it.
  18. I've been giving this queston a lot of thought over the years. At some point I'm going to put together a Website detailing how I think it needs to be done; but here are some of the points I think need to be borne in mind. TACTICS Forget about convincing people by means of trench warfare; that is, you won't do it by straight argument. See the "anti-realism" issue you've been grappling with to see what I mean; people will take whatever smidgeon of Objectivism you communicate in the short time you have, put it into their terms of thought, and blame you for the resulting contradictions. Overhauling someone's terms of thought is a huge process with a *willing* participant, let alone a hostile one. If you are lucky, you may be able to "manufacture" one Objectivist this way in your entire lifetime. Not a great rate of return. About all you'll get out of this is practice. Instead, fight using high-volume and guerilla tactics: "high-altitude bombing", pinpoint sniper attacks, and limited engagements/skirmishing. High altitude bombing of the Internet kind is when you lurk on a forum having a better-than-average likelihood of being anti-Left, and drop well-argued posts using Objectivist ideas aiming at the topic, and then disengage. The purpose is to "seed" ideas, to induce curiosity from others to inquire further. Find fora which seem to lend themselves to the sort of topics and discussions you want to work with, and go for it. The test bed for me was a firearms board, which has its share of nuts but is by nature of its topic well-filtered for leftish sheeple. I suggest picking fora by your own interests, as being a genuine member of the board can boost your impact. Other types of HAB include letters-to-the-editor and other forms of writing and speech. The general principle is that you drop a "package" and keep flying on to the next target. The advantage of this method, is fresh targets and/or fresh issues on every drop. Some key HAB tactics: i) Try wherever possible to learn how to express the same ideas in fresh terms and different words every time. I cringe at people who use the same terms every time, and doubly so when they repeat the same verbal constructs Ayn Rand used. This is because someone who has integrated the ideas rather than merely parroting the dogma will learn to express them in various contexts, terms and analogies, because the philosophy is now present in all the different areas of their lives. They apply the principle in new situations all the time and consequently learn new, fresh and unique ways to communicate it. Someone who has merely latched onto the philosophy as a dogma or mantra -- and they do exist, sadly -- will show it in their tendency to repetition. People notice that. ii) STAY OUT OF THE TRENCHES. Come back around to see how your post played, perhaps follow up if you see opportunity... but don't get drawn in. Try to keep your replies compact and to the point. If you think that the only way to handle a rebuttal is with a long explanatory post, it's time to move on. Don't get sucked in. Reply to the genuine questions, and skip the rest. The "enemy" will smear you as dodging them etc. but there's no reason to care. Sniping means to fire small, pinpoint shots at the target. The purpose in the case of people with potential is to cause them to consider a new question or idea in the context of a familiar issue. That is where the main potential for sniping ROI is. Sniping the enemy, however, is different; it only serves to keep them uncomfortable. On leftist boards, that will just get you banned, but on non-political boards, you can actually do some good this way, by emboldening dissent. A friend of mine told me about this Leftist with a big, loud mouth, who had more or less established a hegemony-by-intimidation over an Internet cinema mailing list. He was constantly construing everything in Leftist terms, slamming dissenting ideas at every chance, but at a sneaky level which didn't quite get him banned. If a dissenter engaged him, he would simply slime them right back, at which point a general hue and cry would come from the other members decrying political discussions as such *without naming a side*... which left the dissenter cut off and the Leftist, having scored his points, smirking. One day my friend forwared to me one of his more asinine posts, which happened to have the perfect hole in it. I fired a short two-line post back to my friend and he forwarded it. KABOOM!!!! The Leftist went positively ballistic, smearing my friend and me with piles of invective. The merest hint of principled and well-armed opposition just sent him right off. Three days later he apologized to the list, including my friend, for his huge rant. But the damage was done; the atmosphere in the list became less oppressive for a time as his heretofore silent opponents saw the opportunity to speak up. A very good shot, that was; I could tell I had wrecked his world for at least a week. Limited engagement and skirmishing is when you do engage someone in an argument, but you keep it constrained to a certain range. As all issues are interconnected, the tendency is there for the issue to "balloon" on you, losing your focus and your audience. Don't do that; keep it "bite-sized". This doesn't mean dropping the full context; it simply means that you endeavor to deliver your viewpoint in parcels they can process. Don't overload them. This is best done with someone who you've already determined to be worth the effort. The idea is to determine how much they can handle and on what topics, and to "feed" them accordingly. Try to do this on a demand-driven basis; let them come to you. On the question of actual protests and such things as Walk for Capitalism, I'd classify those as being advisable only for those who are quick on their mental feet (and their real feet!). Verbal argument requires fast-moving minds to be effective. Joining other protests on an ad-hoc, issue-by-issue basis can be fruitful, but by its nature will be almost entirely trench warfare. Keeping altitude and distance is tough in person. STRATEGY Our objective should be to buy the high-level intellectuals time to engineer the propagation of Objectivist ideas into the intellectual realm. As Ayn Rand makes clear, the real battle is at the epistemological level, and that's going to be fought in the rarified atmosphere of intellectual circles. Because of the extremely low rate of return on "trench warfare", reaching students and young people while waiting for the older Kantians to die off and not be replaced is the only way to "manufacture" Objectivists wholesale. At best, that would take one generation if we ruled the universities right now. So, it's going to take a while. It's also not a process that will happen in a Gulag. So, rather than try to win the war by other means, we need to run interference, to buy as much time as possible for the long-range efforts to start paying off -- and above all we must somehow preserve the United States in its semi-free form. Those are what I see as my proper strategic goals. If you can influence someone in such a manner that they alter their viewpoint on an issue in a more rational direction, that is a victory. If you can force a leftist to backtrack and defend themselves on an issue that they've taken for granted as "won", it's a victory. If someone votes against a bad gun-control law instead of for it, because of a discussion he had with you about the right of self-defense, it's a victory. It isn't a complete one, it may not last, it may only be on one issue, and at best it may just slow the Left down. But if we haven't yet reached their totalitarian end-of-road by the time Objectivism becomes a force in the culture, we WILL win. For, as Andrew Bernstein put it: "This time the good guys are armed. To the teeth."
  19. Fine. Learn to leverage them without sanctioning them. Amplify the things they do right, assist them when they do something valuable, and be there to pick up the ball when they drop it.
  20. I can't see radio waves, but I know that they exist. How? By means of its "footprints" in reality. In other words, *something* is propagating through the air that allows me to listen to a baseball game thousands of miles away. For the color-blind person, there is a perceptual way to show him "color" by using two chairs that look the same shade of grey to him, but one of which is red and the other green. For example, a light which affects white objects to similar degree in his vision, has a radically different effect on the two chairs. He can't see that the light is green, but he can see that the otherwise similar chairs absorb different amounts of the light. Something is different. What is different, he asks? It's the wavelength of the light and its selective absorption by the chairs, answers science; and we then explain, this variation of wavelength is what we perceive as color. It can also be communicated by showing him how color-sighted people all make the same distinction; it is by the reactions of animals, for example, that we learn that cats and dogs are dichromats (two basic colors), humans are trichromats (three) and that other animals have up to seven basic colors... can you imagine having a seven-dimensional color space? As for defending objective reality, such defense presupposes an audience capable at least of understanding (as distinguished from agreement), which only happens when the audience shares some basic terms of thought with the speaker. Your audience does share them, *but not in the context of philosophy*. All they are going to do is take the elements of Objectivism you put forth, construe them in *their* terms of thought, and blame you and Objectivism for the contradictions that result. So don't do it there... do it elsewhere when they don't expect it and are acting on an implicit premise of reality. Don't get trapped in a siege -- harry them with arrows. Raise inconvenient facts and observe the pretzellian results. At the very least you'll learn a ton about ideological pathology. Beyond that, you just have to count on objective reality to defend itself. It can be a bear that way
  21. I would infer from this that the *mind* or consciousness is what processes information? otherwise this is a surprising statement.
  22. The non-sequitur in his argument is the idea that the values created by "grouping" are not traceable to the individuals. Where the hell does that come from? Has he ever heard of the division of labor? If I live longer because a doctor healed me, the value came from the doctor. No matter how complex a society may get, all that exist and are acting *in reality* are individuals. Even if one points out that one's life is much better with people in it, it is still those individuals who are the source of that value. Since rights only become morally relevant in the context of society (because of the possibility of the use of force; your rights cannot be violated in solitude), they are the necessary organizing principle of any society. All rights that a society may claim for itself (such as national sovereignty) are merely delegations of said rights (e.g. law enforcement) and do not exist apart from them. At the point that any society attempts to override those rights, it has committed the fallacy of the stolen concept right there, and thereby wipes out its moral claim to exist. When that happens, what is actually happening is an attack by some individuals against the rights of others, and the principles expressed in the Declaration of Independence apply. Living in the state of society (i.e. associating with others) is a way of life that yields certain benefits. As such, it's a solution to a problem, a *method* (teamwork) of solving problems that are outside the reach of solitary men to resolve. I don't see how a state of association can acquire existence, let alone rights. Does my method of working acquire rights because of the benefits I reap from it? The proof that rights are individual consists in the fact that only individuals *exist*. Individuals associate; associations do not individuate. The group has no existence apart from individuals, but individuals may exist apart from the group. Groups are existentially dependent upon individuals. Individuals *cause* groups. And since morality IS reason and rights are a moral concept, none of this applies to non-sentient entities. A bear isn't violating your rights if he eats you, nor does a hurricane do so when it deposits your boat fifty miles inland. So, the whole issue pertains only to rational individuals interacting with one another, in a state of society. As for the exceptions to that rule, e.g. mentally disabled individuals etc. well they are classified and dealt with as exceptions to the rule, of what Don Watkins calls "broken units"; as an issue they can be dealt with only after the basic principles have been defined by reference to human nature as such. Without the concept of rights, the question of the rights of the disabled makes no sense. People who commit crimes forfeit their rights, but the principle of "let the punishment commit the crime" should guide society on which of those forfeited rights it can abrogate.
  23. SHAZAM! That's a key point to be made here. All forms of perception, anywhere in the universe, natural or artificial, are of finite *resolution*, which can be described as measuring ability. The terms, or *units* of resolution (not to be confused with units of a concept) change with regards to the sensory apparatus in question. Trying to resolve something in reality that is smaller than the limit imposed by the size of your smallest unit of measurement (for the eye, the individual light-sensing cells of the retina) is just guesswork, but that does not in any way invalidate the information that *is* resolved. I was not misled by the term "margin for error", as that idea is definitely related to resolution; "margin for error" is simply the biggest thing that the perceptual mechanism in question cannot resolve. When discussed in context of purpose, that is usually specified as an "error tolerance". (By way of sidebar, this basic idea is embodied in the Nyquist theorem, which says that meaningful information cannot be resolved past half the "sampling rate", which is a type of resolution.) All that artificial devices such as telescopes, night vision and X-rays do is extend that resolution in a particular direction. A lot of bad (but prevalent) arguments, such as the confusion of viewpoint with "bias" which is used to attack objectivity in journalism, and other attacks on certainty, rely on this invalid "infinite precision" argument. Most attacks on epistemological absolutism do as well.
  24. Why? Even non-conscious entities have causal efficacy. Doesn't the interaction with a rolling boulder cause the tree to fall? Sure, but what caused the boulder to roll? When referring to non-conscious entities, a chain can be established going both forward and back from the incident in question. The rolling boulder came from a cliff, which is being eroded by wind and water, and which was formed by sedimentation in an ancient ocean and then uplifted by geologic processes driven by tectonic movement etc. Similarly, you can go forward and observe the wood beetles etc that eat the wood, resulting in a burst of growth of small plants etc. There are states of matter, and events that change matter from one state or form, to another. This is what has bugged me for a long time with "consciousness is a type of causation"; that's half the answer. That consciousness is an attribute of certain arrangements of matter, those we call brains, is a given. The existence of physical processes than can cause consciousness to cease or be distorted (Alzheimer's etc.) show that consciousness is clearly *subject* to being affected or "steered" by physical causes. So how then, do we get from there to "we CANNOT reduce consciousness to the neural processes of the brain", WITHOUT granting the mysticist idea that there exist some sort of extra-physical, non-determinate "*" which is doing the steering? After all, if physical processes are deterministic, then all that proceeds from them must also be determinate, no? If not, then how is that reconciled with physical determinism? By the statements given so far, consciousness must then be "more" than just physical processes. It can't *be* one, by definition, if it is not deterministic. And yet, both in terms of that which gives rise to it and in terms of what is caused by it, it is clearly *enmeshed* in said physical processes, to the point that it cannot exist without them. One idea that I have in mind is that the brain does not *cause* the mind, but creates the physical circumstances in which conscious causation can occur. In this vein, it is a prerequisite, but not a cause pe se. But that doesn't address the question of whether everything happening inside this "vessel" is physical or not, and whether it is therefore deterministic or not. As should be clear, this goes beyond the question of the precise mechanisms of consciousness; it pertains to exactly what and where indeterminacy can enter into a deterministic universe. Are such phemonena non-physical? What exactly would that mean, if yes?
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