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  1. Albert isn't saying that it is. He's saying that it's not nothing because there are fields (hence why it's ridiculous to say that there's nothing, as if that's coherent).
  2. Philosopher David Albert wrote a scathing review: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/25/books/review/a-universe-from-nothing-by-lawrence-m-krauss.html?_r=4
  3. I'd exercise a bit of caution when recommending S&W (though it's the most common recommendation to give on the subject of writing). Pullum has some interesting points to make in this respect here: http://www.lel.ed.ac.uk/~gpullum/ETfinalProof.pdf I'd actually recommend Huddleston and Pullum's 'A Student's Introduction to English Grammar' (since the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language makes for quite a wallop on your wallet): http://www.amazon.com/Students-Introduction-English-Grammar/dp/0521612888
  4. I agree with the main point of the post, though I disagree with aspects of the proposed alternative approach (or maybe it's just the specific application?). While I agree that people don't ask enough questions, the alternative of asking too many can be just as bad. In other words, asking question after question of a person won't necessarily lead them in any kind of meaningful direction. Questions are a tool, like any other pedagogical instrument in your tool box. They don't necessarily fit every situation, just as one can't use a hammer on just any old task. Often, as I think is demonstrated in that post, a student* gets into the habit of just thinking of ways to shoot down the question without really thinking about it. Of course some judgment is necessary to know what questions to ask, but often there are premises that need to be nipped in the bud or exposed. For example, at one point in that post you asked T-1000 if deceiving someone makes it impossible for them to act in their self-interest. He replied that "It makes it more difficult for him to act in his self interest but does not make it metaphysically impossible." The proper response here could be in the form of a question, but it shouldn't be one that keeps things on this highly abstract level (because of course he can just reply with an equally abstract response that shoots it right down, viz. one about Kant's categorical imperative). The problem is, who knows what anyone is talking about there? There needs to be some kind of examination of the concepts used, and concretes that the concepts are scoping in on. What is 'self-interest'? Why should one care about the interests of others? These questions require a lot of thought in order to properly answer, and it's likely one can get stuck on them for quite a while. That's not a problem though; that's where things should be, especially if someone is new to these kinds of topics. But further, if the discussion seems like it's veering off into uncharted territories or if the answers to the questions appear to be too vague or unnecessarily polemical, then the blueprints need to be brought out to guide the discussion better. Sometimes questions won't work, and the person generally in the 'question-asking' role will have to state why they think a different direction should be taken, then ask if that makes sense to the person. Just to tie things back together, the Socratic method is situationally useful. It can be used to make discussions more concrete, but like any other tool, it can be used in such a way as to cause further unclarity. *Though the relationship doesn't necessarily have to be the student-teacher kind. It's a matter of communicating well in general.
  5. You included it in a previous post, and it wasn't clear to me what your background was, so I thought it was relevant to ask. I'm not interested in debate or discussion on most of the issues raised here, but given that you make claims here and elsewhere against McCaskey's academic work (some of which weighed in on what one should or should not include in academic work as an Objectivist, how one should say it, etc.), I was curious to what extent you have experience with that sort of thing, what kind of issues you may or may not be aware of given that background, that sort of thing.
  6. What is your background in physics and philosophy?
  7. His list doesn't surprise me at all, considering the kind of films he makes. #3, 'Audition', is particularly fitting. Read the plot synopsis for a taste of real horror.
  8. Here's a link for a presentation on the subject of Galt's Speech, by Onkar Ghate (one of the foremost experts on the subject): http://atlasshrugged.com/book/a-study-of-galts-speech.html
  9. Just wanted to clarify something: Objectivism has nothing to say about the profession in the sense that it has no official position on trading, just as it has no official position on metal, computers, or any other such concrete issue. Philosophy deals with the broadest fundamentals; Objectivism can have something to say about the profession in the sense that the broad principles that make up the philosophy can be applied to such a concrete issue, but the philosophy itself can have no "official" position on it. With that, the question to be asked is whether or not the profession leads to values, and more, is fulfilling as a career or part-time hobby. I think that's an easy question to answer. edit: One can't say that trading is better than any other profession out of context in the sense that your question is asking. This would imply that there is some sort of "intrinsic" value that makes trading or being a businessman inherently better than one or the other. Objectivity requires that one judge the value of a profession based on one's own hierarchy of values. When you are trying to evaluate a potential value, you always have to ask, "of value to whom and for what?"
  10. Yes, you're right. I definitely agree. I didn't mean to imply that altruism was a necessary (vs. sufficient etc.) cause or premise, which is an error in my original post. I just mean that it is generally a go-to evil for Objectivists because of the fact that it is seemingly ubiquitous. edit: grammar and clarification.
  11. Absolutely, I do think it loosely lists needs that humans have; the problem is that it isn't exhaustive (which it doesn't necessarily need to be, it just seems like he picked possible 'needs' out of a hat) and further, it has no concept of actual hierarchy because it doesn't establish an objective standard by which one would judge needs to be more fundamental or less fundamental. Further, it would need to establish a range. We don't live day to day without having some concept of the longer-range. By looking at Maslow's hierarchy, it's hard to tell what he defines "needs" as. Does he mean "needs" to flourish qua man, to live until the next day, or what? In Peikoff's lecture on 'The Role of Philosophy and Psychology in History', he states that there is a bit of a 'chicken vs. the egg' scenario, as one can go in circles asking, "Why did this man act such and such a way? Because he held the premise of X. Why did he hold that premise? Because when he was X years old, he saw someone do such and such and he thought that it was the right thing to do. Why did he think it was the right thing to do? Because he held premise Y at the time, and it made sense to him. Why did he hold premise Y?" and it goes on and on. At some point, we have to come to volition. Why did someone do something? At root, because he chose to, based on all of his previous thoughts, choices and actions, which include an intermingling of philosophy and psychology. The reason why I said that philosophy is more fundamental is because it deals with the fundamental questions that give rise to and inform the more specialized or derivative questions (and thus you have the specialized sciences such as psychology that deal with more specific aspects). You cannot act without some code of values (even if one is merely an eclectic), and by a specific means, and on this basis, philosophy sets the terms and standards.
  12. Typically I lose interest in discussion once someone brings up Maslow's "Hierarchy," but okay, I'll bite. By what objective standard are you judging the order in which the hierarchy should occur? Further, by what process? At best, Maslow's "Hierarchy" (scare quotes intended) is a gross oversimplification. How exactly acceptance from the tribe is more fundamental than self-esteem or acceptance of the facts of reality is beyond me.
  13. I tried to wade through your post, and the best that I can discern is that you think that "primaries" or "fundamentals" are subjective, or at least that's what your opening statements put forth. Your opening paragraph completely subverts the idea of the role of hierarchy in concepts, much less objectivity. If your statement that "What is or is not a primary is decided by the person who accepts something as a primary" were true, then there'd be no such thing as the fallacy of the stolen concept, to say the least. To be honest, I skimmed the rest of your post and I lost interest. SP is right in the sense that we aren't talking about non-human animals or babies. We're talking about full-grown, conceptual-level adults. It is specifically the field of motivation within psychology that gets at the source of our desires, but philosophy guides that process, in addition to establishing the proper hierarchy of concepts within it.
  14. I think your second paragraph contradicts your first. Fear has to stem from some conceptual content, as it cannot be a causeless primary. I agree with your second paragraph that the fear of existence stems from either the lack of philosophy or bad philosophy, and I would hold that altruistic premises (the conceptual content) gives rise to that seemingly ubiquitous fear. In what seems like the "chicken and egg" scenario, I think that the premises or content, such as altruism, is more fundamental. MichaelH says a similar thing about "desires" or "emotions" being the primary when he states: In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand demonstrated how morality (more broadly, philosophy) was man's motive force; these desires or emotions are in no way primaries. Hence why "Altruism [tends to be] the go-to evil for most Objectivist discussions."
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