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Everything posted by Bowzer

  1. "Enlightenment" is just as mystical and arbitrary a concept as "God" and neither are compatible with a philosophy of reason. But apparently this isn't a problem in your mind. I'd be interested to hear how "meditation" and "intuition" lead to rational conclusions...the only method I know of involves reason and logic.
  2. Assumes that consciousness is possible? You should indeed thank Mr. Speicher and heed his advice since the above shows either a total lack of understanding or a complete misunderstanding of what Miss Rand wrote about consciousness. And to tie the Objectivist ethics in to that "assumption that consciousness is possible"?? Good God!!
  3. This is one of the most vile statements that I have ever read.
  4. Would you please point out where you disagree with the above posts since I think this question was sufficiently answered by several people in this very thread...
  5. That's just as wrong as reducing thought to electrical signals. Thoughts are not reducible to anything in the brain or even the brain and nervous system taken as a whole. This isn't quite fundamental enough. An act of focus must come prior to choosing among alternatives. See "The Primary Choice As The Choice To Focus Or Not" in OPAR, Chapter 2.
  6. I wasn't thinking of Escher in particular but some of his more recent writings. I don't give him a lot of credit but I would much rather read him than many many other philosophers.
  7. Non-Objectivist economists, scientists, etc. should be supported to the extent that they consistently agree with Objectivism. Miss Rand might have considered Ludwig von Mises to be worthy of such support. Conversely, intellectuals should be condemned and actively shunned to the extent that they are harmful to rational ideas and nobody does this more than the intellectual vermin who claim to uphold Objectivism while simultaneously "deviating from Objectivist orthodoxy."
  8. You are right to be disconcerted by your friend's demand that you disprove his claim. The key is to identify the assertion "God exists" for what it is: the arbitrary. He is the one making the claim so he is the one that has to show proof. This is called "the onus of proof" and it is a very important logical principle. As an atheist, you should refuse to consider the matter further until some evidence is offered. By accepting his premise that you must disprove his claim, you have already lost the argument as this drops the onus of proof principle. See "The Arbitrary as Neither True Nor False" in Chapter 5 of OPAR.
  9. The question shouldn't be about "efficiency" or "how well it works," but about which system is the moral system. The answer to this question is not dependent on other people's rationality or irrationality. Once you understand this, you will see why it is that capitalism works while other systems don't. The moral is the practical.
  10. Michael, I'm always glad to help people discover Objectivism. It helps me to grasp the philosophy and it might make me another ally on the philosophical front. Integrating Objectivism into your life is exciting! I hope that you will find, as I have, that this excitement never diminishes and that your investment will continually give greater and greater rewards.
  11. Douglas Hofstadter is very intelligent and is a wonderful writer but his ideas are very, very wrong. You should get familiar with his work considering the field that you are entering but, as I have recommended to you elsewhere, be wary... Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is trash if you want my opinion. Unlike Hofstadter, Pirsig is not a good writer and the philosophy that he puts in his novels is piecemeal and schizophrenic. I wouldn't really recommend anything other than a good neuroscience book. Cognitive science has no good analysis since everyone basically agrees about the same fundamentally wrong view of consciousness. For instance, "Minds and Machines" may as well be "Apples and Rocks" but, as you will see, this comparison has basically sat unchallenged since it was first formulated. Indeed, comparing the mind to a computer has been around as long as computers have. If you really pressed me, I would recommend John Searle's Rediscovery of the Mind with reservations. More than anything else, you should read as much Objectivism as you can. Without a philosophical shield, your mind will be penetrated with all kinds of wrong premises especially in your case with the major that you are taking.
  12. I'm sure that we have met at a speaker's dinner then. Anyway, welcome again!
  13. Welcome, Brad! During what years were you involved with UMSO? We may have met.
  14. Absolutely ground-breaking lectures. When he first gave this course, it totally changed my views on philosophy. The course that is for sale is of very high quality. I have many courses and there isn't a single one that wasn't worth the money. If it's a topic that interests you, I'll bet that you will get new insights and that you will benefit from the course.
  15. I haven't read Janes but I will tell you that I have wasted more time than I care to recall on consciousness books. I would just second what Stephen has recommended . Searle has said some very good things but he has also said some very, very bad things about consciousness. In my experience, the nature of consciousness is one of the most abstruse topics for non-Objectivists and Objectivists alike. It is so easy to swallow irrational ideas on this topic even if you think you are well-equipped enough to handle it. In addition to the obvious material from Miss Rand and Dr. Peikoff, I would highly recommend Dr. Binswanger's lectures on consciousness. Until you have thoroughly chewed this material, consider yourself at risk!!
  16. Mr. Prescott's jeering is entirely floating and devoid of meaning but you, on the other hand, are asking an honest question that deserves an answer. Just as there are axioms of philosophy, so there are similar principles and concepts to be found upon which all of ethics rests. Ethics studies a code of values to guide man's choices and actions. Before you even "set foot" in ethics, we have several very important topics to clear up: What is a code and why does man need one? What is man and what is his nature? Mr. Prescott ignores the fact that Miss Rand separates these questions from ethics proper (also observe that Dr. Peikoff devoted a separate chapter to this area of knowledge in OPAR, i.e., Chapter 6) and this is, in my opinion, one of her most monumental achievements. It is the key to why the Objectivist ethics is objective. I would suggest reading The Objectivist Ethics in The Virtue of Selfishness and Chapters 6 and 7 in OPAR to answer this question.
  17. I was just trying to KISS (keep it simple stupid). I'm not calling anyone "stupid," just trying to keep it simple.
  18. Ahh...the age-old question that inevitably surfaces whenever someone finds out that you study philosophy. It's actually a very interesting "ice breaker" of a question. Sound, properly understood, is a form of perception. This is a take on the issue that is quite distinctive to Objectivism so it takes some explaining. Sound is not just "out there" nor is it just "in here"; sound is the interaction between our ears and variations in air pressure. You can't separate one side of the interaction from the other and then ask, "where is the sound"? Dr. Peikoff explains this much more eloquently: This question is a trap that tries to get you to sit on either side of the intrinsicist/subjectivist fence. Instead, one should use this question to present the Objectivist distinction between object and form.
  19. Janet, The easiest way to get a good deal is to watch a deals page like this one. When you see a price that you like, follow the instructions and get a good deal. He regularly puts up deals for nice Dell laptops for $650-1,000. I wouldn't worry about the options if you are not playing games or doing photo editing, etc. These Dells come with all of the nice options and you can always customize to get what you need. If you have any questions about options, feel free to PM me.
  20. Damasio is a great neuroscientist. Although I don't consider him to be actively corrupt philosophically, he has swallowed a lot of garbage from philosophers of mind and cognitive science. I really have nothing to say about the model that you're presenting other than, "Be very wary" (I'm a poet and I didn't even know it!). Look at all of the concepts of consciousness that he is using: "decision", "images", "options", "anticipation", "reasoning", "strategies", "knowledge", "decision", "emotion"...need I continue? He is assuming a certain theory of consciousness in his use of each of these terms and I call it the representational theory of conscousness. This theory is fundamentally wrong. That doesn't nullify the research that he does. It does, however, severely limit his ability to induce per what I said above in another post. I think that this is a very tragic thing.
  21. *nod* Same here. This reinforces a point that I brought up earlier: scientists can be and often are wrong about studies related to consciousness. "Emotion" is a concept of consciousness. This is true even when applied to animals. A scientist can try to operationally or behaviorally define the concepts of consciousness that they use but they cannot escape the fact that all concepts of consciousness count on a particular metaphysics and epistemology. They can be as meticulous as possible in controlling their experiments but they are vulnerable to bad philosophy just as the general public is. Neuroscientists are especially vulnerable since they count on concepts of consciousness in many of their inductions. As Dr. Peikoff has pointed out, invalid concepts are a blockade to the inductive process. That neuroscientists are doing and have done brilliant and valid work in their field is a testament to their rationality since they only have very, very bad philosophy coming at them from philosophers of mind and cognitive scientists.
  22. I've found that epistemologists like to pick out some feature of knowledge, e.g., coherence, justification, reference, meaning, a feature that could be made to sound like a facet of Objectivism. They then proceed to build an entire theory on just that one feature. It makes it sound plausible to an Objectivist at first glance but upon examination it ends up being fundamentally wrong. Stick to ITOE for your epistemology.
  23. Separated by nothing means that they aren't really separated now doesn't it?
  24. This is very wrong but you should start another thread if you want to debate this since it is off the main topic. Where did I say that? That is a very confusing statement and your line of questioning displays this same confusion. I will try to answer the best that I can since I still am not sure what you are asking. What do you mean by "comes from"? Are you speaking in terms of how man evolved with the faculty that he has? Or are you saying that the faculty that produces our emotions is the same one that gives us the power of reason? The former is a scientific question while the latter is concerning man's nature. Philosophy may not have much to say depending on what you are asking. You ask if I have come to my conclusions dogmatically. No. I have formed my conclusions about the nature of emotions through introspection. I observe that ideas that I have automatized (through repetitive reasoning) lead to certain automatic psychosomatic responses on the part of my subconscious mind. As my ideas have changed (and they have quite a bit over the years), so have my emotional responses to such things as art, people, news, etc. The fact that my cat experiences panic upon hearing certain loud noises does not change my conclusion in the slightest. Her emotions come from a different source than mine, obviously, since she lacks the ability to form concepts. When she sees terrorists on the TV threatening the country that she lives in, she doesn’t wince like I do…this is a very simple observation and it reinforces my philosophy versus contradicts it. The fact that my cat experiences emotions and that she does not possess the faculty of reason does not contradict what Objectivism has to say about the nature of emotions in man. As I stated above, philosophy is the science that studies the fundamental nature of man and his relation to existence as a whole. Whatever scientists continue to discover about emotions in non-men will not impinge on these conclusions. Look, I’m not posting this to "save" you nor am I trying to “save face” with some sort of “intellectual victory.” This is a topic that happens to interest me and I enjoy writing about it. It’s as simple as that. Objectivism doesn't say that animals don't have emotions; it really doesn't say much at all about animal consciousness. If you really want to do some research, I suggest that you read chapter 5 of OPAR particularly the section Emotions as A Product of Ideas. If you plan to go into the field of neuroscience, you should be armed to the hilt with good philosophy; OPAR is one of the best place to start equipping yourself.
  25. The fact that we see emotions in other animals does not at all challenge Objectivism. Philosophy is concerned with the nature of man and it is in this context that Objectivism establishes “emotions as a product of ideas.” Furthermore, the fact that animals also experience emotions does not lead to the conclusion that “reason only exists because of the ability to show emotions.” It’s unclear what you mean by this statement but philosophy says what it says about reason and emotions antecedent to what science has to say on the subject; in other words, philosophy says “we know that man is a rational animal, here is his nature as such” whereas science says “we know that man is a rational animal thanks to philosophy, now here is how he became such.” First of all, if you accept any old scientist's conclusion simply because it was printed in Science or in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, then you are leaving yourself no grounds on which to reason. Of course, we all hope that published material in a scientific journal has been meticulously verified and that the conclusions are correct. The truth of the matter is, however, that these journals can and (on matters of consciousness more often than not) do print mistaken conclusions. It would do you well to study philosophy to aid you in your analysis of these very abstract conclusions otherwise you will be at the mercy of popular opinion and I’m sorry to say that 1,000 scientists can be wrong.. Again, what you are asking is a philosophical question. The nature of reason is established by philosophy and all of science depends on this. If, when he observes a gazelle running from a lion, a scientist concludes that reason is derivative to emotion, it is not a threat to philosophy; he is very plainly wrong. When he concludes that this shows reason to be subordinate to emotions, he is worse than wrong…he is now a (fill in the blank) _____.
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