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Tom Rexton

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  1. Please don't be so hostile and be a bit more charitable in your interpretation of others' argument. Some here have been rather emphatic of their points, but nowhere have I seen any attempts to argue against you by non-rational means. Just because several of us think differently about the effects and power of ideas, you should not accuse us of being unthinking, blind followers who act as a mob. (See your statements I highlighted in bold.) If you're still willing to engage this argument, let me elaborate on some points. It's not simply a matter of either 1. People blindly following w
  2. We should be very concerned about the ideas that Cameron is promoting through this movie. Art--especially of the popular variety such as movies, music and literature--are the principal means by which the ideas of philosophers and other intellectuals are spread to the public. Why do you think dictators and authoritarian governments prohibit, regulate and fear this activity most of all? They do not so much fear the intellectual, whose esoteric ideas are not easily understood by the general public, as they fear the people who spread such ideas to the public in a way that they can comprehend in
  3. The severity of the Great Depression was a consequence of destructive economic policies instituted after Coolidge. It was a result of the interventions of Hoover, FDR and Congress that aggravated and prolonged a typical recession--which have occurred dozens of times before Coolidge--into a decade long catastrophe. Coolidge is no more guilty of the Great Depression than previous presidents were for the recessions that occurred in their time. Moreover, at the time of Coolidge, economists were still debating the causes of business cycles and the Austrian economists have just recently published
  4. Be very careful in ascribing the "purpose" of any biological feature or behavior or actions of a living organism. One of the ways in which evolution works is by adapting organs or actions suited for one purpose to another function. It's called "exaptation"--look it up in any decent biology textbook. It's also possible for a physical trait or action to serve more than one purpose--as John Link points out in an earlier post. Nothing in reality excludes Nature from giving sex other purposes besides reproduction. In fact, many biologists who study the sexual behavior of higher mammals, such a
  5. Inflation is actually falling despite the Fed's attempts because banks worldwide have been contracting credit (the main means of monetary expansion in a fractional reserve banking system). The erosion of existing banks' capital and the failure of several banks are working to shrink the money supply, so even though the Fed is pumping hundreds of billions into the system we will not face high inflation (or for that matter hyperinflation) anytime soon. We are facing a scenario where the demand for money-balances has skyrocketed while the money supply has shrunk or is barely keeping up even wit
  6. Where have you been?

  7. He also disparages the oracle's prophecy as mysticism, and pleads that the Ephors use their reason (not the oracle's babbles) to approve of his plan. Surely you remember that scene? So no, he wasn't just referring to Persian mysticism. He may have said, "pray, we don't..." whatever misfortune may happen, but this is no more harmful that the everyday expression of relief "Thank God!"
  8. These are interesting facts you point out. Could you give some references that I could read further? (no Wikipedia entry; that is not an authoritative source.) The movie presents only the agoge practice in Sparta, though. I didn't catch any other reprehensible practice Spartans may have had, so it doesn't change my judgment of the movie at all. However, your description of Spartan life might make me think otherwise of the real Sparta.
  9. I don't particularly discount their value given their practice of slavery. Almost every society up to the end of the Enlightenment practiced slavery. Even Thomas Jefferson and George Washington owned slaves! Would you say they didn't "really" fight for "freedom" because of this? Are the Declaration of Independence, the War for Independence, and the Founding Fathers vile "beyond comprehension" because of this? One can say, after all, they were merely fighting to be masters of the imported African slaves, and not slaves to the British parliament. Ancient Greece was no ideal society, eith
  10. Nah, the French government is sitting on the third (or fourth) largest nuclear arsenal in the world, after the USA and Russia (and perhaps China). If they are under threat of being supplanted by a Caliphate, we'll have no choice but to invade France ASAP to prevent those 350 french nuclear warheads from landing in the USA.
  11. As great as the Free State Project may sound, I suspect it will continue to fail to garner any true supporters. Most Objectivists have made their lives here in the United States. Their jobs, their productive career, their friends and families--all their primary values reside here and cannot be moved easily (if at all). To ask them to tear themselves away from their primary values (because the hypothetical island-state/city-state will likely be so tiny and isolated that it will not have the enormous opportunities for productive careers there are in the United States) would be to ask them
  12. "Believe" is just another one of the concepts corrupted by modern philosophy and religion. I think it is a valid concept, like "selfishness", that can be reclaimed from the clutches of irrational epistemology. "Believe" simply means "to consider as true." This definition does not indicate motives or reasons for consider something true, and does not need to.
  13. If you all sincerely believe that Western Civilization is inexorably in decline, then a capitalist civilization on some other planet is out of the question for at least the next 500 to 1000 years, because technological progress will soon stop (it has already slowed down in many ways) and then retrogress, as it did in the West when the Roman Empire collapsed. An interesting question then is, to what level could Western Civilization collapse? Back to Medieval feudalism? Or even more primitive tribalism?
  14. I assume you're not too familiar with Objectivism; otherwise, you wouldn't have attributed backwardness fundamentally to politics, technology and geographical determinism ( found in "Guns, Germs and Steel"). Objectivism holds that philosophy is the primary and fundamental cause of human history. (This doesn't mean that other factors don't have any effects.) Therefore, the Middle-East's backwardness is fundamentally a result of the wholly anti-man, anti-life, anti-reason philosophy (Islam) of Moslems. Christianity was just as virulent as Islam in the Dark Ages, but it was largely blunted by
  15. I really don't think you do, because the definitive answer to your question lies in Objectivist metaphysics and epistemology--which you seem to have read nothing about. The fundamental reasons for Objectivism's atheism is 1. In metaphysics: the principle of the primacy of existence and the law of identity 2. In epistemology: sense perception of reality as the base of knowledge reason as the only means of knowledge logic as the fundamental method of knowledge The metaphysical principles are the primary reasons for rejecting the existence of God--any god. The principle of the pri
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