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msb last won the day on January 31 2012

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  1. Pat Corvini taught an absolutely fascinating course to this effect at last year's summer confence. You can buy it here.
  2. I second that. Rearden is not "the man at the end of the rails." Saying that Dagny was in any way mistaken to sleep with Hank is a serious misreading of the novel.
  3. Because we're saying that terms like "very big" don't apply to existence qua existence. Because "existence" isn't a thing. It's the totality of existents. Existents have or don't have mass. This distinction just isn't applicable to existence. In your long list of examples regarding mass, each of those things has shape, too. So would you make the same argument regarding existence? That since you are a "part of the universe" and you have shape, that the universe has shape? Or that since you have age, have location, have weight, that the universe does? There is no difference in making any of these arguments and arguing that existence as such has mass. This is not to deny that entities have mass, or that there are gazillions of entities with mass in existence. It's just denying that attributing the property of mass to existence as such is meaningful. EDIT: Just to be absolutely clear, no one is arguing that the universe has a mass and that it is 0. People are arguing that mass cannot be attributed to existence, period. Not that the universe has a low mass, or no mass. "The universe" doesn't have the attribute of mass. Only things within it do.
  4. "Total" means something like, "whatever exists is included in the universe." Really this is just another perspective on the axiom of existence. Anyway, I just wanted to point out that not every existent has mass, even excluding the case of the universe. My consciousness, my mortality, my longitude and lattitude, my age, etc. do not have mass. All these things are part of the universe, even though the universe qua collective noun does not have any of these attributes. These are attributes that exist within the universe, not qualities attributed to the universe. Or even take a physical attribute: location. Everything (that has mass) has location. Does the universe have location? Where is it? The point is that one needs to look at the context of how concepts like "mass" and "size" and "time" are formed and used, and then see if they can be applied meaningfully to existence as such. They can't. When one takes concepts literally, these sorts of cosmological paradoxes (i.e. "how big is the universe?") dissolve. This is what Alex's article is demonstrating. EDIT: For reference: Fallacies of Composition
  5. Re: graphein and Greek: the difference is in the type of grammar, not the concepts. The English words "write", "writes", "wrote", etc. are all variations on one concept. When you conjugate a verb you are not changing concepts. You are designating when and by whom (and in what mood, etc.) that concept (that action) takes place. Greek is a synthetic, inflective language, so the variations are more elaborate than in English, but the difference is just one of grammatical structure. Greek sticks with one word with dozens of combinations of endings and principle parts; English for the most part uses helping verbs and pronouns.
  6. Really? Here's how it looks on my (fairly high) resolution in Firefox: No navigation problem, but sort of weird. Not sure how to write code that wraps selectively, or else I'd do it...
  7. Why not just make the div with the ad non-layered, so you saw the ad before the banner? Right now they overlap, when they should stack. EDIT: Looks like they are in the same div tag. Just put the ad in a seperate div, before the banner.
  8. Though this is tangential to the thread: change is an axiom, but I think motion and time are variants of change. Time is a measurement of motion, and motion is a change of location.
  9. You're right; Aristotle's explanation is not perfect. I think you're in uncharted territory for a specifically Objectivist account.
  10. I don't know of anything in the Objectivist corpus, but have you read Metaphysics Gamma? Aristotle deals with this any many other objections to the principle of non-contradiction. It might not be as in-depth as you are looking for, though.
  11. There are actually quite a few axioms. Concepts for sensations are axiomatic. "Similar" and "different" are axioms (or perhaps "samness" and "difference", or something along these lines). "Entity" is an axiom. There's the big three and volition, which you mentioned. Here are some I'm less sure of: "quantity" (or maybe "amount"), "quality" (very unsure), and "change" (pretty sure).
  12. Aristotle's point is that a person is not temperate by acting temperate once, or even several times. The temperate actions are temperate, but the person is not temperate in general. I don't see any problem with this distinction or any contradiction with Objectivism. Objectivism if anything takes this much farther. See LP's discussion in OPAR of the judge who takes bribes from the local bosses.
  13. The issue isn't whether or not the people on this board will return to superstition and ignorance, but whether or not the culture will. I'm really not sure what to make of your first sentence. The vast majority of people, including Americans, are a mixture of rationality and irrationality. It's not the case that there are just "rational minds" out there and that "true ideas" have some ineffable power over them, and that evil falsehoods are no danger to us and can be ignored. The culture is a battleground of ideas, and the right ones must be advocated and the wrong ones must be fought. Religious and altruistic arguments turn most Americans' minds to mush, even if they are rational in other areas of life. Thus the spectacle of Limbaugh, of Reagan, of every single conservative that I can think of. It is not trivial that they use religion to justify their positions, even if they don't do it publicly. In fact, a huge part of the argument that America is headed towards a theocracy is based on observations of people like Limbaugh. They are helpless to fight or to stop the more vocally and consistently religious people from gaining influence. Are these the rational minds that we're supposed to be counting on? Who is going to fight religion besides Objectivists? The number of otherwise rational people who accept religion is so high as to be almost total. Combine this with a fundamentalist movement that is growing in numbers and influence. It is of course the irrationality of people that religion appeals to, but that does not make it less of a danger. (You're very welcome for the AR quote--I'm fond of it too--but I can't claim credit for typing it up; I copied/pasted from the Objectivism Research CD.)
  14. I really don't understand the cavalier attitude some Objectivists are taking towards religion. Religion is not just a placeholder for people trying to reject nihilism and seek values. Regardless of why people hold it, it is a false and vicious doctrine. Even if someone lives an otherwise rational life and only invokes religion to avoid skepticism and relativism, to this extent they split their lives in two--and propagate religion through the culture. We are in position today of the best people acting as helpless transmission belts for a destructive ideology, despite their best intent and motives. Good intentions--and even good psycho-epistemologies--do not change the nature of a principle. This applies even to the founding fathers invoking God as a "politically expedient" rhetorical device, if this is in fact what they did (I'm not sure). One must be for reason--but part of being for reason is actively and avidly being an aethist and showing that reason is incompatible with faith and belief the supernatural. Coincidentally, I found this passage last night while rereading Ayn Rand's Journals. It's the first entry in chapter 3, from her first philosophic journal, written from when she was relatively young. Arguably it does not present her final views on the matter (again, I'm not sure), but I agree entirely with the sentiment expressed there-in. I've excerpted most of it below.
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