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Everything posted by msb

  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.
  15. I agree entirely with NS's essays and comments here. But I'll add that I think that religion needs to be attacked directly and explicitly. The nihilistic nature of the new left is pointed out in today's culture from a variety of sources. Most conservatives and even some Democrats understand how antithetical nihilism is to values and life, and how e.g. the anti-globalization protests are instances of nihilism. But to my knowledge no one ever publicly says out that God is a fairy tale, that a faith is antithetical to knowledge, that religion is opposed to morality, and that religion in government will bring us back to the dark ages. Religion is an uncritically accepted as, if not correct, then at least high-minded or well-intentioned. No one gives religion as such the criticism it needs. This isn't to say that we should stop advocating for reason--this should always be primary. But I disagree that it is a waste of time for Objectivists to argue against religion. I try to do anything I can to discredit religion. Virtually no one else does.
  16. The were two twists. (Highlight to read explanation:) 1. That the monsters weren't real. 2. That the world outside of the village was in fact our world. We were supposed to think that it was more advanced than the world of the village, but we weren't supposed to expect an SUV and penicillin. The contents of the locked chests are revealed at the exact same moment as we see the blinking lights of the utility vehicle. I considered the possibility that this wasn't supposed to be a twist, but unfortunately I'm sure it was. I think both were handled poorly, this is not my major problem with the film.
  17. I fixed it. It looks like it's a good idea to delete the cookie to this forum after upgrading to service pack 2 on XP.
  18. Is anyone else having a problem where the board doesn't remember your login (even when you check the box)? It's happening to me both at work and at home, so I doubt it's a cookie issue... Might be an IE issue.
  19. The ancient Greeks were able to answer the objections about the apple being eaten violating the law of identity. Fuzzy logic is a certain (valid) method that has a specific uses in computer science. Sometimes it is useful to treat a small number of objects as able to transition into one another without definine extra objects. So, to use your example, you could treat an "apple sprite" as part apple, part eaten-thing, without having to define a new, separate "half-eaten apple sprite".
  20. I agree that it had potential, especially with Shyamalan, an extremely competent director, at the helm. But it would just have to be revamped from the ground up, keeping only loosely the same basic plot premise. Here are some things that don't make sense (major, major spoilers): The basic motivations and policies of the elders don't make sense. They all have someone they know that is murdered--but how do they decide that the way to avoid murder is to start a completely isolated village? It is never explained how "modern society" or "complexity" or what have you leads to random rape and murder, or why the elders think it does. And the way they go about creating the village is totally arbitrary. Why do they all decide to speak in the passive voice, start bizarre customs like not allowing a younger daughter to marry until the older daughter does, designate certain colors as "safe" and certain colors as "dangerous", and so on? And why were they allowed to bring 10 inch long bowie knives and clothes that they could never make, but not simple medical supplies? After the one elder decides that it's okay for the girl to leave the village to get medical supplies--why send a blind girl into the forest when any of the elders could go without any danger or fear or risk of their secret being discovered? And--on a different note, but one that I can't resist--how the hell are we supposed to believe that we are innocent if none of our loved ones are murdered, but if a father listens to the verdict that his daughter is going to be blind for life, knows that there are medical supplies that would help, but chooses not go get them--that somehow represents innocence, or good intentions?! Because the basic ideas of the elders are never explained, this is not just wicked, but totally nonsensical. It is just somehow vaguely supposed to "fit" with the rest of the atmosphere. (Edited to get the spoilers hidden properly.)
  21. To offer a contrary view: though the directing in this film is beautiful, in every other respect it is one of the worst films I've ever seen. The plot makes no sense--it's not a matter of there being a few plot holes: almost nothing in the plot stands to scrutiny. The suspense is repeatedly ruined by revealing things to us in the wrong order. And, though I don't think Shyamalan knows what he's doing, the film whitewashes some of the most wicked motivations and actions possible to human beings. He condemns certain notions in the film as misguided-but-good-intentioned that are in fact absolutely evil. It's hard to be specific with criticism of The Village without giving too much away, so I'll leave it at that.
  22. As I understand it, Tim Minear is an admirer of Ayn Rand. I haven't seen Angel or Wonderfalls, but this shows in Firefly.
  23. msb


    Some of Beethoven is dark, but overall he is my favorite composer. His pieces tend to be very simple structurally and melodically, but still incredibly dramatic and moving. Like others here, I'm not a huge fan of the 9th. I'd recommend the first and third movemements of the 3rd "Eroica" symphony, the first three of his 6th symphony, the second movement of his 7th, and the entirety of his 5th "Emperor" piano concerto.
  24. Strand is by far the best. It's on Broadway a little south of Union Square.
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