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Everything posted by DavidOdden

  1. I am not certain that we agree, but I find it reasonably probable that we do, based on this discussion and the process of exposing and challenging premises. It does take a while. Returning to the initial question about the method of making Objectivism the dominant political ideology in the world, this reveals the fundamental problem with mass-media sound-bite methods of persuasion. This is why I say that Objectivists should focus on individual psychology rather than mass psychology, using reason to check premises and logic and demonstrating what that means. This does not establish that it is possible to use reason to dissuade a person from an erroneous position, it merely establishes that it may be possible to use reason to determine that, despite differences in expression, there is in fact agreement.
  2. or maybe "she" in the quotes refers to a different non-cat person.
  3. I don’t care where “richness of concepts” comes from, I am asking what it even means. In what way can “rich” vs. “impoverished” be meaningfully applied to a concept? Uncontroversially, the concept “dog” implies all facts about dogs. However, no consciousness has that full rich knowledge, a consciousness is limited to what the being has experienced. Just to be clear, we are talking about the specific experiences of a single person. So even then, the set of concepts and propositions touched by “dog” will be enormous, whereas there are only two words in English, however there are uncountably many potential propositions (sentences) containing “dog”. If we are limiting the discussion to the actual (i.e. actual experiences of dogs), we would need to know the set of phrases and sentences uttered by a person containing “dog” – a large but finite number. However since you are allowing implicit mental associations, you are clearly rejecting the “actual” as the range for counting, therefore in fairness we have to open the floodgates of the potential for sentences. In other words, on a level rhetorical playing field, the linguistic manifestation of “dog” is unbounded, and so is the set of hypothetical experiences of dog. This follows from a little-discussed fact of propositions, that there is an unbounded supply of them and they are created de novo, as needed (whereas concepts are conventionalized). As for “experiencing a concept”, this isn’t a fine-grained philosophical question, I simply want to understand what you mean by “experiencing a concept”. I have a better idea what it means to experience a word, or to experience an instance of something, but I do not understand what it means to experience “3”.
  4. The usenet new group humanities.philosophy.objectivism, where various Objectivists would do what they do on OO, until OO came along and provided a better venue for discussion.
  5. You may have gotten the “digestion” impression from HPO, if you ever looked there: there were people who peddled that view, but it isn’t actual Objectivism. It is not so important whether you call that thing the rational faculty or the faculty of reason, what is important is understanding that “reason” is not just Fregean logical formalisms (and what in the world would “non-contradictory identification mean is purely Fregean terms?). The tendency in question is the tendency for certain concepts to always be formed, that is, the same units are subsumed under a label though the label differs across languages. Concepts derive from reality and the functional (cognitive) need to make certain grouping because of the nature of man’s existence on Earth. In all societies, the necessity of eating, sleeping, breathing and drinking are known which is why these concepts are universal, “water” is the perceptible universal entity associated with one of those actions (“beer” has a more restricted distribution). I don’t know what it even means for a concept to be richer than a word. Maybe you are referring to the fact that a concept is open ended so that there could be trillions of specific instances of “dog” but only two word in English, “dog” and “dogs”. I also don’t have any idea what you mean by apprehending a concept. My guess is that you mean that when you learn a new concept, you usually experience the word the you fill in the definition by asking “what does that mean?”. Though sometimes people “form the concept” from experience then ask “What the heck is that called?”. But then you don’t experience a concept subjectively – concepts are not experienced, they are learned or created and used, and always by an individual consciousness. In other words, I don’t get the distinction that you are making.
  6. Perhaps: there is an industry of over-exoticizing Hopi (no) thanks to Whorf. The basic noun is paahu (which covers water in lakes and water in rivers), and the root concept paa is used for domesticated water as well – when you water the garden, that's the root that you use. kuuyi can be used for water in a container, but it also applies to milk or beer, i.e. any fluid in a container. It’s not that Hopi doesn’t have a general concept water, instead they have multiple concepts which might overlap. If we had a fluent Hopi speaker, we could ask if water poured on the ground is still kuuyi, or what substance the water pipes carry.
  7. As a side note, she speaks of the “faculty of reason” exactly once, in FTNI. Instead she speaks of the “rational faculty”. The nature of that faculty is not specified by her, it was left to Peikoff in The ominous parallels to clarify that The senses, concepts, logic: these are the elements of man's rational faculty—its start, its form, its method. In essence, "follow reason" means: base knowledge on observation; form concepts according to the actual (measurable) relationships among concretes; use concepts according to the rules of logic (ultimately, the Law of Identity). Since each of these elements is based on the facts of reality, the conclusions reached by a process of reason are objective. I would say that you simply hadn’t appreciated the difference is between logic and reason / the rational faculty. Logic is simply the art of non-contradictory identification. Spock’s error is that he claims to live by logic alone, which is a Cartesian fallacy.
  8. A bit of correction is needed here: this is true in a society dominated by reason. The current situation is that emotion dominates society, which is why the dominant ideologies are non-explanatory and contradictory. Maybe you mean “It would be nice if…” There are numerous other words that could be used to describe that action, such as “gate-keeping”, “monitoring”, “criticizing”. The function of police is to use force to enforce laws that protect the rights of an individual, although in practice police are used as agents of brutal repression in many places. Maoism is famous for brutally policing the party line, and for requiring public confession of one’s sins. Clearly, that is not the proper direction for Objectivism. I am not surprised to hear that opinion, because many reasonable people still have a poor understanding of the relationship between language and reason. I mainly blame people like Frege for creating the idea of a mystical brain-code assumed to be universally present in the mind of humans. Fregean inferences do not depend on knowing a specific language, but it does require knowledge of some human language. Moreover, all concepts, which are one of the three aspects of reason, are completely language-determined. There may be a predictable tendency for universal convergence on certain concepts in the case of “natural types” (the universal existence of a concept equivalent to “water” is predictable from the nature of life on Earth).
  9. This is theoretically possible, it is also possible that an atom of Plutonium-244 will decay, but you should not wait around for it to happen. Since this discussion is the collective version of “What can one do?”, it is theoretically possible that one can read Galt’s Speech to Biden or Trump which causes them to self-head-smack, declaring “Of course!” and their entire philosophy having been repaired, we move into the Golden Age. But that is a highly unlikely outcome, to the point that it is irrational (specifically, mystical thinking) to pursue such a course of action. The reasonable course of action is to address individuals who are likely to listen to and act on the basis of reason, as opposed to emotion. Some people seem to adhere to a magical revelation view of ideas, that if you speak the truth at them and they are rational, they will then accept that truth – non-acceptance is proof of irrationality, goodbye! I believe that persuasion is a slow and incremental process, which is by nature poorly carried out by social media sound bites. This generally requires person and protracted conversations. The exception, as identified by Rand, is those with relative tabula rasa, who do not have to overcome a lifetime of bad premises and worse methods of reasoning. Of course nobody wears a badge declaring that their minds are open or closed, you just take your chances and hope that you aren’t wasting your time. And I don’t think that this depends on a Heisenbergian unknowable about a person, you can actually get a good estimate of a person’s relationship with reason by ordinary conversation.
  10. Certainly! When a person mis-understands reality and refuses to use reason to check their premises and logic, you have an incurable mis-understanding of reality.
  11. As I suggested before, the primary focus should be on individual psychology rather than mass / social psychology. You can’t change society if you can’t change an individual. I recommend re-reading ‘What can one do?’ in PWNI. As Rand argues, one needs to get personally clear on what the proper questions and answers are, so that you can persuade your neighbor. My proposal that we need to collectively concentrate on the relationship between language and reason is – hopefully obviously – tongue in cheek. That is obviously appropriate for me, personally, that is the essence of what I do professionally. But not for John Allison, whose specialization is business and economics. The answer to the question “what can one do?” is “‘SPEAK’ (provided you know what you are saying”, the next question is, who should you speak to? You should speak to those who are apparently open to reason, you should not pointlessly try to change the minds of the assembled mass of radical “Death to Israel!” protesters on campus. Do not bother to try to mass-convert an assembly of MAGA-extremists, do have a reasoned discussion with a MAGAite to bring out the core agreements and disagreements. It is not generally difficult to determine that a particular individual is a committed idealogue and that discussion is completely pointless. It may require a few iterations of the discussion to determine that you are just banging your head against the wall and your target has an uncurable mis-understanding of reality.
  12. Perhaps, but first each of us must decide if that is their central purpose in life. Personally, I am not interesting in creating input, I seek to create knowledge. I have virtually no interest in collaborative efforts, although I may work with others in order to create knowledge that I am striving to create – this implies a protracted investigation rather than a few quick sound bites. I have no idea what it means to “leverage” (a noun, not a verb), and I claim that there is no such thing as “collective knowledge”, there is individual knowledge which can be possessed by more than one person (e.g. “the world is round”). I am even less clear on what it would mean to leverage an experience. Timothy McVey and Adolph Hitler had a significant impact, forceful disruption is not a virtue. The primary purpose of OO is to be a forum for individuals to gain increased knowledge of Objectivism. I suspect that most (honest – there are occasional trolls) participants have a secondary goal of disseminating aspects of Objectivism to others. The idea of Objectivism as a “movement” is a rather recent one (one sanctioned by ARI), which depends on a foundation of Objectivism as a philosophy. Becoming the dominant movement is a variant of a long-standing tradition of conjecturing about what life would be in Objectopia, and those discussions can be useful. Hypothetical thinking is crucial to creating knowledge, it is the application of the transition from possibility to certainty (eliminating conceptual evidence for alternatives). Brainstorms are like thunderstorms and hailstorms, they are disruptive to their environment. Organizing people and controlling their actions by subconscious propaganda methods (a presumed common goal of leveraging, as judged by some central dictator / mullah) is a common technique especially in the progressive movement. But okay, since by assumption we are in agreement about the philosophical foundations and what needs to be done next is slowly mobilizing the masses, creating an Objectivist Hirjah. We must organize around a single doctrine, the proper relationship between consciousness and existence which is the faculty of reason. Man only communicates effectively by language, the heart of reason is language, therefore we must promulgate reason by proper use of language. Since we are now accept this point, obviously we must each focus efforts on eliminating words like “leverage; input; collaborative; impact; organize”. I assume there is no disagreement on these points.
  13. I don’t think Rand ever engaged in such transporter / sci-fi speculation, and I do think that “same” is for her not a floating abstraction, and it is not an acontextual absolute. A is the same as B in a specific conceptually defined respect. That is what measurement-omission is about.
  14. I meant that as a quote, contained here. The summary statement is supported here in the district court opinion which says “For the purpose of this criminal case, former President Trump has become citizen Trump, with all of the defenses of any other criminal defendant. But any executive immunity that may have protected him while he served as President no longer protects him against this prosecution”; see the counter-arguments here, for example from Marbury v. Madison a President’s official acts “can never be examinable by the courts”.
  15. As argued by the defense, both the district court and the circuit court panel, for example here.
  16. But Judeo-Christian tradition does not justify joint ownership. Nowhere in the world do we find a system with only joint ownership. Nor do we find a system with only individual ownership. The choices are “no ownership” and “ownership”, where the latter entails the possibility of joint ownership (cooperative agreements). If a government prevents cooperative agreements, it is denying a fundamental consequence of the concept “property”, and is tending toward a “no ownership” communist system. Is there some specific thing in Spain that you are referring to that you think is relevant? Even communism has a form of ownership, because no individual is free to do as they want with a resource, it requires permission of some management entity like “the peasant’s revolutionary council”. They may deny that they “own” the resource and they are only “administering” the resource, but they are administering it for some specific group of individuals, usually “that society” for instance “the workers of Russia” but not “the workers of Germany”.
  17. “Common ownership”, which is joint ownership, exists as well. But how can you justify joint ownership while denying individual ownership? What justifies joint ownership?
  18. The quote is not a full justification of anything taken in isolation. If you are looking for a justification of “ownership”, which is a linguistic re-phrasing of the concept “property”, you should look at the concept which property derives from, namely “rights”. Property does not depend on the amount of a thing. Rand does not claim that property rights are solely justified by extraordinary abundance, and Rand does not define property “as” anything. In general, Rand does not define words, she uses words with their proper, conventional meaning, and makes significant explanatory statements about those concepts. I guess the underlying problem here is that you don’t understand her reduction of “property” to “rights” and “identity” via her identification of man as a rational animal. The concept of “wealth”, as invoked by Adam Smith, play no significant role in the Objectivist theory of rights and politics, it is just included in the quote to direct the reader’s attention to The wealth of nations. The statement does not focus on extraordinary abundance (you inserted “extraordinary”, that is not part of the definition of wealth). Are you trying to understand what justifies the concept of property?
  19. Wealth is the “abundance of possessions or of valuable products”, which is distinct from “anything that exists”, such as clouds or insects. It’s not that the thing itself must be created (by a person), rather, the thing must be turned into wealth by a person, for example by realizing that dirt and water can be combined into something quasi-useful, or that a certain weed can be eaten. By recognizing the utility of naturally-occurring objects, junk lying around becomes wealth. At present, the rat fish is not “wealth” and it is just lying (swimming) around. This is also the basis for claiming land, that a person sees the potential to use the land to survive (literally living off the land), meaning that the land is now a value worth working to keep. In terms of sorting out unowned things, this requires some kind of legal framework is necessary. Typically, it means that a person lays claim to specific land, and when certain conditions have been satisfied, he owns that land. However, ownership can be sub-divided, therefore mineral rights are not the same as surface rights, and water rights can be separate from surface rights. Timber rights do not flow automatically from ownership of the land. Ordinarily, the owner of the apple tree owns the apples, and the owner of the land owns the apple tree except when someone else has permission to use the land via a lease, laws regarding which are a substantial part of the Code of Hammurabi. Under the terms of the lease, perhaps the land owner owns that particular apple, or perhaps the farmer does, you have to check the fine print.
  20. “Policies” are emergent, they emerge after the candidate takes office and has to execute the duties of the office. At the campaigning stage, we mostly have slogans like “Make America Great Again”, “Hope. Change”, “Bye, Don”, “Believe in America”. Since Harris is not running for president, she has not declared any policies, that is up to Biden. When it comes to the VPOTUS package deal, all we have to go on is ideological probabilities. The two central questions w.r.t. Harris are (1) is she more progressive than Biden or less – my judgment is “more” – and (2) does she have the political strength to resist the demands of the substantially more progressive Democratic machine – my judgment is “not much”. Of course, we saw the disasterous results of a president who was totally willing to ignore the advice of his betters.
  21. The main reason why I think that is a safe bet is that “blanket immunity” is not a question raised in his appeal, and it is unlikely that the court will decide sua sponte that US (former) presidents are etermally immune from all prosecution. I do expect that SCOTUS will not accept the lower court conclusion that “Presidential immunity from prosecution for official acts does not exist at all”. A vote for Trump is a vote for Trump, plain and simple. One is free to conjecture about the “deeper meaning” of an individual’s act of voting for Trump. For example, a vote for Trump might “really” be a vote against Harris whom I consider to be a more-dangerous potential POTUS than Biden. In my state, it is a purely symbolic act because all electoral votes will go to a non-Trump candidate (our electors tend to go off the rails and vote contrary to state law). Apart from an individual’s personal motivation for some choice (which remains private), there is also the social consequence of the anonymized choice, for example a choice could increase the count for one candidate, or decrease the choice for a different candidate, and then we will see reports in the media to the effect that “Trump lost / gained votes {statewide / nationally}”, by comparison to 2016 and 2020. In a few days we will know who the LP candidate will be, for the moment I assume it will be Chase Oliver, so the credible choices are Biden, Trump, Oliver, and abstention. In terms of actual support, I would prefer “none of the above” or Chase Oliver over the two probable-winners. In terms of actual consequences, at least for me, voting is entirely inconsequential because Biden gets the electors here. I accept that Trump is a greater train-wreck w.r.t. rule of law, but I do not have any faith in Biden’s ability to continue acting as POTUS for another 4 years. I suppose this could be an opportunity to see to what extent the “shadow government” could keep things running for the remainder of his term.
  22. I have no doubt that gut beliefs would play a huge role in such a decision, but alternatives will are also important. Even if you believe that you will die if you are transported, your willingness to be transported still depends on the alternatives – (a) being burned alive by lava in a volcano or (b) being a bit late to a dental appointment. If you tend to believe that transporters kill you, that would morally preclude taking the transporter under scenario (b), but scenario (a) is less clear – it depends on whether you feel that transporter death is a less horrible fate than lava death. But these are only ethical problems, they have no bearing on the question of whether you actually die by being transported. While choices do depend on knowledge of reality, matters of consciousness do not determine what reality is. Therefore we should trim away all questions about what a person would do, believe, or “know”, and focus what actually is. The First Person Experience question has a pretty simple answer: whatever you experience, you experience it. That is how we define “subjective”. There probably is a necessary connection between FPE and consciousness (only a consciousness can have an FPE; a consciousness necessarily has an FPE – because that is what it means to “experience”). You claim a fundamental difference which is purely subjective: the FPE somehow changes radically pre-transporter vs. post-transporter. But, in what way, and what is your evidence for such a change (whereby because your post-event experience is different, you no longer exist)? Why do deny that when you sleep you die because your post-sleep experience is different, likewise your post-surgical experience, or the experience when the surgeons stop your heart then restarted it? I argue (in the same sense of “argue”, viz. “rhetorically assert”) that I die when I sleep and I am re-created when I awaken. One thing clearly distinguishes sleep from being transported, which is that you have repeatedly experienced sleep and conclude for some reason that you haven’t died thousands of times, but you haven’t experienced the transporter (and the surgical alternatives depend on the individual, but from my FPE I did not die). Before speculating about death by transporter, we need a better account of what it means for an entity to be “the same” across time and space. Ordinary experience tells you that when you take 10 minutes to walk to the store, the accompanying changes in time and spac coordinates do not constitue a “change” in your identity, at least in the sense where you ceased to exist and a copy was substituted. The same goes for driving in a car or taking an airplane, so what exactly make movement in time and space via a transporter necessarily different from such lower tech methods, and why does that define death? You can (and did) ask whether transporting a hydrogen atom constitutes creating “the same thing” in another location. I notice that you don’t have a clear and well-supported answer to that question, instead the argument is shrouded in uncertainty that the atom might be different. If we can clearly resolve the more basic question about sameness of tiny things like atoms and electrons, maybe we could apply that same logic to conscious beings like humans.
  23. I don’t think the study does show that. In order to show how the brain uses anything, you have to have a functioning brain, whereas that study simply performed physical tests on a protein extracted from the brains of one or more dead pigs. They studied absorption and emission spectra, extracting numbers about “fluorescence quantum yield”, and they make no suggestions about “consciousness”. There is a substantial quantum leap from this physical study to speculations about consciousness and an even further leap to get to free will. Microtubules are ubiquitous in living things, only one type of which exhibits free will and only a few of which are conscious. This is a thing that I hate about popular science, that ordinary low-level scientific process is inflated (in the popular press) to a status not supported by the actual experiment. The article does contribute something useful, by way of better explaining how the brain can rapidly “compute”.
  24. I’ll try. The most basic component of reason is sense perception, it is what reason acts on and reduces to. Sense perception is not voluntary, that is, you cannot decide “I didn’t see that”. Concepts are created on the basis of sense perception, and concepts are unquestionably chosen, and highly variable (they are specific to a particular language since language – the word – is the file folder that organized definitions). That is 1/3 of the volitional part. Finally we have logic. The elements of logic are much fewer than the set of concepts which are open-ended, but they still must be recognized and chosen. We (here) choose to accept the three fundamental laws of logic identified by Plato and Aristotle (identity, non-contradiction, and excluded middle) but not everyone makes that choice. Even if identity and non-contradiction are ultimately inescapable, we still are not born knowing these laws (I’m taking the Lockian line), not to mention the handful of other secondary laws of logic that actually play a role in reasoning. So that is two out of three aspects of the faculty of reason that must be learned.
  25. My suggestion is that for Objectivism to become the dominant political ideology, it needs to first become the dominant philosophy. OO provides ample evidence for the dominance of political questions as matters of interest to Objectivists, but political questions strongly tend to tainted with contradiction (mis-)management typified by contemporary US presidential elections. I am not entirely satisfied with the first philosophical stage because the edges of Objectivism are not clearly defined; and in the context of the present question, the dichotomy between primary and secondary philosophers is in my opinion questionable. For example, Aristotle had a theory of propositions, Rand did not: what does that imply for Objectivism? Is Frege’s theory within Aristotle’s framework? I don’t propose that anything is glaringly amiss in what counts as the foundational principles of Objectivism, but the first-wave applications in Metaphysics and Epistemology, and non-political Ethics, are still quite sparse. The key question which should be answered by university professors is, what Objectivist-influenced works do you incorporate into your syllabus (*crickets*)? Tomorrow’s high school teachers are taught by today’s university professors, who were trained by last decade’s university professors who were of course prepared by high school teachers of generations ago. Part of the problem is indeed a willingness to publicly engage the principles of Objectivism, but the other part of the problem is the stark lack of appropriate course materials. That’s the problem, from the “Objectivism as movement” perspective. The other perspective is the non-social ground-preparation stage, which is both essential and the hardest to carry out. I am generally speaking of ordinary conversation which evince a lack of reasoning and a reliance on emotion. Some years ago I started to pay attention not to what I thought people were trying to communicate, but how they were trying to communicate it. For example, many political topics are prefaced with unsupported emotional assertions like “We don’t want…” or “You don’t want…”, reducing politics to a simple principle – pander to people’s desires. Versions addressed to “you” are extremely presumptuous and trivial to refute by self-report, “we”-versions have a slight advantage that they include the speaker and it’s hard to refute a person’s report of their own emotions. When stated as “I don’t want…”, you can at least move the conversation off of the agent of wanting and on to the irrelevance of emotion for socio-political questions. An assertion “I don’t want homeless people to have to sleep in the park” can then be countered with a different desire: “I don’t want my taxes to increase” or “I don’t want my land to be confiscated”. It is vastly easier to just keep quiet and let people talk this way, thereby avoiding social conflict. This enables crippling diseases such as wokeism and the criminalization of “insensitivity” viz. non-conformity to the dominant ideology. I propose that there are two fundamental impediments, both needing to be addressed: course materials, and social interactions. I believe that these are related, in that most people do not have a conscious understanding of the difference between what words and sentences objectively mean, and how people manipulate language to achieve ends. I do not claim that attention in this area will solve all problems, I claim that this particular area of epistemology and psychology is in greatest need of dedicated attention.
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