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Everything posted by EdSalti

  1. You have a good thought there. Most newcomers would be more comfortable in an Objectivist primer venue that starts with the basic tenets then expands on them to cover the fields affected by philosophy. An artist might head right for a Objective view of aesthetics then expand to other areas that are of interest. As far as coming up with a brief definitive statement for Objectivism, a slogan, I'm beginning to feel a little like George Carlin trimming down the Ten Commandments . This might be an area where we each pick what turns our own crank and work with it.
  2. We might need to discuss what is our target audience here. For example, I write a bunch of guys I grew up with almost daily. A lot of politics and economy stuff these days, as you can imagine. If I were to drop the term "epistemology" into an exchange, there are a couple of them who would wonder what bugs had to do with anything . I'm still thinking we want something simple, plain language, that someone with no interest in the study of philosophy can relate to. I may be settling for half a loaf here, but I think people need to understand that Objectivism isn't some mystical code of beliefs that has no relevance to them. They need to see it as a better guide to their daily life than what they have now. Ninety percent of them will never become students of Objectivism like most of those of us who frequent this site. That's okay. At least that many of them are not serious students of the Christian ethic that is their guide right now. But if we increase the number of people who have even a token understanding of Objectivism, we increase the number who will become serious students. Your point of a variety of cards is well taken. If we create a clearing house site, we can fill it with a variety of material that will reach a variety of people. Tee shirt slogans for those who like tee shirts, tracts to place around for people to pick up, bumper sticker slogans that people can have made up, cards that give the basics in simple terms, cards that focus on government philosophy or on capitalism, suggested letters to government officials, guidelines on introducing Objectivist principles into other website and blog exchanges, etc. I don't see any of us at odds with each other here, just interested in reaching out on several levels.
  3. I got a suggestion that we might create a clearing house for materials to use in selling Objectivism at: http://wiki.rationalmind.net. I haven't had a chance to investigate the venue so I'll have to spend some time getting acquainted with it. Since I am only semi-literate here, I thought I'd put it out to you. One of you may be more familiar with it than I am.
  4. Congratulations. You'll find that "stupid is as stupid does" works on both ends of the spectrum. Another writer noted that Mensans have little in common but the number. Had an old friend who likened being a Mensan to being a woman who belongs to a 44D club. Nothing in common but the number and it's tacky to call attention to that. If you have a good local group you'll likely find some new friends who are fun and interesting to be with. There will also be the requisite number of assholes too. Enjoy it for what it is. Don't try to make it more than that. ES
  5. You and khaight are on the same track and I agree. Check my answer to him and see what you think. I looked at what I wrote and cut it down to five statements, each less than a line long. There might be one or two more needed to cover salient points of Objectivism. I like some of your ideas for bumper stickers. A variety of approaches makes an effective campaign. Bumper stickers and tee shirts are most effective when they have an edge to them. They invite more commentary that way. Let's keep up this exchange of ideas. Somewhere in the Forum I would still like to see a place where we can park our cards and tracts, etc, so anyone who wants them can download them and print them out. ES
  6. I agree that for a business card size it might be too long. What I gave you was actually for email exchange and could be cut down. We're also in sync on the positve approach. I think we need words that the uninitiated- if you will- can relate to. "Unalienable rights," "No claim on another's life." The property rights statement can probably be reworded and cut down. How about the first, second, fourth, fifth, and last statements as a bare bones summary of Objectivism as guiding principles? Is there something that should be added to those five statements to cover all the bases? Of course, nothing precludes us coming up with a set of statements that focus on government alone.
  7. [ I appreciate your interpreting my interest as the fervor of discovery. It is more the fervor of rekindled interest. I have considered myself an Objectivist for quite a few years now. It is precisely the lack of movement over the years in making Objectivism something more than an intellectual curiosity that spurs me to stir up some dialogue, and perhaps some action. I think my analogy of Ten Commandments was misplaced. Perhaps something more akin to a creed is what I had in mind. Miss Rand managed to get the essence of it into four letters. Of course it took several thousands of pages to explain the significance of those four letters. In attempting to explain Objectivism to friends, I wrote a short credo I entitled I BELIEVE. It distills what I think to be the essence of Objectivism into a handful of simple statements. I had intended to post it at some point because I am certain that it is incomplete and needs some salient points added. Please make a suggestion if you see something missing. Here's what I have so far: ________________________________________________ I BELIEVE The rights of the individual are paramount above all others. Man has the inalienable right to his life. As a natural extension of that right, he has the right to that part of his life spent in productive work and the right to own the property he may have accrued by that work. No man has a claim on the life of another man. Therefore, any transactions among men must be voluntary. Governments are institutions set up by men to protect their rights. In the interest of civil order, men convey to the government the authority to use force in defense of the rights of individuals. - Military forces defend these rights from other countries. - Police forces defend these rights from other individuals within the country. - Courts defend these rights and adjudicate breaches of contracts and disagreements between individuals. Men cannot convey to their government authority they themselves do not possess. (Ladies, please forgive the chauvinism. The above was written for a male audience. It, of course, can be changed.) _______________________________________________________________________ Something on the order of this is what I have in mind for a business card-sized summary and a small tract that gives the basics of Objectivism. There is very little, if anything, that someone would disagree with in the above statements. This is what I mean by emphasizing the positive. I agree with your assertion to let Objectivism sell itself to a point. Once someone has had their curiosity piqued, Objectivism has a powerful message. However, my point is still valid; there simply isn't enough effort being made to offer Objectivism as an alternative guide for living one's life. I think now is a good time to be more assertive. Most rational people (as well as Conservatives. The two aren't necessarily inclusive or exclusive) are appalled at the rapid turn toward Socialism at the end of the Bush administration and the beginning of the Obama one. Christian churches are drifting away from sectarian dogma to a more secular view. I'm not suggesting we go door to door with a version of Watchtower. But, to expand on some of the suggestions I made in the original post. 1. We can expand on the little credo I started to include the basic tenets of Objectivism stated as simply as possible. If they can fit on a business card, all the better. They can be handed out to anyone who shows an interest, with the link to this site and any others that might interest them. 2. Here on this site, we can design a three-fold tract that state the basics of Objectivism, gives some salient quotes from Any Rand, gives links to websites, and recommends books. Such a tract is basically two typewritten pages written in three columns in the landscape format. Any one of us can print 30 copies of page one, turn the paper over and print 30 copies of page two and spend a few minutes folding them. Voila!! Thirty tracts to leave in a rack in the student union, on a table in the doctor's office, wherever. Or, let Kinko do it. I know there are better ideas than these, but it's late here and I'm tired. Manana, Amigos , ES
  8. I appreciate your input. I am pleasantly surprised that the response is mostly positive. Absolutely, we are all representatives and salespeople for the philosophy, but there is little guidance for the individual Objectivist to present the ideas in such a way that those who don't know will become interested. For example, a great many newcomers place a great deal of emphasis on their atheism and it is often the first thing they mention in a discussion. Sales basic: You never lead with a negative and you don't emphsize the negatives. This is the sort of thing that helps each of us become a more effective speaker.
  9. Rick Warren. Ring a bell? He’s the guy who invited Obama and McCain to his institution in California to answer questions. They went. He’s also the guy who gave the invocation at Obama’s inauguration. He is also the author of two books. The second one, A PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE, sold over 30 million copies. Rick Warren is a millionaire pastor of a church with 83,000 people in its congregation. What is the relevance of a Christian preacher to an Objectivism forum? Rick Warren fervently believes in a certain philosophy of life and believes that others should know that philosophy and should use it to guide their life. Sound like anyone you know? A contest of philosophies is a contest of ideas. I think Objectivists are ceding the field to the competition without a fight despite the fact we have the ultimate weapon- reason. Most Americans (and Canadians, and Australians, etc) are taught a Christian based philosophy from infancy. Very few ever stop to see if there might be a different, better way. Few of those who do stop to examine their philosophy elect to choose a different way, few of those who so choose, choose Objectivism. When I first looked in on The Objectivist Forum, it was the “Marketplace for Objectivism” that caught my eye. I hoped to find an organized effort to sell Objectivism to other people. I haven’t found it yet. The question before the house is: Is it worth the time and effort to organize a program to present Objectivism to the people as an alternative philosophy to a religion-based one? Obviously, my answer to the question is, yes. I think the reasons Objectivism isn’t better received are the lack of an organized effort and the lack of the tools needed to present the principles in a way that they can be accepted. The Ayn Rand Institute has a program that targets high school students with copies of Ayn Rand’s works and small scholarships. I don’t know how successful that program is. Frankly, I think it’s too little and too late. Rather than be naught but the naysayer, let me share some thoughts for an organization. #1. I think a category here in The Forum entitled, The Marketplace, or some such, would be a good place to start. It would be a place for those who are interested to share ideas, strategies, links, etc. #2. Objectivism needs new literature. It needs literature that champions Objectivist principles in the form of comic books and beginner readers right on up through material like Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and Harry Potter for young teens. It needs new adult literature. Ayn Rand’s fiction is written in the romantic style with both heroes and villains written larger than life. There is no reason why a mystery series on the order of Johnathan Kellerman’s Alex Delaware novels couldn’t feature a hero who adheres to Objectivist principles. Miss Rand was fond of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer because she saw in him some of those qualities. #3. The basic principles of Objectivism need to be broken down into a list something akin to the Ten Commandments. People respond to such abbreviated lists. If you tell someone you believe in a person’s inalienable right to his or her life and that no one has the right to demand that someone live their life for someone else’s convenience, you will not get an argument. #4. Individual Objectivists need the tools and the training to use them to be speakers for their philosophy. Such simple things as a business card with the principles printed on it to give to someone who expresses interest. A small tract that explains the basics of Objectivism and gives references to websites and literature. Tee shirts that proclaim your beliefs and that stimulate conversation. How about “My O is better than your O”? There are probably members of the Forum who are experience salespeople and who can write short guidelines for us to use in presenting our beliefs. When I discovered Objectivism, I alienated more friends than I interested because I was vibrating with the intensity of the newly-converted and wanted desperately to “show them the way to salvation.” I just didn’t know how. So, what say you? Is this something worth doing?
  10. Welcome. Another correspondent of the mature persuasion, I presume? I discovered The Fountainhead when I was 20 back in '61. There is a membership breakdown somewhere around here that shows we are a definite minority in this herd. You should find a much greater variety of subjects than you could ever keep up with. I shall watch for your posts. ES
  11. For Nick Good Sir, There seems to be an interpretation of your words that because it is legal for a woman to have an abortion and even morally responsible in some instances, Sarah Palin acted immorally by not considering the opinions of others and not aborting her DS child. Have you been misread? ES
  12. I'm a little late joining this dust-up but I had other feathers to ruffle. I may have missed a fine point or two but as I understand it: Sarah Palin knowingly had a DS child, her legal and within her frame of reference her moral right to do so. Her doing that offended the code of morality of one of our members here and he stated that offense, his legal right to do so. If I remember my Objectivism 101, Governor Palin has no responsibility whatsoever for the thoughts or opinions of our member, or for any of us for that matter. If she shows up on our doorstep, literally or figuratively, asking for support of the child, then we have a beef. I took the position a long time ago that I have one too many appendages to put a dog into this fight. With one exception that I could see, all of the posters fall into the same category.
  13. It may be time to drop this particular thread. My original intent was to simply explore ways that Objectivism might be presented to those unfamiliar with it in such a way that they would not be inclined to reject it out-of-hand because it threatens the foundation of their own belief system. Many of the posts in the Forum are about such dilemmas wherein Objectivists trying to do just that run into such a wall of resistance that any rational discussion is impossible. That may be the nature of the beast. I remember that with me it was the messenger as much as it was the message. I just thought there might be a better way. I am mostly a Type B personality, but there is enough Type A in me that I just hate to see all this brainpower laying around unorganized.
  14. We seek the metaphor that works with our mental image of ourselves and our paths. My introduction was via TF so my mental image was of me standing with feet apart, fists on hips, chin up, staring off into the distance at a shining city others could not see. That worked for awhile but when I looked around all my friends and acquaintances were off down the path making the world safe for Democracy, raising kids, etc. Since that is the same direction I was headed, I had to find another metaphor. What I eventually came up with is not a totally divergent path but a climb up a few levels to a wider and smoother road. I still traveled much in the same direction of job, family, kids, education, etc, but I traveled it without having to thrash through the brambles being hit in the face with guilt and contradictions. There was a great certainty in my Self and fewer unknowns to trouble my progress through life. I have never apologized for being an Objectivist and don't mean to sound like an apologist. I'm just trying to make the point that the guys we talk to mostly have a belief system that they are very comfortable with, even if it is because they haven't bothered to examine it very deeply. If you assault their beliefs head-on, they get angry and defensive and you've lost any chance to make a rational argument. I get the impression that you guys might be attempting to engage a more fundamental brand of Christian that I am . I'm not that brave. There is a level of fundamentalism that you just can't debate with. Their end game is simply, "...because my Daddy said so, and my Daddy can whup your daddy." Just as I don't try to convert the Shamans, I don't mess with the fundamentalists. As I've responded to Toad, the guys I deal with are of the Church of Pragmatic Hypocrites. They call themselves Christians and they practice it to the point that it is practical knowing that the ideals of the religion are unattainable and, in reality, undesirable. I agree completely with your analysis of Christianity. I have for almost 50 years. We see Christianity in the light of reason for the mystical manipulative sham that it because we are student of philosophy. Joe Citizen is not a student and doesn't see it that way. It is a code of ethics and belief system he's known all his life and he's comfortable with it. Joe Citizen is also prone to pigeonholing concepts so he only has to think about them once. We all are. "Muslims: 9/11, hate us, mistreat women, chop off head, really nasty;" put 'em in the "Nuke they asses" file. "Objectivist: Atheists, don't believe in God, hate Jesus, don't know what else, that's enough;" put 'em in the "Piss on 'em" file. I just think we need to cause Joe to check that file every once in awhile and maybe re-file Objectivists at least to the "Wait and see" file. Let me close with a posit that is related to this discussion but may lead to another thread and posting: I am assuming that most of us were raised Christian and were taught the Christian ethic from infancy. Somewhere along the line, we have rejected that teaching in favor of Objectivism, a salient feature of which is the rejection of the concept of a great unknown and unknowable deity to which we owe unquestioning obeisance. In addition to this deity, we owe homage to all of our fellow men; everything and everyone except ourself. These ideas are pre-historic. Christianity is only a relativly new leech on the body of man. "History is the account of Man's struggle to free himself from Man." Is there a baby in the bathwater we're throwing out? Playing the age card (got to be worth something besides 10% off at Motel 6), I obviously see threads of commonality in a great many of the world's philosophical bodies, Christianity, Buddhism, Tao, Shinto, etc. All of these religions, considered as philosophies, have guidance on how to relate to one's fellow humans. Is a piece of advice such as, "In the course of the conduct of one's daily business, one should not make it a habit of randomly slaying one's fellows," invalid because its origin is attributed to Buddha or to a deity? As Objectivists, we assume that a fellow human is worthy of the respect and rational treatment due all Men until he proves otherwise. We do not treat that person in a disrespectful or irrational manner. "That which we would not have done to us, we don't do to him." My obvious point is that a principle is not necessarily invalid because its authorship is unknown. We know they all came from wise elders such as myself . That they may have been stolen by the Shamans or donated as an offering to the GFPSM, does not automatically render them useless.
  15. I'm afraid I'm going to need an example here. If, as an Objectivist, you would want to be treated according to the principles of Objectivism, to me it follows that is how you would require yourself to treat others. If his perceived rights; e.g., his "right" to demand your money to support national health care, deviate from objective principles, you have no requirement to accede to his perceptions. You, sir, are absolutely correct . My sentence read that the commandments are "stated" as absolutes and that is precisely why they were almost immediately amended with the "but" and the "and." That they cannot possibly be adhered to in their stated form makes the foundation of the Christian ethic untenable. It has, however, kept armies of shamans clothed, fed, and free of honest work for millenia. The business of approving and explaining the deviations and forgiving the unapproved transgression predates Christianity by a lot of years. The Christian church merely hooked its cars onto a long-running train. Here's the way I see it: Most of the people we deal with try to live moral, responsible lives. They work to support themselves and their families, try to treat other people with the respect and dignity they expect and they try to teach their kids to do the same thing. They generally subscribe to a version of helping other people that is much closer to what Objectivism says is rational than to what their church teaches. They will gather up old clothes and toys and take them to the church or Goodwill and will drop an extra 20 to help the victims of Hurricane Whatzitsname but they won't dip into the kids' college fund or even that little stash they're setting aside for the new 52" plasma honker. When it comes to "giving til you hurt," most everyone has a very low threshold of pain. Very few of these good people ever delve into the philosophical basis of their beliefs or the true meaning and ramifications of them. It's just the way things are. It's what they were taught as small kids; it's what their friends were taught; and mostly it works. "Doing unto others" works most of the time. "Thou shalt not kill: 'but,' 'and,'" works most of the time. I can tell one of these guys that I don't really believe the bit of "doing unto others," going around all the time looking for good that needs doing but I do believe in treating people the way I want to be treated. He won't have a problem with that, because that's pretty much how he sees it too. I can tell him that I don't believe people should go about killing other people indiscriminately but that there are just some people in this world who need killing to make the world safe for the rest of us. He won't have a problem with that either. I'm not addressing the shamans. They have a vested interest (should that be "vestment interest"?) in the status quo. They are the problem. I don't run in their circles anyhow. ES
  16. EdSalti

    God exists

    As does the Giant Purple Flying Spaghetti Monster. You are forgetting one of the basic rules: A concept does not make a truth. The concept of gods exists, true; and many men accept that concept as a truth. That acceptance is the reality that you must deal with, not the concept.
  17. Great answers!! Thanks, all. Zip, I have my own little piece of the wall tucked away with a copy of the Stars and Stripes announcing the fall. One day, I'll mount them together in a shadowbox. ES
  18. Good points, Toad, and it will take me some thought to craft a response. It is beginning to drift away a bit on my original thread of making Objectivism less threatening to John Doe. I use the (perceived ) similarities between religion and Objectivism as a device to open discussions with friends and introduce the principles I live by in such a way that they can relate to them; and, I might add, in such a way that I don't think I am misrepresenting Objectivism. Over the years, responses to my identifying myself as an Objectivist plot well on TUBC (The Ubiquitous Bell Curve.) Under one flap is a small body who said, "I've heard of that and have been meaning to learn more." Under the other is, "Oh, you're one of those atheists. I don't want to have anything to do with you." The largest response, as our friend, Tenure, pointed out is, "Huh?" I think it is in our interest to be able to present facets of Objectivism to this largely uninterested body when the occasions permit in small palatable doses. It will be the rare occasion indeed if one of us should cause the philosophically lame to leap up and dance. But, showing that Objectivism isn't a totally divergent path leading straight to hell will be a start. We are not far apart philosophically or geographically. (Don't you love a good segue?) If you have plans to be in the vicinity of the Hill Country, let me know; and ditto me and Dallas. Later. ES
  19. Wanted to acknowledge your input. I like your thoughts on the discussion of "altruism." In a world getting more accustomed to 10-second sound bites, you have to make your points simply and quickly. And try to pretend it isn't "philosophy." What's the phrase du jour? Lipstick on a pig.
  20. Toad, You are leading me into the field of epistomology and it's an area where I am pretty weak. I read TOE twice, years ago, understood less than half of it then, and have forgotten most of that. But, onward into the quicksand: I still disagree. How well the tenets of a philosophy are practiced has no bearing on whether or not they are the same or similar. I grant you that the Christian version of the Golden Rule is incompatible with Objectivism in that it encourages an altruistic approach to it. The version I used, "Don't treat people the way you wouldn't want to be treated," is completely compatible, and, to me, very much the essence of Objectivism. I don't follow that the prohibitions against killing, stealing, lying are necessarily tied to altruism. In the Ten Commandments and in most other religions, they are stated as absolutes. That the Heirarchy of Shamans (Shamen?) has amended these with small print doesn't make them in their original form and intent less valid or less compatible with Objectivism. Religions as Institutions quite naturally have institutional leaders who always manage to find loopholes through which to violate the very principles of their foundation. Strictly for the good of the institution, of course. That doesnt invalidate the principles, it invalidates the institution. The aspect of religion we have a problem with is the institutional hypocracy of the shamans who run it. Absolutes have a way of becoming very inconvenient. "Thou shalt not kill" works pretty good nearly all the time; but there is always a"but." And once the precedent is set, it gets easier to amend the "but" with an "and." The names we have for random, unsanctioned killing are the names of crimes, the names for institutionalized killings are glorious achievements. I continue to support my position that there are enough similarities in the core principles to use these as a launching point to convince our Christian friends that Objectivism isn't a divergent path leading straight to hell but a smoother path leading to a happier and less traumatic life. A significant difference between their ethical base and ours is that theirs is impossible to live up to; ours is not.
  21. I got some interesting answers to my orginal question, but I think I wasn't specific enough . I'm curious about what about you was different from your friends/colleagues/contemporaries that made you receptive to the logic and rightness of Ayn Rand's works and not them. Example: I attribute my own receptiveness to being spoiled rotten by two doting recently-widowed grandmothers who had lots of time for their first grandchild. I learned as a toddler that I was king of the world and nothing was impossible for me. I learned that what I thought was important and that I could trust what I thought until I was proven wrong. By the time I reached 20 and discovered TF, I had already filed much of conventional Christian wisdom and morality in the trash. The part I had rejected was the mysticism and the altruism. Those are the parts that you keep to yourself because it upsets your mother if you talk bad about God and "doing good." That's what I am curious about. We all talk about the "rightness" of Objectivism, but something had turned us away from parts of the standard ethic of our elders. An event? A personal trait? A person? Why are you different?
  22. A touch of humor there, but actually not too far off the mark. I've noted that I fairly recently returned to this academic exchange of Objective ideas after a 27 year hiatus I call "my life." I visited quite a few sites professing an association with Objectivism and, with the exception of ARI, found very little being done to present the philosophy to the great unwashed. To my tiny mind, the possibilities are extensive. Rappers? Why not? Christians got rappers. Comic books. Series of children's books on the order of The Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew. Saturday morning cartoons. G-rated movies for kids and pre-teens. Maybe I missed something, but I haven't found any of these things. Obviously, this is going to be my message. GET THE WORD OUT!! How 'bout everybody wear a teeshirt or sweatshirt with the logo, "A is A." When some poor fool asks, "What the hell zat mean?", you can pound him/her into insensibility with your brilliant oratory and irrefutable logic. BTW, "Steel Hank" is good. Got a nice edge to it.
  23. I appreciate your thoughts. You seem to be well on your way to achieving your goal. I don't recall at what point I considered myself an Objectivist rather than a student of Objectivism. I don't think there is a definitive line that you cross from one to another. It is how I identify myself and have for a lot of years no matter how imperfectly I may adhere to the principles. I deleted too much. This is in response to JJJJ. ES
  24. You make some good points and perhaps this very discussion would be a good device for a discussion with someone most familiar with the Christian version. Pointing out that the alternate vesion of the Golden Rule is the predominant one in most religions and getting a reaction on that. I think most people practice the alternate version more so than the Christian version. People respond to others needing help in the face of catastrophe. Hurricane Ike, or Katrina a few years ago, are perfect examples. Objectivism doesn't discourage helping people suffering from unusual circumstances. It does discourage giving more than you can afford to give or feeling obligated to give to someone you judge unworthy of the gift. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, we assume a person is worthy of being helped return their life to a state of normalcy but we don't create an abnormal state in our own life to do so. I think this is an excellent example of showing someone that they are more in tune with the principles of Objectivism than they realize.
  25. I had the impression from reading a variety of posts here that many Objectivists receive the same kind of reaction I used to get. I could shut down a good bull session in two minutes flat . Too much aggression and intensity. I don't get into to many bull sessions any more. More often, it's a more concrete discussion on the topic du jour in the news. Gay marriage, health care, energy, etc. It can get pretty intense when I tell a very conservative friend that his position is merely the flip side of the liberal position on a very thin coin. Focussing on similarities and quitting while I am ahead works better than most other things I've tried.
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