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Everything posted by Spearmint

  1. 1. Ayn Rand (100%) Click here for info 2. David Hume (85%) Click here for info 3. Nietzsche (82%) Click here for info 4. Jean-Paul Sartre (75%) Click here for info 5. Stoics (75%) Click here for info 6. Thomas Hobbes (69%) Click here for info 7. Aristotle (62%) Click here for info 8. Cynics (59%) Click here for info 9. John Stuart Mill (51%) Click here for info 10. Spinoza (51%) Click here for info 11. Kant (47%) Click here for info 12. Aquinas (43%) Click here for info 13. St. Augustine (41%) Click here for info 14. Jeremy Bentham (40%) Click here for info 15. Plato (40%) Click here for info 16. Epicureans (37%) Click here for info 17. Nel Noddings (29%) Click here for info 18. Prescriptivism (28%) Click here for info 19. Ockham (14%) Click here for info answers: ddfdbacadbcb
  2. Alex I'm going to bed soon and will respond fully to your post tomorrow when I've read it through several times, but first could you clarify one issue for me? Assume that you are debating someone who asserts that the universe has infinite size. You counter that this claim is false (for the reasons mentioned above), and say that actually size does not apply to the universe. Is there any actual physical difference between the two scenarios that are being asserted here? In terms of what actually exists in space-time, and what one can actually 'do' within the universe (such as travel arbitrarily far in a given direction etc etc), does your model/conception of the universe actually vary from his? I'm just trying to clarify whether you are primarilly objecting to the terminology that is being used to describe reality (because you think that 'the universe is infinite' is a misguided statement due to the non-existence of actual infinities), or whether you are actually asserting different facts about reality. edit: Please don't think that I am attempting to reduce this to the level of 'mere' semantics; I do realise the importance of using correct terminology and concepts in areas such as this in order to avoid the false beliefs that can easily spring from misguided premises . I'm mainly interested in finding out your precise point of objection.
  3. I'm not sure why. I can divorce 'red' from any particular existant - obviously this doesnt mean that theres some kind of abstract 'redness' floating around in a shadowy platonic realm. It just means that I can talk and think about 'red' as a concept itself, rather than just 'things that are red'. My concept of red has obviously been derived from perceptual data, just as a child's idea of '2' has.
  4. Again, I'm not completely sure what is meant by reducible here. When I talk about the concept of 'pig' I can reduce this to perceptual data, namely the multiple pigs that I have encountered in my life. When I talk about 'unicorns' I can reduce this to perceptual data in the sense of pictures of unicorns that I have seen, and also to the simpler components of 'horn' and 'horse' which are combined in the whole. However, I am not sure how things such as real numbers, negative numbers, 'raising to the power' and so on are reducible in this way. Bear in mind that my original point was that we are able to talk about numbers simply as numbers, not as numbers OF things (ie '2' opposed to '2 apples'). In order to form a hierachy including concepts such as negative numbers, we first have to isolate the concept of number. We cannot talk about "-2" of anything. Are you intending on spreading the personal attacks over multiple threads, or is 2 going to be sufficient? I already answered your ad homs in thread where you first made them.
  5. I'm not sure what 'reducible' means in this context. I could give you an example of 2 objects, but I couldnt give you an example of half an object, -3 objects, or 'i' objects. Also, I can freely use the number '3490324738032432' and 'understand' it just as well as I 'understand' the number '3', but I doubt I've perceived that many objects in my entire life. Obviously we learn the natural numbers through perceiving objects and abstracting ('2' is what two apples and two oranges have in common etc), but once we've formed the abstract concept there is no need to reduce it back to sense data, and it is possible to talk about '2' as a concept without mentioning "two OF something'. When I say '2', I dont mean 2 apples, pigs or oranges. I just mean '2'. (In the same way, people generally get the idea of 'pi' from dealing with circles, but they will often go on to use pi in other contexts that have very little to do with circles. To keep thinking 'circles!!' whenever you encounter pi would be as silly as thinking 'triangles!!' whenever you encountered things relating to sines and cosines).
  6. Oh, I get what you mean. I didnt intend 'n' as a variable, I meant it to represent pi (it's some bizarro character I found in character map that looked like pi. I admit that it is almost indistinguishable from a lower case N however). I was asking what specific existants in reality were being mentioned in the identity"e^((pi)*i) + 1 = 0" to demonstrate what I mean by taking numbers as purely seperate from any existing objects. The identity isnt claiming that if you take 'e' bananas and raise them to the power of "pi * the positive root of minus one" then you will be left with -1 bananas - it is asserting a fact about numbers and concepts.
  7. Im confused, are you talking to me here or clarifying it for other people? I couldnt find the proper pi symbol in 'character map' so I assumed it wouldnt be included in the character set used on this board.
  8. Alex. Ok I've read your essay again, this time a bit more closely, and yes, I think I misinterpreted you the first time. I'm still not 100% sure that I understand exactly what you are trying to say, so if I've made any further mistakes please correct me. Firstly, I don't think that most statements of the form "the universe is/has X" actually make sense - the universe itself is not an existing thing; the word universe means "everything that exists". I dont think it makes any more sense to talk about 'the size of everything that exists' than it makes to talk about 'the size of the_apples_in_this_bag'. You can talk about the size of an individual apple and you can talk about the space that the apples are _existing_ in, but you cannot assign properties to 'the_apples_in_this_bag' - it isnt a 'thing', it's a label used to refer a collection of things. With this in mind, I would say that both the statements "the universe is finite in size" and "the universe is infinite in size" are outright nonsense if taken literally. "The universe" does not have a size, because "all that exists" does not have a size (or spatial boundaries!). From rereading your essay I _think_ that you are in agreement with me on this but are phrasing it differently, and if so then I am in full agreement with you - the question reduces to one regarding spacial boundaries, since thats the only real way in which it can be made coherant. I don't know if it is the place of philosophy to claim that the 'universe' is unbounded (translated as "the space in which everything exists is unbounded") since I'm not entirely sure whether a bounded universe would be a logical impossibility - obviously talking about a bounded universe in the sense of there being something 'outside' the universe would be nonsense, but it may well be possible to formulate the claim in a different way. But let us assume that you are correct about the universe being unbounded - assume that you can travel as far as you want in any given direction without reaching a boundary. As far as I can tell, you want to maintain this while also claiming that the spatial extention of the universe isnt infinite. But let us consult the dictionary If something extends indefinitely (as you claim the universe does) then it _is_ infinite, by the definition of what 'infinite' means. Something cannot both extend indefinitely and not be infinite. If you are asserting that you can travel arbitrarily far in a given direction then many, including myself, would claim that you are asserting that the universe has infinite spatial extent. This is why I asked you to define precisely what you meant by your usage of the term 'infinite' - even if I accept everything you have written in your paper, it can still be claimed that the universe is infinite by this definition of the term. It extends indefinitely and has no spatial boundary. Are you using the word in a different way? edit: To clarify, when I say that "the universe extends indefinitely" I do NOT mean that there is a thing called 'the universe' which extends indefinitely - as I said above, I think this is an abuse of language. 'The universe' is not an existing thing, and it has no extent whatsoever. I would translate "the universe extends indefinitely" as "it is possible to travel arbitrarily far in any given direction", and I assume that this is what most people mean when they make the claim. I still disagree with you on this however. Assume I get aboard your hypothetical spaceship capable of travelling at octillion light-years a picosecond and decide to count the number of atoms in the universe. Since you are assuming that I could travel as far as I wanted in any particular direction ("the universe is unbounded"), I think it follows that I will never run out of atoms to count. No matter how far I go and how long I count for, I will always be able to go count higher. If I wanted to count 1000 atoms, this would be possible. If I wanted to count 100000000 atoms, this would also be possible (I'd just have to travel out slightly further). Indeed, given any arbitrary integer X, I would be able to count more than X atoms in the universe. In other words, the number of atoms in the universe is greater than any arbitrary finite value. Again, let us consult the dictionary: It certainly seems that the number of atoms IS infinite, going by this usage of the word. Note that it is not being asserted that there is an actual number 'infinity' existing that somehow corresponds to the cardinality of the set of atoms in the universe, it just means that the number of atoms in the universe is greater than any finite value. This does not seem to contradict what you say.
  9. Well that's fine, its essentially what I would say too. However that still allows us to talk about '1' and '2' independently of there being one or two objects (I'm not sure my terminology here is correct, but we would be talking about '1' and '2' as units of the concept of number rather than about '2 apples' or whatever). No, I am making a statement about '1' and '2', completely divorced from any particular existents. As an example, consider a more complex mathematical expression such as "e^iπ + 1 = 0"; what existents are being referred to here?
  10. As far as I know, eradicating a disease generally requires making sure the entire populace is vaccinated. If those living in serious poverty were unable to receive vaccinations for financial reasons, it would make it difficult to wipe out diseases in the way that small pox (for example) has been wiped out. The same applies to contagious diseases. If a person has symptoms that could be caused by a contagious disease but cannot afford to get it checked out, they may well spread it.
  11. She didn't 'have' to do anything. I dont like the way this thread has went since I feel that I've been put into a position where it seems I'm explicitly criticizing Rand's work, which wasn't my original intention. I was responding to the allegation that philosophy students/professors "couldnt grasp Objectivism", and attempting to explain why - namely that Rand had never given a systematic presentation of her philosophy, nor had she gave a full explanation of her beliefs on core subjects (such as epistemology), or attempted to relate these towards the tradtional problems of philosophy. This is undeniably true. It is _not_ intended as a criticism of her work - as you said, Rand has laid a foundation which can be built upon by others. It _was_ intended as a possible explanation as to why her work has often been ignored. The same kind of thing has occurred with other philosophers who have chosen to avoid giving systematic presentations, but have instead distributed their philosophy over many interrelated works (Nietzsche and Hegel would be examples here). It's not until third parties have written comprehensive summaries that their philosophes have become widely understood and accepted - most people do not want to dig through 5 or more different works just so that they can get the context required to grasp the fundamental principles of a system of philosophy. OPAR certainly goes a long way towards addressing this, as I mentioned above. A pamphlet would have done in this case. As I said, the appendix of IOE contains a lot of statements by Rand which I found to be of vital importance for actually understanding her approach to epistemology. Had it not been for the posthumous decision by Peikoff/Binswanger (?) to publish these as an appendix, they would not have been read.
  12. Do you mean the part here: http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/anthem/canalysis.html ?
  13. 'Slither away'? In the Concept of Method thread I asked a question and you answered it; exactly what else are you expecting me to add to the thread? I suppose I could (maybe should?) have replied with a 'thank you', but I didnt feel it to be necessary on a forum of this kind. The "Absolute Belief" thread is one I haven't got around to replying to yet (same with the "Circular Time" thread) - I feel no compulsion to reply to every thread involving me whenever I come to the forum, and I would rather leave replying until I'm in a frame of mind where I feel I can write something semi-decent, rather than just giving a blithe, half-hearted reply because I feel I should. If it somehow offends you that I leave a few days gap in between my replies then this is your problem, not mine. On a side note, it would be interesting if you would point out where you think I 'simultaneously criticized Ayn Rand' in the threads you mentioned, considering that I neither mentioned nor alluded to her in either one. If you're meaning that I 'simultaneously criticized her in this thread' then I would ask you to note the rather significant difference of context between me posting things on the internet while attempting to learn, and what Rand actually writes in her published works of phiosophy. I don't think I've ever 'criticized Ayn Rand' in any of my posts on this forum (unless disagreement with some point can be considered a criticism) other than in this thread, where I was making specific assertions regarding her writing style and manner of presentation. I've no doubt that you could, however this misses the point. The issue wasnt whether the assertion is true, but whether it should be included in a published work of phiosophy with no attempt made to back it up. Generally if you are asserting something which your readers are likely to find controversial, its expected for you to actually give evidence for this. If you arent prepared to do so, the assertion should not be made. "Modern philosophers" are a fairly diverse group, and it with a few exceptions it would be possible to find one who believed almost anything ("there is nothing so nonsensical that some philosopher has not defended it"). The continual attempts to depict them as one homogenous entity all sharing the same unthinking committment to irrationality is something that is likely to put off philosophy students who know this is untrue.
  14. This is surely incorrect? I can't say for sure, but I suspect that Objectivists would use the term 'concepts of method' to describe his 'constructs of the mind', at least when he is talking about things such as momentum. edit: Here is a more comprehensive outline of his views on induction: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/whewell/#2
  15. It may have been intended to simply be an introduction (as she states explicitly in the preface), but since she never actually published a proper treatise on epistemology, it now stands as being pretty much her final word on the subject. I suspect that this plays a fairly large role in why a lot of philosophy students have problems taking her ideas on epistemology seriously; when someone asks to be presented with the Objectivist epistemology, I would assume they are expecting a fairly comprehensive summary, rather than a short outline that doesnt actually address the questions they were hoping to find answered (I'm partially referring to myself here actually - I disliked IOE upon first reading it for the reasons I have mentioned, and thought that the Objectivist theory of knowledge was fairly rudimentary and shallow. It's only recently that I've started to reevaluate it, as a direct result of posts I've read both here and on h.p.o by people such as yourself and DPW). On a semi-related note, you wouldnt happen to know if it's possible to obtain a complete transcript of the Q&A session from the appendix do you? I wasnt meaning why wasnt the appendix itself attached to the published work, but rather why the ideas discussed in it werent mentioned in the main text. Some of the ideas she discusses in the appendix seem at least as fundamental to her epistemology as her idea of concepts - certainly I wasnt able to fully grasp IOE without the context provided by the appendix work (for example the idea of contextualism, which seems to be central to her epistemology, if not its most fundamental principle, is rarely touched upon in IOE other than in the context of definitions, if I recall correctly). I suppose it makes sense if you bear in mind she only intended it as an introduction, but I would have expected her to actually publish something else at some point. Oh well, at least OPAR goes someway towards fixing the problem.
  16. Are numbers, taken purely as concepts (ie the concept of 'one' as opposed to 'one apple'), single discrete countable units? When I assert that "1 + 1 = 2", I'm not making a statement about any aspect of observable reality in the sense of counting 2 individual objects, I'm asserting a truth about mathematical concepts and the relationships between them.
  17. If Hitler had delegated more responsibilty to his generals, Germany would have fared better in World War 2.
  18. I was more referring to the 'highly questionable and controversial interpretations of other philosophers with no textual references given to support the claims made" parts. There's also the general reluctance to actually address counter-arguments - IOE is a perfect example of this. I found the main text to be a bit shallow, and she seemed to skirt around anything that could have proved problematic for her theory. There was no real attempt made to discuss the issues that I think most people with an epistemological background would expect to find discussed - she didn't really try to explain how her theory would handle many of the major questions that have traditionally been posed in epistemology. I cannot understand why this is - in the appendix she addresses objections in an excellent manner, and her answers are very enlightening in many cases (I personally consider this appendix to be one of the best things I've ever read by Rand - it's hard to overstate how brilliant I found it to be). I've no idea why half of the material from the appendix wasnt included in the main text - she HAD the answers in many cases, why werent they considered worthy of inclusion? I've no objection to the labelling of X as evil after discussing the arguments, it's more the sort of snide remarks made with no real attempt to back them up that I'm talking about ("Look at what Bertrand Russell got away with because people thought they kinda knew what a number was" [iOE], "this book is primarilly aimed at human beings including any professional philosophers that qualify" [OPAR], "Wittgenstein is a clear example of fuzzy thinking" [iOE], etc etc) Yeah, this is the kind of thing I'm talking about. Exactly which mainstream philosophers dismiss talk of "observations, facts and reality" as being 'uninteresting'? Obviously you wrote that as an offhand comment on an internet message board so its not like I'm going to expect you to provide footnotes justifying it or anything, but its the kind of sentence that Rand actually includes in her works of philosophy.
  19. If true, that's one of the dumbest things I've ever heard, but Branden seems to claim that Rand said a lot of things which often paint a significantly picture of her than that which she puts across in her writings. I'm not sure how much credibility to give to his claims (or even if they really matter). To the original poster; I'd second going to a psychologist for a professional diagnosis, but if you choose to do so, you should probably first investigate what kind of psychologist you would most like to talk to.
  20. The eradication of certain diseases, as well as the containment of contagious diseases, is one of the few things which I would say socialized health care has in its favour. However you need to realise that (most) of us arent claiming that there are _no_ benefits that public health care could bring, simply that these benefits do not outweigh the gross violation of rights involved in implementing such a system.
  21. Not sure if it'll help, but you might want to look at some of Nathaniel Branden's work (Six Pillars of Self Esteem/Honoring the Self).
  22. It would be interesting to know which similarities he mentioned, but there is nothing of major significance that I would say they had in common. If he hadn't actually read any Objectivist works and was relying solely upon your description of the philosophy, then perhaps you over-emphasized the parts that might relate it to logical positivism (such as the rejection of speculative metaphysics, and the emphasis on sense-perception and reason as the sole basis of knowledge)? In my experience, the biggest problem philosophy students have with Objectivism is the complete absence of anything approaching academic rigour in any of the major works. When you're used to the reading the kind of philosophy contained in the writings of people like Kant or Quine, it takes some adjusting to get used to the style of Rand/Peikoff, who generally pay very little attention to addressing opposing arguments and sprinkle ad hominems throughout their writings.
  23. Not really - "1 + 1 = 2" applies to relations of concepts, ie our concepts of number. Saying "1 + 1 = 2" isnt the same as saying 1 apple added to 1 apple gives 2 apples - theres a difference between grasping the truth of "1 + 1 = 2" in an abstract sense, and applying it to a material part of reality. In some cases adding 1 object to another object doesnt give 2 objects, for example adding a sugar cube to a cup of water, but this doesnt alter the fact that "1 + 1 = 2", always and forver. I assume he means relative to a set of axioms. The premises of a deductive argument are (generally) obtained via induction, and then the consequences follow via deduction.
  24. If abortion is murder, then outlawing it would certainly lie under the jurisdiction of government. I'm not sure how you can claim that 'abortion is murder' while also holding that 'the state has no right to stop abortion'. A Christian's belief that theft is wrong is often based upon faith - does this mean that they should oppose its prohibition too?
  25. Betsy: Forgive me for butting in here, but I think this is the main aspect of your disagreement. Would you not say that there is something approaching a 'contextless' degree of certainty about a truth such as "1 + 1 = 2", or "A is A"? If you are going to reply that these count as 'axiomatic', then I would suggest that you and Eddie are actually in agreement, but he is using the phrase 'logical truths' to describe what you refer to as 'axiomatic truths'. If you are claiming that axiomatic truths are 'more certain' than other truths (which is what I interpret you as saying here), then this would be almost equivalent to the standard claim that deductive truths are more certain than inductive ones, only with slightly different terminology. Hume used the phrase "relations of ideas" to describe your 'axomatic truths', but I'm starting to suspect that the labelling is the only major difference.
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