Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum


  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Posts posted by Mindy

  1. You've dropped the context that the post of mine which you are criticizing is in reply to two posts by Jonathan where he was asking for clarification on the position I was taking:

    Perhaps you mistake rhetorical questions for a request for information? Jonathan is circumspect in his responses. I suggest that you have failed to get his point, at least some of the time, if you make this interpretation of his posts.

    If you thought you were responding to specific questions, wouldn't your responses line up with them?

    The difference between arguing a matter and declaring one's opinions on it is exploited with fabulous effect in Rand's writings. Look at what is said in the committee to re-design Cortland homes, or in one of James Taggart's back-room meetings, if you'd like to refresh your sensitivity to the difference.


  2. Putting forth a viewpoint on an interpretation of an aspect of Objectivism is the same as asking for unthinking authority? Do you have any evidence for the claim that I am attempting to "replace" others' thinking?

    Yes, and I am glad to have the opportunity to explain. This thread has been essentially a discussion, at places sharpened into an argument, about how a particular commercial situation should be judged. All, or almost all the participants have given reasons why it is to be interpreted as proper or improper. Please note that "reasons" is not a normative term in this case. Reasons can persuade or convince or be found insufficient, etc. because they supply grounds for arriving at different conclusions.

    In your post, however, reasons were conspicuously absent. Expressing your opinion, and calling that an "interpretation" doesn't substitute for reasoning. A person who enters an actual discussion and only expresses opinions (and I am glossing over the begged questions, etc. in this) is offering his view as if it were to be accepted on authority.

    When it is done with a pious attitude, it is doubly insupportable.


  3. ... who must then kill the swimmer in self-defense.

    "I swear by my life and my love of it..." but if I have to strip a child of his life preserver in order to survive, you can bet your life I will do so?

    I don't think so.

    Where Rand discusses emergencies and their exigencies in the Lexicon, her exceptions are aimed at helping others. This subject has been debated endlessly, and I find the best counter-example for those inclined to say they would kill another to save their own life is that of organ-harvesting. Would you, had you the chance, kidnap someone and remove his kidney if it were necessary to survive?

    Again, I don't think so.

    When you value life, it is automatic to value all life. It isn't that you have no reason to value a stranger's life, but what sort of vile behavior would cancel out its automatic value in your eyes.


  4. ...Unless the situation almost never corresponds to reality. Then you may acknowledge the scenario for what it is, and then offer up a more likely version. We are talking about Objectivist ethics here, which has to apply to a "normal" human life and not an impossible, hypothetical one.

    Absolutely! Nobody is making others enter into the discussion of the OP's hypothetical. If it doesn't interest you, do not waste time and space on the thread at all. If you do choose to join, you are obliged to respect the dimensions of the problem set by the OP. Keeping that in mind, each may contribute or keep silent.


  5. Right. One cannot relate a first level concept to other concepts without conceptual definition. But which concepts are available first, the first level concepts in question or the concepts that form the terms of the definition?

    A child "relates concepts", in the sense of forming sentences, long before he is capable of forming definitions. Explicit definitions would themselves be sentences, of course, but they are not the first kind of sentence children form.

    Is there an error in your question as to whether first-level concepts precede others (specifically, the "others" that "form the terms of the definition"?) What case are you considering in which first-level concepts were secondary or derivative?


  6. Gotthelf appears to separate the theory of concept and essence in the Abstract.

    Is he looking to separate concept and essence, or theory of concept and theory of essence?

    He starts by making the distinction between the "object of thought" and the "grasp of the object of thought" for the term "concept" and spends about two-thirds of the article providing a brief overview of concept-formation as promised.

    It is in the third section that he gets into definitions and essences.

    In the fourth section it is the essences that provide the most efficacious definitional fodder, refining the 'grasp of the object of thought' to better serve the fundamental human need of unit-economy.

    While properly formed concepts can be validated, it is properly forming the concepts that Gotthelf addressed.

    Yes, the issue of the relation between the object of thought and the grasp of the object of thought is the issue of essence or universals. The "grasp" is abstract as compared to the object. This difference brings up all the classical problems concerning universals.


  7. The overall point is: it does not take obsessive calculation in order to be alert to situations where you’re abusing speculative exchanges and violating the trader principle. I hope that this has made my viewpoint clear, in such a way that you would be able to apply the principle I have put forth to some of the other situations you discussed without me walking through all of them.

    You say you are proposing the correct understanding of the trader principle. Yet, all I read are opinions. I would be loathe to assume you were being authoritative rather than operating from an exchange based on reason, but I am forced to conclude, in light of your final comment about you "walking" us through life's actual cases, that you did not intend to offer other than personal opinion.

    I am puzzled at whom you expect to replace their own thinking with your ruminations, as above. It is an attitude foreign to many of us posters. It is foreign to what I see as the norm here.


  8. How do you know that it is a)privately owned and b)that the person confronting you is the owner?

    Those are the scenario the OP set. That's how you know. When a person sets an hypothetical, he gets to define the situation.

    If you want to discuss a different situation, you might set your own scenario, but you can't, logically, question the defined structure of the one you are engaged in discussing.


  9. That paper is inchoate. He mentions Miss Rand at the beginning to claim there is a relationship between concept formation and induction, but never again throughout the paper does he mention Ayn Rand, conceptualizing within a range, similarities, measurement omission, or any other understanding of concept formation that she presents, so what did he even mention Miss Rand? The figures involved in that historical outline didn't have a firm grasp of what a concept is or even how induction is related to concept formation. McCaskey gave them a lot of leeway given their misunderstanding and didn't call their theories inchoate.

    I found the paper interesting. He mentions Rand as the root of his choice of theories of induction, and, in his summary, he repeats that theories of induction that relate it intimately with concept-formation was his focus. He doesn't need to keep mentioning her name, as the reader is expected to be able to keep in mind what her emphasis is, and the material fits that perspective, so there is no confusion.


  10. It would seem self-evident that it would be expected of one voting about the quality of a book that they have first hand knowledge of it. I don't know of any other way to have obtain first hand knowledge of a book's quality than by reading it. The exception being perhaps that if a book is composed of several previously published pieces and you had read some or all of them.

    Is that a yes? Or just: the poll expects that people who voted had read the book? People certainly have posted about it without reading the book, as you would, of course, know. To form an opinion from that and vote based on it is certainly within the norm of behavior for people here.

    If some forty people here have read the book, only a small fraction of them are posting about it.


  11. I don't see how you separate the two. Essence arises through concept formation and the "problem" of universals deals with validation of concepts. How do you talk about essence without concepts?

    I ask this, not as an insult or pseudo-argument, but to protect my time (and yours):

    Have you read OPAR or ITOE (recently)?

    I am separating them just as Gotthelf did.


  12. Forming the first level concept 'table' from observation first requires separating some entities from the rest, based on perceived differences from other things and similarities to each other. This is the differentiation step that Ayn Rand emphasized could not be skipped.

    As you point out yourself, difference and similarity are relations, not objects. To grasp that two things are similar, one must, logically, first grasp each one. It is the objects themselves, with their various characteristics and features, that are given in perception. Noting similarities and/or differences has to, logically, come second.

    That doesn't mean it isn't still done at the perceptual level. It might be done as a perceptual abstraction. But how can measurement-omission not be implied at whatever level the similarities are noted on? Rand recognizes no other rule for abstraction. What is left out in a process of abstraction has to be measurements.

    When you ask if measurement-omission is thought to be the only thing necessary for forming a concept, you seem to imply that integration is an act separate from abstraction. I would challenge that implication. It is the mental content of the abstraction that integrates the various percepts pertinent to it. With regard to it, they are identical. They aren't assigned to it or grouped under it in some outside, perfunctory manner, which would be a violation of parsimony at the very least.


  13. I am not standing by Peikoff no matter what, which would imply loyalty to a man instead of loyalty to existence. It is not irrational for me to conclude that Dr.Peikoff knows a great deal about Objectivism, and that I don't know what McCaskey's understanding of Objectivism is. I haven't read anything by McCaskey that would lead me to think that he has a firm grasp of Objectivism. Yes, he was hired by ARI and he was promoting Objectivism, so presumably, he understood Objectivism to some degree and knew what he was promoting. But even promoting is not the same things as understanding. Glenn Beck promotes Atlas Shrugged, and he doesn't understand it very well -- he is certainly no Objectivist. I can't really say anything about McCaskey not knowing him and not knowing his understanding of Objectivism. So, yes, there is a possibility that he is rejecting some aspect of Objectivism which leads him to reject the ideas in Harriman's book. I don't know that for a fact, and won't until see more of what McCaskey has to say, but calling a theory inchoate means that he is certainly not accepting it as presented. Whether that is a rational claim or not, I don't know, since I haven't read the book. But in issues like this, my benefit of the doubt (not having all of the facts) definitely goes to Dr.Peikoff because of what I know about him and other schisms that have come about.

    Is there anything in all of this to warrant evaluating your allegation that McCaskey may be manifesting a disagreement with Objectivist epistemology above the level of uninformed gossip? I don't know when I've heard anyone justify themselves in terms of being unaware of the relevant facts, so extensively as this. Logically, it ought to read with an apologetic tone, only it doesn't. Yet, you embed a renewed assertion that there is reason to suppose he is in fact rejecting Objectivism, and not just criticizing the book. I find that disreputable, and an injustice to McCaskey's reputation.


  14. The bottom line is this: there is nothing in Objectivism to suggest that the island owner has the right to prevent the drowning man from landing, or to throw him back into the sea, nor is there anything to suggest that the drowning man has to respect the will of the island's owner during the emergency. So, according to Objectivism, the initiation of force is being done by the owner, not the shipwreck victim.

    On the contrary, simple respect for property suggests, as everyone else in the thread realizes, that the cast-away would be trespassing. It is interesting to imagine the cast-away standing in a few inches of water, chagrined by a rifle-holding Robinson Curusoe.

    Me, I'd start piling up sand and rocks and create my own island in his shallows, to start with. If I built my island parallel to his favorite beach, he wouldn't be able to go fishing without paying me a toll...hmmm enterprise already taking off.


  15. The previous responses have been excellent and thorough in discussing government and the Objectivist views on it. I read into your question a little more emphasis on human nature and will focus on that aspect.

    Man is biologically the rational animal. He must use his mind to survive. He must learn and think and judge, and those are functions of the individual's mind. Liberty, in Objectivism, is based on man's being a thinking being. The importance of the freedom of speech is obviously derived from this. Freedom of religion, as one example of freedom of speech, comes not from any assigned value to religion, but in recognition of man's intellectual nature. It is the mind that makes freedom important.

    Thus, those conservatives who would enforce their religious precepts on government, are working against man's nature to think, because to think means to think for oneself. Objectivism would protect the right to think religiously, or altruistically, or sadistically. But Objectivism does not support any behavior, no matter what system of thought it aligns with, if it initiates force against others. Religious thoughts may range all the way to genocide, but religious thinkers may not act that way. Altruists may dream of economic equality, but they may not steal from the rich to give to the poor. In this way, Objectivism identifies the social/political line in the sand among different individuals, with their different beliefs and personal interests: the initiation of force.

    Most people recognize that might does not make right. What they don't realize is that right doesn't need might. You don't have to impose the right on people, you only have to restrain might. This puts Objectivism in a class all alone, in terms of political theory. Objectivism recognizes that government is there to stop forceful interferences, not to force people to be good, do right, etc. Government is only needed so that might doesn't over-run its own province. That your muscles work on your skeleton, and don't impose on mine. And that other countries don't impose on either of us.

    The genius of the U.S. Constitution is its concept of the government as protecting the freedom of people, with innately self-limiting and self-correcting (check and balances) structure. Its being self-limiting and correcting is key to protecting freedom, from itself. The U.S. Constitution is a document written out of respect for men and mankind. Anthropologically, it expresses a "laissez-faire" attitude towards the individual. It prizes man's mind in two ways. By opposing any force brought to bear against an individual, and by regarding men as self-sufficient economically. The Objectivist ideal of limited government recognizes the fundamental perversion of a government that acts beyond its proper functions. The emphasis on limited government is not due to dislike of government or the desire to avoid wasteful bureaucratic spending. It is the crucial matter of what is proper for government to do. Nothing a government does, that is not its proper, protective function, is benign. Governments are force itself. A proper government is force self-restrained. Any excess function is force unleashed against innocent people.

    The unthinking, wrong-thinking, violent, depraved, etc. people that exist in any large group are not of concern to a proper government until they behave so as to initiate force on someone else. Otherwise, they are harming only themselves. So a proper government doesn't have to worry about ideological or psychological variations. It doesn't take a paternal attitude towards people or culture, doesn't presume to lead them or supply them or nurse them. It is important to keep in mind that everything done by a government is done at the point of a gun.


  16. Regardless of the intellectual debate, an organization like ARI must have a consistent stance and a chain of command. ARI might be making the right or the wrong decision, but having no unified, official stance and issue like this will always be wrong. So I agree with Peikoff's email that one of them had to go.

    The clear expression of priorities here is worth noting. "Regardless of intellectual...ARI must have consistant...and ...command." This puts face above facts, and control above truth.

    "ARI might be...right or wrong...but...no...official stance...wrong." Here, again, right, truth, and reason are subordinated to face, reputation, and appearance.

    Ropoctl has it right. He speaks the sentiments expressed in Peikoff's letter as well as agreeing with them. But if reason is an absolute, reason never takes a back seat. And if ARI isn't about reason, it isn't about Ayn Rand.


  17. This might imply that McCaskey thinks that the Objectivist epistemology is also inchoate, which would imply a non-acceptance of the Objectivist epistemology.

    Against his being a noted scholar accepted by ARI, with a teaching record and years of involvement promoting Objectivism, you propose the mere logical possibility that criticism of the book could, in some possible scenario, imply his not agreeing with Objectivist epistemology? That is irrational.

    "Irrational" is the correct word because it means acting against the evidence in an individual's possession, which is precisely what you are doing here.

    It is this unthinking loyalty to figureheads that defeats Objectivism's claim to be a system of thought.


  18. The answer to the "problem of universals" lies in Ayn Rand's discovery of the relationship between universals and mathematics. Specifically, the answer lies in the brilliant comparison she draws between concept-formation and algebra. <opar_90>

    I know what your point is, but it won't go the distance, because you have to answer the question for mathematics also. Secondly: mathematics, counting, measurement, etc., are all secondary to qualitative concept-formation. There is no establishing even a one-to-one correspondence without being able to recognize what counts as "one of them."

    Math is probably an exemplary case of concept-formation, but it can't be the original case.


  • Create New...