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Fred Weiss

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  1. I don't think that persuasion is involved in their attempts to ban abortion or stem cell research - or to require the teaching of creationism or to allow prayer and other religious activities in schools or to keep "God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. I don't think persuasion is involved either in their attempts to control the content of radio or tv or the sale of what they consider pornography. Keep in mind they were behind the Prohibition Amendment and many of them likely would be happy to see it back. I could be wrong but my impression is that the religious fundamentalists who do respect the strict separation of church and state are a small minority. In other words they are the exception, not the other way around. Fred Weiss
  2. Well, if you are going to offer me this opportunity for unabashed self-promotion, what Tom may be thinking of is Harry Binswanger's review of my edition. http://www.papertig.com/Publishing_TIA_Logic..htm But thanks for the plug. Fred Weiss
  3. Someone asked a similar question on Diana Hsieh's forum and here's how I responded: I don't really want to get into a detailed debate on the mish/mash of a "philosophy" which is at the root of libertarianism, but in relation to Peter Schwartz's critique of it, it is instructive to take a look at the Libertarian Party platform: http://www.lp.org/issues/platform/execsumm.html I draw your attention to the following: First, their courageous and clearly stated position on a woman's right to an abortion: "Individual rights should not be denied or abridged on the basis of sex. Recognizing that abortion is a very sensitive issue and that people, including libertarians, can hold good-faith views on both sides, we believe the government should be kept out of the question." Being very sensitive to the theocratic, medieval view that women's bodies are not their property and that abortion is murder, how exactly can a libertarian justify the gov't staying out of it? Perhaps on this basis: "Secession: We recognize the right to political secession by political entities, private groups, or individuals." Thus abortion opponents secede and form their own Fundamentalist Christian and/or Islamic Theocratic Libertarian gov't which, sensitive to the rights of fetuses and the initiation of force directed at them, imprisons and executes women and their doctors who perform abortions. However, sensitive to the fact that people can hold good-faith views on both sides, presumably women with the impassioned conviction of their right to abortion can secede and form their own gov't and go to war against those who want to deny them that right. And thus sensitive to both sides and thoroughly open-minded on the subject (not like those authoritarian and dogmatic ARIians), libertarians can watch the two sides slaughter each other. Should they try and stop them? Not at all. Besides, how could you when you have sensitive libertarians with good-faith differences busily slaughtering each other. Furthermore: " Colonialism We favor immediate self-determination for all people living in colonial dependencies..." Note there is no requirement that such "self-determination" involve any principles of freedom. It can apply as much to the American Revolution in the name of individual rights as to Castro's Cuba in the name of totalitarian collectivism. To a libertarian apparently there is no difference. And how do we deal with foreign gov'ts which pose a threat to our interests: "Foreign Intervention We would end the current U.S. government policy of foreign intervention, including military and economic aid, guarantees, and diplomatic meddling. We make no exceptions." Incidentally, if you have ever argued with libertarians as often as I have you will discover that many of them think we are to blame for WW2 and it was our fault that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor (how dare we interfere with their desire to take over the Far East) and the South was right in the Civil War (who are we to say that slavery is wrong - so much for their commitment to the non-initiation of force). As regards Peter Schwartz's essay: QED. And at the risk of using that now maligned expression on this forum: Enough said. Fred Weiss
  4. It's reminiscent of and influenced by a style that was popular in the 20's and 30's called "Art Deco". It was done by an illustrator named Nicholas Gaetano. Fred Weiss
  5. This isn't the first time I've noticed you respond to something in a clear and succinct way which captures the essence of the issue. My compliments. Fred Weiss
  6. The additional factor to consider here is that someone building a larger structure near you might actually increase the value of your property. Presumably someone building a large house near you is an indication of the value they place on the area. Should that be reflected in other owners moving in and building large homes it could very well result in a general increase in property values in the area, benefiting you as well. You could then sell your home at a tidy profit and move elsewhere. Fred Weiss
  7. That he's a moron and therefore not worthy of his name? Fred Weiss
  8. What does that have to do with your contention that atheism is "the central core of Objectivism"? You might as well note that capitalism or egoism or romantic realism are the only "reasonable views" and then assert that they are the central core of Objectivism. Once again the common denominator is: reason.
  9. The central core of Objectivism is reason. Theism, as a variant of irrationalism, is no more significant in that respect than any other superstition or arbitrary belief. Fred Weiss
  10. You might be interested in the comments of a former teacher at TOC: http://www.dianahsieh.com/toc/statement.html Fred Weiss
  11. Socialists are so thoroughly confused these days and so ignorant (really, indifferent) to economics these days, that I don't think they would deny that WalMart operates on razor thin margins. In fact, indirectly, that's what they oppose. Since by so doing WalMart is then able to put less efficient stores out of business, which supposedly is just awful, awful, awful. Their real objection to WalMart is that it is non-union - and that they still have very high employee satisfaction ratings (or at least they use to under old man Sam whom they adored). This defies the Marxist "exploitation theory". As to the general point, yes, I agree it's foolish and probably doomed to failure to take on a market dominator head-on. You need some kind of edge. But the relevant point is that many, many companies have found such edges and done serious damage to these dominators, in some cases even eventually putting them out of business. Market dominators have a tendency to get lazy and complacent which opens them up to clever, nimble, and fast moving smaller competitors. Possibly the most famous historic example was the GM assault on Ford Motor in the 1920's. The edge GM pursued was offering cars in different styles and colors. You might have heard of Henry Ford's famous slogan, "You can have any color car you want so long as it is black." It was key to his early fabulous success...but then almost doomed his company. Fred Weiss
  12. I'm not sure what your point is. But if your point is that it can't be done, then how do you explain how Microsoft and WalMart managed to achieve it? Fred Weiss
  13. It may be more than that. I remember hearing of an incident where someone attempted to use the name "Galt's Gulch" for a ski resort (I believe) in Colorado - and AR was to able to get them to stop. It's a name, but a unique name, intimately connected with her copyrighted work. An expert in copyright law would know better than I. That he doesn't really care of course is fully consistent with the dishonesty inherent in something called "neo-Objectivism" which consists (as Stephen said) in hijacking the name to provide some stature it could never achieve on its own, taking from it what you want and rejecting the rest, even if (as must be the case) the result is a contradictory mess. Fred Weiss
  14. You are misunderstanding the issue once again. It is not their mere "use". It is the presupposition of their *truth* which is implicit in any attempt to deny them. And the axioms are not mere conveniences. They are the base and logical starting point of all knowledge and the presupposition of all knowledge, i.e. if they are not true then nothing is nor could be. Look, this discussion is becoming tiresomely endless and you are evidently making no effort to grasp anything that is being said. At this point you are just wasting our time. If you genuinely wish to understand the Objectivist position on this, and many other issues, you must read ITOE and OPAR. If all you are interested in is intellectual game-playing than you most certainly have come to the wrong place. In any event, speaking for myself, I have no interest in pursuing this with you further. Fred Weiss
  15. Not if you grasp that they are axiomatic. Axiomatic does not mean "not derived from observation". The observation in this instance, which is all it can be, is ostensive. That and the fact that any attempt to deny them is self-refuting. Fred Weiss
  16. They are statements about whether your thinking is in accord with reality If they are not that what is their point? Then it has no point. Do you think it is just a game, a flight of fancy? What? As to the "a priori", see my previous comments. Logic is not a priori. It is entirely based on, derived from, and validated by experience. The reason why logic is valid is because: that's the way reality is. It is not something which we impart to reality or is it anything we possess innately at birth. Yes, we have the capacity for rational thought but we also have the capacity for running. That doesn't make rational thought a priori anymore than running is. Fred Weiss
  17. You're mixing two entirely issues here. What effort one might put toward and what method one might choose in explaining to someone why some conclusion they've reached is irrational is different from the actual rational basis for that conclusion. That someone may attribute their surviving a car crash to "God" doesn't make it evidence, whether they consider it evidence or not. It is not evidence. There is no connection, whatever they might believe on the subject. Whether you want to explain that to someone and how you go about it - which presumably will vary from person to person depending on your knowledge of their rationality (with some people it being a complete waste of time) - is a different question entirely. As to the Ancients and their various superstitions, that is at least understandable, if not fully justified, since the scientific method was largely unknown to them and still in the distant future. The same applies to primitive cultures. However, there is really no excuse for people today to still hold on to similar superstitions - except for the fact that modern philosophy is so irrational with many scientists themselves embracing it, that people aren't being taught a clear alternative. Fred Weiss
  18. They are not just necessary truths, they are axiomatic, meaning that they are at the base of knowledge, inherent in knowledge itself, i.e. you couldn't have knowledge without them. Their undeniability consists in the impossibility of denying their truth without presupposing their truth. So denying them in this instance involves self-contradiction. Here you are simply equivocating between specific experience and experience in general. True, you don't need to know how to make toast or drive a car before you can grasp the principles of logic. But you do need to have experience, i.e. contact with and knowledge of the real world. Logic afterall is about bringing our thinking processes in accord with reality, right? So how could you possibly know what thinking processes are in accord with reality if you had no contact with reality? Since logical principles are very broad abstractions, and apply to thought as such, they don't apply to this experience or that experience. They apply to experience in general That is not the same thing as "a priori", independent of or apart from experience. Fred Weiss
  19. No, it's not begging the question (afterall, begging the question itself presupposes logic) and yes logic is a necessary condition for knowledge. But that doesn't make it "a priori". It makes it axiomatic, i.e. a necessary truth at the base of all knowledge without which knowledge is impossible and which cannot be denied without presupposing it. But why is it axiomatic, why is it necessary? Because that's the way reality is. Our minds don't make the world consistent with the Law of Non-Contradiction. There is such a (logical) law, and if we are to be logical we must abide by it, because in reality something cannot both be and not be the same thing in the same respect. In other words, it's not that way because we say so or merely because our minds are structured a certain way, i.e. because it's "a priori". It's that way because that's the way it is and has to be. But if you think that something can both be and not be, etc. then of course all bets are off (literally). But then it's not a priori either and if it were our minds would not be in accord with reality. Again, don't confuse our capacity for rational/logical thought with rationality/logic itself. That we are capable of rational thought doesn't mean we will be and of course many people aren't. So it is clearly not "a priori" for them. It's a process that has to be exercised. And as you well know, and I'm sure you know people like this, there are people who will tell you that rational thinking isn't all it's cracked up to be and maybe we should rely more on our "feelings", etc. So what's "a priori" for them? They don't get it at all. So where's the "a priori"? Why would it be "a priori" for some and not for others? Fred Weiss
  20. By her own admission? What???? Ayn Rand totally rejected that idea. She more than anyone in history worshipped the innovator and original thinker. These are precisely the "men of the mind" upon whose shoulders civilization rests. For those who are genuinely interested in this subject, yes, knowledge is cumulative and builds hierarchically and must proceed in steps (an Einstein could not have preceded Newton). But the great thinkers and innovators in history periodically, whether in small or large ways, take us in new directions which no one had previously thought of. And it doesn't matter, even if it were true which is doubtful, that in every instance someone else would have thought of it. Someone has to do it. And someone does it first. And whether it is that person or some other, they are first-handed innovative men - and they represent a very small number of us to which we all owe a debt of gratitude. That this guy claims to have studied Objectivism for 40 years and even more outrageously claims to be an Objectivist is simply stunning. It is a combination of blatant stupidity and dishonesty. Fred Weiss P.S.: I'd also like to know what mere "rearrangement of preexisting concepts" does Atlas Shrugged represent or Newton's Laws or Einstein's Theory of Relativity? This is just such total nonsense, it is hardly worth dignifying with a response.
  21. "Orthodox Objectivism" of course is an anti-concept designed to undercut the legitimacy of the valid concept of: Objectivism. Afterall what could "orthodox Objectivism" be except: the philosophy of Ayn Rand. What they want and what they have always wanted is therefore: Objectivism that is not the philosophy of Ayn Rand. Now, if they were honest (which they are not) what they would say is "I agree with Objectivism about this or that and I disagree with it about such and such." They wouldn't say, "This is what Objectivism should be", as if they could speak for Ayn Rand. But of course their purpose is to usurp and hijack Objectivism, to use its name while at the same time denigrating it. You once put it eloquently - and I have stolen this line more times than I can count - "they want their Objectivism, while eating it, too." So, in this instance, it was right to fight the Germans and not to needlessly sacrifice American lives ...but damn it we shoulda figured out some way to do it by tip-toeing around all of Germany's art and architecture! It's like, A-bombing Japan was ok but gee we shoulda figured out some way to do it without killing any babies. What, you don't care about babies? Philistine! Fred Weiss
  22. Do you think it is a coincedence that "clarity in thinking, correct reasoning, analysis, organization of information" helps us in dealing with reality? And how would it be possible to discover anything in reality if we didn't think logically? It is in fact logical thinking which enables us to make these dicoveries. It is not something separate and distinct from the "empirical means", the observations. The observations are, on the most raw, basic level, simply isolated facts. You can't do anything with them without logic. There's a certain equivocation in the way you are approaching this. Yes, there is an innate aspect to human cognition, namely, our capacity for rational thought. But that doesn't make actual rational thought innate or "a priori" or distinct from experience. There is nothing that requires us to think rationally. It is a choice. But in fact it is reality which demands that we do if we are to survive and prosper. It is out of that demand, in effect the nature of reality, from which the necessity of rational thought arises. To divorce it from reality is to sever it from its basis and purpose. There is something else which confuses this issue which is our capacity for imagination. We can create ideas which bear little or no relationship to reality (e.g. we can imagine a cow jumping over the moon) and we can create elaborate and complicated systems of ideas which are in fact mere "constructs" of our imagination (arguably that's all that String Theory is). But this is not the fundamental basis for logic or rational thinking. If all we did was construct elaborate castles in the sky we wouldn't survive for long. Incidentally, we also know the difference between flights of imagination and actual objective facts. Your entire argument in fact presupposes that and wouldn't make any sense unless you did. But what enables you to tell the difference and what grounds you in reality is in fact....logic. So far from being "a priori" and divorced from reality it is the very means by which we ground ourselves in it. This all by the way is axiomatic in Objectivism. I point that out to you because as you study it more, you will want to try and grasp why that it is the case. But the key is that you cannot deny any of this without in fact presupposing it. It is implicit even in your very attempt to deny it - and must be. There is no way around it. This in her own words is also what Betsy has been conveying. Fred Weiss
  23. Ok, we get to the bottom line. It's a chance for a Kellyite to find a flaw in two leading spokesmen for ARI. I'll just note by way of terminating the discussion that Brook and Ghate are fully aware of the controversy surrounding the bombing of Dresden - just as they are the comparable, if not even greater, controversy surrounding the A-bombing of Japan. The only shallowness and ignorance being demonstrated here is yours, particularly your inability to deal in the essentials of either the debate on predation or the issues surrounding Dresden. It is inherent in arguing any issue with Kelleyites. Fred Weiss
  24. You're side stepping the issue (which seems to be your speciality). The issue never was whether you personally regarded predation as evil. The issue was whether someone could honestly have a question about it - or, even if they did, they would go on and on and on about it as this guy did. But even apart from that being debatable, what is the point of bringing that up on this forum. This isn't a forum devoted to military history. Why discuss that one incident when one could discuss any number of others? So we made a mistake - if we did. Who cares? The lives of every German, innocent or not was forfeit, if we considered it necessary to win the war. The only primary thing that matters in war is that its end be hastened, that the enemy be defeated, and that casualties on our side be kept to a minimum. That is not a justification for the gratuitous killing of innocents but there is nothing to indicate that was the purpose of the bombing of Dresden other than the essentially unsupported smears flung loosely around in the essay you chose to publish here. We in fact were extraordinarly generous to the Germans and the Japanese after the war, in a way that historically is not typical of the actions of conquerors. It is certaintly not what they would have done had they been the victors. We know what they did when they conquered territory. To then whine about some Germans getting killed for perhaps - and I emphasize the "perhaps" - questionable military objectives is a total inversion of justice. It is particularly disgusting coming from Germans or Japanese, as they chronically do. But it is not much better when coming from people whose sole purpose in existence seems to be to create moral equivalence between the defenders of freedom and the values of civilization and those who oppose it. And they do it by dredging up every incident small or large they can find which purports to show that we are not "really" for freedom or civilization. Since Dresden is one of their little showcases for this exercise and they endlessly focus on it, one can therefore surmise why you too would have brought it up. Fred Weiss
  25. But Rearden's mother is yet another one cast in a negative light. I seem to recall Toohey's mother being in the same mold. I'd bet anything this was all a very conscious decision on AR's part. I have some glimmerings of an idea why but not in a form I'd be prepared to discuss yet. Can anyone do any better? Fred Weiss
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