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Curtis Edward Clark

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  1. BEFORE my first reading, I ran into my first anti-Rand critic, my English teacher, who had assigned us all to read '10-points' worth of books for the semester. I had just read Rand's interview in Playboy (I was a senior in '72/'73) and the teacher said she would give me 10 points for that one book, but the report had better be good--and she said in a tone dripping with disdain. I couldn't imagine why, until I began hearing how Ayn Rand's critics would say anything about her to discredit her. To the teacher's credit, she never said a word.
  2. The distinction Dragon Lady makes is the difference between Objectivism and scientific naturalism. The website Center for Naturalism states, "More and more, biology and neuroscience show that the brain and body do everything that the soul was supposed to do. [ ] Your thoughts, experiences, feelings, decisions, and behavior are all things your brain and body does. [ ] Naturalism says we are completely physical, material creatures, a complex, highly organized collection of atoms, molecules, cells, neurons, muscles, bone, etc., produced by evolution." The owner of the Center for Naturalism is Tom Clark, who is opposed to Ayn Rand and had debated her with myself via email, and with Tibor Machan and others on the web. [see "Round Four"] To further the statements made by Clark in my second paragraph, in "Round Five" he begins a sentence by saying, "In a world in which all behavior is understood to be fully caused..." This is the kind of language that scientific naturalists use to indicate that behavior is caused by environment, biology and brain physiology, "memes," and anything but free will, which they they dismiss, not suprisingly, as a myth. Clark's "advisors" who are named on his website are Susan Blackmore, Paul Bloom, Paul Broks, Daniel Dennett, Sheldon Drobny, Owen Flanagan, Ursula Goodenough, Joseph Hilb, Nicholas Humphrey, Brian Leiter, Thomas Metzinger, Tamler Sommers, and John Symons. Then he has another longer list of "allies" and another list of "contributors." They are all of the same school in one way or another--they are anti-Objectivists, anti-capitalists, anti-free-will philosophers. Many of them have good contributions to make here and there, but overall they are subjectivists. But the overall similarity between them is that they maintain we are not "self-made" creatures, that we are "fully caused," and they invent the most metaphysically horrid things like "memes" to describe why we act the way we act. In other words, they "spatially position" who and what we are in the firing of neruons and the resultant "reactions" we call emotions. Clark's sister website Naturalism.Org has all the technical ideas explained in great detail. Check it out. You won't like what you read. For my own online critique of some of these authors, see Memes, Free Will, Strong Naturalism, and Toilet Paper.
  3. [This is ethics but also epistemology if you read all of it.] "Susan Dwyer (moral psychology, applied ethics, feminist theory), Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Maryland at Baltimore County has accepted a tenured offer from the Department of Philosophy at the University of Maryland, College Park, effective January 2009." Leiterreports. I think I had heard the name of Ms. Dwyer before, but I didn't know who she was. Leiter thought she was worth promoting, or possibly she is a friend or working associate. So, to familiarize myself with a philosopher I didn't know I looked up Dwyer, [click on Leiterreports for link] and clicked on her syllabi. There I found "PHIL 150 Contemporary Moral Issues." Listed under "Outline" was this: "We will critically examine four controversial topics: Pornography and Free Speech; Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide; Punishment and the Death Penalty; and Abortion. The class has two main aims: (1) to introduce you to some central concepts in ethical theory and moral reasoning; and (2) to help you begin to develop views about the aforementioned topics that you can articulate and defend." Well, that sounds like a good outline of subjects that are worthwhile of ethical investigation by students. I remember as a young student many years ago investigating them, and from time to time I read something that gives me a new twist on what or how I understand the subject. Sometimes, my opinions are tweaked by what I read. But directly below Dwyer's Outline is this: "Among the questions we will consider are the following:  Is pornography harmful?  Should the state censor or restrict the publication of pornography?  Do we have a right to determine the manner and time of our own deaths?  Is it permissible for a doctor to kill a patient at that patient’s request?  How is punishment justified?  Should the death penalty be retained or abolished in the United States?  What is the right to life?  Is the human fetus a person?  What is the relation between morality and the law?" And I thought, "Wait a cotton pickin' minute. The epistemic emphasis on most of the questions is all wrong." Asking if pornography is wrong, for example; it leaves open the question of whether its harm, real or imagined, gives one human the right to deny access to it to those he thinks are harmed by it. Why else ask the question? I mean, so what if it is harmful, what is the answer to the answer that it is harmful? The real question and answer are lost. If my answer in that class was that pornography was not harmful, is someone going to argue with me? Are they going to ask where I got my information? What difference does my answer make, yes or no, until the basic question of whether ethics can do anything about it? In any question of ethics (moral issues), "The first question that has to be answered, as a precondition of any attempt to define, to judge or to accept any specific system of ethics, is: Why does man need a code of values? "Let me stress this. The first question is not: What particular code of values should man accept? The first question is: Does man need values at all—and why?" “The Objectivist Ethics”; Ayn Rand; The Virtue of Selfishness go to Ethics continued
  4. Patricia Churchland and others like her, like Tom Clark, like Dawkins and Brian Leiter and Susan Blackmore, Daniel C. Dennet, et. al ad infinitum, are called "reductivists." (Tibor Machan told me this, so I researched it and he's right.) They reduce everything to the bio-physiological workings of the human body, then use that to deny the existence of free will and the soul. (I don't mean a transcendental soul; the soul dies with the body.) Even Ayn Rand believed in the soul--read Chapter 11 of Anthem. And that is not the only place she uses it. It abounds in her non-fiction as well. If the reductivists didn't exist, (they are called "scientific naturalists," by the way--I am a metaphysical naturalist--) the Intelligent Design argument would probably never have ever come up. Christians think they are fighting all naturalists except their own who see God in nature. Actually, they are only fighting the reductivists. The rest of us are atheists, but we are not out to deny the soul, or tell anyone their free will does not exist. If you want to see what the reductivists believe, check out Naturalism.Org or Center For Naturalism where you will see about 3 dozen names on several pages of these "reductivists." Many names you will recognize. I have argued with Tom Clark in my own blog, about Rand's ideas vs. his. His reply: "Ok, many thanks for these clarifications, most interesting. It would be nice if all Rand’s acolytes examined her philosophy as assiduously as do you, ending up with more nuanced conclusions about the legitimacy of compassion and limits of egoism." He was clearly not going to give an inch, but was at least impressed with her logic, which he has argued against extensively with Tibor Machan and others. Machan et al. vs Tom Clark My own metaphysical naturalist site is here.
  5. Visit My Website Ayn Rand's Philosophy not "A Propos" to Leiter's Naturalism Brian Leiter of "Leiter Reports: A Philosophy Blog", could not be expected to be a fan of Ayn Rand, because of his contribution to the determinism of scientific naturalism. So it is not surprising that he "finds amusing" lieterreports an article in "Slate" slate.com that describes libertarianism as "ideology [that] makes no sense," because its adherents are "frozen in the worldview many of them absorbed from reading Ayn Rand novels in high school. Slate also says, "Utopians of the right, libertarians are just as convinced that their ideas have yet to be tried, and that they would work beautifully if we could only just have a do-over of human history." go to Leiter Finds Free Market Ideas "Amusing" for continuation
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