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Sir Andrew

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Posts posted by Sir Andrew

  1. Wikileaks would love to compromise the U.S. military somehow, but nothing they do has any military significance even indirectly.

    No one has asserted that they have compromised the United States military, rather they have jeopardized our government's efforts at defending our security. The defense of the country isn't restricted exclusively to the military- diplomatic efforts exist for the sole purpose of keeping us from having to use our military at the cost of American lives. Publishing information that damages these efforts does nothing but take more diplomatic options off the table, eventually leaving military force as the only option.

    The revealing of the diplomatic cables has been by far the most effective and moral thing they've done so far, with the exception of some names that should have been redacted from them to protect the people involved. I say moral because the leaked cables reveal things that shouldn't be secret in the first place...

    No one is denying that there are many interesting facts and evidence of corruption brought to light by these documents, and this may raise them a rung in hell. If they had evidence of corruption though then the prudent and moral thing to do would be to release redacted documents relating to that corruption only. However the indiscriminate publishing of these documents and their recent threats of releasing unredacted versions make their intentions quite clear.

  2. I'm confused about whether he's doing the right or wrong thing? If it was private stolen info it would be clearly wrong to publish right? But this is government info which is supposed to be owned by Americans or something... Please help! :)

    Americans have no right to government information related to the defense and national security of the country when the divulging of that information directly compromises that defense.

    As far as whether he's doing the right thing, in this circumstance the answer is a resounding no. He wantonly places every free (or even semi-free) country's existence at risk with his actions, and should be prosecuted as such as an enemy.

  3. How about a statement that rises to being a denunciation? A denunciation requires a moral judgement, McCaskey merely points out discrepancies with the historical record. McCaskey repudiates any interpretation of his criticisms as being against the theory itself.

    Not so. By McCaskey's own admission he critcized the theory itself in the private conference held. From his resignation page:

    In the meeting I noted where the proposed theory of induction contradicted the historical record and speculated on ways the theory could be refined, if it had to be, to better match the history.

    Granted, he's been oh so generous of the theory after the fact, calling it "potentially seminal" but still "inchoate" in his Amazon review, but this fact is irrelevant as he only mentions criticisms in the forum.

  4. Some of you may or may not be aware of the fact that ObjectivismOnline has a Wiki filled with some basic content on Objectivism.

    The value of such a wiki is readily apparent- not only does it provide a central and free and central location for people interested in the philosophy, but could also serve as a great source for intellectual ammunition for those of us who would like a quick reference beyond what the Ayn Rand Lexicon has to offer. Furthermore, the wiki's pages show up on the first page of Google's search results for many Objectivist phrases (like "Floating Abstraction"). If we get the wiki in decent enough shape, we could start inserting external links on Wikipedia articles on Objectivism.

    I've been an admin for a couple of months now and have started working on the Main Page as well as some of the content of the pages, but I don't have enough time to make it a one-man show. The main purpose of this thread then, is to ask you to contribute to the wiki. You could edit some pages or even providing feedback on an article's talk page would be extremely helpful.

    Any thoughts/ideas/suggestions/contributions would be greatly appreciated :smartass:

  5. I would like to know who can honestly say that most of the time they love being alive. What are you doing or experiencing that makes you feel this way? My life experiences make me come to the conclusion that most other people I'm regularly around feel similar to me. They are disinterested with their job and their personal lives consist of only occassional bright spots; a lot of it purposely avoiding consciousness.

    I haven't given up yet. I would like to know how to make my life worthwhile.

    I don't think that anyone else here has said this, but the answer is simply "Life itself makes life worth living". To ask for any reason for living beyond life itself is self-defeating. Anything we might cite to you as a value will rely on your life as the standard that makes it good. Simply repeating certain actions won't make life worth living for you until you've accepted the precondition that makes it possible. Once you accept the choice of living a clearer hierarchy of values will begin to emerge as you evaluate certain facts/actions/things as good or bad for your life.

  6. I know this entry was promised forever and a day ago but I've been incredibly busy with school and work and haven't had the time to sit down and write this one out. Since the time has passed, this post has been reposted on several meta-blogs, and tweeted enough that I don't feel comfortable letting the previous post stand publicly as my current views on the issue.

    After reviewing the facts available on McCaskey's site: the e-mail which Peikoff approved the release of, the recent e-mail samples between McCaskey and Harriman, and John McCaskey's own statements on the issue, it is clear that my previous argument about there not being enough evidence simply doesn't hold anymore. Furthermore, I learned another fact that was key to the issue- McCaskey is still welcome at ARI events. Let me explain the implications of that last fact- if McCaskey is still sanctioned by the Institute, then the "philosophical principles" that M has criticized is not Objectivist principle per se, but the principles set forth in Peikoff's Theory of Induction.

    It is clear that a special relationship exists between the Ayn Rand Institute and Leonard Peikoff, the executor of Ayn Rand's estate. One simply has to observe the number of articles, essays, and interviews contained on ARI's website that end with the footnote "Used with permission by the Estate of Ayn Rand," and I would speculate that a certain arrangement between the two regarding the distribution of Peikoff's materials through the Institutes's bookstores (his site redirects you there) and the use of Ayn Rand's materials or discounts on her books. The issue, therefore, was not a matter of excommunicating an otherwise good intellectual, but simply a matter among the Board of Directors of the Institute. In this instance, the (now former) Chairman of the Board was criticizing one of the Institute's founders and top contributors (if not in dollars, then intellectual ammunition.) In other words, Peikoff's "him or me" ultimatum was in essence "Me, the Estate of Ayn Rand, and our arrangement- or John McCaskey," not some dogmatic appeal to authority based on his being Ayn Rand's intellectual heir.

    One thing I keep hearing is that Peikoff should simply "man up" and sit down with McCaskey and talk this out, and by not doing so he is not being a proper intellectual. But why does the burden lie on Peikoff to do so? Harriman's book readily acknowledges from the outset that it is Peikoff's theory applied to physics and by McCaskey's own admission he has never spoken with Peikoff directly about it. If McCaskey has an issue with Peikoff's theory, then Peikoff is the one to talk to, not Harriman or any other intellectual. On that note, blaming Peikoff alone is neither fair nor just.

    The last thing I've heard is that Peikoff needs to make a public statement. After reading this post, hopefully you'll see that Peikoff's email is enough of a statement, and anyone claiming that this is intellectual suicide (aka Robert Tracinski) is simply not considering all the facts available or actively evading them. For an intellectual activist like Tracinski, a lack of correction, retraction, or clarification given these facts is an act of evasion, and one should judge that act accordingly.

    For those interested in a little more detailed and first-hand information, Diana Hsieh made a post on NoodleFood a few days ago that confirmed what I was thinking about the time. Particularly of note is Yaron Brook's comments to the effect that the issue was an issue of the Board of Directors.4881190164581591848-7866962588888792199?l=fallingabstractions.blogspot.com

    Meta-blog cross-posting

  7. NOTE: The contents of my forthcoming post may or may not supersede the content of this post.

    After reading Robert Trancinski's piece on The Intellectual Activist, the topic of my next blog post became clear to me. This article needs to be addressed and I haven't seen any concentrated dissection and criticism (Then again, the article only came out a few days ago.) Many correctly hit on a few of Tracinski's points, but I feel that a full analysis is needed in order to nip this article in the bud and prevent any damage this article can cause to the movement. This will be a multi-part series to give the article the proper response it deserves. Furthermore, I highly recommend that those unfamiliar with the article read it before reading this post, since I will not be quoting passages at length.

    First of all, let me explain my position regarding the nature of Objectivism and Leonard Peikoff's status within the philosophy- I agree that Objectivism is a closed system that consists of the principles set forth only by Ayn Rand and those principles she endorsed written by others, and I do not regard Peikoff as some sort of pope for Objectivism by Ayn Rand's sanction. I regard him as a man who has proven through his work that he has a clear and consistent understanding of Objectivism, and whose input is valuable insofar as it is valid or true.

    The first issue with the article that needs to be addressed is Tracinski's treatment of the Peikoff/McCaskey issue. Tracinski declares that this issue highlights the end of the Objectivist movement as we know it- McCaskey has disagreed with Leonard Peikoff, Peikoff has demanded his resignation, and that the intellectuals associated with the Institute have not spoken out or taken a stand due to intellectual cowardice on their part.

    First off, his criticism of those of us who are reserving judgment on the issue until we learn more of the nature of McCaskey's criticisms is inappropriate for an honest intellectual. According to him, those of us waiting of a proper context are simply trying to "permanently suspend judgment." The point that Tracinski seems to miss is that the nature of Peikoff's charges make this context crucial to judging the issue, and one can't simply drop it when that information is essential to a proper judgment. Leonard Peikoff isn't merely saying that McCaskey is disagreeing with him- he also says:

    ...from the emails I have seen, his disagreements are not limited to details, but often go to the heart of the philosophical principle at issue.

    Let me repeat the key phrase in the passage- "philosophical principle at issue". The missing piece of the puzzle is "Whose principle is McCaskey disagreeing with? Leonard Peikoff's or Objectivism's?" If McCaskey is merely disagreeing with Peikoff, it would suggest that this is an over-reaction by Peikoff. However, if M has disagreed with Objectivist principle (Ayn Rand's ideas), then he has departed from Objectivism. If he has departed from Objectivism, then he has no place on the Ayn Rand Institute's Board of Directors, and Peikoff is perfectly justified to demand his resignation. Furthermore, consider Peikoff's recent answer on his podcast to the question- "Can two Objectivists disagree on a point without one being cast out of Objectivist society?". His answer is emphatically yes, which seems to point to my finding that it's possible that McCaskey criticized Objectivism.

    In this light, waiting for the right context is the only proper thing to do before declaring that "Objectivism has committed suicide" and writing off a great philosopher, a great organization, and the entire Objectivist movement. Tracinski has jumped the gun, and hopefully more people will begin to realize this.


    Meta-blog cross-posting

  8. I have yet to read Harriman's book (I plan to pick it up shortly) but there are a few key points on this case that this article misses at first glance. Peikoff claims that McCaskey's criticisms go to "the heart of the philosophical principle." If McCaskey has criticized Objectivist principle, then he has departed with Objectivism and jeopardizes his status at ARI. If he has criticized Peikoff's principles, that's another issue. But since the exchanges referred to are private, they're probably not going to be released to the public unless done so by McCaskey. I assume that this is why Peikoff did not cite specifics but allowed the release of the letter which simply refers to them.

    As far as any allegation that Peikoff is relying more and more on argument from authority, that's going to take a deeper look and research than what a casual first glance offers.

  9. In other words, the Pledge on America amounts to business as usual, but a promise to bleed us a little bit less. My favorite part is when they get to the core of their pledge, they contradict themselves almost line-by-line.

    "We pledge to advance policies that promote greater liberty...We pledge to honor families, traditional marriage, life..."

    Also, does the fact that this is a .gov domain name mean the taxpayers are funding it? I'm not entirely clear about how domain registration works, but it'd be a hoot if that were the case.

  10. I happened upon this topic, and would like to rent any of the following lectures-

    Objectivism Through Induction

    Unity in Epistemology and Ethics

    Art of Thinking

    Introduction to Logic

    Advanced Seminars on OPAR - Parts 1 and 2

    I would be more than happy to do this on a disc-by-disc basis, or any other reasonable system.

  11. Andrew,

    Read the letter more carefully. Peikoff isn't claiming that McCaskey denounced Objectivism. He is claiming that McCaskey denounced the new book, and that such denouncement amounts to a denouncement of Objectivism. That's why so many people (especially students and academics) think Peikoff has acted seriously unjust. Criticizing Peikoff's (or Harriman's, or anyone's) latest ideas is not synonymous with rejecting Objectivism, and therefore shouldn't affect one's standing within Objectivist organizations. Also note that the substance of McCaskey's criticism is public (on Amazon.com). His criticism is hardly a denouncement. And even if it were, most of the criticism is directed at Harriman's handling of the history (McCaskey's philosophical criticisms are tied to historical cases). Is challenging the historical work of Peikoff's friends now grounds for removal? Finally, even if Peikoff were right and McCaskey actually is in disagreement with Objectivism, Peikoff doesn't even hint at a reason for thinking McCaskey immoral. Yet his letter places McCaskey in hell. WTF!? is all one can say to that part of the letter, I think.

    Criticism of the book for the book is a different issue entirely. I shall quote Peikoff's letter directly:

    "[McCaskey's] disagreements are not limited to details, but often go to the heart of philosophic principles at issue"

    The key phrase here is "philosophic principles". If McCaskey has criticised Objectivist principle, then he has departed from Objectivism. Like I said, we have not seen this criticism, and may never see it.

  12. If Prof. Norsen has no ties to ARI then he is beyond Peikoff's reach and cannot be harmed. Prof. McCaskey tried to avoid damage to ARI by resigning, but the precedent has now been set. Any active academic who wants to be involved in any serious discussion of Objectivism cannot afford to be tied to ARI in any way so long as Peikoff is tied to it.

    I noticed that this comment was left unanswered and wanted to point out that is entirely a rash and unfair statement given the fact that it hasn't been proven (nor disproven, for that matter) whether McCaskey has made any statements against Objectivism. If he indeed has, then it is completely understandable that Peikoff be incensed that such a person be on the ARI Board of Directors. In my opinion, Peikoff should not have allowed the release of the letter (as McCaskey claims he did) without making a full statement of the facts he refers to.

  13. Don't confuse a floating abstraction with an invalid concept. Floating just means that you have not tied it to reality, it doesn't mean that it is not a proper concept. Any concept you have in your own head that is not brought down to reality that you can point to is a floating abstraction. Invalid means it has no referent in reality. There is a big difference. Floating abstractions have to do with your minds connectedness to reality -- the one you perceive -- so if you have concepts in your own mind that you cannot find a referent for but is a legitimate concept, then it is floating. It's about your state of mind and reality and are they connected or not.

    I see what you mean, I was confusing the two. For example, I'm not a physicist but I grasp that everything is made up of atoms. "Atom" for me is a floating abstraction.

  14. I believe, if I'm not mistaken, an example of a floating abstraction often given by Ayn Rand was the concept of "society." Society is simply a collection of individuals--"society" is not a real, concrete entity in and of itself.

    If I'm not mistaken, it's not a floating abstraction on the basis of the fact that you can point the individuals in the society (say on the terms of being in a given area ruled by a government). Her point is that it is a valid concept, so long as one remembers that it is an epistemological or mental unit, not a physical unit, i.e. that men aren't actually all tied together in reality, they're individual entities. It is, therefore, not a floating abstraction in the sense that it isn't tied to any referents in reality.

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