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Everything posted by chuff

  1. Sorry to double-post. An interesting article by Elan Journo related to the recent diplomatic history of the USA and North Korea has the reader concluding that withdrawing foreign aid is a huge step in the right direction, especially to unsavory characters. Indeed, it looks like the ARI's criticism (and Rand's own, actually) of the UN involves primarily its acceptance of anyone and moral failings in not standing up or any kind of principle and conceding to bullying behaviors, essentially begging would-be aggressors not to do so and offering to pay them not to. The response that seems more appropriate to such is to simply work to remove the offenders from the relationship, withdraw one's support, or even one's membership in an organization that accepts such behavior. Such a context makes withdrawal from the UN an attractive option for America's interests.
  2. For instance: on the question of whether our government has the "right" to depose foreign governments, and presumably the right also to subsequently install those we consider sympathetic to us (viz. Allende, Mossadegh, historical examples abound), is there a cogent way to approach this question within the Objectivist framework? My first thought is that an Objectivist-based argument would have us deliberating over whether it is in the "national interest" or not, which is nothing more than the composition of the individual interests of American individuals...? How is that measured, and where does that get us? My second is that it may instead sound like this: the American government, since it can do nothing other than that which is prescribed as proper, should just voice opposition or support but commit nothing apart from our verbal sanction (in either sense of the word, respectively) except in the case that Americans' lives, liberty, or property are in peril or threatened. (I understand that the lack of privately owned land renders this somewhat less straightforward a question in terms of property being invaded). I am confused about the proper method to even go about answering these sorts of questions (intergovernmental relations), much less the answers themselves!
  3. I'm interested to hear more about the limits on government as it pertains to interactions with other states. Have any members read The Ominous Parallels? Does Peikoff address international relations in it, even in a non-normative context?
  4. I want to open a discussion among the members of this forum about international relations. The Peikoff.com podcasts have a category for foreign policy, but it is currently empty. Aside from the published work of John David Lewis in the Objective Standard, I have not seen much about an approach to international relations that reflects the philosophy of Objectivism. Rand elaborated on some current events of the time, and her general attitude toward the UN (similar to her approach to the Libertarian Party, her critique being their philosophically groundless nature) is evident. (A separate forum for "international politics" has more to do with events in other countries than with theory of how a country's government should act in the international system). Most of the contemporary theory I've seen, including that of Lewis, has almost always to do with the right that our government has to protect its citizens or defend it from foreign invasion or attack (an extrapolation, it seems, from the individual's right to self-defense). I am interested, however, as a student of IR, in the other ways in which nations can interact. It seems that an Objectivist theory would be nearer to Liberalism than anything else, although I would like to see this developed further. Thus I would like to incorporate or see incorporated the philosophical grounding of Objectivism in international affairs and diplomacy between nations (by nations, I of course mean governments). In order to do this, I have tried to apply the more fundamental branch of ethics, and have only found a way to do so by comparing countries' governments to relations between individuals. So the central question of this thread is, is it proper to extrapolate relations between individuals to relations between governments?
  5. Sorry to dig up this thread, but I didn't want to start a new one only to be referred here. I don't think this question was answered properly. If contradictions do not exist, does this mean my contradictory ideas do not exist? They are still mental units after all. This seems like it leads to a separation of consciousness from reality.
  6. Short answer: No. The key word here I think is proud. My being American is not an achievement of my own, therefore I have neither right nor reason to take pride in it. To say sincerely that "I am proud to be an American," what I would really mean is "I am pleased to live here" or "I am proud to be associated with the achievements of America's founders," for example. But no, even with the common dictionary definition I don't think it fits for my context. I can only imagine that a refugee from under a much more authoritarian state who gained censorship could be proud of becoming an American. I've been an American since day one, by no effort of my own.
  7. I think what will help you here, Meghan, is this: Consciousness exists. To consider (any!) consciousness to be outside of existence, is equivalent to considering consciousness non-existence. This is what gives existence primacy over consciousness. Existence is not dependent on consciousness.
  8. Another useful point to ponder in this is that your senses are informing you of the words you are reading now, and of what words you typed when you questioned them. This is the nature of self-refuting claims.
  9. I knew there was a great quote somewhere for when I heard this same observation in terms of why Einsteins are not as well paid as Lady Gaga's and the like. This helped me and I hope you find it applicable, Designer: "The free market represents the social application of an objective theory of values. Since values are to be discovered by man’s mind, men must be free to discover them—to think, to study, to translate their knowledge into physical form, to offer their products for trade, to judge them, and to choose, be it material goods or ideas, a loaf of bread [, a conditioner containing diamond dust] or a philosophical treatise. Since values are established contextually, every man must judge for himself, in the context of his own knowledge, goals, and interests. Since values are determined by the nature of reality, it is reality that serves as men’s ultimate arbiter: if a man’s judgment is right, the rewards are his [I paid for this product for a purported benefit to me that is true/exists! yay me!]; if it is wrong, he is his only victim. [I paid for this product for a purported benefit to me that is false/does not serve my rational interests! if I am smart I will not make similar choices in the future]" (emphases and brackets mine) -- Ayn Rand, “What Is Capitalism?” Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, p24 In other words, in a free society, the only ones harmed by foolish purchases are the fools that purchase them. Ways to stop these occurrences include education, campaigns, and other things someone more creative as well as deeply concerned about poor consumer behavior in the cosmetic market could come up with.
  10. After rereading this topic it appears my approach to estimations of people as good or evil was flawed in that it was steeped in intrinsicism. In my question and responses I was divorcing value from valuer. "Of value to whom or what," to paraphrase Rand. There isn't an "evil" or "good" separate from my estimation of people or actions as such. Another idea about value judgments for people I have is that my estimation of a fellow man as good or evil is founded on which he represents. The actions of dictators represent evil actions that are done to me though they may not directly affect me. I've only just begun this train of thought. It seems this would be a way to further objectify "good" and "evil" as conceptual labels for individuals, as softwareNerd pointed out: While it would be nonsensical to say that my own rational interest is not served by, say, historical figures who died long ago, it would be perfectly rational to say that in my readings of history I can conceptualize of men as good or evil to designate which value they represented, were he to be in my own context. Thoughts?
  11. The link to the essay on Geocities about "unbounded" and "finite" is broken. Would someone please mind clearly defining "bounded/unbounded" and "finite/infinite" and their differences? This distinction seems to have several participants confused or at odds.
  12. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onthology The Internet: use it.
  13. Rasconia: You don't think that someone with a knife at your throat has impinged on your freedom in any way?
  14. LaVey read Ayn Rand before writing that. He was not impressed with it standing alone, and took on and included "Might Is Right" by a Ragnar Redbeard. LaVey's plagiarism from her and other sources is well established; after a search for it you should be able to find examples of line-by-line borrowings. Another part of it was that he found that people respond on a profound level to symbols, which is what made him believe so strongly that rituals were required.
  15. I really approve of this thread, and am bumping it because I love the idea of it and support it.
  16. You're considering only beings with volitional consciousness. There are entities capable of self-generated action that do not possess faculties of volition. Like all known living things other than human beings. Unless I'm vastly misunderstanding something, your point only applies to volitional agents, and does not apply to instinct or to involuntary actions (such as scab formation).
  17. Maybe you can stay on topic and not make patronizing suggestions to patient members who let you take the topic this far off onto a tangent of your own creation.
  18. May I also state two things concerning my positions on some subtopics here: 1. I agree with Plasmatic on the issues he discussed just now, and 2. I do not believe that existence as such can be justifiably called an "entity." Perhaps this can be another thread sometime if any of us desire to debate the issue. To state my case briefly I will say: The quote from Peikoff's lecture given is actually in support of my position that the universe is not an entity. It meets none of his requirements for the usage of the term: it is not a single thing, it is the sum of every thing; it has no definite boundary; and it is definitely not perceptual in scale.
  19. Misunderstanding once again. Existence is the sum of all existing things, which includes all entities. "Existence" is not an entity. No one even said so. Also, a rock is an entity. A rock does not have volition. The connection you're trying to make there doesn't make sense. None of us understand your insistence on pointing out that various parts of Objectivism are "nothing new" or "not unique." Why does that matter? Yeah, Ayn Rand wasn't the first atheist ever. Who cares?
  20. Indeed, Objectivism approaches them the same: they are both equally arbitrary. The "arbitrary qua arbitrary," as Peikoff writes, "the kind of claim that cannot by its nature be related to any established fact or context." OPAR, p167 And later: "The true is identified by reference to a body of evidence; it is pronounced 'true' because it can be integrated without contradiction into a total context. The false is identified by the same means; it is pronounced 'false' because it contradicts the evidence and/or some aspect of the wider context. The arbitrary, however, has no relation to evidence or context; neither term, therefore — 'true' or 'false' — can be applied to it." Peikoff, OPAR, p166
  21. Both sides here are talking about proof and disproof in relation to the concept of God. This is an invalid approach to the question. The stance of Objectivism is that the concept of God is arbitrary, meaning outside the realm of proof. All definitions of supernatural entities render them impossible to be proven or disproven. There is no reason to accept the premise that there is a God because not only is there no proof, there never can be. It is definitionally impossible to prove. Arbitrary claims, such as "There is a god" or the claim about Russell's teapot are neither true nor false, because the process of proof cannot be applied to them definitionally. (see Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, pp 163-167 and on to p171 for more details).
  22. Do you mean to tell me that the term "worship" is offensive to a Catholic? I don't simply assume without reasons that theism is irrational. I have given my reasons and you have retreated from them on both occasions. Any hostility on this forum that is shown to be irrational should be corrected; we both agree there. We won't permit that you simply call our arguments "assertions" or "assumptions" when you don't like them.
  23. I didn't assert a single thing. Read the whole sentence in my post rather than only what you think you will respond to. Do I really have to repeat myself so many times? I said "If we accept [your premise], then we also therefore accept [this clearly irrational premise]." That's what I said. There is no reality separate from the universe. Reality is existence. Existence is the universe. If we assert that a supernatural entity creates or has created reality, science (and really all attempt at a use of reason) is useless because any "law" we discover could change tomorrow. Objectivism has plenty to say about your questions, it is merely you who are unwilling to read any of it. (edit: I say this because the information I'm sharing with you is literally in the very first sections of the book Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand) Causality is inherent in the nature of reality. Since all existents are themselves (they have identities), they act in accordance with their natures. The nature of an entity is what causes it to act in accordance with its nature. This is what is meant by causality. All data from observable reality confirm this fact.
  24. @Avila: In all your worship of Aquinas's "use" of logic and of non-contradiction, you have ignored what makes reason effective (or even able to be used) in the first place: stable and objective reality. If the nature of reality is subject to the whim of a consciousness (human or otherwise), then stability is only apparent and therefore logic is not useful. In other words, if some god can alter reality or create new reality, reality becomes subjective (aka subject to this other being's volition). Try re-reading what I said before, as I'm under the impression you willfully misunderstood what I said. To repeat myself, considering you accept the idea that a single existent can have always existed, what is so hard (in your words "not satisfying") about accepting that the sum of all existents can have always existed? @Jacob86: Your complaints about the concept "arbitrary" seem to be rooted in a fundamental ignorance of how it is used in Objectivist literature. By "arbitrary" is meant, roughly, "characteristic of a claim which definitionally lies outside the realm of proof." This is the central reason for rejection of theism. Any claim in support of theism always contains a contradictory and/or unable-to-be-proven tenet. When it does not, we can trace the concept or entity truly being defined to something other than a "god." Please, please, please understand a position before you attack it. It saves a lot of time. ("I think what Objectivism calls arbitrary is a stupid idea." "What does Objectivism mean by arbitrary again?")
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