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Bold Standard

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  1. It seems arbitrary to claim that maintaining eye contact can never be a sign of aggression, but looking away is always a sign of weakness. For one thing, looking at something requires a certain amount of concentration on that thing. Sometimes, for me, to concentrate on something else, for instance, what the person is saying to me, or some other value judgement, involuntarily leads to me looking away-- not submisively, but pensively. Again, I'm not saying that looking away can't be a sign of weakness and submission, just that it's not necissarily that. If, as you seem to maintain, communication is entirely subjective ("the only way is your way"), doesn't that undermine your premise that "eye contact is an infallable litmus test for determining confidence"? Couldn't it be something else for me? Couldn't it be, for some people, a sign of agression?
  2. In that case, it would be improper to try to draw an analogy between "melody isn't essential to music" and "melody is a primitive vulgarity in music." Being inessential doesn't contain a value judgement, and being a primitive vulgarity in something almost implies that it is essential. Of course, that's no reason to throw out analogies altogether. Could there be value in straw-man type arguments? I would say no, because they emphasize or exagerate something that is nonesential and even not contained in the original argument, thus distorting the meaning of the whole debate. I can't resist adding that melody is essential to music. Melody is a succession of musical tones. Even if it is the same note repeated monotonously, as in most hip-hop, electronica, or tribal music, it's still melodic. It's just that the melody would then be relatively primative. I note that there must be some rhythmical distinction, so that it becomes a succesion of different tones-- different in time. A single tone sounding for some duration would not be melodic and would not be music, in itself.
  3. Perhaps you should define exactly what you mean by "analogy." I use the term to mean basically the comparison between two different concepts by means of some conceptual common denominator. It's basically saying "A is like B." I would consider as analogies: Ayn Rands comparison between moral compromise and finding the middle of the road between food and poison. Or this statement from ITOE, "As far as can be ascertained, the perceptual level of a child's awareness is similar to the awareness of the higher animals: the higher animals are able to perceive entities, motions, attributes, and certain numbers of entities. But what an animal cannot perform is the process of abstracĀ­tion-of mentally separating attributes, motions or numbers from entities. It has been said that an animal can perceive two oranges or two potatoes, but cannot grasp the concept 'two.')" Here, I would say, she is drawing an analogy between the perceputal level of a child's awareness and that of the higher animals-- with some similarities and some differences-- which is to say an analogy need not be an exact identity, only there must be some CCD between the two things one is comparing. But fill me in if you think I'm using the term incorrectly or if you have a different meaning in mind. Analogies can be usefull to "concretize" an abstract concept. It's possible to utilize an analogy which is a concrete parallell to an abstract concept, and that can be very illuminating, even if the terms have already been defined. Or an analogy can be drawn between a principle which has been established, and a new formulation of the same principle- such as, "The fallacy of Intelligent Design is the same fallacy which has been perpetrated by Creationists for centuries." With the burden of proof then being on the person making the claim, but of course that claim is easily proved. Then the whole theory of Intelligent Design doesn't have to be refuted line for line-- one is simply referred to instances in which Creationism has already been refuted. One must simply establish that the two are the same, thus validating the analogy. As for the example you gave, if the poster had established that there was an indesputable similarity between "melody is a primative vulgarity in music" and "logic is a primative vulgarity in philosophy," such as, perhaps the principle "an essential component of a given concept is a primative vulgarity within that concept," then by showing that the principle was based on a fallacy, wouldn't he be showing that any statement which is a formulation of the principle is flawed as well? Wouldn't that be an example of a logically valid and illuminating analogy, as well as "an argument"? Bad analogies can muddy an argument, but so can bad syllogisms, bad logic-- bad arguments!...
  4. Couldn't that be a privacy issue, as well? Most of the time, I don't like to look into people's eyes for long. But often, it's because I don't like what I see in their eyes. I don't want to communicate what I'm seeing through my eyes. Sometimes it's because I do like what I see, and I don't want to communicate that either. But maybe I'm just antisocial. To be honest, there are times when I'd like to cross someone's boundaries and get to know them on a more personal level, and find myself unsure about the most appropriate way to do so. Do I unconsciously surrender to imagined pressures? I'm not sure what that means. Sustaining eye contact with a stranger could be a sign of aggression, in a certain context. I'm sure sometimes you might be right that a person can be afraid to make eye contact because they have low self esteem, and think that healthy displays of assertiveness or extroversion are innapropriate for someone "like them." But here's another possibility-- what if they really do feel agressive towards strangers, and don't want to reveal that and thus initiate senseless confrontations? In various situations, that could be either a symptom of low self-esteem, or perfectly warrented behavior, when surrounded by people who should inspire agression. Ex-bannana eater, I agree with what the other posters have said, but you might also like to look into what psychologists refer to as "internal locus of control" vs "external locus of control." That's a lot like psychological independence vs dependence, from a slightly different perspective than simply intellectual independence (it delves into the emotional and physiological aspects too). I'm not an expert in psychology, and different psychologist's views on the issue differ according to their respective premises, of course-- but a few internet searches in the right places should bring up some interesting material at the least.
  5. Deffinitely read the book. I actually read that when I was first interested in Objectivism. I wanted to hear "the other side," because I couldn't imagine what the objections to Oism would be. ..All I can say is I thought they would be a little better than that. But I've never really found any that are. There are some that annoy me more, though-- the ones put out by those who, unable to oppose Ayn Rand's arguments directly, claim to be proponents of her philosophy while peddling something opposite. But Ellis's book is nothing that subtle. It's more obvious, and easier to refute than Toohey's claims in the Fountainhead, or probably even Alvah Scarrett's. To me, it says something that your friend would read an entire book attacking Objectivism before reading a single book by Ayn Rand. Read his book, have some laughs, come to understand your friend's emotional position on the issue, and correct any errors that he's willing to let you correct. And if you value his frienship, keep him as long as you can tolerate him. That's my advice (I agree w/ the other posters too) Was that your first exposure to Ayn Rand? I ask because my first exposure was in high school, when our senior English class watched the Fountainhead movie. Stories like that make me very optomistic about what ARI is doing with essays and giving free books to classes.. (I don't think we would have watched it otherwise..)
  6. Lol, yes, hearing that kind of thing almost makes me wish that era of music would remain lost, to spare it from being played badly in elevators and over phones while "on hold" ..Thanks for the recommendation of a good recording though. Well, I am a musician. And I've certainly discorvered, in part, what was lost. I hope to be one of the individuals who is the first to improve on it. And if I succeed, it will have been in part thanks to you, your site, your passion for good music and rare recordings, and your benevolent generosity in sharing it with a sometimes (apparently) indifferent world. Well, I don't know your age or health, Dismuke, but here's to the hope you and I will be envying ourselves! And if the ARI get's it's way.. just maybe...
  7. Thanks for posting these links! I'm glad you still update your website-- I found a link to your "Music With an Ayn Rand Connection" page a few years ago, and I love everything on it. Destiny Waltz is one of my favorites. It brings tears to my eyes almost every time. I think most of the best recordings on your site are the Accoustical Era ones. They might be a little more crackly than the 20's and 30's recordings, but the songs and the performances on them are so irreplacable and amazing. But I might never have heard the recordings you have on your website anywhere else, so thanks for posting them. I wonder what the market would be like for a professionally re-mastered compilation album with some of Ayn Rand's favorite tunes... Do you think they would sell something like that at The Ayn Rand Bookstore?
  8. Great quote. It was about half an hour after I read that paragraph (and the ones near it) for the first time in Galt's speech that I realized I was an atheist. How liberating! Thanks for reminding me of that night.
  9. Funny, that sounds a lot like Nathaniel Branden's sentence completion excercises. I don't know if it's worth basing an entire approach to psychotherapy on it, but I do think you can get some unique value out of that sort of thing.
  10. And it wouldn't be incorrect to define "object" that way. I think that's how a lot of irrationalist type philosophies survive.. It's so hard to believe that a proponent of the given philosophy actually means what they seem to be saying, one wants to give them the best possible interpretation that could be made from the words that they use. I think that's what makes Kant in particular so hard ["for a Westerner"] to read. He will compose a sentence that is "grammatically correct" and could make some equivocal sense in a given context. Then he will, maybe a few sentences or a few pages later (or a few pages later in the same sentence ) provide the context in which the sentence can properly be interpreted as completely absurd. I've heard people claim they like Kant because so many "various interpretations" can be made of his works, but I've found that ultimately, one interpretation becomes clear and dominant in his works... It's just that it offends one's good will and respect for man's intellect to believe that's what he meant. [edited to remove an accidental smiley and to add "for a Westerner" for fun.]
  11. The reason this proposition is impossible is not "because it is outside the ability of the human mind to do so." It is because words stand for concepts-- the entire concept, not just one aspect of the concept (see Peikoff's essay "The Analytic Synthetic Dichotomy in ITOE). An "object" is an entity which, by its definition, exists in time and space, assuming you mean "physical object." To try to imagine an object which does not have the properties of an object is impossible, not because of any limitations on the mind, but because it is a contradiction in terms. It would only be the result of a limitation of the mind if the laws of Causality and Identity did not hold, were not proven, or were not (actually) true. But in fact, they, being axioms, are the very standard of "held," "proven," "actual" truths. If no alternative to these can be conceived, than neither can an alternative "noumenal" reality of "suprasensible" things-in themselves be conceived in which the "limitations" of "pure reason" do not apply. In other words, belief in such a fantasy world is unfounded and absurd, and the opposite of "objective."
  12. A number is not an "object." At any rate, we would have to conclude that an inconceivable, or contradictory proposition such as a nonexistent existent, or an A that is at the same time and same respect non-A, could not exist, and that it is not merely some limitation in our minds which fails to account for its possibility, but rather it is the soundness of our reason which succeeds in accounting for its impossibility!
  13. Of course not! Bjork is one of the great, underrated singers of recent decades. But I think it might be a mistake to group her in the genre of Air, etc. Although the musical accompaniment to her songs is usually "electronic," I think the emphasis is on the voice. So I would group her in with other "Vocal Artists," such as Patsy Cline, Nancy Sinatra, Judy Garland, Kate Bush, etc. Not that there are objective standards for establishing genre, that's just my interpretation of reducing the issue to fundamentals...
  14. Hmm, "existentialism" is a broad term. Which existentialists do you regard as positing a similar ethics to that of Objectivism, and in what respects?
  15. I didn't read all of the posts here, so sorry if I'm repeating what's already been said. But I think the best analyses of why people dislike Rand's writings were given by Ayn Rand herself. In _The Romantic Manifesto_, _The Art of Fiction_, and _The Art of Nonfiction_, Miss Rand gives thorough, even generous (in quantity) explanations and insights into the schools of writing and criticism opposed to her style, why they are opposed, and why she wrote the way she did anyway. The most common reason I've seen for people to criticize Rand is that she was not a Naturalist-- she was a Romanticist. That means she projected characters and events that were essentialized "as they should be and ought to be," rather than a journalistic survey of things as they usually are. For a deeper analyses of why people are ideologically opposed to Rand's style of writing, see the criticisms of Roark's architecture by Ellsworth Toohey in _The Fountainhead_. The type of person who would be opposed to Objectivism would also naturally be opposed to any projection of the exceptional, the unusual, or the heroic in man, whether in architecture, literature, music, or whatever.
  16. I think there's a chance your bum had a degree in Philosophy. That's the kind of career most modern Philosophy programs seem to be preparing their students for. (Based on what I've seen, though I haven't participated in a University Philosophy program myself.)
  17. ROFLMAO When my friend's hippy girlfriend saw me posting on this site once, she saw your avatar and said, "Wow, there are white wolves who are Objectivists?" I absolutely couldn't tell if she was joking or not..
  18. I play guitar, bass, drums, synthesizers, drum machines, samplers, amps, pa's, soundboards, effects, etc. I can play any style, but not how they're usually heard. Some of my favorites are "Dream Pop" (indie pop music from Europe in the 80's and 90's), Ragtime, and French Disco. But I don't usually think of my music in terms of existing styles, besides if I'm trying to achieve some specific end exemplified by a particular historical style. In general, I don't like rock music. But there are exceptions. (Similarly, I don't like most blues, which most people consider indistinguishable from ragtime.) I'm playing in a band now, but we have the opposite problem from people on this thread-- all three of us being perfectionists, we can never seem to get our songs good enough to warrant actually playing shows. I've heard of Harmony Central. But why do they have a political section? To help legalize the unauthorized publication of tablature and sheet music written by musicians who are not compensated for their publication? (I haven't looked at it yet..)
  19. One of the interesting things about Lewis is that he was one of the few people besides Ayn Rand to attempt to use the word "objectivism" to describe philosophical ideas (not related to the philosophy of Ayn Rand). There are notes that Ayn Rand wrote in the margins of Lewis' The Abolition of Man that have been published in Ayn Rand's Marginalia, but I haven't gotten to read that yet. Lewis is not strong philosophically at all, but there is one quote from him that I've always liked: "No man would find an abiding strangeness on the Moon unless he were the sort of man who could find it in his own back garden." I got that from the preface to The Dark Tower and Other Stories. A lot of his fiction seems (from what I remember) to project a relatively benevolent sense of life, but I was just a little kid when I read most of it.
  20. I use the term "subconscious" to refer to several closely related functions of the mind. One of the primary functions is, as you say, to be a repository for knowledge that the conscious mind can access at any time. That is easily provable, because it is absurd to think that knowledge ceases to exist in your mind simply because you don't happen to be thinking about it in a particular given moment. To say, as Hal suggests, that it retreats into the "physical brain" is not significantly different, in this context, from saying it moves to your subconscious mind. "Immediate awareness," likewise, can be defined introspectively, as "that which is the object of your intellectual focus in a particular time," just as it could be described as a physiological event with certain neurons firing in certain areas of the brain at a particular time, etc. Of course, a common mistake is to say that thought processes are physical events in the brain only, and that the mind per se does not exist-- that's materialism, whether you say that the conscious or the subconscious does not exist. But the filing of memories is not the only function ascribed to the subconscious. It also describes various associations between memories, concepts, and emotions, and also (aspects of) the processes by which sensations, emotions, and the contents of memory are recalled and brought to attention. Also, I understand it to direct to some extent the transition between events in the mind and physiological phenomena associated with them, and I think it has something to do with reflexes and their interaction with emotions and value judgments, but you'd really have to consult a professional in that field to get a straight answer on that! All of these processes can be proven, and I can maybe give some insight (as much as I understand them) on the specifics of a given function, only I'm not 100% certain exactly what always is best described as "subconscious" and what might have its own special term that I'm not aware of. Especially I'm sometimes foggy on the differentiation between "subconscious" and "reflex" in some instances. Nonetheless, both exist, and are proven. I do think it's possible for information to be stored in the subconscious that is not easily accessible to the conscious mind. That would include obscure, distant memories, or knowledge/emotions that are blocked by some kind of psychological repression, or other function/disfunction of the mind. But being in the subconscious does not guarantee inaccessibility of a memory, concept, emotion etc by any means, in any context I've come across. It simply means you are not thinking of it (the memory, etc) in a specific point in time. Oh, sorry-- my fault for not being clear. The term "unconscious" can be misleading. But I agree with Hal that a tree would better be described with a word like "insentient" than "unconscious."
  21. I didn't agree that "subconscious" is synonymous with "unconscious." I said that it is sometimes used that way in Psychological literature. The reason that I don't use it that way is to prevent exactly the equivocation you seem to be committing. You are right in saying that "unconsciousness" could be used to describe the absence of thought, since thinking is certainly the product of consciousness. But if that is your context, it is improper to equate "unconscious" with "subconscious." In your context, a tree is unconscious indeed, but that doesn't mean that it possesses a subconsciousness! That is the type of anthropomorphism that environmentalists rely on, but it can't be taken seriously. The subconscious is an aspect of the human mind, which is easily observed and proven. Trees are not conscious at all, therefore they can't contain "everything present in a mind which is not being held in immediate awareness," which is how I define "subconscious." That being said, the subconscious mind doesn't "think." But it does perform automatic integrations of concepts and sense perceptions. It's not a "thought" until these integrations are perceived, grasped, and/or performed through conscious (held in immediate awareness) reasoning. But angelsp didn't say that "the best thoughts" occur in the subconscious mind, he said they are a product of the subconscious mind. The fact that the subconscious doesn't "think" makes that statement incomplete, but not completely absurd. It is possible for the subconscious mind to perform an automatic integration, and for the conscious mind then to perceive the product and form a thought based on it-- therefore the thought is in part a product of the subconscious mind. The idea as angelsp presents it is a common illusion that Ayn Rand refers to much in The Art of Fiction (not in those exact words, but similar!) Of course, she's more eloquent in explaining the phenomenon than I.
  22. How astonishing- I put "Muttnick" into the search engine on my Objectivism Research CD-Rom for _Atlas Shrugged_, and I didn't get any hits. Nxixcxk, I recommend that you look up the topic "loneliness" in _The Ayn Rand Lexicon_. I remember she has some interesting comments on that topic that relate to your question, but I don't remember specifically where they originated.
  23. Some of my lucid dreams have been planned, but I've had a lot that weren't planned, and when I had been tired. But I do think you can increase your odds as you suggest. It's funny you should say that. It was a recurring dream in which I was "trapped," like you say, that inspired me to first attempt control over my dreams, when I was (I think) about 6 years old. Of course, I didn't actually know what "lucid dreaming" was at that age, but my mother had told me my nightmares were caused by demons who wanted to disturb my sleep, and she said that if you say, "Be gone in the name of Christ!" demons have to leave you alone. So that night, when the monster in my dreams had me trapped, I said, "Be gone in the name of Christ!" which had absolutely no negative effect on the monster, who subsequently locked me in a room and forced me to swallow bad-tasting medicine. I knew I was dreaming, but for what seemed like hours, I couldn't force myself to wake up. Then, for the first time, it happened: I realized I could make objects appear in my dreams if I wanted to. I made a phone booth appear, then I called God and told him to wake me up! (I don't know how I knew His phone number...) Then I woke up. That dream was interesting, because it was my first lucid dream, and one of the first real indications I had that the Christian principles my parents were teaching me were rather suspect, to say the least, and would fail me at crucial moments when they were most needed. A lot of people say that, but for some reason, I always feel especially refreshed after a lucid dream. Yes, I've had all of those dreams you mentioned. I don't know how that works, but it might relate to the fact that your subconscious mind contains much more information than your conscious mind is able to hold in focus at any given moment (all of your memories, for instance-- and all of your principles, beliefs, and concepts.) It could be that in a dream, you can access a greater part of your mind in any given moment than you can while you're awake, thus when you interpret it later, is seems like it must have happened over a long period of time. But that's just a guess. Also, in the dreams where the whole dream seems built around whatever sound it is that wakes you up from the dream, I think that's in part due to the fact that when you're awake, you are interpreting the dream logically, so in order to make sense of previous parts of the dream, you might use the doorbell to explain them, not remembering that when they actually occurred in the dream, they were really connected to something else, or maybe to nothing at all. Well, it's true that dreams are a relatively unsolved puzzle scientifically, but I don't think that mysticism surrounding the unknown is inextricable. Normatively, this has been the case. But superstition is not an innate quality in human nature. And we have the antidote readily at hand.
  24. So many possible answers to this question! It could be your mind's method of temporarily coping with loss, stress, and change. It could be deep, long term repression of painful emotions has impaired your ability to experience any emotion. It could be that you built up anxiety of pain you expected to feel if a break should occur, while you were with him, but in fact, the end of the relationship is not as devastating a loss to you as you had anticipated. Thus it "seems" like you should be feeling pain, when in fact, you don't care. Maybe your values have changed, and you haven't readjusted your subconscious expectations of your emotions accordingly. Maybe you can find helpful information here. So why do you expect that you should feel anything? Do you find that your emotions regarding all areas of your life have diminished, or only those related to your relationship or relationships in general?
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