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Bold Standard

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  1. "The only evil thought is the refusal to think." -Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged) I know by "bad thought" you probably meant something more like "incomplete thought," but words like that send off many red flags for me! I would say that the "subconscious," while not a state of consciousness, could better be described as an aspect of consciousness than as simply "unconscious,"* because in addition to all of the data stored in memory, the subconscious also designates thoughts of which one is consciously "aware," but not consciously focusing on. Your subconscious is everything in your mind that is not the focus of your immediate attention. I think it could be described as the ROM and OS of your brain, to give an analogy. But your subconscious is "programmed" by your conscious mind. If you fail to make integrations consciously, your subconscious mind will go on integrating them automatically. That leads to the phenomenon that ANGELSP noticed, in which thoughts seem to spontaneously generate out of the subconscious. Really that is a mistake in introspection: every thought is a product of the conscious mind, it just depends whether you identify it through a conscious process of reason, or whether you let your subconscious mind make your connections for you, based on the procedures you have previously programmed into it, consciously or unconsciously. I hope that makes sense.. I didn't get any sleep last night. I'm running on automatic subconscious autopilot right now... *[Edit: Although, it's notable that in Psychological literature, the term "unconscious" is often used synonymously with "subconscious."]
  2. I don't know you're specific reasons for liking the films of David Lynch, or whether they're rational. But I do think there are some perfectly valid, objective reasons for liking (aspects) of them. For one thing, Lynch has an undeniable knack for assembling the best crews for his films- his lighting crew, his his camera men, the set designers, etc, are always top notch in his movies. I can't think of anyone besides Stanley Kubric who has made such visually beautiful movies as Lynch's since the 1950's. In the Romantic Manifesto Ayn Rand says that in an artfully done movie, you should be able to freeze any given frame and hang it on a wall as a work of art (or something to that effect). That is exactly how I feel when I watch "The Straight Story," or "Twin Peaks," or many of Lynch's other films. Sometimes he gets ugly and Dada-esque, and that's what I don't like. But I'd say more often than not he has beautifully framed, balanced, interesting camera shots. I think he also chooses talented actors and writes scenes that accentuate whatever that actor is best at (although out of context). The problem with him is that, being a dedicated Naturalist, to the point of "surrealism," he avoids any real characterizations or motive-driven plots. Everything is driven by a grim Shakespearean type determinism. To me, that's like the equivalent of a Director saying "I don't want to concern myself with things I don't understand like plots and characters, all that matters is what I'm good at- getting the most out of my camera crews and actors," etc. But the result is that by doing that, he makes it impossible to ever really get the best out of his crews and actors, because none of it means anything. It just sets a kind of mood that it never integrates into a story. Some of his dialogs are humorous or charming in the way that Naturalistic dialogs can be. Liking Lynch is like liking Dali for me. I can appreciate many technical aspects of his work, and sometimes the overall picture sets an interesting mood, but I still have to reel in disgust from the obvious irrational premises guiding the work. (Sorry for posting off topic!)
  3. You say (to paraphrase you according to my understanding) Nihilism is the belief in nothing. Or the belief that "nothing" has a value. I think this is what Ayn Rand refered to as the fallacy of "Reification of the Zero." It is the equivalent of saying that "nothing" is "something." Or that Non-A is A, at the same time and in the same respect. If this is an accurate description of Nihilism, then it is a philosphy which openly and proudly rejects reason and logic as such (which seems consistent with all the Nihilists I've met.) That means that any attempt to argue with them, ie, to show that their claims are inconsistent, irrational, or do not follow logically from one another, are fruitless. Because they reject reason, so why do they care? They're Nihilists! Of course, anyone who was a true Nihilist would not survive a day. A human can remain alive only as long as they accept some trace of reason. Therefore, you can deal with the "reasonable" in a person, but not the "Nihilist" in that person or those aspects of his philosophy. You can never win an argument with someone who rejects the principles on which rational argument is contingent. Unless you somehow appeal to whatever it is that is really motivating them. But that varies.
  4. It is impossible to reason with a person who rejects reason on principle. The best way to combat Nihilism is to ignore it, and to provide people with a better philosophy. If they tire of destroying themselves, they will begin to seek reason and to reject Nihilism. Otherwise, they will end up destroying themselves (which is no one's responsibility but their own). As a way of externalizing their own drawn out suicides, Nihilists often turn to the initiation of force against others. In this scenario, the proper way of combating Nihilism would be retaliatory force. That's the exception to the rule of ignoring Nihilists.
  5. There might be some subtle jab at Branden implicit in that article, but I think Dr. Hurd is referring to the Self-Esteem Movement in a much broader sense than that contained in Dr. Branden's work. For instance, the mystical "self-esteem" of which the Public School System stands as self-proclaimed guardian is utterly antithetical to that which Branden advocates. Both Branden's and Dr. Hurd's approach focus on what would be referred to in more clinical or academic works as an "internal locus of control." Implicit in such a condition is a feeling of personal efficacy (Dr. Hurd's "responsibility") and a feeling of personal worth (Dr. Branden's "self esteem") which are reciprocating and psychologically indivisible characteristics. By criticizing the "Self-esteem Movement," Dr. Hurd could only be interpreted (IMO) as criticizing Dr. Branden inasmuch as Dr. Branden frequently takes credit for "launching" this movement, just as he takes credit for "launching" Objectivism. I agree that Branden's earlier work was far superior to his more recent publications. His later stuff reads too much like an infomercial, selling his "approach."
  6. That's right. A Metaphysics ("nature of the universe") is prior to any Epistemology ("nature of knowledge"). Similarly, an Epistemology is prior to any verifiable knowledge of metaphysics. In any philosophical statement, an Epistemology and a Metaphysics are implied. These are the two corollary foundations of any philosophical system. An attempt to establish Epistemology without Metaphysics is Empiricism. An attempt to establish (knowledge about) Metaphysics without Epistemology is Subjectivism. So an axiom such as "Existence exists," is Metaphysics, because it describes the nature of the universe. But it's Epistemological in that it is an irreducible intellectual primary, which validates and makes possible the potentiality of knowledge, and is an example of something that can be known.
  7. I was reading the 17th century ("heretical") Jewish philosopher, Spinoza, yesterday, and I came across the most eloquent answer to the initial question in this thread: "I must further premise that the Jews never make any mention or account of secondary, or particular causes, but in a spirit of religion, piety, and what is commonly called godliness, refer all things directly to the Deity. For instance, if they make money by a transaction, they say God gave it to them; if they desire anything, they say God has disposed their hearts towards it; if they think anything, they say God told them. Hence we must not suppose that everything is prophecy or revelation which is described in Scripture as told by God to any one, but only such things as are expressly announced as prophecy or revelation, or are plainly pointed to as such by the context." (From The Philosophy of Spinoza, Random House, 1954; pg. 38.) This was given as a rule of thumb for interpreting scripture, but it fits in with my hypothesis regarding modern religionists also. For the record, I do recognize a difference between religion and superstition. But the former (a primitive attempt at philosophy) often contains the latter, and Judeo-Christianity is no exception. Observe how Spinoza anticipates my last post on people using the supernatural to explain things they don't understand: "If the Jews were at a loss to understand any phenomenon, or were ignorant of its cause, they referred it to God. Thus a storm was termed the chiding of God, thunder and lightning the arrows of God, for it was thought that God kept the winds confined in caves, His treasuries; thus differing merely in name from the Greek wind-god Eolus. In like manner miracles were called works of God, as being especially marvelous; though in reality, of course; all natural events are the works of God, and take place solely by His power. The Psalmist calls the miracles in Egypt the works of God, because the Hebrews found in them a way of safety which they had not looked for, and therefore especially marveled at. As, then, unusual natural phenomena are called works of God, and trees of unusual size are called trees of God, we cannot wonder that very strong and tall men, though impious robbers and whoremongers, are in Genesis called sons of God." (pg. 44; Ibid.) I find Spinoza's approach more effective than my own, since its targets are Biblical, therefore less controversial than my Exorcist representatives of Christianity, which could with some legitimacy be dismissed as a straw man. Thomas Aquinas believed in angles and miracles too, but my point wasn't that all Christians walk around with torches and pitch forks looking for demonically inspired illnesses, only that the essential metaphysics presented in the Bible contains nothing to explicitly contradict such a practice-- if you take it literally.
  8. I meant: "One must not 'verify' that animals are not secretly superintelligent space aliens..." I mean the higher animals, besides humans, of course. Sorry about making a new post-- the "Edit" button is missing. I posted this today- why is it I can sometimes edit my posts after I've posted them and other times not? Moderators? (Like this post! I could edit it, but not the other one? )
  9. Ah! I wish I could have had an opportunity to read your post and reply sooner, dariusnoir. Based on what I've read, he regarded himself as a Kantian. But I haven't devoted a lot of my time to Von Mises yet-- I'm very interested in his economic theories, but I've never heard anything good about him philosophically, including from Ayn Rand, and that was my point: Rand disagreed with Von Mises' epistemology, and said so herself-- whether you agree in essence with his epistemology was a side issue. I might recommend an essay called "Philosophical Detection" in Rand's _Philosophy: Who Needs It_ for insight in to how to locate a particular philosopher's basic underlying premises-- or at least how to tell, maybe, whether a "Randian" (Objectivist) would decide whether someone is "Kantian" or not. I apologize, I didn't define my terms. For me, "groundless" means: "without a foundation." Specifically-- without any reference point "grounded" in objective reality, arguments become "floating abstractions," which fall apart, like a building without a foundation. When you say "an epistemology is not..." do you mean that an epistemology cannot be such a system, or just that it is not necessarily? The latter, I would agree with; the former is incorrect. The axiomatic "Atlas" in Objectivism is sense perception-- specifically, the realization that Existence exists, and that consciousness is there also to perceive it, with the Law of Identity as an inescapable corollary. I call this an "axiomatic Atlas" because that is the epistemology which is presupposed by every consciousness. Even an epistemology that opposes it depends on it for reification and intelligibility. Are you asking why you have to discriminate and excercise your faculty of judgement? You don't, of course, but I won't continue this dialogue much longer if you contintue not to (I don't mean that as a personal insult, but literally.) You are evidently unaware of an epistemological principle known as "The Onus of Proof," (on which Objectivism and other systems frequently rely.) This is a philosophical "razor" which states as follows: "The burden of proof is always on the positive assertion." In other words, it is never necessary to prove that a given proposition is false, provided there is no evidence for its actuality. For example: One must not "verify" that animals have no ability to conceptualize. Or: One must not "verify" that animals are secretly superintelligent space aliens who control the human race with their mind-altering psychic abilities. Etc. One may easily say that animals have only sensations and perceptions, and one may easily prove this assertion. Conceptualization in animals has never been proved-- not even in the higher animals. If evidence for this were ever found, we would adjust our context of knowledge accordingly; at some level of development, however, there would still exist an animal which does not have the ability to conceptualize, thus Rand's analogy remains intact regardless. If you want the exact point, Anthropologically-- well I'm sure I would win a Nobel Prize if I could tell you for sure. Personally, I wasn't there when the first human conceptualized for the first time. But for individual humans, all the evidence suggests that conceptualization begins very early in infancy, even before the infant learns to speak-- but when the infant pronounces its first (meaningful) words, then he can be said to be conceptualizing in the fullest sense of the word. There is evidence that clearly deleanates the human from the animal inasmuch as there is ample evidence for human conceptualization and no evidence for conceptualization in animals (or in rocks, rivers, planets, or solar systems, etc.-- or in societies or human collectives for that matter.) But incase you begin to wonder, the Objectivist epistemology is not dependent entirely on deductive reasoning from axioms-- and this gets to the heart of what I think you're after. The essence of the Objectivist approach to epistemology is in the principles of induction. That's more advanced than I could possibly sketch in one post-- Leonard Peikoff has, I believe, done the most groundbreaking work in this subject. Do a search at the ARI website for his brilliant lectures and essays on the nature and principles of induction. Carl Jung went a step beyond his mentor, Freud, and made no attempt to hide his mystical presumptions. The only important thing about Freudian constructions is that they illustrate the principle that an arbitrary system that can be used to explain everything explains nothing. As to the specific clinical contributions of Freud et. al. into the specific mechanical functionings of human consciousness, that's another story and a whole other topic that's irrelevant to their underlying theories (as Von Mises' epistemology is irrelevant to his contributions to the science of Economics). The subconscious is not as ghostly as you make it out to be. It is the entire content of an individual's mind that is not presently held in conscious awareness. That means that when you're not concentrating on a particular concept, memory, or emotion-- it still exists in your mind, ie, it hasn't vanished from existence-- it's in your "subconscious" mind, where you can later retrieve information from it and choose to concentrate on some particular, specific thought. The mechanics of the exact nature of how this works in the brain, and the pathological study of various malfunctions in this extremely complicated, still barely understood, process, is fascinating. But it's not within the scope of philosophy-- these are psychological and physiological issues. All philosophy can tell you is how to pursue knowledge in these fields (and in any field), not the specific knowledge you will acquire.
  10. One of the ironic things about this thread, is that Von Mises was a Kantian, epistemologically-- and his philosophical beliefs were hated by Rand, as she always stated any time she said something favorable about his economics. Dariusnoir is also a Kantian, epistemologically. Although he presents his case as though he maintained one position, whereas Von Mises and Rand maintained a counterposition, the reality is that his epistemology and Von Mises' are identical, whereas Rand refutes them both.. and in his case, earlier(!). Well, sorry, Dar.. but as soon as you assert that groundless arguments are the only ones that are valid, everything else you say is pretty much worthless.
  11. I started a new thread about the specific issue of the Communists voting for the Nazis in the 1933 election here. Punk, Peikoff's style of writing took a little getting used to for me, but now I love his works (while we're stating our unsupported subjective opinions on the issue.) I also think he's an excellent public speaker. You should try downloading some of his speeches from ARI sometime. If there aren't any there, there is at least a link to his webpage where some can be downloaded.
  12. The original topic where the issue was brought up ishere.. I only have CUI on the Objectivism Research CD Rom, and I'm not good at navigating through that yet. So I didn't check the bibliography, or realize that there was one. I'll have to next time I go to my mom's house. I thought that _The Ominous Parallels_ had a reference to that event as well, but I ran about a dozen searches on the CD Rom and I couldn't find anything about it. I only found quotes from the German Liberal Democrat Party about working with the Nazis to fight the common enemy of Capitalism. But again, I'm a newbie with that CD Rom and its search feature, and my mom's computer is slow.
  13. Oops, I meant to say "holding up trains," like Butch Cassite used to do. Jumping trains is just stowing away on a train without paying for it. Still immoral, but not as powerful of an analogy.
  14. In chapter 17 of Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal, Ayn Rand says: "It is a matter of record that in the German Election of 1933, the Communist Party was ordered by its leaders to vote for the Nazis - with the explanation that they could later fight the Nazis for power, but first they had to help destroy their common enemy : capitalism and its parliamentary form of government." This claim has been disputed in another thread, so I wondered if anyone knows where I can find evidence of its validity.
  15. I haven't "blanked out" my reference as to the Communists voting for the Nazis. But I, being only a proletarian supporter of Capitalism, do not always have access to a computer. Sorry. Well, I thought it was in _Ominous Parallels_, but it's actually from Ayn Rand's _Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal_. The reference comes from chapter 17: "'Extremism,' Or the Art Of Smearing." Ayn Rand's statement is as follows: "It is a matter of record that in the German election of 1933, the Communist Party was ordered by its leaders to vote for the Nazis-- with the explanation that they could later fight the Nazis for power, but first they had to help destroy their common enemy: capitalism and its parliamentary form of government." Unfortunately, a reference to the exact "record" from which this information was obtained is not included.
  16. No, they can precede the "domain of the ego" ie, the conceptual realm, but not "circumvent" it. For example, when you are startled by a loud noise, such as a gunshot, the physiological experience of fear begins before it has been processed by the conceptual faculty (as has been demonstrated in experiments.) But then it is up to the judgements of the "ego," after conceptualizations, as to whether the fear should continue or what should be done about it. Things can be differentiated (and associated) at the perceptual level, but integration occurs, as I understand it, at the conceptual level. ::yawn:: See David Odden's post above. Are you unaware that research, to be interpreted, must be interpreted based on some epistemology or other? Opposing premises (sometimes) lead to opposing conclusions. Look further into what the Objectivist Epistemology actually says, before making arbitrary, hypothetical claims about what it *might* mean to so and so if it *maybe* means this or that, please. And don't believe everything you hear from the "Scientific Authorities."
  17. I think it's worth mentioning, too, that Ayn Rand was real. Human consciousness exists, and ideas exist-- as separate, although derived, from the metaphysical facts of physical reality. In that sense, it's a mistake to ask "Is Ayn Rand the source, or is reality?" Just as it would be to say "Is Plato the source of Platonism, or is reality?" The relevant question is: "Did Ayn Rand's ideas (or Plato's) correspond to reality." Or: "Was she right?" We would say Ayn Rand's ideas corresponded to reality (and Plato's did not-- at least, not all of them.) But inasmuch as they were her ideas, they were derived from her (ie, they were not automatic, conditioned, behavioral responses to her environment, but were the product of mental effort and creativity on her part.)
  18. I'm not sure what the best word is for this. "Hunch" sounds okay, and maybe "intuition" provided it is clear from the context what is meant. Ayn Rand does deal with this concept in an extremely insightful and innovative way in what might seem an unlikely source: The Art of Fiction. She refers to techniques that can be described as "programming your subconscious mind" to give you immediate solutions to a problem- in the context of the book, the problem of selecting the perfect arrangement of words when telling a story. But the principles can be applied to other intellectual activities too. She gives the example of Newton's apple falling off the tree and hitting him on the head, when suddenly, he grasps his theory of gravity. She explains the phenomenon with this aphorism: "Lucky accidents come to those who deserve them." Meaning, if you put in the necessary preliminary intellectual effort, the solution to a problem will appear at the right time. She then goes into detail on methods of "programming the subconscious mind." It's not a mystical, unprecedented phenomenon-- but, as she points out, it does *seem* like that, when it's happening, if one is not skilled with introspection. That's why I think The Art of Fiction is potentially one of the most psychologically important Objectivist works so far, after ITOE. You could almost build a whole scientific field of study off of it. You could call it "Critique of Intuition".. (I'm being ironic, but really I think you could.) I will add that I agree with everything that has been said about the impossibility of what has traditionally been called "intuition" in philosophy.
  19. If you know of any objective techniques for this, please tell! And also, how did you come to discover them?
  20. I disagree. The Nazis were always explicitly anti-Capitalist. They were as vehement in their comments against Capitalism as they were in their comments against the Jews. I believe that the German Communists voted for the Nazi party because they didn't want to divide the vote. They believed that they and the Nazi's were fighting a common enemy- Capitalism. They thought the Nazi's were more likely to win, so they supported them. I think they believed that once Capitalism was defeated by the Nazis, they would be able to sway the vote back to themselves. But the difference between Nazism and Communism is in method, not intention or fundamental ideology. The Nazis wanted the German public to believe that they were working *with* ("tolerating") private businesses somewhat, instead of obviously and explicitly seizing absolute control. But the Communists knew what the Nazis true intention was.
  21. That would be a causal connection. But does this stereotype imply that being a bimbo makes her beautifull, or that being beautifull makes her a bimbo? Or are they reciprocal attributes? That depends on the values of the specific people involved. I'm a musician, so normatively, in my experience, there is a correlation. But that's because most people would rather watch someone perform on stage if they are attractive to look at (as well as talented). But the same does not necissarily apply to, say a recording engineer. This person is more in demand (ie, popular) depending on their level of skill and efficiency, not necissarily physical appearance.
  22. I can't say anything against armed robbery, because I wouldn't have anywhere to live or anything to eat if it wasn't for jumping trains. Or getting the government to do it for me?
  23. I don't think it's necessarily irrational. Especially regarding popularity with the opposite sex. Physical attractiveness is most certainly a value-- not the only value, or the most important-- but a man's character is often displayed on the symmetry of the face. Bone structure is not all that determines symmetry- also facial expressions, hygiene, and personal style (clothes, haircuts, etc). But what appears attractive to "people" normatively must be distinguished from the distinguished taste of a tasteful individual. For instance, I think Ayn Rand was a beautiful woman, but many disagree. Is taste innate? I doubt it- my taste has evolved with my values, therefore I think psycho-epistemological (and therefore philosophical) factors are at least a crucial element in defining taste. I submit, as evidence, that different cultures have different opinions of what is "attractive." I am confused about what you mean when you say "thinking in terms." I thought that the phenomenon of brainless beauty was noted because of its irony-- as you say "beautiful BUT brainless," implying they have one value but lack another, as if you might expect or hope for a beautiful person also to be intelligent, but that it's not always that way. Are you suggesting that people actually find intelligence unattractive? Or unintelligence attractive? Or just that there is no causal connection between these whatsoever (in which case, why would people think in terms of brainless bimbos)?
  24. Don't forget that the Soviets originally supported the Nazis. In fact, members of the Communist Party living in Germany were ordered to vote for Hitler. There is a reference to that in _Ominous Parallels_, but I don't have my copy handy for a page number.
  25. Great SN, RoarkLaughed! How about an Objectivist book on humor, to show the people who say Objectivists don't have a good sense of humor. The topic of humor is rarely discussed intellectually, and the research into its nature is scarce. You could actually potentially contribute something substantial to science and Psychology if you explore that topic, err, seriously enough.
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