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Bold Standard

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  1. JMeganSnow is right that lucid dreams are not usually very deep sleep. I've found I had more lucid dreams that I could remember if there was something going on in my environment while I slept- loud music in another room, for example, or roomates awake studying and watching tv. Also, I found that if I concentrate on the type of dream I want to have before I fall asleep, sometimes I can make myself actually have that dream. The hard part for me is not waking myself up as soon as I realize I'm dreaming. If I try to steer my dream too much in a direction it's not going, I'll wake myself up. I try to follow the rules of the dream as much as they had been established before I realized I'm dreaming, and still maintain an awareness that it's a dream, and that it's in my mind, therefore I have some control over what's happening. Maybe it's my psychological habit of applying reason to reality that helps me realize I'm dreaming. Even if I'm in a dream, the first hint of A being non-A sets of red flags for me. Usually it will be something like that- something impossible happens and I think, "Oh, it's a dream. Let's see what I can learn and do." I'm not sure how literally you meant this. Part of the content of dreams is a refiling of images and sounds stored in the memory. It could be all dreams start out that way. But as the subconscious mind begins to attempt to interpret these images into something coherent, new images and sounds are created. I'm not sure about this, but I think it's possible for new images and sounds to be generated entirely from the imagination that are not taken from the memory. I know I've heard people that I know in real life say words in dreams, in their own voices, that I have never heard them say in real life. And I've seen fantastic creatures, machines, and otherworldly scenery in dreams that don't approach anything I've seen in real life. But if your theory is correct, I think this could still be explained with images and sounds stored in memory, reorganized in such a way that they simply appear different. After all, there are only, I think, five flavours that the human palate can distinguish, but combinations of these five gives rise to every seemingly disparate taste imaginable. And every color of the rainbow is made from the same three primary colors, in different mixtures. Ridiculous. Anything can be described with words. Besides, the benifit is that it helps you remember things better. Maybe it helps you become a better writer, too!
  2. "Christianity" is a religion, not a philosophical system. Many individuals of varying philosophical premises and degrees of intelligence constitute the whole of Christianity. It is the oldest trick in the book for Christians to deny the wrongdoing of a majority of the Church by saying, "Well, those weren't the *real* Christians." But even to this day, there are stories in the newspaper from time to time of some poor adolescent suffering from the early stages of schitzophrenia being taken to a Catholic priest, and having all sorts of unspeakable cruel and unusual things done to him in the name of driving out demons. I'm not even saying that a majority of Christians still believe this way, just that there are some who do. And since, like most religions, the doctrines on which Christianity is based are so vaguely stated and incomplete, these people have just as much a right to the title of "Christian" as the most rational Thomist does.
  3. Well, it might not be 100% coincidence. Although the exact process that goes into the creation of dreams is not completely understood, it is believed that dreams are at least partially the result of things that have been on your mind during the day. For example, if you are planning on meeting your Aunt Nadine at Starbucks next week, you might have a dream about the experience-- based on previous experiences with your Aunt Nadine, and Starbucks, and also your imagination about what *might* happen. Then, when it happens-- miracle of miracles!-- it's just like you dreamed. But if you've been to Starbucks with Aunt Nadine a hundred times, it's not so mystical. Especially considering that you remember only the details that happen to coincide with reality and forget the rest. Even if you've never been to Starbucks or met your Aunt, your imigination might get *some* details right, which still might surprize you when it happens in real life. Lol, I like your style of writing. It's interesting that you use that particular example about flying though. I'm almost sure I've seen Ayn Rand use that same example of a flying dream, when discussing the tremendous power dreams have to inspire us. The inspiration comes from a desire to recapture that emotion-- not necissarily from a belief that human flight is actually possible. But I agree that if you can't seperate the fantasy from the reality, you probably won't ever recapture (ie, achieve) that liberating emotion in real life.
  4. One explanation for this phenomenon could be that what Christians mistake for "The Voice of God" is actually their own subconscious mind. I submit that, since the Dark Ages, Christians have claimed that various illnesses, physical and psychological, were the direct result of Demonic influences. Likewise, benign and helpfull phenomena are claimed to be Angelic or Divinely Inspired. In other words, the discoveries of secular Sciences, such as Psychology, are often neglected or distorted by Christians. Instead of rational explanations for the inner workings of their minds, they turn immediately to the Supernatural. If you or I had a thought come to us suddenly- for example, the solution to a problem we had been working on and had found no solution for- even though it wasn't the immediate focus of our attention, and nothing in our environment occured to bring it to mind, we wouldn't be surprized. But this is the sort of thing a Christian often takes to be the Voice of God. That, or they're simply lying.
  5. When I was a small child, I was often plagued by nightmares. In dealing with these, I became very skilled with "lucid dreaming". By the time of my late adolescence, I was able to often controll dreams, plan dreams before going to sleep, and retain a great deal of memory regarding the contents of my dreams. Not all of my dreams are lucid, but often there comes a point in a particularly vivid dream in which I realize that it is a dream, and then I have somewhat of a choice to try and direct it. I've found this to be, at the least, a fascinating tool for introspection. You have *some* controll, and you know it's a dream-- at least, I know that I am in my own subconscious mind, with at least a vague awareness that there is such a thing as reality and that the sensations I am experiencing in the dream have relevence and should be remembered. But still, the dream is it's own kind of "reality"-- there are rules you have to follow in it if you don't want to wake yourself up, and there is a different kind of logic directing events than in actual reality. In exploring the "logic" [edit: maybe "rationale" is a better word.] and "rules" of my own dreamworlds, I've been able to dig up and locate long forgotten memories and knowledge, as well as emotions and desires that were at least partially repressed, ignored, or forgotten in my conscious life. As far as gaining practical knowledge.. particularly regarding skills and physical activities in the real world, I have spent some time with that, too. I am a musician, and for a while, when I was in school and hardly had any time to practice, I tried for a while to plan dreams in which I practiced playing guitar. I know it sounds rediculous, but I really do think I benefited tremendously from these dream practice sessions. It's not the same as physically practicing the guitar- because you're not excercising your hands, and you're not training your mind to coordinate with your hands and with the sounds in time and space, as you would if you were actually practicing. But the objects in a dream take on special symbolic significance- what I played on the guitar in my dream was my mind's attempt to integrate and understand and recreate the act of playing music in reality. So when I'd think "play a G Major," my mind would have to do a lot of work to create what I think "G Major" means. It would search my subconscious for all my knowledge of music theory, and it would search my memory of experiencing "G Major" in reality. I found that when I awoke, and played G Major on my guitar, it was more vivid to me... I noticed more things about it that I used to ignore or overlook. Perhaps because I was trying to program my subconscious mind to make a better "G Major" in my next dream. I note that in Ayn Rand's instructional book on how to write fiction, programming the subconscious mind is a skill that is emphasized as essential. My method might seem overcomplicated, but I was trying to make the most of my time. And I had fun doing it, as an end in itself anyway. I don't know if you could get better at something as physical gravity-bound as rollerblading in a dream. But when I try to learn things like rollerblading, I don't usually approach them very conceptually. Dreams are good at conceptual things.. but maybe if I approached rollerblading more conceptually, I'd be better at it. Also, dream journals are a good idea, I think. Because you always remember dreams best when you first wake up. Writing it down, and then going back later and reviewing what you remembered at first, and comparing it with what you remember now, is a good way to improve your ability to remember your dreams. Edit- Oh, and one more thing- predicting the future is impossible, in dreams or reality, I think. Sometimes I will have a dream, and experience something like it later in real life, and notice the cooincidence, sometimes with a kind of shock or surprize. But I think it is a coincidence, and the similar sensations bring the memory to your immediate attention- like smelling a smell from long ago, and that's why it gains such a strange emotional quality that people supersticiously ascribe to the supernatural. Edit #2- Nx, I just reread your post, and as a suggestion, I think you should be carefull not to underestimate the psychological symbolism that is present in dreams. For example, a dream in which you can do acrobatic stunts that you're afraid to do in real life could be your subconscious mind telling you that fear is holding you back from achieving your goals in real life- in general, not specifically related to acrobatics. Acrobatics might just be the handiest association your subconscious mind had access to at the time of the dream.
  6. If music is *nothing* more than sound organized in time, then all sound that is in any way "organized" would be considered music-- sound bytes from the news, bird calls, talk radio shows, etc. This definition is no less arbitrary than saying, "Graphic art is nothing more than something you hang on a wall." Sound organized in time must be *periodic* in order to be considered music. Is tap dancing considered music? I've played the drums for years, as well as other instruments.. But I wouldn't be so quick to say that a rhythm alone is music until some kind of melody is added. But some metal music and/or free form jazz is so much disconected drum rolls and crash-cymbal strikes that I don't know if I'd even call it rhythmic. It's possible for a jazz player to improvise without sounding random at all, depending on their technique. If their "technique" is based around creating music that sounds completely random, as in so called "free jazz," I would hesitate to call it music. I don't think John Cage was any less aware of what he was doing than such improvisers.
  7. In _The Letters of Ayn Rand_, there is a whole chapter devoted to Miss Rand's letters to Isabel Paterson. Unfortunately, it doesn't have any of Paterson's letters. There is other correspondence of interest to the idea of God in that book, though, including letters to and from a Priest. As Paterson was not a theologist, those are probably more relavent anyway. I haven't read _Journals of Ayn Rand_, but I wouldn't be surprized to find entries regarding Paterson there. They were rather close collegues (as well as friends) for a while. But judging from the letters, I don't think their eventual astrangement was over what Ayn Rand refered to as Paterson "sometimes turning into a mystic." Rand had an issue with that from the very beginning of their relationship. But, from my understanding, there was an incident in which Rand invited Paterson to her house, and Paterson was rude to some of Rand's friends. That's when they stopped seeing much of each other. It seemed to be more a personal thing than an ideological one. As spokeswomen for capitalism, they continued to work together and recommend each other's books for years or decades afterwards. A generation is not a lifetime. Paterson and Rand were, indeed, close friends and collegues for years. A significant portion of Paterson's writing was during and after this period. Although Paterson was a very proud woman, and not quick to acknowledge everyone who happened to inspire some idea of hers, she did admit to gaining new insights from Ayn Rand- specifically, regarding the *moral* basis of Capitalism, rather than simply the practical. That's why Cox's introduction to God of the Machine, in the edition I own, was so baffeling to me. His implication was that Ayn Rand's main problem with Paterson was her failure to acknowledge that particular debt. But in their personal correspondence, as evidenced in _Letters of Ayn Rand_, she does plainly acknowledge it. I don't know if she did so publicly or not. She also plugged Rand's books regularly in her newspaper column. It seems to me that Cox takes a lot of unnecessary shots at Ayn Rand. And his description of Paterson as a "Conservative" writer is also baffeling. And your post, as quoted above, puzzles me in a similar manner. Is your point that their ideas weren't being induced, or that they weren't the same political ideas, or that they weren't being induced at the same time? What is your evidence for this, besides that Paterson began writing about 20 years before Rand? Do you think that, once a writer starts their career, their ideas are already determined and they don't develope any further? ...Or what?
  8. It was, up to a certain publication date. I'm not sure when it was, but at a certain point, the authors of this dictionary made an explicit decision to define their words by the cannon of popular definitions, rather than any objective standard. I'm not sure what the standard was before for Oxford, in terms of an exact proceedure. I assume it involved a scupulously literal, essentialized analysis of the word, with an emphasis on the etymology and roots of the word, and I assume that the definition was not to include the word being defined, and that there were to be no internal contradictions. Also, I know that in the earlier part of the 20th century, the arbitrary addition of a moral judgement in regards of the supposed significance of self-interest to the interests of others was *not* included, whereas in modern edditions it is. And the most recent copy of the Oxford English goes on for a couple of pages bragging about how much consideration is given to popular usage, and the supposedly constantly evolving cultural evolution of words, whereas I've never seen that in the introductions of older dictionaries. I assume Objectivists are not the only ones who notice a difference in the clarity and objectivity of various dictionaries. I don't mind defining my more commonly misunderstood words and concepts, but restricting myself to terms such as "rational selfishness" is too redundant and too much of a surrender for me-- and it gives the impression that it's possible for irrationality to be in one's self interest.
  9. "Distorted" and "discordant" are not descriptions of the quality of a tone. Rather, they are periodic interruptions, or as you say, tonal variances, embedded into a tone, or pitch. If music becomes distorted, or remains discorant, to the extent that the tones are no longer perceived as periodic vibrations, then it is no longer music, but is rather *noise*. But "tonal" does not mean "musical". Noise and/or silence can be introduced periodically as a harmonic accent, which is a temporary disruption in the tonality of a song, but it's still a musical device. A snare drum, for example, is atonal, but it's still a musical instrument- a rhythmical one. Likewise, one tone sounded monotonously, with no introduction of melody is not musical. A test of the Emergency Broadcast System is not an example of music, but of noise, although it is "tonal". The point is, there is are ratios of tonality/dissonance that must be maintained in a peice in order for it to be considered music. "Music" that intentionally blurs the lines between music and noise by making it "as distorted as possible" or "as dissonant (unrhythmical, non-periodic, a-tonal, etc.) as possible" yet still be considered music, is, in my oppinion, the same as any other nihilistic "modern art" which attempts to be a destruction of art. Is Heavy Metal music or noise? Well, maybe some of it is music, some is noise, and some fluctuates. But I'd say the essential or diffinitive characteristic of Metal music is that it blurs the line between music and noise- therefore the presence of noise (random soundwaves) is a determining characteristic of Metal-- therefore you shouldn't be surprised if someone says "Metal is noise". The only legitimate argument you could make would be, "well, it contains noise, but it contains music as well". I'll leave it for you to decide what the psychology and ideology is behind such "music".
  10. There's a term for this, √Čtienne. It's called "lowering your standards." That means degrading yourself and accepting something less than what you want, because you decide that what you really want is unobtainable. But one of the reasons I have for choosing my screen name, "Bold Standard," is because at a certain point in my life I identified this principle: "If you lower your standards, you lower your potential for happiness proportionately." When I realized that, I decided that I'd never lower my standards again. And that's why I always encourage people to set their standards high and never compromise. I want the people around me to be happy, and live at their fullest pottential. It's only then that they are capable of creating values that I want to trade with them. Good luck in your search for self-esteem. Despite your bad premises, if you're honest with yourself I think you can find solutions to your problems (ie, better premises). Incidentally, many Objectivist Psychologists specialize in helping people raise their self-esteem. You might find helpfull insights here- Dr. Kennerhttp://www.drkenner.com/ and here- Dr. Hurd. -DRM
  11. My intention was not to mislead the poster, and I regret if my initial post was unclear. But why shouldn't the objective definitions for "selfish" and "art" be assumed when engaging in a conversation about them? Any legitimate dictionary clearly defines selfishness as "following one's self interest." How can you make sure a person knows exactly what you mean by a term.. should you do this with every term you introduce in a conversation? My usual habbit in conversations-- since, in my experience, the meanings people ascribe to particular words can be vast and (to me) almost completely unpredictable-- is to use all of my words consistently and correctly, and if there are any misunderstandings, to offer my complete definition and/or the premises leading to the definition at that time. Otherwise, I'd have to preface every statement with my own unabridged dictionary. Maybe I should write my dictionary, post it online, and offer a hyper-link to it in my signature. But, at any rate.. in my experience, and to the best of my understanding, when a Marxist talks about "the selfish nature of man, which must be overcome," in most cases he *is* using the word "selfish" correctly-- because according to Marxism, which is based on the morality of Altruism, "persuit of one's self interest" is the cardinal sin, in the full extremest sense that Kant used it in defining his Ethics. So what reason would I have to suspect that a person who just finished speaking with Marxists, and is choosing to post on an Objectivist message board, would misunderstand my usage of the word "selfishness" in this context? Have we Objectivists finally surrendered that word to-- not even the collectivists who offer arguments and a defense of their usage of the word-- but to common usage??? I couldn't think of anything sadder for the future of the English language!
  12. Objectivists tend to be people with strong opinions. There's nothing totalitarian about that. In fact, a "totalitarian" mentality is one that has no opinion, besides that which it is ordered to have. I would also like to point out that the original poster rightly labeled his inquiry "The Psychology Of Metal Music" (emphasis added), not "The Philosophy Of Metal Music." Given the profound psychological impact art can have on an individual, this is a perfectly legitimate object for introspection and discussion. Also, to say "a fundamentalist Christian holds X opinion, and an Objectivist holds X opinion, therefore Objectivism and Christianity are philosophically indistinguishable," is to commit a grave logical fallacy. I don't personally like metal music much more than Pastor Joe down the street, but I have much different reasons, and I certainly don't like his Gospel Choir + Fiddle Quartet any better! My personal experience with Metal music is that it creates a psychological state similar to being pounded repeatedly in the head with a stick. But music has to be viewed as a subjective art, until an objective basis for interpretation is found. _The Romantic Manifesto_ will probably help you understand the aesthetics of music better, and also the articles by Helmholtz referenced by Rand therein.
  13. I think in many cases, people equate bad philosophy with the whole of philosophy. They might set up a train of thought as follows: Premise A: Kant, Dewey, Calvin, and Sartre's theories (and all other theorists presented at X University or by Y authority figure), when put in to practice, have horrific results in a person's life. Premise B: Kant, Dewey, Calvin, and Sartre (and all other theorists presented at X University or by Y authority figure) are among the most respected philosophers in the world. Conclusion: Philosophy is anti-life. The premises are correct, but the conclusion is a non-sequiter. This person, probably a second-hand thinker, is unable to concieve of a philosophy that is pro-life. Indeed, such philosophies are rare.
  14. Etienne, You mentioned in your first post that you've "studied psychology far and wide." If so, the following proposition might not sound so strange.. You ask "why having sex without attachment is pure evil." But I challenge you to search yourself and ask whether it is actually *possible*. Because you are speaking as if it were-- and I mean no attatchment, psychologically. If flesh, specifically the flesh of another person, represents- as you suggest- an idea, then sex with no attatchment would mean you have no attatchment to the idea, as well as to the person- since the person is your reification of the idea. In that case, if you take what you say litterally (in other words, if you really mean what you say), sex without attatchment could have two possible interpretations (that I can think of). One would be that sex has no meaning- that you want to have sex for no reason: it's just an animal drive. Sex is an idea, but you have no attatchment to the idea- it's just like any other idea you're confronted with, as though your state of consciousness were like watching a movie, and colors and shapes and ideas come and go and you grab which ever ones look pretty or you change the channel. The other interpretation would be that you use sex to get rid of ideas you are afraid of or don't understand. In this version, you are attatched to the idea- there is a connection in sex-- but as soon as it's over, the idea has satisfied itself and you can move on. If this were the case, you're in a position in which you just *have to know* what it's like to sleep with a hot cheerleader. Or an authority figure, like a boss at work. Or maybe someone you don't get along with who really makes you angry- it would mean some kind of a hidden victory you could never win with words. Or maybe you want to know that you've slept with more women in a given week than your Cassanova buddy. Still it's an idea, and there is an attatchment, but the attatchment is severed after the act has occured. I submit that these scenarios might fill certain psychological needs for an undeveloped person- but there is an element of self-deception involved. The first is an outright refusal to face reality. You've placed the locus of controll in the external world, or in "instincts" acting on you beyond your power. You're a victim to the universe and only sex can save you! But, sorry, it never will. In the second version, you're refusing to deal with your anxieties directly. You can solve your problems, but only if you can recreate them in a sexual situation- then, upon orgasm, you'll suddenly gain the power and courage needed to deal with your social insecurity, your desire for authority over yourself, your feelings of inadequacy in exchanges with an intellectual superior, or your dogmatic envy for other men who score lots of chicks- like men are "supposed" to do. Maybe these archetypes of sexual promiscuity are not the one you specifically envision for yourself, but in principle, I hold that the psychology of a promiscuous person is rarely, if ever, something to aspire to. Objectivism certainly does not hold sex to be an evil thing. Only *indiscriminate* sex is evil- because it's self destructive. Flesh should be recognized as an idea- and also as a physical reality. And even still I'm not saying that so called "casual sex" is necissarilly always wrong. I think there's a place for it- provided there's no self-deception *or* deception of the other person going on, and provided you're sure neither you or the other person has a disease, and so on. But in order to be fully honest with yourself regarding sex, I think it's essential to recognize that, as you said- sex is an idea-- and that idea stands for some *value* of yours. The ultimate choice comes down to how you choose your values, and why. How does the person you choose to have a sexual relationship with represent your value to you? How is an encounter with this person going to benifit you, psychologically? What is sex with this person going to mean for your self-esteem, and why? Those are questions I would ask. If you can't answer them, why *should* the other person want to sleep with you? But, then, I think it's possible for people to be rational. And I don't think human nature is flawed. And I think if there really is no attatchment to any value or idea or person involved in sex- then sex is not pure evil, but instead it's rather pointless. And you're oppening yourself up to disease and unwanted pregnancy for no reason, which is evil if you regard self-interest as the standard for whether an action is good or evil. -DRM
  15. Hmm.. I thought about that for a few minutes before posting my original statement. Perhaps my understanding of the delimitation of "Ethics" is slightly mistaken. But my thinking was that identifying the fact that "life is the source of value" would be a Metaphysical principle rather than an Ethical one. The reason being that Ethics is supposed to be a guide to action, and simply knowing the source of values does not tell you that *values are good*, and *should be pursued*, and furthermore it doesn't tell you *who's* values should be pursued first- yourself, or others'? That led me to consider that perhaps a devotion to reason would be an ethical principle which proceeds selfishness. But I think that in the hierarchy of Ayn Rand's principles, reason is primary to selfishness only in regards to Epistemology. In Epistemology we accept reason and then conclude that selfishness is rational and therefore it is good. But in Ethics, I would still say that selfishness comes first- purely from the perspective of a guide to action, reason is good *because* it is selfish. If reason and selfishness were antithetical, as most post-Kantian moralists mistakenly suppose, then- Epistemologically, selfishness would be bad. But Ethically, in this alternate universe, reason would be bad. Because if it is reasonable to self-sacrifice, it must be in one's self-interest to be irrational. Wasn't that Neiche's primary mistake? But at any rate, when arriving at a rational code of Ethics, specifically, when deriving a code of ethics from a rational Metaphysics and Epistemology- I agree, the identification of life being the source of value is a preliminary step to arriving at the principle that selfishness is good. I think my mistake, if I made one, is probably semantic. Unless there's a conceptual error that I've missed. (But I'm glad someone called me on this. I expected somebody would )
  16. Unfortunately, men are not automatically selfish. Many act for their own destruction. I strongly recommend Nathaniel Branden's essay "Isn't everybody selfish?" in (Ayn Rand's) _The Virtue of Selfishness_. At the same time, man is not innately unselfish. If he were, there would be no men. Everyone would sacrifice himself to death. The essential fallacy of Marxists, in this instance, is not that man has a selfish nature or that man's nature can be overcome- the fallacy is that selfishness is bad. Objectivism holds that selfishness is good. That's the first principle of Objectivist ethics.
  17. Are individual rights not an intrinsic quality? What do you mean by "intrinsic" in that context?
  18. Hmm. I don't know how much I can add to this, but I can say from personal experience that being a musician and being hit on after shows by beautiful women isn't all that flattering. To me, at least, it always seems impersonal. I've never hooked up with someone that way. You would think it would be good, because you know the girl values something you value- specifically, your music. But unfortunately, it could be she values something you don't value at all- the prestige of being with a publicly visible person (rock star, sports star, or whatever). But, if you don't actually have high self esteem, it could be that you don't want someone who values what you value. Maybe you want someone to destroy what you value- or at least distract you from it. If so, it might make you feel better about yourself temporarily to be neurotically promiscuous. But seeing as that would be a quick fix at best, it definitely seems like a waste of time to *envy* people in that situation. If all else fails, there are always strip clubs and brothels. Now is a superficial sexual connection *really* all you want? Furthermore- if you sleep with a woman on fraudulent grounds, by "playing" them which implies that at least you percieve it as being dishonest- what does that do to your self esteem? At most, they can never love you! Only your game! Don't you think you can do better than that? The real answer to your question is that the best women want genuine self confidence, not just bravado and an arrogant facade. It is immoral to get women to sleep with you by tricking them into thinking you're self confident (if that's what you meant by "playing" them), because it is an enormous insult to your own self esteem. But maybe that's not what you meant. I'm never sure what people mean when they use that language. [edit: Well, that's not really an "answer", since your question was actually how to get genuine self confidence. But that was answered by another poster- confidence comes from acheiving your highest values.]
  19. Hmm.. I had to post that really fast last night, and there are tons of spelling errors. But the "edit" button seems to be missing. If any mods want to fix it for me feel free.
  20. I was INTP when I took a similar test a long time ago. The description called this type "The Architect" and gave Howard Roark as an example of INTP. I wonder how they got Howard Roark to take the test.
  21. Ah, I don't get a chance to get online except about once a week, but if Lindagarrette is still around, thanks for the reply to my post. Sorry if my first post was a little unclear- it can be a challenge to cram the entirety of a philosophical principle into a short statement in a message board- but that challenge is one of my favorite things about posting here. As to the scientific method, as another poster mentioned- "the scientific method" is a concept created by philosophers. And not all philosophers agree on what that method should entail, or what its foundation should be. For example, it's not uncommon to hear psychologists argue about whether their methods should be derived from "logical positivism" (the philosophy that says all knowledge is impossible) or "existentialism" (the philosophy for people who don't really want to bother with philosophy, which can essentially mean anything you want it to mean). [i mention this example in particular because I'm visiting my mom who is a psychologist, and was earlier perusing a copy of a book by Maslow discussing that topic.] At any rate, that was my point when discussing the idea of consciousness being "beyond our grasp" as well- not to imply that Objectivism endorses that idea by any means! But simply to say that Ayn Rand recognized that there are many competing, conflicting philosophical points of view on a given issue, and in presenting her views, she was always careful to distinguish her positions from other views, and to be very clear on *why* her conclusions were different from the others. ..That's not a practice that is entirely unique to Objectivism, but there are plenty of philosophies that present their view of metaphysics, epistemology, aesthetics, or whatever it is- and then go on to explain that theirs is the only possible view on the subject. Therefore, someone can leave a class in Religion, with the conclusion that metaphysics is all a bunch of superstitious mumbo jumbo- with the rational alternatives (having existed in various forms for centuries) having been totally glossed over. Or someone might leave a lecture on Marx's theories of politics convinced that they must become an anarchist, since the foundations of all systematic political thought are so appallingly irrational and inconsistent. That is the opinion of someone who's never heard of, or doesn't understand, the arguments for individual liberty, personal property, and capitalism (not as interpreted by a Marxist, but as they actually are in reality). But all the same, Objectivism is a philosphy which offers positive, definitive answers to the issues with which it deals. The workings of the human consciousness, according to Objectivism, ARE within our grasp, and subject to analysis- through introspection as well as physiological studies and through all methods at our disposal by which we may gain better understanding. As one poster mentioned, we are still a long way from understanding the primary or underlying origins of consciousness- just as we're a long way from understanding the basic "fabric" of the universe in physics. But that doesn't mean that we don't know the things that we *do* know regarding these issues. [I know that "what goes up, must come down" even if I don't understand exactly by what means and how quickly gravity works through long distances in space, for example. But just because I don't know now, doesn't mean I can't find out.] Is "the nature of reality" a redundant concept? Well, maybe- but what concept isn't? Yes, nature IS reality. Reality is nature. Also- light is color, and color is light. But within a given ray of light, a spectrum can be derived with colors of different frequencies. When I said "nature of reality", I could have said "nature of nature", but what I meant was "specific rules, or laws of nature, which govern reality, as it does and must exist." Any statement containing knowledge could be called a "tautology", since all knowledge is interelated and refers back to the same reality. But what's the use in calling it that? And finally- I believe one can never learn anything from faith. Ayn Rand, and anyone who is an Objectivist believes knowledge cannot be derived from faith or anything other than reason. But when a Christian tells you that there is a God, a Devil, and an afterlife- and you ask them, "how do you know?" They will respond, "I know because I have faith." (or something that means the same thing)
  22. In Objectivism (which we do call a "philosophy"), "metaphysics" is defined as the study of the nature of reality. So an Objectivist would say that a belief in the supernatural, versus the belief of a fully intelligible, actual universe, would be two competing metaphysical viewpoints-- one of them correct, and one incorrect, but neither encompasing the totality of the study of metaphysics. To claim that "metaphysical" means "something that doesn't really exist," then, would be surrendering all of metaphysics to the people who think systematic, objective knowledge of reality is unobtainable-- or to the people who think that, perhaps, knowledge of physical reality is obtainable but knowledge of the workings of the human consciousness is for some reason beyond our grasp, or simply nonexistent. But those people aren't Objectivists-- we have a theory of metaphysics of our own, mostly derived from Aristotle but with even the elements of the supernatural present in his formulations removed (and refuted). So to answer your question specifically, any belief in the supernatural would not be a realistic point of view, since supernatural means "beyond the natural" or "transcending that which exists" or "not real." Assuming by "realistic" you mean "rational" (rather than Plato's so called "realism" which is, somewhat ironically, an argument for the existence of the supernatural. But that's a whole other topic! ) EDIT: Oh, and there is common ground between faith and reason in the sense that they are both contending means by which people can supposedly arrive at knowledge. They can be compared, then, and evaluated based on whether either or which one is a valid means of gaining knowledge. That takes the argument out of Metaphysics and into Epistemology-- the study of the validity of knowledge. Faith in epistemology is roughly the equivalent of the supernatural in metaphysics. Reason in epistemology is objective reality in metaphysics. But the two branches are closely interelated, so some of the terms are used interchangably, especially in informal discussions.
  23. Welcome. I'm an aspiring musician, so maybe I'll be using your services some day. When you get time, I suggest Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. She really lays down the essential basics to her philosophy there, and it makes it much easier to grasp, not only Objectivism, but new knowledge and concepts in general (or so I've found).
  24. Welcome to the board. As far as "safe" investments are concerned, I think that your decision will depend on how far gone you think the United States government is. If you think our fiat currency is doomed and worthless, and that perhaps sooner than anyone realizes the entire system might come crumbling to smitherines, you might be best to simply buy a whole lot of gold, or some other precious or valuable material that you can keep in your physical possession.. And dig it in the backyard. If you don't think the end of the world is near, then you might consult professional investers or money managers that you can trust with the issue. Also, regarding your taxes, have you considered consulting with professional tax accountants and tax lawyers? I am only a student and don't own a business yet, but the more I learn about issues like the one you're discussing, the more I realize how many people are in similar situations to yours.. and how many honest and productive people are making their livings in assisting people like you- getting taxes to the legal minimum, etc. But maybe I've missed the point of your post. At any rate, I feel a little bashfull that I might come off as if I'm giving you advice. Mostly I'm curious how a real business man would respond to suggestions like these, as they are among things I've considered for my own future. Hope to see more of you! -David R. Marsilia
  25. Welcome, studentofObjectivism. I'd like to say that, although I didn't read any of Ayn Rand's books until just after high school, my experience was similar to yours. Here is an exact dialogue, to the best of my recollection, from an experience i had in 2nd grade- Teacher: "Class, who can explain to me what 'taxes' are? ...David?" Me: "Taxes are when the government steals money from people." Teacher: [something close to a scream] "No!!! Taxes are just the way the government pays for goods and services that people need, like this school ['and my paycheck!'.. said the fear in her eyes]." Me: "Well, what happens when people choose not to pay their taxes?" Teacher: "Well.. They.. go to jail." When I heard my teacher say all this, and saw on her face that her answer not only didn't bother her, but seemed to satisfy her as though it were a refutation of my hypothesis, rather than proof I was right, I realized something very important about the public school system-- I didn't learn the words and the history of it until later, but what I was starting to realize is that the public school system *is a socialist institution*, therefore, it is within the public school teacher's interest, qua public school teacher, to (try to) defend socialist principles. And since socialist principles cannot be defended with reason, they will try other means (such as intimidation). My best advice, if you choose to remain in the public school system, is to try to develop some kind of sense of humor about it. I stayed in all the way through my senior year, and graduated.. but every senior at my school had to write an essay that was to count as a large percentage of his English and Government classes, on a political topic. The topic I picked was that the public school system should be completely eliminated! And I'll tell you this much-- my paper would have been a lot better if I'd known about Ayn Rand, but even still.. it was so well researched and so convincingly argued that- despite being littered front and back with snide and derrisive comments from the teachers- I received a high A -- and my Government teacher, who was a Liberal Democrat and a City Councilman in my small town -- asked if he could retain a copy to show to future classes as an example of a well written essay. Then, you can always just get a GED and skip straight on to college. The only possible rational reason I know of to finish high school, if it's public, is to try and win scholarships to universities. So start applying now!.. (btw, I'm a musician too. Hope to see you post more.)
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