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Bold Standard

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  1. I thought about mentioning sense of life too. In case someone is not familiar with the term, it is explained in detail in The Romantic Manifesto, especially chapter two, "Philosophy and Sense of Life." I have no motive to resist the temptation: it's probably more likely to meet an Objectivist at the Democratic National Convention than at a TOC event.
  2. Yeah, I think I know how you feel. I've had the pleasure of meeting a few other Objectivists, and it has been totally up to my expectations. But I haven't met many close enough to my age and near enough in distance to form any real, close friendships with, yet. I think it's totally natural and healthy to feel loneliness in that kind of situation, and I feel that way sometimes. If you search "loneliness" on the Ayn Rand Research CD-ROM, there are lots of interesting hits. One of my favorites is from Ayn Rand's essay, "The Comprachicos," (also, one of my favorite essays by her) which can be found in The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution, and in the October 1970 issue of The Objectivist: Loneliness isn't about being dependent on other people--it's a totally unrelated emotion. It's based on the frustration of grasping a potentiality; the potentiality of being challenged and stimulated by another creative mind who shares your values, and the frustration of not being able to find anyone to fulfill that potentiality (when you know that you could earn all of the benefits of such a relationship, and that you could reciprocate to tremendous mutual benefit, if such a person were actually in your life, instead of just potentially). What do I do in the mean time? I do my best to be that type of friend to myself, as much as possible. And I try to really learn about people, and study them, and find out what values I can get from them (through trading, of course). I've been sometimes surprised by what virtues I can find in those who were at first, I thought, the most unlikely sources. And though I haven't met my ideal friend or lover yet, I think that's a good skill to develop, so that I can spot my ideal if we ever do meet, and so I'll be competent enough in the simple skills/mechanics of relationships to successfully have a relationship with the person at that point. But I try to be very careful not to let myself become vulnerable to people's vices. People who don't share my values *do* have the vices I would expect, and do use them against me (intentionally or not) if I allow them to, as I've learned the hard way many times. But again, I think learning to spot that is good practice, too, because my ideal might have some hidden vices, and then they might be harder to spot, being masked in virtue. Also, I might have some of those vices without realizing it, and seeing the consequences pan out in the actions of other people sometimes helps me to spot those principles subconsciously at work in myself, too. Reading and self-help stuff is good, as well. Dr. Ellen Kenner's radio show often has helpful advice for social dynamics type stuff. Of course, Ayn Rand is the best writer on this sort of topic, but you might like certain passages in Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra, which, although philosophically ridiculous and psychologically disturbing in parts, also has some inspiring and intellectually interesting passages on the topic of loneliness, individualism, standing apart from the crowd ("herd" as he calls it), etc. Good luck on meeting some people who deserve to meet you, and who you deserve to meet. [Edit: page number in quote]
  3. I think what Objectivists object to is actually Libertarians, or the Libertarian Party. "Libertarian" with a lower-case "l" is to vague a word to be objected to on any grounds more specific than that it's a word that doesn't really mean much of anything, besides a claim to advocate "liberty," which is left undefined (outside of a context). There are several threads on why Ayn Rand rejected Libertarianism, which should not be difficult to find in a search. Here are some quotes from her on the topic, from ARI's website.
  4. Well, now the red underlines have inexplicably reappeared, too! Now I'm smart, again! : )
  5. johnclark sent me a PM asking to please tell everyone that he wanted to reply to this thread, but can't, because he's on some kind of probation. (Dunno, just passing it along). I'm posting this primarily because I don't think it's honorable for me to come off looking like I had the last word, when it's not that the person I was debating was stumped, but blocked from posting (I'm not condemning or condoning the mods' decision, which is not my business). So, that's all.
  6. My rates better not go up for this. ( ::is an Aquarius:: )
  7. There is an interesting letter that Ayn Rand wrote to a fan in 1964, that might help you better understand Ayn Rand's attitude toward unions. There are also some interesting letters between Ayn Rand and various political figures regarding unions--she was opposed to both the liberal's and conservative's approaches to unions. Ayn Rand wasn't a materialist.
  8. Oh, that was it--it got set off of English. Thanks! Hm, it still doesn't underline misspelled words in red anymore for some reason. But at least it finds them if I do the right click thing.
  9. I use Firefox, and I did have spell check--until a couple of weeks ago. It just suddenly stopped working, and I don't know why. The abc icon is still on my tool bar, and I can still right click in the window and click "check spelling," and the spell check program will still come up, but it always says that no misspelled words are found on the page, even if I type pure gibberish. Does anyone have any suggestions?
  10. A couple of years ago I catered a party at a wealthy gentleman's home, and I overheard a discussion between the host and a guest about how much they'd like to have someone come in and do exactly what you're describing--customize an audio system that would work throughout his house and be discrete and out of the way of things (all the wires hidden, etc). I know there is a market for that sort of thing, at least in Houston. Have you thought about going to work for a company like that, that already has a reputation and clientele? Or you could research and find out how they got so prestigious and try and do the same (or different, if you think you can improve on the idea, better yet). Also, when you say that you build speakers, do you mean that you assemble speakers from kits that you buy, or do you design and build your own speakers from scratch? If the latter, have you thought about selling them online, or to music stores?
  11. If Uranium turns into Thorium, that means that a change has taken place, and that change must be consistent with the identity of Uranium--It must be in Uranium's nature that it can turn into Thorium. That means that it is causal. It does not mean that the cause is known, or even that it can be known, but to be causless is to be contradictory, which is the impossible thing. It is not in the nature of Uranium to turn into a pizza pie, so an event such as that would be causeless. Only an impossible event could be causeless, because causeless events are impossible by definition. I still don't understand why you assume that if an event has a cause, one would necessarily be able to predict it. Do you believe that something can exist without being known? I mean different things in different contexts, but the best definition I can think of for this context is something like, an event in which the cause is not specified or has not been determined. But I think the word has a slightly different meaning in the context of volitional acts, or, let's say, a computer that's been programmed to generate "random" numbers--which could be a process the causes of which are fully understood. Yours or mine? I think it's as old as Aristotle vs the Presocratics, if I'm following your referent right. ..? Does the Bell Inequality really show that lightening bolts can be caused by butterflies flapping their wings? But it is not I, he, or Ayn Rand who has redefined causality. We use the definition provided by Aristotle over 2000 years ago. If anyone redefined causality, it was probably the physicists who insisted that local interactions were synonomous with causality. If local interactions have been refuted, that means merely that they were incorrect in equating local interactions with causality, not that causality is refuted. Also, I think someone has attempted to redefine causality to mean predictability--maybe that's you, or someone who's influenced you, but no men on the street or philosophers who's views on causality I'm familar with use it that way. I can imagine maybe Hegel holding a position like that, since he thought "to be is to be known." But that's just a guess. There are some philosophers who have used the word "God" when they really meant "nature." Spinoza did that, although he really was a pantheist, not an atheist. My answer to them is always, "why not just say 'nature,' and not be confusing?" But I think a word like "God" is fundamentally different from "causality" and "free will." Your talking about Aristotelian causality now? How do you know that it abdicates at small and large scales? Do atoms and stars act contrary to their natures? I assume you don't mean "the problem" ...with your argument? Philosophy deals with truths that are more fundamental than special sciences. But both are derived from experience.
  12. You seem to be equivocating between the metaphysical and epistemological here. It doesn't follow that if something is unpredictable then it is random. Random would be Uranium 238 turning into a pizza pie. As far as I can gather (being a complete layman about physics), the only aspect about U238 turning into thorium-234 that you're even claiming to be random is the time of the event. Even if that were true, how would it follow that one stochastic parameter in the process makes the whole event random and causeless? Furthermore, it doesn't follow that if something is random then it doesn't have a cause. Maybe it would help if you define exactly what you mean by "random," but the way I use the word, it usually means that the cause is unspecified or unknown. It would be a non-sequiter to say, if the cause is not known, then there is no cause. It is possible for something to exist and not be known. And, if you accept the definition of causality that I use, which is the principle that entities must act in accordance with their identities, then it can be known with certainty that everything must have a cause, if it is an entity and it is acting, because the opposite would be a contradiction. Under my definition, a causeless act would literally mean an entity acting in accordance with its opposite, or an entity behaving in such a way that such an entity does not behave, which is impossible. I don't understand why you equate causality with predictability--you must be using the word differently than I do (and I've done my best to define and explain how I use it, and how I understand it to be used by other Objectivists and Aristotelians). Here I'm in way over my head, and this is definitely a scientific rather than philosophical issue. But it may or may not interest you that the most famous Objectivist I know of who's also a physicist, David Harriman, agrees with you about the Bell Inequalities demonstrating non-local interactions. Here's an excerpt from an article by him:
  13. Hello. Welcome to the forum. Any plans on what you want to study in college? It's true people can only change if they want to. But it's also true that people have to think in order to survive. I was Xian/deist when I was 17, and I'm glad for the encounters I had with atheists at the time. Even though none were Objectivists, and I didn't become an atheist until I discovered and began to understand Objectivism, I did think about the arguments I heard against God--and I do think they helped move me in the rational direction. Not that the same would apply to anyone you know, but it does happen sometimes. : )
  14. Maybe I'm just being way too literal, but isn't knowing what the Bible says in itself learning a fact of reality? The Bible does exist in reality. I disagree that there is no way to distinguish true sentences from false sentences in the Bible (although I grant that they are not explicitly labeled, and that they are sometimes intentionally equivocated). I do it the same way I distinguish true sentences from false sentences in Norse proverbs, the writings of Confucius, or the New York Times--a heavy dose of independent critical thinking, comparing the statements to my own knowledge derived from percieving reality, never taking anything on faith.
  15. When you say that you don't find A=A to be "interesting," does that mean that you don't regard it as controversial? Meaning you can see that it is obviously true? Or does it mean you simply don't understand what consequences its truth or falsehood would have? As I understand it, the question of identity is essentially, whether there are stable, enduring entities or not. Prior to Aristotle (although the law of non-contradiction was implicit in Socrates), philosophers following the influence of Heraclitus and Parminedes thought that change implied a contradiction. This led Heraclitus and his followers to conclude that existence is riddled with contradictions, that no entities endure, that A=non-A, or to be more acurate, that everything is and is not what it was and was not, and what it will and will not become. If you apply this principle to your thought experiment--well, as soon as "you" step into the "chamber," there is no more "you" and there is no more "chamber." Everything is flux. In an attempt to answer Heraclitus, Parminedes and his followers agreed that change implies a contradiction, and so concluded that there is no such thing as change, and no separate entities but that everything is one. However, this was a very unsatisfying answer, since separate entities can be observed and seen to be changing all the time. Aristotle's solution was to say that there are enduring entities--A=A, but that A cannot be non-A at the same time and in the same respect. That allowed for change without contradiction--the rule is, contradictions cannot exist, but an entity can become something it's not and it can be different things in different respects. It's only in this context that Aristotle's view of causality can be understood. And his is much closer to the Objectivist view of causality than the mechanistic determinism advocated (admittedly, hopelessly) by some modern thinkers. Aristotle's view was that the actions an entity can take are determined by the nature of the entity. In Ayn Rand's words, "The law of causality is the law of identity applied to action" (Atlas Shrugged, pg 954). This is the process by which entities can change without ever embracing contradictions--a boy can become a man, because that's his nature, but he can't become a hurricane. An acorn can become a tree, but it can't become an octopus. I haven't studied physics or chemistry in detail, but to bring up your example, "An atom of Uranium 238 just turned into an atom of thorium-234." It seems plausible to me that there is no way for a man to determine exactly at what time a change such as this will occur in an atom. But I don't see how this is a violation of the law of causality, as I've stated it above. It would seem that, assuming Uranium 238 has been observed to turn into thorium-234, this would mean that it is the nature of Uranium 238 to turn into thorium-234 (and maybe to do so at unpredictable times). This would be a causal change. Show me an example of Uranium 238 turning into a pizza pie, or a ballerina, and I'll question causality! (Actually, I would question my sanity first). I'm not sure I understand the Identity of Indiscernibles properly.. I can see how it would be legitimate to say, if we cannot distinguish between two entities, then they would be interchangeable as far as we know, but isn't it a little presumptuous to assume that they are completely identitical in reality, even those attributes we have not observed? [Edit: spelling]
  16. So, you grant only that there is an Identity of Indiscernibles, but not that there is a Law of Identity? Doesn't the Identity of Indiscernibles depend on the Law of Identity? It would be absurd to claim that A=B unless A=A and B=B, wouldn't it?
  17. Hedonism is an ethical philosophy which holds that pleasure (in the short term, from the Greek hedone, as opposed to eudaimonia, which meant long term happiness or well being) is the appropriate standard for morality. Seeking pleasure is not necessarily hedonism. It's only hedonism if pleasure is the standard by which all of one's decisions are made. I think it would be impossible to show that one could only be motivated to have sex with a lot of rational people as a result of hedonistic premises.
  18. I think this might be somewhat of an overstatement as worded. What we call "the Bible" is quite a disparate compilation of documents spanning a considerably vast amount of time. At least, comparing with other sources we have from similar time periods, I think one can learn some real historical information from studying the Bible. And beyond that, like similar documents from other cultures, many of the proverbs and prinicples outlined in the Bible are true of reality (there is some common sense stuff in there). However, if what you meant is that it's impossible to study scriptures and then rationalistically deduce knowledge from it without observing reality, then I'd certainly agree with you. [bTW, interesting attempt at summarizing Objectivism, y_feldblum. A lot of info in those paragraphs.]
  19. Here is a brief excerpt from a letter Ayn Rand wrote to US congressman Bruce Alger in 1963, which I think sums up her position on atheism nicely (italics in original): Ayn Rand was primarily an ethical philosopher (qua philosopher), although her philosophy was systematic, and includes material in metaphysics, epistemology, politics, and aesthetics as well. [Edit: Oops, I edited out something comparing the capitalization of Skepticism vs skepticism, comparing it to Objectivism vs objectivism, that David Odden has now quoted below. I didn't think anyone was watching. : P I'd just wanted to give another example where capitalizing or not capitalizing a philosophical term would make a big difference in the way the term is percieved.]
  20. Ah, so you released him from thousands of years in bondage trapped in a lamp for free? Generous! : P
  21. I'm trying to remember the movie your avitar is from. Damnit. I vaguely remember that movie being fun.

  22. Does that chip on your shoulder make it hard to type? : P And do you grant that there is, at least, a law of identity and law of non-contradiction in logic? That is: A is A and cannot be non-A at the same time and in the same respect? If not, what laws of logic do you accept?
  23. Are you aware that Ayn Rand was born in Czarist Russia, and lived there/escaped during the reign of Stalin [edit: that is, during the Communist period]? If you ever study what life is like in brutal dictatorships like Russia was at the time, you might be surprised how much like Anthem real life can be (and has been, and is, in some parts of the world). But more than that--Anthem serves a different literary purpose. The society portreyed in Anthem is the type of society that many people today and throughout history actually consider to be the ideal society. If you don't believe me (and are interested), try reading Plato's Republic, or Thomas More's Utopia, or even Marx and Engels' The Communist Manifesto for that matter. Every social principle and law at work in the society portrayed in Anthem can be found in one of those three books--even down to the thing about the mating rituals! So Ayn Rand's book works to show what such a society would really be like, and what it would mean for the people who actually matter (the heroes in the book).
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