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Gman42

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  1. I sent a question in to Peikoff's podcast asking his opinion on the Atlas Shrugged movie currently in production. He didn't answer it on the podcast but I got a response from his assistant: "Dear Gil, The Estate of Ayn Rand sold the movie rights to Atlas Shrugged many years ago, to an individual whom Dr. Peikoff thought at the time to be an Objectivist. Dr. Peikoff, however, has discarded this opinion, and no longer has any connection to, interest in, or knowledge of the project. In the light of recent articles in the Hollywood press, he has only the most dismal prediction in regard to the future product. Sincerely, Kim Marzullo Assistant to Dr. Peikoff" So, it doesn't completely answer your question but it gives some insight.
  2. I am in my last semester of college right now and am about to graduate with a major in finance and a minor in economics. I've experienced a fair amount of frustration in some of these courses especially regarding Keynesian economics. Last semester though really set me off. I took financial services with a professor who it turns out was a very liberal Keynesian prone to going on long rants about the dangers of unchecked self-interest and capitalism. This teacher bothered me in particular because he wasn't just regurgitating the non-sense he read in text books; he passionately believed what he was saying and attempted to attack capitalism on a fundamental level - pointing out that much of the time we need to put aside self-interest and focus on the "greater good". On the first day of class, here's the scenario he gave us in order to prove his point: "Imagine there is a fire in a crowded theater. If everyone acts in their self-interest, they'll all run for the door as a mob and amongst pushing, shoving and trampling won't be able to get out in time. Thus, they all burn to death as a result of their selfishness. What they all should do is cooperate and leave in an efficient manner." The way I see it, if you find yourself in this situation, there are several options: 1) Ignore the reality that you are surrounded by hundreds of people, blindly run towards the nearest exit and probably die. 2) Ignore your own well being and focus on protecting everyone else. Hope that everyone else does the same for you. If all goes well, everyone makes it out of the theater alive which is great. Incidentally, you also make it out which isn't important but it is good. 3) Acknowledge that the best way to make it out of the theater alive is to cooperate with those around you and leave in an efficient manner. You do this because you want to live. Assuming everyone else also wants to live, they'll cooperate with you and you'll survive. (Assuming the crowd wants to live is not difficult. Your evidence is that they are alive, if they didn't want to live, they'd already be dead). In my experience, people have absolutely no clue what self-interest means. They believe that option 1 is self-interest: avoiding cooperation with others at all costs. In most peoples' ideal world, we all follow number 2. We select our actions based on what benefits those around us; then, if we are unhappy it isn't our fault, its the fault of everyone around us for failing in their moral duty. In reality, option 3 is the best choice. MY life is the ultimate standard of value. The rest of the semester was filled with more false analogies, arguments from intimidation, arguments from authority and blatant contradictions but I guess that's to be expected. Maybe most frustrating was looking around the class and seeing everyone smiling and nodding along.
  3. That makes sense to me. There is no sense in taking an arbitrary claim seriously because it would be pointless to do so. I have had conversations however where a person will respond to an arbitrary claim with "I know for certain your claim is false". For example: "I know for certain that the transparent cosmic jellyfish does not exist." I believe that in principle it is wrong to say we know for certain these claims are false. That would mean it is impossible for an arbitrary claim to "accidentally" be correct and would, I believe, be a misuse of the word certain. However, I do agree that the correct response to such claims is to simply not acknowledge them unless some kind of evidence is presented in which case they would cease to be arbitrary.
  4. That's a logical response, but would you say it is incompatible with my own? ("There is no reason to believe such a teapot exists, however, I cannot say with absolutely certainty that one does not.") We know that this person made up the teapot but we still cannot be certain that the teapot does not exist. The same logic can be used on my previous example of intelligent life on a planet besides earth. Someone can make the claim that intelligent life exists on a planet in one of the areas of the universe we have not yet observed. The fact that no one on earth has observed the planet the man is speaking of means we can say to him "We know for certain you are making the intelligent life up." However, we would not know for certain that intelligent life does not exist on a planet besides earth.
  5. That makes a lot of sense, I totally agree. Normally, when I have questions about Objectivism they are due to a person struggle I am having, trying to figure out what I believe or what is true. However, in this case, my confusion stemmed more from what I'd been hearing from other Objectivists. Maybe where I'd come into conflict with some people here is with examples that are presumably less likely. For example, if you've ever witnessed or taken part in a theist v.s. atheist debate, something that's often brought up is Russell's teapot; Russell wrote: He basically goes on to compare the teapot to god in that a god could be defined in such away to be impossible to disprove. However, just because the existence of the teapot cannot be disproven, that does not mean the teapot exists (and the same would be said of a god). In the case of the teapot, we could safely say that we have no evidence of its existence. With this example, what I would say is, "There is no reason to believe such a teapot exists, however, I cannot say with absolutely certainty that one does not." What would Objectivism or what would people here say in response to this? I imagine that one would point out that to posit the existence of Russell's teapot is arbitrary and therefore belief in it irrational. However, I would still hold to my above statement. What do you think?
  6. Thank you for the helpful responses, what you both said makes sense to me. So to summarize, would it be proper to say that when we make claims of certainty, it is assumed that we are specifically speaking within the range of observation that is currently available to us. For example, there are massive areas of the universe we are yet to observe. One of these areas we are yet to make any sort of contact with may contain a planet on which intelligent life resides. However, with the knowledge currently available to us, I would not be wrong in stating that "earth is the only planet which contains intelligent life" because it is assumed that I am speaking within the context of everything we have observed thus far. Would this be accurate?
  7. I've recent been trying to understand what Ayn Rand's stance was on certainty and what most objectivists would have to say on the topic. I've searched through this forum and others and have found some information on the subject but I still find myself confused. I understand that Ayn Rand firmly believed in certainty and as I understand it, that is one of the fundamental statements of objectivism. However, what exactly does certainty mean? Here's an example I'm sure many people here have come across: Newtonian Physics. When Newton devised his understanding of physics, there was plenty of evidence to justify his assertions and nothing available to us that contradicted it. As everyone now knows, while his equations and predictions are useful, they are fundamentally wrong and have been shown to be by relativity. Before any evidence of relativity was uncovered, am I wrong in saying that an objectivist would have claimed we knew that Newtonian physics were correct with absolute certainty? If the answer to the above question is "yes" then what exactly is the definition of absolute certainty or certainty in the context of objectivism? I've come across the term "contextual knowledge" several times. I'm not sure I fully grasp what this is, would that be relevant here?
  8. The name just popped in my head but I am a huge fan of Half-Life so I'm sure subconsciously that's where it came from
  9. Hello everyone, I've recently begun delving into the philosophy of Ayn Rand and I'm very impressed so far. I feel like it's articulating a lot of what I've thought for years and is giving my scattered philosophy a structure. I think for years I've been a sort of closet Objectivist, I just didn't know what it was called and felt as though I had to be wrong because just about everyone around me disagreed with my views. For example, I clearly recall in class several times learning about the basic idea of capitalism and the free market. The teacher would ask what we though of Adam Smith's concept of the "invisible hand". Most of the kids in the class would explain that they believe history has proven his concept a failure and that regulation was required to make the economy work right. I recall one time speaking up and defending his views but the teacher basically laughed and explained why I was "wrong", that shut me up. However, last year (my freshman year at college), in my philosophy class we read "On Liberty" by J.S. Mill. I found his philosophy to mostly be very in tune with what I believe and it got me thinking again. I'd heard of Ayn Rand and her philosophy of Objectivism (also, in middle school we'd read "Anthem" so I'd had some exposure) but only recently did I really explore her ideas in debth. I've so far read bits and pieces of "The Virtue of Selfishness" and I picked up "The Ayn Rand Lexicon" from the library. I'm enjoying both very much so far and I'm looking forward to exploring Objectivism further.
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