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  1. In an episode of Lost (I don't remember which), a brief scene shows Sawyer reading The Fountainhead. I guess this again amounts to a negative portrayal of Ayn Rand: although Sawyer condemns Jack for running a "commie share-fest", he himself is an anarchist-, anti-law-, and might-is-right-type of a character.
  2. No, you don't get it. What should collapse is not the space between words, but the probability space.
  3. "It is a conspiracy without leader or direction, and the random little thugs of the moment who cash in on the agony of one land or another are chance scum riding the torrent from the broken dam of the sewer of centuries [...] "It is a conspiracy of all those [...] who seek to cut just one small corner of reality and are drawn, by feeling, to all the others who are busy cutting other corners [...]" (Atlas Shrugged, page 958)
  4. At the risk of diverting this thread, I'm posting results from some quick searches I performed on Google Trends, comparing the Google-search popularity of book titles in US and India. Contrary to my previous comment, it does appear that Rand is disproportionately popular in India, compared to other Western authors. Here is a little secret--I too bought my copy of Atlas Shrugged in India (a legitimate one ), but I only started reading it after reaching the US! Below are the rankings and ratio of popularity (in brackets). I mixed Rand, good authors, bad authors, mostly classics, and some contemporaries. Keep in mind the population of the two countries. Ranking P(In)/P(US) US India Atlas Shrugged 1 2 (0.6) The Fountainhead 2 1 (1.1) # Wow, didn't expect that! Anna Karenina 9 - N/A Crime and Punishment 2 7 (0.3) For Whom the Bell Tolls 2 10 (0.6) Alice in Wonderland 2 10 (0.3) Pride and Prejudice 1 8 (0.5) Catcher in the Rye 1 6 (0.2) Mein Kampf - - N/A da Vinci Code - 4 N/A The Kite Runner 3 8 (0.6) The Alchemist 5 2 (1.2) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 6 9 (0.3) - means that the country is not in top 10
  5. From my experience, it's most Western writers--not just Rand--that are popular in India. You'll find as many Mein Kampfs as The Fountainheads in street-vendor displays (in major cities), but few books authored by Indians. Also, keep in mind the huge population of India when you hear about Atlas sales. The percentage of readers of serious literature is very small--mostly comprising of college students.
  6. There seem to be two parts to the article--first, to point out that conventional morality (of faith and collectivism) is incompatible with scientific inquiry and the freedom that lead to industrialization--and second, to offer a fully consistent alternative morality. The first part is well explained in the article by means of several examples. But I think that the second part would be difficult to understand without grasping that morality is an objective necessity for living. Before answering what constitutes a proper morality, one must first understand the purpose of morality. If a reader understands the conflict presented in the first part, that alone may motivate him to try resolving his contradictions. For this reason, and given that it's on CNN, I consider the article pretty good. But if the second part on a revolutionary morality is so daunting, even for honest readers, does the article does more harm than good? I'd say no, because if we keep speaking up, Objectivism is the only place honest readers will eventually end up, even if they first reject it. If it's not possible to present the full Objectivist Ethics to CNN readers, we should at least make them uncomfortable in their present home--so they come out running!
  7. In order to judge government's actions as good or bad, man must study politics. According to Objectivism, the only proper role of government is protection of individual rights. This is the only standard, by which "rational people" evaluate government actions--there is no consideration of "patriotic zeal". A rational man makes his evaluation based on objective facts, i.e. visible actions and consequences of his government; even if he gets misguided by "official propaganda", it would only be temporary. A government that commits aggression against a free country is violating the rights of its own citizens--in particular, their right to freely associate with the citizens of that country as potential traders. Just because this principle has been evaded historically by many governments, does not imply that one should abandon the whole idea of a government. Truly free countries rarely go to war. For evidence, look at the West in the whole of 19th century--an unprecedentedly peaceful period after centuries of barbaric wars. My knowledge of history is not so deep, so I would not comment on the particular wars that you mention. Just look at the armed border guards in North Korea to see if they allow "rational citizens" to easily move out. Just look at the UN or "International Court of Justice" to see how dismally validation-seeking is working out for American self-interest.
  8. Yes, semi-free nations are an "obstacle" to individualism, but not necessarily "more" than being "an aid". Full freedom is favorable, whereas full dictatorship inimical, to the life of an individual. But there is no definable point in the degradation of a country at which it becomes "more an obstacle than an aid". For instance, in present day US, if you want to be a writer, you have all the opportunity to be one; but if you want to be a banker, you will only survive if you have a tough enough skin to comply with countless regulations. A country A with "reasonable respect for the most basic rights" will have no conflict of interest with a similar country B. In the unlikely scenario that A does commit aggression against B, rational citizens from both countries would consider B to be morally justified in acting in retaliation. If any rational citizens from A get killed while B exercises retaliatory force (assuming it's not possible to distinguish them), then their deaths would be the responsibility of irrational government in A (and not of rational citizens in B )--and the rational citizens from A who are getting killed would understand this too! Edit: Removed unintended smiley.
  9. FYI, I started my first blog: Wit Lab. The blog will "provide insight into scientific and social trends from an Objectivist perspective". For more details, read my introductory (blog) post: Introducing Wit Lab.
  10. I have not read the details, or thought about all the implications. But on the first look, this seems like a step in the right direction. After all, the big three ("monopolized" by the SEC) played a huge role in the financial crisis. Removing constraints on public "companies" and (essentially) private sector to follow credit ratings issued by these certified agencies would allow better rating agencies (and standards) to enter the market. Once that happens, market players will be able to do better assess risk while purchasing CDS.
  11. In India, the word "secular" has been distorted to mean religious egalitarianism. Its most common translation in Hindi is a two-part word (Dharma-nirpekshta) where the parts separated by hyphen stand for "religion" and "non preference". So, I think it will literally translate to English as "no preference towards religions". In political context, courts and lawmakers use the word to mean equal government favors to all religious groups. See this post of mine for evidence.
  12. In India, the word "secular" has been distorted to mean religious egalitarianism. In political context, courts and law use the word to mean equal government favors to all religious groups. Some examples I could find of government action taken in the name of "secularism": 1. Censorship of media that criticizes a religion. e.g. this and this. Also see this. 2. Granting special "rights" to religious groups. e.g. this, this and this (also see this). 3. Reservation of seats in jobs and educational institutes (public and sometimes even private). e.g. this and this 4. Nationalization of temples (you read it right!), government donations to religious leaders, and eminent domain for temples. e.g. this 5. Ban on practices that offend any religion, such as, ban on beef and slaughter of cows. e.g. this. Note: I actually wrote above to post here, but soon realized that it's too detailed for that topic. So, I started a new thread.
  13. Can man become perfect if he tries? If yes, then a philosophy that guides him in this pursuit will be a "perfect" philosophy. By being perfect, I don't mean being omniscient. Ayn Rand described Objectivism as a philosophy for living on earth, which means as a philosophy that guides man according to his nature, as a rational being who is able to choose properly and achieve them. On the other hand, a philosophy that alleges to provide man with mystic, omniscient knowledge and unlimited power is not just imperfect, but impossible. It will be better if you do not raise these issues in your introductory thread, but as a new topic under "Questions about Objectivism". But first it is always better to search previous threads on those topics using the forum Search or Google.
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