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Everything posted by Scribulus

  1. Oh, thank you each for your input and the excellent links. I had forgotten about this thread, because the same classmate and I are struggling to gain real comprehension in a class where the teacher's pedagogy is based on the idea that showing people things they don't know about is a good way to stimulate learning, without connecting the new ideas in any meaningful way. With all that stimulus going on (read: overload), I forgot about the economics. The Higgs paper is a very interesting idea. I also don't think my classmate is likely to be able to understand any of these arguments, but it is useful to me to study the subject--after all, it turns out I do hold the premise that the Depression lasted longer because of government spending, so I would do well to follow my own advice and find the evidence and establish the truth of the premise. Even one's own premises must come under scrutiny! One of the things I like about the Higgs paper is the bibliography that includes the original data from the government agencies that collected it. This is not a guarantee of correct thinking of course, but at least he's looking in the right place.
  2. It could also be just something automatic, like driving a car while having a conversation. Ah, this is the idea I was looking for. Integrations can be performed subconsciously. Peikoff is appropriately careful in his word choices here. The conscious mind is able to know, but does not automatically know--it can require enormous effort to figure out even what they are, much less whether they are correct or not. And back to the original discussion, wouldn't you say that Holmes could act virtuously subconsciously?
  3. This is a useful identification, thank you. I disagree with this statement and started another thread to discuss it. Can people act unconsciously?
  4. http://forum.ObjectivismOnline.com/index.php?showtopic=19738&view=findpost&p=255237 I would like to talk about this idea some more. I think it is possible to act unconsciously without being "knocked out." We have to define some terms, though, because "knocked out" is just a synonym for "unconscious." There is the medical state of being unconscious, there is the physical state of sleep, and there are varying levels of attention which can be brought to bear on decision-making. It is quite possible to act automatically without attention, and that does constitute a common use of the word "unconscious." In fact, I have observed that it appears possible to reason "unconsciously," that is, without attention. A couple of friends have argued that such reasoning is not fully unconscious, but is based on conscious thought, however brief, and then incorporated into a chain of reason without further examination. I am unpersuaded, though, because my observation is that such thoughts must be brief indeed. If you are interested, I will give you the example that started me on this line of thinking.
  5. Drug addiction being what it is, I have my doubts, and so evidently did Watson, who said in "The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter" that Holmes' habit was "not dead but merely sleeping." Holmes also was given to depression and moodiness. However, I didn't mean to place particular attention on his flaws, except to say that his rationality was not complete. It is a pleasure to watch stories with this character in them, because, unlike so much of the drivel we are bombarded with, he routinely rejects irrational explanations and searches reality for information that can help him use reason well. Despite his flaws, it is for that reason a relief to read a Sherlock Holmes story. I wonder if there are other protagonists from Enlightenment era fiction who hold rationality and reality as primary virtues?
  6. Welcome - I still feel like a newbie to Objectivism too. Welcome to the best ride of your life. I think that insofar as Holmes is holding strictly to reason, then yes, he is being objective. He certainly holds himself to reason far more than anyone around him, people who are ready to attribute crimes to spirits and innocent men. I loved how, in the recent movie, everyone else was convinced of magical forces at work, but his strict adherence to reality led him to the real cause. I wouldn't say that he is uniformly rational though. One of Holmes's flaws is that he lacks purpose unless he has a crime to solve, and in those times of boredom he indulges in his cocaine addiction. That is not in his long-term self-interest! But despite this flaw, he feels most alive when he is using his mind to solve a case.
  7. Today I had the something like the following conversation with a classmate, after listening to some teachers talk about a roomful of snazzy computers at our state-funded college that are about to be replaced by even snazzier ones: Me: It makes me sick to see them go buy us all new computers when we already have these. Classmate: But we need them. Me: They're coming from someone else's money. Classmate: It's in the budget. Me: They took it from taxpayers. Classmate: Well, I'm looking forward to them. Me: You can't spend your way out of debt. Classmate: It worked during the Depression. Me: And made it last ten years longer. Classmate: I would love to debate you on that. That was the end of today's conversation. I had not been planning on initiating a debate, so I wasn't being careful, and I found that I could not remember where I got the information that government spending made the Depression last longer. If he brings it up again, I want to have my facts ready, but I'm not sure how to look for that information. Can anyone give me a pointer on how to track that down, or have any other good tips for how to direct this debate?
  8. I wonder how those companies are doing now?
  9. Yes, but you have to define your terms. I'm an extrovert, but I also only have a few close friends at a given time. It is common to think of introversion as a negative trait, but there is a difference in the term when it's used as an evaluation versus as a description. It's not a measure of how good you are at conversation. The way I think of it in the Myers-Briggs is what you do to relieve stress: an extrovert will want to talk to people in order to think, and an introvert will want to think alone. Sometimes extroverts want to be alone, and sometimes introverts want to talk to someone else about a problem, but the moment of ---aahhh-- of stress relief, tends to come from social versus solitary exercises.
  10. Yes, I quite agree. It's no more than saying that even though a person is right-handed, they can still do things with their left hand as much as they feel the need to. As an ENFP, I've never considered myself to be the logical type, but using reason has become a very high value to me, and I find that the more I apply myself to it, the more I can do it, and my life improves accordingly. Now I look for people who can be expressive of emotions, but do so based on a well-reasoned philosophy. Yes, I find it useful for identification. One would think that knowing what one wants is a matter of only introspection, but that isn't necessarily true. The brain takes cues from the environment, and when the environment is consistently full of sacrificial cues, it can be hard to identify by introspection alone. I view the MBTI as a time-saver.
  11. When I started what I thought was a new thread I didn't realize there had been so much discussion on this topic in the past. Several interesting trends show up: 1. INTJs and INTPs are well represented on this forum. 2. There are many questions about the validity and purpose of the test. 3. The subject keeps coming up. There are probably good reasons for those. I postulate: 1. Rand laid out her system of philosophy in a style that particularly appeals to NTs. Based on a survey of the personalities and the events of her life, she likely was INTJ. 2. The criticisms of the tests are valid but that does not mean there is no value in the underlying concept. 3. Human behavior is classifiable, and the classifications are useful for identification. Because we do conceptualize whether we choose to or not, rational people continually seek to make those conceptualizations match reality. If people exist and are classifiable by behavior patterns, it makes sense to ask what those classifications are or rightly can be. We seem to be drawn to the task. I ask myself, "how do I decide what activities I want to pursue and what choices to make?" Maybe I am using the terms a little too loosely (one of the traits of an extrovert is understanding an idea by talking about it). The context I am coming from here is reforming my life from the framework of Objectivism after decades of theism. I used to judge my choice of activities based on whether I thought god wanted me to do something. I was so used to sacrifice as a way of life that it was not apparent to me at first what *I* wanted. I find that my MB type helps me predict what, in fact, does have the most value to me. I could go into a lot of detail on how the type description has helped me identify what is likely to be my highest values. Part of my purpose in raising this subject is to hopefully identify other people here who are NOT INTJ, and I'm especially looking for other NFs.
  12. *** Mod's note: Merged topic. - sN *** I have found this very useful to know when it comes to honing in on my value hierarchy. There is plenty of room for variation within it, but it continually amazes me how accurately it can predict a person's primary values. One of my favorite forms of entertainment is to figure out what type my friends are. And in fact, my type, ENFP, predicts that understanding my values is one of my primary values! There is a test here http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes2.asp. (I find that the way you interpret the questions can impact your score, though the pattern I see is that stray interpretations are usually in only one parameter. For example, an INTP might choose responses that come out as an INTJ. But examining the type descriptions can help iron out those differences.) Here are some good places to find descriptions of the types: http://keirsey.com/handler.aspx?s=keirsey&...&c=overview http://typelogic.com/ http://www.personalitypage.com/portraits.html So what is your type?
  13. Thanks! I wondered what happened to you. I guess we just crossed tracks. Appropriately, the Ayn Rand quote on the top of the page when I logged in today was that in a capitalist society, all relationships are voluntary. I think I am wrestling with two different issues here: one is about recasting the nature of the interactions I have in my relationships, and the other is about the secular/religious nature of the holiday. From what all of you have said, I think that the first is the most important, because the holiday itself is not that big a deal--I can do whatever I want. But the sense of obligation I still feel, versus the sense that my acts are all voluntary, is what I am really trying to replace, not Christmas itself. Thanks to everyone for your input.
  14. It is always a little confusing when something is new, so thanks for the perspective. I guess gift-giving is more about celebrating a relationship. I can make it clear to them that I am not celebrating the religion, but our relationship. Your replies have helped me see that it is not in the same category as the day-to-day exchanges I have been evaluating.
  15. Yah. Integration happens. There's a quote in OPAR--I'll see if I can find it--that talks about how much effort is required to do this kind of mental work.
  16. One of my favorite quotes from Ayn Rand, from Philosophy Who Needs It, is: "Values which one cannot identify, but merely senses implicitly, are not in one’s control. One cannot tell what they depend on or require, what course of action is needed to gain and/or keep them. One can lose or betray them without knowing it." I have been trying to identify my values explicitly so that I can formulate a meaningful hierarchy and central purpose. I have made a lot of progress, but it is surprisingly difficult. After all, one's values reside inside oneself, so it ought to be a simple matter of raising the question, "what is important to me?" But in practice, I have been so indoctrinated for so long that my life was not my own and that I ought to pursue certain prescribed values that it is hard to clearly identify what matters to me. One thing I have found that is helpful is hearing what is important to other people. One thing that's helped me is the definition of value: that which one ACTS to keep or gain. So I try to pay attention to what actual actions I take, rather than which ones I think I should take. For example, I want to think that health is important to me, so how does that measure up to my actions? It turns out fitness is more important to me than diet, because I make sure I work out hard every day, but then I eat whatever I want. Using this kind of thinking, I find that understanding the world around me is a very high priority, and so is my own self-esteem, which I develop by taking on projects that require my creative effort. Talking to rational friends gets very high billing. Those are some I've identified. One friend summarized it like this: 1. the highest value is my own life, and anything I need to do to sustain it. 2. my long-term self-interest 3. my short-term self-interest 4. passing interests of the moment That's a general guideline. I'm looking for more specific ideas. I would like to hear from others of you who have thought about this for yourself: what are your most important values, and how did you identify them in yourself?
  17. I totally get what you mean. I'm still new to O'ism, and I can never get my mind off exactly the subject you describe: trying to identify what is really going on in the world around me. It has its peaks and troughs--that is, times when many things seem to come together and make sense, and times when I rediscover a principle and have to go back and reinterpret everything in a new light. The idea that every action ought to have a reason, and one ought not to act without knowing why--wow, that's a tall order when you've spent a lifetime acting out of habit and bad, hodge-podge philosophy. One friend told me that when he encountered O'ism, he had the good fortune to be able to "go into a cave" for a couple of years and think, and didn't interact with anyone he used to know. I wish I could do that! Sometimes I want to tell everyone, "Please don't talk to me until I figure out why you should." Sometimes I pretty much do say that. It does start to come together after a while, though. You go through those peaks and troughs of effort, where nothing makes sense and takes a lot of work, and then where the picture comes into focus. Periodically a new concept will require revisiting everything from the ground up, but it gets easier on subsequent iterations.
  18. *** Mod's note: Merged into an existing thread with a similar discussion. - sN *** I am new to Objectivism after a lifetime of religious life, and it occurred to me today that we are approaching my first Christmas as an atheist. In the past I have often marked personal history by Christmases, as in the first Christmas with each child, or the first Christmas in a new house. But this time, it is my first Christmas in which I wish to not celebrate. My husband and children have all chosen to retain their religion. I really don't want to give unearned gifts. I'm deeply engrossed in trying to understand for myself and teach to my family what it means to have relationships in which one does not ask for or grant the unearned. Over and over I am trying to address the issue that no one has the right to start talking to me just because I'm present; they need to earn my attention by checking to see what I'm doing and if I'm up for an interruption. When everything I do is geared towards changing this behavior, why would I give an unearned gift and undermine my own point? I take no particular pleasure in a holiday that celebrates the antithesis of everything rational. Yet the children still enjoy the "magic" of the season, focused as it is on the "magical" bestowal of the unearned. (Come to think of it, Halloween is not dissimilar. I have a friend who, when children come to trick-or-treat at his house, demands candy of them. The first few get the shock; the subsequent ones tell each other not to go there.) How do you deal with gift-giving holidays without bestowing the unearned? How do you deal with holidays you don't want to celebrate when everyone around you is celebrating?
  19. The header of each page has a quote about an Objectivist idea. Where do these come from, and is there a central place where I can read them all?
  20. Thanks for the reply. It makes sense that there might be some things where your understanding of your performance can be better evaluated by someone else, especially when it comes to very complex tasks like human relations. When I want to give myself a boost, I take on a task that does not require anyone else's evaluation. Yesterday I made a patio by myself, and a friend kept telling me she was sorry she couldn't help. But I didn't want any help. I wanted the boost to my self-esteem of knowing I did it myself. Now that project is done, I find I want another one. There are also some people's judgments that matter more to me than others. Praise from someone I esteem highly packs a big wallop. Actually, it annoys me how big a wallop it packs. It seems more like a form of dependence. I think my gut response to do projects for myself is a way of answering my own question.
  21. What about "love languages"? Do you think there is any merit in that idea, or is it contrary to what really produces self-esteem? I have recently been wrestling with applying the ideas in this thread. As I learn to apply Objectivism to my life, I find that I have a tendency to want to replace my old friends, who validated my old, mystic, point of view, with new friends who validate my new, more objective, point of view. I have for many years thought of myself as someone whose love language is "words of affirmation." But if I want to be independent, I don't know how to deal with my own desire for affirmation. My gut response has been to be more selective in who I seek and accept affirmations from. But I ask myself, can I ever be free from the desire to validate a given activity of mine with a word of affirmation from someone else? After all, if no one happens to be available to give the affirmation, then I am not in control of that aspect of my life. The result is I would feel anxious. And indeed, that is what I observe in myself when my usual friends are not available to give me that affirmation. It annoys me that I feel anxious! I want to be independent of that need. Is there some deep, evolutionarily based need by which people *need* to have social validation, in other words, is it a real part of human identity? Or is it possible to be emotionally free from the need to have validation from others? Some of the other comments here have been about being able to market what one produces, but I am speaking of an emotional need for the independent development of self-esteem. Maybe another way to say it would be, from a very nitty-gritty, let's-get-out-and-do-it point of view, how does one create self-esteem? Another way to frame the question might be, if you were the last man on earth, would happiness be possible?
  22. This is a valuable thread. I especially like this comment from David: I'm wrestling with the idea of independence and dependence in relationships. It isn't really dependence to need human companionship, that's just an aspect of identity as a human being. Could a person be happy and fully human if they were unable to contact other humans, the marooned-on-an-island scenario? Or in other words, suppose one could not find anyone with whom they cared to exchange values, would happiness be possible? Or, would that situation, of not being able to find suitable humans or any at all, be inherently deficient for a member of the human species, as it would if, say, one had to live in an ugly environment all one's life, or on a subsistence diet, or something like that? I am considering that the central concept in properly independent relationships is not whether one needs to have any--we do-- but whether one chooses consciously to have a particular kind. Perhaps it is something like the food analogy--it is better to eat good food than poison, and sometimes it is better to be hungry for a while rather than risk eating something that would compromise one's life, but that does not negate the need for food.
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