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Everything posted by Tyco

  1. CITR was a great read, something witty or interesting on just about every page. Now that Salinger has passed away, I wonder if a stockpile of unpublished material will come to light. I think he planned to publish a new book ten or twenty years ago but a reporter got an early scoop on the story and reviewed a much older, obscure text with apparently the same title, which pissed Salinger off enough to scrap the new publication.
  2. Rand's definition of music sounds rather peculiar. However I just took it to mean music must have 'rhythm' (which is what periodic is alluding to). I came up with my own definition of music a while ago. It was something like 'Sound-concepts organized linearly for entertainment.' Sound-concepts because music is still music in its written form, or in the composers head, or the audience's memory etc Organized so to discount the sounds of nature etc. Linearly because 'time' is not a primary here - when written down music has order but not duration; and when performed actual duration can vary Entertainment so as to discount obviously non-musical things like dial-tones I suppose you could say this doesn't discount things like plays but I would argue that its not really 'sound-concepts' being organized, primarily, but linguistic units or actions Additionally I think the traditional melody + harmony + rhythm definition theoretically applies but not in the snobbish way its usually brought up ('hiphop isn't music, there's no melody' etc). Think of a graph representing sound: x axis is melody; y axis is harmony; z axis is rhythm. Rhythm is the timing, melody is order of notes, and harmony is relationship of notes (intervals). Even if you just have a single ,ascending, recurring beep, it still has rhythm because there's a pattern in the timing, it still has melody because one beep is following another, and it still has harmony because there is an interval between each beep. Even a single beep and nothing else would have timing (start and end) and melody and harmony values that are set to 'zero' as it were. Anyway i'm not saying it's easy to define. Rand's definition is interesting insofar as that she was a great mind and in the quest for an answer, she could probably give some insight, if not the final answer.
  3. Tyco

    Labor Laws

    The account I read in either C:TUI or a von Mises text was that child labour is better than child starvation, and at the start of the industrial revolution children worked in factories with relatively good/safe conditions (I mean they're children for christ sake). But then the government passed laws banning child labour - which didn't change the fact that children would rather work than starve, just meant they now had to work in the shadier, illegal establishments which had much worse conditions and no regard/liability for their safety.
  4. It's easy enough to turn the tables in arguments like that: Say Objectivists only believe in something when it's a rational, objective fact. Ask if they do the same? At this point they'll either need to concede that they believe in something irrational/non-objective, or they'll need to agree that the only worthwhile opinion is something held to be a rational, objective fact. Of course you still need to present the CASE for something being an objective fact but at least you'll now be able to do so. Yeah, easy enough... in theory. In practice it's very hard to argue in these circumstances where the other party is getting so emotional and there's even a friendship at stake. That's what I've found, anyway.
  5. Indeed, the Na'vi forest is like the Garden of Eden and they even live under the Tree of Life. The Na'vi have never been tempted by the proverbial tree of knowledge (technology) so continue to exist in blissful peace and harmony.
  6. Well ok you are right, and 'grant' is definitely a poor choice of word. What I was getting at is that the lack of rigorous laws/constitution to safeguard individual rights does not negate the principle itself (the principle of how you should treat others, which is essentially synonymous with 'rights,' although I was using the word to refer to the legal implementation)
  7. Exactly. Rights, including property, are one thing: politically sanctioned entitlements. The principles from which they are derived are another. While there may be a lack of a legitimate governing body to grant rights, that does not negate the underlying principles: ie. the proper way to interact with fellow men. It was immoral for the corporation to overlook that the Na'vi had found this tree before them and converted it into their homestead. By initiating force they undermined the whole basis of property: that your labour, hence your possessions, are an extension of your self and thus part of your life. Every man has an unequivocal (natural) right to his life regardless of any other circumstance. If I find a stick or a bone and decide to use it as a splint, club, lever or whatever, it becomes my possession through the application of my mind. I imagine people might object that what where does this 'finders keepers' rule end? Can I claim the whole forest I hunt? but 1. the Na'Vi were not even claiming their forest they were tolerating outsiders and claiming their homestead 2. the whole, vast forest cannot be under the 'application of the mind' of a few hunters 3. that's why you have a legitimate government to settle these more complex matters. the matter in this case is relatively simple
  8. Two interpretations. One common premise: the artist is trying to convey something relevant to life on Earth. Interpretation A: Cameron wants to inspire an appreciation of nature in the audience. To do this he devotes most of the film-making to rendering in 3D CGI the beautiful world of Pandora. Pandora is like the wilderness of Earth, but sexed up to make it more appealing, in other words, romanticised. Pandora has jungle, but the trees and plants are larger and more magnificent than those on Earth. The people and all other lifeforms on Pandora can connect with a sort of neural 'Plug'n'Play' biological USB cord, which allows for healing of ailments, sharing of knowledge, storage of ancestral memories, and symbiotic person-animal connections/relationships. The people can not only ride on the back of horse-like creatures, directing them with thought alone, but can even fly on the back of bird-like creatures. If they fall from the sky, the forest flora will probably cushion their landing. The people are still threatened by predators but since they are intelligent they adapt to avoid danger, thereby negating the need to cull the beasts. They all live happily in a big homestead with all the food they need provided by nature. Once the outsider (and the audience) has fallen in love with Pandora and its people, a threat is introduced in the form of people who are ignorant of this value and not adverse to destroying it when it's an obstacle to some other value. The outsider and some other like-minded outsiders try to convince the aggressors that what they are destroying is not merely a forest but a goldmine of biodiversity with huge scientific potential and the assets of an idyllic civilisation. They wont listen so heroic battle ensues to protect this greater value from the unjust aggressors. Interpretation B: Cameron wants to inspire opposition to industrialisation in favour of preserving ancient culture and landscape. To do this he presents an exaggerated vision of pastoral bliss with a society content enough to reject outside trade, and pits this against corporate greed for a precious mineral. The corporate people were prepared to peacefully negotiate for permission to mine on the native land, but only as a face-saving operation to avoid 'bad PR,' not for any principled moral reason. The corporate industrialists have not established equilibrium with their home environment, and as such are prepared to endlessly consume/exhaust natural resources wherever they go, symbolised by the name 'Unobtanium,' meaning their thirst (greed) will never be quenched. When negotiation fails they use a private army to seize the land, and the film shows the horror this causes the native inhabitants. Stirred by a sense of injustice, a few corporate mercenaries defect to the natives and lead them to victory in the ensuing war. The surviving corporate people are then captured and humanely sent packing - because the primitive tribal people have a greater capacity for mercy than the ruthless corporate men. The main character starts the film in a wheel chair but ends as a walking native, implying that technology is morally crippling the human race and unless we get more in touch with nature and return to primitive ways of living, with tribal togetherness, we are doomed to become miserable monsters. Industrialism is a black hole, bound to destry everything because it knows no limits such as rights, justice or mercy. Or at the very least we must learn to respect any cultures of that kind, or indeed any cultures different to our own, because the value we don't appreciate still exists for those peoples. ------------ Hmm. I think the movie clearly didn't have much to say about rights, because it never elaborated on the rights of anybody or the depict any sort of judicial system. It quite simply aimed to induce a sense of injustice to get the audience emotionally involved in the film - we can argue all day about what rights theoretically were breached but the fact is most people in the world do not even understand this collective vs. individual issue like Objectivists do. I'm sure James Cameron doesn't. I quite frankly do not think he is especially philosophical -- remember Sarah Connor's 'you men, you don't know what it's like to nurture a child…' speech in T2? Or the class stuff in Titanic? Laughable. His films are all about the aesthetics and Avatar certainly delivers on that front. The corporation is the stock villain in this case but it could just as easily have been the American government - except that having ACTUAL U.S. marines gunned down during battle as the bad guys would have been totally untenable for a Hollywood movie. The nature thing is not particularly deep either, I mean these people WORSHIP nature, and then at the end we quite literally get DEUS EX MACHINA (or should that be deus ex nature?) with all the animals uniting to defeat the mercenaries. The characters and themes are archetypal but only to make the story more compelling, not for any deep philosophical commitment (or if there was one, it failed miserably).
  9. Basically the sex scenes early on in the novels are degrading, violent and otherwise 'weird' because the characters have not yet shaken free the shackles of altruism. They live in a world so twisted that certain aspects of their own behavior are perverse. Once they come to an understanding (ie. explicitly realize Objectivist principles) of morality, and make life better for themselves, their relationships become much more... 'lovey dovey.' They are equals, equally in love with each other. So anyway, the chain comment comes early in the novel, and should be interpreted as a comment on the historical understanding of femininity - something that would be corrected in an enlightened society with more women like Dagny. She swaps for a Rearden metal bracelet because she's more impressed with industrial genius than with a man's ability to 'buy' her.
  10. what subject are you studying, if you don't mind me asking?
  11. Why don't you switch to a more practical course with better job prospects? Philosophy, journalism etc. are interesting subjects but do you really need a university to learn about them? (from what you've told us about your philosophy class: no).
  12. *** Mod's note: merged topics. - sN ** I think this is the most inspiring thing I've heard all year. http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/...ship?CMP=AFCYAH Basically increased control of the web and now malicious subterfuge have prompted Google to shutdown its operations in China, saying the 'feasibility of doing business in China' needs to be reviewed. In the words of the SF2 announcer - "Perfect!"
  13. I was close to depression when I was at university. Depression is a medical condition that doesn't readily go away, as far as I can gather. Once I left and discovered Objectivism I felt much better. University seems to have a habit of bringing people to breaking point. The underlying ideologies of why you're there, what you're studying, heavily conflict.
  14. Hmm, the post I made in this topic seems to have disappeared...
  15. You cannot violate rights without initiating force. BUT, you can initiate force without violating rights. The rights need to exist, as a political/social/governmental sanction, in order to be violated. If they don't exist, however, initiation of force is still illogical for the reason Peikoff gave. Well let's say there's a man who hates you and would never trade with you. You want something he has. The only way you can get it is by using force. No violin playing. How is it not to your benefit to use force here? Possible answers: 1. You'll go to hell. But there is no such thing. 2. You'll lose the respect of society. But what if there is no other society. 3. You'll feel guilty. But what if you're incapable of that emotion. Or you forget (like dude in Memento) 4. You'll have harmed another human. But your morality is not based on altruism. 5. You'll have denied the autonomy of another individual, and thus lowered yourself to that status of brute/beast. Hmm it's a tough one alright. I suppose when trading with someone you logically must accept their freedom to say "no" (unlike the thief in the example I just gave), otherwise it's not really trading. So therefore we can say: by contradicting the principle of trading, we do not simply lose the potential trade of one person, we undermine the fundamental benefit of being human. Which is obviously not in our self-interest. But healthcare and rights are not equivalent concepts here. An equivalent would be more like "When they deny that 2 + 2 = 4, they deny the entire science of mathematics." or "When they insult one woman with a sexist remark, they insult the whole female species." or "When they do A, they damage B to target C, and since XY&Z also depend on B, they also target XY&Z." Rights can only logically exist as universal and inalienable, otherwise they're just privileges. When you remove one person's rights, the universality and inalienability is lost.
  16. I think there are two somewhat separate questions here. 1. Why should we not initiate force against others? 2. Why should we not violate the rights of others? Peikoff's example answers perfectly the first question. The second question may involve or allude to the first, but it introduces the new concept of rights: that is, a principle that defines and sanctions mans actions in society. So why must we uphold this political entity of rights universally? I've presented a logical argument above but I think we're forgetting to mention an important Galtism: "When they violate the rights of one, they violate the rights of all." Essentially, you should not violate anyone's rights because in doing so you'll be violating your own rights.
  17. Well to clarify, I meant you cannot be the ONLY person entitled to vote, because then voting/democracy doesn't exist. Which is a logical extreme because of course there are logical reasons why you might want SOME other people not to vote. With rights, however, the logic of the concept is lost as soon as you discount one other human. It's not an argument from consistency as much as it's an argument from non-contradiction. A is A. If you only respect your own or certain peoples' rights, then what you respect is not really a right (but a privilege I suppose). Like I was saying, it's not an argument from consistency (as you put it). All men, unlike all animals, are rational beings. As Objectivists, we are objective. We know that as rational beings, we cannot gain anything when force is used against us in human relations; we know that using force against others is to deny their rationality (and the resulting fact that trade is the best way to deal with them). Therefore we support the idea of rights, because they secure our life in society. Objectively, we know these rights must be inalienable, which means subject to all humans at all times, because otherwise they would be merely privileges granted on arbitrary whim. We cannot secure our lives on a system of whim, it is never in our self-interest to do so. When replacing rights with whim you may gain a short-term benefit, but the long term effect is much graver. You could argue that privileges can be granted using some sort of rules and standards, not just arbitrarily tossed out, but when you got to the root of those standards you would find them to be based on whim.
  18. Well that's the nature of rights. It's like saying why can't you maintain franchise for yourself while denying anyone else the vote - because what you have then is not a vote, the whole concept of voting/democracy has been contradicted. Rights, as a political entity, require a basis of mutual respect. That's why I analysed the question of why you shouldn't harm someone even in the absence of any political rights. Because, yes, without that analysis there's an unexplained shift from 'my benefit' to 'benefit of everyone.'
  19. All (proper) rights are political protection against force (the use of force initiated against you). So let's take the rights and the politics out of it: what is wrong with the initiation of force against another individual? Say you live on an island with one individual, no other society or authority, and you deliberately hurt them for whatever reason. You will have ignored part of reality - that this individual is a rational being and as such the optimal way to interact with them is by trading/collaborating - therefore you will have acted irrationally. All irrational acts, under Objectivism, are immoral; any ignoring of reality, any refusal to think, is immoral. You will of course have deprived yourself of a companion, probably feel guilty, risked retribution, etc. but those reasons are secondary to the core irrational nature of the act. So once we understand that, it's easy to grasp why we create rights in our societies. And of course, it's common sense that rights must be mutually respected, you cannot rationally contend to maintain rights for yourself while denying the rights of others. That irrational contention would, again, be immoral (and probably impractical too but that's secondary). A millionaire with everything he needs/wants could still lose it all without rights.
  20. I mentioned this to a group of people, the phenomenon of 'population control' nutters popping up in all the global-warming internet debates (newspaper comment sections mainly). One person replied 'it's based on facts though' to which I mentioned something about these supposedly overpopulated countries needing to catch up with Western farming practices to feed more people i'm not an expert on this issue, but his reply was "I wouldn't say Western farming was necessarily any better than 3rd world countries" "Why not?" "Their agriculture employs more people." i mean what can you say to that?
  21. but like i said, there is no real argument there in the below statement "If you can't figure out why healthcare for people who can't afford it is a human rights issue, I'm not patient enough to try to enlighten you and you're not open-minded enough to be informed." the word 'IF' changes everything without IF, the first word, then yes it would be simply part of an argument from intimidation or ad hominem but the fact is 'if' is part of the statement, making it an argument by itself, and this type of statement crops up in many other circumstances. it's a logical contradiction because it contains a stolen concept fallacy. that's just a technical explanation for something that's common sense
  22. I suppose it's 'smuggled concept' "Stolen concept fallacy - (Smuggled concept) Using a concept to support an argument while denying a concept which the supporting concept logically depends on." The billboard is giving credit to God Credit logically depends on identity But the the concept of identity is negated by the concept of anonymity
  23. I've heard that phrase many times. Usually phrased as: "If you have to ask, then I'm not going to explain." or "If you don't understand, I can't teach you." it's just straight forward stupidity. There's no argument there at all. There's no point in teaching or explaining to people who DO understand. I suppose if you want to get technical, it's a smuggled concept fallacy, because the concept of teaching/explaining depends on the concept of ignorance - this arguer wants to deny that dependancy while still using the noble concept of teaching in her/her statement. As if you could teach the already taught.
  24. So basically, in a state of nothingness, ie. totally empty space, nothing can happen (any reaction requires matter and/or energy). Therefore the big bang or any other origin theory is logically inexplicable But if you strip that nothingness of its laws, then it is no longer true that 'nothing can happen' From here new laws and entities will come into existence (or not), perishing when they contradict each other, and thus a consistent logical universe will bootstrap itself into existence I wonder if Rand ever pondered this. I'm thinking of that quote where she said she knew a better proof for the existence of God than previously expressed, although she thought it was still wrong and didn't tell anybody. I can think of a God-proof derived from this Jocaxian Nothingness idea (clue: in this case God would be created too...). Whether its right or wrong doesn't matter though because I concluded long ago that even if God exists, Objectivism would still be the proper code of ethics
  25. I, personally, really like this elegant explanation for the origin of the universe. I will read over all the objections when I have time.
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