Objectivism Online Forum

# nanite1018

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2. ## Cosmos

Okay Prometheus. "Time" is a measurement. It is, ultimately, a measurement of distance via the use of light (so the time it takes light to bounce between two mirrors may be deemed to be one picosecond (that'd be about .01 inches or so as the distance between mirrors). If I travel at a velocity that is non-zero in another frame of reference, the light travels at the same speed in my frame of reference and the frame of reference outside in which I am moving. This means that the light travels at the same speed between the mirrors, but is now having to take what is essentially a diagonal path instead of a perpendicular path between the two mirrors in my friends frame of reference. This means that my watch is going slower in his frame of reference than it was when I was stationary. Problem is, everything is about light. After all, photons are the bearer of the EM force, and the EM force holds together all atoms, and interacts with all the quarks in the nucleus of atoms, etc. And so ALL time (i.e. ticks of the clock between events) on the moving object is just a teensy bit slower than it is as the measured by the stationary observer. The reason is because time isn't a thing, it is measurement, and the objective facts of reality make that measurement depend on your velocity with respect to everyone else, and indeed on your acceleration. This is the same way "space" can bend; space is a generalized measurement between all pairs of points at a specific moment in time. But of course time already varies with velocity, and as it turns out for similar reasons (again, a result of light moving at the same speed no matter what), so does length. Really, a "straight" line in space is the shortest distance you can move between two points, but since you can't go faster than light, and light is effected by gravity, you ultimately have space be curved. It doesn't mean anything is actually curved. It means that your measurements of distances are going to make your "space" defined by all the distances between all the points, will have the shortest distance between two points be a curve when viewed from a higher-dimensional cartesian space.
3. ## The Logical Leap by David Harriman

I take him on his word there, that he wanted to ensure that Brook wasn't placed in an awkward position, or make it seem like he was at all connected to or supportive of Biddle's statement. My biggest concern over all this though is the nature of ARI. They seem to do a lot of good (a LOT), but if they don't support vigorous debate on philosophical issues, and actively seek to repress it (either on there own or as a result of directions from Peikoff), they lose a huge amount of respectability in my eyes. Objectivism explicitly demands independence and integrity, which the actions of ARI seem to be actively working against. I really don't understand ARI's reasoning, or Peikoff's (his especially, in not issuing an actual statement on the issue). If he cared about the Objectivist movement and the future of ARI, I think he would issue a detailed response on this whole McCaskey issue. His silence is clearly damaging both ARI and the broader Objectivist movement (in large part due to the negative impact on ARI from the elimination of McCaskey and the apparent elimination of Biddle as well, and what that bodes for the future for Objectivist intellectuals interested in working with them).
4. ## The Logical Leap by David Harriman

You have got to be kidding me. So Craig Biddle, editor of The Objective Standard, the only Objectivist journal at all supported by ARI, and from what I have read of his work a good Objectivist (in the sense that he seems to understand it and apply it well) is now being essentially booted out because he dared to express his opinion that Peikoff is treating McCaskey unfairly based on all the information he has available to him? This is either because Peikoff wants it so or because ARI is concerned that association with Biddle will damage them (even though he's a great Objectivist). This is a travesty, at least based on the information available (I highly highly doubt that Biddle cancelled his own events, so its pretty definite that he's being hung out to dry). I hope there is a public explanation of this, but on the surface it seems like anyone who disagrees with or criticizes Peikoff is being banished from the realm (to be somewhat dramatic about it).

7. ## Should we seek immortality?

The answer to both your questions is yes. I hope to, and will work towards, surviving until the heat death of the universe (and maybe beyond that, if we can find a way to create our own bubble universes). With even a modest growth rate in technology, we can expect to reasonably colonize the entire Milky Way Galaxy in less than 100 million years, which is less than 10% of the time it would take for Earth to become uncomfortable or uninhabitable due to the expansion of the Sun. It will be trivial to move about the Galaxy at that point. It will be easy for us to simply make new stars, or planets, or huge rotating colonies with gravity, or simply large computers built out of asteroidal material, within enough processing capacity to model whole worlds. It is quite possible that humanity will be able to survive for trillions of years, and if we're lucky, so might some of us posting on this board. I would say that is as close to "living eternally" as one could possibly ask for.

11. ## The Logical Leap by David Harriman

Okay, I get what you're saying now. But if the book is meant to be a guide to how you should actually perform an induction, then it probably isn't meeting its task if all it presents is the final logical form, and not the intermediate steps (as you can't get to the final form without those intermediate steps). Provide a guide to what a complete/finished induction would look like? Sure. But act as a guide to how you actually arrive at that point? Not so much. And I think McCaskey in his review was probably saying simply that if you want to provide a theory of induction that can be used to perform induction, then you need to address the more messy details of how one actually goes about it, rather than simply go over what the final form of a completed process of induction should look like (in much the same way as a course on deduction would be helpful if it gave you the meaning and final form of a deductive argument, but if it didn't cover the methods by which one would actually go about constructing a valid deductive argument, it wouldn't be nearly as helpful as it could have been). I'm going to finish the book this week, and post again when I'm finished with my review. As of the end of Ch.1 it seems quite good. I'm not sure about "best science book I've ever read" ("Hyperspace" by Michio Kaku was amazingly well written in my opinion, I've read it a half dozen times since I was ten), but we'll see.

13. ## Anthemgate

Well, perhaps some things like psychology or neuroscience or something like that are overly determinist. But the whole point of physics is prediction of the future from a given set of circumstances (it's how we know how to manipulate the physical world after all), so you can't blame it for having determinist theories (actually, they are roughly speaking stochastic, i.e. random, on the quantum level; they just limit to deterministic ones for very large systems). As for Anthemgate proper, I'm not surprised. I've listened to a number of Peikoff's podcasts, read "Fact and Value" (which while pretty good philosophically I think, was not written in a professional manner and had the air of authoritarianism to it, especially what I see as an overzealous application of its point to almost anyone who disagrees on even small things). And now with this, it simply solidifies in my mind that Piekoff, while having made a big contributions to Objectivism, has definitely become intolerant of any criticism whatsoever. OPAR was great, and I would love to really be able to dig into his work on rationalism, so I respect Peikoff. This behavior seen in his letter is almost laughably bad though.
14. ## What is a floating abstraction?

Well, dark matter and dark energy are names we assigned to things that our theory predicts should exist when we analyze our observations (of galaxy rotations in the first case, of the expansion of the universe in the second case). So we know what they do, but have no idea what they are composed of (of course, they could just as easily not exist, and our theory be wrong, but we just don't know quite yet which is going to come out in the end). As for space being curved, it depends on your definition. From my understanding, physicists use a very particular meaning, essentially it is the vector space which describes all points in relation to all other points, and a straight line in space is the shortest distance between two points. Turns out that if light is effected by gravity, and from special relativity the speed of light is as fast as anything can go, than of course the shortest distance between two points is the path that light would follow, and so a straight line is actually a curve, if you look at it from a Euclidean geometry. And so, space is "curved", in the sense that the shortest distance between two points is a curve. At least that's from what I understand, I haven't taken a formal course on general relativity yet (hope to next year), but that's the idea anyway. From that technical definition, it is perfectly all right that space is curved.

16. ## Light and the Law of Identity

They don't get contradicting results, that is the whole point. Take the double-slit experiment. If you set up some type of detector which interacts with the particles prior to them reaching the screen, you get two lines on your photographic plate. If you have no such detector, then you get an interference pattern exactly as if it was a wave moving through both slits at once. You don't get both two lines and an interference pattern or something like that, ever. Scientists have worked on explaining quantum mechanics for decades, and the commonly accepted explanation is something called decoherence, which can in broad strokes be described like this: the probabilistic nature of particles (in terms of their behavior) is leaked into the environment when measured (for example, we now know the position of the particle, but now the detector could be in a number of very slightly different states). This is why we see dramatic quantum effects when we manipulate subatomic particles but nothing on the macro-scale (the particles are tiny compared to the enormous systems measuring them, so their localization has no important effect on the macro-scale system). If you calculate the de Broglie wavelength of a baseball, it's something like 10^-24 meters (size of a proton, say). That doesn't seem like a contradictory position. And then of course there is the many-worlds interpretation and the Bohm interpretation, which have no such uncertainty within them at all, and every particle is always localized to a point and a particular momentum. Really, if we are talking about wave-particle duality, all that we are saying is that things at the subatomic level behave in a manner that is like a wave in some cases and like a particle in others. It all depends on context. It isn't wrong to say that something can behave in different ways in different situations, it is an expression of the nature of causality and thus the law of identity. Now, perhaps you have a problem with things behaving in a fundamentally undeterministic manner (that is, one can never know with certainty where a particle will end up, that sort of thing), but I still don't see that as a conflict with the law of identity.
17. ## BlackLight Power

I'm a physics major. While I haven't had time to review the website in detail, I can say that 1) there are some things on there I don't know enough about to judge without further study 2) his explanation of the double-slit experiment seems like it might not be obviously flawed 3) if he were able to create (somehow) a hydrogen atom with a higher binding energy than usual, that would in fact create energy. How much energy? Well honestly I have no idea, as I don't know how close to the proton his theory allows the electron to go, but it could be quite substantial. Though I tend to think its a crackpot idea with lots of physics terms thrown in.
18. ## I think I might have to leave objectivism

Eh, I don't know if you can get exactly the concepts of Objectivism in other philosophies. Your list gives a general idea, but it takes a lot more talking than saying "Objectivist, except I don't think government is necessary". Okay, well maybe not. But the latter is a more precise way of stating your position, to those in the know about Objectivism at least. You could condense transhumanist and capitalist together with "extropian", though that term has gotten less popular (google it, it's probably right up your alley), just fyi. DO NOT call yourself an Objectivist without some "except"s buddy, that is improper both epistemologically and morally. Another way is to say "I am a Bondist" if you like, though that would give no one any information about your philosophy, and would probably make people think you roleplay as 007 all the time, haha.
19. ## I think I might have to leave objectivism

A large proportion of my post was addressed to the topic you raise here (you quoted me, btw, I don't know if you realized that or not, thought you might have thought it was from James Bond). I gave a number of possible ways of saying the same thing. Saying "I am an Objectivist EXCEPT X" means that I am an Objectivist in every way excluding my opinion on X which is different from that of Objectivism. Indeed, the distinction is made absolutely clear. Saying "I am an Objectivist and an anarchist" would be totally wrong. Saying "I am an Objectivist except I don't believe a government is necessary" says two things: 1) In every issue except whether or not government is necessary, I agree, 2) Since the only place where I differ with Objectivism is that I do not believe a government is necessary, then obviously Objectivism holds that a government is necessary. The position of Objectivism is made clear, as well as where I disagree. It is the most concise and accurate way of representing someone like James Bond's (or possibly, as I am undecided on that issue, my own) philosophical position. I would not, if I used such a construction, be stealing any identifier. "I am an Objectivist" means "I agree with all the tenets of the philosophy of Objectivism." "Except I do not believe government is necessary" then modifies that to say this: "I agree with all the tenets of the philosophy of Objectivism but one (and those later conclusions which depend upon it)- Objectivism says that government is necessary, but I do not believe that to be the case." It muddies the waters no more than saying "I am heavily influenced by Objectivism." Indeed, it makes it very very clear the separation between my views and those of Objectivism. If one were to have a conversation with someone who had said that they are "influenced by Objectivism", they would then, in order to make clear where they differ, have to later say (for example, when the subject of government came up) "and here is where I disagree with Objectivism" which is exactly the same as saying "I am an Objectivist except I don't think government is necessary." Using concepts in this way is perfectly valid. It is indeed the whole reason for the concept "except": It enables you to shorten your manner of speaking without loss of information or clarity. Also, I never mentioned "leaving Objectivism", as that is absurd (for the reasons you stated).
20. ## I think I might have to leave objectivism

James Bond, I am in a similar position as you, and have decided to say "I'm heavily influenced by Objectivism" instead of "I'm an Objectivist". I mean, if, like me, you think the argument for the necessity of government is flawed, but believe the whole of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, and the derivation of the principle barring force and homesteading as the origin of property, then you are in agreement with vast majority of Objectivism. In fact, the only areas where you could possibly disagree are a) who exactly would be enforcing the law (what the law should be would be in common if you accept the Objectivist derivation of rights and property) and foreign policy (maybe, though you might also agree with the Objectivist position, given that we do in fact have a government in place along the present lines). These are two subcategories of the regions of a complete philosophy of life, and if you agree with the whole rest of Objectivist thought, I would say "heavily influenced by Objectivism" or "Objectivist-esque" or possibly, though not necessarily permissible would be "anarcho-Objectivist" if you really wanted to shorten it up (though I'm not sure if the latter would be good, to an Objectivist it would make clear exactly where you break with Objectivism, and that you agree with the rest; to the rest of the world it probably wouldn't be helpful, and possibly bad for the spread of the philosophy of Objectivism, as it might attach it with anarchists, which Objectivists are not). Perhaps you could simply say this: "I'm an Objectivist, except I don't think there needs to be a government with a monopoly over a geographic region in order to enforce rights." That makes it very clear where you part ways. I do expect anyone who is an anarcho-capitalist should refrain from calling themselves an Objectivist, without making it clear where they differ or at least making it clear there are some differences. As for that "academic approach", do you mean saying something like "I am a conceptualist empiricist, a rational egoist, and laissez-faire capitalist minarchist" instead of "Objectivist? Kind of a mouth-full, though it does give people an idea of where you're coming from for those who are unfamiliar with Objectivism.
21. ## John Galt destroys motor: Evil act?

Interesting. I always believed that he had purposely taken it apart, at least just enough so it wouldn't work and wouldn't be able to be reconstructed, and then left. Its quite possible I missed the part where he discusses the motor he left behind. I think I might have gotten the idea from the passage you quoted dream_weaver, and another one I think where it says that there was just enough information to know what it did, but not enough to build it. I always thought it had been intentional, but I suppose it is also possible that the total collapse of the Twentieth Century Motor Company almost immediately after its transformation into a commune-esque thing would have been enough to destroy the machine. It is actually better that way than the way I had it in my head, as it means that Galt really didn't care if he left it behind or not, as he knew that his motor would never be put into use, because of the moral depravity of the owners of the company. Haha, you just made AS even better than it already was. Thanks!
22. ## Bioshock Infinite

I think that, whatever the message of the game is, it will be beautifully executed. I'll love the game if only because of the setting: a flying city. If anything could embody the power of the mind of man, that's it (even more, I dare say, than a city at the bottom of the ocean). I've even become fascinated by the idea for the last few days, researching lighter-than-air craft, helicopters, etc. Apparently a floating city is actually possible with an enclosed geodesic dome with a diameter of approximately 1 km (worked out by Buckminster Fuller several decades ago). Boy, would that be something to see. Totally impractical as an actual money-making enterprise, but perhaps worth the cost nonetheless if only as a sort of living piece of art- a testament to human potential greater than any skyscraper. Of course, this is exactly why the city was built in the game, at least in part (it seems, from what I've read). The game's message seems like it will be a critique of jingoism, which is less appealing to me as a topic than an examination of a semi-Objectivist society but there are some interesting ways to go about it. For example, there may be some, those that they call the "anarchists", who really simply want Columbia to be a symbol about the triumph of the human spirit, and find the jingoist attitude and slavish worship of even the worst excesses of the American government (including the eugenics programs) as disgusting and collectivist. Their attempts to overthrow the government of Columbia and end such programs could be critiqued as "anarchist" even if not actually "bad". That would be what I would like it to be about of course. I'm not sure what it will end up being about, but I think the setting alone will make it a tremendously enjoyable game to play. Bioshock was similar- the setting itself was enough to make it a wonderfully enjoyable game. As for the philosophical message behind that game- I think it was, at worst, a critique of extremism in any philosophy, though I think that it was really a matter of a man who gave up on reason rather than let go of his dream of what Rapture was. I love the Bioshock series, and am eager to play Bioshock Infinite.
23. ## Is it immoral to keep getting refunds for books you've bought?

Yes, what I was meaning, and what I think I made explicit in my last post, is that the set of all legal actions is larger than the set of moral ones for any given person. So when I was saying that "morality is a subset of legality", I really meant to say "the set of moral actions is subsumed within the set of legal ones," which is a true statement. You are correct that if I decide an action is moral, it is necessarily legal (as any action which involves the initiation of force is necessarily not in my rational self-interest, by my nature as a human being). So of course, no one would ask "is it legal?" and then see if it is moral. But in determining what is in my self-interest, I can and do consider, at least implicitly, if I am going to be initiating force (such ideas essentially never cross my mind, so it might be subconscious, but its there). I hope I made it clearer. I understand full well the derivation of law/rights from morality. Law can be said to delimit the maximum range of possibly moral choices (no matter who you are, violating rights is necessarily not in your self-interest, as opposed to studying physics or reading SF, which are only in the self-interest of specific people). I hope I made the point I was making more clear. I was speaking loosely before, which was inappropriate, I hope I have corrected it.