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Dante

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Everything posted by Dante

  1. But your emotional attachments to some individual (lets say) only exist as long as you do; it can't outlive its usefulness. The emotional attachment is useful in that you've formed it with someone who is good for your life and well-being. That attachment is to the person in general, and not just to them so long as you're around. The relationship is something more than a conscious trade of mutual values, some kind of mutual backscratching. It's a trader relationship in a much more metaphorical sense, in that you should only emotionally invest in someone who will be good for you in return, but the emotional investment itself isn't just in the aspects of the person that you can calculate will benefit you. You come to care about their well-being in general, and the rational thing to do at that point is to act on those values. Does that address your concern? It's definitely a tough question.
  2. The point is that mental thought and money spent in this way are being spent to promote one's happiness. Caring about others means that their well-being directly affects one's own; it becomes integrated into one's structure of values. If you care about someone a lot, say you love them, then they're pretty damn high in that structure, and harming their well-being in order to die in luxury would be a betrayal of your own values. It would be passing up the opportunity to gain something you really care about, so that you can spend the money on something you kind of care about. How exactly is that selfish?
  3. You're absolutely right about allowing them to fail, and Objectivists and free market economists in general have opposed the bailouts on precisely the moral grounds you seem to be indicating here. If you search this forum a bit you'll find quite a lot of criticism of the bailouts at the time, and many people who also agree with you about the Occupy movement having select good points when they criticize corporations being in bed with government. The problem there, of course, is that more government isn't the solution, nor is blaming the wealthy qua wealthy.
  4. The fundamental requirement of positive values is that they serve your life, meaning that the values that you choose and pursue should be beneficial to you on this earth. However, this does not necessitate an attitude of not caring what happens after you die. For example, if you have a romantic partner they should benefit your life (treat you well, make you happy, etc.), but it's perfectly rational that once you care about them and their well-being, you still care about their condition after you're gone. You should make your emotional investments in things and people that are good for you, but once you're invested it's natural and proper to care about the future of those things even after you're gone,
  5. In the fall I'll be attending the wedding of two of my good friends from college. They are both Christians and quite religious, and it will definitely be a Christian ceremony. I'm very excited about it, because it'll be a celebration of a beautiful thing: the two of them joining their lives together. I'll be happy to sit through all the religious stuff, because the celebration isn't about me; it's about them, and they want their religious beliefs included in the ceremonies, which is quite understandable. As far as the group prayer stuff you brought up, I never lower my head when I'm attending something and there's a mass prayer, because I don't want to be pretending to be participating in something that I'm not, and I'd think that those actually praying wouldn't want me to either. My friends all know and are comfortable with my lack of religious belief, and with the other people there I just won't care. It's unclear from your post, but if with your siblings you're talking about people who aren't religious but submitted to a religious wedding for the sake of their families, that is something that should make you uncomfortable, more than uncomfortable actually. The wedding is about the two people getting married, and no one else, and it's pretty messed up to have one of the most important events of one's life infused with beliefs one doesn't share for the sake of family members.
  6. Also George Reisman and Northrup Buechner in economics, and C. Bradley Thompson in Political Science.
  7. There is no such emphasis. Induction is a vitally important means to knowledge. There is no deduction and logical reasoning without induction, and I would challenge you to point to a statement in the Objectivist literature that contradicts this.
  8. Objectivism is not aiming for something as narrow as economic or tradable value when discussing productivity. This is clear when Rand clarifies that raising children and maintaining a home is a valid centralizing productive purpose. The key to this discussion of productivity is the value of purpose in human life, one or a few centralizing and organizing purposes. If you agree on the importance of that, that's most of the discussion right there. Also, this whole discussion of the adoption of Objectivism strikes me as largely an irrelevant issue. The ideas in question are right there. We don't need some sort of 'barometer' to see whether the ideas are likely to be good ones. We can read them directly and judge for ourselves. It just seems to me that attempting to criticize Objectivism in any way other than discussing the ideas themselves is a waste of time.
  9. If you can get your hands on it, you should read the essay on The Fountainhead's rape scene in Essays on Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead: http://www.amazon.co...w/dp/0739115782. It does an excellent job of breaking down the 'rape' scene, illustrating that it was not an actual rape and what Rand was trying to accomplish with the scene. To clarify the point, Dominique does think of it as 'a rape' later on in the novel; her inner monologue does use that word. The essay critically examines this as well. Rand herself said in a Q&A period that this was not a rape; that Dominique wanted Roark and Roark knew it without a doubt.
  10. First thing's first. If you're going to pretend that asking whether I've read The Fountainhead was a genuine question rather than a rhetorical ploy, you probably shouldn't then link to a conversation you and I had last year about The Fountainhead. Just a thought. Of course. What more direct, reliable link could he have than his own response? It all comes back to an artist's purpose in creating art. If it is simply to create according to his own vision, he shouldn't consider others at all. If instead he wants it to communicate something, he should make sure that it does so, and the primary reference point for this, too, is himself. When have I said this? My first post in this thread starts off by saying that if the goal is expression and communication rather than purely bringing one's vision to life, then one must consider the needs of communication. "If.... then...." That's the only way 'musts' ever come about.
  11. I've read The Fountainhead, thanks, which is why I can confidently say that though Roark spends much of the book promoting aesthetic innovation and independence from social convention, he would never dream of advocating attempting to be 'independent' of the objective principles which govern architecture. What makes him an incredible architect is the fact that his vision is oriented not towards the requirements of social convention but to the requirements of the building site, building materials, the building's purpose, etc. The fact that he understands the difference is what makes him good. Consider one of the earliest scenes from the novel, where Roark is describing the idiocy of, say, the flutings on the columns of the Parthenon. They're idiotic because their original purpose was to hide the joints in wood, and with the Parthenon they were put on a marble structure. A daring and innovative architect at that time might very well be praised for suggesting that they shouldn't have put flutings on the Parthenon; we presume someone like Roark certainly would have suggested this. However, we would not similarly praise someone who suggests removing the flutings from a wooden structure. In that case, they are there for a purpose related to the medium of construction; we would just call that person a bad architect. The difference is the presence of a purpose (hiding the joints in wood), and objective principles governing how that can and cannot be done. Similarly, if we have a musical composer attempting to, say, create suspense with a certain passage, he is free to disregard everything done before him, but he is not free to disregard the fact that only certain things that he writes will have this effect on the audience. If he wishes to accomplish this purpose, he can't set about doing it just any way he wants; he has to have an intuitive grasp of what types of chords and progressions evoke suspense, and what kinds instead invoke sadness, or joy, or what have you. What makes a musician good, creative, independent, etc is the fact that he (intuitively) understands these principles and can use them to create completely original work that has the intended effect on the listener. DonAthos' example above is in the same vein. If you want to create a building that makes the person who comes in feel grand and important, there are certain principles you must follow. If instead, you want to make him feel small and insignificant, there are other principles you need to adhere to (to see these principles in action, all you usually have to do is go visit the nearest church). If you want to have this effect but disregard the corresponding principles, you're not being innovative and original; you're a bad architect. Incidentally, Rand also throws a few examples of this into The Fountainhead to contrast with Roark; remember Lois Cook, the supposedly brilliant writer who disregards not just social convention, but also any and all principles of literary composition, and ends up with passages like "toothbrush in the jaw toothbrush brush brush tooth jaw foam dome in the foam Roman dome come home home in the jaw Roman dome tooth toothbrush toothpick pickpocket socket rocket..."? The reader of TF can easily tell the difference between Roark, who disregards all social convention but pays the most rigorous and exacting attention to the requirements of the building site, the materials, the building's purpose, etc and Cook, who disregards absolutely everything and writes garbage. Yeah, cause those are the only two possible meanings I could have had. ...I like jazz, despite your presumptions. My post was not intended to 'diss' jazz or music that I don't like, as you seem determined to interpret it. Part of what makes a jazz musician good is the ability to convey and invoke specific emotions in the listener, which requires a good intuitive grasp of exactly the kinds of principles I'm talking about. In an improvisational setting like jazz it's even more impressive to see it done.
  12. The point of the question is this: how do the firms determine which scents are masculine and which are feminine? Do they make decisions in reference to objective principles that we can all understand and apply? If so, what are these principles? Or do they simply go by tradition, conventional wisdom, and marketing trials to see what the public at large responds positively to? If the latter is the case, then there is no objective definition of a feminine vs a masculine scent, at least not one being used in the manufacture of colognes and perfumes. Okay, great. You accept the options that are marketed to you specifically as a shortcut, and then choose within those options. That's great; I do that with most products too. But there are plenty of times that I think that the paradigm presented to me is wrong, and I choose instead to exercise my independent judgment. One would think that sort of behavior would be applauded here. Of course, that is not always appropriate, specifically when there are objective principles underlying the paradigm which is being rejected. In that case, one's 'independent vision' is in conflict with reality. That seems to be what you are arguing here, but in order to do so you must put this particular paradigm on objective grounds rather than simply those of tradition and appealing to popularity and marketability. Can you?
  13. Metaphysically, if you choose any particular man and examine him, there is no characteristic that has some essence hidden away in it. He just is the way he is. Rationality is a better essential trait when forming a definition of man because it underlies and explains more characteristics of man than opposable thumbs. Thus, epistemologically, it is better suited to the task of defining man. However, metaphysically, for any particular man he has his rationality and his opposable thumbs and his hair and his eyes and they are all equally aspects of that man.
  14. Consider the relationship between the more intelligent person and the less intelligent person in a free market economy. Is the less intelligent person harmed by the presence of the smarter guy? Not at all; in fact, he only benefits from the smart guy being there, inventing, producing, trading, etc. If human interactions are restricted to voluntary trades of value for value, then more smart people, which equals more 'inequality' from the dumber guy's perspective, makes him better off, not worse. This whole view of inequality of talents as harmful to the less talented flies in the face of reality. People aren't owed anything by virtue of the fact that they were born a certain way, and other people around them being born with more talent, intelligence, etc is good for them, not bad.
  15. Rand's goal in writing it was to illustrate her philosophy through fiction. It is that philosophy that Mr. Allison wishes to orient his business principles towards. Who cares if the reading he uses to communicate that philosophy is fiction? Would you honestly be more comfortable if he just assigned OPAR instead, because it's 'not fiction?'
  16. It's well known as the source of his business philosophy. Would you be offended if a Mormon institution required you to read the Book of Mormon to be an upper level manager?
  17. All of his executives, yes; not every single employee.
  18. Well, given that the Fed exists as a central planning agency and has to choose some goal, I think this is among the better ones, but I certainly wouldn't argue for it over a commodity standard. This policy still requires the government to consciously target a particular level of the money supply, rather than allowing the market to coordinate activity. We have all the massive informational problems here that central planning always has, meaning that the Fed will always be responding to outdated and inaccurate GDP numbers. One further problem is that the Federal Reserve as it is currently structured cannot credibly commit to a given automatic policy. When looking at the effects of monetary policy, it makes a huge difference whether the monetary meddling is anticipated or unanticipated. In short, unanticipated monetary shocks will have much larger effects than anticipated ones. This means that if the Federal Reserve does gain some credibility in its track record of following some fixed policy, it then has a much higher incentive to deviate from said policy, because it can catch people by surprise and temporarily boost GDP by much more. There is a huge economics literature studying precisely this problem of credible commitment, and there is no easy solution.
  19. Capital in a production function does not refer to financial capital such as equity and bonds but rather physical capital such as land, plants, machinery, etc. A production function models how physical capital is combined with labor to produce physical output. Physical capital itself is notoriously hard for economists to quantify and calculate. It is difficult to valuate the capital in use by a company, quantify depreciation of capital, etc. There are forms of capital that are sometimes relevant but are nonphysical, such as reputational capital. It's one of the most difficult issues in empirical economics. If you're further interested, here is a link with probably more than you ever wanted to know on the subject: http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/16/16/43734711.pdf
  20. Two words: John Allison. An incredibly successful former CEO of BB&T bank, who is also an explicit Objectivist. His bank refused to participate in eminent domain loans and negative amortization mortgages, specifically referencing the Objectivist principles of private property and the trader principle. He gives lectures on business philosophy based on Rand's work. Here he is defending profits on John Stossel's show; his response to a question about making 7 million dollars in the previous year was, "Well, actually John, I think I earned it."
  21. In short, violence is not practical as a method for gaining values. However, it can be practical as a method of defending values against those that would take them from you by force.
  22. http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/us-iran-tied-terror-plot-washington-dc-disrupted/story?id=14711933 Apparently this plot, including plans to set off bombs in Washington, D.C., has confirmed ties to the government of Iran. Our response? "Senior Obama administration officials said the U.S. currently does not have any information indicating that either Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei or President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad necessarily knew about the assassination plot and said the U.S. will pursue a path of response that would not include the possibility of an armed conflict with Iran."
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