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necrovore

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necrovore last won the day on April 5

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About necrovore

  • Birthday 07/04/1975

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    Jacksonville, FL
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    Programming (Scheme, F#, C#, C++, Forth, Java, Assembly), Music (Reason 11.0), Writing (Plot, Literary Theory, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror).

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    I discovered Objectivism in 1997, read all I could about it, and promptly adopted it. However, I don't know if I'm very effective at advocating anything.
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  1. Maybe because this is a case of bad guys vs. bad guys, like two groups of gangsters in a gang war. Sure, one of them had to start it, and that one (Russia) was wrong for starting it, but that doesn't make the other group of gangsters "good guys." p.s. I do not know if my position here matches that of anybody else in this thread. I just saw that one statement and wanted to respond to it.
  2. I would say that your right to your own body is an unenumerated right, and such rights are protected by the Ninth and Tenth Amendments of the Constitution. Technically a right to production and trade could also be upheld in such a manner (although probably not by this Court.) More explicit amendments wouldn't necessarily do any harm, but I suppose the concern of the Founding Fathers was precisely that it's impossible to enumerate all rights. I think they preferred that the powers of the government be enumerated instead.
  3. Very true. It seems like Newspeak is on the rise. For example, do you have a "right" to a job? If you do, then the government is required to provide you with one, but according to Newspeak, if you do not have a right to a job, then the government can arbitrarily prevent you from having one, even if someone would have hired you voluntarily...
  4. The problem here is that failure to get vaccinated is not an initiation of force. The government exists to protect people from criminals (and invading foreign armies), but not to protect them from natural phenomena such as hurricanes, earthquakes -- or viruses. In a free country, people can organize to protect themselves against such things, and the government is only involved insofar as it prevents crime from occurring. In some circumstances it might be possible to sue someone for negligence if their failure to do something causes a natural phenomenon to be worse for someone else. Generally, however, I think you have to willingly assume a responsibility before you can be held liable for shirking it. Interestingly, the government has granted the manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccines "immunity" from liability lawsuits.
  5. The purpose of government is (supposed to be) to protect individual rights. The only way to violate individual rights is by initiation or threat of force. Therefore, the government maintains a monopoly on force to ensure that it is only used in retaliation and only against those who initiate or threaten its use. As such, the only "mandates" from a proper government are negative obligations, e.g., don't murder people, don't defraud people, don't steal from people, don't extort stuff from people, etc. The government can enforce these without ever initiating force. Individual rights are not (supposed to be) subject to vote. Unlimited democracies usually end up tyrannical, as mob rule. As for vaccine mandates, the issue here is whether one has a right to one's own body. I would say so, and therefore I oppose vaccine mandates on the same grounds that I oppose the forced pregnancy and childbirth that result from abortion bans. A vaccine mandate is not the same thing as a vaccine itself, and it's possible to recommend a vaccine without supporting a mandate. I mean, I think everybody should read Atlas Shrugged to "inoculate" themselves against socialism and communism, but I absolutely don't believe that the reading of Atlas Shrugged should be mandated by law.
  6. The religionists always asserted that consciousness was supernatural, and that ideas were supernatural. The root of this assertion is Platonism. Aristotle (and a lot of his later students, including Thomas Aquinas) sort of inherited it without challenge. Objectivism asserts that it is an error. An idea is definitely a different kind of thing than a physical object. You can hold a solid object in your hand, or a gas in a tank, but only a mind can hold an idea. However, an idea is still a kind of thing and ideas have a nature. Consciousness is also a kind of thing with a nature, even though its nature is different from that of any physical object or substance. Materialists assume that the religionists are correct about consciousness and ideas being supernatural, and then reject the supernatural. The result is a philosophy that denies the axiom of consciousness. Objectivism denies the supernatural but asserts that consciousness is natural. This is more than saying consciousness is axiomatic (which it also is). Objectivist epistemology is defined under the premise that consciousness has a nature and that a proper epistemology has to work with that nature instead of against it. It is possible to discover the nature of consciousness through introspection. It is also possible to "compare notes" with other people (such as reading a scientist's account of how he became aware of some new scientific discovery). Although it's possible to ask questions about how consciousness arises in a brain, I think such questions are scientific rather than philosophical. The answers wouldn't invalidate anything, in much the same way that your knowledge about a table is not invalidated merely because you learn that the table is made of molecules.
  7. This looks like the mind-body dichotomy again, but in a different form. The ancient idea was that reason is a "spiritual" phenomenon which should not be "sullied" by connections to "the flesh." The modern, more "materialist" take would be what you are describing, that there is no spiritual phenomenon at all, that there is nothing but the flesh and that what we think is "reason" is actually nothing more than a phenomenon of the flesh and therefore subservient to it. Ayn Rand does not believe in the mind-body dichotomy. A man is an integrated being, and reason is the faculty that a man uses for living his life. Reason means applying logic (the art of non-contradictory identification) to reality, but reality of necessity includes the nature of a person's own body and its needs. (For example, you have to eat food and not poison, and reason is the most effective tool people have to identify what is food and how to find or produce it, and how to identify poison so that it can be avoided.) It is possible to deliberately put reason in the service of unreason, but that would be a lower level of evil than mere unreason. Criminals do that when they plot to rob a bank or to enslave a population. It is possible (but not sustainable over the long term) for men to prey on other men. The life proper to man is to deal with reality directly (rather than relying on victims to do it), and to deal with other people only as traders, offering value for value.
  8. Of course we have limits. What Ayn Rand referred to as "the crow epistemology" is an example of a limit -- you can only keep so many things in mind at a time. You can see | as one, || as two, ||| as three, but you'd have to count |||||||||||| because otherwise they just blur together. However, we can abstract over abstractions, and that sets us apart from the animals, even monkeys. Once you can abstract over abstractions, you can get to discoveries like those of Newton and Einstein (and Rand herself in her own field). Also, you seem to be referring to the reason-emotion dichotomy, which is related to the mind-body dichotomy. Christianity (and Plato) held that Man consists of an animal side (body) and a spiritual side (mind / soul) and that these sides are necessarily in opposition (which is not true). They would have put reason on the spiritual side and emotion (which all animals have) on the animal side. Aristotle probably followed Plato on this point, at least a little. The discovery of evolution did not come until much later, and merely provided a new way to describe this same dichotomy (reason being relatively new on the evolutionary scene, whereas emotion is much older). Ayn Rand found that reason is a volitional faculty. You have to choose whether to use it. If you choose not to use it then your mind "falls back" on emotions, but there is no way to validate those emotions, and they are not enough by themselves to allow a human being to live a successful life. (For animals, emotions and instincts are enough, but just barely -- they only need to breed more than they die.) For humans, trying to live without reason leads to failure and then to the emotions that come with that. Reason, on the other hand, can be validated (and must be, because reasoning errors are possible). Valid reasoning will lead to success and the emotions that come with that. I don't think it's possible (or "hubris") to "rely on reason too much." The only way to correct an error in reasoning is through reason.
  9. I suppose I was being too flippant so I'll try to be more straightforward this time. I don't think Ayn Rand's non-driving has any philosophical significance. If it did, I'm pretty sure she would have written something about it. Generally, Ayn Rand's written work has nothing bad to say about driving or operating any other machine. There are any number of non-philosophical reasons that someone might be unable or unwilling to drive a car, but I don't know which ones applied to Ayn Rand. Her philosophy is broader than her personal life. If she didn't know how to solve differential equations, that doesn't mean she was philosophically opposed to them. If she didn't learn FORTRAN that doesn't mean she was opposed to it. And so forth.
  10. Come to think of it, Ayn Rand didn't fly a helicopter, either. Is there philosophical significance to that fact?
  11. I want to reference the beginning of an article called "Lisp as the Maxwell's Equations of Software," where the professor of a class on electromagnetism (quoted by the author of the article) presents Maxwell's Equations, and then says: The article then quotes Alan Kay, saying that John McCarthy's Lisp interpreter, itself written in Lisp, is like "Maxwell's Equations of Software." Sometimes I've wondered if it's possible to create the "Maxwell's Equations of Objectivism," which would sum up everything about Objectivism in a very small space, like on an index card. I'm not sure it's possible. Even if it is possible to sum things up that way, the resulting situation is probably just like the one the electromagnetism professor described for electromagnetism: understanding the summary might be easy, but understanding all the consequences of the summary would be another matter. — Sometimes I think this one would be sufficient: "Existence is Identity; Consciousness is Identification." This statement sums up the proper relationship between existence and consciousness, and I suspect that if Objectivism were lost, this statement alone might be enough to enable it to be rediscovered. (Or maybe more is needed.) The consequences that need to be understood, however, are not merely the consequences of that statement alone, but also of all the facts in existence.
  12. I think Ayn Rand saw the details of the operation of Galt's motor as beside the point. The point of Galt's motor is that industrialists can invent new things, regardless of which particular things they are, or how they work. I am sure she made the best use she could of the knowledge that was available at the time she wrote Atlas Shrugged. But it would be too much to ask her to invent actual new working inventions herself and then ascribe them to her characters -- and it would also have been beside the point. The point of a novel is to present (some) things "as they might be and ought to be," not as they are, so she presented characters who had the virtues she thought were important, and who put those virtues into action in the novel. When she was asked if she thought Atlas Shrugged would be prophetic, she replied that she didn't want it to be prophetic. (I don't remember the exact words of either the question or the answer.) I think she wanted people to recognize the virtues of the characters and the reasons for those virtues, and then to adopt those virtues. If the virtues were widespread, and if they were understood, so that people would know why they needed to have those virtues, then they would provide a foundation for a freer and more prosperous society.
  13. I think John Galt's motor, which is described as being able to pull energy from static electricity in the air, is impossible in reality.
  14. Atlas Shrugged is a work of fiction. That's the "disconnect" right there. It uses many principles which are true, but the same principles could play out in any of a large number of different ways in reality, just as they could lead to many other fiction books.
  15. I think the rules are different when you have a small group where everybody knows everybody else. In such a case, people deal with each other based on their direct firsthand knowledge of each other, and specialization is much more difficult. Consider that if I were one person living by myself, I could not have a separation of state and economics, because by necessity I'd have to do both functions, since there's no one else to do them. And then, within the area of state, I wouldn't be able to separate executive, legislative, and judicial functions, because again, they're all me. If it were me and one or two other people, that's still not enough people to split them up properly. Even if there are four or five people, maintaining those distinctions would create all sorts of artificial barriers which would be costly and inefficient. (You're on an island with Bob and Carol and Dave, but Bob is handling the judicial branch today, so if a judicial question comes up between Carol and Dave, you can't work it out yourself; you have to go ask Bob...) I imagine that if a dispute breaks out, getting a "fair trial," the way you would want one in a large society, would be almost impossible, precisely because everybody knows everybody else, and there's no practical way to separate people's firsthand knowledge of each other from the issues at stake in the case. I mean, if you never liked Bob, you're more likely to convict him just because of that, and even if you could separate your dislike of Bob from your judgment in the case, you would have a hard time proving that you had done so. You could lay out your reasoning in writing, but people would still have grounds to suspect that what you wrote was different from what you were actually thinking. How does Bob get any right to an impartial judge or jury, when the community is that small? When you have thousands of people who don't all know each other, barriers between people exist anyway; they cannot all know each other anymore, so it becomes possible to use those barriers between people for separations of powers and other specializations. There have been small "communes" where people allegedly practice Communist principles, but in fact, since they all know each other, they can use their knowledge of each other to make everything sort-of work without genuinely relying on Communist principles at all. (Besides, since the principles are wrong, if they followed them strictly, their community would die out.) When you have a small group of people, such small groups are all very much the same, and any sort of political principles are premature. So a small group of Objectivist geniuses could well start their own little village or something, but they would have a hard time demonstrating to the rest of the world that it was really based on Objectivist principles, and not merely on the fact that they know each other well and work together well. Objectivist principles would probably help them work together well, up to a point, but if a dispute happened, they would probably fall apart. They are too small of a group. (Or else they might compromise their principles in order to stay together, but that introduces problems of its own.) (It is also a problem when you have a large society ruled by a small group of people, when each of the people in the ruling clique knows everybody else in the clique... and when they prevent anybody not in the clique from holding office... because they cannot police each other properly anymore, because they are not impartial... and they can collude across "separation of powers" barriers...) I think America came together because you had a large group of people who did not all know each other but had similar ideas, and they also had a blank canvas upon which to create a country. The blank canvas these days is hard to come by, but not impossible. But you also need the large group with the common ideas. I don't think a small group would be able to do the job. You might think that the Founding Fathers were a small group, but I think what they did was only possible because they were representative of a larger group from which they came.
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