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Bob G

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  1. Zip, the nicest thing that I can say is that no one has suggested anywhere that anyone steal or not "do the right thing" (or are you changing the example so you could yell at another straw man?). The fact that you have jumped up and down and gotten excited is not a justification for accusing me or RH of doing anything, considering doing anything, or suggesting doing anything immoral. As the quotation from AR suggests, you missed a point. Telling me that "I don't have a right to use the car" when I suggested no such thing is an indication of your inattention to detail and the specifics of a moral discussion. The question was not "is it moral to keep money you know you should not have been paid". No one suggested that it was. The question was, what to do in regards to the government and its activities. That you do not understand the difference between today's government and a private citizen is concerning. Your willingness to ignore the real, concrete issues in daily moral decisions is another thing. You say just "call them up". Are you serious? You come out and find a car sitting in your drive (your example). Who are you going to call? If there is a note, fine. But the car could be anyone's. The only thing to do is to call the police, tell them there is a car you don't own on your property, and ask their advise. Hopefully, they'll impound it and hope someone calls. After a while they'll claim it to be abandoned. But only you suggested that the homeowner use the car. Some other person's actions do require you to throw out your plans, your values and spend your time "doing the right thing". Yes, you could be too busy. If you're in a hurry, leave the damn thing. It's already sat there for hours. It is not a life and death situation. You fit it in as your judgment dictates.
  2. I’m sorry. I forgot the most important point!!! You can’t be morally blamed for wanting and keeping what has already been stolen from you. The government, our government is a thief. It forces you to pay money to them every year. Getting your money back, in whatever form you can is wholly justified. Again the only concern is self-defense. From Ayn Rand, “The Question of Scholarships”, The Objectivist, Vol. 5, No. 6, June, 1966. All italics were in the original article. Regarding the issue “welfare-state laws”, it is not a respect for the laws of the welfare-state, especially as it becomes as large as it is today. It is the issue of self-protection. You don’t expose yourself to the force of those laws unless it is unavoidable, which their laws attempt to achieve, or you can strike a very significant blow for freedom. The respect for law in a welfare-state has already been lost.
  3. You are undoubtedly one of those people who believe that paying your taxes and doing what the government tells you is a virtue. And I specifically did not say that the taxpayer knew anything, therefore you put word in my mouth just to make an accusation. You need to identify that the government is an entity that deals in stolen money as a matter of course, that has no respect for the residents of the country, that functions according to arbitrary rules and regulations, that fears sticking their head out and making any kind of decision, and that their employees are generally not capable of doing productive work. This entity does not meet the test of the honest individual or corporation who must be dealt with fairly. This entity will treat you arbitrarily. You could follow the rules they tell you about and you could still be ruined. The Miltary payroll organization functions very differently than the normal government office. In this case one of the real possibilities is that if he leaves the money at the school the government could still demand that he pay it back on the grounds that it was paid on his behalf and it was his responsibility to straighten it out. He could send in a check and they deny that received it. We are not talking about an entity that believes in fairness or justice, just rules and regulations. RH will have to spend significant time in just trying to find who and how to return the money. How much is his time worth? If you found a private individual's property your responsibility is not open ended. The car sitting on your drive way is an inconvenience and you would be within your rights to charge the company for using your property and for the time required to get the car off your property. There is no duty to see after other peoples' property. Respecting their property does not require your time, effort, or expense. If you find it on your property, make a reasonable effort to see it returned, and they do not act to reclaim it or to meet your expenses, you can certainly salvage it. They come over and abandon something on your land without your permission, then it is their responsibility. If someone stole it an left it on your property, it would then be the authorities responsibility (a legitimate governmental function), and still not yours. You would want to find out where the thing came from, if you can, before deciding what the appropriate action would be. But it would be legitimate for you just to call a towing company with an impound lot and let them handle out.
  4. I, on the other hand, know precisely which English words you are discussing. The use of the term "rationalize" as you are concerned with basically means to make things up to justify what someone has already decided, but is unwilling to admit their real reasons. This is also similar to the "ra-shun-AL" use of the word, as it is a justification. The reason (using a real word) that makes sense is that the "Rationalists", a group of "philosophers", did the same thing, that is, made things up, in their case to "explain" the world (I couldn't write without the " key.) The use of the term regarding the error that (usually male) Objectivists make is to forget that the term refers to all of the characteristics of an existent, and just use the defining characteristic. (Sorry, I know that I am being needlessly repetitive.) Neither use really has anything to do with reason as we know it. Both have more to do with the earlier philosophical position that there is a split between the physical world and conceptual knowledge, or universals. It was held that perceptual awareness could not lead to concepts, but only to isolated facts. Universals could only be known via intuition and direct imput from god. This is also known as a priori knowledge. A prioi knowledge could be used in reasoning, a deductive process and would give you certainty. This was know as Reason, until Ayn Rand. You might think that people understand you when you talk about using Reason or being rational, but most do not have any idea. They might think "deduction", making things up, special appeals to god, maybe, who knows. Objectivism has a very clearly defined understanding of what reason is and why it is important. It is just one of the ways that Ovbjectivism trains man to think differently than he has been, and let him focus on the world and enjoy life. The people you hear are speaking a different language.
  5. Sorry guys, there is a difference between being sent money that you didn't ask for or want and if you try to return it they are going to put you through hell vs. stealing. This is like the times the government through their own fault send you a tax refund that they later decide is wrong and treat you as a criminal.
  6. Hmmm, maybe if a guy is particularly turned on by pretty brunettes with long legs he might have created his own concept (your examples are always fun, Blue). Purpuse or context can always be a reason for having concepts, like the Eskimoes who have a bunch of different words for snow. There is a problem, but it isn't that people jump to positive judgments. Unfortunately, some have such a narrow, context dropping view of what Objectivism is that they jump to condemnation. It happened a lot. It was nortorious. Big arguments. Its like the guys who dyed their hair orange. Or the music students who would only play Chopin. Or thought the only place to live was NYC and love tall buildings. The question asked was "Is this person acting in the narrow view of Obj. that I have and if he doesn't he is immoral?" If over time, this activity stops being a tendency, the word would drop from use.
  7. I think that you are pretty much on the right track here, especially since none of this is your fault or intention. I would not worry about the issue of the "rights" to the money. What I would worry about is the ultimate government accounting, which is to say that somebody in the government might come back to you or the school and want the money back. If you got it, they could easily at any time tell you to pay it back and be quite unreasonable about it. My concern, self-defense. If you decide to take the money, set up a paper trail in which you establish that you attempted to give it back. Mail certified letters, make calls and keep records of when you called and who you talked to, including title; ask for supervisors; etc. This way you will at least be able to prove that you are an "upright" citizen and have an argument that they should treat you with a little respect and consideration. You'll still have pay it back, if they come calling, but more on your terms, maybe. I don't know if all of that is worth $1100, but the annoyance and threat factor of hearing from the government later is also a major pain. Good luck.
  8. Right off the top of my head I can't think of a specific reference for seeing the use of rationalistic in the manner that I mean. Yet, I know that I have used it that way often since I heard Dr. Peikoff's lecture and I know that I have often heard it used that way. If I think of a reference I will let you know. This usage is based upon Rationalism, referring to DeCartes and his followers, e.g., Leibniz, who took a minor point and expanded it into an entire universe. DeCartes had an entire physics, philosophy of science, and general philosophy beginning with his "I think therefore I am" bit. All of it thought up by sitting in his study. I doubt that he even looked out his window. I don't think that you want to separate a concept from its definition that way. Yes, the definition helps in clarity, differentiation, and so on, but it is not separate from the concept and both refer to the existents that the concept stands for in all of their identiy, their reality. The definition is for epistemological purposes only, not to separate it from the real. The definition states the essential but refers to the entire existent. When you make a definition you are not separating the defining characteristic from the other characteristics or ignoring that an existent has many characteristics, many of which may not be known. It is saying that within our knowledge at this time, this characteristic differentiates it from other things and so on. Moralizing is separated because the implication is that when one judges out of context more often than not the conclusion is one of condemnation. So it isn't just being out of context but also tied to a negitive judgment. There are lots of bad consequences. Of course, doing anything out of context will lead to bad consequences, but a moral judgment of another person is somewhat worse. One of the points in the lecture series I mentioned is Dr. Peikoff's discussion of values. He talks about how personal values are and that what appears to be "Objectivist" values, because they are in the novels or that AR personally liked them, does not make them be ones that anyone should have. For example, he suggested that someone brought up in the Southwestern U.S. might not enjoy a big city skyline. A big city skyline is not a necessary value. He mentioned ways his values differed from Miss Rand, e.g., he did not get excited about the space program and the as a kid he loved horror movies. The lecture series opens up a person's perspective on Objectivism.
  9. Also, rationalizing within Objectivist circles can mean thinking like a rationalist, meaning using deductive reasoning from definitions (among other things) that you treat as floating abstractions. Which was a poor way of saying that you end up with conclusions that are cut off from reality because you forgot that a definition refers to all of the attributes of a thing, not just the defining characteristics. It is a trap that Objectivists, especially the males, easily fall into. Listen to Dr. Peikoff's "Understanding Objectivism". That is a very important set of lectures. Moralizing is doing some similar things and tends to miss context.
  10. I have been a member of this Forum for only a few months, but a trend is very clear. Do you notice that we are sitting ducks for everyone who wants to take a swing at Ayn Rand and Objectivism. In recent months we have seen a guy who is nearly as pure a Kantian as I have seen since grad school carry on for days and days. I expect he thought that he was playing with us. And of course, those hangers-on, sort of camp followers who sort of want to be Objectivists, but actually don’t want to use reason and think pop up all the time, sometimes waiting for months before revealing themselves. I am talking about the libertarians, anarchists, Kellyites, and Brandon lovers (either one). It is interesting that this latter group feel so strongly that they need to attach themselves to Objectivism and Ayn Rand. Notice how they attack her or her ideas whenever they get the chance, and then yell at the top of their voice that they really are Objectivists. One way to tell that they are who they are is that they blame AR for their problems, mistakes, or psychological problems. It isn’t wrong to have problems, make mistakes, or have psychological problems. They aren’t AR’s fault, never. Anyway, I’m not interested in carrying on a conversation, or shouting match about this. I just thought that it was interesting that it happens. It will keep happening. There is no way to stop it. The annoyance is like taxes. If you get mad every year or every time you think about it you just waste time and energy. Ignore it as best as you can. Now some idiot will say that I am not fair or am closed minded or some such drivel. They choose to ignore or not find out that I went through all of those debates when the events happened, i.e., when Brandon’s betrayal was revealed, the birth of libertarianism, Kelly’s stupidity (fortunately, I wasn’t here for the release of Kant’s spores or Dewey’s blabbering). There is no need for me to revisit it.
  11. Excellent work, Knast. And thank you for the references.
  12. You are correct about the non sequitor and the idiocy of competing governments. However, I would not dismiss preventive measures from a police force. (Arbitrators, I agree.) The idea of the beat cop is preventive, as well as some of the measures taken in NYC in recent years. And remember the full page ad a few years ago in which Dr. Peikoff and two other authors condemned the NYC police for not providing protection for the Rushdie publisher when the muslims threatened (my name was proudly on that ad). I think that there are many things that police could do that would be preventive. That probably would not include permanent security guards generally, perhaps, and certainly not anything preemptive.
  13. Some of the automatizations will be shown through your emotions. Many emotions that you experience that you can identify as ratonal have been created while you are an adult. Try looking at things that you have learned are good or bad since you have read AR and see what you experience.
  14. You are quit right. Kant is worse because he would say that a fortuitously accrued benetif would undercut the morality of the action.
  15. If your purpose is to understand Kant a mainstream history does not necessarily give you an accurate view. Dr. Peikoff does give you an unadultrated view as close to Kant as is possible. If I was talking about actions performed from your own motivation you would be right. Since I was referring to Kant's view of ethical actions you have misread my statement. It is true that I am going on memory some years old I will allow for some inaccruacies. Yet, I am quite sure that Kant explicitly said that a moral action should elicit no emotion in the actor. A moral action would be performed solely because it is moral and have no consequence for the actor.
  16. It is always dangerous to guess what Ayn Rand would like. She once said that she liked "Charlie's Angels" because no one was going to take the show seriously, they could do what they liked, and AR thought it was enjoyable. I also remember AR asking people not to send her music because no one knew what her tastes were. But even more important, AR's tastes have no direct philosophical or moral meaning. She wrote about the philosophical issues in aesthetics, but the consequences of those views provide for a wide range of personal preference. "Understanding Objectivism" by Dr. Peikoff is an excellent source.
  17. Egosum, the issues that you included are important, vital. But it seems from how you wrote out your questions that you do not understand the basics. Perhaps it is a language problem. Either way, it is not clear what you want to ask or what you understand. It might help if you talked about your background or why you want to talk about these issues.
  18. Cheer up, Lasse, often, especially on personal stuff, making mistakes is the way we learn. Reality can be tough. Ha! Tough love.
  19. One important principle from Fredric Bastiat it "The Seen and the Unseen". We, having been brought up in this mess of a mixed economy are only use to its poor thought processes. We see only what they have done and not what someone thinking freely could do when not encumbered by taxes and regulations. If people want space not covered with buildings, someone will find a method of providing it. If we can't think of a way here, we don't really have the incentive. Certainly, if a developer of a block of land discovered that he could get the price he wanted if there was land open as a park, he would find a way to provide it. There could be various methods. Just let freedom ring and wonderful things can happen.
  20. A history of philosophy will also give you some context. Dr. Leonard Peikoff's tape series will do an excellent job. Start with Descartes to see what Kant started with. For this period, reason tends to be a subjective adherence to logic and internal consistency. It is very Platonic. The person who introduced this view was Descartes, as in "I think therefore I am". Today we call it Rationalism. It is also a sort of Disney version. Leibniz was using "reason" when he came up with monads and "the best of all possible worlds". One thing it doesn't do is connect with sense perception. To understand Kant's ethics the book I think you have to read is Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals. It discusses the categorical imparative and duty. Freedom for Kant is that your moral choice is not tied to the object or the physical world. It is also cut off from yourself. You receive no benefit at all from doing your duty. This includes even a feeling of satisfaction or fulfillment. You will feel nothing. I am sorry to say that all of that nonsense is right there in his writings. His style is one of the most difficult to read and understand. Sentences can go on for a page or more. Have fun!
  21. The responses that you have received are good. Let me add one or two things. Objectivism defines things a little differently so that when we talk about cause, laws, and certain basic concepts we are using a very different approach than the people you will find at school. It helps here to have a little knowledge of the history of philosophy. For example, there are three different schools of "causality" that you run into, Hume, Plato and Kant. Hume says that when he sees one ball strike another he does not see a cause and effect. To him anything could have happened. Humans can say that they have seen it always happen, but they can't conclude that what we call effects will always happen in the future, as there is nothing requiring it to happen. This is probably the stance of your teacher. Plato says that laws are imposed on matter by some outside law giver. Matter will perform these laws, but not perfectly, thus, if we try to learn them from matter, our ideas will not be clear or perfect. It is better if we intuit them. But the laws are floating out there and are independent of matter and the world. People who talk about laws as if they are independent things are Plato's children. Kant says that we make everything up ourselves in our own heads, and there really isn't anything happening like we think there is in the "real world". Space, time, matter, etc., are all mental constructs that humans have. Ayn Rand argues that all that exists are things, which have attributes. Actually, things are their attributes. When they act, that is to say that when they interact with other things, they do so in accordance with those attributes. The cause is what the thing is. What it is also includes its place, relative speed, direction of motion, color, molecular structure, spin, charge, that is what ever science discovers. We understand what a thing is conceptually (on to the ITOE). So a cause is not a separate thing from entities. When two or more entities interact, the cause is what they were before and the result is what they are afterwards. Laws are our conceptual understanding of actions that we have found in certain types of entities. The wider our conceptual field, the better we understand the world.
  22. So far it is impossible to find a critique of AR, for some reason. It would be a good thing to find someone who has a different philosophy who attempted to critique her actual positions. To my knowledge, it has not happened yet. One thing you will findout about Ayn Rand is that she treats all of reality the same. She holds that a rational man will work to know it as it is. She applies this principle to the people she studied, including those she disliked. She did not create straw men. The problem with my first my second sentence is that for anyone to attempt to know AR, they would have to use reason to identify her philosophy. Not many from the school's of the last century or so are capable of doing that. You are better off trying to come up with criticisms of your own, using your own reason. But that is thinking things through yourself, which is Objectivism.
  23. Just in case you want another testimonial, I have read not only the Critique but also several other books, including his primary works on ethics. I was a graduate student in philosophy. I remember a class in which I was talking to another student about Kant's stand on ethics. The professor heard my comments and said that yes Kant wrote that, but that it was too extreme and he (Kant) didn't really mean it. I suspect that reading Kant in English actually tones down his philosophy. In the German, I would expect it to sound more extreme. It pays to remember that Kant had a purpose in his philosophy. He was very concerned by Hume's "empiricism". Kant was afraid that Hume's influence would undermine Christianity and its ethics. His intent was to disconnect the ethics from the physical world and strengthen it. I think one reason why Kant was as influential as he has been is because he had a strong position in ethics that was consistent with the generally accepted Christian beliefs. Of course, he had little opposition (until now).
  24. These are excellent, especially "Understanding Objectivism". These assume that you have first studied the "Introduction to Objectivism" course. Let me also suggest that you read through the first non-fiction that AR wrote, i.e., "The Objectivist Newsletter" and "The Objectivist". Until just recently I had forgotten how helpful that was before I heard the first set of "Introduction to Objectivism" tapes.
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