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Everything posted by itsjames

  1. Reidy and merjet, thanks for your replies. I know she was in her final years when home computers were still only on the cusp of becoming a thing. I was just hoping there might be some "nuggets" somewhere in the 1975 - 1982 interval on her thoughts on the technology, and the possibilities that it held.
  2. Hey guys, I've been an Ayn Rand fan for almost two decades now. I've recently developed an interest in the history of personal computers and computing, and I was wondering, are there any records of Ayn Rand speaking or writing about computers? Some questions I'm curious about are: Did she ever use a home computer? Was she curious about this new upcoming technology, or was it simply something she wasn't very interested in? If there are any posts, books, videos, etc. anyone could point me to, please do! Thanks! Cheers, James
  3. I can't comment on the accuracy of the tests, but I do think that they in general they shouldn't be taken too seriously. The point of life is to pursue values, not to be "intelligent". Intelligence (in the fully consistent sense) is essentially the ability to pursue and acquire abstract values via the conceptual method (this is my definition). So, it's really just another angle on valuing. And the purpose of life is not to be a valuer; it's to get the values. I'd recommend forgetting the tests, and just figuring out what you need to do and learn in order to make your life as good as it can be.
  4. Gio, I would recommend listening to Leonard Peikoff's lecture series entitled "Unity in Epistemology and Ethics". I think it was the third lecture where he discusses a topic which is, in my view, closely related to your question. Basically, he argues that there are certain concepts which, in order to be properly understood and applied, must have two distinct definitions. The main concept he considers in the lecture is "value", but his analysis (which is still somewhat unrefined at the time this lecture was given) applies to other concepts too and I think also applies to the concept "concept",
  5. Okay, I can agree, in the sense that "a particular man is alive before he starts to use reason". But, I do not believe this is the meaning of "life" when Rand says that life is the ultimate moral value (I don't remember exactly what she wrote, but I think it was something along those lines). Just as man's life -- qua man (ie. man as a being who uses reason to live) -- is the standard of moral value in Objectivism (am I wrong here?), a particular man's own life -- as a rational being -- is a value to him. So, I really think the values of reason and "life" are almost inseparable. The basic
  6. You conveniently omitted the very next sentence in my post, which gives it context .... Please fully read and digest my posts before replying. The full paragraph was: Morality isn't even a question in the mind of someone who is not focused conceptually. Being focused is a precondition of morality.
  7. Thanks, I actually didn't know some of this. However, this is why I wrote "the belief in God -- and the practice of this belief". If one is told when one is young that "God is everything", "God is what makes life possible", or things along these lines, and one then decides that one "believes" in God, I don't think this is necessarily irrational -- so long as the "belief" is more or less "hot air", in the sense of paying lip service to it. The irrationality begins, I think, when one tries to apply the "concept" of God to reality. For example, praying and thinking that your prayers will be answe
  8. It sounds like you view reason as somehow being something that is learned later on in life, and that one can choose to hold it as a value if one see's its usefulness in preserving one's life. But in fact, what makes reason a fundamental value is that it is not learned later. It's always there: so long as an individual is acting on the conceptual level -- including deciding whether or not a particular action is good for his life -- and so long as he is treating concepts according to what they are, he is holding reason as a value. This is the sense in which reason sets the context for all values
  9. The purpose of my question was actually just to point to the fact that reason is a fundamental value, according to Objectivism. I believe it is too. My larger point is that you can't defend a stance on the morality/immorality of a certain action without reference to reason in some way. Yes, we have values other than reason, but reason sets the context for all values. In order for an action to be fundamentally bad, it has to be irrational. By the way, I'm really more interested in what you think the fundamental values are. We can all read what Rand wrote and recite her arguments. I want
  10. It (reason) has to do with both. I think it's the starting point for ethics. In Objectivism, isn't reason one of the cardinal values? Again, we're talking about reason and rationality. According to Objectivism, all the major virtues are simply different angles on the virtue of rationality as it's applied in different settings. Okay, I agree. But what are the fundamental values?
  11. I'm not sure I agree that the belief in God -- and the practice of this belief -- can ever be honest, especially when the believer claims they are "certain". Sure, many believers can be honest in other areas of their lives, making them "basically" honest. But if honesty is the devotion to reality, I don't see how believing in God can be an honest thing. Please enlighten me, if you think I'm wrong. The standard which we are talking about (ie. treating things according to what they are) is reason. Of course its demanding. The extent to which someone h
  12. You seem to believe that for Objectivism, morality is fundamentally about preserving "life". I don't think this is quite right, at least not in the sense you seem to mean. In my view, the Objectivist morality is about being oriented towards reality mentally. It's about forming concepts in a reality oriented way and then using those concepts while treating them according to what they are. For example, you form the concept of a tree (using a reality oriented mental process involving integration, differentiation, etc.). Then, you walk outside, see a tree, and say, "That's a tree". This is, I beli
  13. I think the disagreement Eiuol and I (at least me) have with MisterSwig is not just a matter of the terminology. MisterSwig seems to believe that these "mental entities" are grasped initially as being independent things whose dependence and full nature is discovered later on. I think that these "mental entities" can only be grasped as dependent things, in a sense -- things that we have created, or maybe things that we have done. So, I think the issue lies in how these things are initially grasped.
  14. But the point is that this is not what happens. You are only aware of these "mental entities" so long as you are in the process of creating them. (If you are remembering some thought you had earlier, you are thinking it again, in a sense.) Hence, they are not entities, because they are not grasped as being independent things. You know that you are creating them in the same moment you are aware of them.
  15. Let me just add in advance (since I think someone will probably bring up the issue of dreams) that when you are dreaming (let's leave out lucid dreams for now, ::sigh::), you don't know you are creating the "world" around you. So you wouldn't identify any of the things you are "perceiving" as being mental entities in the first place. Of course, we will open up a whole new can of worms when we start to talk about what happens when you know you are dreaming. I am honestly not prepared to go there.
  16. This is a great thread, by the way. I can honestly say I have never given this thought until now. Thank you for the stimulating discussion. That being said, I think my issue with what you write above is the following. When you call something an "entity", or even when you say "content" (as in "mental content"), you're suggesting that the thing you are talking about is somehow being perceived first, and is identified afterwards. But the point is that the moment you "perceive" the memories, concepts, etc. in your mind, you know that you are creating them. There is no separation there. You do
  17. I agree with Eiuol overall here. MisterSwig, your position really sounds like Platonism. What is the evidence for mental entities? According to Google, an "entity" is "a thing with distinct and independent existence". In life, we perceive things, we do, and we remember what we do. That's it. Concepts are not independent things, they represent integrations of perceived concretes, ie. they are formed through action. They aren't "entities". Treating them as "things" is, I think, mostly a matter of convenience. They are just "what we have done" with the things we have perceived in r
  18. In extreme cases, clear thinking might not be possible, even if you are still conscious. There is a scene from the movie "Fury" that comes to mind, where a soldier is burning alive, and without a second's thought he pulls out his pistol and shoots himself in the head. I'm not an expert on Objectivism's views on morality, but in my view, calling what that soldier did a "moral" issue is quite silly. There was no planning or thinking there, he just did it. Does that make him "immoral"? Does morality even apply in such a crazy situation? I don't see how it could.
  19. epistemologue, could you state your basic thesis in just a few sentences perhaps?
  20. I think you are conceding for the wrong reasons. Yes, the well ordering principle is equivalent to AoC, but your line of reasoning would then call for you to ask the question "How do you well order a given set? What is the mechanism?" Your argument seems to be that it is irrational to assert the existence of a "choice" function without giving a concrete example. (Or, it is irrational to assert the existence of a well ordering without giving an example). But the point here is that to assert the existence of a function (which may be considered as a type of set) is very different from asserti
  21. I took a course in Set Theory about 6 months ago. I admit that I started the course expecting to blow it all out of the water and find contradictions everywhere like you are trying to show aleph_1. However, the course totally changed my opinion of the subject, which in the beginning was pretty low. The bottom line is this. All mathematical concepts, sets included, are tools for solving problems. They don't exist in reality in the way physical objects do, nor in another dimension as platonists believe. I think that the peculiar thing about mathematical concepts, which has led to so much co
  22. The distinction is necessary because we have volition. This goes back to the basic fact that when you drop a ball, it has to fall. But you don't have to pick it back up. Some things have to be, other things don't. Mountains had to be. Skycrapers didn't have to be. I assume you've formed the concept of "have to" at some point in your childhood. Why did you? Why even bother making this distinction? If you think this distinction is unnecessary for living your life, then simply abandon it, refuse to ever differentiate between "having to" and "not having to" and see what happens.
  23. According to Google's dictionary: Natural: Existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind. I take it you don't believe in a necessary distinction between the metaphysical and the man-made then?
  24. With so much gloom and doom in the news lately, this article brought tears to my eyes. http://sports.yahoo.com/news/olympics--usain-bolt-s-legend-grows-after-he-breaks-olympic-record-in-epic-100-meter-final-.html
  25. "I was laughing at the way life works out. It gets pretty complicated sometimes, then all of a sudden it's as simple as hell..." -Mickey Spillane, Vengeance is Mine
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