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Everything posted by IDC

  1. Roark is an egoist - that is the key thing to understand. Me, me, me. My work, my standards, my life, my buildings, my blueprints. This is an egoist in the Randian sense, not the monster that society presents. For example the egoist as presented by society would kill someone for $5, but a Randian egoist would not because he is such an egoist it is only acceptable to live off his own work. Anyway this is what I think drives him, this me me me, this desire to be himself in every way.
  2. IDC

    alien life

    I think there is evidence of (primitive) alien life. Remember the Mars meteroite back in '96? http://www2.jpl.nasa.gov/snc/nasa1.html Edit: Clinton even did a press conference about it.
  3. Thanks for the link, I can hardly believe it. You hear about that kind of superstition/conspiracy theory stuff on the Arab street, but one would expect the Russian president to be better briefed.
  4. I actually think it's quite endearing. Thor? Sure, I know him. Good chap. Lives up there. Where? You see the tip of that mountain? It is far friendlier that the mental corruption a modern person would spew forth.
  5. OMG, that is horrible. I want to cry for the poor kid. I would agree that these things can happen in a free system too, but in that case they are usually in spite of people following the correct principles. That is, principles just tell you what will happen in the long run, not for any particular incident. Whereas in the socialist system it follows from the principles that these kind of things will happen, which is totally unacceptable. Edit: spelling
  6. Wouldn't it be great if there were massive protests in the streets by ordinary people, and the mayor was impeached for exceeding his mandate? *sigh*
  7. I don't think that argument follows. If you ask 3 people how many fingers you're holding up and they all give different answers, does that mean there is no correct answer?
  8. In the post I'm not arguing that the appearances are primaries, just that they exist and are what they are. I fully accept that they may be effects of earlier causes. I guess I'm just saying that that doesn't make them any less real. The unicorn is a mental existent and the cat is a physical existent. In asking what the metaphysical difference is, I fear you may be interpreting my post as saying they are both ultimately the same stuff - existence - but it is not saying that. Existence is just an abstraction. Since the cat and unicorn both are what they are, the universe is the many and varied, and there is no one stuff. That's not to say "existence" isn't a valid abstraction of course, since they are in fact both not nothing, but it is just an abstraction.
  9. Great poem. I especially like this line: "And I come to the true and know what to do"
  10. No. The perception tells us that it is self-evidently true, not that it is an axiom. You seem to be defining axiom as any piece of knowledge that is not dependant on antecedent knowledge for it's validity. That is not what "axiom" means in Objectivism. What it means is that a fact is presupposed by all subsequent knowledge. If you invalidate the axiom you invalidate everything. So a perception of a table is self-evidently true, but not an axiom: everything else you know does not depend on what you know about that table. But everything you know does presuppose the facts of existence, identity and consciousness. If you invalidate one of them you know nothing. So they are both self-evident and axiomatic. I have not been arguing that free will is an axiom, merely that it is self-evidently true. Though in fact it is a philosophic axiom (something presupposed by many philosophical concepts), that is a side issue to the fact of it's truth. Yes. Now you're getting it. It is different. Galileo was offering a different explanation for the movements of the Sun, he was not saying there is no Sun. You are thinking there is an appearance of choice but you have a different explanation for it. There's two things here: first, the appearance exists, therefore like everything else that exists it is what it is. That perception of choice, is choice. Second, explanations just explain things, they don't cancel them out. So any explanation you come up with would have to end "and therefore we have free will."
  11. OK, I should have included direct perception as an instance of validation. But as it is just looking I didn't really consider it a process. I think you may be misinterpreting this quote though. It seems to me you are saying: right, I have this perception of myself with free will, but how do I know I really have it? How do I know this perception is not an illusion? I need to eliminate all other possible causes of it except real free will. So what you are working from is a model where there is real free will (or maybe not) in reality out there, and then your perception of it, and then you have to insert reason in between the perception and the real reality to validate it (the perception). So when Peikoff says "establishing the relationship to reality" you think this is what he is talking about. It is not, allow me to explain. In the Objectivist model there is no separate/real reality out there against which perceptions are verified (through reason or any other method). The perceptions are reality. (see my short essay posted in the Epistemology section a few days ago for how to see this.) The process of establishing a link to reality that Peikoff speaks of means taking some reasoning of yours and reducing it to the perceptions, not to some other separate reality. Everything is always reduced to perception and no further. This is because epistemologically, perception is the base. You might say that in the physical world there are earlier causes to the perception, and this is true. But epistemologically, that perception is a starting point of knowledge and can not be invalidated by anything less fundamental, such as a physical theory of atoms. Yes an axiom must be certain. Yes an idea can not be certain once there is an non-arbitrary alternative, but this only applies to abstract conclusions, not the directly perceived. How can reality be uncertain? The concept doesn't apply. No, you have not shown illusory volition to be non arbitrary. You have argued that based on our experience with other physical entities, the action of the brain is likely determined, but the brain is not consciousness. The brain is grey matter and neural nodes and electrical signals. Consciousness is awareness of existence. One may depend on the other for its existence, but they are not the same (just look at the descriptions). What the exact relationship between the brain and consciousness is is a question for scientists, there's no way to answer through philosophy alone. But many Objectivists believe consciousness to be a non-physical emergent property of the brain, whose attributes are learned through introspection.
  12. The only knowledge we need to validate is that which comes at the end of a process of reasoning that could have been flawed. The directly perceived does not need validation, and in fact is the standard for knowledge that does. Therefore I see no difference between the two statements 'we observe ourselves choosing' and 'we choose'. I don't consider the second an inference. And even if there was an inference to validate, I don't think your method would do it. What you are doing is coming up with the best list of explanations you can and then eliminating them one by one. But how do you know you thought up an exhaustive list in the first place?
  13. Also note that one thing about the universe is emergent properties. One example of this is water. Water consists of H and O atoms. Now neither of these has the property of "wetness" so would you say water can not possibly be wet? After all, the water is the H and O. No - the answer is that in this universe it seems to be possible for wholes to have properties not possessed by any of their parts. Likewise with the brain - it does not automatically follow that because the individual atoms don't have a certain property that the whole can't. It may be true, but it doesn't automatically follow.
  14. I think you may be reversing the hierarchy of knowledge here. We directly observe ourselves choosing, this is directly percieved, it is right at the base of knowledge. Our knowledge that there is a physical world, and that it consists of atoms, and that they behave with billiard ball deterministic causation is much later knowledge. It is an abstract physical theory. Now the nature of validation is proving your abstract ideas by comparison to the directly given. When an idea contradicts the given it is false. And yet what you seem to be doing here is reversing that: your abstract theory contradicts with the perceptually given, so you keep the theory and throw away the given.
  15. I agree that something can't come from nothing, but did you consider the possibility that there never was nothing, that the universe has always existed? Where did this idea that it started come from? I don't think it's self-evident that it must have started...
  16. I saw a (BBC?) documentary last year called "Seven Wonders of the Industrial World" which was quite good. They took seven big industrial achievements (Brooklyn bridge, Hoover Dam etc.) and had re-enactments of what the inventors went through and how they struggled toward their vision, ultimately successful.
  17. Maybe we are the last human generation to die? Bummer.
  18. Law and Order: Criminal Intent NCIS Stargate SG1 The Simpsons reruns Seinfeld reruns
  19. How to convince yourself reality is not an illusion: A step by step guide Standard Objectivist Disclaimer: As many Objectivists know, one can not prove that reality is what it appears. However one can point an individual in the right direction such that their own observations, not the words on this page, form a validation. Step 1: A strictly limited concept of Existence First we must form a very strict, limited concept of existence, the utility of which will become evident later on. The main thing that stops people from grasping what reality is, is having a concept of existence that is not pure, that is polluted with other ideas such as "physical reality." Our concept of existence is a highly minimalist version of the idea of existing and means only that a thing is not pure nothingness. i.e. not pure blackness, pure silence, a void. It says absolutely nothing more than that. To emphasize the point, to apply this new concept to the sight of a table would not mean any of the following: - It would not mean there is a second table behind the image - It would not mean there is a physical world - It would not mean the table image exists independently of our brain All it would mean, is that the image itself is not total blackness, a void, a nothingness. Step 2: Existence exists Now, armed with this new concept, we can continue. The first thing to note is that since it is so minimalist - it only means not being nothing - that it applies to more than just physical existents such as tables. For example, take a feeling of hunger. Most people would agree it is not the same in kind as a table. But when you feel it, is it nothing - is it a total void? If not, then it belongs in this concept. To take an even more extreme example: when you imagine a dancing pink elephant, is that total blackness, total silence - more than that - is it absolute void? No. Given our new concept, it too exists. Try doing a few more examples: memories, dreams, other types of feelings - anything you want. Even if you try to imagine total silence and blackness you should realize that you are imagining blackness, not nothingness. When you have done enough examples to grasp that everything no matter what will fit under our new concept you are ready to move on. This realization is refered to as "Existence Exists." Step 3: A is A This is where we get the payoff for forming the concept. You see, most people who want to know what reality is, start with the question "What is reality?" Logical enough, but also fatally flawed. It is flawed because the answer to what existence is turns out to be a corollary of the earlier grasp that existence exists, and by skipping this earlier step they can not then grasp the corollary. So, how does "existence exists" tell us what reality is? We observed that appearances(1) are not nothingness. But hang on, isn't that all one needs to qualify as part of existence (remember our pure concept)? Therefore appearances are part of existence too, first class citizens, not some illusion or layer on top. Not the whole thing, but not an illusion either, just another part. But if our awarenesses are of the real existence, doesn't that answer the question of identity too, of what exists? Because the appearances are not nothing, they qualify as part of true existence, therefore what they actually are is what they appear to be (since to ask what they are, is to ask what exists, and the appearance exists). To grasp this is to grasp that "A is A." (2) Therefore, in summary, we can say that not only is reality not an illusion, it is the exact opposite of an illusion: it is something that is exactly what it appears. (1) Note that in the face of this analysis, the whole concept of "appearances" loses any meaning, however I feel it is important to retain it in this essay as the purpose is help build a bridge for people coming from another mindset. (2) Note that after some time, when all these steps merge in ones mind, one comes to realize that the fact that a thing is what it is, follows simply from the fact of it not being nothing. At that point one is ready to grasp that A is A is a universal law, and it does not merely apply to that which we observe.
  20. It comes from introspecting on the way you think. When you are engaged in a thought process trying to figure something out, observe what drives that process, what keeps it moving. You will think a little bit and then stop. Now - what makes the process continue to the next step? The answer is, it is your choice. The whole process of doing a proof is driven by choice after choice. Choice is not just part of thinking, it is the driving force. Now note that this does not apply to perceptual consciousness. The sights we see and sounds we hear just keep coming whether we do anything or not. But on the conceptual level, what keeps the process going is choice after choice (Peikoff gave an example of this). So in a sense your conceptal consciousness is your free will. Without it, if you were just perceptual like the lower animals, you would be determined. The claim of being able to prove determinism is thus self-contradictory. To have come up with the proof, your must have been thinking. But if you were thinking you must have been choosing.
  21. You could do a report about a black person who is opposed to black history month, such as Thomas Sowell. http://www.capmag.com/article.asp?id=1457 Edit: or even do a report about a black person who suceeded way before all the liberal government helper programs, and emphasize that they suceeded without them. Such as the architect Mr. Sowell mentions in the article.
  22. You are getting is because capital-B is glasses and lower case b is a monacle. (look at it sideways)
  23. There won't be a war with China. They are biding their time and building up their strength in preparation for a conflict over Taiwan in 20 years time. They will do anything to avoid a war until then. The best approach (IMHO) is to keep playing down the DPRKs bluster until Iraq is stable and the missile defense system is more advanced. At that point we can more safely do something.
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