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    Aaron Turner
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    Optical Engineer

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  1. I can understand the constraints of young children - I have three daughters. In addition to weekly meetings, we also occasionally have weekend gatherings for more social purposes. When these occur, perhaps you would be interested in attending. If so, send me your contact information and I'll put you on our email list.
  2. My wife and I run a discussion group on Ayn Rand's philosophy: Objectivism. Our group (currently four regular members) meets weekly in the evening in Southbury. Our discussions range from philosophical topics, (including metaphysics, epistemology, politics, aesthetics) to purely social exchanges. We seek to further the integration of Objectivism into our daily lives through exchanging experiences, perspectives, and occasionally correcting our errors. We range in age from 30's to 50's. Our meeting structure is very informal, and regular attendance is not required. If you are interested in attending one or more of our discussions, please contact us through one of the following methods: [email protected] (203)267-5383 (Home number) (203)797-6430 (Work number) In our many experiences with other Objectivists, we have found great pleasure in the realization that we are not alone. Aaron Turner Connecticut Objectivism Discussion Group
  3. No, Aurelia, you didn't miss my point at all. Your definition matches my understanding quite well. As for the practicalities mentioned, I recognize the biology connection, but for the other sciences I think any connection is either non-existent or no longer relevant. Of course, there are the legal phrases that are still in Latin, and if you are a European lawyer you may want to have a good understanding of Latin to consult older texts. What I'm still interested in fully understanding is the feeling by Free Capitalist (and perhaps Aurelia) that Objectivists "should" be studying the classics. I can see the interest in studying Aristotle certainly, and perhaps some other ancient Greeks. On the other hand, I've found most of the other material I've read to be less of interest to an Objectivist per se. I have a general interest in history and in understanding the errors of other philosophical schools of thought, but I view this more as a "hobby" of mine, rather than an activity that directly assists in my life. And so this is my question - is the study of the classics (lets say other than the study of ancient Greek philosophers) a healthy "hobby", or is it important to you in understanding the philosophy that you are living? I should also mention, for Aurelia's benefit, that I just completed reading Meditations about 3 months ago. I found Marcus to be an excellent student of Stoicism. Very intelligent, insightful, able to connect his life experiences to his chosen philosophy, and ignorant of that philosophy's errors (which is not to damn him, but rather to recognize his lack of knowledge). The brutish nature of the era comes through as well, but I liken his writing to that of some of our better presidents, in their attempts to expound upon the meaning of current events, within their chosen philosophies (not that they were Stoics, however). Jefferson comes to mind.
  4. Aurelia, I just posted a topic in the Culture forum for you to answer regarding the "classics". I'll be looking forward to hearing your answer.
  5. Aurelia's introduction has left me wondering what she and Free Capitalist mean by the "classics". When I hear this phrase, I associate it with ancient Greek and Roman literature. My understanding is that in the generations preceding my own (I'm 40), studying the "classics" was presumed necessary to qualify as an educated individual. Clearly by my generation, this had all but vanished (I recall Latin being offered in my high school, but not seriously promoted). In addition to the definition, I am also wondering why an education in the "classics" would necessarily require a knowledge of Greek and/or Latin. I myself have read quite a volume of literature translated from ancient Greek and Latin (Aristotle, Plato, Thucydides, most of the extant Greek tragedy, Pliny, some of Cicero, and several others), but without any knowledge of the original languages. I'm currently reading Decline and Fall by Gibbons, and have been working my way through Durant's History of Civilization - certainly not "classics" in the sense used here, but very thorough studies of the history involved (even with their factual errors). Have I missed that much due to errors or inability to translate? I have recently had a slight interest in learning Latin, but honestly only because it becomes somewhat tiring to skip over the Latin phrases in some of the various material I find myself reading. Is there a "practical" reason for learning Latin or Greek? There *is* a practical reason for studying philosophy - of that I have no doubt and have seen the positive effects in my own life. But is a study of the "classics" (other than the philosophical writings) and of these languages at all practical, beyond understanding the history of human thought? Can either of you further explain the nature of your adoration of the "classics"? Thanks!
  6. I am surprised anyone is surprised. If we polled Americans, just what percentage of the under 35 crowd would recognize Aushwicz? Perhaps more than 40%, but I wouldn't bet on it. Modern history is presented in our public schools only in high school, and even then "ugly" modern history is only seriously discussed in Junior and Senior year, and then only in the "advanced placement" classes. How many minutes are spent discussing the Holocaust? I'm going to guess less than an hour, and unless the message was driven home by a film, a long writing assignment, or a field trip, I doubt the information is retained for more than a semester. As for picking up historical knowledge outside of formal education, the vast majority of Americans don't read regularly, and are unlikely to watch documentaries of events that occurred 60 years ago. Sorry to come across so negatively, and I do hope I am very mistaken.
  7. Interesting, I just listened to the Galt speech using Audible (from New Intellectual) and it came to about 3 hours at the point in the speech where he says (paraphrasing) "now that you've listened for three hours". I found this rather revelatory of the detail to which Ayn must have gone in producing this work - obviously she or someone else read it out loud and timed it. Then again, watching Ayn deliver impromptu dissertations, maybe she dictated the speech
  8. I also received the trilogy DVD set. Generally, I've not liked the "improvements" - I'm of the opinion that art should not "evolve" after it has been released by its creator (yes, even if the creator is the one doing the evolving). However, I would have welcome a demuppetfication of the final movie. Teddy Bears just don't make convincing war heroes. My five-year-old daughter is simply entranced by the entire triology - but I don't need her to develop a fear of stuffed animals (well, at least not yet).
  9. Well, I stand corrected, and quite surprised.
  10. Actually 99% of cruise control systems just read the signal feeding the speedometer to determine the vehicle's speed, which is based in turn on a mechanical measure of how quickly the wheels are turning. Adaptive cruise control, which is virtually non-existent in a statistical sense, relies on radar, but I would assume it does not use doppler radar to determine the relative velocity of vehicles ahead of the equipped vehicle, just distance as a function of time. "Check your premises" -A.
  11. I've spent my career to date working in optical engineering for the company that produced the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra Observatory, and has been involved in a several other major NASA contracts. Our primary market is the US Defense Department (along with some foreign militaries). My understanding of the ethics of working in such an environment is along the lines that Stephen has mentioned above - this is a pre-existing condition of the country, and that my rational self-interest is best served by producing in an environment in which I excel. That being said, as I have risen to a level of importance in my company, I have not been silent about my views on NASA contracts, and on NASA's very existence. At every relevant occasion, particularly during the quotation process, I have pointed out that performing large contracts for NASA never makes good business sense. NASA has no interest in providing a company with a profit. Typically the larger contracts are of the "cost plus fixed fee" variety, meaning that NASA will pay whatever it costs to produce the system, plus a profit "fee" (of about 15%). During the quotation process, competitors produce bids on what they expect the contract to cost. However, what ends up happening in reality is that the job is given to a bidder who bids well below the actual cost, and although this is technically illegal, it is typically done with both NASA and the vendor fully aware of the shortfall. Then, as the contractor runs into trouble with meeting the bid, a negotiation begins in which the company supports the contract with internal funds (usually indirectly to avoid more illegalities), while NASA pays a portion of the cost growth. By the end of the contract, the contractor is lucky to have broken even. The only "profit" obtained is the ability to use the involvement with NASA as a marketing tool. In my opinion (particularly with the Hubble) this is a very questionable benefit. It is quite notable that in our Defense contracts, of which the larger, more exploratory contracts are also cost-plus fixed fee, the customer always delivers funding covering both the full cost and the fee, and quotes are typically much more honest. I have always seen this dichotomy between NASA and Defense as a mark of their legitimacy.
  12. I've also read the book, and found it "interesting". I cannot find an immediate reason to reject the hypothesis, though it must be seen as an unprovable hypothesis, and more a subject of history than of psychology. But my real question for you is based on the quote from your original post. Why are you hesistant to ready something controversial? If you are hesistant because of the potential waste of money / waste of your time, then that is understandable; however, to be hesistant based only on the commentary of others is not ethical.
  13. Stephen - thanks for the corrections on the topic of relativity. I admit I used this opportunity to draw out your general opinion on the solidity of that theory. And I would welcome a (short) list of references to experimental verifications of the premise of special relativity. As for experimental verification of the general theory, I am awaiting the results of the Gravity-B experiment, as well as those from the various gravity wave detectors currently under construction (I have some familiarity with the LIGO project as a supplier of test masses, and of Gravity-B as the supplier of some detector windows).
  14. I'll add a third physics-based, accepted, contradiction: the so-called "Twin Paradox" resulting from special relativity. I am a bit concerned that this is not a logical contradiction, but I'll await commentary from others in this forum on that issue. We have twins A & B. B is an astronaut, who leaves Earth at a high fraction of the speed of light (lets say 99% of that speed). Due to the relativity effect of time dilation (slowing of the rate of time seen by a "stationary" observer watching a moving clock), B ages at a much slower rate than A, according to A. Hence, after 1 year in A's life, B appears to have aged only 51 days. The paradox (and potential contradiction) enters when we consider what B observes of A. A key principle of relativity is the non-existence of an absolute, or preferred frame of reference. Hence, B observes that A has aged only 51 days after 1 year of B's life. (In A's frame of reference, A will have aged about 7 years when B appears to age 1 year). Because we conventionally accept an "absolute frame of reference", this example appears contradictory, though if the conditions of the relativity theory are accepted, there is no basis for the contradiction, because that absolute clock is discarded as non-existent. To further consider the validity of the "paradox", one should consider that the entire basis of the special relativity theory is the *axiomatic* statement that the speed of light in a vacuum is constant in all frames of reference. To my knowledge, there has never been a direct experimental observation of this accepted "fact". -A
  15. It should be pointed out that the wave/particle contradiction you mention is not the same as the equally pervasive Heisenburg Uncertainty Principle in quantum mechanics. Although the Heisenburg principle is the simplest to state (essentially putting limits on one's ability to know the position and motion [momentum] of an object simultaneously), it is the development of this principle into the much more complicated Schrodinger Wave Equation that brings this fundamental contradiction to fruition. The wave equation describes the probability distribution of an object's position at a point in time. There are various interpretations of the "meaning" of this expression; however I recall learning two dominant interpretations. In one interpretation, the object is said to exist in no position prior to its being observed, at which point the probability wave "collapses" into a discrete result, with the statistical probability described by the wave itself. At the time of my education (1984-6) this was the most accepted interpretation. Another alternative is the Many Worlds interpretation. In this case, the object exists in ALL possible locations, each occuring in a separate universe. Which universe we are in is only revealed at the point of the observation of the object in a particular location, which is where it belongs in that universe. At any rate, I dimly recall the existence of other interpretations, but these currently elude me. Stephen, of course, will be able to fill in the blanks here.
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