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Obdura

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About Obdura

  • Birthday November 12

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    Chicago

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    Brendan
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  • Biography/Intro
    I'm a relatively new student of Objectivism; the president of a high school O'ist club; and an aspiring fiction writer.

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  1. First, I question the validity of the phrase: "I ought not to be gay." This makes no sense to me. Do you mean that you should find a way to stop having emotions and physical responses to certain stimuli, just for a period of time? Or that you shouldn't engage in homosexual acts during that time? The first is absurd, and the second is just kind of redundant -- i.e., shouldn't it be obvious that you're not supposed to be boinking while in the armed forces? I recall Tammy Bruce (a political commentator) once remarked that she supported DADT in the same way that she supported military regulations which discharged women who became pregnant while in the service -- basically, the military isn't the place you go to in order to express your sexual individuality or find love or whatever. My idea is: Do it on your own time. Second, I don't think it's a good idea to equate private contracts with government contracts. For instance, I believe that, while racism is immoral, private individuals and corporations should be able to discriminate based on racial criteria. They have a right to do as they wish with their own property. But what about government positions? Should the government be able to discriminate in the same (or similar) way that DADT does? I would say that any regulations the government puts in place on its own agencies should be demonstrably and rationally related to the agencies' purposes. For instance, telling members of the armed forces that they are required to attend Sunday Mass is entirely unrelated (and even counter) to the purposes of a military in a proper society. (I believe similar examples have been given by DavidOdden in this thread.)
  2. -- Imogen Heap I've always found Ms. Heap's music to be delightfully composed -- every sound is home-made, and I mean that literally. For a great deal of her career, she would use the sounds of trash cans, cars, etc. for her music, bringing it all together into something very man-made and orderly. Specifically, "The Walk" is a perfect artistic rendition of the intersecting themes of a rational love and an unearned guilt -- and, in the end, love wins out over guilt. What I love most is how much the whole thing sounds like she's singing about a spaceship; the human body as an artificial vessel is a beautiful idea, something I've mostly only seen in Rand's work. -- Tori Amos She's a new favorite -- a very humanistic artist, who conveys a profound love of humanity, even through her semi-mystical songs. Ms. Amos has a great love of the human body, of pleasure, etc. -- and has no problems with saying so. In "Precious Things," she focuses on the beauty of pain (note: not the "virtue" of suffering) for being a part of us; painful experiences, she admonishes, should be cherished and released, not resented and feared. They are not the mainstay of life -- they are sorrowful, indeed, but they need not keep us from finding happiness. (I especially love this version -- it's so much better than the ones with the electric guitar, IMO, because it conveys so much more emotion and individuality. A lot of the pain is lost when she is accompanied by other artists.)
  3. This is definitely late, but, in response to D'kian's query, Rand already received restitution -- according to the DVD version of WtL, she sued the Italian government and eventually was awarded a tidy sum of money (the exact amount is probably not something her estate would or should be willing to share) as well as full recognition of her creative rights. A couple of individuals involved in the film's production contacted her, and I assume she did not tell them off; in fact, the actor who played Leo even showed her the film in her own home, much to her pleasure. (Source: the DVD's special features. Sorry I don't have any direct quotes. The info should be on the Internet somewhere.)
  4. There is no point at which an entity becomes totally and completely separated from the "outside world." Our subunits are always, and always will be, constituent pieces of reality as a whole, and, therefore, can never be divorced entirely from "outside forces." (I am, of course, no expert on this matter, so I am completely open to any arguments against my point.) This does not, in any way, contradict free will. The way you are putting it is as if our minds existed in an entirely separate reality -- which is (a) entirely impossible, and ( a perfect example of the mind-body dichotomy. The mind is what the brain does, and the brain is subject to outside forces -- therefore, to an extent, the mind is subject to outside forces. But, due to some complex chemical processes/reactions of which we are not currently aware, the brain manages to effect something very much like a self-contained system (a la Rand's and Aristotle's "Prime Mover"). I understand completely that we are our minds; I am not arguing against that, and I am not arguing against the existence of free will. I am merely saying that your argument is far too simplistic to explain the existence of our volitional faculty, because it does not take into account the complex nature of the mind's "physical side," so to speak. [Edit: got rid of an accidental emoticon.]
  5. I really dislike the majority of opinions posted here -- people have either stated that determinism somehow necessarily implies a belief in the primacy of consciousness, or merely stated that, because we are made of atoms (and subatomic particles), our actions cannot be said to be determined. While I am in no way a fatalist, I really have to object to these arguments, for the following reasons: 1. (Re: "Primacy of consciousness") To say that we could, theoretically, determine the path of entire galaxies light years away, in no way contradicts the principle that existence exists. It is, in fact, quite in keeping with that principle. Bluecherry mistakenly states that this view relies on the idea that these events would not have happened if we had not "determined" them; to the contrary, the belief is that events (which are not the result of any actions taken by a free-willed organism) will occur inevitably, as (i) things have natures and (ii) things can act only in accordance with those natures, ergo (iii) everything acts in a specific, relatively predictable manner, regardless of your knowledge (or ignorance) of it. So, for instance, a particle billions of light years away will continue to act in accordance with specific laws, e.g. gravity, despite the fact that we have not seen it or acted upon it. Thus, we know that a piano dropped from the top of a building will always fall to the ground -- because things act in specific ways, and a piano, under certain conditions, will always fall, and never rise. 2. (Re: "made of atoms") It is true that we are made up of certain substances -- but that in no way contradicts the view of determinists. Itsjames claims that, because we are composed of atoms, and are therefore not determined by "outside forces," we have free will. But this has a few holes, like: if we are composed of atoms...where did those atoms come from? Well, the "outside," of course -- that's how we were formed in the first place! And if our subunits really are self-contained and not "determined" by "outside forces," then that still leaves us with the issue of how these subunits act. Well, they can't possibly act randomly, i.e. without causation, without nature. They must have some kind of nature, and they must act in accordance with that nature -- therefore, our actions are determined (if you follow itsjames' line of thought to its logical conclusion). 3. Intellectualammo only quotes Peikoff as if his points need no support, which is both annoying and disconcerting. I'll just leave that one alone, until and unless IA decides to elaborate, rather than merely reference what "Dr. Peikoff says." The best way to debunk determinism, to my knowledge, is by following the general ideas posted here by Bob G and Grames. While I do not know the exact biological mechanisms which constitute free will, I know that it has to exist, for a variety of (ostensively identified) reasons. For instance, the fact that we out of all known organisms need a justice system in order to survive -- we must determine guilt; we cannot simply know it based on instinct. Also, reason (i.e. conceptualization) is an inherently volitional action -- because it is based on the fact that you can be mistaken about what you think, whereas lower animals have no such issues. We also need to expend effort to think, whereas you will never witness lower animals puzzling over differential equations; the closest they get to this is experiencing conflicting emotions, in which case they become paralyzed and only take action when the stronger emotion wins out. And, as Bob G points out, the very idea of "proof" (e.g. "I've proved that there is no such thing as free will!") is dependent on the possibility of falsehood, of choosing wrongly. Or, as Bob points out, to claim that there is no such thing as free will is kind of a pointless action -- it's like a Luddite using the Internet to spread the word that technology is evil. In fact, it's even worse, because at least a Luddite can choose not to use technology; no one can actually give up volition.
  6. Thanks for the warm welcome, guys! Definitely. What's the best way to show you? PM seems kind of clunky if all we can do is copy/paste.
  7. Hey, all -- sorry for the very uncreative title. It's just that these intro things are a dime a dozen (kind of like that phrase), so it's pretty impossible to make it at all original without going totally and absurdly overboard. So, to avoid doing that, I'll just give you some stats and open things up to questions, if you're interested. Most likely you'll just learn more about me (whether you want to or not, I suppose) as I post around the forum. I'm seventeen. I've called myself an Objectivist (or, more accurately, a "Student of Objectivism") for about a year now, but I've known Rand (yes, "known," like an odd aunt or grandmother) for about four or five. I currently run a high school Objectivist study group, which has been pretty successful so far. I'm an aspiring novelist, though I love to write short stories from time to time, and I enjoy trying my hand at essays, letters to the editor, etc. I'd say that my primary reason for joining this forum is to try and expand my understanding of O'ism and of philosophy in general; though "networking" would come pretty close, since I don't exactly live around a lot of Objectivists or even relatively rational people, so it'd be nice to become acquainted with at least a few self-described O'ists. I guess that's everything. I don't think I sucked that badly at this, actually, but my standards for a good introduction never were very high.
  8. My point was that the illness itself is not a matter of morality, because that illness is not a matter of choice for you (though, to a certain extent, the reasons for having that illness may be entirely controllable, thereby validating what you say above). You did not make the distinction, in your original post, between the fallacy I mentioned and the entirely valid point of view which I reference in parentheses. If a person has a mental illness, as some contend is the case with homosexuals, then it is generally not under their control, and it may be incredibly difficult for them to become self-aware in that regard, so I hardly think being mentally ill is somehow a sign of immorality on the part of the ill individual. If this is not what you were talking about, I apologize for misinterpreting, but I think you should have been a bit clearer.
  9. I find your conclusion to be a tad flawed. If something is "an illness," how could it be simultaneously immoral? Morality covers only that which is under an individual's control -- and, thus, illnesses (mental and physical) are not under the purview of ethics. It would probably be more accurate to say that Rand's views on homosexuality were changing to accommodate new evidence (incorrect though it was) that one's sexuality is not necessarily a matter of choice, and that a preference for the same sex may or may not be indicative of some underlying psychological (or physiological), as opposed to philosophical, issues. (Which, of course, isn't to say that the philosophical does not influence the psychological.) I think it is best to see this part of Rand's views as sort of a "blip" -- she herself preferred to consider her written work hierarchically superior to impromptu explanations and elucidations, as the former was much more thought-out than the latter, and in written works there are few excuses for miscommunication, while speaking with very little preparation can understandably lead to errors and -- dare I say it -- a reliance on "unchecked premises."
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