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Boydstun

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  1. THE OXFORD COMPANION TO PHILOSOPHY (1995, 2005) is an encyclopedia of issues and philosophers. It is 1056 pages long. It does not have an entry for Ayn Rand, although she is mentioned within an entry for Popular Philosophy. The entry begins by setting forth three sorts of popular philosophy: general guidance about the conduct of life; amateur consideration of the standard, technical problems of philosophy; and philosophical popularization. There was movement called “popular philosophy” in eighteenth-century Germany. It included various definite philosophies, but criticized obscure technicalities and systematic elaborations, in an attempt to stay close to experience and usefulness for life. Frankly, general educated readers today, would find those writings quite technical philosophy. And frankly, the German Rationalist before them Christian Wolff held to the Enlightenment value of concern for the welfare and betterment of humanity (and he found a method for increasing the yield of grains). Then too, all the systematic, technical philosophers before them held forth practical philosophies, which is to say ethical systems. So I don’t give much weight to the claims of uniqueness in this self-declared popular-philosophy movement. The movement was eventually displaced by Kantianism. Beside those guys, the entry mentions under philosophers giving general guidance about the conduct of life: Socrates, Aristotle, Stoics, Epicureans, Christian dicta (not really philosophy), Erasmus, Montaigne, F. Bacon, La Rochefoucauld, Samuel Johnson, and Benjamin Franklin. “By the end of the eighteenth century, prudence, and the idea of rational management of life, had been obscured by the clouds of romanticism.” That is to say, the allure of this sort of practical philosophy was outdone and displaced by the allure of philosophical romanticism, including Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. Emerson and Shaw should be counted among this sort of practical philosopher. Others mentioned, from the twentieth century: Émile Chartier, Havelock Ellis, John Cowper Powys, Aldous Huxley, and Sydney Harris. In the last three decades of the twentieth century (and to the present), “professional philosophers, after a long period of absenteeism from anything but the most abstract and uncommitted attention to the problems of conduct and practice, have resumed a measure of direct involvement, mainly at the political or collective level, but to some extent more personally, as in Richard Robinson’s AN ATHEIST’S VALUES and Robert Nozick’s unkindly treated THE EXAMINED LIFE.” Skipping the second kind for a moment, the third kind of popular philosophy in this entry is popularization of philosophy. Among this kind are mentioned: Paulsen, Windelband, Benn, and Russell in his PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY, Hospers in his INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHICAL ANALYSIS and HUMAN CONDUCT, and Scruton’s MODERN PHILOSOPHY. T. Nagel, Blackburn, Midgley, Glover, and Singer are professional philosophers who have been lured into press in the popularization genre. The second kind of popular philosophy is in contrast to institutional philosophy, which today means in contrast to academic philosophy. This kind of popular philosophy, though amateur, tackles the standard, technical problems of philosophy. Notwithstanding all their influence, the author of the entry puts Descartes and Hume in this category. I should add Spinoza. This sort of philosophizing flourished at presses in the nineteenth century, but languished in the twentieth century. Exceptions in the twentieth: C. G. Stone, L. L. Whyte, and George Melhuish, “and, in the United States, Ayn Rand, strenuous exponent of objectivism and self-interest.” I’d say that Leonard Peikoff greatly contributed to expanding the range of standard philosophy problems that can be addressed by Rand’s philosophy in metaphysics and epistemology. His essay, “The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy” was a big expansion, even if only a short overview. In his History of Philosophy lectures in the early 1970’s, he gave square, competent presentations of the big guys through the ages and followed each with what Objectivism could say precisely of what was amiss or right in the particular philosophy. Appearance of the Blackburn A COMPANION TO AYN RAND is a milestone breach of the silence on and snubbing of Rand by academic philosophers. This breach was made possible by the renowned Aristotle scholar and Objectivist Allan Gotthelf. Another breach is the Ayn Rand Society within The American Philosophical Association and the books issued by that Society under an academic press. Another: Chris Sciabarra’s AYN RAND: THE RUSSIAN RANDICAL and his JOURNAL OF AYN RAND STUDIES. The thesis of his book on local Russian influences on Rand’s philosophy were contested by James Lennox, Barbara Branden, and others knowledgeable of Rand and her development, but in the course of his book, Sciabarra exposes to a wider scholarly audience a very detailed view of Rand’s philosophy itself. I should mention that the professional philosopher Robert Nozick preserved his early challenge to Rand’s ethics by including it among his papers in his book SOCRATIC PUZZLES. Academic presses have issued other books on Objectivism or putting it into technical philosophical work: three books by Tara Smith and one by David Kelley. Although Nietzsche after 1890 was widely read among people outside academia, and a cult of Nietzsche burned brightly until WWI, he was shunned by the academy there and here until after WWII. That would be about five decades after his death (really ten for full blaze). Rand has been deceased about four decades. The question of how far Rand’s philosophy might become a stable and large topic of academic philosophers in the coming decades remains entirely impenetrable to me. By now though, it appears Rand’s philosophy will for a long time to come continue as a help to some people in making a life for themselves and as, for some, an entryway to philosophy more generally. This is a picture of Ayn Rand in 1951 being read by a college student maybe 15 years later.
  2. Mini-Series of Atlas Shrugged from Daily Wire+ (November 2022 announcement) Jeremy Boreing, Ben Shapiro and Caleb Robinson are producing for DailyWire+. Dallas Sonnier and Amanda Presmyk are producing for Bonfire Legend. Aglialoro and Harmon Kaslow are producing for Atlas Distribution Company. Scott DeSapio, Joan Carter and Danielle Cox are executive producers. The deal was negotiated by Dallas Sonnier and general counsel Joshua Herr on behalf of DailyWire+, Roger Arar and Kaslow on behalf of Atlas Distribution Company, and Tim Knowlton of Curtis Brown Ltd. on behalf of the Peikoff Family Partnership and the Estate of Ayn Rand.
  3. Let's try to get that link out of that do-loop it slips into on initial posts. Creating Christ
  4. You should share some of these other sources; their bottom line numbers and how they got them would be nice. I had been simply curious how many lives were estimated to have been saved by preventative measures that were taken against this contagious disease. And the links I shared here were simply what came up in the google. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I should mention that information provided for our own community here in Lynchburg—tracking the number of new cases, new deaths, and available ICU at our hospital—were useful to us in the decisions we made to protect ourselves during the pandemic. We are old and retired. We stopped going to the gym for many months. Many members did not renew their membership during that time. My husband did not leave home, as he has severe COPD. The Governor came around to closing gyms for several months. We have returned now, and we follow the routine of wiping down the contact points, even though we all know it was found that spread of that virus was mainly airborne, not contact. We continue that simply because it's a good habit, for other disease transmission, protective of self and others. The "individualist" refusal to wear masks in our local grocery store during the pandemic reminded me of back when the AIDS pandemic was going on. Within the libertarian political press there was promotion of Dr. Duesberg's conjecture that AIDS was not caused by HIV (but by other factors such as poor diet, partying all night, running oneself down by taking "recreational" drugs, and assault of AZT [the only anti-HIV med at the time] on the body; stop doing those things and the whole problem will go away). This press was plainly not motivated by providing me with good advice on what I should do. It was motivated by politics, especially government-research expense. It was implausible to the educated on its face and morally obscene. People who could have had an eventual chance of being rescued died on regular schedule from taking such advice. I did not take that advice. I spat on it. I followed the information in my Scientific American and the advice of my doctor (a scientific guy) and Dr. Fauci and his agency. Those researches and drug developments saved my life and preserve it to the present. (By the way, a vaccine has never been found for that virus; nature is a giant.) I doubt there is any government program whatever that cannot be twisted into part of a design to control the lives of the citizens and curtail their freedom—from providing for the common defense to building interstate highways. I have property rights in my acreage. That is a bundle of specific rights. I have a right to fell any timber on our place that I please. I have a right against others felling them without my consent. I do not have a right to burn leaves under all wind conditions. That last is not an attempt by law to become master of my life. That thought is ridiculous, and if one believes that sort of thing, one needs to get a grip. Neither is it plausible that some despot in the future is going to come along and use the leaf-burning constraints to snuff my free life. "Man—every man—is an end in himself . . . ." That is not, logically, in Rand's ethical system only the pylon for the moral rightness of self-interested action, but for respecting ends-in-themselves that are other people. Jackassery "individualism" is not helpful to the cause of constraining government in the big ways it infringes the rights of individuals. Providing for the common defense has passed, starting at least with FDR, on to protecting people from hurricanes and epidemics. And there is a regularization of the extensions as time goes by: Goldwater denounced Medicare and Social Security as socialism; Trump said no, only the Obama-Care addition was socialism. I suggest that what is horribly wrong are the massive outlays without adequate revenues and the ways in which government can take over particular lives seriously such as was done by the military draft or, less drastically, by wage and price controls or by denying people the right to go to work or keep the firm open during the pandemic—rather than letting our citizens volunteer to save their country or save others against totalitarianism in the war or letting them make their own decision on whether to stop going to work or school during the pandemic (thereby putting the blames for untoward consequences on nature, rather than on government). The idea put about these days that every ill impact of government action on one's cherished freedoms is the main and evil objective of people behind the policy action is egocentric, subjectivist, and false. All over our acreage every year all the plants and all the animals are behaving as if their species was trying to take over the world, but there is no such intention; they have no such broad intentions or any intentions at all. Personifying cumulative bad results from our organized collective action that is the US government and writing a fiction of that evil personage is intellectually lazy and does not help in tuning to reality.
  5. Perhaps I should have put this item under the World History sector. Although it concerns Religion, it is not some current of religion especially Current Event. This video is a great help to me. I have listened to the first hour. I want to absorb the book. I’ve had the book a while, but have been intimidated from taking it up and getting into it because the Roman characters are “Greek to me.” I sensed that I needed to have my encyclopedias around me for looking up the various names, which I have delayed and delayed. I needed the history of the Roman Empire (and really gotten into the head) of which I am ignorant. As a study of religion/state roles prior to this era, I have been studying Robert Bellah’s book Religion in Human Evolution – From the Late Paleolithic to the Axial Age. I have been on the alert in this long human story from before the Greek/Roman/Christian epoch for the evolution of the ritual of sacrifice because I want it as background on the book On Sacrifice (biblical/rabbinical) by Moshe Halbertal, which I have begun to write about at OO on another thread in connection with all of Ayn Rand’s writings on sacrifice. In the video, the part about how the Jewish monotheists could not accept the Roman gods/rulers-pantheon reminded me of the American Revolution and Thomas Paine’s remark that goes something like this: “Who then shall be the King of America? I’ll tell you friend. He rules above . . . .” (and his adjoining blueprint for a purely rule by the Law of constitution).
  6. Creating Christ – "Did Roman Emperors create Christianity? Archaeological evidence now links the first Cristians with ruling elites of Rome. A conspiracy to end the great conflict between Jews and Rome changed the course of history. This secret revealed here."
  7. On Walsh on Rand on Kant – Between Metaphysics and Science That 2010 paper of mine can be read at the site linked above. I have completed the new intense paper on the paper of George Walsh and the comments on Walsh by Fred Miller at the 1992 session of the Ayn Rand Society. My 2010 paper was not bad and is one slice through the Walsh presentation of Kant's philosophy and Walsh's criticisms of Rand's understanding and representation of Kant in metaphysics and epistemology. My new paper is entirely different from the 2010 one in the new one's treatment of Walsh's paper, Rand's misunderstandings, and the real clashes between Kant and Rand. Plus the new paper treats Miller's comments on Walsh, which the old paper did not. I expect my new paper to be accepted for publication, and if that is so, I'll link to it here when that issue of the journal comes out.
  8. ReasonFirst, Descartes thought the only reason we humans err is that we let our will outrun our understanding. He and many others thought that God could not err. That was because they thought error would be an imperfection. That is foolishness, I say. Where there is no error, there is no intelligence. God was traditionally thought of as having a will (there was the choice to make the world and to make humans) and as having understanding, or intellect. Although Descartes would emphasize the extent of the divine will, whereas Leibniz would emphasize the extent of the divine understanding, all could agree that for God, Its will cannot outrun Its understanding. Its understanding, Its intellect, may be pure act, but it is not a process requiring time to obtain knowledge. This idea of divine infallibility (and omniscience) in comparison to human fallibility (and partial ignorance) might be thought analogous to a real refrigerator and a perfect refrigerator, as in thermodynamics. The Second Law says the perfect refrigerator can be compared to real refrigerators, but no real ones can attain coincidence with the perfect one. I think that analogy would be an inappropriate analogy. Although we can get better at avoiding errors (and I would say that the best outside help on that is elementary logic texts which include informal fallacies as well as formal ones; the former can be supplemented by the informal fallacies Rand formulated, or anyway rediscovered and renamed, such as the Stolen Concept Fallacy |—>The Art of Reasoning), we would rationally expect to make errors even when proceeding with the greatest care and conformance to logic. We must not suppose it is possible to make no innocent errors, even as we get more skilled in avoiding them and even with the self-correcting methods of the hard sciences. That would be an error. For comparisons of human intelligence with other intelligence, I should suggest comparison of our cognition with the cognitive powers of the great apes, and not with imagined chimera such as God. A Natural History of Human Thinking
  9. Lancet estimates of lives saved by Covid vaccines Lockdowns saved lives, but not a go-to strategy moving forward
  10. In the Asian Flu epidemic of 1957-58 in the US, vaccination of the military was the top concern of the government to get done.
  11. Boydstun

    Honesty

    Harrison, a general good will towards people might be among the reasons for not wanting to put falsehoods in anyone's head unless you've specific good reason to do so. Therefore, one might form a habit to that effect, which does not require rethinking the whole issue every time someone asks you for information. Harrison, in the link from which I quoted in the first paragraph of the OP, I was indeed disputing the correctness of Rand's egoism in its beneficiary aspect. She recognized, in the intro to VOS, that this part of her ethical egoism required argument beyond her basic theory of value and her agent-egoism (the parts of her ethical theory I agree with). I have stated many times that because ethical egoism is an essential part of Rand's philosophy Objectivism and I reject her full egoism package, I am not an Objectivist, notwithstanding all I agree with of it in many fundamental things. (If there's an essential of the philosophy you disagree with, you're not of that school; by the way, nothing conceived by Rand or her associates later that was not already in Galt's speech could possibly be an essential of the philosophy.) I have come around to a conjecture as to why so many readers, whether friends of Rand or opponents, cannot let it sink in that this writer and thinker (me) is a no-go on Rand's ethical egoism (which is the best one in the history of philosophy), and so I'm not an Objectivist in ethical theory. My conjecture is that people are so used to opponents of Rand distorting her views, which I do not. I think people who do those distortions have reached a tired stage of making dead their own minds. They don't really expect to be doing any new thinking or rethinking anything from seriously, accurately engaging with what Rand actually wrote. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ This fall I needed to return to working on (a final draft of) a scholarly paper on Kant for a publication. That is why I have not yet returned to what I promised for this thread nor the thread on sacrifice. In the interim, I came across more recent thoughts from the Aristotelian scholar Richard Kraut concerning ethical egoism, more recent than I had written about in the piece "A Rejection of Egoism."* So I'll try to convey his more recent and more elaborate thoughts on that also when I can come back to serious posting.
  12. My method of travel is train if I don't want to drive. Any of these suffice for Amtrak: State or provincial driver's license Passport Official government-issued identification (federal, state, city or county government or foreign government) Canadian provincial health card ID card with photo Military photo ID Student identification (university, college or high school photo ID) Job Corps photo ID
  13. France produces 70% of its electricity from nuclear, and it exports electricity to other countries. It can help other parts of Europe fulfill energy needs acutely in short supply for this winter, due to cutback of natural gas from Russia. At present 26 of France’s 56 nuclear reactors are off-line for maintenance and repairs. A huge scramble is underway to get that work buttoned up and get back on-line. President Macron’s administration has submitted a plan to Parliament to build six new enormous reactors in France starting in 2028. —from NYT 11/15/22
  14. Delta Situational Awareness System SkyWiper
  15. Additionally, concerning Rand in Russia and her family: Pavel Solovyev and Chris Sciabarra. 1912 Father Student
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