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Boydstun last won the day on April 17

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  1. Freud “The author's approach emphasizes the philosophical significance of Freud’s fundamental rule–to say whatever comes to mind without censorship or inhibition. This binds psychoanalysis to the philosophical exploration of self-consciousness and truthfulness, as well as opening new paths of inquiry for moral psychology and ethics.” Love and Its Place in Nature: A Philosophical Interpretation of Freudian Psychoanalysis “Expanding on philosophical conceptions of love, nature, and mind, Lear shows that love can cure because it is the force that makes us human.” Wisdom Won from Illness: Essays in Philosophy and Psychoanalysis “Jonathan Lear begins by looking to the ancient Greek philosophers for insight into what constitutes the life well lived. Socrates said the human psyche should be ruled by reason, and much philosophy as well as psychology hangs on what he meant. For Aristotle, reason organized and presided over the harmonious soul; a wise person is someone capable of a full, happy, and healthy existence. Freud, plumbing the depths of unconscious desires and pre-linguistic thoughts, revealed just how unharmonious the psyche could be. Attuned to the stresses of modern existence, he investigated the myriad ways people fall ill and fail to thrive. Yet he inherited from Plato and Aristotle a key insight: that the irrational part of the soul is not simply opposed to reason. It is a different manner of thinking: a creative intelligence that distorts what it seeks to understand. “Can reason absorb the psyche’s nonrational elements into a whole conception of the flourishing, fully realized human being? Without a good answer to that question, Lear says, philosophy is cut from its moorings in human life. Wisdom Won from Illness illuminates the role of literature in shaping ethical thought about nonrational aspects of the mind.” Imagining the End – Mourning and Ethical Life “Imagine the end of the world. Now think about the end―the purpose―of life. They’re different exercises, but in Jonathan Lear’s profound reflection on mourning and meaning, these two kinds of thinking are also connected: related ways of exploring some of our deepest questions about individual and collective values and the enigmatic nature of the good. “Lear is one of the most distinctive intellectual voices in America, a philosopher and psychoanalyst who draws from ancient and modern thought, personal history, and everyday experience to help us think about how we can flourish, or fail to, in a world of flux and finitude that we only weakly control. His range is on full display in Imagining the End as he explores seemingly disparate concerns to challenge how we respond to loss, crisis, and hope. “He considers our bewilderment in the face of planetary catastrophe. He examines the role of the humanities in expanding our imaginative and emotional repertoire. He asks how we might live with the realization that cultures, to which we traditionally turn for solace, are themselves vulnerable. He explores how mourning can help us thrive, the role of moral exemplars in shaping our sense of the good, and the place of gratitude in human life.”
  2. If you can afford it and have the time, attend as much of the following in Miami as possible. You can meet people and some gay folks will be among them: OCON 2023
  3. David, When I enrolled at the University of Oklahoma in 1966, it was known around the state as a hotbed of communism. I was already a democratic socialist. None of that mattered. I wanted to study physics, and I did, and soft stuff paled into nothingness by comparison. I didn't become a communist. I didn't attend a football game. I studied physics and mathematics mainly. It was not for economic advancement. It was for love of the field and the good of my soul. I was woke, by the way, to the history of racism in the US against Black people. From our own family and the generation before, whom I knew. Racist, racist, racist—that was and is part of America. But in that era, we raised consciousness (to borrow a phrase of Marx, if I remember correctly) and together brought about a cultural and legal revolution in racial equality before the law and in inter-racial relations in America. I approve of that woke. I said I didn't become a communist. I had become a socialist on my own, not by any knowledge of economics, but from the simple fact that the institution of private property allowed people to be selfish, and I thought that behavior to be morally wrong. My moral views were not without contradictions, and I had not really thought through the abolition of private property which I favored. That is where I was, when: there in college, underground, on my own, I read Ayn Rand. That changed my moral and social views, putting it mildly. I'm confident there are still plenty of state Universities and other Universities in which a young person can get a good education in physics, mathematics, and the many other marvelous areas of knowledge I was exposed to. And in Business too, which I was not exposed to. The day-to-day of what goes on there in learning and research, I'm pretty sure, is not the stuff that political interests in the wider society strive to highlight in their tidings of the doom of civilization due to colleges. When I went to college, I spent my life savings from past jobs very soon. I was able to make some money from what was called the work-study program. I worked in the machine shop of he physics department. I was not eligible for a government-insured bank loan, because my father's income was above the cut-off level for the program. I had been raised by my father and his second wife; he was the sole bread-winner of that family. When came the time I needed his financial assistance to continue, he did not come through. (And unfortunately in those days, if you were not in college, you were eligible for the draft for Vietnam.) In a while, I had to drop out due to lack of funds. I was able to have a roof and buy food and cigarettes by monitoring alarms for a detective agency in the college town. Being out of college did not stop my studies, of course, just as today. I incline to agree with your first paragraph, David, notwithstanding the rough spot I got into with respect to my dream and young efforts for some previous years to get my own money to pay for it. My parents had been divorced when I was two years old. My mother, whom I had met briefly in late high school, learned of my situation and offered to help. In the years since they had divorced, she had learned to drive, got an education degree in a town near the little country town where she and my father had become high school sweethearts in the 1930's, and gotten a job as an elementary school teacher across the Red River in Texas. Without her assistance, I'd not been able to go to college and get a sound start on my way to the mind I have today. She was not under any legal obligation, and I should say she was not under any moral responsibility outside the opportunity for seeing me flourish to do what she did for me. She simply responded to my plight and potential and was a very good heart.
  4. I suggest that moral responsibility for training and education of children lies firstly with the child's parents, although not as part of a package of responsibility attaching merely to having caused the child's existence. That Objectivist position focussing on causal relationship, down from the era of N. Branden in the 1960's, was off the mark. Moral responsibility for training and educating the child lies firstly with the child's parents, I suggest, because of the moral goodness of responsiveness to persons and the potential person they may become, responsiveness to persons as persons. That responsiveness is, I say, the core of moral relations among people (and indeed, differently, relations of a self to itself). That is the preciousness that is the moral in a social setting. This position is a cashing out of the concept of moral justice, treating a thing as the kind of thing it is—that moral virtue. What a thing is includes its internal systems, but as well its distinctive external relations, actual and potential. The relations of responsiveness to persons as persons have a specially intense and distinctive character in the relation between the persons who are parent and child (natural parent most strongly, of course, but strong with adoptive parents as well). Additionally, there is a moral goodness in the benevolent protectiveness—that responsiveness—between any adult and any child. That such responsiveness fosters continuance of the species human as human may well be the underlying biological reason for this responsiveness. But that is not the reason the responsiveness of parent or other adult to the child and responsiveness of the child to them as persons is moral. Rather, the nature of value in the life of individual humans together, which is their best situation in the world, is the source of the moral goodness of such responsiveness to persons as persons.
  5. In the present era, do parents have a moral responsibility to finance a child's college education? How much college? Is it morally irresponsible to have children if one is not assuming responsibility for financing the child's future college education, in the event that the child turns out to be college material?
  6. As I recall across my lifetime, the candidates of the two parties spent most of their political campaigns sloganeering that the reason to voted for them was that they were not the other guy. The Democrats this time will surely be keeping the abortion issue salient, which is not a puffed-up issue, like which public restroom to go to, but a real one, coming down to metaphysics and theory of individual rights. Close to 20% of we voters, on either side, have taken it for our decisive issue in any Presidential or Senate race for decades, even when the Parties had not emphasized it in the general election. I surely wish one of the Presidential nominees would make a balanced federal budget their top issue in the 2024 campaign (and not in some plan for a mythical ten years down the road that never comes). We can be pretty sure, however, that most of the campaign money in the general election will be spent on smearing the opponent, and mostly with simply name-calling. It was not so long ago that there was intelligence on both sides in at least the Presidential television debates. In that, I think a really good debate would be between Nikki Haley and Elizabeth Warren. Wrong as either is, they are intelligent and good debaters. However much the leading candidates for the nominations at present would like to take steps towards dictatorship (or however much they simply turn a blind eye to the circumstance that their policies contribute to that drift), they and most of their followers qualify only as proto-fascist, not themselves would-be dictators. Proto-fascist was the term Ayn Rand applied to the George Wallace campaign for President in 1968, for specific reasons she spelled out, and it is the term right for the attitude and some positions bannered by Mr. Trump and some factions among his supporters. On the Democrats' Left side of American politics in recent years, their idea of socialist ideals (mostly mere slogans in the case of the Representative from Queens) is enormously scaled back from what left-socialism in America meant in the first seven decades of the last century. Today's watered-down "let's help suffering people and the environment and feel virtuous" (with other people's money, and truly not virtuous even if the money had been their own) is hardly the old American democratic socialism.*
  7. Perhaps the reactionary outlawing of abortion and bootlicking the modern witchdoctors by Republican candidates had something to do with it. Trump blamed failure of anti-abortionists to show up to vote.* And he blamed their boosting of "extreme" anti-abortion measures at the State level for backlash additional to the overthrow of Roe. It is time (2024), as ever, to vote against any anti-abortionist candidates; at least don't vote for them.
  8. AI Facilitating Mind-Reading This could become a way for paralyzed people to communicate. It might become a way for the government to get information from people (and obviate attempts to get information by torture). At present, the system requires not only our general knowledge of where things are typically thought in the brain, but knowledge of the brain operations of the specific individual, and this latter requires about 16 hours of investigation of the subject individual before successful mind reading. If this system could overcome that arduous preliminary learning and if the system could be shrunken down the size of a skull cap, perhaps hats would come back into fashion. A dating service might offer the hats to be worn for users of the dating service. It might be a sport to go on dates with these hats in which you get the low-down of what your date is really thinking about. When x-rays were first discovered, the newspapers entertained the possible future in which people could walk down the street wearing glasses through which you could see the bodies underneath the clothes. But that was a very long time ago, and nothing like peeping glasses has eventuated so far as I know.
  9. PS – earlier helpful information In Kant’s view, our experience of space does not consist of separate disconnected bits nor of less than three dimensions. We experience spatial form directly and as a unified whole. The presentation that is space is an intuition. That presentation is one whose constituent parts are not prior their whole, not parts whose accumulation makes their whole, and not instances under a concept of that whole. Rather, the parts of intuitive presentations, such as the parts of space, are by limitations and divisions of a singular, unified whole. All objects encountered or even possible in sensory experience have their places in that unitary space. Our abstract geometric reasoning, Euclidean geometry, is not disconnected from the space of our sensory experience (KrV A22–30 B37–45; B162; A140–42 B180–82; A162–66 B202–7; A223–24 B271–72; A712–24 B740–52). Our experience of time, in Kant’s view, is also of a continuous unified whole. All objects, whether in sensory or inner experience, have their places in that one time. Physical things endure and have their motions in determinate ways obligating our perception of them in just those temporal and spatial ways (KrV A30–41 B46–58; A103–10; B136–40; B150–56; B162–63; A140–45 B181–85; A189–211 B232–56). Kant’s faculty of understanding is a part of what has traditionally been called reason. The power of understanding is the power of concepts. Our rational faculties beyond the understanding are two, which Kant called the faculties of judgment and reason. The powers of reason, in this narrower sense, are of inference and cognitive management (KrV A130–31 B169–70; A686–87 B714–15; A723–38 B751–76). The three higher faculties work together, and each is a grand cognitive unifier (A67–234 B93–294; A669–704 B697–732). Kant joined his philosophy of experience and understanding to fundamental physics (1786). He further elaborated our cognitive powers to enfold our esthetic capabilities (1790). In the power he called reason, he located the keys to morality. Between reason and morality, there is no divide (KrV A800–819 B828–47; 1785, 4:389–90, 403–4, 408, 411–13, 426–40, 446–48, 453–63; 1788, 5:15–16, 31, 42–57, 89–110, 119–21, 131–32, 134–48; 1797, 6:213–21, 375–78, 396–97). Yet, the reality of moral law, free will, and God largely transcend reality accessible by our intuition and understanding. Kant inherited entrenched problematic divides in philosophy. Older among them would be the divide between the material world of the senses and the immaterial realm of thought, soul, and God; the divide between inclination and moral obligation; and the divide between reason and faith. More recent among them would be the divide between the deterministic world of science and the inner world of freedom; the divide between the value-absent world of reason and the value-full world of action and feeling; and the divide between things and their effects on us. Where Kant attempted to smooth together those divisions, he succeeded little. Kant deepened and hardened the divide between inclination and moral obligation. However many ties he made between sensing and thinking, he deepened and hardened the divide between them. Moreover, he deepened and hardened the divide between things and their effects on us. His embrace and expansion of that divide entailed that all the unity and structure he would give to experience, understanding, and morality must come from the side of the subject. Space, time, objects, identity, causality, and moral reasons—all of them, systematically and fantastically, and seductively to many bright thinkers, must come from the constitution of an articulate subject striving for and touched by things as they are in themselves, things as they cannot be in our grasp, things with their own articulation unknowable to us. Reinhold, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel would innovate their own further integrations to bridge or dissolve problematic divides as they stood in Kant’s philosophy, but their solutions further increased the crafting of reality by subjectivity and, of course, continued to make room for the supernatural. Leonard Peikoff was partly right, though in considerable exaggeration, to call Kant’s philosophy anti-integration (2012, 34–35). That was part of Kant’s endeavor, a result overachieved, alongside his achievements of integration. Rand’s world and ours is only one world. There is life, condition of consciousness and value. Human consciousness and valuation are open to human choice, within the one, natural world. In all the one world, existence is identity. Consciousness is identification, the grasp of what is and exclusion of what is not. Consciousness is an active process of differentiation and integration. We grasp the world in its given particulars, settings, dimensions, interactions, and magnitude structures. We detect and measure in perception, joined to the magnitude structures there in the world. Our concepts, at their best, rearticulate the world’s own articulation, including its magnitude structures. We are highly integrated in our cognitive powers and highly integrated with the only world, the one available for perception, comprehension, enjoyment, and action. References Kant, I. 1781, 1787. Critique of Pure Reason (KrV). W. S. Pluhar, translator. 1996. Hackett. ——. 1785. Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. M. J. Gregor, translator. In Immanuel Kant – Practical Philosophy. 1996. Cambridge. ——. 1786. Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science. M. Friedman, translator. In Immanuel Kant – Theoretical Philosophy after 1781. H. Allison and P. Heath, editors. 2002. Cambridge. ——. 1788. Critique of Practical Reason. M. J. Gregor, translator. In Practical Philosophy. 1996. Cambridge. ——. 1790. Critique of Judgment. W. S. Pluhar, translator. 1987. Hackett. ——. 1797. The Metaphysics of Morals. M. J. Gregor, translator. In Practical Philosophy. 1996. Cambridge. Peikoff, L. 2012. The DIM Hypothesis. NAL.
  10. RF, where on earth did you get the position set out in your first paragraph? Do you have some text from some Objectivist writer that you could refer to for me to read or, better yet, that you could simply quote with citation here? That might show me that something like what you wrote in that paragraph is anything in Objectivist philosophy, and indeed clarify exactly what you are trying to say in that paragraph. I wondered also, What have you studied in the history of skepticism?
  11. This is not a concerto, but it has always seemed to me to have the right spirit and contour.
  12. I have not posted for several days due to being away from access to the internet, until yesterday, which was due to . . .
  13. Gnome07, welcome. Rand was clear that she thought we perceive things as they are and that this is by subsidiary processing by the nervous system making the perception possible. I don't think Objectivism should depart from that approach when it comes to doing human actions like opting to double-tie my shoe laces this evening. I choose to do the deed, I move my physical fingers rightly with the physical laces. That really happens. Also, there is the underlying nerve and muscle operations at work in doing all that, which we learn from the scientists, and this is not knowledge I put to work in getting the skill or in engaging it this evening. The directness in choosing and performing the act is real, and so are the subsidiary physiological processes. I do not see how entity-causation bars an infinite regress. If one buys that every alteration in the world requires an entity (meaning the entity-category of Rand's) causing it and every causing entity requires other entities bringing IT about, one is stuck in the usual, tired infinite regress. One should NOT accept that every alteration requires an entity to cause it (though it still needs entities to bear the alteration), for Galileo-Descartes-Newton made new thinking caps for us to put on: motion (an alteration of location) of a body requires no propelling cause if the motion is at constant speed and in an unchanging straight line (and without air resistance); every deviation from that sort of trajectory DOES require a causal explanation, that is, THESE deviation-alterations DO require causal explanations, and we will profit by looking for those causes. I'd balk at the idea that "entity" in Rand's sense is the only sort of thing that can cause anything to occur. What causes me to feel warmth of the sand on the beach or coolness of the water I'm splashing through is rate of heat flow into or out of my skin. We have receptors evolved to detect that feature of the action that is heat flow, namely the rate of the heat flow. Actions are a different category from entities in Rand's metaphysics. We may note that the heat transport is because one of two bodies is hotter than the other, but that does not change the fact that the living sensor is responding to rate of heat flow, that being the cause of its activation.
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