Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum


  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Everything posted by Boydstun

  1. The interviewer in the preceding is Eiuol.
  2. Philosophy, Engineering - a life, a mind Interview of me:
  3. Dealing with radiation: Optimal Radiation Shielding of Astronauts on a Mission to Mars
  4. Six Poems (YouTube video)
  5. Dupin, that writing of Dewey's is contained in The Later Works - Volume 3, which covers 1927-28. "Dewey traveled to the Soviet Union in 1928 as a delegate with other American educators. He reported somewhat glowingly on the possible Soviet trajectory for cooperative life and experimental education, but he was soon to alter this bright prophecy as the Stalinist faction's 'revolution from above' began its murderous purge. . . . Dewey remained prosocialist yet anti-Marxist." (Dewey by Steven Fesmire - 2015) One part of Marx I doubt Dewey would ever have bought into anyway: dialectical materialism. When Dewey was a young beginning philosopher, although he was a Hegelian (later rejected by Dewey), he did not accept Hegel's dialectic. I imagine Dewey would have found Marx's dialectical materialism similarly otiose. I'm not yet much versed in Dewey's social philosophy, but I gather that his stout support of democracy was tied to his experimentalism philosophy and his views on social criss-cross process (as in science) for arriving at the better in knowledge and social arrangements. Though he hoped for democratic socialist outcomes from the democratic processes (if I understand correctly), I seriously doubt he had confidence that his favorite contender (socialism) would be the democratic outcome. Then 'so be it', would be the attitude of one so committed to experimentalism and democratic process. I notice John Dewey and the Soviet Union
  6. Picture of Particle AND Wave (at the same time!) (Although likely we should be saying particle-like AND wave-like: a wavicle.) HT - Dan Edge
  7. Sev, There is another formulation of immortality that does not invoke a conveyance entity and is argued as a certainty, not a possibility. That is Nietzsche's 'eternal recurrence'. This is not a situation in which the recurrence of one's self and same life would be felt as sameness to prior same-existence(s), but the situation of recurrence can be reasoned to. The argument goes that because the future is infinitely long, all the things composing the sequences of the world and one's life and person in it must eventually recur. Even granting the assumption of Nietzsche's day, that the chemical elements will be capable of forming the molecules of life for an infinite time to come, the recurrence Nietzsche envisioned is impossible. The failure is not realizing that there are different sizes of infinity. The infinity of real numbers is larger than the infinity of integers, such that the probability that a number picked randomly from the real numbers will be an integer is nil (zero). Similarly, the infinity of future hours (we are going along with as assumption in the setup for the doomed argument) is a smaller infinity of courses of hour-fires I can have in my fireplace and smaller than the infinity of life-courses I can have in front of any particular course of fire in the fireplace. The hour of life I have just now passed will never recur.
  8. No. The notion is only a childhood brainwashing holdover. More is required for possibility than lack of surface contradiction. Isn't it possible that cellular life is possible only through attendance by a non-physical life force? No. Genuine inquiry about brain/consciousness - real possibilities
  9. Gentlemen, be sure to acknowledge to yourself explicitly what you do know: you each one, just like me (much your senior), are going to die. No ifs, buts, or maybes. Totally end. Be sure to invest your life with that background as absolute and with projects consonant with your rationally expected range of end date. Indefinitely long is not what is going to happen to your duration, and at some level, hopefully explicitly, you know that. You will die (and eventually even the species will die). And it can have been worthwhile, indeed entirely complete, to have lived your few or several decades of existence. Related, from another, recent thread: Life, finite life, is an end in itself.
  10. One concordance of Dewey with Rand would be: “The most pervasive fallacy of philosophic thinking goes back to neglect of context.” That quote is from Dewey’s lecture “Context and Thought” published in 1931, LW 6:5. I want to mention that for all of Dewey which I reference to Early Works (EW), Middle Works (MW), or Later Works (LW), the Dewey writing can be accessed as follows: Google ‘The Collected Works of John Dewey’. Click on the link to siupress. Find the volume you are looking for, such as LW 6, in the list that comes up, and click on it. On the page that then comes up, click on ‘Google Preview’, and you can scroll through and search the text, (e.g. search the volume for the term neglect in LW 6, and the line I quoted above can be found in the text).
  11. Appropriations - FY 2022 FY = Oct. 1 through Sept. 30 Budgets and Projections Thanks to Merlin Jetton for recent remarks and for notice of the site COMMITTEE FOR A RESPONSIBLE FEDERAL BUDGET.
  12. Eiuol, The idea that Spinoza opened a gate for the modern standpoint is interesting. There is a book by Steven Nadler on my shelf which I’ve not gotten to whose full title is: A Book Forged in Hell - Spinoza’s Scandalous Treatise and the Birth of the Secular Age (2011). In the ancient world, it would seem that Epicureanism was a philosophy facing squarely that death was the end of the whole person and that gods were indifferent to the affairs of humans. In a couple hundred years, however, that philosophy and its practice was overrun by spiritualistic cultural currents.* In the modern era, Epicureanism was bannered by devotees of empiricism, and Jefferson was a devotee of the Epicurean philosophy. It seems to mesh well with the secular outlook today provided one replaces Epicurean views on the methods and significance of science with modern ones. Epicurus/Lucretius suits our modernism better than Spinoza’s rationalism and his scheme for mind-body relations. Both seem to have opened a gate in the early modern period for our modern standpoint.
  13. I had said: "But as ever, one can become fully aware not only of one’s coming nonexistence, but to its place in life." I had meant it is good to become fully aware of one's coming nonexistence square on, with no ifs, buts, or maybes, no fogginess and no denials. And its place in life is only terminal point of life. Conducting one's life never shunting awareness of the coming end is a rationality in life (and tuning one's priorities in projects and relationships with one's present expectation of the termination time of one's life---some decades from now versus two months from now---is part of that rationality). Have you by chance read the book The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker? It's been a while since I read that, but as I recall, it's quite good.
  14. Jonathan, Thank you for bringing together these significant issues and reflections. I think there is a most basic and ever-present form of the human fear of death, and that is our animal wire-up to avoid death joined with our distinctive ability to think about the past and future and know that we shall die. For each individual, ancient to modern, I think their coming end of existence is known to them at the deepest level, and that is directly terrifying left to itself, untied from conscious wider engagement in the stream of life. So when Plato has an old man speaking his terrors, especially at night when trying to sleep, of what awaits in the afterlife, I do not think that Plato and his fellows are being entirely honest with themselves and with others concerning what their fear is really about. Indeed the whole spiel—Egyptian, Greek, Christian/Muslim—about an afterlife is not simply an error of knowledge, but a psychological defense, an attempt to brainwash oneself against a truth one cannot get free of all the way down: one is going to cease to exist. From before Plato to the billboard signs of today that read “Where will you spend eternity?” we have the same self-foolery of the coming full stop. One common thought from believers in afterlife is that otherwise: life is meaningless. The thought becomes dubious as they think more specifically and fully about their life with their spouse and children and other projects and enjoyments. Rand’s theory of value is the full deliverance from the muddle “otherwise, life would be meaningless.” All meaning and worth and purpose is derivative from our life and life before us. All chanting upon life beyond what arose in nature and ends in nature is primordial human self-foolery, and Rand’s insight brings the completeness of realizing squarely that all value and worth and purpose and problems exist only within the phenomenon of life. Brushes with death and traumatic losses surely do occasion turns to new sorts of life. Those are turns in the making of one’s life, that is, turns in what we call making a life. The most basic fear of death retains its place under any such turns. But as ever, one can become fully aware not only of one’s coming nonexistence, but to its place in life.
  15. Sebastien, I for one would be pleased to hear any further elaboration you may develop and care to share. It has so far remained uncertain with me what is the relative amount of influence of different German philosophers had upon the minds of German leaders in their rationales for that world war and the next as well upon the minds of the population taking orders. And it remains unsure with me how much all German philosophy together was an influence in those wars on the German side in comparison to the influence of religion and usual melding of people in collective actions for collective defense and perceived collective progress. Into pockets of German military personnel the government put 100,000 copies of two books, presumably for reminder of the great culture for which they were fighting and for personal consolation and inspiration. Those two were The New Testament and Thus Spoke Zarathustra. The former preceded German philosophical idealism and the latter spit in its face. So there is that to also take into an account of ideological factors in the German political disasters of the twentieth century.
  16. TIME - December 19, 1969 Rand analyzed this linked article, its predictions and old-cant-as-new. She quoted the prediction by Fuller, shown on the linked page. After appearance of his name, she inserted the parenthetical satire: “a bright young man of 75.” (The Left: Old and New, in The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution.) I’ve had the impression in the decades since then that Fuller’s geodesic dome form and the name chemists thereupon gave to their carbon-60 “buckyball” (and the name for subsequent pure-carbon inventions “fullerenes”) have been the salient traces of him in the public eye. I don’t know if the fictional character Roark was talked about in the architecture school of the technological institute I attended in the early ’80’s. But in a professional ethics course I took as part of engineering, the professor had the class first spend three weeks reading The Fountainhead on their own. He then conducted his lectures using things that occur in the novel as well as in real history to make his points (dramatically, vividly).
  17. I plan to compare and assess, here or in a thread supervening this one, Dewey’s take with Rand’s concerning: Are percepts/perceptions cognitive?—relation to “experience.” Are percepts organic responses?—mind/world unity without idealism. Dewey’s categories, by any other name. Also, more on concepts. Dewey’s anti-foundationalism—why, yet basing all in experience.
  18. Dewey writes: “To say that to see a table is to get an indication of something to write on is in no way to say that the perception of a table is an inference from sensory data. To say that certain earlier perceived objects not having as perceived the character of a table have now ‘fused’ with the results of inferences drawn from them is not to say that the perception of the table is now an inference” (1916, 252). Dewey and Rand are in accord on that picture. In further agreement with Rand’s conception of perception, Dewey opposed the Peircean doctrine that perceptions are immediate outcomes of inferences going on in the subconscious. “There is a great difference between saying that the perception of shape affords an indication for an inference and saying that the perception of shape is itself an inference. That definite shapes would not be perceived, were it not for neural changes brought about in prior inferences, is a possibility; it may be, for aught I know, an ascertained fact. Such telescoping of a perceived object with the object inferred from it may be a constant function; but in any case the telescoping is not a matter of a present inference going on unconsciously, but is the result of an organic modification which has occurred in consequence of prior inferences.” (ibid.) Peirce had held that although perceptions are direct (1868a, 31; 1871, 84; 1878, 120; 1901, 62), they are interpretations (1871, 85; 1903, 229), a semi-automatic sort of inference (1868b, 42–51, 57, 62, 67–68, 70; 1871, 85; 1877, 96–98; 1891b, 207–11; 1905, 204–7) conditioned by previous cognitions (1868a, 36–38; 1878, 120). "In perception, the conclusion has the peculiarity of not being abstractly thought, but actually seen, so that it is not exactly a judgment, though it is tantamount to one. . . . Perception attains a virtual judgment, it subsumes something under a class, and not only so, but virtually attaches to the proposition the seal of assent" (1891b, 208–9; also, 1901a 62). Our subconscious abductive inferences in the process that is perception coalesce smoothly into articulate perceptual judgments which are forced upon our acceptance (1903a, 210–11, 227). I think Dewey and Rand are correct in replacing Peirce’s characterization of the process of percept-formation as subconscious inferences. More plausible, under the present knowledge of brain processing, is that the process of percept-formation is by brain integration of sensory and motor experience of things, and that this process can to some extent undergo organic adaptation under further experience of a thing and habituation. Rand thought of that enriching adaptation in humans as arising from injection of some of our conceptual grasps of a perceptual object and its wider contexts into subsequent percepts of the object. I think, however, we should not stop with only conceptual injections as instigating the perceptual adaptations. I sense that in my perceptions of our pear tree, I bring some conceptual knowledge that is alienable only in thought from my perception of the tree. Such would be that there is the fruit that are pears hanging from the tree, which can become ripe enough for human consumption, and that once upon a time some unknown humans planted this tree here next to the house to enjoy the blooms in spring and perhaps to get to eat the pears. There is additional conceptual knowledge about this tree, knowledge not so general about pear trees, and apparently not so run into my adult perception of this tree. Such would be my knowledge that soon I’ll be needing to trim the tree and that, as a matter of fact, the squirrels will eat all the pears before they are ripe enough for human consumption. Mature squirrels come and investigate the tree for edibility of the pears as the pears develop. When the time is right, the sufficiently mature squirrels are adept at harvest. The point I want to stress about this is that the immature squirrels must undergo organic enriching adaptation in their sensory and motor elements bound in percepts under more and more experience and habituation in order to perceive the pear tree as would an adult squirrel. I do not think squirrels are conceptual animals. What is that non-conceptual injection into percept-formation that results in enriched percepts of the pear tree as the squirrel matures into an adult? I suggest that that injection is attainment of action-schemata, which are an attainment we have in our own human development by the time of language onset and which continue to undergird our conceptual life.* Dewey strikes the distinction between percepts and concepts in the following way, which I think is at least an important part of the distinction. “[A concept] is a mode or way of mental action, . . . . It can be grasped only in and through the activity which constitutes it. . . . The concept is general, not particular. Its generality lies in the very fact that it is a mode of action, a way of putting things or elements together. A cotton loom is particular in all its parts; every yard of cloth produced is particular, yet the way in which the parts go together, the function of the loom is not particular. “The concept of triangle contains not less but more than the percept. It is got, not by dropping traits, but by finding out what the real traits are. “It is true that certain features are excluded. But this dropping out of certain features is not what gives rise to the concept. On the contrary, it is on the basis of the concept, the principle of construction, that certain features are omitted. “The concept, in short, is knowledge of what the real object is [Hegel talk here, but with new meaning in progress towards instrumentalism: not idealist]—the object taken with reference to its principle of construction; while the percept . . . is knowledge of the object in a more or less accidental or limited way. “It must, however, be added that the concept always[?] returns into and enriches the percept, so that the distinction between them is not fixed but moveable.” (1891, 145) (To be continued.) References Dewey, J. 1891. How Do Concepts Arise from Percepts? In volume 3 of Dewey 1969. ——. 1916. Logic of Judgments of Practice. In Essays in Experimental Logic. University of Chicago Press. ——. 1969. John Dewey: The Early Works. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press. Hoopes, J. editor, 1991. Peirce on Signs: Writings on Semiotic by Charles Sanders Peirce. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. Houser, N., editor, 1998. The Essential Peirce. Volume 2. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Peirce, C.S. 1868a. Questions Concerning Certain Faculties Claimed for Man. In Wiener (W) 1958. ——. 1868b. Some Consequences of Four Incapacities (W). ——. 1869. Grounds of Validity of the Laws of Logic: Further Consequences of Four Incapacities. In Hoopes (H) 1991. ——. 1871. Critical Review of Berkeley's Idealism (W:74–88) (H:116–40). ——. 1877. The Fixation of Belief (W). ——. 1878. How to Make Our Ideas Clear (W). ——. 1891a. The Architecture of Theories (W). ——. 1891b. Review of William James' Principles of Psychology (H). ——. 1901. Pearson's Grammar of Science. In Houser (EP) 1998. ——. 1903. Harvard Lectures on Pragmatism (EP). ——. 1905. Issues of Pragmaticism (W). Wiener, P.P., editor, 1958. Charles S. Peirce: Selected Writings. New York: Dover.
  19. Painter and Objectivist, Robert Malcolm, has recently died.
  20. Poem -2019 / Photo -2010 (click on photo)
  21. Christopher Klein “Early on the morning of April 29, North Vietnamese troops shelled Saigon’s Tan Son Nhut Air Base, killing two U.S. Marines guarding the defense attaché office compound. Corporal Charles McMahon and Lance Corporal Darwin Judge were the last of approximately 58,000 American servicemen killed in action in the Vietnam War. After surveying the air base damage, Martin conceded the time had come to leave Saigon, but with sea lanes blocked and commercial and military aircraft unable to land, the ambassador’s delays forced the United States into its option of last resort—a helicopter airlift.” “While plans called for the extraction of only Americans, Martin insisted that Vietnamese government and military officials and support staff also be evacuated.” “While approximately 10,000 people clamored outside the embassy gates, marine guards faced the unenviable task of deciding who would be saved and who would be left behind.” “With some pilots flying for 19 hours straight, the American military had carried out an incredible evacuation of 7,000 people, including 5,500 Vietnamese, in less than 24 hours.” “Hours after the departure of the last helicopter from the embassy, North Vietnamese tanks smashed through the gates of the Independence Palace. . . . officially ending the two-decade-long Vietnam War.” One poster here was in US military service in that war. It was from him years ago I learned the quip from Mark Twain: “History does not repeat itself. But it rhymes.”
  22. Rand’s conception of what is a percept did not end with her remarks on it at the beginning of ITOE. She wrote in her 1970 essay “The Comprachicos” the following: “A mind’s cognitive development involves a continual process of automatization. For example, you cannot perceive a table as an infant perceives it—as a mysterious object with four legs. You perceive it as a table, i.e, a man-made piece of furniture, serving a certain purpose belonging to a human habitation, etc.; you cannot separate these attributes from your sight of the table, you experience it as a single, indivisible percept—yet all you see is a four-legged object; the rest is an automatized integration of a vast amount of conceptual knowledge which, at one time, you had to learn bit by bit. The same is true of everything you perceive or experience; as an adult, you cannot perceive or experience in a vacuum, you do it in a certain automatized context . . . .” (193) I want to urge a certain interpretation of Rand’s term percept in this paragraph. One does not need to overtly or silently say “table” in one’s perception of the table as a table, as a man-made thing providing a surface above the floor or ground on which to set things. Without language one can have formed “certain reactions which have become habitual, i.e., automatized” (194). Furthermore, as an adult competent in a natural language, I do not need to produce the word table or function to add another book to the piles of them already here on the computer table. (I hope to be able to continue before the end of this month with more on Dewey [and other Pragmatists] concerning perception fitted within their wider framework in comparison to Objectivism on that subject.) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ In the initial post of this thread, I mentioned my favorite statement from Dewey, which I had encountered in my 1999 research. I came across it again in the present research. It is from Dewey’s 1912 paper “Perception and Organic Action” which appeared in The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods (V9N24). I notice one term should be in italics: “In perception we live reality itself.”
  23. I was pleased with the shift in US foreign policy delineated in the President's speech of 31 August. I was disappointed, however, to see that we shall be sending humanitarian aid to Afghanistan through the US government. We do not owe them anything collectively in the sense of pertinent causal responsibility. It is not the US war there that caused, in the responsibility-sense, the coming dire straits of that country. Many countries, including Afghanistan, have the potential to produce enough to feed themselves and advance themselves were their country to wake up one morning and find that all the other countries in the world had vanished, leaving only ocean around the globe beyond their own borders. Also, I'd bet that such humanitarian aid that well-off countries give to other countries is very often meted out in such a way as to reinforce power of the particular political regime of the day, not merely to fill needs of all people equally. And of course, because of the coercive way in which governmental charities are funded and because we are not and should not be an empire (such as the old British Empire) and because the proposition that governmental foreign humanitarian aid improves protection against foreign attacks on the US is a falsehood and a lie: governmental humanitarian foreign aid is wrong in complete generality.
  • Create New...