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Everything posted by Boydstun

  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


    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
  16. The purpose of the land-alliance is for perfection of property rights in land among would-be land-owners in the alliance. Indirectly that purpose serves the sustenance of life, and place for liberty, because land in its unperfected-rights status, as I detailed in the essay, leaves parcels of land titles open to endless contestation including by force. There is no reason inherent to the land alliance function that a member of the alliance cannot invite someone from outside to stay on the alliance member's private property, to work for them, rent from them, buy the land (thence pay alliance dues for the alliance maintenance) or to engage in other cooperative projects with the present land owner. Then too, the right of a land owner in the alliance would have the right to exclude other people from their property regardless of where they came from. There is a difference between having a right and perfection of that right, regardless of whether the right is against violence against one's person or against one's power to use some land. Locke, as I recall, has you still having a right even if there is no law to protect it, because you can still appeal to heaven. That might be seen as an extension to infinity concerning correct judgment on the validity of one's rights-claim. That is a dubious extension, and I demonstrated in the essay by example that the idea that there is always only one correctly just claim is false. Do not neglect my definition of having a right in terms of being right at the outset of the essay. I had formulated that definition very shortly after having become read in Rand's works up to the late 1960's. I happened to jot it down on a slip of paper, which got preserved through the couple of decades before I had begun writing and came to this paper in which it could finally be shared. Some have doubted whether my definition applies to any but claim-rights, that-is, it might not apply to liberty-rights. I was familiar with that distinction, but never checked out my presumption that the latter sort of rights are reducible to the former. And I'm not going to think about it now or study those old pertinent books anew concerning that distinction, or do anything else new in political philosophy. I regularly take talk for a moral right, whether in everyday talk or scholarly expression, as merely whatever ought to be recognized as a legal right. I suppose a legally unrecognized right could be called a merely moral right, though that does not mean that every utterance claiming a moral right is within the ball park of reasonable consideration. I'd be reluctant to call an an entirely unrecognized right an imperfect right, which should be reserved for rights-claims at least getting close to getting over the legally needed goal-line. So, if my romantic sexual behaviors are criminalized by the state, it would sound sensible to say I have a moral right against such proscription, but not sensible to say I have an imperfect right against such proscription. (Since 2003 I've had a legal right against such proscription anywhere in the US, but if it is rescinded by the present Supreme Court, I simply lose that legal right; it does not go into status of an imperfect right, only into the status of a merely moral right.) I know there are other times we use the idea of having a right when the alteration of rightness of the use of force is not the sort of response in view. But tribes, chiefdoms, and states, archaic or modern, are wielders of deliberate force, and the state and near-state and rights is what I was addressing. Although I'm not going to develop my political philosophy further, I am going to maintain our own land for our purposes, and for this afternoon, that means I'm going out to pull weeds, starting right now.
  17. ET, I'd say that a person standing outside of territory under the land state alliance to which I belong would still have rights that should be respected by persons under that alliance. It would be a violation of that outside person's rights were I to go across to him, pull a gun, and stick him up or to go across and force him back to my place and force him to help me with the work around the place. So no. Your concluding principle in the preceding post is not a correct one under this theory.
  18. ET, ownership rights are a bundle of specific rights of control over a single property. So for example, I have a right to cut down any timber I please on my acreage and to exclude by force of law anyone coming on my land to spray paint words on the house or set fire to my woods. But in the bundle of specific rights making up my property rights is not a right of mine to burn leaves under all wind conditions. There was no claim of some collective right to land within some boundaries encompassing all the individual land ownerships. There is only a mutual alliance concerning the process for recognitions and enforcements of private property rights in lands owned (or would-like-to-be owned) by alliance members. (Rights to "airwave" bands for radio broadcasting are rights to land in the economic sense of land, contrasting with other factors of production such as labor. These rights too require alliance of potential frequency-band owners who have their rights perfected [backed by effective force, might]. But these exclusivities of the transmission medium for its exploitation get their property rights perfection by piggy-back on the social mechanism for perfecting property claims in land and transmission facilities built on that land. If air waves over that land can be usurped (or made useless, speaking more practically) by contesters from offshore, then the alliance will have a decision of response to take to best secure their own perfections of property rights of broadcasters based within the alliances' boundaries of perfected property rights in land.) The rights to private ownership of a land property are not something conferred by the alliance, but by claimants in their exploitations of that land. But the mutual alliance confers recognitions, backed up with force, supported by alliance dues, for what processes submitted by claimants for why something is their property are valid within the alliance. Rothbard's rules for coming to own previously unowned land are not the same as Epstein's, etc. To neglect to mention any conventions in such purported property rights acquisition, to pretend that such is all settled by natural law, and to paint a picture in which only one or the other—say Rothbard's or Epstein's—is a just acquisition process, is more plausibly deceptiveness of the salesperson (notably Rothbard) than reflection of stupidity. But all this and more can be learned by carefully studying my old article of some thirty years ago. It is probably not that no one besides me and the editor carefully studied the article, but because the readership was not large and I was a nobody, that no public notice of it was made until its reappearance, on the website Rebirth of Reason early in this century. In truth by now it is such old hat to me, and my intellectual work has since been no longer in political philosophy, theory of rights, and theory of strategic games, that it's not exciting to me any more, and it is a distraction from what I should be working on the remainder of this year, a topic in history of metaphysics and epistemology. I have lately had other reason to dig into the latest anthropology on pre-state organizations of society in their religions and collective violence powers—tribes of hunter-gathers, then chiefdoms—and on to subsequent archaic states and more recent states in those respects, for the sake of my long-term ethical theorizing and not for ever returning to the cutting edge of political philosophy. But I wanted to show you the window on financing and the topic within which that proposal arose, at least for me. I had not set out, those decades ago, to find a solution to the just financing problem. But once I had the theory of the land state in the earlier part of the text, well, I was driving on a Sunday on the Stevenson southwest out of Chicago to put in some needed overtime commercial work. It was morning. I was traveling to a nuclear plant (the last built in America) where I worked and which was in its pre-operational testing phase. Thinking, as most always in a moment to do so, a shadow went by in the back of my mind, I followed it and thought: "Well I'll be damned. That's it." Given the analysis and conception of the land state, the natural attendant method of financing fell out as natural as an apple. That I still remember that scene is an indication that it was a very fine moment in that stage of my life. (I doubt this is the case, but I hope in your remarks, you were not and will not be looking about for a wedge into discussing anarcho-capitalism v. minarchy. It bores me a long time now. It remains a mystery to me that there are people, even professional philosophers as a side-interest of theirs, who are so old that they could be my own children and yet they remain interested in that sub-sub-sub-department of political philosophy and take an interest in persuading the young folks for whom the world was born this morning of the correctness of anarcho-capitalism, instead of persuading and inspiring the young people to get out and make some money, incur no debts, and be the serious business that is happiness. Top priority. No excuses. I'm fine to just leave that pretty-old-folk behavior as one of those mysteries of life not worth solving, and at any rate, I'll not be discussing the issue, beyond what I wrote decades ago.) By the way, as you will see in wider study of the article text, it is not that only land owners have rights. It was only the need of perfecting the claims to ownerships in land in the economic sense that was needed to also perfect the exclusivity rights individuals have in their labor and bodies, where as you also noticed or repeated, those boundaries are given by nature, not drafted by our coordinated behaviors.
  19. Boydstun


    Yes and Yes. Those affirmations have been strongly argued. However, here the questions become the couple of corresponding questions: Is voluntarily not treating someone rottenly properly only on account of one's self-interest? Is voluntary concern for the interests of others properly only on account of one's self-interest? My thesis has been No and No. If those negatives can be sustained against all counters to them, then an ethical theory upholding honesty as among the virtues it defends is not a theory in which honesty is successfully defended purely from self-interest. Failure at defending all the virtues upheld in an ethical theory purely by resort to self-interest is then, strictly speaking, failure to have an ethical theory that succeeds in being one of pure ethical egoism. I'll not be able to deliver this year any of the productions I listed at the end of the initial post in this thread. That is because I need now to revise that paper I submitted for journal publication next April, in response to fine substantive comments now back to me from the editor. I'll be back.
  20. ET, the proper way to fund the proper government is here and here.
  21. Boydstun


    Oh, it was definitely not motivated by or most basically about truth-telling to others. It was about refocussing honesty onto rational self-interest and from those considerations having truth-telling to others as part of what such a refocussed conception of honesty requires. So it was part of the program of rational-egoism replacement of right treatment of others as most basic concern of ethics.
  22. Boydstun


    In July 2006, I had written: "Rand thought that the justification for the virtue of honesty was only that it is in one's rational self-interest to be honest. That is false and psychologically inauthentic. When I tell someone the truth, it is not typically only because it is in my rational self-interest to do so. It is first and foremost because lying to someone is prima facie a rotten way to treat a person. Moreover, my concern for another's self-interest (e.g., not filling their mind with falsehoods) is not firstly a matter of being concerned for my rational self-interest, but of being concerned for theirs." I've come across a striking parallel in Michael Tomasello's A Natural History of Human Thinking: "And so, while there is still some way to go to get to truth as an 'objective' feature of human utterances (see chapter 4), if we want to explain the origins of humans' commitment to characterize the world accurately independent of any selfish purpose, then being committed to informing others of things honestly, for their not our benefit, is the starting point. The notion of truth thus entered the human psyche not with the advent of individual intentionality and its focus on accuracy in information acquisition but, rather, with the advent of joint intentionality and its focus on communicating cooperatively with others." (51–52) In this thread, I'll be examining all that Rand wrote concerning honesty and the coverage by Tara Smith of Rand's picture of the virtue of honesty. And I want to examine the book Honesty: The Philosophy and Psychology of a Neglected Virtue (2021) by Christian B. Miller. There is another book I began to discuss, last spring, here at Objectivism Online, whose title is On Sacrifice (2012), by Moshe Halbertal. I'll complete discussion of this book first. I came to open Tomasello's book, from which I quoted above, by way of completing the study of On Sacrifice. Halbertal concentrates on development of the idea(s) of sacrifice in the history of Judaism, from those ancient religious rituals to modern sacrifice for the state. It occurred to me that in my discussion I should situate Halbertal's coverage into the wider and farther-past account of human religious rituals set out in Religion in Human Evolution – From the Paleolithic to the Axial Age (2011), by Robert N. Bellah, which covers tribal religions (and production of meaning), subsequent archaic religions (meaning and power, god and king), and four cases of religion in the subsequent axial age: Israel, ancient Greece, China [late first millennium BCE], and ancient India. But halfway through that book, I thought of my books by Tomasello, which can fill out the scientific picture of human nature and its origins even farther back, back to separation of our lineage from the lineage of the great apes of today and join comparative capabilities of those two lineages (include Neanderthals with ours) with latest results in early childhood cognitive development. So, the order of productions will be: On Sacrifice (completion of that thread) Honesty (completion of this thread) Thirdly, an essay I plan to compose titled "A Passage to Reason" comparing Rand's conception from "The Missing Link" ("A certain hypothesis has haunted me for years. . . .") with the picture set out in the preceding readings. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ After those, I'll complete the long study "Dewey and Peikoff on Kant's Responsibility" (next year)—I haven't forgotten.
  23. Kyary, my impression is that there are some who classify themselves as Objectivists who complain that the only practical merit of the philosophy is politics (and although none of Rand's fictional protagonists spend their lives in political advocacy, and those Objectivists do), complain that we are all not up for joining them in their political advocacy and their mental preoccupation with politics. There has to be a bottom ten percent of the class. They are wrong in thinking the only or most valuable practical use of the philosophy is political activism and political reform. The most important is its effect on one's own life and mind. Blaming the present social derangements for one not venturing into new education and better employment or for not venturing to have children is feeble excuse-making for not reaching for greater and better making of one's own life or it is cover-up of one's authentic interests and mental capture having nothing to do with real possibility of and desperate need for affecting the course of politics and world affairs. I was a political activist for the first fifteen years after college. In those days, that did not mean electronic communications, but writing surface-mail letters to the editor and to one's Senators and Representative. It meant talking to members of the general public in person, and it meant marching in demonstrations for which you had made your own picket sign. And it meant some study of what you were pushing. "I'll know my song well before I start singing." –Dylan. But when I talked to my fellow-activists in those days while we were stuffing envelopes, it was pretty stunning how easy it was to get our conversation to swerve into discussion of additional, non-political areas of philosophy, especially Rand's philosophy. I concluded that most of those activists were additionally interested in philosophy and read some in philosophy beyond political philosophy. I think it is sad that so many Objectivist-types spout public assessments of philosophers not Rand (or her crew of intellectual descendants become professional philosophers) without themselves making independent serious study of those philosophers or trajectories of thought in the history of philosophy. I do not say things like "Atlas Shrugged is the greatest novel ever written" because the number of novels I've read is only a smidgen of the great literature out there. Yet you see all over Facebook, by unlearned Objectivists, that "Ayn Rand is the greatest philosopher ever" or that she is revolutionary so far that (conveniently) there is no need to read any other philosophy. And, of course, being that ignorant, they do not get to see as such what is truly original, true, and important about Ayn Rand in the history of philosophy, and they end up spouting stupid pat assessments that for every particular social problem there is, it has a philosophic source, namely, Immanuel Kant and/or Postmodernism.
  24. Kyary, I've an additional piece about Rand and Schelling 1800 here. I think it most interesting to explore affinities philosophers A and B have that are positions not widely shared by other philosophers. Even then, A and B's reasons can be quite different and interesting. The case I'm still not finished with, but will probably finish in the first half of 2023, is both Dewey and Peikoff holding Kant and subsequent German Idealists as philosophers most to blame for making the culture in which the Nazis ascended to power and carried out their heinous deeds. This is a minority position; even Sidney Hook, who was Dewey's bulldog (and Piekoff's dissertation advisor) disputed Dewey on this idea. Right or wrong in the conclusion, the reasons for it from Dewey and from Peikoff, from Pragmatism and from Objectivism, are different. (I'll also dispose the correctness of the conclusion by the end of this study.) Always, anyway, precision of representation is everything. If we are too coarse-grained or use A and B's shared words with double meaning not drawn out, we'd not be saying much. I've noticed that it takes a lot of study and rehearsal of thinkers to be able to state the difference between them off the top of one's head. Most of my non-professional philosophy friends cannot tell me the difference between Kant and Berkeley or between Kant and Descartes off the top of the head. (As I recall, your first language is not English; do you know phrases like "off the top of the head"?) And many Objectivist friends of mine have not read much of the classical philosophers (or Freud, . . .) themselves and know only Rand's or Peikoff's representations and criticisms of them. Those criticisms do not generally get to the really deep differences between Kant and Rand because some of their understanding of Kant goes off the rails and some of the pertinent Kant is never sufficiently grappled with and understood at all. (Do you read Kant, Fichte, and Schelling in German or English?) I take the remarks of 2046 to heart for my own sort of writing. I listen carefully and at least kick myself when I've decided to sacrifice writing advice I've gotten from my philosophy professors and professional-philosopher friends for some special concern I have for a particular audience. One reason I've always (since I began to write papers in 1984) tried to cite specific places in writings of thinkers when I represent their thought is for me to be able to easily get back to the source of my claim about them when I need to refresh my learning years later. The other reason is to give readers, with a contrary view of a thinker, that cited text for imagining how I might be led to my representation of the thinker and for such a reader, in reply, to analyze the specific text differently or bring in other countervailing text of the thinker being represented.
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