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Boydstun

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  1. Peikoff’s representation of the method of Einstein’s discovery of special relativity and of general relativity, his representations of the status of their postulates in respect of empirical test, and his representation of their ontology of spacetime and of causality are thoroughly incorrect (115–20). His conclusion that SR and GR are cases of misintegration is false. Quite the contrary. For correction, concerning special relativity, see my presentation here. VII. Galilean Invariance (p. 131) VIII. Ampère (136) IX. Faraday (139) X. Maxwell (143) XI. Einstein: Special Relativity – Kinematics (149) XII. Einstein: Special Relativity – Dynamics (164) On method of Newton and general relativity, see here. See also, Zahar (1989). Sample of this section of DIM: “In 1908, Hermann Minkowski introduced the concept of space-time, which, purely by mathematical inferences from the light axiom, he proved to be invariant—that is, the same for all observers regardless of their state of motion” (116). Spacetime was proven to be invariant? No. There is a perfectly specific spacetime interval, with specific physical, kinematical meaning that is invariant. See my own presentation linked above. On the interval, I can recommend also Geroch (1978). ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The usual caveat applies.
  2. It is unfortunate, perhaps, that Dr. Peikoff has not dealt in this book with philosophy of mathematics. With Plato and with Kant, philosophy of mathematics is a major driver of and original contribution to theoretical philosophy. I say “perhaps” because thinkers before us, including Ayn Rand and Leonard Peikoff, should have a little heart and leave some important problems and discoveries for other philosophers, in our time and beyond. In DIM Peikoff touches on Aristotle’s conception of mathematics and how it is related to the world. He does the same for Newton. With these views from Aristotle and Newton, though only with a very broad brush, he makes a quick little case for the effectiveness of mathematics in science. He goes half wrong on each Descartes and Newton when he writes: “Descartes too had regarded mathematics as essential to science, but Newton is no rationalist, and there is nothing pure about his equations. Mathematics, in his [Newton’s] view, is only a tool devised by men to help answer questions about matter” (109). We can dig into what is right and what is wrong about those statements when readers here have gotten DIM and had some time to study it. My impression so far of this work is that, notwithstanding its errors, it is likely something fine and grand. It looks to be a book whose errors small or large can be instructive by dissection and whose attempts can clear, at least partially, the path to one’s own grand view. On that same page, Peikoff courts error in saying Newton deduced the Law of Circular Motion using not only geometry, but differential calculus. That’s a bumpy sweep. We should be aware of the distinction between Newton’s first statement and proof of the law and his later deductions of it or others’ deductions of it using his calculus. Not every limit process in geometrical reasoning requires knowledge, even implicit knowledge, of the limit process of differential calculus. Slightly before Newton, and in another way, Huygens also deduced that law. Huygens’ discovery was by kinematical reasoning, and he did not arrive at Newton’s eventual concept of force and so did not arrive at Newton’s eventual view of force and its relation to curvilinear motion. The ways of both Huygens and Newton to the Law of Circular Motion are set out in §II – Huygens* (27–28) and §III – Newton* (53–54) of my “Space, Rotation, Relativity” (1995). I indicated earlier that Peikoff has partly right, but only half of, what is original, major, and influential in Kant’s philosophy (a, b). To add a little to what I mentioned there concerning theoretical philosophy, I’ll say that in my view, which the reader may contrast with Peikoff’s treatment, the first tier of thinkers who loomed large for Kant, thinkers whom Kant confronted and partly appropriated, were Euclid, Newton, Leibniz, and Hume. Second-tier in Kant’s confrontation and appropriation, in his original construction of theoretical philosophy, would be Plato, Aristotle, Luther, Descartes, Wolff, Berkeley, and Reid. All of these thinkers would figure into my own account of the tributaries to and proportions in Kant’s theoretical philosophy in its mature, profoundly innovative phase known as the Critical philosophy or as Transcendental Idealism. Perhaps discussion here from readers of DIM will lead me to specify here some of that fuller picture of Kant and his influence. This book has been on my list of prerequisites for another project. I intend to assimilate DIM with Peikoff’s Ominous //’s in completing my study “Dewey and Peikoff on Kant’s Responsibility”.*
  3. The Principia is splendid. If there were a Son of God, it would be Isaac Newton. Principia is thoroughly accessible if one has had high school geometry and if one has the following guide to Newton's masterpiece: The Key to Newton's Dynamics J. Bruce Brackenridge 1995, University of California Press
  4. OSO, Get this book. When you have it, let me know. Then we can talk about the book and Kant and the book way seriously, to which I look forward. Ninth, No, the main problem is not in views misattributed to Kant, but in the major, influential views Peikoff neglects to attribute to Kant. You are right, however, in noting that any views misattributed to Kant may very well have been held by others, others historically influential. I certainly did not say that for DIM to be right the intellectual history has to be right. I said the opposite, and that was the lesson of the post. Now to say, as I said, that getting it wrong need not demolish the DIM hypothesis, to see whether it does, we have to read the book. I hope you too get this book right away. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ PS Some of my writings on Kant are these: Metaphysics of Kant and Rand Normativity of Logic – Kant v. Rand Mysticism – Kant and Rand Kant from A to Bxxx Kant and Principia Space, Rotation, Relativity – Kant Kant’s Wrestle with Happiness and Life Part 1 – to 1781 Part 2 – towards 1785 Part 3 – into 1785 Part 4 – Moral Worth, Necessary and Free – A, B
  5. The DIM Hypothesis Leonard Peikoff (2012) The representation of Kant’s philosophy in this book is grossly out of balance, and in this it is like Leonard Peikoff’s earlier representations of Kant and the representations of Kant by Ayn Rand. Some errors in intellectual history may not affect Dr. Peikoff’s DIM hypothesis itself. It is easy to imagine that his incorrect view, in this book, of Aquinas among his contemporaries is an error that does not. But such a vast blindness as he has towards Kant as formidable and influential philosophic integrator and defender of modern science in his time? (To be sure, that integration and defense is unsound by my lights.) With Kant as one of Peikoff’s big three philosophers, how can Peikoff’s grand lopsidedness on the Kant of Kant’s works not undermine his DIM hypothesis? It need not. The intellectual pole he takes as Kant can be only half the face of Kant and still be a pole, indeed one with real historical influence.
  6. . Infinite Secrets In this NOVA program, deciphering the battered manuscript Diana highlighted expands our view of Archimedes’ mathematical advancements.
  7. You weight enormously higher the possibility of your future action, experience, joy, and contentment—however vague your sense of them now—over present pain and loss. The actual explicit decision for ending one's life comes up when there is something very wrong in one or very wrong for one. Even if you can no longer remember what is happiness, you still know what life is. Even if you are too young to have yet experienced the larger struggle and happiness of adult achievement and romance to come, you have had at least some glimpse of them. Remember to love yourself or work on getting to where you can. You have before. You still know what life is, and I urge you to choose it. You are correct, I think, in supposing there are situations in which the correct decision is to end one’s life. These are situations in which there is prospect only for great pain in the remaining course of a terminal illness or injury. Mostly they are situations for old people. As I recall, Arthur Koestler and his wife committed joint suicide as one or the other of them was dying of cancer in old age. There was nothing wrong in that choice for their life situation. Sometimes one honors one’s life by ending it. But generally suicide is disrespectful of one’s life and love, and one should hold on tight against all the pain and loss, bracket the despair and work towards its unraveling, as in my first paragraph. I had a brother who worked as a wildcat in the oil fields. One night he went around to where a rope winding on a large spool had become tangled. As he tried to untangle it, he became caught by the winding rope. It carried him around, winding the tight rope over him. Normally, in this type of accident, the rope eventually crushes the man and kills him. But in my brother’s case, it severed one of his arms, and he and it fell off the rotating spool. He picked up his arm with the one remaining, walked around to where the other workers were, and told them to put it in ice. I think of him that night if I need a little courage. There is something I have seen save the life of a man eighteen years old, who was suicidal. He read The Fountainhead.
  8. Further public attention on Rand's ideas from connection to Paul Ryan: What Ayn Rand Says about Paul Ryan Rand Influence on Ryan Ryan’s Economic Plans Aren’t as Ayn Rand-Based as You Think Another Influence: Prime Time for Paul Ryan’s Guru (the one that’s not Ayn Rand)
  9. There is a piece on Rand and Ryan in The Washington Post here. It gives a fair view of Rand, and it includes good links to ARI and to David Kelley's summary of Galt's Speech. Thanks to R. Latimer for the heads-up.
  10. Rand’s reply to Nathan Blumenthal’s third letter is one of the letters to him mentioned by Peter Reidy that are included in Letters of Ayn Rand. From Rand’s reply, you can get a good idea of what was in NB’s letter. The editor added what had been asked by NB where Rand did not repeat the question at the head of her answer to it. Apparently NB’s letter still exists.
  11. Rep. Ryan has a 100 percent voting score from the National Right to Life Committee. I don’t want any more Supreme Court appointments from this quarter.
  12. Atlas, Peter Schwartz' point that “amount of government” would not be a principle giving genuine unity to a political philosophy is correct. When “limited government” libertarians use that adjective to distinguish themselves from individualist anarchist libertarians, they are talking about limited proper functions of government. Defending the country could at times require a whole lot of government, but the number of proper functions of government would still be limited to its constant few. That is what was in the books on this political philosophy in the ’70’s written by Robert Nozick, by Tibor Machan, and by John Hospers. What those proper functions were coincided with Rand’s conclusion in the matter. The preeminent libertarian political philosopher of that decade was Robert Nozick. His book Anarchy, State, and Utopia towered above all others in libertarian philosophy, in content and in public recognition. That is still so today. I know, I know, some folks attached of the political philosophy of Murray Rothbard may not like to admit that; some also do not like to admit the importance of Ayn Rand’s writings in political philosophy to the existence of the modern libertarian movement. Nozick’s book is studied in classrooms today, and it will be studied a hundred years from now. It is a modern classic of political philosophy. In the ’70’s the other writings influential with libertarians were free market economics books, Rand’s literature and essays, Tibor Machan’s Human Rights and Human Liberties, and John Hosper’s Libertarianism: An Idea Whose Time Has Come. On the anarchist branch of libertarianism, there was Murray Rothbard’s For a New Liberty and David Friedman’s The Machinery of Freedom. Rothbard’s The Ethics of Liberty issued in ’82. Those are the books one would need to discuss in order to genuinely discuss libertarian political philosophy of the ’70’s and early ’80’s. The Schwartz criticism you mentioned might have some traction in connection with David Friedman’s approach, but to his alone. He is a utilitarian and is concerned to maximize liberty with an eye to utility, as I recall. All the others come from the perspective that individual rights is a valid moral concept and that the sole proper function of government would be to protect them. Rothbard and his followers would argue further that there is no proper function of government because such an institution necessarily violates individual rights. A few years after leaving the Libertarian Party in ’84, I stopped studying and writing about political philosophy. I returned to what I had studied in college (late ’60’s), which was metaphysics and epistemology. In 1990 I created the journal Objectivity * (subscription, hardcopy) from which political and social philosophy more generally was excluded. Finally there was a place to focus in print on the other areas of philosophy, at a level of interest for both academics and independent scholars. There was also much history of philosophy and science education in the journal. It was not limited to Objectivist contributors and readers. Anyone friendly toward rationality, objectivity, and modern science (standard, no reactionary or basement science) was at home in that clean calm place, made so in part by the exclusion of political philosophy and cultural commentary. My statements about libertarianism and about the LP in those days are from personal memory, not from reading about those days. My impression that Rothbard was not in attendance at the founding national convention of LP was from my memory of the report at the time by an acquaintance who had attended. My memory of such a detail could easily be mistaken. I was a delegate from Illinois to the LP national convention in New York in 1976. I would say most delegates were in the limited government side the divide. Rothbard, Raico, and Childs were delegates and were active on the floor in attempting to put anarchist planks into the party platform. I remember one of their attempts, concerning national defense, failed after Nozick got up, identified the sneaky move that was afoot and the unacceptability of its ultimate implication. There was a big struggle going on at that convention. Anarchism seemed concentrated in the New York delegation. There was only one anarchist in our Illinois delegation as I recall. Objectivist political philosophy is a type of libertarianism, which is the view that the only proper function of government, if any, is to protect individual liberty. That is the paramount political value. In Rand’s political philosophy, the proper purpose of government is to protect individual rights, and the purpose of individual rights is to protect the free exercise of the individual mind in the conduct and service of his or her life in a social context. That is a type of individual liberty. Well, Atlas, I better close. One more memory. Some generous people had put some money into that New York convention. There was a brief sound and light show that had been created for the occasion. The music was a song I had not known till then. It was “Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who. On a screen were flashed various images, but I only remember some of the photos of faces of intellectuals important in the political movement and political philosophy. Rand’s face flashed on the screen, and he crowd went wild.
  13. Precisely. I see that sort of image and don't bother to click on it. Now you confirm I was right not click on it. The entry of the image and the expectation of what is under it is distracting enough and is an undermining of sober thought. And look what you had right under it. I did click on that one. It was serious, and it was pertinent to your subculture concerns over changes at Cato. But the other---the continual "good laugh" and ridicule of Rand and of Peikoff---that is bizarre. This audience is not a joke. Life is not a joke. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Related
  14. Thanks for the correction, Ninth. I really wish you wouldn't post so many goofy visuals. True, I seldom click on them. They are nevertheless distracting from the seriousness in text, yours and others' in a thread. Atlas, I wanted to add to that last sentence that the important thing, in my view, is that old errors are no longer repeated. I never care whether someone acknowledges their past errors in public. That kind of concern is not mine.
  15. Atlas, Thanks for the information from the Brook-Allison presentation. I don’t know what anarchism has had to do with Cato in the past. All of the many times I have seen representatives from Cato on The News Hour through the years it certainly had nothing to do with that. Rothbard was not a founder of Cato or of the Libertarian Party. David Nolan was founder of LP. I have not been a member or supporter of LP since 1984. I have never been an anarchocapitalist. As I recall, it was in the spring of 1972 that I noticed a flyer pasted in the fine arts building on my campus, which flyer summoned anyone interested in forming a Libertarian Party in Oklahoma. I gave them a call. (I had learned the name and idea libertarian somewhat earlier through the philosophy journal The Personalist, edited by John Hospers.) They were Frank and Carolyn Robinson (of OKC), a couple of their acquaintances, and their hopes. Frank soon attended the national founding convention in Denver. Hospers, who was not anarchist, became our presidential candidate. Frank reported that Hospers had called Rothbard and had gotten the latter to agree to stop attacking this nascent organization. Rothbard and associates would later join and, by ’76, gain great influence in the party. It would have been some months, maybe many, after the ’72 election, when I learned that Rand condemned us for our political and educational initiative. By 1976 the Koch family had begun funding LP national efforts. Ed Crane was the party chair at that time. As I recall the Kochs put about a million dollars into the 1980 LP presidential campaign. (Our candidate was Ed Clark.) After that effort, the Kochs decided to stop putting their money into LP campaigns and instead form Cato, with Ed Crane as its head. In 1985 or so, I did read Peter Schwartz’ essay against libertarianism. It contained at least one correct thought about participation in political action, as I recall. But his representation of what was libertarianism was fantastical. He blurred the distinction between the political philosophy and the political party (an ideological political party, to be sure). John Hospers had completed a book surveying libertarianism by the time of his campaign back in 1972, and we in the party had promoted it continually. Beyond that work were three cornerstone works many of us in the party and in the libertarian intellectual movement more generally had read or were reading: Atlas Shrugged; Man, Economy, and State (Rothbard’s big economics book); and Anarchy, State, and Utopia (Nozick). This was the triangle at the center of the political philosophy libertarianism in the ’70’s and early ’80’s (and perhaps to this day). Within that triangle were those of us who subscribed to Rand’s/Nozick’s conception of the propriety of government and those, such as Rothbard, who would replace monopoly government with private competing agencies of law enforcement. The core was not core in Schwartz’ representation. His essay was a smear job, continuing the smears by Rand. Glad to see the gloss from Brook that you have conveyed in the opening paragraph of #26.
  16. Faster than Light? is a different perspective on special relativity, light from a deep and twinkling eye.* ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Oscar, I sent you a personal message over the email service of this site. –S
  17. This film affects people in very different ways. It is called The Tree of Life. I saw it the other evening rather accidentally. The great wind storm had come through our area last Friday night, knocking down trees, including one of our big oaks and some smaller trees, which knocked out power. Walter and I were able to find a hotel about 40 miles south of home, where we stayed until the power was restored four days later. All is well, as the big tree did not fall on our house, and we have plenty more trees. We were lucky to be able to be in an air-conditioned place during those days, to have a swimming pool, and to have chanced into this film on HBO at the hotel. It is a modern and ancient integrated view of human existence exquisitely crafted. I heard in it some faint echoes of Plotinus and of Leibniz, and certainly it shines some biblical vistas and values. It is not agreeable in its messages, at least not altogether, with my philosophy or that of other people here. It is very agreeable in message, I would wager, with millions of viewers who regard themselves as spiritual (and likely liberal). I would urge anyone here to see this film for the experience of it—much of it wonderful for you I hope—and for seeing also to what in its very center, in human nature, Ayn Rand was and is offering a new vision. Imagine such talent and technology brought round to inspiring audiences by vision of man with step that travels unlimited roads, man as the glory of all the forces that led to his existence, his sacred existence, here where is human value, here home in the cosmos where is human life and death and love. Formation
  18. A new particle at about 125 Gev has been found at LHC. Need to confirm it is the Higgs boson.*
  19. John Allison is a Board member of the Ayn Rand Institute. He made presentations at OCON 2011. In one of those, he mentioned some projects in academia that he and Charles Koch have co-sponsored in the past. He surely seems a great asset for Cato from his business expertise, his long-time staunch commitment to advancing the scholarly defense of freedom, and his understanding of the importance of Rand’s philosophy in that defense. An explanation of the settlement for Koch v. Cato is here. Related (Nikolai, a little point of sensibilities: John Allison or anyone else who takes Rand's philosophy and its scholars so seriously as he would not appreciate being referred to as "Mr. Objectivism himself.")
  20. Hi Oscar, It was a long time ago. We never met. We corresponded on issues in relativity (especially GR) and metaphysics between 10/23/88 and 3/28/89. You were a physics major. You lived in Torrance. I lived in Chicago. You had written to me by referral from Ron Kagan. He knew of me because I had written him a letter responding to an essay he had in Objectively Speaking titled “The Foundations of Metascience.” I still have all your letters and copies of mine. They were all hand written! They are fun reads. In your last letter, you had received a scholar award for graduate school in physics at UCLA. I hope you were able to take some advantage of that, and anyway, I am delighted to see you still have a lively interest in these topics. Stephen
  21. Oscar Munoz, warm hello across the years. —Stephen You may be also interested in this thread and in this post, the latter concerning Penrose’s proposed Conformal Cyclic Cosmology: a, b. (PS – I see now that you and Alfred have already been discussing Penrose's CCC here.) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Alfred, thank you. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ On QM interpretation, this one.
  22. . The Euclid satellite is to launch in 2019 and gather cosmic data bearing on dark matter and dark energy.
  23. My first lover and I were together for 22 years, to his death 22 years ago today. This then is a remembrance I would like to share today. It is my eulogy for Jerry at the memorial service for him in Chicago three weeks after his death, all those summers ago. The ceremony consisted of alternations of speaking and music, and the music that followed my speaking was the Rachmoninoff Prelude Op. 23, No. 2 in B flat. Jerry D. Crawford (11 October 1948 – 17 June 1990)
  24. Happy Birthday, Electron Frank Wilczek (author of Lightness of Being) “One could say that the electron was conceived in 1892 and delivered in 1897.” “Although the Higgs particle is sometimes credited with giving matter mass, its contribution to the mass of ordinary matter is actually quite small. Lorentz’s beautiful idea, in modern form accounts for most of it.” Of related interest: Representing Electrons A Biographical Approach to Theoretical Entities Theodore Arabatzis (Chicago 2006)
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