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    Gideon Reich
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  1. I'm interested in forming a weekly study/social group in South Orange County, California. I live in Aliso Viejo and by South Orange County I include such localities as Laguna Niguel, Laguna Hills, Laguna Beach, Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, etc. At this stage I have in mind a rather informal group and hope to begin by studying OPAR using Gary Hull's Study Guide. Location and time yet to be determined but I'm thinking of meeting during a weekday (say Wednesday, 7pm) at an appropriately sized local diner/restaurant or bookstore. If interested email me at [email protected].
  2. I think with some isolated exceptions the Wikipedia entry is true. The exception is that through the Anthem Foundation there have been some graduate seminars in Objectivism. At the University of Texas, Austin for example Harry Binswanger gave a graduate seminar in epistemology recently. But I would be happy to be proven wrong. At the moment, it is my understanding that the only Graduate teaching of Objectivism is at the OAC (the web page is not entirely updated but I thought an announcement had been made that the program is now active). Of course, ARI's OAC is not an accredited program.
  3. From my days in physics I remember the most obvious example of integers that match the equation are a=3, b=4, c=5 since 9 + 16 = 25. I seem to remember that it was Rene Fermat after which the famous theorem is named that there are no integers that match the more general equation to the nth power. Fermat's theorem was proved recently. So in answer to question 3 I'm guessing Rene Fermat. P.S. How do you do superscripts?
  4. Well, the Bible has in its varying parts implied very different positions with respect to faith. If we take faith to mean "belief in the absence of evidence," then it seems that the Old Testament very frequently did not require this -- I remember several places where specific demonstrations of God's powers were presented within the narrative, for example, when Moses with God's help turns a staff into a snake and there were other, comparative demonstations of the power of Yahweh versus the non-existent power of other pagan gods. Of course it was not consistent in this respect. In the New Testament as I remember it, Jesus made a big deal of faith and belief regardless of the evidence presented. Of course, since the supposedly miraculous events of the Old Testament are in violation of every known law of nature, any modern belief in their occurence (and perhaps some ancient as well) would require faith, regardless of the insistence of the Bible to the presence of witnesses at the time. A lot of ancient texts have descriptions of all sorts of mythical miraculous events but such writings cannot be considered evidence for miracles.
  5. The important thing to remember is that Objectivism relies on self-evident axioms at the base of all knowledge. These axioms (existence, consciousness and identity) are not taken on faith but they do not require any proof -- they are self-evident. Faith as dictionary.com defines it, is: Proof applies to some knowledge and but not to all knowledge. Presumably we're all typing our responses on a computer. The presence of the keyboard on which we are typing our response does not require proof and at the same time I'm not taking that presence on faith. It is simply a self evident fact -- our perception is all the material evidence we need. Similarly the fact that I am aware of typing the present message is not a matter of faith. It is also axiomatic. Issues of proof arise in more complicated propositions and theories. Logic depends on the law of identity which is a self evident fact. It is true that logic cannot be proven since proof assumes logic. However, the basic axiom of logic, the law of non-contradiction, is simply an epistemological reformulation of the law of identity which is one of the basic axioms of existence. Logical reasoning corresponds to the actual nature of reality and there is no faith involved.
  6. Welcome to the forum! I read The Fountainhead back in 1986 in my High School English class (it was on the reading list for book reviews) and enjoyed it very much although it was not a life changing experience. I did promise myself that ought to read more by this author. When I read Atlas Shrugged a year later in my freshman year at UCLA, my life changed forever. I have since reread both several times. I found my reaction to rereading The Fountainhead stronger than the initial readings but I still always find Atlas Shrugged to be the more impressive book. Since Tikkun is Hebrew and means repair, so what are you hoping to fix?
  7. Just as an aside, the correct latin phrase is tabula rasa. When Ayn Rand talks about tabula rasa, it is my understanding that she means by that that the human mind has no innate ideas. Man is not born with any innate conceptual knowledge. I know of no scientist that has provided evidence to refute this. If you have knowledge of evidence of innate conceptual knowledge please present it -- I'm sure we would all like to hear the details. Rand was hostile to Kant because she took ideas seriously and argued that Kant's ideas were horrendous on every important issue. Kant started the subjectivist school in philosophy by arguing that rather than attempt to make our knowledge conform to reality (thus objective), we need to have reality conform to our knowledge (our innate structures -- subjective). He denied the possibility of a real metaphysics since, following Hume, he argued that we could never have knowledge of reality-in-itself and converted objectivity into intersubjectivity, since collective agreement became the new standard. In ethics he argued for duty and severed virtue from value. If you are new to Ayn Rand's ideas there's quite a bit more you might want to consider reading to understand where she's coming from. A reasonable source is the Ayn Rand Reader edited by Gary Hull, which has selections from both her fiction and nonfiction or you could dive in with any of a number of other books such as "Philosophy: Who Needs it," whose title essay you seem to have read or The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged which are her most important fictional works.
  8. Two recent examples show two possibilities for converting large books to movie or TV: Lord of the Rings and the sci-fi show Babylon 5. In Lord of the Rings there was in the end about 11-12 hours of story. In Babylon 5 a story was told slowly over 5 seasons with 22 chapters each, around 80 hours total. I don't think it is impossible to do justice to Atlas Shrugged but it will be quite a challenge, both artistically and philosophically.
  9. I smell Platonism, which for someone sympathetic to religion, makes sense. So who exactly is the author of the original quote that neverborn posted?
  10. Religion (and here let's take the three monotheistic faiths Judaism, Christianity and Islam, as representative) contradicts Objectivism at every level. Some simple examples: Metaphysics -- According to religion, the universe is supposed to be created by an omnipotent consciousness -- God. Objectivism holds that "existence exists" (independently of any consciousness) and subscribes to the principle of the primacy of existence. One can interpret religion "allegorically" but then one abandons the religious meaning and changes the subject. Epistemology -- According to religion, important knowledge is acquired through revelation and accepted on faith. This is mysticism and in direct contradiction to the Objectivist view that knowledge is acquired through the objective process of reasoning based on observations. Ethics -- Religions subscribe to altruism. Objectivism advocates rational egoism. Politics -- To the extent that religions have political ideas they tend to be statist to varying degrees. Objectivism supports laissez faire capitalism. Now of course, one can find specific religious people who have better ideas and interpret their religion in more liberal or rational ways but for most of their history and in essence the above description of religion's views is uncontroversial.
  11. Your sarcasm is misplaced. You'll note that with respect to Cuba, Ayn Rand advocated a blockade, not just a boycott. The economic boycott was for the Soviet Union. We did not do either, sending emergency grain supplies to Russia during the Reagan administration for example. And of course, Cuba has had trade and relations with the rest of the world making our boycott ineffective and extending the life of this corrupt totalitarian dictatorship. Regardless, the Soviet Union is gone and would have gone sooner if the West had not helped it along and eventually Casto's Cuba will follow it.
  12. I don't think that's "consistent with "Objectivism and Capitalism." What you write is in direct contradiction to what Ayn Rand wrote and said, for example, in the Playboy interview: See Playboy Interview with Ayn Rand
  13. I too reread The Fountainhead just recently and ran across a correct prediction by her. See this entry from my blog: Also, there will, unfortunately be a an entire channel devoted to so-called "reality" shows, called Fox-Reality.
  14. Actually that's quite fascinating. Zukofsky seems to have been a Marxist modernist of the kind Ayn Rand had always opposed. It's quite ironic that he apparently also picked the title "Objectivist" but then Marxists have always claims to be the movement of so-called objectivity and science. Nevertheless, this seems to me to be not unlike the difference between the Romantic school in art and the Romantic philosophy in the 19th century, except in reverse, since Ayn Rand subscribed to the Romantic artistic principles but disagreed sharply with the 19th century philosophic trend. I don't think any of this defeats the arguments of your opponents, it just means that when the context is unclear, more than capitalization is necessary to specify what one is talking about.
  15. Okay, I've glanced through some of the objections to the premises (up to premise 10). I don't see anything too profound there. Michael Huemer, the author of this critique, seems to not really get Objectivism very well. The kinds of things he's looking for in the Objectivist Ethics (detailed justification and proofs of every point) he simply won't find. The essay was based on a public lecture and it is complete and convincing for that context. For a more detailed discussion of the basis of ethics Peikoff's Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand is helpful and for a scholarly analysis and justification of the Objectivist ethics I recommend Tara Smith's Viable Values. Prof. Smith addresses in some detail a number of Huemer's objections. For example, she devotes a whole chapter to demolishing the idea of intrinsic value (what Huemer calls "absolutist"). One might also add that as concerns Huemer's objection against Rand's use of goals with respect to living things, Harry Binswanger wrote an excellent book The Biological Basis of Teleological Concepts that shows in some detail why Huemer is wrong when he writes that "living things do not aim at anything." Also, Dr. Binswanger is harldly alone in his views which are common in the field of biology. They were held, for example, by the late Ernst Mayer. If you really feel confused by these arguments then you have a bit of work ahead of you. But rest assured the effort will be well worth it -- all his claims have been answered long ago.
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