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Everything posted by greich

  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.
  16. Well, a few years back we had Dr. Peikoff, followed by Andrew Lewis, as well as Prodos in Australia, Dr. Hurd and Dr. Kenner. Of these, only Dr. Kenner is still on a regular radio show. There are some strong sympathizers out there -- The Peter Mac show that regularly interviews ARI people is one but judging by the number of calls the show gets, it can't be very popular. I also gave up on Conservative talk a while back. Nevertheless, I would be more pessimistic about the prospects of a revival in Objectivist radio but perhaps over time the situation will improve.
  17. I have never been able to tolerate Hannity from the first time I saw him. Admittedly, this was more of an emotional reaction but I thought the way in which he carried on on Hannity & Colmes was so insulting and crude that regardless of whether what he says may have elements of truth, it's worthless coming out of his mouth. But in answer to your question, I would say that I've never felt so ideologically alone. With few exceptions the religious conservatives were united in their evil purpose and willing to use most means at their disposal to stop justice from being done. If the whole Schiavo affair is a sign of things to come then things are looking ominous indeed. As I wrote here, I expected to have regrets voting for Bush and unfortunately I'm seeing them come true and worse than that, Bush is looking more religious by the minute...
  18. This article on Richard Lawrence's Objectivism Resource Center seems quite relevant. Is Objectivism a Cult? By the way, I think it's a mistake to accept any package-deal of good and bad meanings of "cult" and argue that yes, in a way, Objectivists are part of a cult, but that's the good meaning of cult. Better to argue that as far as the intended insulting meaning of those who frequently term us cultist is concerned, there really is no such thing. The similarities you point to are true (they do identify actual facts) but do not identify anything essential that would suggest that we are partly cult-like, not unless the word is to be almost completely stripped of its essential meaning.
  19. Yes, I read it as well when it was online at Casey Fahy's now defunct website. It was superb in its rigour and logic, completely exposing the Brandens as frauds who had exploited Ayn Rand and Valliant did this using their own writings by pointing out the contradictions and inconsistency in and between them. It also touched on some of the other critics of Ayn Rand over the years. As others have pointed out, James Valliant (with two "l"), who I believe is a former lawyer interviewed Dr. Peikoff a few years ago. I assume that Dr. Peikoff was suitably impressed with Mr. Valliant via both the interview and the article, otherwise he would not have given him access to the never before published personal journals of Ayn Rand, in which she presumably details her most intimate thoughts and feelings. According to ARB the book is 433 pages long. The article I read at the time was probably no more than about 100 pages long, so the majority of the book is her own writing. Like Free Capitalist, I was partly taken in when I read Barbara Branden's biography as a newbie Objectivist back in 1988. Though I continued to admire Rand, I would think to myself, that her ideas may be great but she did not quite live up to her own ideas in her personal life. I also met otherwise seemingly rational individuals, who might have been Objectivists, but considered Rand a "hypocrite". It was only somewhat later when I thought about it that I realized that Branden might have had an ax to grind. I never bothered with Nathaniel Branden, though I know people who did read him and described him to me as a self-confessed liar. I, for one, am looking forward to finally reading the other side of the story and to do justice to the greatest intellectual and personal influence in my life. I've already pre-ordered the book from amazon where for some reason it's expected only in May...
  20. On the subject of Arafat's demise, I'll add this bit of humor: The Monty Python Dead Parrot Sketch with Minor Corrections Enjoy!
  21. I subscribe to TIA daily and visit the forum often. I was thinking more along the lines of what Capitalism Magazine is doing presently -- offering side by side 3 arguments for Bush and 3 for Kerry (and there probably could have been three for not voting as well). But I would want it in printed form. I see the controversy on the vote as a healthy thing and a sign of maturity in the Objectivist movement. As others have pointed out it puts the lie on the "Randroid" and dogmatist claims. I would like to reach the point when TIA monthly is the size of Commentary magazine, with an extensive letter section, a 5-6 main articles, and several book and other reviews. In other words I would like it to truly become "an Objectivist review" as it refers to itself. That means it would have to be 50 or more pages per issue. I'm quite sure that we will reach that point and the active intellectual debate on this and other forums, as well as the increasing intellectual output by professional Objectivist intellectuals is evidence of that.
  22. I think the Kerry vs. Bush issue has been pretty much exhausted. Both sides have made the best possible arguments. I doubt many people will change their minds at this point. But given that both sides argue that their candidate is the lesser of two evils I have a question: If your candidate is elected what is likely to be your greatest regret based on what he might do? I'll start it out. I used early voting in Orange County, CA to vote for Bush. I think I'm most worried that he will not do anything about Iran and that the continued idiocy in Iraq will lead to full scale civil war culminating in another Islamic state. Now, obviously I'm hoping this won't happen and for various reasons already discussed I think Kerry would be worse but that's what I'm most worried about in terms of Bush. I'm not as worried by his religion, though I am worried about the increasing religious trend in the culture.
  23. Okay, I'm going to have to quibble here a little because I don't want to be misunderstood. I tried to make clear that Ayn Rand's purpose in writing her fiction was the presentation of the ideal man. I don't think you can conclude from that that "Objectivism aims to defend the vision of the ideal man" (although that does play a role in Objectivism as it does in Aristotelianism -- from my understanding of Aristotelianism anyway). Objectivism, as a philosophy aims at providing a philosophy "for living on earth" -- as I believe Ayn Rand put it once. I think where I agree with you is that other than the fictional presentation of heroes and the nonfiction essays on ethics, Ayn Rand has not written on the detailed application of ethics to life, i.e., on what it would actually mean, in detail, to practice Objectivism with numerous specific examples and illustrations. She wrote fairly detailed justifications of the principles she advocates but not detailed guides for following them. From what you write it seems that Aristotle did write in detail on how to live. So while you can certainly point to differences in the Aristotle's and Ayn Rand's aims, I don't think its valid to suggest that Objectivism differs in its aims from Aristotelianism just because you find that Ayn Rand did not elaborate enough to your satisfaction. I think, in general, the aim of both systems is the same as all serious philosophies: both are attempts at systematic presentations the nature of existence and its relation to and implication for man.
  24. Yes. I can. I now come to the part where I was the one who didn't quite get what you were getting at, at first, and only upon second reading did I fully grasp it. I got hung up on that whole "quantitative" issue. If I understand you correctly then I fully agree with you. In defense of Ayn Rand I would say that it was simply not her primary purpose to teach men how to live (and thus how to acquire or be virtuous). First of all she was first and foremost a novelist. Her philosophy was developed as a tool because she had to arrive at the necessary understanding of the existence, knowledge, morality and politics in order to present the ideal man which was her goal in fiction (please someone correct me if my understanding is faulty -- in fact on all of what I say). Remember, she wrote little or no nonfiction until after Atlas Shrugged. Of course, once she had achieved her major fictional goal, she did, in some ways reluctantly, lead a movement to change the ideas in the culture, which she had always had problems with. But she always had associates who gave the complete courses (NB at first, LP later on). She was content to, more or less, write and give lectures about important contemporary issues, though always addressing more fundamental points within them. I'm sure that in private conversation with, for example, Leonard Peikoff, she would address they kind of question you've been asking. However, she never wrote a detailed treatise on it. I certainly don't blame her for it. As you point out that was not her priority. I think Dr. Peikoff said that she was quite uncomfortable in her role as the new Aristotle and was hoping there would be an actual Aristotle that would fill that role but unfortunately that was not the case. But there's no reason to despair because others have in fact given many more details on virtues and how to practice them and several important sources have been pointed out. Of course, you will have to judge in each case whether their ideas are consistent with Ayn Rand and more importantly with reality but that's a requirement that can't be escaped in any case. The elaboration of the application of principles will always be incomplete -- at some point you have to have understood the principles and use your own best judgement to apply them.
  25. Okay, we seem to be suffering from the same affliction: We don't seem to read each other's posts very carefully (I went back an reread your post and noticed several things I didn't catch the first time). I do in fact identify virtue according to Ayn Rand in the following section of my post: [emphasis added] I was trying to convey my understanding of Ayn Rand's idea of virtue. True, she refers to it as "the act" but I don't think it's correct to interpret this as meaning a certain number of concrete actions. I think she meant that virtue involves necessarily some action (mental or physical). In fact she clarifies this when she talks about the specific virtues she endorsed, such as rationality ("the recognition and acceptance of reason...one's total commitment to a state of full, conscious awareness, to the maintenance of a full mental focus in all issues, in all choices, in all of one's waking hours" VOS) and independence ("one's acceptance of the responsibility of forming one's own judgments and of living by the work of one's own mind" VOS) and the other virtues have similar phrasings. So I think she makes relatively clear that she is talking about something quite similar to Aristotle's "disposition" when she is talking about virtues and that's what I was trying to get across with my mentioning of principles. When describing rationality Rand writes in VOS: "It means a commitment to the reality of one's own existence, i.e., to the principle that all of one's goals, values and actions take place in reality and, therefore, that one must never place any value or consideration whatsoever above one's perception of reality." [emphasis added] That's why I thought you were mistaken in assigning a "quantitative" interpretation to Ayn Rand's idea of value. Ah yes, my first post. Well, as I said in my previous post I was somewhat busy (I'm at home now). I agree with the criticism jroberts and you have offered. I hope my answer above offers another step in the direction of the discussion you are hoping for. Well, I hope my above comments have met your requirements. While it is certainly true that Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand, it is not exactly true that only Ayn Rand's writings are Objectivism. There are also the writings and lecture courses that she explicitly endorsed when she was alive. Specifically, this includes Dr. Peikoff's 1976 Lectures on Objectivism (on which OPAR is ultimately based). What you have to remember is that Ayn Rand never wrote a systematic treatise of her philosophy. Many important ideas are spread across different essays. Certainly, Objectivists existed before the publication of OPAR but OPAR's excellent systematic presentation of Ayn Rand's ideas is unparalleled in Ayn Rand's own writings and has made life a lot easier for those seeking understanding of Ayn Rand's ideas.
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