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Posts posted by icosahedron

  1. Key ethical concept is "non-acting", especially so since, as with most religions, ethical concerns are front and center.

    Lots of non-this and non-that thrown around, and most of it fairly gratuitous.

    In practice, "non-acting" gets converted into "acting in harmony with one's surroundings", which is not, I would guess, what Buddha was getting at per se. I would guess, given the inclusion of some Taoist doctrine into Buddhism, that the idea of "non-acting" is properly more akin to "acting in accord with one's nature", but I don't mean to interpret the Buddha here.

    Anyhow, FWIW, I have found Korean Buddhists to be among the easiest to convert to Objectivism ... (convert being the correct term for a change in philosophy, and religion being a primitive form of philosophy).

    - ico

  2. But as is clearly shown by the history of man, man is just as capable of being irrational -- and surviving nonetheless. Man can survive by slaughtering others to further his own ends; by enslaving others; by sponging off of others, by living off of inherited wealth. "Man qua man" is a nice standard of what man should be, according to Rand, but it isn't scientifically demonstrated that man can't survive by adopting other standards.

    Gotta rein you in a bit here.

    That an individual man or men have been more or less irrational without showing ill effects does not vouch for the wisdom of choosing irrationality as one's means of survival.

    But, if you are demonstrably irrational around me, I will refrain from dealing with you, and combat any attempt to force me to do so.

    If I, you, and every other individual hewed "religiously" to the practice of dealing rationally with one another, and rejecting irrationality in others, then survival would not be the issue ... the only question would be "how successful do you want to be together?", and/or "how fast?".

    Reality isn't as neat and clean as all that. If I am a scientist, I have to get funding somewhere. If I am a doctor, I rely on having other people as patients. If I am in computer sales, I rely upon other people to buy my products. Anyone who works for a company is subject to the uncertainties that affect that company. Companies are affected by economic trends. No one is really an island, with the possible exception of a self-suffiecient farmer who raises his own food and produces his own power.

    You have it reversed.

    You are lucky enough to live in an age where it is cheap to be a "mad" scientist and/or inventor. Say thank you to the people who paved the way and made your life cheap.

    A good doctor has no problem getting patients, dude.

    If you are in computer sales, my questions would be, do you excel at it? If so, I bet you do quite well.

    Good companies and good people tend to get along just fine, in my experience.

    And the fact that no one is an island does in no way invalidate the degree to which I am an individual, eh?

    For many people (including myself), having the love and closeness of family and friends is its own reward, regardless of its "productivity". These are what makes life richer for many people. That it doesn't make the top of the list for you or for Rand is your choice (possibly determined by your personality), but it isn't a scientifically demonstrated fact.

    Don't you have something you want to accomplish before you die?

    - ico

  3. It is not true that governments have no rights at all. A government that had no rights whatsoever for any purpose could not take a single action without being in the wrong. This is the anarchist understanding of government.

    I take issue with this, Grames. Only individuals have rights. Government has CONTRACTUAL responsibilities, which must be carried out to the letter and to the best of the ability of the individual government agents. Government has corresponding CONTRACTUAL powers necessary to act as my agent, to the sole purpose of defending my Right to make my own decisions.

    Government, indeed, has not rights at all. Only individuals have the fundamental Right to make decisions, and hence only individuals have any other right, since any and all valid rights are logically connectable back to the root Right.

    This is not anarchistic. Government is my agent, your agent, our agent. Government's job is rigidly circumscribed and precisely well-defined. Ideally, government acts as a robot, as my agent, protecting my Right to make my own decisions. And is in no way involved in making value judgments, or any attendant economic plans per se, beyond what is naturally needed at minimum to fund and run the government -- but, this funding/running must be accomplished by voluntary payment for service provision.

    Government is IMPORTANT and ESSENTIAL -- just so long as it respects and protects my Right and your Right to make decisions. That is clearly not an anachronistic position.

    - ico

  4. This is a contradiction. "Free" to any extent at all in any respect whatever as you describe it is acausal. No, you can't have even a little bit of magic.

    It is not the case that "the mind is embodied in a physical form". Let me translate that for your theist mentality: The soul is not imprisoned by chains of causality. This fantasy is not improved by insisting the chains must be a little loose.

    Well put, Grames.

    I consider certainty and its logical complement, uncertainty, to be the key ideas which need to be harmoniously integrated in order to break the mental chains self-imposed by many. You can't obtain certainty by using your power of determination (i.e., your will) to force reality to conform to your desires, no matter how intensely you feel them. You can choose to jump out a 40th story window and flap your wings; you can choose stand in front of a speeding bus; but you cannot escape the logical consequences of your actions. That is the law of causality, it is not controversial, is it?

    The law of causality simply means that entities act according to their natures. Rational animals have will power, i.e., the power to determine what to do (within natural limits). They can use this to change their environments to suit. There is no "magic" here, just the OPTION to create and use better techniques.

    - ico

  5. Been thinking that the phrase "free will" represents a subversive concept. Will, by its nature, is "free", i.e., under the control of the willing entity. If will is thus conceptually closed, determined, and absolute, with respect to any given individual (as is self-evident to any sane individual -- either that, or I am insane), then how/why does it require adjective modification with the concept "free".

    The concept is will. The subversive/straw-man concept "free will" arbitrarily purports to restrict "will" to the "free" variety, which implies that there must be two forms of will, one of which is "free", and the other one. But, there is only one form of will, my will to me; your will to you; etc. But, logically, with respect to any given individual, a single form of will, which is: the power to (attempt to) do what one choose to do. That is all that "will" is, and there is only one variety.

    The "concept" of "free will" ought to be put in the dumpster. All we need is the idea of "will", properly defined.

    Eh? Does this clear up the present discussion a bit?

    - ico

  6. I see Leonid's point. The problem is with the light-switch analogy. Doesn't sit well with me, either.

    I notice that my mind never stops "running", is always "on" -- even when I am not really paying attention to it. I can control what I think about (focus), when I think about it (concentration), and how I think about it (conceptualization).

    It's not like I have a choice to think or not; rather, I have a choice of what/when/how to think -- and how much effort to devote to thinking, which means: directing my thoughts, managing my emotions, piloting my body, navigating to my goals, constructing my soul.

    I think of myself as being able to change directions, but not fundamentally alter the motive power except by turning it against itself (which is what mental evasions end up doing, poking holes in the perceptual substrate).

    I am a navigator: a process of consciously directed evolution towards a goal.

    - ico

  7. And this is what I see wrong with Objectivist ethics. It appears to be simply a fancy name for "situational ethics" or moral relativism. I did not ask, "does it further an individual's life to engage in cannibalism?", but rather, is it morally right, or morally wrong, to eat the dead or otherwise make use of corpses, perhaps even commercially? If not, why not? I did not ask, "Does it further an individual's life to engage in consensual incest", I asked if it were morally right, or morally wrong? If you maintain that the only question that matters is "does it further my life as an individual", then it is indeed subjective. This thread has been useful, I suppose, in clarifying that for me.

    There does exist, at least in principle, an objective context in which each of cannibalism and incest would be ethical actions for an individual to partake in. Granted, these are very, very narrow contexts, but I only need to determine a single good context for any given action in order to refute your attempt to paint that action as wrong under any circumstances.

    You want an all or nothing approach to ethics, which I commend; but, I disagree with your assessment of what needs to be clearly resolved. You apply all or nothing ethical judgment to action without context. I apply it to my reasons for choosing specific actions, i.e., I am a purist when it comes to my motivations, and I keep my means and ends in alignment, and I don't compromise, am all or nothing, on principles.

    One of my principles is that to judge an action as good or bad, one must know the purpose of the action and the context in which it was taken. In that case, one can verify the purpose (was it valid?); one can relate the purpose and context to see if the action taken was valid and/or optimal; and then, one can judge the action on its merits according to purpose and implementation. Only if the purpose and execution are in harmony can an action possibly be virtuous; and then, only if the purpose is honest. The execution may fail to achieve the desired purpose through no moral fault of the actor; but note, the actor is at fault if he/she attempts something that is clearly outside the limits of the doable (an action cannot be virtuous if the ends are impossible).

    - ico

  8. So, what is this "foreign intervention", anyhow? Isn't that just attempting to get things outside the country to be better?

    Sure, why and for whom? So, right off, if "foreign intervention" means that government officials can use force to obtain values, then I say "No way!". I accept and broker no compromise on principle, and the government ought to stay out of the evaluation business altogether, domestically and internationally. That simplifies the problem a whole lot.

    Government officials can use force to do their job: protecting the right of self-determination of individuals. Now, if any individuals cause the rights of individuals to be violation, then it would be moral for me or any other individual to ask our government officials to intervene to prevent the violation. And, it certainly is easy to identify foreign provocateurs.

    That pretty much sums up the argument. If you think it okay for individual rights to be trampled for a bit while other details of government get in order, I disagree -- without essential respect for the right of self-determination, our society is doomed in the long run.

    - ico

  9. Dakota, which specific premise of Objectivism are you having trouble accepting, i.e., verifying for yourself?

    If you cannot identify such a premise which appears whack to you, then do you have trouble accepting logical conclusions based on Objectivist premises? Are the methods of logic suspect, in other words? If so, what is the logical flaw?

    Having reread the material I considered relevant in this thread, I still think you are being too vague, and if you could be more specific it would further the discussion.


    - ico

  10. Agreed, though some here appear to think that Rand was the sole exception....

    No one who understands Ayn's ideas would insult her by claiming she was superhuman.

    However, the ideas Ayn communicated to me, via her writings, have proven unbreakable in my experience. Granted, I am only one individual, but it is startling to realize that, of all the voices I have tuned in throughout my life, the only one -- the only one -- with whose ideas I cannot find flaw is Ayn.

    Now, you don't know me, so why should you respect my opinion? But I guess, if you did know me, and you were rational, you would respect my experience and know-how, at least. So, take it for what it is worth.


    - ico

  11. However, the assertion was made here that "man has no choice about his objective standard of value" -- that's quite a claim, really. I don't think it is unreasonable to ask for scientific evidence for such a support.

    I think the assertion needs to be restated: "each individual has one and only one objective standard of value". A is A, an entity acts according to its nature. Objectivism then invokes primacy of Existence to insist on the only valid (because, only validatable) position: the ultimate standard of value must be given in the ultimate difference that makes existence conditional for an animate being: life. The choice is not whether to embrace that standard or not, per se; the choice is whether to reject every other standard as a form of death, torture, poison, decay, and etc. bad stuff; or allow a melange of standards to ooze contradictions in one's mind.

    The evidence is simple: the fact that there is evidence of the consequences of various actions/choices. Existence provides feedback, constantly. Try contradicting that which you consider the good, and see how you feel, see how successful you are. If there is no ultimate, given standard of value at the root for you, then how in heck did you ever bootstrap yourself in the first place? Clearly, social conditioning is not a powerful enough mechanism to explain that individuals naturally act in their own best interests to the degree they are thinking clearly.

    In other words, I think it is facetious to expect double-blind studies when volition and the law of causality, combined with a proper standard to use as compass, are sufficient to explain my skill of navigation (or lack thereof) -- at least, to my self this is evident.

    - ico

  12. In other words man has no choice about his objective standard of value. He knows that this is his life. His only choice, therefore is to reject this objective standard and to substitute it with some other arbitrary standard. This choice is not an error of knowledge but moral breach and therefore immoral. Choice is an act of volition and volition, as Ayn Rand observed begins with the first syllogism. The only choice man has is to think and to recognize life as standard of value, or to avoid the effort and to accept arbitrary standard. The first choice is based on man's own experience and reason, it's rational and therefore moral. The second implicates rejection of reality and reason and thus immoral.

    Leonid, having reread your posts so far in this thread, I find myself in general agreement with you; the only nit I have to pick is whether you, when you think "man" are thinking in terms of an "individual". Simply reread the quote above, substituting the more specific phrase "an individual" wherever the word "man" occurs. Or just read the below, where I have cut and pasted and added caps so you can see what I edited:

    In other words an individual has no choice about his objective standard of value. He knows that this is his life. His only choice, therefore is to reject this objective standard and to substitute it with some other arbitrary standard. This choice is not an error of knowledge but moral breach and therefore immoral. Choice is an act of volition and volition, as Ayn Rand observed begins with the first syllogism. The only choice an individual has is to think and to recognize his life as his standard of value, or to avoid the effort and to accept someone else's arbitrary standard. The first choice is based on his own experience and reason, it's rational and therefore moral. The second implicates rejection of reality and reason and thus immoral.

    that reads perfectly to me.


    - ico

  13. Actually, I did provide examples. Your assertion is false.

    Let me quote my challenge, without what you call "the hysterics": "If Ayn's ethical code appears to contradict objectivity, or rely in any way on subjective, i.e., non-reproducible, representations, then please can you give me a single solitary example?"

    Note, the challenge is to find an example of Ayn's code contradicting objectivity (or, what is tantamount, relying on subjectivity). Your examples do not meet the challenge. I guess I thought that was implied; indeed, the fact that others picked up on it suggests it was.

    Just in case, I figured I'd clarify and give you another at bat.

    - ico

  14. Yea, what TLD said, but I would swap out your word "betray" for the word "breach". In other words, if your (presumably consciously chosen) actions breach (i.e., are inconsistent with) the logic of your (presumably also consciously chosen) values, then you have a contradiction in your thinking, which must be corrected.

    To correct such a contradiction once discovered is not so hard, but can take time, just as pulling out an old, rotten stump by the roots can be worrisome. First, identify the contradiction concretely by writing it down succinctly and repeating it aloud; that way, you use all of your tactile, visual, and auditory sensory channels to experience the fact of the contradiction; and you also engage your conceptual and vocal facilities, thereby further concretizing your identification of the contradiction you are attempting to hold, to your detriment. Ideally, share it with a friend, so you can also factor in your sense of another to your understanding. All this will serve to ensure that you are certain that the contradiction exists and cannot be ignored any longer.

    Now, decide which of the elements in the contradiction must go, as being inimical to your life.

    Finally (and here's the potentially time-consuming part), trace back any inductions/deductions and the like logical connections you have made to the false side of the contradiction. Resolve those connections in favor of the side you have chosen. And, don't recreate the contradiction in your future choices/behavior.

    The good news: just like any other form of training, it gets easier as you do it. You can progressively automate the harmonious re-integration of contradictions, and it becomes as natural as breathing, an emotional response that reflects in each moment the long-range purpose your cognitive stance/soul/self/body. Interestingly, the actual process is akin, virtually identical operationally, to that of integrating new data into one's existing conceptual structure, re-factoring dependencies as needed to stay in harmony with Existence. And this, too, can be progressively, emotionally, automated -- where I take "emotional" to be the internal counterpart to my ability to act externally. And I note that my emotions act like subroutines triggered by perceptual stimuli, and that I have a great deal of power to choose which subroutines are created, how they are wired up to my perceptual apparatus, and whether to act on their suggestions or not -- that is my ability to cognitively control my emotions.

    Fun stuff.

    - ico

  15. The question boils down to this: what does one mean by "unity"?

    See, if there was a "time before time", then there could be no differences between things, i.e., there could be no things, either of the obervable, or observational, variety. Existence in this form of total unity, with no separate parts, could not encompass relative change and/or observation of such changes, i.e., could not support my existence as a conscious, volitional being in making choices in relation to an objective existential frame.

    Yet, I exist and function as I do.

    Ergo, Existence cannot exist as an undifferentiated unity.

    Even given that Existence is not an undifferentiated unity, yet it still must be a unity of some sort, i.e., it must not have "leak", "holes", or any other means beyond itself. In mathematical terms, it must be logically closed. However, it can have parts.

    Thus, to be able to "interact with itself", Existence must, at minimum, be a unity of a specific nature: it must be plural, and, at minimum, bipartite.

    The plurality of unity that is Existence allows internal motion without requiring an external support. That I cannot unitarily imagine such a system-of-systems is true; it is, by nature, extended across multiple entities with multiple perspectives and cannot be viewed/encompassed in sum by any part of the whole, such as me.

    Now, it could be, if you want to speculate technically, that our Universe is the inside of a black hole; for all intents and purposes, it is inescapable, finite, closed, and divided into many smaller parts that co-operate to form real structures that impinge on my senses. It could be. Not sure how I'd tell the difference, however, so doubt this speculation is any more informative/transformative/interesting/effective than quantum coupling as a means for signaling.

    - ico

  16. I have read Rand, have read many if the threads here, and have yet to see it demonstrated that the code of ethics Rand proposed is anything more than her largely subjective code of personal ethics. I happen to think they constitute an admirable code of ethics, but simply are not objective in the ordinary sense of the word. But thanks -- the conversation has been interesting.

    Dude, you are too evasive to understand me now, but just in case, and also because I have time and consider it doing good, I'll set something straight.

    You claim (without all the fluff) that "the code of ethics Rand proposed is ... her ... personal ethics". Truly. And, like all scientific models, it can be reproduced in the mind of other persons, validated independently, and used if valuable, or revised if insufficient in light of emerging facts.

    You further assert that this code of ethics is "... not objective in the ordinary sense of the word." And here, you error. Check your premises. If Ayn's ethical code appears to contradict objectivity, or rely in any way on subjective, i.e., non-reproducible, representations, then please can you give me a SINGLE SOLITARY EXAMPLE?! No? I thought not. Your assertion is arbitrary on its face. But, let's poke into what it might be, this "ordinary sense" of the word "objective", that you are so fond of using as an evasion of the fact that Ayn was wholly objective in her ethics?

    According to dictionary.com, the word "objective" used as an adjective modifier of ideas, such as "ethics", has the following relevant definition: "not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased".

    Now, whether one LIKES Ayn's ethics or not is, perhaps, subjective (but only if you are somewhat irrational, in my experience -- wholly rational folk seem to like it unequivocally). But, her precepts are valid, inductions pristine, measurements reproducible, and conclusions unshakable ... can you honestly disagree, assuming you have read and understood OPAR? That is as objective, scientific as one can get.

    - ico

  17. I'll take a stab at it.

    1: My Right to Property follows from My Right of Self-Determination: I own (and can dispose of) that which I obtain/possess without violating another's Right of Self-Determination. I possess my Life without violating another's Right; so my Life is my Property, and mine to dispose of, i.e., mine to make decisions with respect to without requiring permission from others. I am the sovereign possessor of my Right of Self-Determination and all that follows from it.

    2: No one is allowed to trespass, as that would be violating the Right of Self-Determination of the owner of the property. So, requiring business owners to allow free association of strikers on business property is baloney. On the other hand, if strikers picket outside business property per se, then the question is, do the strikers maliciously interfere with the natural business? In this context, it ought not be sufficient for the business to show a marketing or public relations problem as damages; but, if the business can demonstrate that strikers maliciously interfered in material fashion, e.g., holding pu pizza deliveries or something where time is of the essence to service provision, then I think there is a case to be made that police ought to enforce the business owner's right to work towards earning a living. Not sure how this jibes with common position, but the point is, do the strikers respect the Right of the business owner? And vice versa? Legally, nothing much else matters.

    3: Well no, Objectivism does not follow "less government, more freedom" per se. Objectivism follows the precept "less fantasy, more reason". In this regard, government intrusion into value judgments and disposition of economic values is considered highly subversive of the human spirit, and hence highly destructive of economic wealth. Thus, Objectivism advocates separation of State from Economics, strictly speaking. The problem with libertarianism is that it tends to veer into various forms of anarchic thought. Objectivism considers government a necessary GOOD, not a necessary evil. That is, I think, the difference.

    4: Regarding Israel, I have no idea what you are talking about. Versus the various strains of quasi-Arabic monarchies, of course, a constitutional republic such as Israel looks dang good to Objectivists. By comparison, I saying, not necessarily on an absolute scale. Is that what you are referring to?

  18. Good post Grames. I think one of the most common mistake folks make is forgetting that concepts are mental existents , including invalid ones.

    Exactly. And thanks Grames from me also, your posts have been very clear and to the point.

    I only seem to be able to experience EXAMPLES of concepts; concepts are like class types in Java, whereas I can only experience instances of a given concrete type.

    - ico

  19. Try reading Grames' post.

    Also, I'm not sure what you mean by "entirely physical." Concepts are not physical and they exist, but their existence depends upon concrete entities. There cannot be action apart from a physical entities. There cannot be attributes apart from physical entities. Volition is the same.

    If I may amplify this point: I can only experience EXAMPLES of any given concept. A concept is a TYPE of thing, not an actual instance of a thing that can be felt.

    Note that concepts have indirect material effects to the extent they give leverage to me (at least) in reaching my goals. This is an interesting feedback loop!

    - ico

  20. I'm not asking about his definition of existence, though - it's pretty straightforward, and it's hard to argue against it. I'm talking about his definition of universe.

    ..You're on long island too? Awesome.

    I'm not certain one can rationally distinguish between "Universe" and "Existence". Universe is certainly contained within Existence, by definition; so, what portion of Existence is NOT within the scope of Universe?

    I think they are conceptual synonyms for all intents and purposes.

    And, if you are on LI, then we ought to get together in person.


    - ico

  21. I did not deny it. I observed that, for many scientists, they hold their religious beliefs to be consistent or at least not in conflict with science. This could be for a number of reasons, of which I gave two and another poster gave one.

    Belief is a bad habit that leads only to nescience, if mixed with science. Just as, mixing poison with food always seems to yield poison. Or: parasites don't have the best interests of their hosts at heart.

    The definition of "peaceful" needs to be pinned down. "Theology" does not deserve the ending "-logy", which refers to science; there can be no "Science of Religion", because where belief starts, Science ends -- you can't predict the future by flipping coins! -- no matter how much you pray, irrational models of reality don't work. And no self-respecting scientist, however religious, would allow religious doctrine to become the basis of his scientific models.

    Science deals with measurable, verifiable facts -- philosophy (theology being a sub-set) deals with morality and ethics, among other subjects. Science unconnected from morality and ethics can be quite destructive. The application of ethics may indeed properly intrude upon the applications of science -- do you deny that?

    Science in general is the consistent application of the Law of Causality (Law of Identity in Action) to understanding how things work. Good Science means proper application of the methods Objectivist Epistemology to a specific field of study, i.e., of accumulating reliable, verifiable information and organizing it into reusable concepts/knowledge. Science is the Sword of Epistemology, if you can stand some poesy.

    Science is PRIOR TO Ethics, and must be used to create a proper Ethics and/or Politics and/or Aesthetics. Epistemology is logically prior to Ethics, and so Science must not itself be restricted by Ethics. However, where people CHOOSE to spend their time, in the pursuit of science, is open to ethical interpretation ... and you need not assist others in their pursuits if you consider them incorrect. I am suspicious of what it might mean, "The application of ethics may indeed properly intrude upon the applications of science". Sounds like the jack-booted thugs can shut down my laboratory if they consider my work subversive to their ethical programme. No?

    - ico

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