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Nate T.

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Everything posted by Nate T.

  1. How can divorcing logic from fact and divorcing existence from identity be irrelevant to a discussion about metaphysics? These are basic things you must understand about the Objectivist metaphysics if you are going to ask questions about it. If you are here to simply disagree with Objectivist metaphysics, I suggest you read the Forum Rules. In any case, you ought to work on your manners. Also, I don't know how else to explain to you that space is a meaningless term if nothing exists, so I'll stop trying. Of course; I've already conceded that it will exist. But you don't get to assume that it exists now. Remeber, the whole point of bringing this up was to give counterexamples to "nonexistents do not exist." Something that does not yet exist does not exist. Just because you're referring to it does not mean it exists. As such, this is not a counterexample to "nonexistents do not exist". Referring to "keys that are not on the table" is a reference to keys that exist, but which are not on the table. As such, those keys exist, and by your manner of speaking you're introducing extra information about them through the dependent clause "that are not on the table." The keys aren't in a 'mode of nonexistence' or anything. However, if you were to say "the keys which aren't anywhere," you would be spouting nonsense, since keys are material and hence have a location. In any case, "the keys that are not on the table" are somewhere, so they are not "nonexistents that exist."
  2. LarkLadyInn, Saying something like "non-existents exist" is contradictory. To treat your counterexamples: Leaving the false analytic/synthetic split aside, there's a problem here: space is defined by reference to existents (say, the distance from one entity to another, or some suitably defined coordinate system). If nothing exists, therefore, there can be no such thing as "space" (indeed, there can be no such thing as any concept!) Hence, there is no such thing as a space devoid of existents. The only way you can talk about something yet to be created is if you know about that kind of thing to begin with. If there is an entity which you know will come into existence but has not yet done so, it simply does not exist. However, there is nothing contradictory in saying that it will exist, but it does not now. One can imagine all sorts of things (unicorns, gremlins, etc.) without any of them actually corresponding to anything in reality. Nonetheless, one's conception of such imaginary or mythical constructs do exist, as conceptions. The fact that one's imaginations do not correspond to reality is not a contradiction-- it is, in fact, an affirmation of the primacy of existence.
  3. Thanks for the summary. So according to representationalism, you only perceive "perceptions", not existents? Sounds like the makings of a Kantian split to me. That's great-- 18-dimensional brain waves. LOL.
  4. The Objectivist position regarding the validation of the axioms is that they are undeniable, since any challenge of their validity makes use of them. One's relationship to the outside world is (1) one can gain information about entities in the world via sense perception, and (2) one can will one's body to physically move, act, and observe reality in certain ways and under certain circumstances in accordance with the identity of one's body and sense faculties. So, Objectivism does not hold that one's consciousness has no effect whatsoever on existence (since one can move around one's own body, for example)-- it holds that one cannot change the identities of existents merely by willing it so (including the identity of one's own consciousness, which operates in accordance with its nature). However, it is also true that consciousness is dependent on reality, since consciousness is the faculty which perceives that which exists. If consciousness were totally independent from all sense perception, it would not exist. I'm not sure what you mean by a person "extending beyond onesself" to include objective reality. Also, could you briefly summarize representationalism?
  5. These calculations (esp. the symbolism 0.000~1) make the tacit assumption that there is a "last" decimal place in a decimal expansion. That isn't the case using the standard expression of real numbers by decimal expansion. A decimal expansion 0.abcde... is merely a shorthand way of saying that the real number is equal to the series a/10 + b/100 + c/1000 + d/10000 + ..., which can either be left as it is or shown to be something simpler via calculations involving limits (as is the case for 0.999~). Therefore, each digit in the decimal expansion corresponds to exactly one natural number. Hence, assuming that there is a "last" decimal place is tantamount to assuming that there is a "last" natural number, which there isn't (at least, for the usual natural numbers learned of in grade school). Formally, what you're doing here is defining an infinitesimal (intuitively, an ideal number less than every positive number and greater than zero) using the symbol 0.000~1 to denote the unit infinitesimal and extending it to an algebraic field. Then, you're defining .999~ = 1 - 0.000~1. This is essentially non-standard analysis, which I've already said some things about in this thread. From a limit standpoint, the only way you could make sense of the notation 0.000~1 is to define it to be the limit of the sequence (10^-N) as N approaches infinity, which is zero. Similarly, 0.000~n will also be zero for any n you choose since (n 10^-N) also goes to zero as N gets large for any n, and so there are no problems with your equations above.
  6. I'm not questioning ability, just willingness. I figured that if you've gotten along without something for a long time, there's little reason to go out of your way to learn it. Also, I'm talking tendancies, not causality-- there are obvious and numerous counterexamples to the behavior I'm citing (my own grandfather being one of them), but that doesn't negate the trends I've seen. I'm not trying to diatribe against the elderly here-- just looking for possible explanations for the poll results.
  7. I thought that's what I was doing in my last post! Perhaps-- but the fact that the range (30, +) is larger than the range (0, 19) might also have something to do with that.
  8. Haydn in general, but esp. the Cello and Violin Concertos Vivaldi, Four Seasons along with some of his other Violin Concertos Smetana, Moldov Dvorak, New World Symphony Beethoven, 7th Symphony (can't beat the second movement!) Saint-Saens, Violin Concerto #3 (esp. the 3rd movement) Elgar, Serenade for Strings in E minor.
  9. If one agrees with a person, it means that one has observed reality and by a process of reason arrives at the same conclusion as that person. To "impose agreement" here just means that one is forcing others to agree with you, i.e., forcing others to think and conclude as you do. However, processes of thought must be chosen. Therefore, Objectivism would say that there is no such thing as an "imposition of agreement." The most you'd get if you tried is empty noises of assent from your victim on the other end of the gun barrel, which have absolutely no epistemological import.
  10. donnywithana, If you're really talking about rights here, that the rights of rational men in a free society cannot conflict with each other. So, if you're okay with violating some "rights" to uphold other "rights", by what means do you choose which "rights" are okay to violate for the sake of which other "rights"? Perhaps, because any business may be defrauding the public, we should tax every business who may be defrauding the public (i.e., any business), to protect people's right against being defrauded? Or perhaps, since every customer of every store might be shoplifting, we should impose a fine on anyone who has ever walked in a store to protect the rights of the store owners to keep their property? No, the real reason that we must defer our moral right of retaliatory force to the government is to uphold the Rule of Law, which is a principle. Without this, society would devolve into anarchy, with vigalante gangs roaming around dispensing whatever twisted versions of law and justice they might accept. I'm surprised that you missed that point in your reading of Rand. How does this follow? Why does the "impracticality" of a huge number of individual suits necessitate empowering the government with the power to tax all companies that "pollute", regardless of whether their pollution is actually hurting others? A flurry of individual lawsuits is not necessary-- if the pollution affects a wide number of people, one can always bring a class action suit against the company in question. Maybe you meant something else by this passage, but as it is, I can't make sense of it. To everyone else, Could nuisance laws be used in some way to address this problem?
  11. As an aspiring math professor, these kinds of questions have interested me before, so I've given them some thought. The short answer is: you're right. Mathematicians of the Platonist persuasion are intrinsicists-- they believe that the concepts with which they work have existence independent of human minds. As in many other fields dealing with concepts, the philosophy of mathematics has generally split along the intrinsic(Platonist)/subjective(Formalist) false dichotomy. Constructivism, OTOH, is an attempt to answer troubling paradoxes resulting in the use of the Axiom of Choice and applying the Law of the Excluded Middle to infinite sets, adn so addresses different questions than the other two I mentioned. IMO, constructivism is far too strict and too vague in what it considers "constructible." So, while there is no Objectiviost philosophy of mathematics, I don't think there's really a pressing need for one, since the biggest problem in the Philosophy of mathematics has been the "ontological" status of mathematics concepts, which Rand already dealt with in IOE.
  12. To address your first question: There is right and wrong in the world-- specifically, any given individual's actions can be moral or immoral. The crucial question is: right and wrong for whom? Rand held (and I agree) that each individual's life is to be the standard of morality (the measure by which one judges one's actions as good or bad), with the ultimate goal of morality (the motivation behind acting morally) being to enjoy life and live happily, as is fitting human beings. Do you agree with this? If not, what do you think the standard of morality is, and what are your reasons? I'm puzzled by your belief that "we're been so separated from nature ... that we've lost a sense of what is truly valuable." I really can't comment on this without knowing what you mean by "separated from nature." Also, what does degree of separation from nature have to do with pursuing and achieving one's values? In any case, to answer your other question, it depends a lot on the context in which you ask. Are you asking how I would act when I see someone acting immorally, or illegally? For example, if I see someone doing something which is clearly not in their best interests (such as smoking outside) but is not initiating force against others, it gives me no reason to interfere with that person. However, if I'm being mugged, I will summon the police if I can, and failing that, do whatever is necessary to defend myself and my property. Edit: Hooray! I finally got my 3rd dot!
  13. NewYorkRoark, With this, you've gone beyond the problem of how to deal with pollution as an initiation of force in a laissez-faire system and have claimed that the majority of people are ruled by irrational desires, and hence that laissez-faire capitalism will fail, since it depends on rational producers. If what you say is true, and people are not competent to pursue their own values, how do you plan to correct their "corrupted" values? Who would dictate, amongst the myriad of choices of the innumerable values in each of the innumerable lives you plan to interfere with, what is to be valued, and what is to be considered "wasteful?" And by what standards would these things be valued-- your judgement of their best interests, perhaps? If so, how would you plan to gather the information needed to make such determinations, and then enforce them? And what of those who disagree? You can't enforce morality at the point of a gun; moral actions must be chosen. I sympathize with your judgement of the baffling actions of irrational people, but we must not forget that there are rational people, too-- it would be quite presumptuous to dictate to them how they should live their lives, and quite immoral to attempt to enforce it with force. How would you judge the person who declares that your favorite dessert, your favorite movie, your hobby, your chosen career, or any other value which brings your life joy, is "wasteful" because they do not think you should be valuing it, and then fined you for pursuing it?
  14. rob.sfo, Thanks for posting these references! They make for interesting reading. I thought that the following in the interview with Dr. Gray was especially interesting: Now I'm not claiming that the existence of a global warming "establishment" is evidence that global warming does not exist. However, Rand was right-- scientists will go where the money is, and if the government is allowed to fund science, they'll fund any politically fashionable areas like global warming. It certainly casts a suspicious light on the whole movement.
  15. Also true. The tricky thing about looking at statistics is that any given causative explanation may not be exclusive. I see no reason why it could not be a combination of these factors-- they certainly both seem plausible. In fact, after thinking a little more about it, my explanation may not hold water. I may be improperly inferring that characteristics shared by most older people (ages 40-70, to answer your other question) are shared by older Objectivists. Most older people I know are uncomfortable checking their email, let alone participating in an online forum. Because it's easier to learn new technology young (when you aren't "set in your ways," so to speak), it makes sense to assume that older people are less likely to participate in an online forum. However, I'm not at all sure that this would be the case, since I imagine that Objectivists (the primary participants at OO.net) would want to be at the forefront of technology.
  16. Thanks Felipe-- a good biography on John Adams is exactly what I was looking for, since I know next to nothing about him.
  17. I think both candidates would do an effective, and more importantly uncompromising, job taking care of Islamic terrorists-- after all, all of our candidates would be using today's superior US military anyway, right? No problem-- I've always been meaning to study the Founding Fathers in more detail, since what little I know is from a crappy public school civics class and a significantly better college AmNatGov class. Since you're an enthusiast, do you have any recommendations on where to look for good biographies and other writings?
  18. It was a close call between Washington and Jefferson, but I chose Jefferson in the end. After all, the man wrote the Declaration of Independence! If we're talking about being the President today, Jefferson's slave-holding issue (which is my only reservation about his moral character) is a non-issue-- I find it highly dubious that a man with all of Jefferson's convictions born today would consider advocating slavery, much less holding slaves personally. However, I wouldn't at all mind having a candidate nowadays who has the kind of character (like Washington's) necessary to win a war against a tyrranical regime in the name of liberty and then, upon winning it, voluntarily step down from power when no term limits existed. Felipe, I honestly hadn't considered the need for a wartime president-- so you actually make a pretty good point. But for what it's worth, Jefferson did put the smackdown on piracy towards US ships, which if anything more closely mirrors today's terrorist situation than a domestic invasion.
  19. Some of my thoughts about OO.net: I'm mostly a lurker here, and while I do post occasionally, I mostly visit this site to read interesting conversations and debates. When I first found this site, I liked the serious debate and high standards which were missing from the other "Objectivist" sites I had participated in before. In any case, from what I see, the atmosphere is as friendly and safe as one can expect from a forum which still allows the benefit of the doubt to newbies who may turn out to be trolls. If you ask an honest question stemming from genuine confusion without trying to pick a fight, people will for the most part treat you civilly.
  20. Does anyone know the status of the ICANN non-profit corporation, which controls most of the major root servers that organize the internet? That is, I'm trying to determine whether ICANN is a government-backed "corporation," or a genuine private corporation so I can judge whether it ought to exist or not.
  21. Thanks for posting this, Pancho Villa. And, whether independently or incited by the EU, the UN is trying similar plots. I found this article in Business Week summarizing the attempt. An excerpt:
  22. This confuses the act of measuring the length of an object (or the magnitude of the number) with the length itself. The length of the circumference of a circle does not change simply because you've specified more digits of its length-- and the value of pi does not change merely because a supercomuter somewhere found the next digit. Under your logic, you'd think that I believe that a stick's length changes when I measure it with an (inch-ruled) ruler as opposed to a metric meterstick-- this is not being "logically consistent."
  23. A friend of my mom's suggested Atlas Shrugged to her, and I saw her reading it and thought it looked interesting. She would sometimes summarize pieces of the plot to me as she went. When she got around to finishing it, I snatched it, started reading it myself, and was hooked. It's kind of ironic, since (with the exception of epistemology, which we haven't discussed), my mom's philosophy is the exact opposite of Objectivism.
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