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Everything posted by blazingtruth

  1. Tried to make a more functional layout, rather than a flashy and dark one. Thoughts? New post on the Non-Initiation of Force: http://www.blazingtruth.com/2011/07/non-aggression-principle/
  2. You mean the Bible is the only book incapable of being mistranslated? UNBELIEVABLE! /rant In all seriousness, to the best of my understanding Kant did use the word "God", did he not? Whether or not this was the convention of the time (such as the Founders did) or protection from political suppression/execution, I would love to come to understand. I'll take a look at Seddon's article, thank you for your knowledge.
  3. Also, thank you for being respectable in your criticism, I realize that you could have said much worse things.
  4. Upon doing more research, I think I have very much misinterpreted Kant's metaphysics. Kant's Critique on Pure Reason was very difficult to understand. It sounded as if he was suggesting that we cannot know anything for certain because our senses limit us so significantly. From there, he seemed to say that we need to accept faith in some respects in order to make up for this. Perhaps he's right in the context of his writing and was using words in ways which I wasn't familiar. I will admit I also had a negative preconception of Kant from my classes, I cannot remember why. Also I see what you mean now by jumping ship between ethics and metaphysics, I need to clarify that distinction and find out how Kant connects them. I do believe Nietzsche and Schopenhauer do have some valid criticisms, and will look into those more specifically. I will be doing an overhaul of this article, stating I was wrong in these particular respects and showing where and why. However, I do have some reservations on some of his points, but I will look more into them before jumping to conclusions so quickly. This article does need serious editing, and I may need to split it into two separate posts. Thanks for your support, and perhaps if you have the time I'd like to speak with you one-on-one if I need clarification. Your link helped very much. I was wrong in my interpretation.
  5. I have not read Critique on Practical Reason. However, because Kant calls for principled moral thinking does not vindicate him from any irrationality. After all, principled moral thinking isn't hard to come by, look no further than the Ten Commandments. You are right, the ideas of which I spoke do not follow necessarily from his maxims -- they are primary to them. Kant's metaphysics is simply atrocious. Have your own opinions about the cartoon if you'd like, but the point I was trying to get across is that we are not moral out of 'duty' or 'obligation', or because somebody tells us we ought to be. We are moral because it is in our rational self-interests, also something which Kant neglects entirely. In fact, Kant's Categorical Imperative is more often than not used as support of an altruistic society. I agree in retrospect that Peikoff's quote is a bit elementary and irrelevant. I figured I'd replace it with one by Nietzsche, since I referenced him in the final paragraph. Also, this is directly my concern with Kant's ethics: "To think that no one has thought of Kant's categorical imperative as dangerous to life! … What destroys a man more quickly than to work, think and feel without inner necessity, without any deep personal desire, without pleasure—as a mere automaton of duty? That is the recipe for decadence, and no less for idiocy. … Instinct at fault in everything and anything, instinct as a revolt against nature, German decadence as a philosophy—that is Kant!" Thank you for your input, D
  6. Posted a new entry on Immanuel Kant and his Categorical Imperative, step right up to see the Kantian circus for yourself! http://www.blazingtruth.com/?p=191 Thank you for your time, D
  7. @WeDontNeedGod, I will most-definitely be adding a link to your blog from mine. Thank you for your input, and I do readily think that we could be valuable assets for the growth of each other's websites.
  8. Thank you for your support and kind words! How else would be better to structure it? I realize my posts are, on average, longer than your standard blog post. I'm open to ideas and discussion on this, such that I can maximize readership and take advantage of my potential. I'll also move the buttons further down the page, thank you for that suggestion. I'll get looking at the banner, I have noticed it before and haven't been able to pinpoint the problem. It's not the image, it's the coding of the header when the image is inserted that is causing this. Thanks Dante! I try to insert personal aspects so as to provide a relevant real-life example/anecdote. It also allows for some enjoyment and chuckles from time to time, and a break from the serious stuff. I agree with your layout concern, and will try to expand it a bit. I managed to optimize it for mobile devices as well, with a bit of work. I'll take a look into it. Thanks again. Thank you Jennifer for your support and impressive praise. To hear this type of meaningful response from somebody in response to negativity is partly the reason I am indeed an Objectivist. I know that my hard work will pay off and I know that my happiness is the result of my achievements. Thank you very much! I have learned HTML, BASIC, and other introductory programming languages throughout high school, on a simple level. In college now, I am learning AutoCAD and LabView and will be learning C++ and Java in the next few semesters down the road. I don't *formally* know any programming languages, but I have a programming and logical mind which allows me to look at some pre-existing code and edit it. That being said, I use the Wordpress.org interface and have taken a (really brilliant) free-to-use theme and have modified it to the best of my potential, and will continue to do so. Wordpress does make it easy, but I also have direct access to source code through Bluehost, which I get to play around with sometimes. Best of both worlds, you could say. Thank you all! I will keep you posted on the latest from my end here.
  9. Hey all, I've started a philosophy blog located at http://blazingtruth.com The purpose is to spread awareness of Objectivist philosophy, in particular its moral principles and ethics; to blaze the path to truth through rational thought. The content on the website may not be much of an eye-opener to "seasoned" Objectivists, but I try to write with an intended audience of readers who are unfamiliar with Objectivism and philosophy in general. I discuss ideas as they are presented, and try not to put too many labels on them (except when dispelling them), so as to avoid polarizing my potential readership. I take on and debunk popular mantras such as "I think, therefore I am" and "Ignorance is bliss" to raise the consciousness of individuals when they hear those phrases. I also provide personal anecdotes of my life to demonstrate how philosophy is crucial. This is my first time seriously blogging and writing, and my first time hosting a website -- I know I have plenty to learn. So, if you could take the time and provide constructive criticism on the content and layout, I would love to hear it and grow from this opportunity. At my age, this is my way of contributing to my own personal knowledge and growth. Thank you for your time and patience, David
  10. The most irrational aphorism I can think of is "Ignorance is bliss." It annoys me so much to the extent that I had to write a blog entry about it.. http://davidmasten.wordpress.com/2011/06/13/party-at-the-pierian-spring/ Check it out, if interested.
  11. I've actually had this discussion several times with my English professor. He feels as if education ought to be a primary right given to all children. His argument is the same as your question: given the capitalist system, particular families will not be able to afford sending their children to elementary, middle, and high schools at all, and others would only be able to afford low quality schools. Moreover, children whose parents cannot afford to send them to school will resort to crime. Given the capitalist system, competition among the school systems will tend to: drive poor quality and/or costly schools out of operation altogether, increase the quality of education, decrease the cost of attendance across the board. You must ask yourself "Poor quality, by what standard?". Surely, these schools would be of higher quality than public education today because 1) the prestige would be returned to the position of teacher (and competition amongst teachers, too), 2) resources would be more readily available (and not wastingly allocated), and 3) motivation would return to students and parents. Part of the crucial point here is that right now, it is commonplace to say that 'those who can't learn, teach' with regard to the state of teaching on a pre-collegiate level. Moreover, students generally become dedicated when the money is coming from their family and pressure is applied from parents. Right now, some students are unteachable because they have zero motivation. I do not believe the crime rate would be affected whatsoever -- there is no way to motivate the unwilling. But do notice the difference in seriousness of public high schools and college. I would argue that this is due to several factors, but the monetary side is most important. Most families would pay out of pocket for education, parents would encourage students to do well because otherwise they'd be wasting money. Poor families could arrange loans or negotiate with specialized businesses which provide money to families on the basis of academic merit, say, contractual and conditional scholarships. Schools would likewise have massive endowments and would collect donations from alumni. There is even enough money left over to spend on technology and supplies! The bottom line with public education is this: parents, teachers, and students have zero external motivation to do their best. Students tend to slack off, teachers tend to take short-cuts, and parents tend to become absent from the picture entirely. Motivation is the key, and capitalism is one of the strongest motivational factors out there
  12. I'm curious to find out if Bin Laden kept anything of intel value to the US in that huge house of his. That could be more significant than his death itself -- finding file folders, a laptop, a USB drive, paper scrolls, clay tablets, etc.
  13. In reading the topic Should duels be legal?, while watching Tokyo Drift (perhaps a bad combination), it's not unlikely to notice similarities amongst the two events. With that being said, I'd like this topic to discuss the morality/legality/rationality of risky behavior such as dueling and street racing. I intend this to be much more general than the dueling thread mentioned previously, and would like to generalize and formalize broad criteria for when these behaviors are and are not legally permissible in the context of a society with a strictly objective law. To introduce the subject, there are risky behaviors such as drug use, alcohol use, and even smoking which do not in any way directly initiate force on another individual. It clearly should not be illegal to participate in these activities for that reason. These events may, in some circumstances, be the basis of illegal behavior (such as drinking and driving) wherein others lives are threatened; likewise they may be, in other circumstances, necessary for survival (such as the use of medicinal marijuana). I am not primarily concerned with the discussion of those personal risky behaviors, I am interested in discussing the situations wherein an individual consents to participate in risky behavior with another individual, free from coercion. Although, these events may be useful in getting to the heart of the discussion. Specifically, how does consent affect risky behavior with regard to agreements and contracts? The following is a clarification of what I meant by "objective criteria". My initial stance is that if two individuals 1) both consent to participate in risky behavior such as dueling or street racing, 2) they consent without any external coercion or outside influence of any kind, and 3) it is demonstrated that they both fully knew and agree to the stipulations of the specific nature of the event at both the time of agreement and time of the event (the two may be the same), then it should not be illegal to participate (within objective limitations) in that activity so long as a non-consenting individual's rights are violated. In short, if all conditions are met, you may proceed. Moreover, this does not imply that it is ever practical to participate in these activities. Also, the morality of the event would be dependent upon the context, as these are events which may potentially lead to the loss of life. I'd like to extend this discussion to contain similarities between these behaviors and those such as boxing, sword fighting, gambling, jousting, etc., as it may provide insight into the nature of this situation. In addition, I also believe that the concept of suicide is vital in discussing this topic. The crux of this thread is this: what objective criteria exists to determine the legal criteria of risky behaviors? What are the limits of this criteria? Thank you for your time, David
  14. That politico article is actually very well-written; however, I believe the ideas which he wrote about are much more moderate than what he truly believes. His main criticism of Hayek is that credibility is lost and ideas become flawed when you get involved in politics. Hayek's economic theory turned to a fight against communism. I don't see this to be the case with Hayek, and I see the failure of the communist movement as credibility to his economic theory. Unfortunately for Soros, he's found himself in a political conundrum wherein by his own words his flexibility theory is destroyed by his liberal bias towards regulation. He's trying to play off the pop of the housing bubble and recession, claiming capitalism is a failure and our economy needs more regulations.
  15. I'm in agreement. I just have a few tweaks I want to sort through. Please correct me in the event I am wrong. Surely, the road-owner would first be limited by these objective boundaries before setting his personal speed limit. For example, the specific maximum and minimum (there must be a minimum, as well) speed allowing for traffic flow (what objectively does this entail?) while still avoiding recklessness yields a legal interval 50-80 kmph. The road-owner would then be able to pick any speed to set as a limit -- say, 65 kmph -- between those boundaries. He would be able to enforce his limit of 65, through his own means. Most rationally, he could install speed sensors/photo cameras to capture evidence and bill the offense (objectively) afterwards. To bring this full-swing, a police officer minding his own business traveling through your property to get to the donut shop catches a man going above the upper 80 kmph limit. He would be free to chase him and punish him, since this is reckless driving and as such is a crime with which police are concerned. It is the equivalent of the police walking into the donut shop to find a thief running off with a dozen of jelly-filled donuts. However, if the man is traveling below the 80 kmph limit but above the posted 65 kmph sign, the police should not pull him over, for that is the concern of the road-owner. I'm also interested in how objective limits for tolls can be established. Objective intervals can be defined, but why would a road-owner post a minimum toll as opposed to a maximum one (of the defined objective intervals); likewise, why would a road-owner set a speed limit of 65 kmph, when there's a greater chance of a man speeding if he sets it at 50 kmph (thus gaining him some nice pocket change)? Or does the road-owner not have that much of a choice when setting the speed limit of his private road?
  16. What magnitude of force you permitted to use when excluding somebody? How can it be assured that the force used is done so rationally? What happens if it is not?
  17. Not so sure I agree with that, however. This individual has not initiated force on you, so it is not within your rights to forcibly remove him. No immediate threat to your life is being exerted, nor is any force of any form. I think you must call the police and have the situation placed under objective control. What stops you from stabbing/shooting the man if he does not leave? It's not within your rights to punch a guy's lights out and drag him off your property if he doesn't listen to you.
  18. A crime is an act punishable by law. In this case, the over-encompassing objective law. Crimes can not be considered as such without a means of their enforcement. Now, speeding on public roads is a crime only because it is actively enforced by the state, and the offended party is the State (as Grames said). Since speeding laws in a miniarch state are only in the domain of the private individual, they are not a crime with which the police are concerned. In this case, the offended party is the individual, and he must take it upon himself to prove a crime was committed against his property's speed limits. The two are not analogous since arson is initiation of force (by public, objective law), thus is outlawed in the public domain (as is murder). The rationale, I believe, is that speeding does not directly initiate force on anybody. Speeding on private roads is not a crime if the private property owner has no personal or otherwise contracted enforcement of his speeding laws. To a well-defined extent (permissible by the objective law), the private individual may, to the best of my knowledge, establish many bizarre laws on his property only. Just as a business in a miniarch state is free to discriminate as it wishes. With that being said, the speed at which you allow others to drive is merely a preference until it is backed with enforcement. The speed limit sign posted in this case merely becomes a suggestion or a general standard, rather than a crime punishable by law if there is no means of enforcement backing it up. It is not the police's job to enforce private laws, it is the private individuals' job. He may contract with the police if he chooses, but this is not the case by default. The court system will enforce breached contracts, if evidence can be shown by the private individual, but police cars will not be actively patrolling private roads. I'm curious as to what limitations ARE placed on the private individual by the objective law with regard to what is reasonable. Can I charge an exorbitant toll? Can I shut down my road completely? Can I set a bizarre speed requirement (you can only drive 12mph, no more no less!) What restrictions are there?
  19. Going off of what SteveD said about wordplay, to laugh at words which are arranged in such a way that they have no bearing in reality may very well belittle the idea. Take for instance the oxymoron 'jumbo shrimp'. It's funny because to even imagine such an image results in a contradiction which is completely out of touch with reality. I'd begin to differ and state that laughter is not always belittling, but it could also be appreciative of something, an expression of joy/happiness, or an achievement of personal value. What comes to mind is the image of Salvatore in Umberto Eco's novel The Name of the Rose as he laughed away while eating the remnants of Aristotle's poisoned Book on Comedy. In this example, his laughter is manifested in the achievement of a (albeit irrational) value of Salvatore to undermine his life, gain revenge on William/Adso, etc. I would say this is a clear example of 'malevolent humor'. I think the distinguishing factor is one similar to that of Ayn Rand's position on sex: it is a reflection of individual values. Tell me what a man finds funny in a joke, and I can tell you his philosophy on life.
  20. Meanwhile in the Union of Soviet Socialist France
  21. There is an important distinction to be made here between the definitions of 'knowledge' and 'information'. Surely, it may not be out of the realm of possibilities in the future to establish a microchip embedded with information of sorts and have the mind be able to access this information. However, to clarify Dante's point, I think what he was trying to say is that there is no way to program 'knowledge' into an individual. Modern philosophy uses knowledge with regard to the JTB model. Deduction, induction, and all processes of reason, etc. cannot be programmed, according to the Objectivist view, since they are not automatic. The process of thinking is crucial because it establishes a link between the knower and information, one which is not automatic. A computer may contain lots of programmed information, but it contains zero knowledge. Artificial intelligence can neither mimic nor surmount the capacities of human volition.
  22. Dante's absolutely correct, and that was very well-spoken on his behalf. The important thing for me was the realization that "the map is not the territory", wherein I found it important to note that human consciousness is more than the sum of its subatomic parts. One must always take into account the context. I highly doubt that it's possible to extract particles and make them act in the same way and produce consciousness in an inanimate object such as a rock. The underlying necessity is that human beings are manufactured (well, not literally) in such a way that the context and natural conditions for free-will become possible. The causal interactions between these particles are deterministic, but only to an extent. The ensuing interactions of these particles produce a phenomenon which we call volition, given the exclusive context of a human brain. I'll use an analogy, which may or may not be physically relevant, precise, or accurate. Consider a physical mass, M, with forces F1 and F2 acting on it in different directions, such that the system in equilibrium. Classical physics tells us that M does not move. It's as if the deterministic factors (comparable to F1 and F2) cancel each other out in magnitude/direction and produce a net neutral effect. That is, although M does not move, modern physics tells us M still has energy. Volition, to me, is the potential energy of the mind. There is no mind-body dichotomy, wherein a functional mind can exist without the body. We are not all deterministic robots with our futures pre-set through a series of inevitable particle interactions. This neutrality, if we continue with my silly analogy, may explain the Benevolent Universe premise as well. That the universe is neither set in our favor, nor is it set against us. It simply is. We simply are. I simply am. Existence Exists.
  23. I've been around posting for a few months now and just stumbled upon this thread. I probably should have started here instead of elsewhere, in hindsight. My name's David. I'm 18 and will be attending the University of Florida this year to study aerospace/mechanical engineering. I was introduced to Objectivism through my girlfriend, who led me to read Atlas Shrugged almost 7 months ago. In turn, I began to dive into Ayn Rand's works and Peikoff's podcasts. From there, I ran across this website. Since then, I've read The Virtue of Selfishness and will be working on The Fountainhead and OPAR this summer. My father's a lawyer while my mother's a preacher. I have grown up with a logical mind and a spiritual foundation of faith in an upper-middle class family and it was only a matter of time before they conflicted. With that being said, I'm in the midst of reading anything and everything I can regarding theism and the lack thereof, and am almost finished with George Smith's Atheism: The Case Against God, Dawkins' The God Delusion, selected works by Harris, and have read all of C.S. Lewis' texts, some of Tillich's systematic theology, and other religious works. Weighing both sides of it and will hopefully soon come to a conclusion. Along the way I've run into Pantheism, and saw that as the perfect starting point to attack the issue of supernaturalism. I've made much progress since then, thanks to you guys. And I've also become more interested in political philosophy, and was very strongly pulled by Rothbard and Hayek regarding anarcho-capitalism. I've since reverted to a miniarch perspective, but still have several interests in that area. This was also helped by reading Bastiat's The Law. I'm very economically-inclined, at least for my age, and enjoy reading about Austrian Economics via the Mises Institute. As far as hobbies go, I write poetry and am in the midst of writing a novel. I enjoy construction through woodworking and I play chess. Hopefully I can combine the two and carve out my own personal chess set. I play basketball, ultimate frisbee, and I swim in my spare time. It's been a pleasure getting to know some of you, and I hope to expand my Objectivist base and grow in my knowledge. Thank you. David
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