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Your essay “The Contradiction of Determinism” taught me a lot. Before I share with you all that I have learned from that essay I have one very important point to make regarding a matter on which we seem to disagree. I shall preface this by stating that there are only a few things you have written that I disagree with. I am aware of the meaning of the context here; a young man writing to one of humanity’s most profound geniuses, in fact, his hero, and addressing a disagreement with his hero. You have stated however, that “If someone wants to challenge my theory of self-esteem, I will welcome the opportunity to learn. But first, let’s be clear on what I’ve said and not said.” ( “For The Record”) I assume that this is your principle for discussing disagreements in general. I have immense respect for the optimism and confidence in that statement, sir! Some people are so frightened of the prospect that someone might identify a contradiction they hold that they evade any comment that challenges their convictions. You revealed this implicitly about Ayn Rand when you pointed out that she ultimately encouraged dogmatism. You demonstrate your commitment to reason; to truth. As I submit this to you I want to emphasize that I value your judgement very highly and also, if you disagree with my judgement, if you want to challenge my idea, hopefully it is obvious that “I am open to learning”. Now. I must convey to you as explicitly as possible that the following assertion is a product of my reason; it is not in anyway a pretentious, disrespectful game of semantics. In fact, those who evade word choice and definition are literally doing just that; evading. You have said yourself, definitions are crucial. The issue here is the exact definition of the concepts “think” and “thought” and thus the use of these concepts. In your genius essay “The Contradiction of Determinism” you quote from Atlas Shrugged: “the question ‘to be or not to be’ is the question ‘to think or not to think’”. I submit that the question ought to be “to think logically or not to think logically?”. Here is why: what does it mean, in the clearest terms possible, to think? To the full extent of my awareness, the accepted Objectivist definition of “thought” is “drawing conclusions from evidence”. This is the implied definition when Ayn Rand writes in her book Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology : “when he stops to watch her and draws conclusions, from the evidence about her character, age, social position, etc., the action of his consciousness is thought” (p. 30) I note however, that “thought” can be even more explicitly defined as “a distinct connection of concepts and/or anti-concepts”. In reference to this definition it could be noted then that there are two types of thoughts: logical ones, and illogical ones. I shall offer my reasoning. We humans do on occasion, illogically connect concepts by mistake, or, if we are in the process of logically connecting concepts, within that process, we have in our minds; our consciousnesses- fragmented sentences or visions composed of connected concepts /anti-concepts; fragments not yet perfected, not yet clear, and thus illogical. In the most fundamental- metaphysical-psychological- cognitive sense a human’s primary “action of consciousness” is connecting concepts, and to call that “thinking” provides us with the most precise abstraction of what a thought qua a thing is. Without this explicit definition, when someone says that we should “think” that use of “think” is ambiguous. How does one “draw conclusions from evidence”? What is the precise mental action? Suppose I want to “draw the conclusion” that “I love this hotel”. What on the metaphysical and psychological level does the product of the drawn conclusion and sentence “I love this hotel” consist of? Concepts. We can break this content down bit by bit, piece by piece, and see it, as if examining under a microscope. I: the concept I use in reference to myself. Love: the concept I use in reference to how highly I value this hypothetical hotel (where I wish I was as I write this!). This: the concept I use in reference to pointing out the particular hotel I am referring to. Hotel: the concept in reference to the place accommodating thousands of tourists and I. Whether that connection of concepts is logical is a different story, but qua an entity, qua a thing which merits a concept referring to it, a distinct connection of concepts and/or anti-concepts must be identified and to the full extent of my awareness no word in the English language is closer to this exact thing in reality than “thought”. In response to the charge that “to think” necessarily implies a logical act of consciousness, what is it someone is doing when he or she thinks that a “god” exists, i.e., connects the concepts, and the anti-concept “there- is- a- God”? If you would say that that is not a thought but rather a connection of concepts and an anti-concept based on the absence of thought, which concept refers to isolated, consciously/ subconsciously connected concepts and anti-concepts? If I understand you correctly, you would call this an “evasion” however when one evades, one is consciously refusing to acknowledge a fact and this is quite different than somebody who fails to understand a fact. As ironic as it is, a simple axiom like “existence exists”, and all of the implications of “existence exists” can be quite challenging to grasp. If somebody believes that a God exists because he or she doesn’t understand why that is impossible, but consciously, and earnestly contemplates and debates the argument, then we can be certain that he or she is striving for truth. If we were to refer to that as evasion (and thus immoral) we could not prove it. To be fair, I have considered the issue of subconsciously evaded facts however there are two distinct considerations here. 1)Subconscious disinterest in the truth about something (and thus truth as such) and 2)Subconscious disinterest in learning a particular but non-essential idea or skill. The implication, if we were to assume that both circumstances constitute evasion, would be that the nature of evasion is rooted in subconscious disinterest in anything. If this were the case then, if you tried to teach me how to play the piano, but in all honesty, I told you, “I’m not interested in playing the piano, I don’t want to learn, it’s not in my self interest, I would rather write”, that would have to then be classified as “evasion” which it is not; it is merely preference- personal value judgement-personal meaning- personal priorities... (You may read the entire epistle at http://seanoconnorli...haniel-branden/)
I owe everyone on this forum an apology. I hope you will consider forgiving me for a mistake I made. I failed to fully appreciate the fact that you are all here- or claim to be here- to discuss Objectivism which is quite admirable. I am very happy that this forum exists not only because it is devoted to discussing logical principles, but because also, there is far, far too little discussion of logical principles and philosophy elsewhere in the universe today. (I say Universe because people live on the International Space Station [i.S.S.] and their premises in fact are quite illogical since the context in which the I.S.S. presently exists is illogical; communistic ((you may refer to my essay "On The Official Establishment of U.S. Space Territory" if you want a further explanation of that assertion))) This forum is very valuable and expressing that judgement should have been in my first post, not my sixth! I am sorry. Now, because I failed to explicitly identify my value-judgement of this forum my first post "A Letter To Readers" was presented to you out of context, and it was in fact, an implicit insult to you. I shall explain what I mean by "implicit insult". I wrote "A Letter To Readers" to everyone who reads at present and anyone who ever will in the future. Most readers however are neither Objectivist nor advocates of any particular, fundamental principle of Objectivism. The implicit insult here is that I implied, when I posted "A Letter To Readers" here, that you ought to be regarded as just "anyone who reads" since you absolutely are not! As I said, this is a very valuable forum and thus it should be treated as such. I should have expressed my appreciation for this forum, properly introduced myself to you, and told you what I hoped to achieve here, at which point it would then have been logical to share "A Letter To Readers With You". Again, I am very sorry and I most certainly hope you will forgive me. With that now on record, I would like to formally introduce myself to you. My name is Sean O'Connor. I am a 26 year old philosopher and writer. (I write mostly essays, and on occasion I write a story). I have five priorities as a philosopher: 1) To discover as much as possible about meaning in general and the meaning of essential particulars. 2) To improve and clarify as many definitions as possible 3) To discover as much about the optimal navigation of the mind as possible 4) To present philosophy as a field of science and change the way it is taught, understood, and applied 5) To be one of the best essayists in history I have been writing since I was eight or nine. I have been studying literature (poetry, prose, and philosophical essays) since I was 18. I self published a book of short stories and word collages (that I now condemn) when I was 23. Last April I wrote the first essay I was proud of. It is called "In Condemnation of Apathy". After writing five essays I took a break and kept a study journal. (That didn't last long). I then began blogging and strictly on politics, and considered running for political office. I was not satisfied with the idea of being confined to potlics and experimented with photography and film. That didn't last long however. I then kept a daily philosophical video blog entitled "Thrive!". I didn't like blogging every day as I wanted more time to prepare my thoughts and visions and present them as clearly and thouroughly as possible so I began outling ideas, and taking my time. I wrote two short stories and then I began writing a third however I got an idea for an essay! That idea was unfortunately interuppted when I realized that I needed to find a new room to live in as the lease for the one I am currently living in has expired. Since I was low on cash, and was worried that I might not find a room, I decided to ask readers for help- specifically readership and promotion. (It is true that I said I was "open to donations or sponsorship" but readership matters to me much more than money and the fundamental task of the essay was not to raise money, but rather to discuss the issue of poverty, the relationship between ideology, psychology and circumstances how the relationship between those three concepts relates to our present economic disaster, to promote the ideals of independence, capitalism, responsibility, rationality, to discuss self investment, present my philosophical discoveries, and explain my literature). There are five things I want to achieve on this forum. 1) I want to share my discoveries and ideas with you. 2) I want to help you understand my discoveries and ideas and indeed inspire discussion/debate. (You might think I have contradicted myself somewhere and if you do, that's okay. To quote my hero, Dr. Nathaniel Branden, "I'm open to learning. But let's be clear about what I have said and not said" (I am presently completing an epistle to Dr. Branden which I shall share with you very soon). The only thing I don't tolerate, or entertain is an insult. 3) I want more and more people to appreciate philosophy in general- to think about it, and talk about it. I will, from time to time, promote discussions here on Facebook as part of an effort to achieve this goal. 4) I want to build an audience; I want to get enough people reading and talking about what I have written as to have evidence for an ambitious, virtuous book publisher to know for certain that my literature is marketable. 5) I want to convince you that my assertions and judgements are logical. I shall tell you a little more about myself because learning about someone's personality enhances our idea of him or her; it adds meaning to everything else he or she tells us. I live in East Windsor, New Jersey. I hate living here and for two reasons: the geography does not match my sense of life. (The tropics do) 2)Despite a "Republican" governnor, NJ is heavily Socialist and it is quite depressing. I want to live instead, on the U.S. Virgin Island: St. John- because I love the Caribbean and it is a politically free (or semi-free) American Island. Regarding my education: I have decided to write an essay on it because I take a lot of pride in it so I shall confine myself here to writers and philosophers I have studied (some in greater depth than others) in chronological order, as to provide you with a bit more context; an idea of "where I am coming from" so to speak; an indication, based on my interests and decisions of who I studied, of how I have evolved ideologically and what I have learned. I have studied The Bee Gees (yes I studied them) and other pop-music lyricists (They're not worth naming here) Charles Bukowski, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, Arthur Rimbaud, Charles Baudelaire, Nietzsche, Hume, William James, John Dewey, Bertrand Russell, Wittgenstein, Bertrand Russell, Schopenhauer, Dostoevsky, Fitzsgerald, Hemmingway, Henry Miller, The Bible, Kant, Napoleon Hill (and other writers on "The Law of Attraction"), James Joyce, Ayn Rand, Aristotle, Leonard Peikoff, Karl Marx, Obama, Hitler, and Nathanial Branden. (my education does extend beyond literature but I shall discuss that in my essay) I am still educating myself. My top hobby is watching movies and television shows. My favorite movies are "Atlas Shrugged Part 2", "Die Another Day" , "Atlas Shrugged Part 1", "Moonraker", "Phenomenon", and "Limitless". My favorite television programs are "Star Trek", "The West Wing" (not for its politics, but for its glimpse inside the West Wing, as I am interested in politics and how the government functions in general) and "The Glenn Beck Program" (despite his metaphysical and epistemological mistakes). My favorite musicians are "Vivaldi" and "Bach". Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen, for taking the time to read my introduction. I look foreword to having valuable discussions with you and I wish you achieved ideals, Sean O'Connor