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Greetings,

 

I have come following user jacassidy2 from the philosophyforums.com which he recently left, following (I'm guessing, but you'll have to ask him) a fairly recent inundation of solipsists and 'matter is just another state of consciousness' adherents who have generally shown 'bad form' and lead to frustrating and, frankly, not very serious philosophy (not much philosophy in general, even). At least, that was the sentiment which I gathered and which I agree with, so I followed him here.

 

That being said, I warn now that I'm really not all that familiar with Ayn Rand's Objectivism. I read Atlas Shrugged about 15 years ago (yes, a re-read is overdue). I am not here, however, to 'join a team of Ayn-Randists' if that's what this place is (tell me now).

 

All I know is that my current views are that reality exists independently of consciousness and this has been my main area of investigation - so I'll be spending much time in the Metaphysics (Epistemology & Ontology) section.

 

Regarding religion: please do not be put-off by the 'tao' in my username - I have no religion and do not discuss in more than that. The 'tao' is merely my tip-o-the-hat to some epistemological and ontological understanding which I've come to which seem often to 'agree' with various taoist philosophical principles (so again, the philosophy side, not the religious side of taoism). That's why there's the 'math' part - to 'scare away' those of the more 'mystical' penchant.

 

I am not formally trained in anything really. I've dabbled. I'm curious. Outside of high school, I'm pretty-much self-taught. So with regards to 'mathematics', I describe myself as like a moth to the flame: I love it, find it beautiful, fascinating, and just wanna try - FOOP - and my eyebrows and nose-hairs get singed...

 

I live in Geneva, Switzerland. Yes, I am French-English bilingual - by necessity, but English is, let's be honest, my 'first' language.

 

Right, that's about enough from me. See you in the forum! :)

 

Best regards,

 

Thomas

 

 

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Thomas, it's Jack.  I hope I led you to a place that improves your life.  My advice is that if you have any or no background in western philosophy, that you ignore Rand's fiction for now.  Go to the Ayn Rand Institute website and purchase the two audio courses of Leonard Peikoff on western philosophy - the best $40 I ever spent.  Then read Peikoff's works specifically on Objectivism including the newer extended version of Rand's Objectivist Epistemology.  Ms. Rand originated the ideas, but Mr. Peikoff has the benefit of Ms. Rand's knowledge without the emotional legacy of early childhood in the Russian Revolution as a motivation.  This stuff is great, but it's not like reading a great Rand novel, it's work.

 

Rand's ideas in ethics and politics are better understood if you first spend some time studying her ideas in epistemology and interpretation of Aristotelian metaphysics - otherwise, your basis of interpretation of the ethics and politics may be too influenced by the culture we grew up in.  Also, I disagree with the earlier post that recommended the chat feature on this site.  I have not found that these chat participants know much about Objectivism or Ayn Rand.

 

Gosh, keep me in the know regarding your study.  Jack

Edited by jacassidy2
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Ms. Rand originated the ideas, but Mr. Peikoff has the benefit of Ms. Rand's knowledge without the emotional legacy of early childhood in the Russian Revolution as a motivation. 

It's important to remember that one's childhood is not really a motivator for philosophy at all. It's a thing developed as an adult. As long as you read Rand by her own words, Tao, you'll be plenty welcome!

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It's important to remember that one's childhood is not really a motivator for philosophy at all. It's a thing developed as an adult.

There are a bunch of users who've posted on the forum saying that once they found Rand it was like finding words for their already-held beliefs. A general philosophy is probably established by one's late teens, based off of childhood experience by necessity.
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That's true. In cases like that, past experience just affects what's most apparent in one's life. Rand's initial inspiration was probably unique to her life in Russia. But I don't think it's any disadvantage or bias. Looking at books Rand read or talked about tell a lot more about her ideas than just living in Soviet Russia, she wasn't just absorbing the environment. I mean, plenty of people her age had similar experiences and were still communists.

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I mean, plenty of people her age had similar experiences and were still communists.

Well, Rand was a genius. :)

 

My point was that childhood is directly related to the philosophy one develops, up to the point where one becomes aware of the philosophic underpinnings one has unconsciously accepted. From there, it's a long road of inner examination and incremental change (if there is even any desire to change and examine) -- all still informed by past experiences, especially childhood experiences.

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That's true. In cases like that, past experience just affects what's most apparent in one's life. Rand's initial inspiration was probably unique to her life in Russia. But I don't think it's any disadvantage or bias. Looking at books Rand read or talked about tell a lot more about her ideas than just living in Soviet Russia, she wasn't just absorbing the environment. I mean, plenty of people her age had similar experiences and were still communists.

As my comment started this sub-debate, I thought I might interject.  First, all our experiences are "data" to be processed by reason; to claim otherwise flies in the face of any objective epistemology; and, I find no reason to think this only applies to what is "most apparent."  Second, the reasons for my recommendations to Tao, that fostered my comment about Ms. Rand vs. Mr. Peikoff, were based on the following and motivated by the fact that Tao has read so little Rand philosophy.

 

Atlas Shrugged is a self-contained explanation of Objectivist ethics and politics including the metaphysical and epistemological basis for the conclusions in ethics and politics - summarized in Galt's famous address.  Many readers get it right away because their prior experience may predispose them to the ideas.  But the average person, with no knowledge of western philosophy and a polluted "sense of life" due to our present culture, is not gonna catch it.

 

The chronology of Ms. Rand's published works went from fiction, to writing essays for Objectivist and other periodicals, to compilation of these individual essays into specific broadly titled subject paperbacks.   Finally, the incredible analysis of human cognition and the process of concept formation in Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology.  (A nonfiction work as brilliant as her best fiction) The fiction (by it's nature in the development of characters) and the early non-fiction essays (because of Ms. Rand's intellectual passion) are full of what appear to be emotional outbursts to those not broadly acquainted with her work.  Your average altruistic, religious person, who reads Ms. Rand's fiction or early essays, is gonna walk away thinking she's mad at some guy named Immanuel Kant and the Christian God.  People introduced to Objectivism in this manner, never get to the truth in the basic foundations because they stop studying.

 

So I've come to recommend Peikoff's audio lectures that introduce Objectivist principles in a context of western history and philosophy.  In this way a newcomer can see the origin of what they have come to believe and then an argument for another viewpoint.  This method comes after about 30 years of recommending Atlas Shrugged and The Virtue of Selfishness; only to be told by the people I referred, that these books are about greed and atheism, and seem to be written by an angry person.

 

Think about this - your knowledge and certainty about Objectivist principles, may not have, and SHOULD NOT HAVE, any influence on what the person you are talking to about it thinks.  The ideas stand on their own for the person who does the same.

Edited by jacassidy2
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