Roger Bissell

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About Roger Bissell

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  • Birthday 06/27/1948

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    Roger Bissell
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    I am a musician and a writer, a husband, father, and grandfather, a native of Iowa and a once and future resident of the Volunteer State. I am a muse-seeker, first-last-and-always. I am an Objectivist, but only until and unless a better philosophy comes alone (even if I have to be the one to create it).
  • Articles
    Up from Despair--Becky and Me An Epiphany Libertarianism, Objectivism, and Rage (Rpt on BB's talk) Dialectics: Guardian of Logic Mistaken Identity: Long’s Conflation of Dialectics and Organicism Comments on ch. 13 of Ayn Rand: the Russian Radical (1996) Ayn Rand: Dialectical Objectivist WHAT IS "DIALECTICS"? Dialectical Objectivism? A review of Chris M. Sciabarra's Ayn Rand: the Russian Radical The Virtue of For the New Intellectual Brother- and Sisterhood Objective Self-Awareness as the Root of Wisdom Who Qualifies as being an Objectivist How to Improve Objectivism Comments on Rand's "The Age of Envy" in re the Frozen Abstraction fallacy Why Union Scale is Killing Our Work AESTHETICS "...to give us Ayn Rand faithfully..." a critical note on the Boeckmann transcript Art as Microcosm: The Real Meaning of the Objectivist Concept of Art Objectivism and gender-neutral language Religious Addiction A Higher Power for Atheists and Agnostics (1989) Conditional Morality and Rational (?) Enablement The Intelligent Design Controversy in the Libertarian-Objectivist Media
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    Antioch, Tennessee
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    philosophy, psychology, genealogy, fiction
  1. What was this "pitfall"? See the above-highlighted sentence.
  2. Place your fingers on a chunk of ice or a hot stove. Is your awareness of the ice or stove "brain/mind generated" or "brain/mind transmitted"? Neither, strictly speaking. It certainly can't be *transmitted* by the brain/mind. Transmitted *to what*?? And while the brain/mind is involved in the *generation* of the awareness of existence, so is existence (i.e., whatever exists that is the *object* of awareness). It is the *interaction* of the brain/mind with energy coming in from something else in the world that generates *awareness of* that something else *by* the brain/mind. It is the ice or stove "in interaction with* the brain/mind that generates the brain/mind's awareness of it, and that awareness is different in each case because the nature of what is interacting with the brain/mind is different, while the nature of the brain/mind is (relatively) constant. (In introspection, when the brain/mind is aware of itself, because the energy coming to it is from another part of itself, then *one* part of the brain/mind is interacting with *another* part of the brain/mind. But the pattern and principle involved are the same, because the brain/mind is at once *that which* is aware of something, and the *something* which is the object of awareness.) In one of his history of philosophy lectures back in the previous century, Peikoff likened perception to a collision. The nature of the collision is determined by the nature of the two objects that interact (collide). It's not just Car A's nature or Car B's nature alone that determines the nature of the collision, but both of them in interaction. The collision is neither Car A-generated nor Car B-generated, but Car-A-Car-B-interaction generated. I think that seeing the nature of consciousness in light of this analogy is very clarifying, and that this is one of Peikoff's best contributions to epistemology and philosophy of mind. REB
  3. She held consciousness to be awareness of something that exists independently of one's awareness - not the creation of something of which one is then aware. Existence is independent of consciousness - not dependent upon consciousness. Rand advocated the former, and she said Kant advocated the latter: Primacy of Existence vs. Primacy of Consciousness. The way I read Kant, however, is that *both* consciousness/mind and existence/reality are unknowable things-in-themselves, lurking in the "noumenal realm," and that whatever nature they have, they interact in such a way that the *product* of that interaction is the world as we experience it, the world of appearance, the "phenomenal realm." He believed in identity and cause-and-effect, but he also said we can't go beyond sense experience and whatever we can build from that. (He was a very accomplished physical scientist and theorist prior to becoming a philosopher.) So, he shied away from ascribing specific qualities to mind and reality, apart from what we *observe* through perceptual observation and introspection. This interactive process *is* how we know the world, and the world "as we know it" - and ourselves "as we know ourselves" - really *are* built up or "constructed" from such interactions. However, it's not that either reality or our mental faculties are constructs. They are real. The *product of their interaction* - things and selves as we know them - is the form in which we are aware of those things and selves. So, it is *experience* that is the construct, the *form* of our awareness of the world. Kant got it half right, and his Copernican Revolution really just latched onto the other side of a false dichotomy: the mind determines/constructs out of reality the world we experience vs. reality determines what our minds experience. Instead, together, they *both* determine/construct the world and the self we experience. The world and the self are the forms in which we are aware, through their interaction, of reality and the mind. (And by "mind," I mean merely a conscious living organism's brain and nervous system.) I don't think this qualifies as "negating consciousness as such." But if the realist elements of Kant's philosophy are rejected (identity and causality), leaving just the idealist Primacy of Consciousness, "construction of reality," then sure, Kant was fundamentally mistaken. And I think that is the Orthodox Objectivist interpretation of him. So, take your pick. REB
  4. No, I don't think so. He had numerous friends approximately his own age or older. Quite a few of them are no longer living. As for the age differences between NB and his wives, (1) NB was 34 and his second wife Patrecia was 24 (a 10-year gap) when they began their relationship, (2) there was only a three-year gap between NB and his third wife, Devers, and (3) there was an approximately 25-year gap between NB and his fourth wife, Leigh. REB
  5. I agree. And when we look at Kant's explicitly stated purpose and goal, we find something quite different from the "all-destroyer" fountainhead of statist totalitarianism that the Randians allege him to be. Throughout his Critical Philosophy, Kant was working from what he took to be an inescapable premise—Hume’s notion of the cognitively unbridgeable gap between knowledge and true reality—but he was not a nihilist-skeptic destroyer. Instead, Kant attempted a major pushback against the deadly effects of Hume’s extreme skepticism, in order to save what for him were two crucial values of Western culture: science and ethics. Kant was thus actually a conservative, moderating development in the face of Hume’s disintegrative skepticism. In contrast to the Disintegrative stance of Hume, Kant affirmed causality and lawful connections in nature and the ability of the human mind to know them, as well as the ability of the mind to build up systematic bodies of knowledge in science and philosophy from a base in experience. As Sciabarra notes, “Kant recognized that human knowledge constitutes a coherent interconnected whole” (2000, 55). Kant also emphatically insisted that cognition, including logic and system-building—and therefore, all the sciences, including mathematics, metaphysics, and physics—are limited to, or based on, facts in the realm of experience. In terms of substantive philosophy, Kant was the beleaguered defender of mainstream Enlightenment values, while “Hume’s views were revolutionary, far more revolutionary than he himself realized” (Jones 1969b, 12). As Jones further clarifies, "Hume regarded reason as merely an instrument for detecting relations among ideas; reason can tell us nothing . . . about the real world. . . .There is no rationale in nature to which the rational mind of man conforms. Hume in effect was driving a wedge between reason and nature. . . . Among Hume’s contemporaries Kant was almost alone in recognizing the destructive force of this attack on reason. . . . Kant was deeply committed to the Enlightenment ideal. Hence he was deeply disturbed by Hume’s argument." (12–13) In other words, Kant was a reactionary rather than a radical - or, rather, a thinker using methodologically "radical" means to argue for "reactionary" or status quo social-cultural values. Ironically, Kant, in trying to undo Hume’s baleful influence, stumbled into the same pitfall as the conservatives in their fight against left-liberalism and socialism. What Rand wrote about Kant was thus actually more appropriately directed at Hume, and what she said about Kant’s opponents was at least as applicable to him, since Hume won with Kant’s help. Kant conceded Hume’s basic premise, and gave away the ballgame, just as the conservatives have more recently in relation to the liberals, progressives, and socialists. Like Rand, Kant similarly railed against the ineffectual or harmful attempts of his predecessors to protect major values—in his case, the mainstream Enlightenment values of reason, science, and religious morality—even while advocating an unconventional intellectual framework. Kant set forth his Critical Philosophy in an attempt to provide a solid basis for those values—values which very few people at the time regarded as controversial, but which were being thrown into skeptical doubt by the intellectual gridlock between the rationalists and the empiricists. Unlike Rand, however, Kant did not have the protective shield of a consistent, reality-based set of premises to carry into battle. Instead, he conjured up a witch’s brew of Humean irrationalism and Platonic-Leibnizian rationalism that did more harm than good. As Jones (1969b) notes, “[Kant] realized that to answer Hume some compromise was necessary and in this compromise he proposed to save as much as he could. Ultimately, however, Kant made many more concessions to anti-rationalism than he realized. . . . Kant’s philosophy thus constitutes one of the fundamental turning points in the history of Western thought” (13). Ironically, then, Kant fell short in much the same way in attempting to stem the tide of Humean irrationalism as did the twentieth-century political conservatives in their efforts to hold back the advances of left-liberal statism. It’s intriguing to speculate that, had Rand been Kant’s colleague in the late 1700s, she might well have blasted him in the same way she did the American right in the mid-1900s, and for the same reasons. His flawed arguments failed to “conserve”—not just preserve, but rationally validate and defend—reason, science, and morality, just as those of the political conservatives failed to “conserve” (validate and defend) political freedom, capitalism, and rugged individualism. With friends like Kant and the conservatives, who needs enemies! Had Rand and her colleagues expressed their justifiable disdain for Kant’s shortcomings in a manner similar to the way they raked political conservatives over the coals, that would have sufficed to make the point, without needing to engage in histrionics and hyperbole. (Full stop.) Instead, however, we have been subjected to over fifty years of trumped-up charges against Kant, some of which conflict with one another, some of which are context-dropping distortions, and many of which are simply not correct. I discuss some of these in my 2013 JARS review of Peikoff's DIM Hypothesis. (The preceding comments were adapted from that review essay.) REB
  6. Weaknews has absolutely no credibility with me - least of all, because of their "reporters." Someone who makes unfounded ranting smears about Trump's mental health, and gives hosannas to CIA officers who have led us into the botched Bay of Pigs Invasion, the totally unfounded WMD basis for invading Iraq, and the viciously lying story about Benghazi, needs to check into that institution he accused Trump of attending. Most recently, we have unnamed CIA officials making unsubstantiated allegations that the Wikileaks documents about the DNC and Hillary's campaign were obtained and/or controlled personally by Vladimir Putin. This is the worst, most transparent kind of demagogical manipulation of which the Dem's, liberals, and progressives are angrily accusing Trump. Why, it's almost as if they were engaging in psychological projection...?
  7. You're welcome, guys. Merry Christmas! REB
  8. Michael, this guy sounds a lot like a radical leftist Democrat, both in his associations and in his lifestyle. ;-) Seriously, how could someone *this* far left-leaning just months ago have qualified as a *Republican* (Trump) elector? I suspect he was, from the very outset, a "plant," as part of a contingency plan to show "bipartisan" Electoral College opposition to Trump, if he won the Electoral Vote in November. Otherwise, it makes no freakin' sense. (Does it? Any other less paranoid explanations for this?) REB
  9. Oh, yeah - at least two. Here's this morning's Federalist essay from Robert Tracinski: "Inside Donald Trump's Secret Ayn Rand Conspiracy." Don't you just love it? ;-) http://thefederalist.com/2016/12/14/inside-donald-trumps-secret-ayn-rand-conspiracy/?utm_source=The+Federalist+List&utm_campaign=618f8a9b2e-RSS_The_Federalist_Daily_Updates_w_Transom&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_cfcb868ceb-618f8a9b2e-83770993
  10. Meanwhile, here's a *real* conspiracy - or more accurately, a heavy-handed, club-footed, totally transparent tactic aimed at overturning the November election results. In other words, it's really just another desperate spasm in the very unorthodox wake for the 2016 Presidential hopes of the Democratic party. The group of 40 Electoral College members demanding a briefing on Russian "interference" in the election includes 39 Democrats and the 1 "faithless" Republican elector who already said he will not vote for Trump. Which means 40 people who don't themselves want or need the briefing. They just want to force it onto the committed Trump electors in hopes of prying enough of them loose to deprive Trump of the 270 needed to win the Presidency outright. This is sort of like the wretched idea of a law forcing women who want to end their pregnancies to watch a video about fetuses before being allowed to have an abortion. (Imagine Pro-Life pregnant women demanding that Pro-Choice pregnant women be forced to watch that video before exercising reproductive choice.) It's also sort of like Jill Stein trying to force a recount, when that recount was not going to change *her* results, but only (possibly) Trump's. But this is just another dumb idea that's going nowhere. It truly is another in a string of last-ditch efforts to keep Trump from being inaugurated next month. You'd think that the Dem's would be elated that they have discovered yet another way to win the Presidency: have a life-long Democrat run for President as a Republican! ;-) But hey, I'm a reasonable person, and I really do want people to have access to all the information they want in order to make an informed choice. So, I would say that if those 40 whiny, belligerent electors want a briefing, sure, let them have one - but don't let them "demand" that the briefing be forced on the other electors who already know what they want to do. The Frantic Forty making the "demand" already know what *they* want to do, and the briefing is not going to change *their* minds. They just want to mess with the others. Screw that. I don't know how this particular gambit will turn out, but we don't have to wait long to find out. The Frantic Forty and the Never Trumpers behind them have less than a week to get this paper mache airplane off the ground. I predict it flops as badly as Jill Stein's recount "demands." Then I think the only remaining tactic will be to try to "disrupt" the inauguration, as many stellar humanitarians such as Michael Moore have "demanded" that Trump haters do. So, looking ahead to Inauguration Day, I think it would be cool for the Trump team to devise a huge fake event in the usual place in D.C., and secretly fly somewhere like Des Moines, Iowa and do the real Inauguration there, as sort of a thank-you to Iowa for flipping to Trump and helping him win the election. Then all the "disruptors" in D.C. could helplessly continue their big wail -a- thon and pound sand in ultimate frustration. Heh.
  11. Oh, yeah - at least two. Here's this morning's Federalist essay from Robert Tracinski: "Inside Donald Trump's Secret Ayn Rand Conspiracy." Don't you just love it? ;-) http://thefederalist.com/2016/12/14/inside-donald-trumps-secret-ayn-rand-conspiracy/?utm_source=The+Federalist+List&utm_campaign=618f8a9b2e-RSS_The_Federalist_Daily_Updates_w_Transom&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_cfcb868ceb-618f8a9b2e-83770993
  12. The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies is proud to publish the first double-issue in its 16-year history, a symposium on "Nathaniel Branden: His Work and Legacy," which is avaiable in print, electronic and Kindle formats. Check out the details about this extraordinary issue, featuring contributions from fifteen writers coming from diverse disciplines and critical perspectives: https://www.nyu.edu/projects/sciabarra/notablog/archives/002200.html
  13. The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies is proud to publish the first double-issue in its 16-year history, a symposium on "Nathaniel Branden: His Work and Legacy," which is avaiable in print, electronic and Kindle formats. Check out the details about this extraordinary issue, featuring contributions from fifteen writers coming from diverse disciplines and critical perspectives: https://www.nyu.edu/projects/sciabarra/notablog/archives/002200.html
  14. Thanks, Merlin. That sounds likely.
  15. Ed, this is all that the link would show, unless you subscribe to WSJ, which I didn't want to do at this time. Jennifer is the new CEO of The Atlas Society, right? Does this mean that TAS is dropping its atheistic stance? Is rejection of the concept of "God" no longer one of the Basic Principles of Objectivism? REB