jts

a philosophical detective story

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In Objectivism we learn that philosophy is the prime mover of history. Peikoff explains this in his book OPAR in the article about the duel between Plato and Aristotle. Probably most Objectivists would say not only history but also a person's individual life. Setting aside being born with a crippled body or crippled mind or extremely bad parenting or somesuch tragic start in life, the biggest influence in a person's life is probably the person's philosophy, either explicit philosophy or implicit in the form of sense of life. By 'philosophy' I include religion as a kind of philosophy. Obviously many things can influence a person's life, but assuming a person is healthy in both body and mind and grew up in a decent environment, I'm guessing that in most cases the biggest influence will probably be personal philosophy (explicit or implicit, religious or not).

I will tell a true story about a real person (now dead) and then pose a question. The question will be: What is the philosophical theme that ran thru this person's life? This is a philosophical detective story, a game Ayn Rand played and Leonard Peikoff played several times.

This story can be viewed as a serious philosophical think piece or as amusement or as both. You might get a laugh out of it. And no, I'm not making this up. It is a true story.

I will call him Lester. Any resemblance to present company is coincidence. Lester was born in 1902. His father was a farmer, a reasonably well to do farmer and respected in the community and was college educated at a time when most people were not college educated. His mother was a schoolteacher.

Lester inherited the farm, then somehow lost it. This was the start of a series of failures.

Lester made a life long study of the Bible and could quote whole chapters of the Bible from memory. He took a Methodist vow at the age of eight (8) to not touch alcohol or tobacco in any form, a vow that he kept to the end of his life. A man who knew him quite well told me that Lester could out-argue any preacher on any subject in the Bible. (I don't know if that was true but that's what the man told me.) Lester was a loud mouthed boisterous talkative guy who tended to get into long conversations as if he had unlimited time to waste. It was usually only a matter of time before the conversation got onto the Bible and then it tended to stay there.

Lester attended every church that was based on the Bible: Baptist, Evangelical, Pentecostal. He did not attend Catholic churches because they were not based on the Bible. Probably about half of his friends and people he knew were people he met in church.

Lester had only a grade 10 formal education. In those days a farmer 'didn't need education'. He was expected to be a farmer but he never made it as a farmer. He had no profession and no trade and made his living mostly as a farm hand. He worked for the local farmers for low wages, usually lower than the minimum wage set by government. I was told that at one time he literally lived in a hole in the ground.

Lester thought of himself as an Englishman, even tho he was not purebred English, and he figured he should have an English woman. He wrote lots of letters and somehow persuaded a woman from England to cross the Atlantic ocean and come to Canada. She lived with Lester for one day and then went back to England. She said: "I don't want to live another day with that crazy man".

Lester got married in his 40s to Alice. Before Alice got married, she was in Bible college. She sang in the choir and played piano. Lester told me that when Alice was young, she was better than average good looking. While in Bible college, Alice got 3 marriage proposals from "very eligible young men". She rejected them all in favor of Lester who was 16 years older. I don't know if that is an age mismatch or not for marriage. Alice's spiritual advisors in Bible college advised her to not marry this man, "It is not God's will", etc. Before Alice got married, she made a living operating a sewing machine. She was also good at gardening and cooking.

Lester got a homestead. This was a deal from government where you work the land for five years and then you own it. Then he lost the homestead, I don't know how. First he lost the farm he inherited, then the homestead.

Lester bought a 'farm' (land only, nothing on it), did not lose it but never made use of it. Third failure.

The marriage was a disaster. They quarreled frequently. They produced five children and the family lived in poverty. Lester was not able to adequately provide for the family and for a time was too proud to accept welfare but eventually accepted welfare. There was no affection between Lester and Alice. It was like they were enemies. Both of them were too religious to believe in divorce (what God hath put together let no man put asunder) but Alice walked out and most of the children were put in foster homes. More failures: marriage, family.

Lester's failures cannot be explained by alcohol or drugs or bad health or laziness. He had a work ethic. He was working alongside another man who said we don't need to do a good job because we are not getting paid much; Lester said we don't know how to do a poor job. He did not seem to age normally. In his 70s he was physically just as good a man for farm work as most men half his age.

One of the farmers Lester worked for was Metro. They knew each other for decades and Lester worked for Metro probably more than any other farmer. The Metro family was very social; they attended every wedding and funeral and knew lots of people. One day at the dinner table they had a special guest, the 2nd highest paid professor in Canada. Lester, boisterous and loud-mouthed and opinionated, expressed his view that there is no need to plan, at least beyond today; that if we take care of today, tomorrow will take care of itself. He probably got this from the sermon on the mount where Jesus said take no thought for the morrow. The professor clearly did not agree but limited himself to telling jokes about Lester's view.

Lester imagined that he was a writer and he got stuff published in newspapers and got paid but he never accomplished anything as a writer. Another failure.

When Lester died, the funeral was supposed to be in the evangelical church but so many people came to the funeral that it was moved to the pentecostal church which was bigger.

That is the story. The philosophical challenge if you accept it is: What is the philosophical theme that ran thru Lester's life that was the prime mover in his life?

 

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Objectivism never demonstrated philosophy was the prime mover in history. It merely asserted it aside from looking backwards and confusing correlation with causation.

Philosophy is personally important but has seldom led the band. One major exception I can think of was the creation of individual rights politically imposed, first in England, then, more perfectly, in the United States. Another was Christianity becoming the official religion of the Roman Empire--what was left of it. That left both Aristotle and Plato (Greece)  in the dust. This came after a hell of a lot of people decided to become Christians and there weren't enough lions to eat them up fast enough.

Everybody has and develops a philosophy, frequently osmotically. Even Rand's was partially a mishmash. Objectivism is an over-reaching attempt to replace one's philosophy with a better one. Kind of changing motors in an automobile. This can work in a significant and positive way if confined to basic principles and critical, rational thinking.

Lester? Why care about Lester? He truncated his brain. Did he foolishly give up alcohol--and tobacco?

--Brant

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On 2016-03-16 at 8:41 AM, Brant Gaede said:

Objectivism never demonstrated philosophy was the prime mover in history. It merely asserted it aside from looking backwards and confusing correlation with causation.

Philosophy is personally important but has seldom led the band. One major exception I can think of was the creation of individual rights politically imposed, first in England, then, more perfectly, in the United States. Another was Christianity becoming the official religion of the Roman Empire--what was left of it. That left both Aristotle and Plato (Greece)  in the dust. This came after a hell of a lot of people decided to become Christians and there weren't enough lions to eat them up fast enough.

Everybody has and develops a philosophy, frequently osmotically. Even Rand's was partially a mishmash. Objectivism is an over-reaching attempt to replace one's philosophy with a better one. Kind of changing motors in an automobile. This can work in a significant and positive way if confined to basic principles and critical, rational thinking.

Lester? Why care about Lester? He truncated his brain. Did he foolishly give up alcohol--and tobacco?

--Brant

If philosophy was not the prime explanation of Lester's life, what was?

I figured for sure someone would find out who Lester was. The immediate clue is: how do I know so much about him? A simple and quick Google search tracks down who Lester was.

"truncated his brain"  Can you expand on that? Was it because of philosophy?

Another item that can be added to the story about Lester is his view on reason. As everyone here knows, Ayn Rand was thumbs up on reason and thumbs down on mysticism. Lester quoted where Jesus said: let us reason together. Lester took that to mean man's faculty of reason is not enough by itself, that it needs revelation from God as a starting point.

I think I have given enough information about Lester that probably someone can figure him out.

 

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I don't care who "Lester" was. I can't even tell if the "facts" are to be taken literally or as metaphorical representations. He "truncated his brain" for he lived as a willful ideologue. And you are obviously an extremely good writer or the story is cribbed.

I didn't say philosophy wasn't the prime mover in someone's life. The word I used was "history," or the collective aggregation of human beings acting and living over vast amounts of time. Just as figuring that out is extremely hard, so too is figuring out an actual individual's motivation starting with how genetics informs psychology.

Philosophy is the software that makes the human system free-will function and act including acting on itself to improve same through cognitive consciousness. I get a kick out of your Lester who said he didn't know how to do "a poor job" when much of the story is about all his poor jobs. Failure, failure, and more failure, although not all failure as in respecting some other things, like siring children and getting people to show up at his funeral.

--Brant

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On 20/03/2016 at 9:14 AM, Brant Gaede said:

I don't care who "Lester" was. I can't even tell if the "facts" are to be taken literally or as metaphorical representations. He "truncated his brain" for he lived as a willful ideologue. And you are obviously an extremely good writer or the story is cribbed.

The facts are literal. The story is not cribbed.

I think probably Ayn Rand would figure him out instantly. I expected anyone who is well educated in Objectivism could figure him out. Do you need more information? I tried to stick to information that has a reasonable chance of being relevant to the question.

Poor job has 2 meanings. It can mean a job with low pay. Or it can mean doing a job poorly. Lester did jobs with low pay but he did them to the best of his ability.

I can give you more information about Lester but it probably would have little or no relevance to the question. For example many years ago when I was 19 years old, Lester and I were both working for a farmer and it was at the end of a nice summer day and he was feeling good and he asked me whether I want to fight. I wasn't sure what he meant but I wasn't scared of him so I said YES. Then he hit me. Hard. So I hit him back. After a while he called it off because he was getting the worst of it. After we went home that evening, he spent much of the evening bragging about how hard I could hit.

 

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Well, the object of the story is not to say who "Lester" really was but to identify the "philosophical theme" that ran through his life--the "prime mover." But subsequent to the original post you said it would be easy to Google out his real ID. That was a big hook for me even though your statement was false. Now you are coming with bullshit. Look at your last paragraph. "Many years ago when I was 19 . . . Lester and I" got into a fight--Jerry, "Lester" was born in 1902 according to you. If you guys were contemporaries you are 114 years old, give or take a year or two. That sort of goes along with "Lester told me." Sorta. "Lester" the old man could have, say forty years ago--how how are you, btw?--when he was only 74. (Did you go to his funeral?)

I simply don't care about any "philosophical theme" in a man's life when it's a man who so misuses his thinking apparatus. Now I completely mistrust your "Lester" data.

--Brant

this thread, like a bad attempt at parallel parking, is corrupt

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3 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

Well, the object of the story is not to say who "Lester" really was but to identify the "philosophical theme" that ran through his life--the "prime mover." But subsequent to the original post you said it would be easy to Google out his real ID. That was a big hook for me even though your statement was false. Now you are coming with bullshit. Look at your last paragraph. "Many years ago when I was 19 . . . Lester and I" got into a fight--Jerry, "Lester" was born in 1902 according to you. If you guys were contemporaries you are 114 years old, give or take a year or two. That sort of goes along with "Lester told me." Sorta. "Lester" the old man could have, say forty years ago--how how are you, btw?--when he was only 74. (Did you go to his funeral?)

I simply don't care about any "philosophical theme" in a man's life when it's a man who so misuses his thinking apparatus. Now I completely mistrust your "Lester" data.

--Brant

this thread, like a bad attempt at parallel parking, is corrupt

You are confused. Lester was born in 1902, not me. Everything I wrote is correct but you need to read it right.

Yes I did go to his funeral in 1984. I was one of the 6 pallbearers.

It is true that the question is what is the philosophical theme, not his identity. Even so, if you find out his identity, that might perk your interest.

How did he misuse his thinking apparatus? Not saying he didn't. But I would like to know details.

 

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On 5/5/2016 at 9:33 AM, jts said:

You are confused. Lester was born in 1902, not me. Everything I wrote is correct but you need to read it right.

Yes I did go to his funeral in 1984. I was one of the 6 pallbearers.

It is true that the question is what is the philosophical theme, not his identity. Even so, if you find out his identity, that might perk your interest.

How did he misuse his thinking apparatus? Not saying he didn't. But I would like to know details.

Why were you fighting an old man? I take "got into a fight" literally because you hit each other. Did this fight happen in 1954 when he was 52 and you were--? 1964? 1974? Were you born in 1902? 1912? 1922? 1932? How old are you? "Lester" is now 32 years into his grave. As for figuring out who he really was, please show me how my brain comes up short for I cannot. That won't embarrass me. My brain power is lumpy. I sorta care about this and you sorta too--but not too much. I doubt anybody else, here or elsewhere, gives a darn.

--Brant

thanks for the confusion

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12 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

Why were you fighting an old man? I take "got into a fight" literally because you hit each other. Did this fight happen in 1954 when he was 52 and you were--? 1964? 1974? Were you born in 1902? 1912? 1922? 1932? How old are you? "Lester" is now 32 years into his grave. As for figuring out who he really was, please show me how my brain comes up short for I cannot. That won't embarrass me. My brain power is lumpy. I sorta care about this and you sorta too--but not too much. I doubt anybody else, here or elsewhere, gives a darn.

--Brant

thanks for the confusion

I thought I explained everything clearly, And I left clues. Maybe it is more difficult to track down this info than I thought but I expect 99% of everybody to be better at finding info than I am.

Why was I fighting an old man? It wasn't a serious fight. The fight was his idea, not mine. He was old chronologically but he did not age normally and I did not think of him as old until near the end. In his 60s and 70s he was just as good a man physically for farm work as most men half his age. Anyway the fight was his idea. And when we went home he spent much of the evening bragging about how hard I could hit. That's supposed to be a funny story for your entertainment. Why did he want to fight? Maybe because he was feeling good and he thought fighting would be a fun thing to do.

I left clues. Did you not wonder how I know so much about him? That was a clue.

This link explains all.

http://bobstory.tripod.com/family_tree/5.html

Now, can someone track down Lester's philosophical prime mover? That is the philosophical detection problem.

 

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Well, you aced me on that one. I'm very weak on figuring those kinds of things out. That you had a "fight" that really wasn't a fight blocked me up completely. When I was 15 and my brother was 13 we had a fight that wasn't a fight and I don't remember it as a fight--in fact no one was hurt for we didn't use our fists--that went on for a while until the landlady stopped it.

Now that that's done I'll give your main question some attention, if I can, this weekend. I might do a little better with that--a little, not much.

--Brant

Trump's burying the other threads thanks to this new software

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By now you all should know that Lester was my father.

There is one more story of possible entertainment value, probably nothing to do with the philosophical challenge.

My mother had the strange belief that dreams can be prophetic. She was religious and all that. In 1984 she dreamed that a great cathedral sank into nothingness. She was convinced that this dream was prophetic but she couldn't figure out what the prophecy was and she wanted me to help her figure this out. I didn't have a clue and I didn't believe in prophetic dreams.

At approximately or exactly the same time, I had a dream. Nothing symbolic. I dreamed that my father died. I didn't have the foggiest clue that there was anything wrong with his health. He lived about 150 miles away. He seemed to be going strong in his old age. In the dream there was a brief phone conversation with my sister and a lengthy car ride and the hospital scene. I woke up from this dream with a spooky feeling. For a brief moment I thought maybe this dream was prophetic but quickly pushed this thought out of my mind because it was so silly and I forgot about this dream.

Within days things started to happen as in the dream, down to specific words spoken on the phone, most of the conversation, the same tone of voice, the lengthy car ride, the exact scenario at the hospital, down to improbable detail. That's when I remembered the dream. The dream was like some highlights of a movie just before the movie.

This experience freaked me out a little bit but I still have difficulty believing in prophetic dreams.

 

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5 hours ago, jts said:

By now you all should know that Lester was my father.

There is one more story of possible entertainment value, probably nothing to do with the philosophical challenge.

My mother had the strange belief that dreams can be prophetic. She was religious and all that. In 1984 she dreamed that a great cathedral sank into nothingness. She was convinced that this dream was prophetic but she couldn't figure out what the prophecy was and she wanted me to help her figure this out. I didn't have a clue and I didn't believe in prophetic dreams.

At approximately or exactly the same time, I had a dream. Nothing symbolic. I dreamed that my father died. I didn't have the foggiest clue that there was anything wrong with his health. He lived about 150 miles away. He seemed to be going strong in his old age. In the dream there was a brief phone conversation with my sister and a lengthy car ride and the hospital scene. I woke up from this dream with a spooky feeling. For a brief moment I thought maybe this dream was prophetic but quickly pushed this thought out of my mind because it was so silly and I forgot about this dream.

Within days things started to happen as in the dream, down to specific words spoken on the phone, most of the conversation, the same tone of voice, the lengthy car ride, the exact scenario at the hospital, down to improbable detail. That's when I remembered the dream. The dream was like some highlights of a movie just before the movie.

This experience freaked me out a little bit but I still have difficulty believing in prophetic dreams.

 

You said your father was old.  Being concerned with his health and thinking about his death  is a reasonable  thing to think about.  So there is no element of prophecy.  You simply thought about  was was inevitable.  We are all going to die. 

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8 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:

You said your father was old.  Being concerned with his health and thinking about his death  is a reasonable  thing to think about.  So there is no element of prophecy.  You simply thought about  was was inevitable.  We are all going to die. 

Aspies are supposed to focus on details.

 

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1 hour ago, jts said:

Aspies are supposed to focus on details.

 

I did. And I solved your problem.

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9 minutes ago, BaalChatzaf said:

I did. And I solved your problem.

You ignored the details of the dream. I was not concerned about his health. I did not have a problem.

 

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2 hours ago, jts said:

You ignored the details of the dream. I was not concerned about his health. I did not have a problem.

 

You wondered if it was "prophecy".  I offered a better hypothesis.  

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46 minutes ago, BaalChatzaf said:

You wondered if it was "prophecy".  I offered a better hypothesis.  

It was not prophecy. Dreams can't be prophetic. But your hypothesis does explain the details.  Also your hypothesis falsely assumes that I was concerned about his health. I didn't have the foggiest clue that his health was failing. Even in the phone conversation, I found it hard to believe.

I have a better hypothesis. Random chance. Coincidences happen all the time. All the details in the dream happened in real life, by coincidence.

 

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35 minutes ago, jts said:

It was not prophecy. Dreams can't be prophetic. But your hypothesis does explain the details.  Also your hypothesis falsely assumes that I was concerned about his health. I didn't have the foggiest clue that his health was failing. Even in the phone conversation, I found it hard to believe.

I have a better hypothesis. Random chance. Coincidences happen all the time. All the details in the dream happened in real life, by coincidence.

 

Random Chance also implies No Prophecy.   Sounds o.k. to me.

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jts wrote: The dream was like some highlights of a movie just before the movie. end quote

In the most recent episode of The Hallmark Channel’s, “The Good Witch,” an artist comes to town and paints. Each of his five or so paintings depict something that is about to happen. It is usually something mundane like several people standing around watching as a light bulb is changed, but it spooks people out when they look to see what is being painted. I know, it’s a chick flick but it’s still fun, especially when magic is done as in the TV show “Bewitched.” I wish I could do magic . . . or know sufficiently advanced science to look like magic.

Wouldn’t that be a hoot? How about a large robotic, guard dog? It sits quietly like a statue until you call it or someone tries to break in. Then it chomps onto their arm and won’t let go. “You have been apprehended by the “Home Alert Guard Dog System. If you try to get away before the police arrive I will chew your arm off. So sit.”   

And there is the disturbing cliché of replaying traumatic events or someone dreaming the Freudian way about having sex with a person, even a relative, who they don’t want and will never have sex with. Unlike the Freudian or Jungian dream interpretational method, I think dreams have a random and chaotic element to them and rarely mean anything. Mama Cass might want you to “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” but I don’t think you can program your dreams. Occasionally I will watch a disturbing movie or program and then have a dream with elements of the disturbing show. I would rather not, so I time TV to end at 10pm.

Peter      

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