Roger Bissell

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About Roger Bissell

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  • Birthday 06/27/1948

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  • Location
    Antioch, Tennessee
  • Interests
    philosophy, psychology, genealogy, fiction

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  • Full Name
    Roger Bissell
  • Description
    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 " 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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    Married and loving it!
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    not looking
  1. Gaseous burbles from "the swamp"

    [This comment attaches to the video of Bush.] Agreed, William. Bush didn't mention Antifa by name, but it was clear that his remark about oppressive regimes trying to suppress disagreement could easily be extended to oppressive social movements that attempt to shut down opposing speakers on college campuses. Overall, I thought it was a good statement of principles and list of aspirational goals, but it came off more as a "report" than as a speech, dry and impersonal, at least in the delivery. Bush 43 was never known for his eloquence, anyway, but I still crave the eloquence of a JFK or Reagan. REB
  2. Reason Papers (Summer 2017)

    Well said, Brant. No need to write better. ;-) REB
  3. Reason Papers (Summer 2017)

    Wow Roger Bissel knows Douglas. Peter 1 You betcha. I've known both Douglases for over 40 years. I met Douglas Den Uyl in the early 1970s at some of the Equitarian Associates conferences in Wisconsin and Michigan. And I met Douglas Rasmussen in September 1969 when I arrived at the University of Iowa (Iowa City) for graduate school. That same evening I met the young lady who later became my third wife (and we have been happily married now for 27 years). She and I occasionally get together with Douglas Rasmussen and his wife Pam in Omaha, near where we all grew up in the early 60s. I was also their philosophical and editorial assistant for about a year in the preparation of The Perfectionist Turn. It was a fascinating project - and a lot of work! REB
  4. Reason Papers (Summer 2017)

    Nathaniel Branden, The Virtue of Selfishness, chapter 5, "Isn't Everyone Selfish?" (Sep. 1962), pp. 66-67, "Egoism holds that, morally, the beneficiary of an action should be the person who acts..." [Also, Webster's New World Dictionary, 3rd College Edition: "3. Ethics the doctrine that self-interest is the proper goal of all human actions: opposed to altruism.] Ayn Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness, Introduction (Sep. 1964), p. x, paragraph 5: "The choice of the beneficiary of moral values is merely a preliminary or introductory issue in the field of morality. It is not a substitute for morality nor a criterion of moral value, as altruism has made it...The Objectivist ethics holds that the actor must always be the beneficiary of his action and that man must act for his own rational self-interest. But his right to do so is derived from his nature as man and from the function of moral values in human life..." In other words, egoism follows from the fact that ethics is founded on the nature of human beings and of how moral values function in human life, and the first conclusion to be drawn from this is the primary principle of the Objectivist ethics, its standard of value, by which one judges what is good or evil: "man's life, or: that which is required for man's survival qua man." (p. 25, VOS) And by "survival," of course, we mean not your physical survival, but flourishing, one's fullest life, as a rational being. ONLY THEN do we come to the question of beneficiary. Once you know that your rational self-fulfillment or flourishing, your fullest life, should be the aim of your actions, THEN you have to determine how best to achieve that purpose. Suppose it were true that you could only rationally flourish and fulfill yourself by making the well-being of others the aim of your actions - i.e., that doing things for others were the means to the end of your flourishing. In that case, altruism would be the necessary "practical" means to your survival qua man. It would be secondary altruism for the primary purpose of rational flourishing, since the latter is your ultimate aim, not just the well-being of others apart from any concern for yourself. (Sounds a lot like Christianity, since the end goal is your eternal life.) The same is true if it is instead egoism (self-as-beneficiary) that is the necessary "practical" means to your survival qua man. And in fact, on a desert island, egoism is the necessary "practical" means to your survival and flourishing. Further, this does not essentially change when other people enter the mix, as in a group, a family, a community, or a society. People cooperate and trade, they voluntarily give up things they value in exchange for other things they value more - and they put up with UN-voluntary, forced relationships and exchanges, to a point, in order to keep getting the other, unforced, voluntary values. Even when it appears that they are "sacrificing," many rationally self-interested, flourishing-minded people consider what they give up to be "worth it," in terms of the "spiritual value" they receive.* (Raising children can involve this to quite an extent.) But secondary "altruism" in service of flourishing is not infinitely elastic, any more than is one's willingness to continue to be exploited by redistribution schemes so long as one has a decent amount of freedom otherwise. Some Objectivists (not ARI-oriented, to be sure) have tried to argue that Objectivism's ethics involves more than egoism, and I agree that it does, but whatever "altruism" or "unselfishness" that is required for survival is a secondary, contextual matter, just as are those situations where grabbing-all-the-goodies-for-oneself is the right thing to do. There is great responsibility required in identifying and taking the right actions to help you live the fullest, most rationally flourishing life, and as Rand said, self-as-beneficiary is NOT a moral criterion. It's only a secondary issue - which, again, is why her ethics is not primarily an egoistic theory. REB * For anyone for whom this still isn't sinking in, I strongly recommend you read or re-read chapter 3 of The Virtue of Selfishness, "The Ethics of Emergencies," and (with pencil in hand) circle each of the NINE instances of the word "should" in that essay, and ponder why Rand would use the term if benevolence/helping others were not a contextual/non-sacrificial virtue.
  5. Reason Papers (Summer 2017)

    Neither Douglas Den Uyl nor Douglas Rasmussen works at Reason. They use reason quite frequently, in both the theoretical and practical varieties, but their official places of employment are Liberty Fund and St. Johns University, respectively. And yes, their book does mention Rand, but they don't spend much time on her ethics or meta-ethics. I personally think that an essay should be written comparing their ethical frameworks. I think it could be very clarifying to people who think that the Objectivist ethics is fundamentally a form of egoism (which it is not, as Rand herself points out, and despite the implication of the subtitle of her book, The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism. REB
  6. How the Martians Discovered Algebra

    Only a computer science geek could confuse relative nothingness (the absence of something in particular) with absolute Nothingness. Otherwise, why talk about adding zero, as though zero were some actual quantity, rather than the absence of a quantity? REB
  7. How the Martians Discovered Algebra

    This video is great fun, Ba'al. Thanks for sharing it! I confess that I did not go through any complicated logic in order to discover my method for generating Pythagorean triples. I just made a table showing various values that worked, and eventually I saw some suspicious looking patterns. I generalized from those patterns, tried some more variations, generalized a bit further, then realized I had a method that seemed always to work. Then I realized that I could solve the Pythagorean equation for x (though with difficulty, since it required completing a rather messy, unwieldy square), and then I found that I could plug any rational number less than -1 or greater than 0 into my solution for x and generate a Pythagorean triple. It's all in the book, for anyone who wants to see both the inductive jungle I hacked my way through, or the rather straightforward, though difficult deductive mountain I scaled in order to validate the inductive result. (The Einstein/Martians essay was supposed to have illustrated in a briefer, more enjoyable way the two paths to knowledge that my Pythagorean triple essay rather long-windedly illustrated, but I'm not sure that the message has gotten through.) REB
  8. How the Martians Discovered Algebra

    This is a false alternative. Zero is not absolute nothingness. But that doesn't mean it is something. It is the absence of something. Not the absence of anything whatsoever (that would be absolute nothingness), but the absence of something in particular. The phrase "zero apples" does not mean that there is some number of apples, and that number is zero. It means that there are not any apples, that any attempt to count the apples does not produce any results, and by convention, we say that we have "counted zero apples," when in fact we have not counted any apples. All of the so-called "algebraic properties" of zero are actually just the results of attempting to perform calculations in the absence of any quantity that one would normally be able to perform such calculations. Some say this is "a difference without a difference." By the same token, quantum mechanical equations produce the same results regardless of whether one adopts the Copenhagen interpretation or a more realistic interpretation. And perhaps there are not now any reasons for preferring one interpretation of the metaphysics of quantum mechanics or the metaphysics of zero over another. But I'm confident that there are reasons for preferring a realistic interpretation over one that reifies non-existence, even the relative or particular non-existence captured in how we use the concept of "zero" in mathematics. Even now, we have recently seen some Danish students who have found a method of measuring the position and momentum of subatomic particles, and who have thus proved that Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle is ONLY the claim of a methodological limitation on simultaneous measurement of position and momentum of particles, and not a metaphysical law that such particles do not simultaneously possess position and measurement. For decades, the anti-Identity modern philosophers were pushing the former interpretation. But Aristotle has had the last laugh. And I'm chuckling along with him.
  9. How the Martians Discovered Algebra

    Not only is the Roman numeral system clunky for doing math, it's lame for even making a numbered list. I was labeling some files in a folder recently, and I made the mistake of using Roman numerals, and I kept wondering where the 5th file was. Finally, I saw it way at the bottom of the folder's list, underneath files whose name started with S and T and U. Yikes. Then I realized the first four were only together because the computer interpreted I, II, III, and IV as starting with the *letter* I. Double yikes. Well, all I can say is: thank God and Bill Gates that MS Word's indexing function doesn't work that way when using Roman numerals! REB
  10. How the Martians Discovered Algebra

    This is not just a special malady afflicting posters to Objectivist Living, but people posting to Objectivist fora in general, and in regard to any book they think they will disagree with. They will mock and criticize when they see certain cue words and phrases, and they will close their eyes and ears and shout "lalalalalala," and not bother to read and understand the arguments. I call it the "James Taggart don't-bother-me Virus." There is no known cure. REB
  11. How the Martians Discovered Algebra

    No, it is more like a bat. If used improperly, it will *produce* foul balls. REB
  12. How the Martians Discovered Algebra

    Fourth and final? 04/03/05, 08/06/10, 12/05/13, 9/12/15, and 12/9/15 also were, and 12/16/20 is yet to come. Those were the dates on the mug. I'm gonna ask for a refund! REB
  13. How the Martians Discovered Algebra

    You Rational Empiricists are all alike - a quick 7 or 8 theorems and you're off with the boys! I just received in the mail today Eli Maor's 2007 book The Pythagorean Theorem: A 4,000 Year History (Princeton University Press). It's a very nice looking book, and I can't wait for bedtime to read it! Last week, I received a mug and tee-shirt celebrating what appears to be the fourth and final Pythagorean Theory Day in the 21st century. It's coming right up on August 15. (08/15/17, which is a Pythagorean triple) (The other three were (03/04/05, 06/08/10, and 05/12/13.) REB P.S. - It's fascinating to me that Leonard Peikoff, 45 years ago, claimed that before the ancient Greeks, there was only "primitive knowledge" in areas like mathematics and astronomy. Our beloved Pythagorean theorem actually comes from not the Greeks, but the Babylonians about 1000 years prior to Euclid et al. (Some speculate the ancient Egyptians knew of it, too, but I haven't seen any conclusive evidence for the claim.)
  14. Thanks for alerting me to the typo. It must have been one of our underlings who did it. I'll make the correction in the master file, and it will at least get corrected in the Kindle. I'll see what options CreateSpace gives us for future printings. My favorite Objectivist typo, which is in its 50th year of existence now, is on line 9, page 54 of Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. It is very informative to learn that concepts are "produced by man's consciousuess." REB P.S. - Please pass along any further typo's you find. Thanks!
  15. Thanks, Michael! REB